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G.R. No.

81958 June 30, 1988


PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF SERVICE EXPORTERS, INC., petitioner, vs.
HON. FRANKLIN M. DRILON as Secretary of Labor and Employment, and TOMAS D. ACHACOSO, as
Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, respondents.

The petitioner, Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI, for short), a firm "engaged principally in the
recruitment of Filipino workers, male and female, for overseas placement," 1 challenges the Constitutional validity of
Department Order No. 1, Series of 1988, of the Department of Labor and Employment, in the character of
"GUIDELINES GOVERNING THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF DEPLOYMENT OF FILIPINO DOMESTIC
AND HOUSEHOLD WORKERS," in this petition for certiorari and prohibition. Specifically, the measure is assailed
for "discrimination against males or females;" 2 that it "does not apply to all Filipino workers but only to domestic
helpers and females with similar skills;" 3 and that it is violative of the right to travel. It is held likewise to be an invalid
exercise of the lawmaking power, police power being legislative, and not executive, in character.

In its supplement to the petition, PASEI invokes Section 3, of Article XIII, of the Constitution, providing for worker
participation "in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by
law." 4 Department Order No. 1, it is contended, was passed in the absence of prior consultations. It is claimed, finally,
to be in violation of the Charter's non-impairment clause, in addition to the "great and irreparable injury" that PASEI
members face should the Order be further enforced.

On May 25, 1988, the Solicitor General, on behalf of the respondents Secretary of Labor and Administrator of the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, filed a Comment informing the Court that on March 8, 1988, the
respondent Labor Secretary lifted the deployment ban in the states of Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Canada, Hongkong, United
States, Italy, Norway, Austria, and Switzerland. * In submitting the validity of the challenged "guidelines," the
Solicitor General invokes the police power of the Philippine State.

It is admitted that Department Order No. 1 is in the nature of a police power measure. The only question is whether or
not it is valid under the Constitution.

The concept of police power is well-established in this jurisdiction. It has been defined as the "state authority to enact
legislation that may interfere with personal liberty or property in order to promote the general welfare." 5 As defined, it
consists of (1) an imposition of restraint upon liberty or property, (2) in order to foster the common good. It is not capable of
an exact definition but has been, purposely, veiled in general terms to underscore its all-comprehensive embrace.

"Its scope, ever-expanding to meet the exigencies of the times, even to anticipate the future where it could be done, provides
enough room for an efficient and flexible response to conditions and circumstances thus assuring the greatest benefits." 6

It finds no specific Constitutional grant for the plain reason that it does not owe its origin to the Charter. Along with the
taxing power and eminent domain, it is inborn in the very fact of statehood and sovereignty. It is a fundamental
attribute of government that has enabled it to perform the most vital functions of governance. Marshall, to whom the
expression has been credited, 7 refers to it succinctly as the plenary power of the State "to govern its citizens." 8

"The police power of the State ... is a power coextensive with self- protection, and it is not inaptly termed the "law of
overwhelming necessity." It may be said to be that inherent and plenary power in the State which enables it to prohibit
all things hurtful to the comfort, safety, and welfare of society." 9

It constitutes an implied limitation on the Bill of Rights. According to Fernando, it is "rooted in the conception that
men in organizing the state and imposing upon its government limitations to safeguard constitutional rights did not
intend thereby to enable an individual citizen or a group of citizens to obstruct unreasonably the enactment of such
salutary measures calculated to ensure communal peace, safety, good order, and welfare." 10 Significantly, the Bill of
Rights itself does not purport to be an absolute guaranty of individual rights and liberties "Even liberty itself, the
greatest of all rights, is not unrestricted license to act according to one's will." 11 It is subject to the far more overriding
demands and requirements of the greater number.

Notwithstanding its extensive sweep, police power is not without its own limitations. For all its awesome
consequences, it may not be exercised arbitrarily or unreasonably. Otherwise, and in that event, it defeats the purpose
for which it is exercised, that is, to advance the public good. Thus, when the power is used to further private interests at
the expense of the citizenry, there is a clear misuse of the power. 12

In the light of the foregoing, the petition must be dismissed.

As a general rule, official acts enjoy a presumed vahdity. 13 In the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the
contrary, the presumption logically stands.

The petitioner has shown no satisfactory reason why the contested measure should be nullified. There is no question
that Department Order No. 1 applies only to "female contract workers," 14 but it does not thereby make an undue
discrimination between the sexes. It is well-settled that "equality before the law" under the Constitution 15does not
import a perfect Identity of rights among all men and women. It admits of classifications, provided that (1) such
classifications rest on substantial distinctions; (2) they are germane to the purposes of the law; (3) they are not confined
to existing conditions; and (4) they apply equally to all members of the same class. 16
The Court is satisfied that the classification made-the preference for female workers rests on substantial distinctions.

As a matter of judicial notice, the Court is well aware of the unhappy plight that has befallen our female labor force
abroad, especially domestic servants, amid exploitative working conditions marked by, in not a few cases, physical and
personal abuse. The sordid tales of maltreatment suffered by migrant Filipina workers, even rape and various forms of
torture, confirmed by testimonies of returning workers, are compelling motives for urgent Government action. As
precisely the caretaker of Constitutional rights, the Court is called upon to protect victims of exploitation. In fulfilling
that duty, the Court sustains the Government's efforts.

The same, however, cannot be said of our male workers. In the first place, there is no evidence that, except perhaps for
isolated instances, our men abroad have been afflicted with an Identical predicament. The petitioner has proffered no
argument that the Government should act similarly with respect to male workers. The Court, of course, is not
impressing some male chauvinistic notion that men are superior to women. What the Court is saying is that it was
largely a matter of evidence (that women domestic workers are being ill-treated abroad in massive instances) and not
upon some fanciful or arbitrary yardstick that the Government acted in this case. It is evidence capable indeed of
unquestionable demonstration and evidence this Court accepts. The Court cannot, however, say the same thing as far as men
are concerned. There is simply no evidence to justify such an inference. Suffice it to state, then, that insofar as classifications
are concerned, this Court is content that distinctions are borne by the evidence. Discrimination in this case is justified.

As we have furthermore indicated, executive determinations are generally final on the Court. Under a republican
regime, it is the executive branch that enforces policy. For their part, the courts decide, in the proper cases, whether that
policy, or the manner by which it is implemented, agrees with the Constitution or the laws, but it is not for them to
question its wisdom. As a co-equal body, the judiciary has great respect for determinations of the Chief Executive or
his subalterns, especially when the legislature itself has specifically given them enough room on how the law should be
effectively enforced. In the case at bar, there is no gainsaying the fact, and the Court will deal with this at greater length
shortly, that Department Order No. 1 implements the rule-making powers granted by the Labor Code. But what should
be noted is the fact that in spite of such a fiction of finality, the Court is on its own persuaded that prevailing conditions
indeed call for a deployment ban.

There is likewise no doubt that such a classification is germane to the purpose behind the measure. Unquestionably, it
is the avowed objective of Department Order No. 1 to "enhance the protection for Filipino female overseas
workers" 17 this Court has no quarrel that in the midst of the terrible mistreatment Filipina workers have suffered
abroad, a ban on deployment will be for their own good and welfare.

The Order does not narrowly apply to existing conditions. Rather, it is intended to apply indefinitely so long as those
conditions exist. This is clear from the Order itself ("Pending review of the administrative and legal measures, in the
Philippines and in the host countries . . ."18), meaning to say that should the authorities arrive at a means impressed
with a greater degree of permanency, the ban shall be lifted. As a stop-gap measure, it is possessed of a necessary
malleability, depending on the circumstances of each case. Accordingly, it provides:

9. LIFTING OF SUSPENSION. The Secretary of Labor and Employment (DOLE) may, upon
recommendation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), lift the suspension in
countries where there are:
1. Bilateral agreements or understanding with the Philippines, and/or,
2. Existing mechanisms providing for sufficient safeguards to ensure the welfare and protection of Filipino workers.

The Court finds, finally, the impugned guidelines to be applicable to all female domestic overseas workers. That it does
not apply to "all Filipina workers" 20 is not an argument for unconstitutionality. Had the ban been given universal
applicability, then it would have been unreasonable and arbitrary. For obvious reasons, not all of them are similarly
circumstanced. What the Constitution prohibits is the singling out of a select person or group of persons within an
existing class, to the prejudice of such a person or group or resulting in an unfair advantage to another person or group
of persons. To apply the ban, say exclusively to workers deployed by A, but not to those recruited by B, would
obviously clash with the equal protection clause of the Charter. It would be a classic case of what Chase refers to as a
law that "takes property from A and gives it to B." 21 It would be an unlawful invasion of property rights and freedom
of contract and needless to state, an invalid act. 22 (Fernando says: "Where the classification is based on such
distinctions that make a real difference as infancy, sex, and stage of civilization of minority groups, the better rule, it
would seem, is to recognize its validity only if the young, the women, and the cultural minorities are singled out for
favorable treatment. There would be an element of unreasonableness if on the contrary their status that calls for the law
ministering to their needs is made the basis of discriminatory legislation against them. If such be the case, it would be
difficult to refute the assertion of denial of equal protection." 23 In the case at bar, the assailed Order clearly accords
protection to certain women workers, and not the contrary.)

It is incorrect to say that Department Order No. 1 prescribes a total ban on overseas deployment. From scattered
provisions of the Order, it is evident that such a total ban has hot been contemplated. We quote:

5. AUTHORIZED DEPLOYMENT-The deployment of domestic helpers and workers of similar skills defined
herein to the following [sic] are authorized under these guidelines and are exempted from the suspension.
5.1 Hirings by immediate members of the family of Heads of State and Government;
5.2 Hirings by Minister, Deputy Minister and the other senior government officials; and
5.3 Hirings by senior officials of the diplomatic corps and duly accredited international organizations.
5.4 Hirings by employers in countries with whom the Philippines have [sic] bilateral labor agreements
or understanding.
xxx xxx xxx

7. VACATIONING DOMESTIC HELPERS AND WORKERS OF SIMILAR SKILLS--Vacationing


domestic helpers and/or workers of similar skills shall be allowed to process with the POEA and leave
for worksite only if they are returning to the same employer to finish an existing or partially served
employment contract. Those workers returning to worksite to serve a new employer shall be covered
by the suspension and the provision of these guidelines.
xxx xxx xxx

9. LIFTING OF SUSPENSION-The Secretary of Labor and Employment (DOLE) may, upon


recommendation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), lift the suspension
in countries where there are:

1. Bilateral agreements or understanding with the Philippines, and/or,

2. Existing mechanisms providing for sufficient safeguards to ensure the welfare and
protection of Filipino workers. 24
xxx xxx xxx

The consequence the deployment ban has on the right to travel does not impair the right. The right to travel is subject,
among other things, to the requirements of "public safety," "as may be provided by law." 25 Department Order No. 1 is
a valid implementation of the Labor Code, in particular, its basic policy to "afford protection to labor," 26 pursuant to
the respondent Department of Labor's rule-making authority vested in it by the Labor Code. 27 The petitioner assumes
that it is unreasonable simply because of its impact on the right to travel, but as we have stated, the right itself is not
absolute. The disputed Order is a valid qualification thereto.

Neither is there merit in the contention that Department Order No. 1 constitutes an invalid exercise of legislative
power. It is true that police power is the domain of the legislature, but it does not mean that such an authority may not
be lawfully delegated. As we have mentioned, the Labor Code itself vests the Department of Labor and Employment
with rulemaking powers in the enforcement whereof. 28

The petitioners's reliance on the Constitutional guaranty of worker participation "in policy and decision-making
processes affecting their rights and benefits" 29 is not well-taken. The right granted by this provision, again, must
submit to the demands and necessities of the State's power of regulation.

The Constitution declares that:

Sec. 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized,
and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all. 30

"Protection to labor" does not signify the promotion of employment alone. What concerns the Constitution more
paramountly is that such an employment be above all, decent, just, and humane. It is bad enough that the country has to
send its sons and daughters to strange lands because it cannot satisfy their employment needs at home. Under these
circumstances, the Government is duty-bound to insure that our toiling expatriates have adequate protection, personally
and economically, while away from home. In this case, the Government has evidence, an evidence the petitioner cannot
seriously dispute, of the lack or inadequacy of such protection, and as part of its duty, it has precisely ordered an
indefinite ban on deployment.

