Facts: June 3, 2005, while the victim is on her way to the house of her grandfather, she met the accused and was asked if she is interested to work in Malaysia. Next day, Victim received a text message from Ronnie Aringoy inviting her to go to the latter’s house. Ronnie brought Victim to the house of his sister in Tumaga. Victim inquired what job is available in Malaysia. Ronnie told her that she will work as a restaurant entertainer. Ronnie introduced Victim to Hadja Jarma, Victim handed a passport. Hadja Jarma told her it is not a problem because they have a connection with the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and Marife’s picture in the passport will be substituted with Victim’s picture. Nestor Relampagos arrived driving an owner-type jeep. Hadja Jarma introduced Nestor to Victim as their financier who will accompany them to Malaysia. On June 6, 2005, Victim went to Zamboanga City wharf at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon bringing a bag containing her make-up and powder. She met at the wharf Hadja Jarma Lalli, Ronnie Aringoy, Honey and Michele. Ronnie gave to Victim her boat ticket for the vessel M/V Mary Joy bound for Sandakan, Malaysia; a passport in the name of Marife Plando but with Victim’s picture on it, and ₱1,000.00 in cash. Hadja Jarma, Victim, Honey, Michele and two other women boarded the boat M/V Mary Joy bound for Sandakan. M/V Mary Joy arrived at Malaysia at 10:00 o’clock in the morning of June 7, 2005. Hadja Jarma Lalli, Nestor Relampagos, Victim, boarded a van for Kota Kinabalu. At the hotel, Nestor Relampagos introduced to Victim and her companions a Chinese Malay called “Boss” as their employer. A Filipina woman working there said that the place is a prostitution den and the women there are used as prostitutes. They were fetched by a van at about 7:00 o’clock in the evening and brought to Pipen Club owned by “Boss Awa”, a Malaysian. At the club, they were told that they owe the club 2,000 ringgits each as payment for the amount given by the club to Hadja Jarma Lalli and Nestor Relampagos.
Issue: Whether the accused conspired to commit a crime of Syndicated Illegal Recruitment
Held: Yes, Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 (RA 8042) defines illegal recruitment, as follows:
[I]llegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contact services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines. Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another.
In this case, the trial court, found the accused to have conspired and confederated with one another to recruit and place Victim for work in Malaysia, without a POEA license. The three elements of syndicated illegal recruitment are present in this case, in particular: (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 Victim to Malaysia; and (3) illegal recruitment was committed by three persons (Aringoy, Lalli and Relampagos), conspiring and confederating with one another.
Aringoy claims and admits that he only referred Victim to Lalli for job opportunities to Malaysia. Such act of referring, whether for profit or not, in connivance with someone without a POEA license, is already considered illegal recruitment, given the broad definition of recruitment and placement in the Labor Code. Lalli, on the other hand, completely denies any involvement in the recruitment and placement of Victim to Malaysia, and claims she only met Victim for the first time by coincidence on board the ship M/V Mary Joy. Lalli’s denial does not deserve credence because it completely conflicts with the testimony of Aringoy who claims he referred Victim to Lalli who had knowledge of the job opportunities in Malaysia.