People v. Sison (G.R. No. 187160. August 09, 2017)


FACTS: The RTC found Sison guilty (1) illegal recruitment involving economic sabotage, and (2) estafa under Article 315 of the RPC.

For violation of Section 6 in relation to Section 7 of R.A. 8042 (Illegal Recruitment-Economic Sabotage), she was imposed LIFE IN PRISON pursuant to Section 6 (m) of R.A. 8042 in relation to Section 7 (b) thereof and ORDERED TO PAY a fine of One Million Pesos (Php1,000,000.00) as the illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage. For Estafa under Article 315 (2) (a) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), she was made to suffer the penalty of four years, two (2) months of prision correccional as minimum to eight (8) years of prision mayor as maximum.

ISSUE: Did the Court impose the proper penalty?

HELD: As to illegal recruitment yes. The penalty for estafa, however, needs to be modified.

Penalty. The penalty for illegal recruitment is correct based on Section 7 of RA 8042. Since the illegal recruitment was committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority, the RTC may rightfully mete out the maximum penalty. Thus, the penalty imposed by the RTC stands.

The Indeterminate Sentence Law should be applied in determining the penalty for estafa. Under this law, the maximum term is "that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under [the RPC]" and the minimum shall be "within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the [RPC] for the offense."

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, "the minimum term is taken from the penalty next lower or anywhere within prision correccional minimum and medium (i.e., from 6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months). On the other hand, the maximum term is taken from the prescribed penalty of prision correccional maximum to prision mayorminimum in its maximum period, adding 1 year of imprisonment for every P10,000.00 in excess of P22,000.00, provided that the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years."

In People v. Tolentino, the Supreme Court explained:
The range of penalty under Article 315 is composed of only two periods. To compute the maximum period of the indeterminate sentence, the total number of years included in the two periods should be divided into three equal portions, with each portion forming a period. Following this computation, the minimum, medium, and maximum periods of the prescribed penalty are:
1. Minimum Period - 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 5 years, 5 months and 10 days;
2. Medium Period - 5 years, 5 months and 11 days to 6 years, 8 months and 20 days;
3. Maximum Period - 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years.
Any incremental penalty, i.e. one year for every P10,000 in excess of P22,000, shall be added to anywhere from 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years, at the court's discretion, provided the total penalty does not exceed 20 years.
To arrive at the correct penalty, the Court must determine the actual amount defrauded from the victim.

Actual damages must be proven, not presumed. It should be "actually proven with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof or the best evidence obtainable."

Based on the evidence and testimony of Castuera, he only paid P80,000 as down payment because, under their agreement, the balance of the placement fee was to be deducted from his salary when he starts working in Australia. Thus, there is no basis for the P160,000 awarded by the RTC.

Based on the foregoing, the minimum penalty should be anywhere from 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional in its minimum period to 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional in its medium period. Thus, the RTC was correct in imposing the minimum penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional.

However, the maximum period should be computed as the maximum period that could be properly imposed under the RPC, plus the incremental penalty resulting from each additional P10,000 in excess of P22,000 that was defrauded from the victim.

In this case, the amount is P80,000, which means that there must be five more years of imprisonment added to the maximum period imposed by the RPC. Thus, the maximum period should be 13 years of reclusion temporal.

Lastly, Sison is ordered to pay legal interest of 6% per annum on the amount adjudicated, to be reckoned from the finality of this Decision until full payment.

[40] People v. Arnaiz, G.R. No. 205153, 9 September 2015, 770 SCRA 319.
[41] People v. Tolentino, G.R. No. 208686, 1 July 2015, 761 SCRA 332.
[42] Id., citing People v. Inovero, 131 Phil. 116, 126 (2014); People v. Lalli, 675 Phil. 126, 152 (2011); People v. Abat, 661 Phil. 127, 132-133 (2011).
[43] People v. Abat, 661 Phil. 127, 132 (2011).
[44] People v. Fernandez, 735 Phil. 340, 345 (2014).
[45] People v. Daud, 134 Phil. 698, 717-718 (2014).
[46] Id, citing People v. Ocden, 665 Phil. 268, 289 (2011).
[47] People v. Inovero, supra note 42, at 127 (2014).
[50] People v. Daud, supra note 45, at 720, citing People v. Yabut, 374 Phil. 575, 586 (1999).
[51] Suliman v. People, 747 Phil. 719, 731 (2014). Citations omitted.
[53] People v. Arnaiz, supra note 40.
[54] Section 1, Act No. 4103, as amended (Indeterminate Sentence Law).
[55] People v. Fernandez, supra note 44, at 347.
[56] People v. Tolentino, supra note 41.
[57] Republic v. Tuvera, 545 Phil. 21, 57 (2007).
[58] Spouses Ouisumbing v. Manila Electric Company, 429 Phil. 727, 747 (2002).