The Court finds furthermore that the Government has not indiscriminately made use of its authority. It is not contested
that it has in fact removed the prohibition with respect to certain countries as manifested by the Solicitor General.

The non-impairment clause of the Constitution, invoked by the petitioner, must yield to the loftier purposes targetted
by the Government. 31 Freedom of contract and enterprise, like all other freedoms, is not free from restrictions, more so
in this jurisdiction, where laissez faire has never been fully accepted as a controlling economic way of life.

This Court understands the grave implications the questioned Order has on the business of recruitment. The concern of
the Government, however, is not necessarily to maintain profits of business firms. In the ordinary sequence of events, it
is profits that suffer as a result of Government regulation. The interest of the State is to provide a decent living to its
citizens. The Government has convinced the Court in this case that this is its intent. We do not find the impugned Order
to be tainted with a grave abuse of discretion to warrant the extraordinary relief prayed for.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 120095 August 5, 1996
JMM PROMOTION AND MANAGEMENT, INC., and KARY INTERNATIONAL, INC., petitioner, vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. MA. NIEVES CONFESSOR, then Secretary of the Department of Labor and
Employment, HON. JOSE BRILLANTES, in his capacity as acting Secretary of the Department of Labor and
Employment and HON. FELICISIMO JOSON, in his capacity as Administrator of the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration, respondents.

The limits of government regulation under the State's police power are once again at the vortex of the instant
controversy. Assailed is the government's power to control deployment of female entertainers to Japan by
requiring an Artist Record Book (ARB) as a precondition to the processing by the POEA of any contract for
overseas employment. By contending that the right to overseas employment is a property right within the
meaning of the Constitution, petitioners vigorously aver that deprivation thereof allegedly through the onerous
requirement of an ARB violates the due process clause and constitutes an invalid exercise of the police power.

The factual antecedents are undisputed.

Following the much-publicized death of Maricris Sioson in 1991, former President Corazon C. Aquino ordered
a total ban against the deployment of performing artists to Japan and other foreign destinations. The ban was,
however, rescinded after leaders of the overseas employment industry promised to extend full support for a
program aimed at removing kinks in the system of deployment. In its place, the government, through the
Secretary of Labor and Employment, subsequently issued Department Order No. 28, creating the
Entertainment Industry Advisory Council (EIAC), which was tasked with issuing guidelines on the training,
testing certification and deployment of performing artists abroad.

Pursuant to the EIAC's recommendations,1 the Secretary of Labor, on January 6, 1994, issued Department
Order No. 3 establishing various procedures and requirements for screening performing artists under a new
system of training, testing, certification and deployment of the former. Performing artists successfully hurdling
the test, training and certification requirement were to be issued an Artist's Record Book (ARB), a necessary
prerequisite to processing of any contract of employment by the POEA. Upon request of the industry,
implementation of the process, originally scheduled for April 1, 1994, was moved to October 1, 1994.

Thereafter, the Department of Labor, following the EIAC's recommendation, issued a series of orders fine-
tuning and implementing the new system. Prominent among these orders were the following issuances:

1. Department Order No. 3-A, providing for additional guidelines on the training, testing, certification
and deployment of performing artists.

2. Department Order No. 3-B, pertaining to the Artist Record Book (ARB) requirement, which could
be processed only after the artist could show proof of academic and skills training and has passed the
required tests.

3. Department Order No. 3-E, providing the minimum salary a performing artist ought to received (not
less than US$600.00 for those bound for Japan) and the authorized deductions therefrom.

4. Department Order No. 3-F, providing for the guidelines on the issuance and use of the ARB by
returning performing artists who, unlike new artists, shall only undergo a Special Orientation Program
(shorter than the basic program) although they must pass the academic test.

In Civil Case No. 95-72750, the Federation of Entertainment Talent Managers of the Philippines (FETMOP),
on January 27, 1995 filed a class suit assailing these department orders, principally contending that said orders
1) violated the constitutional right to travel; 2) abridged existing contracts for employment; and 3) deprived
individual artists of their licenses without due process of law. FETMOP, likewise, averred that the issuance of
the Artist Record Book (ARB) was discriminatory and illegal and "in gross violation of the constitutional
right... to life liberty and property." Said Federation consequently prayed for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction against the aforestated orders.

On February 2, 1992, JMM Promotion and Management, Inc. Kary International, Inc., herein petitioners, filed
a Motion for Intervention in said civil case, which was granted by the trial court in an Order dated 15 February,
1995.

However, on February 21, 1995, the trial court issued an Order denying petitioners' prayed for a writ of
preliminary injunction and dismissed the complaint.

On appeal from the trial court's Order, respondent court, in CA G.R. SP No. 36713 dismissed the same.
Tracing the circumstances which led to the issuance of the ARB requirement and the assailed Department
Order, respondent court concluded that the issuance constituted a valid exercise by the state of the police
power.

We agree.
The latin maxim salus populi est surprema lex embodies the character of the entire spectrum of public laws
aimed at promoting the general welfare of the people under the State's police power. As an inherent attribute of
sovereignty which virtually "extends to all public needs,"2 this "least limitable"3 of governmental powers grants
a wide panoply of instruments through which the state, as parens patriae gives effect to a host of its regulatory
powers.

Describing the nature and scope of the police power, Justice Malcolm, in the early case of Rubi v. Provincial
Board of Mindoro4 wrote:

"The police power of the State," one court has said... is a power coextensive with self-protection, and is
not inaptly termed "the law of overruling necessity." It may be said to be that inherent and plenary
power in the state which enables it to prohibit all things hurtful to the comfort, safety and welfare of
society." Carried onward by the current of legislature, the judiciary rarely attempts to dam the
onrushing power of legislative discretion, provided the purposes of the law do not go beyond the great
principles that mean security for the public welfare or do not arbitrarily interfere with the right of the
individual.5

Thus, police power concerns government enactments which precisely interfere with personal liberty or
property in order to promote the general welfare or the common good. As the assailed Department Order
enjoys a presumed validity, it follows that the burden rests upon petitioners to demonstrate that the said order,
particularly, its ARB requirement, does not enhance the public welfare or was exercised arbitrarily or
unreasonably.

A thorough review of the facts and circumstances leading to the issuance of the assailed orders compels us to
rule that the Artist Record Book requirement and the questioned Department Order related to its issuance were
issued by the Secretary of Labor pursuant to a valid exercise of the police power.

In 1984, the Philippines emerged as the largest labor sending country in Asia dwarfing the labor export of
countries with mammoth populations such as India and China. According to the National Statistics Office,
this diaspora was augmented annually by over 450,000 documented and clandestine or illegal (undocumented)
workers who left the country for various destinations abroad, lured by higher salaries, better work opportunities
and sometimes better living conditions.

Of the hundreds of thousands of workers who left the country for greener pastures in the last few years, women
composed slightly close to half of those deployed, constituting 47% between 1987-1991, exceeding this
proportion (58%) by the end of 1991,6 the year former President Aquino instituted the ban on deployment of
performing artists to Japan and other countries as a result of the gruesome death of Filipino entertainer Maricris
Sioson.

It was during the same period that this Court took judicial notice not only of the trend, but also of the fact that
most of our women, a large number employed as domestic helpers and entertainers, worked under exploitative
conditions "marked by physical and personal abuse."7 Even then, we noted that "[t]he sordid tales of
maltreatment suffered by migrant Filipina workers, even rape and various forms of torture, confirmed by
testimonies of returning workers" compelled "urgent government action."8

Pursuant to the alarming number of reports that a significant number of Filipina performing artists ended up as
prostitutes abroad (many of whom were beaten, drugged and forced into prostitution), and following the deaths
of number of these women, the government began instituting measures aimed at deploying only those
individuals who met set standards which would qualify them as legitimate performing artists. In spite of these
measures, however, a number of our countrymen have nonetheless fallen victim to unscrupulous recruiters,
ending up as virtual slaves controlled by foreign crime syndicates and forced into jobs other than those
indicated in their employment contracts. Worse, some of our women have been forced into prostitution.

Thus, after a number of inadequate and failed accreditation schemes, the Secretary of Labor issued on August
16, 1993, D.O. No. 28, establishing the Entertainment Industry Advisory Council (EIAC), the policy advisory
body of DOLE on entertainment industry matters.9 Acting on the recommendations of the said body, the
Secretary of Labor, on January 6, 1994, issued the assailed orders. These orders embodied EIAC's Resolution
No. 1, which called for guidelines on screening, testing and accrediting performing overseas Filipino artists.
Significantly, as the respondent court noted, petitioners were duly represented in the EIAC,10which gave the
recommendations on which the ARB and other requirements were based.

Clearly, the welfare of Filipino performing artists, particularly the women was paramount in the issuance of
Department Order No. 3. Short of a total and absolute ban against the deployment of performing artists to
"high risk" destinations, a measure which would only drive recruitment further underground, the new scheme
at the very least rationalizes the method of screening performing artists by requiring reasonable educational
and artistic skills from them and limits deployment to only those individuals adequately prepared for the
unpredictable demands of employment as artists abroad. It cannot be gainsaid that this scheme at least lessens
the room for exploitation by unscrupulous individuals and agencies.
Moreover, here or abroad, selection of performing artists is usually accomplished by auditions, where those
deemed unfit are usually weeded out through a process which is inherently subjective and vulnerable to bias
and differences in taste. The ARB requirement goes one step further, however, attempting to minimize the
subjectivity of the process by defining the minimum skills required from entertainers and performing artists.
As the Solicitor General observed, this should be easily met by experienced artists possessing merely basic
skills. The test are aimed at segregating real artists or performers from those passing themselves off as such,
eager to accept any available job and therefore exposing themselves to possible exploitation.

As to the other provisions of Department Order No. 3 questioned by petitioners, we see nothing wrong with the
requirements for document and booking confirmation (D.O. 3-C), a minimum salary scale (D.O. 3-E), or the
requirement for registration of returning performers. The requirement for a venue certificate or other
documents evidencing the place and nature or work allows the government closer monitoring of foreign
employers and helps keep our entertainers away from prostitution fronts and other worksites associated with
unsavory, immoral, illegal or exploitative practices. Parenthetically, none of these issuances appear to us, by
any stretch of the imagination, even remotely unreasonable or arbitrary. They address a felt need of according
greater protection for an oft-exploited segment of our OCW's. They respond to the industry's demand for
clearer and more practicable rules and guidelines. Many of these provisions were fleshed out following
recommendations by, and after consultations with, the affected sectors and non-government organizations. On
the whole, they are aimed at enhancing the safety and security of entertainers and artists bound for Japan and
other destinations, without stifling the industry's concerns for expansion and growth.

In any event, apart from the State's police power, the Constitution itself mandates government to extend the
fullest protection to our overseas workers. The basic constitutional statement on labor, embodied in Section 18
of Article II of the Constitution provides:

Sec. 18. The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of
workers and promote their welfare.

More emphatically, the social justice provisions on labor of the 1987 Constitution in its first paragraph states:

The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized and
promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.

Obviously, protection to labor does not indicate promotion of employment alone. Under the welfare and social
justice provisions of the Constitution, the promotion of full employment, while desirable, cannot take a
backseat to the government's constitutional duty to provide mechanisms for the protection of our workforce,
local or overseas. As this Court explained in Philippine Association of Service Exporters (PASEI)
v. Drilon,11 in reference to the recurring problems faced by our overseas workers:

What concerns the Constitution more paramountly is that such an employment be above all, decent,
just, and humane. It is bad enough that the country has to send its sons and daughters to strange lands
because it cannot satisfy their employment needs at home. Under these circumstances, the Government
is duty-adequate protection, personally and economically, while away from home.

We now go to petitioners' assertion that the police power cannot, nevertheless, abridge the right of our
performing workers to return to work abroad after having earlier qualified under the old process, because,
having previously been accredited, their accreditation became a "property right," protected by the due process
clause. We find this contention untenable.

