Illegal Recruitment Law in the Philippines

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Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila
 
THIRD DIVISION
 
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,|  | G.R. No. 170834|
                             Plaintiff-Appellee,|  |  |  |  | Present:|
 |  |  |
 |  | YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,|
 |  |           Chairperson,|
- versus -|  | AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,|
 |  | CHICO-NAZARIO,|
 |  | VELASCO, JR.,* and|
 |  | REYES, JJ.|
 |  |  |
ANTONIO NOGRA,|  | Promulgated:|
                             Accused-Appellant.|  |   August 29, 2008| x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x  

 
D E C I S I O N
 
 
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
 
         Before the Court is an appeal from the Decision[1] dated August 31, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. C.R. No. 00244 affirming the Judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 19, Naga City in Criminal Case No. 98-7182, convicting Antonio Nogra (appellant) of large scale illegal recruitment under Section 6(m) in relation to Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042 (R.A. No. 8042),[2] otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.”[3]          The inculpatory portion of the Information charging one Lorna G. Orciga and appellant with large scale illegal recruitment reads as follows:  

         That sometime during the period of March 1997 to November, 1997 in the City of Naga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being the General Manager and Operations Manager of LORAN INTERNATIONAL OVERSEAS RECRUITMENT CO., LTD., with office at Concepcion Grande, Naga City, conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping each other, representing themselves to have the capacity to contract, enlist, hire and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally, for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement to the herein complaining witnesses RENATO ALDEN, OLIVER SARMIENTO, FE ZABALLA, TEOFILA LUALHATI, PILIPINA MENDOZA and KERWIN DONACAO, but failed to actually deploy them without valid reason, as well as to reimburse their documentation, placement and processing expenses for purposes of deployment despite their repeated demands for the return of the same, to their damage and prejudice in the amounts as may be proven in court.  

            CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
 
         Only appellant was brought to the jurisdiction of the trial court since Lorna G. Orciga was then and still is at large.  Arraigned with the assistance of counsel, appellant entered a plea of “NOT GUILTY” to the crime charged.  Thereafter, trial of the case ensued.  

         Of the six complainants, the prosecution was able to present five of them, namely: Renato Alden, Fe Zaballa, Teofila Lualhati, Filipina Mendoza and Kerwin Donacao.  Anaielyn Sarmiento, wife of complainant Oliver Sarmiento, also testified for the prosecution.  

         The facts, as established by the prosecution, are aptly summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), as follows:  
         Appellant held office at Loran International Overseas Recruitment Co., (Loran) in Concepcion Grande, Naga City (p. 4, TSN, October 19, 1998).  A nameplate on his table prominently displayed his name and position as operations manager (p. 11, TSN, November 17, 1998; p. 4, TSN, January 12, 1999; p. 21, TSN, November 19, 1998).  The license of Loran also indicated appellant as the operations manager (p. 5, TSN, February 10, 1999).  The POEA files also reflect his position as operations manager of Loran (Exhibit L to L-4, pp. 5-9, TSN, November 19, 1998).  

            Sometime in December 1996, Renato Alden went to Loran to apply for a job as hotel worker for Saipan.  He was interviewed by appellant, who required Alden to submit an NBI clearance and medical certificate and to pay the placement fee.  Alden paid the amount...
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