People vs Hashim et al GR 194255, Jun. 13, 2012

Fact: Accused-appellant approached AAA, who was then doing her job as a waitress encourage AAA to work in Malaysia, as accused-appellant knew certain persons who would soon be leaving for that country. private complainant BBB was at her house when accused-appellant paid her a visit and invited her to work as a saleslady in Brunei. After being assured that the prospective employment was above board and that she would be well compensated, BBB accepted the invitation. On June 17, 2003, at 6:00 o’clock [sic] in the morning[,] they arrived in Malaysia, accused Franz instructed BBB, AAA, CCC and Cristy to wear “sexy clothes” because they were going to meet their supposed boss. The prosecution also alleged that while the group was staying at the Classic Hotel in Labuan, BBB was forced on numerous occasions to have sexual intercourse with Franz at his bidding, even in the presence of other people. She followed his orders for fear that he would inflict physical harm on her. Thus, from 21 June 2003 to 13 July 2003, AAA and BBB worked as prostituted women. On 13 July 2003, the Golden Lotus was raided by the Immigration Officers of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, and the prostituted Filipino women, including AAA and BBB, were detained at the Balay Polis (Police Department) in Labuan until all the women were deported to the Philippines. Complainant filed a complaint in the RTC who finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt. On appeal, the CA affirmed the findings of fact of the trial court in the former’s assailed Decision, but modified the award of damages, Hence this appeal.

Issue:  Whether the accused committed the crime of Illegal Recruitment?

Held:  Yes, to be convicted of the crime of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate, the following elements must occur: 1. The accused have no valid license or authority required by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. 2. The accused engaged in this activity of recruitment and placement by actually recruiting, deploying and transporting. 3. Illegal recruitment was committed by three persons conspiring and confederating with one another.

As to the first element, accused-appellant admitted that she did not have a valid license to recruit persons for overseas employment, consistent with her defense that she did not engage in the recruitment of persons for employment. Anent the second element, both victims, AAA and BBB, narrated in great detail how they were induced by accused-appellant to accept an employment opportunity, and how they were successfully transported from Zamboanga City to Malaysia where they eventually worked as prostituted women. On the third element, accused-appellant posits that the prosecution failed to prove that there were more than two persons involved in the alleged crime of illegal recruitment, since the trial court held only two of the accused liable for the crime. The prosecution, she alleges, failed to establish that the other accused Macky, Jun, and Tas also had no license or authority to recruit workers for overseas employment. The court affirmed the trial court’s findings in which 2 of the 3 accused were convicted of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate, even though the third accused was at-large. In so ruling, we took note of the fact that the victim would not have been able to go to Malaysia were it not for the concerted efforts of the three accused. Flight in criminal law is the evading of the course of justice by voluntarily withdrawing oneself in order to avoid arrest or detention or the institution or continuance of criminal proceedings. The unexplained flight of an accused person may as a general rule be taken into consideration as evidence having a tendency to establish his guilt.

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