A profession, trade of calling is a property right within the meaning of our constitutional guarantees. One
cannot be deprived of the right to work and right to make a living because these rights are property rights, the
arbitrary and unwarranted deprivation of which normally constitutes an actionable wrong.12

Nevertheless, no right is absolute, and the proper regulation of a profession, calling, business or trade has
always been upheld as a legitimate subject of a valid exercise of the police power by the state particularly when
their conduct affects either the execution of legitimate governmental functions, the preservation of the State,
the public health and welfare and public morals. According to the maxim, sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas,
it must of course be within the legitimate range of legislative action to define the mode and manner in which
every one may so use of his own property so as not to pose injury to himself or others.13

In any case, where the liberty curtailed affects at most the rights of property, the permissible scope of
regulatory measures is certainly much
wider.14 To pretend that licensing or accreditation requirements violates the due process clause is to ignore the
settled practice, under the mantle of the police power, of regulating entry to the practice of various trades or
professions. Professionals leaving for abroad are required to pass rigid written and practical exams before they
are deemed fit to practice their trade. Seamen are required to take tests determining their seamanship. Locally,
the Professional Regulation Commission has began to require previously licensed doctors and other
professionals to furnish documentary proof that they has either re-trained or had undertaken continuing
education courses as a requirement for renewal of their licenses. It is not claimed that these requirements pose
an unwarranted deprivation of a property right under the due process clause. So long as professionals and other
workers meet reasonable regulatory standards no such deprivation exists.

Finally, it is a futile gesture on the part of petitioners to invoke the non-impairment clause of the Constitution
to support their argument that the government cannot enact the assailed regulatory measures because they
abridge the freedom to contract. In Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. vs. Drilon, we held that
"[t]he non-impairment clause of the Constitution... must yield to the loftier purposes targeted by the
government."15 Equally important, into every contract is read provisions of existing law, and always, a
reservation of the police power for so long as the agreement deals with a subject impressed with the public
welfare.

A last point. Petitioners suggest that the singling out of entertainers and performing artists under the assailed
department orders constitutes class legislation which violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
We do not agree.

The equal protection clause is directed principally against undue favor and individual or class privilege. It is
not intended to prohibit legislation which is limited to the object to which it is directed or by the territory in
which it is to operate. It does not require absolute equality, but merely that all persons be treated alike under
like conditions both as to privileges conferred and liabilities imposed.16 We have held, time and again, that the
equal protection clause of the Constitution does not forbid classification for so long as such classification is
based on real and substantial differences having a reasonable relation to the subject of the particular
legislation.17 If classification is germane to the purpose of the law, concerns all members of the class, and
applies equally to present and future conditions, the classification does not violate the equal protection
guarantee.

In the case at bar, the challenged Department Order clearly applies to all performing artists and entertainers
destined for jobs abroad. These orders, we stressed hereinfore, further the Constitutional mandate requiring
government to protect our workforce, particularly those who may be prone to abuse and exploitation as they
are beyond the physical reach of government regulatory agencies. The tragic incidents must somehow stop, but
short of absolutely curtailing the right of these performers and entertainers to work abroad, the assailed
measures enable our government to assume a measure of control.

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the decision sought to be reviewed, petition is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 82511 March 3, 1992
GLOBE-MACKAY CABLE AND RADIO CORPORATION, petitioner, vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and IMELDA SALAZAR, respondents.

For private respondent Imelda L. Salazar, it would seem that her close association with Delfin Saldivar would mean the
loss of her job. In May 1982, private respondent was employed by Globe-Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation
(GMCR) as general systems analyst. Also employed by petitioner as manager for technical operations' support was
Delfin Saldivar with whom private respondent was allegedly very close.

Sometime in 1984, petitioner GMCR, prompted by reports that company equipment and spare parts worth thousands of
dollars under the custody of Saldivar were missing, caused the investigation of the latter's activities. The report dated
September 25, 1984 prepared by the company's internal auditor, Mr. Agustin Maramara, indicated that Saldivar had
entered into a partnership styled Concave Commercial and Industrial Company with Richard A. Yambao, owner and
manager of Elecon Engineering Services (Elecon), a supplier of petitioner often recommended by Saldivar. The report
also disclosed that Saldivar had taken petitioner's missing Fedders airconditioning unit for his own personal use
without authorization and also connived with Yambao to defraud petitioner of its property. The airconditioner was
recovered only after petitioner GMCR filed an action for replevin against Saldivar.1

It likewise appeared in the course of Maramara's investigation that Imelda Salazar violated company reglations by
involving herself in transactions conflicting with the company's interests. Evidence showed that she signed as a witness
to the articles of partnership between Yambao and Saldivar. It also appeared that she had full knowledge of the loss and
whereabouts of the Fedders airconditioner but failed to inform her employer.

Consequently, in a letter dated October 8, 1984, petitioner company placed private respondent Salazar under preventive
suspension for one (1) month, effective October 9, 1984, thus giving her thirty (30) days within which to, explain her
side. But instead of submitting an explanations three (3) days later or on October 12, 1984 private respondent filed a
complaint against petitioner for illegal suspension, which she subsequently amended to include illegal dismissal,
vacation and sick leave benefits, 13th month pay and damages, after petitioner notified her in writing that effective
November 8, 1984, she was considered dismissed "in view of (her) inability to refute and disprove these findings. 2

After due hearing, the Labor Arbiter in a decision dated July 16, 1985, ordered petitioner company to reinstate private
respondent to her former or equivalent position and to pay her full backwages and other benefits she would have
received were it not for the illegal dismissal. Petitioner was also ordered to pay private respondent moral damages of
P50,000.00. 3

On appeal, public respondent National Labor Relations, Commission in the questioned resolution dated December 29,
1987 affirmed the aforesaid decision with respect to the reinstatement of private respondent but limited the backwages
to a period of two (2) years and deleted the award for moral damages. 4

Hence, this petition assailing the Labor Tribunal for having committed grave abuse of discretion in holding that the
suspension and subsequent dismissal of private respondent were illegal and in ordering her reinstatement with two (2)
years' backwages.

On the matter of preventive suspension, we find for petitioner GMCR.

The inestigative findings of Mr. Maramara, which pointed to Delfin Saldivar's acts in conflict with his position as
technical operations manager, necessitated immediate and decisive action on any employee closely, associated with
Saldivar. The suspension of Salazar was further impelled by th.e discovery of the missing Fedders airconditioning unit
inside the apartment private respondent shared with Saldivar. Under such circumstances, preventive suspension was the
proper remedial recourse available to the company pending Salazar's investigation. By itself, preventive suspension
does, not signify that the company has adjudged the employee guilty of the charges she was asked to answer and
explain. Such disciplinary measure is resorted to for the protection of the company's property pending investigation any
alleged malfeasance or misfeasance committed by the employee.5

Thus, it is not correct to conclude that petitioner GMCR had violated Salazar's right to due process when she was
promptly suspended. If at all, the fault, lay with private respondent when she ignored petitioner's memorandum of
October 8, 1984 "giving her ample opportunity to present (her) side to the Management." Instead, she went directly to
the Labor Department and filed her complaint for illegal suspension without giving her employer a chance to evaluate
her side of the controversy.

But while we agree with the propriety of Salazar's preventive suspension, we hold that her eventual separation from
employment was not for cause.

What is the remedy in law to rectify an unlawful dismissal so as to "make whole" the victim who has not merely lost
her job which, under settled Jurisprudence, is a property right of which a person is not to be deprived without due
process, but also the compensation that should have accrued to her during the period when she was unemployed?

Art. 279 of the Labor Code, as amended, provides:


Security of Tenure. In cases of regular employment, the employer shall not terminate the services of
an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly
dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other
privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their
monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time
of his actual reinstatement. 6 (Emphasis supplied)

Corollary thereto are the following provisions of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code:

Sec. 2. Security of Tenure. In cases of regular employments, the employer shall not terminate the
services of an employee except for a just cause as provided in the Labor Code or when authorized by
existing laws.

Sec. 3. Reinstatement. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall by entitled to
reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and to backwages."7 (Emphasis supplied)

Before proceeding any furthers, it needs must be recalled that the present Constitution has gone further than the 1973
Charter in guaranteeing vital social and economic rights to marginalized groups of society, including labor. Given the
pro-poor orientation of several articulate Commissioners of the Constitutional Commission of 1986, it was not
surprising that a whole new Article emerged on Social Justice and Human Rights designed, among other things, to
"protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political inequalities,
and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good." 8 Proof of the
priority accorded to labor is that it leads the other areas of concern in the Article on Social Justice, viz., Labor ranks
ahead of such topics as Agrarian and Natural Resources Reform, Urban Land Roform and Housing, Health, Women,
Role and Rights of Poople's Organizations and Human Rights.9

The opening paragraphs on Labor states

The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and
promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.

It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations,
and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be
entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate
in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits is may be provided by
law.10(Emphasis supplied)

Compare this with the sole.provision on Labor in the 1973 Constitution under the Article an Declaration of Principles
and State Policies that provides:

Sec. 9. The state shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment and equality in
employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race, or creed, and regulate the
relations between workers and employers. The State shall ensure the rights of workers to self-
organization, collective baegaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of work. The
State may provide for compulsory arbitration. 11

To be sure, both Charters recognize "security of tenure" as one of the rights of labor which the State is mandated to
protect. But there is no gainsaying the fact that the intent of the framers of the present Constitution was to give primacy
to the rights of labor and afford the sector "full protection," at least greater protection than heretofore accorded them,
regardless of the geographical location of the workers and whether they are organized or not.

It was then CONCOM Commissioner, now Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., who substantially contributed to the present
formulation of the protection to labor provision and proposed that the same be incorporated in the Article on Social
Justice and not just in the Article on Declaration of Principles and State Policies "in the light of the special importance
that we are giving now to social justice and the necessity of emphasizing the scope and role of social justice in national
development." 12

If we have taken pains to delve into the background of the labor provisions in our Constitution and the Labor Code, it is
but to stress that the right of an employee not to be dismissed from his job except for a just or authorized cause
provided by law has assumed greater importance under the 1987 Constitution with the singular prominence labor
enjoys under the article on Social Justice. And this transcendent policy has been translated into law in the Labor Code.
Under its terms, where a case of unlawful or unauthorized dismissal has been proved by the aggrieved employee, or on
the other hand, the employer whose duty it is to prove the lawfulness or justness of his act of dismissal has failed to do
so, then the remedies provided in Article 279 should find, application. Consonant with this liberalized stance vis-a-
vis labor, the legislature even went further by enacting Republic Act No. 6715 which took effect on March 2, 1989 that
amended said Article to remove any possible ambiguity that jurisprudence may have generated which watered down
the constitutional intent to grant to labor "full protection." 13

To go back to the instant case, there being no evidence to show an authorized, much less a legal, cause for the dismissal
of private respondent, she had every right, not only to be entitled to reinstatement, but ay well, to full backwages." 14
The intendment of the law in prescribing the twin remedies of reinstatement and payment of backwages is, in the
former, to restore the dismissed employee to her status before she lost her job, for the dictionary meaning of the word
"reinstate" is "to restore to a state, conditione positions etc. from which one had been removed" 15 and in the latter, to
give her back the income lost during the period of unemployment. Both remedies, looking to the past, would perforce
make her "whole."

Sadly, the avowed intent of the law has at times been thwarted when reinstatement has not been forthcoming and the
hapless dismissed employee finds himself on the outside looking in.

