Case Digest: People v. Espenilla

G.R. No. 193667 : February 29, 2012




The Regional Trial Court convicted Mariavic Espenilla of large scale illegal recruitment and two (2) counts of estafa. The trial court believed the testimonies of complainants Loreto Cueto, Mariel Alviar and Mario Pagcaliwagan, pointing to the appellant as the person who recruited them and promised them employment in Ireland, in exchange for sums of money. The court also rejected the subsequent recantations of Alviar and Pagcaliwagan. It found that the appellant was not licensed to recruit workers for overseas employment. It acquitted the appellant of the crime of estafa committed against Pagcaliwagan since the latter admitted that he recovered his money from the appellant. On intermediate appellate review, the CA affirmed the RTC's decision.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appellants conviction should be upheld.

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is affirmed.


The essential elements of large scale illegal recruitment are:

a) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable him to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers; 
b) the offender undertakes any of the activities within the meaning of "recruitment and placement" under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code, or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the said Code (now Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042); and 
c) the offender committed the same against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group. All of the foregoing elements are present in this case. The prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant enlisted the three (3) complainants for overseas employment without any license to do so.

The RTC and the CA correctly rejected the subsequent recantations of Alviar and Pagcaliwagan since these were made a year after their testimonies in court. Also, Alviar failed to offer any explanation for her change of mind,while Pagcaliwagan admitted that he recanted because the appellant returned the money he paid. Recantations are frowned upon since a recantation is exceedingly unreliable; it is easily secured from a poor and ignorant witness, usually through intimidation or for monetary consideration.