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Sherluck Jun C. Villegas
People of the Philippines vs Dolores Ocdem
G.R. No. 173198 (June 1, 2011)
FACTS:

Marilyn Mana-a (Mana-a) and Isabel Dao-as, two of the complainants, went to
Ocdens house in Baguio City in August 1998 to apply for work as factory workers in
Italy with monthly salaries of US$1.2K. They were required by Ocden, the
recruiter, to submit their bio-data and passports and pay the placement fee of
P70K, and to undergo medical examination.
Mana-a then submitted her bio-data and passport, and paid to Ocden P500.00 for
her certificate of employment and P20K as down payment for her placement fee.
Subsequently, Mana-a paid to Ocden P22K as the second installment on her
placement fee. Also, when Josephine Lawanag, Mana-a’s sister, withdrew her
application, her P15K placement fee, already paid to Ocden, was credited to Manaa.
Ferrer, another complainant, and her daughter Jennilyn were also interested to
work overseas. They approached Ocden on September 1998 and the latter
showed them a copy of a job order from Italy for factory workers who could earn as
much as $90K – $100K. Ferrer and Jennilyn decided to apply, so they submitted
their passports and pictures to Ocden in October 1998 and later paid P140k
placement fee as evidenced by the receipts issued by Ocden.
Ferrer, Jennilyn, and Alipio (another applicant) went to Manila in preparation for
their flight. Upon arrival in Manila, they were introduced by Ocden to Erlinda
Ramos (Ramos). Ocden and Ramos then accompanied the three to the airport
where they took a flight to Zamboanga. Ocden explained to them that they would
first go to Malaysia where their visa application for Italy would be processed.
Sensing that they were being fooled, Ferrer and Jennilyn decided to get a refund of
their money, but Ocden was nowhere to be found. Ferrer then went to Baguio
Office of POEA and found out that Ocden was not a licensed recruiter.
Another complainant, Julia Golidan (Golidan), said that she inquired from Ocden
about the latter’s overseas recruitment in October 1998. Ocden told her that the
placement fee was P70K for each applicant and that priority would be given to
those who paid their placement fees early. Subsequently, Golidan brought her
sons, Jeffries and Howard, to Ocden and they agreed to application. Jeffries and
Howard handed over their passports and paid a total of 140K as placement fee and
evidenced by the receipt issued by Ocden.
Jeffries and Howard then went to Manila in anticipation of their deployment to Italy
on December of 1998. Through a telephone call, Jeffries informed Golidan that his
flight to Italy was delayed due to insufficiency of funds, and that Ocden went back
to Baguio City to look for additional funds.
Subsequently, Jeffries informed Golidan that he was stranded in Zamboanga
because Ramos did not return his passport. Jeffries instructed Golidan to ask
Ocdens help in looking for Ramos.

On December 1998, Golidan, together with Mana-a and Dao-as, went to Manila to
meet Ocden. Ocden explained to them that it would be easier to acquire visas to
Italy in Zamboanga. Later, Golidan learned that Howard was likewise stranded in
Zamboanga.
By January 1999, Jeffries and Howard were still in Zamboanga. Golidan told them
to go home because the recruiters were already working out the release of the
funds for the applicants to get to Italy.
Afterwards, Golidan went to Ocden’s residence and Ocden’s husband gave her
P23K to fetch the applicants, including Jeffries and Howard. However, Golidan only
retained P10K from the money given to her as Dao-as received P3K and Ocden got
the rest. Jeffries, Howard and five other applicants was eventually able to return to
Manila on January 16, 1999.
Thereafter, Golidan and her sons went to Ocdens residence to ask for a refund of
the money. Ocden was able to return only P50K. Golidan and her sons then went
to the Baguio office of the POEA, where they discovered that Ocden was not a
licensed recruiter.
In her defense, Ocden denied recruiting private complainants and claimed that she
was also an applicant for an overseas job in Italy, just like them. Ocden identified
Ramos as the recruiter. Ocden alleged that she turned over to Ramos the money
she received from the applicants.
Ocden also pointed out that she and some of her co-applicants already filed a
complaint against Ramos before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) offices
in Zamboanga City and Manila.
Seven cases (consolidated) were filed against Ocden. On July 2001, the RTC
rendered a Decision finding Ocden guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of
illegal recruitment in large scale (Criminal Case No. 16315-R) and three counts of
estafa (Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, and 16964-R).
Ocden appealed to the Court of Appeals. On April 21, 2006, the CA dismissed the
petition of Ocden and affirmed the decision of the RTC but modified the penalties
imposed upon her for the three counts of estafa.
Ocden then applead to the Supreme Court, contending that the trial court erred in
convicting her of illegal recruitment in large scale and of estafa.
ISSUE: Whether or not Ocden is guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale and
esta.
HELD: YES. In Illegal recruitment in large scale, Republic Act No. 8042,
otherwise known as the Migrant
Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, introduced amendments to the Labor
Code and broadened
the concept of illegal recruitment and provided stiffer penalties:
SEC. 6. Definition. - For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment
shall mean 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 contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No.
442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines:
Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner,
offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons
shall be deemed so engaged. It shall likewise include the following acts,
whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder,
licensee or holder of authority:
xxxx
(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection
with his
Documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases
where the
deployment does not actually take place without the worker's fault.
Illegal recruitment
when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered
offense involving
economic sabotage.
It is well-settled that to prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that appellant
gave the complainants the distinct impression that he had the power or ability to
send complainants abroad for work such that the latter were convinced to part with
their money in order to be employed. According to Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidan,
the acts of Ocden gave them such an impression. The following acts are:

(1) Ocden informed them about the job opportunity in Italy and the list of
necessary requirements for application;
(2) Ocden required them to attend the seminar conducted by Ramos at Ocdens
house in Baguio City;
(3) Ocden received the job applications, pictures, and bio-data from them
(4) Ocden personally accompanied them for their medical examinations in Manila;
(5) Ocden received money paid as placement fees by fom them and even issued
receipts for the same;
(6) Ocden assured them that they would be deployed to Italy.
According to the Supreme Court, Illegal recruitment under Section 6 can be
committed by any person, even by a licensed recruiter. In the instant case, Ocden
committed illegal recruitment as described under 6 (m) of RA 8042.
Also, under the last paragraph of Section 6, RA 8042, illegal recruitment shall be
considered an offense involving economic sabotage if committed in a large scale
which is committed against three or more persons individually or as a group. In
the caset at bar, Ocden is guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale because of her
failure to reimburse the placements fees paid by Ferrer and Golidans two sons,
Jeffries and Howard.

With regard to Estafa, the Supreme Court held that the very same evidence
proving Ocdens liability for illegal recruitment also established her liability for
estafa. It is settled that a person may be charged and convicted separately of
illegal recruitment under Republic Act No. 8042 of the Labor Code, and estafa
under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code
Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code defines estafa as:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by
any of the means mentioned here inbelow x x x:
xxxx
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts
executed prior to or
simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:
(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power,
influence, qualifications,
property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; or by
means of other similar
deceits.

The elements of estafa are: (a) that the accused defrauded another by abuse of
confidence or by means of deceit, and (b) that damage or prejudice capable of
pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person. Both these
elements are present in the instant case making Ocden liable for such crime.
The appeal of Dolores Ocden is denied.
modifications on the penalty.

SC affirmed the decision of the CA with

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