Over time, the following reasons have been advanced by the Court for denying reinstatement under the facts of the case
and the law applicable thereto; that reinstatement can no longer be effected in view of the long passage of time (22
years of litigation) or because of the realities of the situation; 16 or that it would be "inimical to the employer's interest;
" 17 or that reinstatement may no longer be feasible; 18 or, that it will not serve the best interests of the parties
involved; 19 or that the company would be prejudiced by the workers' continued employment; 20 or that it will not serve
any prudent purpose as when supervening facts have transpired which make execution on that score unjust or
inequitable 21 or, to an increasing extent, due to the resultant atmosphere of "antipathy and antagonism" or "strained
relations" or "irretrievable estrangement" between the employer and the employee. 22

In lieu of reinstatement, the Court has variously ordered the payment of backwages and separation pay 23 or solely
separation pay. 24

In the case at bar, the law is on the side of private respondent. In the first place the wording of the Labor Code is clear
and unambiguous: "An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement. . . . and to his
full backwages. . . ." 25 Under the principlesof statutory construction, if a statute is clears plain and free from
ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation. This plain-meaning rule
or verba legis derived from the maxim index animi sermo est (speech is the index of intention) rests on the valid
presumption that the words employed by, the legislature in a statute correctly express its intent or will and preclude the
court from construing it differently. 26 The legislature is presumed to know the meaning of the words, to:have used
words advisedly, and to have expressed its intent by the use of such words as are found in the statute. 27 Verba legis non
est recedendum, or from the words of a statute there should be no departure. Neither does the provision admit of any
qualification. If in the wisdom of the Court, there may be a ground or grounds for non-application of the above-cited
provision, this should be by way of exception, such as when the reinstatement may be inadmissible due to ensuing
strained relations between the employer and the employee.

In such cases, it should be proved that the employee concerned occupies a position where he enjoys the trust and
confidence of his employer; and that it is likely that if reinstated, an atmosphere of antipathy and antagonism may be
generated as to adversely affect the efficiency and productivity of the employee concerned.

A few examples, will suffice to illustrate the Court's application of the above principles: where the employee is a Vice-
President for Marketing and as such, enjoys the full trust and confidence of top management; 28 or is the Officer-In-
Charge of the extension office of the bank where he works; 29 or is an organizer of a union who was in a position to
sabotage the union's efforts to organize the workers in commercial and industrial establishments; 30 or is a
warehouseman of a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to facilitate and maximize voluntary gifts. by
foreign individuals and organizations to the Philippines; 31 or is a manager of its Energy Equipment Sales. 32

Obviously, the principle of "strained relations" cannot be applied indiscriminately. Otherwisey reinstatement can never
be possible simply because some hostility is invariably engendered between the parties as a result of litigation. That is
human nature. 33

Besides, no strained relations should arise from a valid and legal act of asserting one's right; otherwise an employee
who shall assert his right could be easily separated from the service, by merely paying his separation pay on the pretext
that his relationship with his employer had already become strained. 34

Here, it has not been proved that the position of private respondent as systems analyst is one that may be characterized
as a position of trust and confidence such that if reinstated, it may well lead to strained relations between employer and
employee. Hence, this does not constitute an exception to the general rule mandating reinstatement for an employee
who has been unlawfully dismissed.

On the other hand, has she betrayed any confidence reposed in her by engaging in transactions that may have created
conflict of interest situations? Petitioner GMCR points out that as a matter of company policy, it prohibits its
employees from involving themselves with any company that has business dealings with GMCR. Consequently, when
private respondent Salazar signed as a witness to the partnership papers of Concave (a supplier of Ultra which in turn is
also a supplier of GMCR), she was deemed to have placed. herself in an untenable position as far as petitioner was
concerned.

However, on close scrutiny, we agree with public respondent that such a circumstance did not create a conflict of
interests situation. As a systems analyst, Salazar was very far removed from operations involving the procurement of
supplies. Salazar's duties revolved around the development of systems and analysis of designs on a continuing basis. In
other words, Salazar did not occupy a position of trust relative to the approval and purchase of supplies and company
assets.
In the instant case, petitioner has predicated its dismissal of Salazar on loss of confidence. As we have held countless
times, while loss of confidence or breach of trust is a valid ground for terminations it must rest an some basis which
must be convincingly established. 35 An employee who not be dismissed on mere presumptions and suppositions.
Petitioner's allegation that since Salazar and Saldivar lived together in the same apartment, it "presumed reasonably
that complainant's sympathy would be with Saldivar" and its averment that Saldivar's investigation although unverified,
was probably true, do not pass this Court's test. 36 While we should not condone the acts of disloyalty of an employee,
neither should we dismiss him on the basis of suspicion derived from speculative inferences.

To rely on the Maramara report as a basis for Salazar's dismissal would be most inequitous because the bulk of the
findings centered principally oh her friend's alleged thievery and anomalous transactions as technical operations'
support manager. Said report merely insinuated that in view of Salazar's special relationship with Saldivar, Salazar
might have had direct knowledge of Saldivar's questionable activities. Direct evidence implicating private respondent
is wanting from the records.

It is also worth emphasizing that the Maramara report came out after Saldivar had already resigned from GMCR on
May 31, 1984. Since Saldivar did not have the opportunity to refute management's findings, the report remained
obviously one-sided. Since the main evidence obtained by petitioner dealt principally on the alleged culpability of
Saldivar, without his having had a chance to voice his side in view of his prior resignation, stringent examination
should have been carried out to ascertain whether or not there existed independent legal grounds to hold Salatar
answerable as well and, thereby, justify her dismissal. Finding none, from the records, we find her to have been
unlawfully dismissed.

WHEREFORE, the assailed resolution of public respondent National Labor Relations Commission dated December 29,
1987 is hereby AFFIRMED. Petitioner GMCR is ordered to REINSTATE private respondent Imelda Salazar and to
pay her backwages equivalent to her salary for a period of two (2) years only.

This decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 174585 October 19, 2007
FEDERICO M. LEDESMA, JR., Petitioner, vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (NLRC-SECOND DIVISION) HONS. RAUL T. AQUINO,
VICTORIANO R. CALAYCAY and ANGELITA A. GACUTAN ARE THE COMMISSIONERS, PHILIPPINE
NAUTICAL TRAINING INC., ATTY. HERNANI FABIA, RICKY TY, PABLO MANOLO, C. DE LEON and
TREENA CUEVA, Respondents.

This a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, filed by petitioner Federico
Ledesma, Jr., seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision,1 dated 28 May 2005, and the Resolution,2 dated 7
September 2006, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79724. The appellate court, in its assailed Decision and
Resolution, affirmed the Decision dated 15 April 2003, and Resolution dated 9 June 2003, of the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC), dismissing petitioners complaint for illegal dismissal and ordering the private
respondent Philippine National Training Institute (PNTI) to reinstate petitioner to his former position without loss of
seniority rights.

The factual and procedural antecedents of the instant petition are as follows:

On 4 December 1998, petitioner was employed as a bus/service driver by the private respondent on probationary basis,
as evidenced by his appointment.3 As such, he was required to report at private respondents training site in
Dasmarias, Cavite, under the direct supervision of its site administrator, Pablo Manolo de Leon (de Leon).4

On 11 November 2000, petitioner filed a complaint against de Leon for allegedly abusing his authority as site
administrator by using the private respondents vehicles and other facilities for personal ends. In the same complaint,
petitioner also accused de Leon of immoral conduct allegedly carried out within the private respondents premises. A
copy of the complaint was duly received by private respondents Chief Accountant, Nita Azarcon (Azarcon).5

On 27 November 2000, de Leon filed a written report against the petitioner addressed to private respondents Vice-
President for Administration, Ricky Ty (Ty), citing his suspected drug use.

In view of de Leons report, private respondents Human Resource Manager, Trina Cueva (HR Manager Cueva), on 29
November 2000, served a copy of a Notice to petitioner requiring him to explain within 24 hours why no disciplinary
action should be imposed on him for allegedly violating Section 14, Article IV of the private respondents Code of
Conduct.6

On 3 December 2000, petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against private respondent before the Labor
Arbiter.

In his Position Paper,7 petitioner averred that in view of the complaint he filed against de Leon for his abusive conduct
as site administrator, the latter retaliated by falsely accusing petitioner as a drug user. VP for Administration Ty,
however, instead of verifying the veracity of de Leons report, readily believed his allegations and together with HR
Manager Cueva, verbally dismissed petitioner from service on 29 November 2000.

Petitioner alleged that he was asked to report at private respondents main office in Espaa, Manila, on 29 November
2000. There, petitioner was served by HR Manager Cueva a copy of the Notice to Explain together with the copy of de
Leons report citing his suspected drug use. After he was made to receive the copies of the said notice and report, HR
Manager Cueva went inside the office of VP for Administration Ty. After a while, HR Manager Cueva came out of the
office with VP for Administration Ty. To petitioners surprise, HR Manager Cueva took back the earlier Notice to
Explain given to him and flatly declared that there was no more need for the petitioner to explain since his drug test
result revealed that he was positive for drugs. When petitioner, however, asked for a copy of the said drug test result,
HR Manager Cueva told him that it was with the companys president, but she would also later claim that the drug test
result was already with the proper authorities at Camp Crame.8

Petitioner was then asked by HR Manager Cueva to sign a resignation letter and also remarked that whether or not
petitioner would resign willingly, he was no longer considered an employee of private respondent. All these events
transpired in the presence of VP for Administration Ty, who even convinced petitioner to just voluntarily resign with
the assurance that he would still be given separation pay. Petitioner did not yet sign the resignation letter replying that
he needed time to think over the offers. When petitioner went back to private respondents training site in Dasmarias,
Cavite, to get his bicycle, he was no longer allowed by the guard to enter the premises.9

On the following day, petitioner immediately went to St. Dominic Medical Center for a drug test and he was found
negative for any drug substance. With his drug result on hand, petitioner went back to private respondents main office
in Manila to talk to VP for Administration Ty and HR Manager Cueva and to show to them his drug test result.
Petitioner then told VP for Administration Ty and HR Manager Cueva that since his drug test proved that he was not
guilty of the drug use charge against him, he decided to continue to work for the private respondent.10

On 2 December 2000, petitioner reported for work but he was no longer allowed to enter the training site for he was
allegedly banned therefrom according to the guard on duty. This incident prompted the petitioner to file the complaint
for illegal dismissal against the private respondent before the Labor Arbiter.
For its part, private respondent countered that petitioner was never dismissed from employment but merely served a
Notice to Explain why no disciplinary action should be filed against him in view of his superiors report that he was
suspected of using illegal drugs. Instead of filing an answer to the said notice, however, petitioner prematurely lodged a
complaint for illegal dismissal against private respondent before the Labor Arbiter.11

Private respondent likewise denied petitioners allegations that it banned the latter from entering private respondents
premises. Rather, it was petitioner who failed or refused to report to work after he was made to explain his alleged drug
use. Indeed, on 3 December 2000, petitioner was able to claim at the training site his salary for the period of 16-30
November 2000, as evidenced by a copy of the pay voucher bearing petitioners signature. Petitioners accusation that
he was no longer allowed to enter the training site was further belied by the fact that he was able to claim his 13th
month pay thereat on 9 December 2000, supported by a copy of the pay voucher signed by petitioner.12

On 26 July 2002, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision,13 in favor of the petitioner declaring illegal his separation
from employment. The Labor Arbiter, however, did not order petitioners reinstatement for the same was no longer
practical, and only directed private respondent to pay petitioner backwages. The dispositive portion of the Labor
Arbiters Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the dismissal of the [petitioner] is herein declared to be illegal. [Private
respondent] is directed to pay the complainant backwages and separation pay in the total amount of One Hundred
Eighty Four Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty One Pesos and Fifty Three Centavos (184, 861.53).14

Both parties questioned the Labor Arbiters Decision before the NLRC. Petitioner assailed the portion of the Labor
Arbiters Decision denying his prayer for reinstatement, and arguing that the doctrine of strained relations is applied
only to confidential employees and his position as a driver was not covered by such prohibition. 15 On the other hand,
private respondent controverted the Labor Arbiters finding that petitioner was illegally dismissed from employment,
and insisted that petitioner was never dismissed from his job but failed to report to work after he was asked to explain
regarding his suspected drug use.161wphi1

On 15 April 2003, the NLRC granted the appeal raised by both parties and reversed the Labor Arbiters Decision.17The
NLRC declared that petitioner failed to establish the fact of dismissal for his claim that he was banned from entering
the training site was rendered impossible by the fact that he was able to subsequently claim his salary and 13th month
pay. Petitioners claim for reinstatement was, however, granted by the NLRC. The decretal part of the NLRC Decision
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision under review is, hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and another
entered, DISMISSING the complaint for lack of merit.

