SC: Fake promise to send workers abroad = ESTAFA

SECOND DIVISION [ G.R. No. 224501, August 08, 2016 ] JOSEFINA CUEVAS Y CANLAS VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES.

After a judicious review of the records, the Court resolved to DENY the Petition for Review on Certiorari for failure to show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error in affirming in toto the January 23, 2014 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 75, Olongapo City in Criminal Case Nos. 274-10 & 279-10.

Petitioner insists that the burden of proof was not fully discharged by the prosecution. She claims to be innocent as she did not represent that she had the power to send private complainants to work abroad and that the money was deposited in her account only for safekeeping.

We find petitioner's contentions as untenable.

Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, defines Illegal Recruitment as "any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority."

In the case at bench, it was proven that petitioner received money from private complainants because of the former's promise or offer of overseas employment sans the required license to recruit.

As regards the crime of Estafa by means of deceit, the elements are: 1) there must be false pretenses, fraudulent acts or fraudulent representations as to his power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; 2) that such pretenses or fraudulent acts be made or executed prior to or Simultaneously with the commission of the fraud; 3) that the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act, that is, he was induced to part with his money or property because of false pretenses or a fraudulent act and; 4) that as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.[1]The prosecution effectively established each element of estafa. Private complainants parted with their money trusting that petitioner could help them work and live abroad but, sadly, to no avail thereby causing damage to the former.

Time and again, we have held that findings of fact of the trial court are accorded great weight, more so if affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Here, we find no cogent reason to overturn the ruling of the trial court, the latter having the chance to observe the conduct of the witnesses as well as the accused during the trial.

ACCORDINGLY, the assailed November 12, 2015 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 36570 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED. (Brion, J., on leave; Mendoza, J., on official leave from August 4-10, 2616 per Resolution dated January 26, 2016 in A.M. No. 07-11-02-SC under the 2016 Wellness Program).

[1] Erquiaga vs. Court of Appeals, 419 Phil. 641, 649 (2001).

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