CASE DIGEST: People v. Chua

G.R. No. 184058: March 10, 2010




Appellant was indicted for Illegal Recruitment (Large Scale) and for five counts of Estafa in violation of Article 38 (a) of the the New Labor Code of the Philippines, in relation to Art. 13 (b) and (c ) thereof, as further amended by Sec. 6 (a), (1) and (m) of RA 8042.

Appellant denied the charges.Claiming having worked as a temporary cashier from January to October, 2002 at the office of Golden Gate, owned by one Marilyn Calueng, she maintained that Golden Gate was a licensed recruitment agency and that Josie, who is her godmother, was an agent.

Admitting having receivedP80,000 each from Marilyn and Tan, receipt of which she issued but denying receiving any amount from King, she claimed that she turned over the money to the documentation officer, one Arlene Vega, who in turn remitted the money to Marilyn Calueng whose present whereabouts she did not know.

The RTC convicted appellant of Illegal Recruitment (Large Scale) and three counts of Estafa. On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTCs decision holding that appellants defense that, as temporary cashier of Golden Gate, she received the money which was ultimately remitted to Marilyn Calueng is immaterial, she having failed to prove the existence of an employment relationship between her and Marilyn, as well as the legitimacy of the operations of Golden Gate and the extent of her involvement therein.

Hence, this appeal.


Whether or not the appellant is guilty of illegal recrtuitment?


The appeal is denied.


The term recruitment and placement is defined under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code of the Philippinesas any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not.Provided, That any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged inrecruitment and placement. On the other hand, illegal recruitment is defined under Article 38, paragraph (a) of the Labor Code, as amended.

From the foregoing provisions, it is clear that anyrecruitment activities to be undertaken by non-licensee or non-holder of contracts, or as in the present case, an agency with anexpiredlicense,shall be deemedillegal and punishable under Article 39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines.And illegal recruitment is deemed committed inlarge scale if committed against three or more persons individually or as a group.

Thus forillegal recruitment in large scale to prosper, the prosecution has to prove three essential elements, to wit: (1) the accused undertook arecruitment activity under Article 13(b) or any prohibited practice under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) the accused did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in therecruitment and placement of workers; and (3) the accused committed such illegal activity against three or more persons individually or as a group.

In the present case, Golden Gate, of which appellant admitted being a cashier from January to October 2002, was initially authorized to recruit workers for deployment abroad.Per the certification from the POEA,Golden Gates license only expired on February 23, 2002 and it was delisted from the roster of licensed agencies on April 2, 2002.

Appellant was positively pointed to as one of the persons who enticed the complainants to part with their money upon the fraudulent representation that they would be able to secure for them employment abroad.In the absence of any evidence that the complainants were motivated by improper motives, the trial courts assessment of their credibility shall not be interfered with by the Court.

Even if appellant were a mere temporary cashier of Golden Gate, that did not make her any less an employee to beheld liable for illegal recruitment as principal by direct participation, together with the employer, as it was shown that she actively and consciously participated in the recruitment process.

Assuming arguendo that appellant was unaware of the illegal nature of the recruitment business of Golden Gate that does not free her of liability either.Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale penalized under Republic Act No. 8042, or The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, is a special law, a violation of which is malum prohibitum,not malum in se. Intent is thus immaterial. And that explains why appellant was, aside from Estafa, convicted of such offense.