[Petitioner] is however, ordered REINSTATED to his former position without loss of seniority rights, but WITHOUT
BACKWAGES.18

The Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioner was likewise denied by the NLRC in its Resolution dated 29 August
2003.19

The Court of Appeals dismissed petitioners Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, and
affirmed the NLRC Decision giving more credence to private respondents stance that petitioner was not dismissed
from employment, as it is more in accord with the evidence on record and the attendant circumstances of the instant
case.20 Similarly ill-fated was petitioners Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied by the Court of Appeals in its
Resolution issued on 7 September 2006. 21

Hence, this instant Petition for Review on Certiorari22 under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, filed by petitioner
assailing the foregoing Court of Appeals Decision and Resolution on the following grounds:

I. WHETHER, THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A MISAPPREHENSION OF


FACTS, AND THE ASSAILED DECISION IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.
PETITIONERS DISMISSAL WAS ESTABLISHED BY THE UNCONTRADICTED EVIDENCES ON
RECORD, WHICH WERE MISAPPRECIATED BY PUBLIC RESPONDENT NLRC, AND HAD THESE
BEEN CONSIDERED THE INEVITABLE CONCLUSION WOULD BE THE AFFIRMATION OF THE
LABOR ARBITERS DECISION FINDING ILLEGAL DISMISSAL

II. WHETHER, THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS SUBVERTED DUE PROCESS OF LAW WHEN IT
DID NOT CONSIDER THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD SHOWING THAT THERE WAS NO JUST CAUSE
FOR DISMISSAL AS PETITIONER IS NOT A DRUG USER AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO
SUPPORT THIS GROUND FOR DISMISSAL.

III. WHETHER, THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW IN
NOT FINDING THAT RESPONDENTS SUBVERTED PETITIONERS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF
THE LAW.23

Before we delve into the merits of this case, it is best to stress that the issues raised by petitioner in this instant petition
are factual in nature which is not within the office of a Petition for Review.24 The raison detre for this rule is that, this
Court is not a trier of facts and does not routinely undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the
contending parties for the factual findings of the labor officials who have acquired expertise in their own fields are
accorded not only respect but even finality, and are binding upon this Court.25

However, when the findings of the Labor Arbiter contradict those of the NLRC, departure from the general rule is
warranted, and this Court must of necessity make an infinitesimal scrunity and examine the records all over again
including the evidence presented by the opposing parties to determine which findings should be preferred as more
conformable with evidentiary facts.26

The primordial issue in the petition at bar is whether the petitioner was illegally dismissed from employment.

The Labor Arbiter found that the petitioner was illegally dismissed from employment warranting the payment of his
backwages. The NLRC and the Court of Appeals found otherwise.

In reversing the Labor Arbiters Decision, the NLRC underscored the settled evidentiary rule that before the burden of
proof shifts to the employer to prove the validity of the employees dismissal, the employee must first sufficiently
establish that he was indeed dismissed from employment. The petitioner, in the present case, failed to establish the fact
of his dismissal. The NLRC did not give credence to petitioners allegation that he was banned by the private
respondent from entering the workplace, opining that had it been true that petitioner was no longer allowed to enter the
training site when he reported for work thereat on 2 December 2000, it is quite a wonder he was able to do so the very
next day, on 3 December 2000, to claim his salary.27

The Court of Appeals validated the above conclusion reached by the NLRC and further rationated that petitioners
positive allegations that he was dismissed from service was negated by substantial evidence to the contrary. Petitioners
averments of what transpired inside private respondents main office on 29 November 2000, when he was allegedly
already dismissed from service, and his claim that he was effectively banned from private respondents premises are
belied by the fact that he was able to claim his salary for the period of 16-30 November 2000 at private respondents
training site.

Petitioner, therefore, is now before this Court assailing the Decisions handed down by the NLRC and the Court of
Appeals, and insisting that he was illegally dismissed from his employment. Petitioner argues that his receipt of his
earned salary for the period of 16-30 November 2000, and his 13th month pay, is neither inconsistent with nor a
negation of his allegation of illegal dismissal. Petitioner maintains that he received his salary and benefit only from the
guardhouse, for he was already banned from the work premises.

We are not persuaded.

Well-entrenched is the principle that in order to establish a case before judicial and quasi-administrative bodies, it is
necessary that allegations must be supported by substantial evidence.28 Substantial evidence is more than a mere
scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.29

In the present case, there is hardly any evidence on record so as to meet the quantum of evidence required, i.e.,
substantial evidence. Petitioners claim of illegal dismissal is supported by no other than his own bare, uncorroborated
and, thus, self-serving allegations, which are also incoherent, inconsistent and contradictory.

Petitioner himself narrated that when his presence was requested on 29 November 2000 at the private respondents
main office where he was served with the Notice to Explain his superiors report on his suspected drug use, VP for
Administration Ty offered him separation pay if he will just voluntarily resign from employment. While we do not
condone such an offer, neither can we construe that petitioner was dismissed at that instance. Petitioner was only being
given the option to either resign and receive his separation pay or not to resign but face the possible disciplinary
charges against him. The final decision, therefore, whether to voluntarily resign or to continue working still, ultimately
rests with the petitioner. In fact, by petitoners own admission, he requested from VP for Administration Ty more time
to think over the offer.

Moreover, the petitioner alleged that he was not allowed to enter the training site by the guard on duty who told him
that he was already banned from the premises. Subsequently, however, petitioner admitted in his Supplemental
Affidavit that he was able to return to the said site on 3 December 2000, to claim his 16-30 November 2000 salary, and
again on 9 December 2000, to receive his 13th month pay. The fact alone that he was able to return to the training site
to claim his salary and benefits raises doubt as to his purported ban from the premises.

Finally, petitioners stance that he was dismissed by private respondent was further weakened with the presentation of
private respondents payroll bearing petitioners name proving that petitioner remained as private respondents
employee up to December 2000. Again, petitioners assertion that the payroll was merely fabricated for the purpose of
supporting private respondents case before the NLRC cannot be given credence. Entries in the payroll, being entries in
the course of business, enjoy the presumption of regularity under Rule 130, Section 43 of the Rules of Court. It is
therefore incumbent upon the petitioner to adduce clear and convincing evidence in support of his claim of fabrication
and to overcome such presumption of regularity.30 Unfortunately, petitioner again failed in such endeavor.
On these scores, there is a dearth of evidence to establish the fact of petitioners dismissal. We have scrupulously
examined the records and we found no evidence presented by petitioner, other than his own contentions that he was
indeed dismissed by private respondent.

While this Court is not unmindful of the rule that in cases of illegal dismissal, the employer bears the burden of proof
to prove that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause in the case at bar, however, the facts and the evidence
did not establish a prima facie case that the petitioner was dismissed from employment.31 Before the private respondent
must bear the burden of proving that the dismissal was legal, petitioner must first establish by substantial evidence the
fact of his dismissal from service. Logically, if there is no dismissal, then there can be no question as to the legality or
illegality thereof.

In Machica v. Roosevelt Services Center, Inc.,32 we had underscored that the burden of proving the allegations rest
upon the party alleging, to wit:

The rule is that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it; thus, petitioners were burdened to prove their
allegation that respondents dismissed them from their employment. It must be stressed that the evidence to prove
this fact must be clear, positive and convincing. The rule that the employer bears the burden of proof in illegal
dismissal cases finds no application here because the respondents deny having dismissed the petitioners.33

In Rufina Patis Factory v. Alusitain,34 this Court took the occasion to emphasize:

It is a basic rule in evidence, however, that the burden of proof is on the part of the party who makes the allegations
ei incumbit probatio, qui dicit, non qui negat. If he claims a right granted by law, he must prove his claim by
competent evidence, relying on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of that of his
opponent.35

It is true that the Constitution affords full protection to labor, and that in light of this Constitutional mandate, we must
be vigilant in striking down any attempt of the management to exploit or oppress the working class. However, it does
not mean that we are bound to uphold the working class in every labor dispute brought before this Court for our
resolution.

The law in protecting the rights of the employees, authorizes neither oppression nor self-destruction of the employer. It
should be made clear that when the law tilts the scales of justice in favor of labor, it is in recognition of the inherent
economic inequality between labor and management. The intent is to balance the scales of justice; to put the two
parties on relatively equal positions. There may be cases where the circumstances warrant favoring labor over the
interests of management but never should the scale be so tilted if the result is an injustice to the employer. Justitia
nemini neganda est -- justice is to be denied to none.36

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated 28 May
2005 and its Resolution dated 7 September 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No. 79724 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the
petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-48926 December 14, 1987
MANUEL SOSITO, petitioner, vs. AGUINALDO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondent.

We gave due course to this petition and required the parties to file simultaneous memoranda on the sole question of
whether or not the petitioner is entitled to separation pay under the retrenchment program of the private respondent.

The facts are as follows:

Petitioner Manuel Sosito was employed in 1964 by the private respondent, a logging company, and was in charge of
logging importation, with a monthly salary of P675.00, 1 when he went on indefinite leave with the consent of the
company on January 16, 1976. 2 On July 20, 1976, the private respondent, through its president, announced a
retrenchment program and offered separation pay to employees in the active service as of June 30, 1976, who would
tender their resignations not later than July 31, 1976. The petitioner decided to accept this offer and so submitted his
resignation on July 29, 1976, "to avail himself of the gratuity benefits" promised. 3 However, his resignation was not
acted upon and he was never given the separation pay he expected. The petitioner complained to the Department of
Labor, where he was sustained by the labor arbiter. 4 The company was ordered to pay Sosito the sum of P 4,387.50,
representing his salary for six and a half months. On appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission, this decision
was reversed and it was held that the petitioner was not covered by the retrenchment program. 5 The petitioner then
came to us.

For a better understanding of this case, the memorandum of the private respondent on its retrenchment program is
reproduced in full as follows:

Memorandum To: ALL EMPLOYEES

Re: RETRENCHMENT PROGRAM

As you are all aware, the operations of wood-based industries in the Philippines for the last two (2) years were
adversely affected by the worldwide decline in the demand for and prices of logs and wood products. Our
company was no exception to this general decline in the market, and has suffered tremendous losses. In 1975
alone, such losses amounted to nearly P20,000,000.00.

The company has made a general review of its operations and has come to the unhappy decision of the need to
make adjustments in its manpower strength if it is to survive. This is indeed an unfortunate and painful decision to
make, but it leaves the company no alternative but to reduce its tremendous and excessive overhead expense in
order to prevent an ultimate closure.

Although the law allows the Company, in a situation such as this, to drastically reduce it manpower strength
without any obligation to pay separation benefits, we recognize the need to provide our employees some financial
assistance while they are looking for other jobs.

The Company therefore is adopting a retrenchment program whereby employees who are in the active service as
of June 30, 1976 will be paid separation benefits in an amount equivalent to the employee's one-half (1/2) month's
basic salary multiplied by his/her years of service with the Company. Employees interested in availing of the
separation benefits offered by the Company must manifest such intention by submitting written letters of
resignation to the Management not later than July 31, 1976. Those whose resignations are accepted shall be
informed accordingly and shall be paid their separation benefits.

After July 31, 1976, this offer of payment of separation benefits will no longer be available. Thereafter, the
Company shall apply for a clearance to terminate the services of such number of employees as may be necessary
in order to reduce the manpower strength to such desired level as to prevent further losses.

(SGD.) JOSE G. RICAFORT


President
N.B.
For additional information
and/or resignation forms,
please see Mr. Vic Maceda
or Atty. Ben Aritao. 6

It is clear from the memorandum that the offer of separation pay was extended only to those who were in the active
service of the company as of June 30, 1976. It is equally clear that the petitioner was not eligible for the promised
gratuity as he was not actually working with the company as of the said date. Being on indefinite leave, he was not in
the active service of the private respondent although, if one were to be technical, he was still in its employ. Even so,
during the period of indefinite leave, he was not entitled to receive any salary or to enjoy any other benefits available to
those in the active service.

