Case Digest: People v. Abat

G.R. No. 168651 : March 16, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EDITH RAMOS ABAT, Accused-Appellant.

BERSAMIN, J.:

FACTS:

Accused Abat was convicted by the RTC of illegal recruitment in large scale of nine individuals, by recruiting them to a supposed job in Taiwan for a fee, without the proper authority. The CA affirmed her conviction.

In her appeal, the accused denies having any participation in the recruitment of the nine named complainants for employment in Taiwan, asserting that the CA erred in thus affirming her conviction despite the totality of evidence pointing to no other conclusion than her innocence. She urges the review of the CAs ruling on the credibility of the witnesses in view of the two opposing versions of the facts involved.

In support of her appeal, she argues that, among others, the sums she exacted and received from the complainants represented only the reimbursement of the expenses incurred during her trips; that the failure of the complainants to produce receipts showing that she had collected money from them in connection with her assurances of their employment in Taiwan was fatal to the State's case against her; and that although only four of the nine named complainants had appeared and testified in court, the Prosecution did not explain why the five other complainants had desisted from testifying against her.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the defense of the accused, that she was merely seeking reimbursements, is credible

2. Whether or not the absence of a receipt negates a finding of illegal recruitment

HELD:

The petition is denied.

LABOR LAW: Illegal recruitment.

First issue: In accordance with Article 38 of the Labor Code, it is the lack of the necessary license or authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas, that renders the recruitment activity unlawful or criminal.[4]To prove illegal recruitment, therefore, the State must show that the accused gave the complainants the distinct impression that she had the power or ability to deploy the complainants abroad in a manner that they were convinced to part with their money for that end.

In addition to her admission that she did not have any license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas, the explicit certification issued on January 10, 2001 be Atty. Adonis Peralta, the DOLE District Officer in Dagupan City, attesting that the accused did not possess any permit to recruit workers for overseas employment in Pangasinan, including the cities of Dagupan, San Carlos, Urdaneta and Alaminos, confirmed her lack of the license or authority required by law.

The State competently established that the accused, despite having no license or authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas, had represented to the complainants that she could secure their employment in Taiwan either as factory workers or as computer operators at a monthly salary of NT$45,000.00 each; and that the complainants had relied on her representation and given her the amounts she had demanded in the expectation of their placement. She had also told the complainants about her being related to the Philippine Ambassador toTaiwan, as well as to President Ramos and President Estrada.

Second issue: The Court has ruled that the absence of receipts evidencing payment does not defeat a criminal prosecution for illegal recruitment.According to People v. Pabalan, the absence of receipts in a criminal case for illegal recruitment does not warrant the acquittal of the accused and is not fatal to the case of the prosecution. As long as the witnesses had positively shown through their respective testimonies that the accused is the one involved in the prohibited recruitment, he may be convicted of the offense despite the want of receipts. Consequently, as long as the State established through credible testimonial evidence that the accused had engaged in illegal recruitment, her conviction was justified, as it is herein.

Petition is DENIED, and the CA decision is AFFIRMED.

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