Four informations were filed alleging that Serapio Abug, “without first securing a license from the Ministry of Labor as a holder of authority to operate a fee-charging employment agency, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally operate a private fee charging employment agency by charging fees and expenses (from) and promising employment in Saudi Arabia” to four separate individuals named therein, in violation of Article 16 in relation to Article 39 of the Labor Code.
Abug filed a motion to quash on the ground that the informations did not charge an offense because he was accused of illegally recruiting only one person in each of the four informations. Under the proviso in Article 13(b), he claimed, there would be illegal recruitment only “whenever two or more persons are in any manner promised or offered any employment for a fee. ”
The Motion was subsequently granted. Hence, this certiorari.
Whether the number of persons dealt with is an essential ingredient of the act of recruitment and placement of workers.
As we see it, the proviso was intended neither to impose a condition on the basic rule nor to provide an exception thereto but merely to create a presumption. The presumption is that the individual or entity is engaged in recruitment and placement whenever he or it is dealing with two or more persons to whom, in consideration of a fee, an offer or promise of employment is made in the course of the “canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring (of) workers. ”
The number of persons dealt with is not an essential ingredient of the act of recruitment and placement of workers. Any of the acts mentioned in the basic rule in Article 13(b) win constitute recruitment and placement even if only one prospective worker is involved.
The proviso merely lays down a rule of evidence that where a fee is collected in consideration of a promise or offer of employment to two or more prospective workers, the individual or entity dealing with them shall be deemed to be engaged in the act of recruitment and placement. The words “shall be deemed” create that presumption.
In the instant case, the word “shall be deemed” should by the same token be given the force of a disputable presumption or of prima facie evidence of engaging in recruitment and placement.
At any rate, the interpretation here adopted should give more force to the campaign against illegal recruitment and placement, which has victimized many Filipino workers seeking a better life in a foreign land, and investing hard- earned savings or even borrowed funds in pursuit of their dream, only to be awakened to the reality of a cynical deception at the hands of theirown countrymen.
The four informations against the private respondent was reinstated.