It seems to us that the petitioner wants to enjoy the best of two worlds at the expense of the private respondent. He has
insulated himself from the insecurities of the floundering firm but at the same time would demand the benefits it offers.
Being on indefinite leave from the company, he could seek and try other employment and remain there if he should
find it acceptable; but if not, he could go back to his former work and argue that he still had the right to return as he
was only on leave.

There is no claim that the petitioner was temporarily laid off or forced to go on leave; on the contrary, the record shows
that he voluntarily sought the indefinite leave which the private respondent granted. It is strange that the company
should agree to such an open-ended arrangement, which is obviously one-sided. The company would not be free to
replace the petitioner but the petitioner would have a right to resume his work as and when he saw fit.

We note that under the law then in force the private respondent could have validly reduced its work force because of its
financial reverses without the obligation to grant separation pay. This was permitted under the original Article 272(a),
of the Labor Code, 7 which was in force at the time. To its credit, however, the company voluntarily offered gratuities
to those who would agree to be phased out pursuant to the terms and conditions of its retrenchment program, in
recognition of their loyalty and to tide them over their own financial difficulties. The Court feels that such
compassionate measure deserves commendation and support but at the same time rules that it should be available only
to those who are qualified therefore. We hold that the petitioner is not one of them.

While the Constitution is committed to the policy of social justice and the protection of the working class, it should not
be supposed that every labor dispute will be automatically decided in favor of labor. Management also has its own
rights which, as such, are entitled to respect and enforcement in the interest of simple fair play. Out of its concern for
those with less privileges in life, this Court has inclined more often than not toward the worker and upheld his cause in
his conflicts with the employer. Such favoritism, however, has not blinded us to the rule that justice is in every case for
the deserving, to be dispensed in the light of the established facts and the applicable law and doctrine.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED and the challenged decision AFFIRMED, with costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED
G.R. No. 111933 July 23, 1997
PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, petitioner, vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and LETTIE P. CORPUZ, respondent.

This petition for certiorari pleads for the revocation of the November 16, 1992, decision of the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC), affirming in toto the resolution of Labor Arbiter Jose G. De Vera dated February 28,
1991, as well as its resolution dated August 20, 1993, denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.

Private respondent Lettie Corpuz was employed as traffic operator at the Manila International Traffic Division (MITD)
by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) for ten years and nine months, from September 19,
1978, until her dismissal on June 17, 1989. Her primary task was to facilitate requests for incoming and outgoing
international calls through the use of a digital switchboard.

Sometime in December 1987, PLDT's rank-and-file employees and telephone operators went on strike, prompting the
supervisors of the MITD to discharge the former's duties to prevent a total shutdown of its business operations. "While
in the course of their emergency assignments, two supervisors almost simultaneously received two different requests
for overseas calls bound for different Middle East countries and both callers reported the same calling number (98-68-
16)."1 The tone verifications having yielded negative results, the callers were advised to hang up their telephones to
enable the supervisors to effect an alternative verification system by calling the same number again. As in the first
instance, the number remained unverified. Investigating the seemingly anomalous incident, the matter was reported to
the Quality Control Inspection Department (QCID) which revealed that the subject number was temporarily
disconnected on June 10, 1987, and permanently on September 24, 1987. It also showed that 439 overseas calls were
made through the same number between May and November 1987.

On account of such disclosure, the microfiches containing the completed calls through telephone number 98-68-16
were ordered to be re-run. It yielded the following results: (1) 235 telephone operators handled the 439 calls placed
through the supposedly disconnected number; (2) respondent handled 56 or 12.8% of the total calls, while the other
operators had an average of only 1.8% calls each; (3) respondent completed one call on May 23, 1987 and effected 34
calls after the disconnection, 24 of which were completed through tone verification while the other 10 calls were done
without the requisite tone verification or call-back procedure, and 21 other calls were cancelled; (4) of the 21 cancelled
calls handled by respondent, one bared a BU report (party unavailable) but fetched a long OCD (operator call duration)
of 13 minutes and 21 seconds while another call registered a BB report (called party, busy) but with an OCD of 22
minutes and 34 seconds, both considered unusually protracted by respondent for holding a connection; and (5)
respondent made several personal calls to telephone numbers 96-50-72, 99-92-82 and 97-25-68, the latter being her
home phone number.

Premised on the above findings, on July 26, 1988, MITD Manager Erlinda Kabigting directed respondent to explain
her alleged infraction, that is, facilitating 34 calls using the disconnected number.

Instead of tendering the required explanation, respondent requested a formal investigation to allow her to confront the
witnesses and rebut the proofs that may be brought against her. On grounds of serious misconduct and breach of trust,
the Legal Department recommended her dismissal. In a letter dated June 16, 1989, respondent was terminated from
employment effective the following day.

In a complaint for illegal dismissal filed by respondent against petitioner, Labor Arbiter Jose G. De Vera rendered a
decision, the dispositive portion of which reads thus:

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing premises being considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the
respondent company to reinstated the complaint to her former position with all the rights, benefits and
privileges thereto appertaining including seniority plus backwages which as of February 28, 1991 already
amounted to P103,381.50 (P5,043.00 mo. x. 20.5 mos.). Further, the respondent company is ordered to pay
complainant attorney's fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of such backwages that the latter may recover in
this suit.

SO ORDERED.2

On appeal, said decision was affirmed by the NLRC on November 16, 1992. Its motion for reconsideration having been
denied on August 20, 1993, petitioner filed the instant petition for certiorari.

The instant petition must be dismissed. Petitioner failed to adduce any substantial argument that would warrant a
reversal of the questioned decision.

Time and again, this Court has reminded employers that while the power to dismiss is a normal prerogative of the
employer, the same is not without limitations.3 The right of an employer to freely discharge his employees is subject to
regulation by the State, basically through the exercise of its police power. This is so because the preservation of the
lives citizens is a basic duty of the State, an obligation more vital than the preservation of corporate profits. 4

Petitioner insists that respondent was guilty of defrauding them when she serviced 56 of the 439 calls coming from
telephone number 98-68-16 and received numerous requests for overseas calls virtually from the same calling number,
which could not have been a mere coincidence but most likely was a pre-arranged undertaking in connivance with
certain subscribers.

The records show, however, that the subject phone calls were neither unusual nor coincidental as other operators shared
similar experiences. A certain Eric Maramba declared that it is not impossible for an operator to receive continuous
calls from the same telephone number. He testified that at one time, he was a witness to several calls consistently
effected from 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The calls having passed the verification tone system, the incident was undoubtedly
alarming enough but there was no way that he or his co-operators could explain the same.

This Court agrees with the labor arbiter when he stated that the more frequent handling by the respondent of overseas
calls from the same calling number than other operators does not give rise to the conclusion that, indeed, respondent
was a party to such anomalous transaction.

As regards petitioner's claim that no call can be filed through a disconnected line, a certain Ms. Bautista averred getting
the same subject number after going through the standard verification procedures. She added that this complexity
extends even to other disconnected telephone lines. Equally important is the fact that on February 7, 1989, or about two
years after it was permanently disconnected, "telephone number 98-68-16 was used in calling an international number,
561-6800, that lasted for 46 minutes."5 Telephone operator number 448 seems to have been spared from any
administrative sanction considering that this lapse has aggravated the persistent problem concerning telephone number
98-68-16.

Thus, Labor Arbiter de Vera correctly ruled:

It need not be emphasized here that there were lapses in certain operational aspects of the respondent company
which made the irregularity possible, for indeed there exists a mystery about the serviceability of the subject
telephone line. That there were personnel of the respondent company involved who could have restored what
was earlier disconnected permanently appears certain. Nonetheless, exacting the ultimate blame upon the
respondent (complainant) in the absence of concrete inculpatory proofs of her complexity (sic) to an anomaly
if there be one, cannot be justified.6

This Court will not sanction a dismissal premised on mere conjectures and suspicions. To be a valid ground for
respondent's dismissal, the evidence must be substantial and not arbitrary and must be founded on clearly established
facts sufficient to warrant his separation from work.7

It should be borne in mind that in termination cases, the employer bears the burden of proving that the dismissal is for
just cause failing which would mean that the dismissal is not justified and the employee is entitled to
reinstatement.8 The essence of due process in administrative proceedings is the opportunity to explain one's side or a
chance to seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. 9 The twin requirements of notice and hearing
constitute the essential elements of due process. This simply means that the employer shall afford the worker ample
opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative, if he so desires. Ample
opportunity connotes every kind of assistance that management must accord the employee to enable him to prepare
adequately for his defense including legal representation. 10 In the instant case, the petitioner failed to convincingly
establish valid bases on the alleged serious misconduct and loss of trust and confidence.

In carrying out and interpreting the Labor Code's provisions and its implementing regulations, the workingman's
welfare should be the primordial and paramount consideration. This kind of interpretation gives meaning and substance
to tile liberal and compassionate spirit of the law as provided for in Article 4 of the Labor Code, as amended, which
states that ''all doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of the Labor Code including its
implementing rules and regulations shall be resolved in favor of labor, 11 as well as the Constitutional mandate that the
State shall afford full protection to labor and promote full employment opportunities for all. Likewise, it shall
guarantee the rights of all workers to security of tenure. Such constitutional right should not be denied on mere
speculation of any unclear and nebulous basis. 12

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is DISMISSED and the decision dated November 16,
1992 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 152642 November 13, 2012
HON. PATRICIA A. STO.TOMAS, ROSALINDA BALDOZ and LUCITA LAZO, Petitioners, vs.
REY SALAC, WILLIE D. ESPIRITU, MARIO MONTENEGRO, DODGIE BELONIO, LOLIT SALINEL and BUDDY
BONNEVIE, Respondents.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 152710
HON. PATRICIA A. STO. TOMAS, in her capacity as Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), HON.
ROSALINDA D. BALDOZ, in her capacity as Administrator, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION GOVERNING BOARD, Petitioners, vs.
HON. JOSE G. PANEDA, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of Branch 220, Quezon City, ASIAN RECRUITMENT
COUNCIL PHILIPPINE CHAPTER, INC. (ARCOPHIL), for itself and in behalf of its members: WORLDCARE PHILIPPINES
SERVIZO INTERNATIONALE, INC., STEADFAST INTERNATIONAL RECRUITMENT CORP., VERDANT MANPOWER
MOBILIZATION CORP., BRENT OVERSEAS PERSONNEL, INC., ARL MANPOWER SERVICES, INC., DAHLZEN
INTERNATIONAL SERVICES, INC., INTERWORLD PLACEMENT CENTER, INC., LAKAS TAO CONTRACT SERVICES
LTD. CO., SSC MULTI-SERVICES, DMJ INTERNATIONAL, and MIP INTERNATIONAL MANPOWER SERVICES,
represented by its proprietress, MARCELINA I. PAGSIBIGAN, Respondents.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 167590
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, the HONORABLE
SECRETARY OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT (DOLE), the PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT
ADMINISTRATION (POEA), the OVERSEAS WORKERS WELFARE ADMINISTRATION (OWWA), the LABOR
ARBITERS OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (NLRC), the HONORABLE SECRETARY OF
JUSTICE, the HONORABLE SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS and the COMMISSION ON AUDIT
(COA), Petitioners, vs.
PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF SERVICE EXPORTERS, INC. (P ASEI), Respondent.
x-----------------------x
G.R. Nos. 182978-79
BECMEN SERVICE EXPORTER AND PROMOTION, INC., Petitioner, vs.
SPOUSES SIMPLICIO AND MILA CUARESMA (for and in behalf of daughter, Jasmin G. Cuaresma), WHITE FALCON
SERVICES, INC., and JAIME ORTIZ (President of White Falcon Services, Inc.), Respondents.
x-----------------------x
G.R. Nos. 184298-99
SPOUSES SIMPLICIO AND MILA CUARESMA (for and in behalf of deceased daughter, Jasmin G. Cuaresma), Petitioners, vs.
WHITE FALCON SERVICES, INC. and BECMEN SERVICES EXPORTER AND PROMOTION, INC., Respondents.

