Labor Law

Romero v. People, Romulo Padlan and Arturo Siapno, G.R. No. 171644 November 23, 2011 Illegal Recruitment

FACTS:

Romulo Padlan was convinced by petitioner Delia Romero’s words of encouragement and inspired by the potential salary of US$700.00 to US$1,200.00 a month in Israel. 

Petitioner informed him that as soon as he could give her US$3,600.00, his papers would be immediately processed.

Petitioner contacted Jonney Erez Mokra who instructed Romulo to attend a briefing at his (Jonney’s) house in Pampanga. Romulo was able to leave for Israel on October 26, 2000 and was able to secure a job. Unfortunately, after two and a half months, he was caught by Israel’s immigration police, detained, and then deported.

Arturo, after learning that his story was similar to Romulo’s checked with the DOLE whether petitioner and Jonney Erez Mokra had any license or authority to recruit employees for overseas employment. He found out that they were not authorized to recruit for overseas employment, Arturo and Romulo filed a complaint before the NBI. 

Consequently, an Information was filed against petitioner and Jonney Erez Mokra for the crime of Illegal Recruitment.

The RTC found petitioner guilty as charged.

On appeal, the CA affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC.

Hence, the present petition, after petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the CA.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the totality of the acts of petitioner constitute  illegal recruitment despite the absence of any receipt or any other documentary evidence proving such.

RULING:

The crime of illegal recruitment is committed when two elements concur, namely: 

(1) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable one to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers; and 

(2) he undertakes either any activity within the meaning of “recruitment and placement” defined under Article 13 (b), or any prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code.

Under the first element, a non-licensee or non-holder of authority is any person, corporation or entity which has not been issued a valid license or authority to engage in recruitment and placement by the Secretary of Labor, or whose license or authority has been suspended, revoked or cancelled by the POEA or the Secretary. 

Clearly, the creation of the POEA did not divest the Secretary of Labor of his/her jurisdiction over recruitment and placement of activities. The governing rule is still Article 357 of the Labor Code.

Petitioner was able to convince the private respondents to apply for work in Israel after parting with their money in exchange for the services she would render. The said act of the petitioner, without a doubt, falls within the meaning of recruitment and placement as defined in Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code.

In People v. Alvarez, this Court ruled that in illegal recruitment cases, the failure to present receipts for money that was paid in connection with the recruitment process will not affect the strength of the evidence presented by the prosecution as long as the payment can be proved through clear and convincing testimonies of credible witnesses

It was discussed that:

In illegal recruitment, mere failure of the complainant to present written receipts for money paid for acts constituting recruitment activities is not fatal to the prosecution, provided the payment can be proved by clear and convincing testimonies of credible witnesses.

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