These consolidated cases pertain to the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act 8042, otherwise known
as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.

The Facts and the Case

On June 7, 1995 Congress enacted Republic Act (R.A.) 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of
1995 that, for among other purposes, sets the Governments policies on overseas employment and establishes a higher
standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families, and overseas Filipinos in
distress.

G.R. 152642 and G.R. 152710

(Constitutionality of Sections 29 and 30, R.A. 8042)

Sections 29 and 30 of the Act1 commanded the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to begin deregulating
within one year of its passage the business of handling the recruitment and migration of overseas Filipino workers and
phase out within five years the regulatory functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

On January 8, 2002 respondents Rey Salac, Willie D. Espiritu, Mario Montenegro, Dodgie Belonio, Lolit Salinel, and
Buddy Bonnevie (Salac, et al.) filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for temporary
restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction against petitioners, the DOLE Secretary, the POEA Administrator,
and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary-General before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 96.2

Salac, et al. sought to: 1) nullify DOLE Department Order 10 (DOLE DO 10) and POEA Memorandum Circular 15
(POEA MC 15); 2) prohibit the DOLE, POEA, and TESDA from implementing the same and from further issuing
rules and regulations that would regulate the recruitment and placement of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs); and 3)
also enjoin them to comply with the policy of deregulation mandated under Sections 29 and 30 of Republic Act 8042.

On March 20, 2002 the Quezon City RTC granted Salac, et al.s petition and ordered the government agencies
mentioned to deregulate the recruitment and placement of OFWs.3 The RTC also annulled DOLE DO 10, POEA MC
15, and all other orders, circulars and issuances that are inconsistent with the policy of deregulation under R.A. 8042.

Prompted by the RTCs above actions, the government officials concerned filed the present petition in G.R. 152642
seeking to annul the RTCs decision and have the same enjoined pending action on the petition.

On April 17, 2002 the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. intervened in the case before the Court,
claiming that the RTC March 20, 2002 Decision gravely affected them since it paralyzed the deployment abroad of
OFWs and performing artists. The Confederated Association of Licensed Entertainment Agencies, Incorporated
(CALEA) intervened for the same purpose.4

On May 23, 2002 the Court5 issued a TRO in the case, enjoining the Quezon City RTC, Branch 96, from enforcing its
decision.

In a parallel case, on February 12, 2002 respondents Asian Recruitment Council Philippine Chapter, Inc. and others
(Arcophil, et al.) filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for TRO and preliminary injunction
against the DOLE Secretary, the POEA Administrator, and the TESDA Director-General,6 before the RTC of Quezon
City, Branch 220, to enjoin the latter from implementing the 2002 Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment
and Employment of Overseas Workers and to cease and desist from issuing other orders, circulars, and policies that
tend to regulate the recruitment and placement of OFWs in violation of the policy of deregulation provided in Sections
29 and 30 of R.A. 8042.

On March 12, 2002 the Quezon City RTC rendered an Order, granting the petition and enjoining the government
agencies involved from exercising regulatory functions over the recruitment and placement of OFWs. This prompted
the DOLE Secretary, the POEA Administrator, and the TESDA Director-General to file the present action in G.R.
152710. As in G.R. 152642, the Court issued on May 23, 2002 a TRO enjoining the Quezon City RTC, Branch 220
from enforcing its decision.

On December 4, 2008, however, the Republic informed7 the Court that on April 10, 2007 former President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law R.A. 94228 which expressly repealed Sections 29 and 30 of R.A. 8042 and adopted
the policy of close government regulation of the recruitment and deployment of OFWs. R.A. 9422 pertinently provides:

xxxx

SEC. 1. Section 23, paragraph (b.1) of Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the "Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995" is hereby amended to read as follows:

(b.1) Philippine Overseas Employment Administration The Administration shall regulate private sector participation
in the recruitment and overseas placement of workers by setting up a licensing and registration system. It shall also
formulate and implement, in coordination with appropriate entities concerned, when necessary, a system for promoting
and monitoring the overseas employment of Filipino workers taking into consideration their welfare and the domestic
manpower requirements.

In addition to its powers and functions, the administration shall inform migrant workers not only of their rights as
workers but also of their rights as human beings, instruct and guide the workers how to assert their rights and provide
the available mechanism to redress violation of their rights.

In the recruitment and placement of workers to service the requirements for trained and competent Filipino workers of
foreign governments and their instrumentalities, and such other employers as public interests may require, the
administration shall deploy only to countries where the Philippines has concluded bilateral labor agreements or
arrangements: Provided, That such countries shall guarantee to protect the rights of Filipino migrant workers; and:
Provided, further, That such countries shall observe and/or comply with the international laws and standards for
migrant workers.

SEC. 2. Section 29 of the same law is hereby repealed.

SEC. 3. Section 30 of the same law is also hereby repealed.

xxxx

On August 20, 2009 respondents Salac, et al. told the Court in G.R. 152642 that they agree 9 with the Republics view
that the repeal of Sections 29 and 30 of R.A. 8042 renders the issues they raised by their action moot and academic.
The Court has no reason to disagree. Consequently, the two cases, G.R. 152642 and 152710, should be dismissed for
being moot and academic.

G.R. 167590

(Constitutionality of Sections 6, 7, and 9 of R.A. 8042)

On August 21, 1995 respondent Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI) filed a petition for
declaratory relief and prohibition with prayer for issuance of TRO and writ of preliminary injunction before the RTC of
Manila, seeking to annul Sections 6, 7, and 9 of R.A. 8042 for being unconstitutional. (PASEI also sought to annul a
portion of Section 10 but the Court will take up this point later together with a related case.)

Section 6 defines the crime of "illegal recruitment" and enumerates the acts constituting the same. Section 7 provides
the penalties for prohibited acts. Thus:
SEC. 6. Definition. For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting,
contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or
advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-license 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 such non-license 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

SEC. 7. Penalties.

(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six
(6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine not less than two hundred thousand
pesos (200,000.00) nor more than five hundred thousand pesos (500,000.00).

(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than five hundred thousand pesos (500,000.00) nor
more than one million pesos (1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic
sabotage as defined herein.

Provided, however, That the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the person illegally recruited is less than eighteen
(18) years of age or committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority.10

Finally, Section 9 of R.A. 8042 allowed the filing of criminal actions arising from "illegal recruitment" before the RTC
of the province or city where the offense was committed or where the offended party actually resides at the time of the
commission of the offense.

The RTC of Manila declared Section 6 unconstitutional after hearing on the ground that its definition of "illegal
recruitment" is vague as it fails to distinguish between licensed and non-licensed recruiters11 and for that reason gives
undue advantage to the non-licensed recruiters in violation of the right to equal protection of those that operate with
government licenses or authorities.

But "illegal recruitment" as defined in Section 6 is clear and unambiguous and, contrary to the RTCs finding, actually
makes a distinction between licensed and non-licensed recruiters. By its terms, persons who engage in "canvassing,
enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers" without the appropriate government license
or authority are guilty of illegal recruitment whether or not they commit the wrongful acts enumerated in that section.
On the other hand, recruiters who engage in the canvassing, enlisting, etc. of OFWs, although with the appropriate
government license or authority, are guilty of illegal recruitment only if they commit any of the wrongful acts
enumerated in Section 6.

The Manila RTC also declared Section 7 unconstitutional on the ground that its sweeping application of the penalties
failed to make any distinction as to the seriousness of the act committed for the application of the penalty imposed on
such violation. As an example, said the trial court, the mere failure to render a report under Section 6(h) or obstructing
the inspection by the Labor Department under Section 6(g) are penalized by imprisonment for six years and one day
and a minimum fine of 200,000.00 but which could unreasonably go even as high as life imprisonment if committed
by at least three persons.

Apparently, the Manila RTC did not agree that the law can impose such grave penalties upon what it believed were
specific acts that were not as condemnable as the others in the lists. But, in fixing uniform penalties for each of the
enumerated acts under Section 6, Congress was within its prerogative to determine what individual acts are equally
reprehensible, consistent with the State policy of according full protection to labor, and deserving of the same
penalties. It is not within the power of the Court to question the wisdom of this kind of choice. Notably, this legislative
policy has been further stressed in July 2010 with the enactment of R.A. 1002212 which increased even more the
duration of the penalties of imprisonment and the amounts of fine for the commission of the acts listed under Section 7.

Obviously, in fixing such tough penalties, the law considered the unsettling fact that OFWs must work outside the
countrys borders and beyond its immediate protection. The law must, therefore, make an effort to somehow protect
them from conscienceless individuals within its jurisdiction who, fueled by greed, are willing to ship them out without
clear assurance that their contracted principals would treat such OFWs fairly and humanely.

As the Court held in People v. Ventura,13 the State under its police power "may prescribe such regulations as in its
judgment will secure or tend to secure the general welfare of the people, to protect them against the consequence of
ignorance and incapacity as well as of deception and fraud." Police power is "that inherent and plenary power of the
State which enables it to prohibit all things hurtful to the comfort, safety, and welfare of society."14

The Manila RTC also invalidated Section 9 of R.A. 8042 on the ground that allowing the offended parties to file the
criminal case in their place of residence would negate the general rule on venue of criminal cases which is the place
where the crime or any of its essential elements were committed. Venue, said the RTC, is jurisdictional in penal laws
and, allowing the filing of criminal actions at the place of residence of the offended parties violates their right to due
process. Section 9 provides:
SEC. 9. Venue. A criminal action arising from illegal recruitment as defined herein shall be filed with the Regional
Trial Court of the province or city where the offense was committed or where the offended party actually resides at the
time of the commission of the offense: Provided, That the court where the criminal action is first filed shall acquire
jurisdiction to the exclusion of other courts: Provided, however, That the aforestated provisions shall also apply to
those criminal actions that have already been filed in court at the time of the effectivity of this Act.

But there is nothing arbitrary or unconstitutional in Congress fixing an alternative venue for violations of Section 6 of
R.A. 8042 that differs from the venue established by the Rules on Criminal Procedure. Indeed, Section 15(a), Rule 110
of the latter Rules allows exceptions provided by laws. Thus:

SEC. 15. Place where action is to be instituted. (a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and
tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the offense was committed or where any of its essential
ingredients occurred. (Emphasis supplied)

xxxx

Section 9 of R.A. 8042, as an exception to the rule on venue of criminal actions is, consistent with that laws declared
policy15 of providing a criminal justice system that protects and serves the best interests of the victims of illegal
recruitment.

G.R. 167590, G.R. 182978-79,16 and G.R. 184298-9917

(Constitutionality of Section 10, last sentence of 2nd paragraph)

G.R. 182978-79 and G.R. 184298-99 are consolidated cases. Respondent spouses Simplicio and Mila Cuaresma (the
Cuaresmas) filed a claim for death and insurance benefits and damages against petitioners Becmen Service Exporter
and Promotion, Inc. (Becmen) and White Falcon Services, Inc. (White Falcon) for the death of their daughter Jasmin
Cuaresma while working as staff nurse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Labor Arbiter (LA) dismissed the claim on the ground that the Cuaresmas had already received insurance benefits
arising from their daughters death from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). The LA also gave
due credence to the findings of the Saudi Arabian authorities that Jasmin committed suicide.

On appeal, however, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) found Becmen and White Falcon jointly and
severally liable for Jasmins death and ordered them to pay the Cuaresmas the amount of US$113,000.00 as actual
damages. The NLRC relied on the Cabanatuan City Health Offices autopsy finding that Jasmin died of criminal
violence and rape.

Becmen and White Falcon appealed the NLRC Decision to the Court of Appeals (CA).18 On June 28, 2006 the CA held
Becmen and White Falcon jointly and severally liable with their Saudi Arabian employer for actual damages, with
Becmen having a right of reimbursement from White Falcon. Becmen and White Falcon appealed the CA Decision to
this Court.

On April 7, 2009 the Court found Jasmins death not work-related or work-connected since her rape and death did not
occur while she was on duty at the hospital or doing acts incidental to her employment. The Court deleted the award of
actual damages but ruled that Becmens corporate directors and officers are solidarily liable with their company for its
failure to investigate the true nature of her death. Becmen and White Falcon abandoned their legal, moral, and social
duty to assist the Cuaresmas in obtaining justice for their daughter. Consequently, the Court held the foreign employer
Rajab and Silsilah, White Falcon, Becmen, and the latters corporate directors and officers jointly and severally liable
to the Cuaresmas for: 1) P2,500,000.00 as moral damages; 2) P2,500,000.00 as exemplary damages; 3) attorneys fees
of 10% of the total monetary award; and 4) cost of suit.

On July 16, 2009 the corporate directors and officers of Becmen, namely, Eufrocina Gumabay, Elvira Taguiam,
Lourdes Bonifacio and Eddie De Guzman (Gumabay, et al.) filed a motion for leave to Intervene. They questioned the
constitutionality of the last sentence of the second paragraph of Section 10, R.A. 8042 which holds the corporate
directors, officers and partners jointly and solidarily liable with their company for money claims filed by OFWs against
their employers and the recruitment firms. On September 9, 2009 the Court allowed the intervention and admitted
Gumabay, et al.s motion for reconsideration.

The key issue that Gumabay, et al. present is whether or not the 2nd paragraph of Section 10, R.A. 8042, which holds
the corporate directors, officers, and partners of recruitment and placement agencies jointly and solidarily liable for
money claims and damages that may be adjudged against the latter agencies, is unconstitutional.

In G.R. 167590 (the PASEI case), the Quezon City RTC held as unconstitutional the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph
of Section 10 of R.A. 8042. It pointed out that, absent sufficient proof that the corporate officers and directors of the
erring company had knowledge of and allowed the illegal recruitment, making them automatically liable would violate
their right to due process of law.

The pertinent portion of Section 10 provides:


SEC. 10. Money Claims. x x x

The liability of the principal/employer and the recruitment/placement agency for any and all claims under this section
shall be joint and several. This provision shall be incorporated in the contract for overseas employment and shall be a
condition precedent for its approval. The performance bond to be filed by the recruitment/placement agency, as
provided by law, shall be answerable for all money claims or damages that may be awarded to the workers. If the
recruitment/placement agency is a juridical being, the corporate officers and directors and partners as the case may be,
shall themselves be jointly and solidarily liable with the corporation or partnership for the aforesaid claims and
damages. (Emphasis supplied)

But the Court has already held, pending adjudication of this case, that the liability of corporate directors and officers is
not automatic. To make them jointly and solidarily liable with their company, there must be a finding that they were
remiss in directing the affairs of that company, such as sponsoring or tolerating the conduct of illegal activities. 19 In the
case of Becmen and White Falcon,20 while there is evidence that these companies were at fault in not investigating the
cause of Jasmins death, there is no mention of any evidence in the case against them that intervenors Gumabay, et al.,
Becmens corporate officers and directors, were personally involved in their companys particular actions or omissions
in Jasmins case.

As a final note, R.A. 8042 is a police power measure intended to regulate the recruitment and deployment of OFWs. It
aims to curb, if not eliminate, the injustices and abuses suffered by numerous OFWs seeking to work abroad. The rule
is settled that every statute has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. The Court cannot inquire into the
wisdom or expediency of the laws enacted by the Legislative Department. Hence, in the absence of a clear and
unmistakable case that the statute is unconstitutional, the Court must uphold its validity.

WHEREFORE, in G.R. 152642 and 152710, the Court DISMISSES the petitions for having become moot and
academic.1wphi1

In G.R. 167590, the Court SETS ASIDE the Decision of the Regional Trial Court ofManila dated December 8, 2004
and DECLARES Sections 6, 7, and 9 of Republic Act 8042 valid and constitutional.

In G.R. 182978-79 and G.R. 184298-99 as well as in G.R. 167590, the Court HOLDS the last sentence of the second
paragraph of Section 10 of Republic Act 8042 valid and constitutional. The Court, however, RECONSIDERS and
SETS ASIDE the portion of its Decision in G.R. 182978-79 and G.R. 184298-99 that held intervenors Eufrocina
Gumabay, Elvira Taguiam, Lourdes Bonifacio, and Eddie De Guzman jointly and solidarily liable with respondent
Becmen Services Exporter and Promotion, Inc. to spouses Simplicia and Mila Cuaresma for lack of a finding in those
cases that such intervenors had a part in the act or omission imputed to their corporation.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-50734-37 February 20, 1981
WALLEM PHILIPPINES SHIPPING, INC., petitioner, vs.
THE HON. MINISTER OF LABOR, in his capacity as Chairman of the National Seamen Board Proper, JAIME
CAUNCA, ANTONIO CABRERA, EFREN GARCIA, JOSE OJEDA and RODOLFO PAGWAGAN, respondents.

Petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction with prayer that the Orders dated December 19, 1977 and April 3, 1979 of
the National Seamen Board (NSB) be declared null and void. Private respondents were hired by petitioner sometime in May
1975 to work as seamen for a period of ten months on board the M/V Woermann Sanaga, a Dutch vessel owned and
operated by petitioner's European principals. While their employment contracts were still in force, private respondents were
dismissed by their employer, petitioner herein, and were discharged from the ship on charges that they instigated the
International Transport Federation (ITF) to demand the application of worldwide ITF seamen's rates to their crew.

Private respondents were repatriated to the Philippines on October 27, 1975 and upon their arrival in Manila, they
instituted a complaint against petitioner for illegal dismissal and recovery of wages and other benefits corresponding to
the five months' unexpired period of their shipboard employment contract.

In support of their complaint, private respondents submitted a Joint Affidavit 1 stating the circumstances surrounding their
employment and subsequent repatriation to the Philippines, material averments of which are herein below reproduced:

JOINTAFFIDAVIT

xxx xxx xxx

5. That aside from our basic monthly salary we are entitled to two (2) months vacation leave, daily subsistence
allowance of US$8.14 each, daily food allowance of US$2.50. as well as overtime pay which we failed to receive
because our Shipboard Employment Contract was illegally terminated;

6. That while we were in Rotterdam, on or about July 9, 1975, representative of the ITF boarded our vessel and
talked with the Ship's Captain;

7. That the following day, the representatives of the ITF returned and was followed by Mr. M.S.K. Ogle who is
the Company's Administrative Manager, again went to see the Captain;

8. That at around 7:00 in the evening all the crew members were called in the Mess Hall where the ITF
representatives informed us that they have just entered into a "Special Agreement" with the Wallem Shipping
Management, Ltd., represented by Mr. M.S.K. Ogle, Administrative Manager, wherein new salary rates was
agreed upon and that we were going to be paid our salary differentials in view of the new rates;

9. That in the same meeting, Mr. M.S.K. Ogle also spoke where he told that a Special Agreement has been signed
and that we will be receiving new pay rate and enjoined us to work hard and be good boys;

10. That the same evening we received our salary differentials based on the new rates negotiated for us by the ITF.

11. That while we were in the Port Dubai, Saudi Arabia, we were not receiving our pay, since the Ship's Captain
refused to implement the world-wide rates and insisted on paying us the Far East Rate;

12. That the Port Dubai is one that is within the Worldwide rates sphere.

13. That on October 22, 1975, Mr. Greg Nacional Operation Manager of respondent corporation, arrived in Dubai
Saudi Arabia and boarded our ship;

14. That on October 23, 1975, Mr. Nacional called all the crew members, including us to a meeting at the Mess
Hall and there he explained that the Company cannot accept the worldwide rate. The Special Agreement signed by
Mr. Ogle in behalf of the Company is nothing but a scrap of paper. Mr. Jaime Caunca then asked Mr. Nacional, in view
of what he was saying, whether the Company will honor the Special Agreement and Mr. Nacional answered "Yes".
That we must accept the Far East Rates which was put to a vote. Only two voted for accepting the Far East Rates;

15. That immediately thereafter Mr. Nacional left us;

16. That same evening, Mr. Nacional returned and threatened that he has received a cable from the Home Office
that if we do not accept the Far East Rate, our services will be terminated and there will be a change in crew;

17. That when Mr. Nacional left, we talked amongst ourselves and decided to accept the Far East Rates;

18. That in the meeting that evening because of the threat we informed Mr. Nacional we were accepting the Far
East Rate and he made us sign a document to that effect;

19. That we the complainants with the exception of Leopoldo Mamaril and Efren Garcia, were not able to sign as
we were at the time on work schedules, and Mr. Nacional did not bother anymore if we signed or not;
20. That after the meeting Mr. Nacional cabled the Home Office, informing them that we the complainants with
the exception of Messrs. Mamaril and Garcia were not accepting the Far East Rates;

21. That in the meeting of October 25, 1975, Mr. Nacional signed a document whereby he promised to give no
priority of first preference in "boarding a vessel and that we are not blacklisted";

22. That in spite of our having accepted the Far East Rate, our services were terminated and advised us that there
was a change in crew;

23. That on October 27, 1975, which was our scheduled flight home, nobody attended us, not even our clearance
for our group travel and consequently we were not able to board the plane, forcing us to sleep on the floor at the
airport in the evening of October 27, 1975;

24. That the following day we went back to the hotel in Dubai which was a two hours ride from the airport, where
we were to await another flight for home via Air France;

25. That we were finally able to leave for home on November 2, 1975 arriving here on the 3rd of November;

26. That we paid for all excess baggages;

27. That Mr. Nacional left us stranded, since he went ahead on October 27, 1975;

28. That immediately upon arriving in Manila, we went to respondent Company and saw Mr. Nacional, who
informed us that we were not blacklisted, however, Mr. Mckenzie, Administrative Manager did inform us that we
were all blacklisted;

29. That we were asking from the respondent Company our leave pay, which they refused to give, if we did not
agree to a US$100.00 deduction;

30. That with the exception of Messrs. Jaime Caunca Amado Manansala and Antonio Cabrera, we received our
leave pay with the US$100.00 deduction;

31. That in view of the written promise of Mr. Nacional in Dubai last October 23, 1975 to give us priority and
preference in boarding a vessel and that we were not blacklisted we have on several occasions approached him
regarding his promise, which up to the present he has refused to honor.

xxx xxx xxx

Answering the complaint, petitioner countered that when the vessel was in London, private respondents together with
the other crew insisted on worldwide ITF rate as per special agreement; that said employees threatened the ship
authorities that unless they agreed to the increased wages the vessel would not be able to leave port or would have been
picketed and/or boycotted and declared a hot ship by the ITF; that the Master of the ship was left with no alternative
but to agree; that upon the vessel's arrival at the Asian port of Dubai on October 22, 1975, a representative of petitioner
went on board the ship and requested the crew together with private respondents to desist from insisting worldwide ITF
rate and instead accept the Far East rate; that said respondents refused to accept Far East ITF rates while the rest of the
Filipino crew members accepted the Far East rates; that private respondents were replaced at the expense of petitioner
and it was prayed that respondents be required to comply with their obligations under the contract by requiring them to
pay their repatriation expenses and all other incidental expenses incurred by the master and crew of the vessel.

After the hearing on the merits, the hearing Officer of the Secretariat rendered a decision 2 on March 14, 1977 finding
private respondents to have violated their contract of employment when they accepted salary rates different from their
contract verified and approved by the National Seamen Board. As to the issue raised by private respondents that the
original contract has been novated, it was held that:

xxx xxx xxx

For novation to be a valid defense, it is a legal requirement that all parties to the contract should give their
consent. In the instant case only the complainants and respondents gave their consent. The National Seamen
Board had no participation in the alleged novation of the previously approved employment contract. It would
have been different if the consent of the National Seamen Board was first secured before the alleged novation of
the approved contract was undertaken, hence, the defense of novation is not in order.

xxx xxx xxx

The Hearing Officer likewise rules that petitioner violated the contract when its representative signed the Special
Agreement and he signed the same at his own risk and must bear the consequence of such act, and since both parties
are in paridelicto, complaint and counterclaim were dismissed for lack of merit but petitioner was ordered to pay
respondents Caunca and Cabrera their respective leave pay for the period that they have served M/V Woermann
Sanaga plus attorney's fees.
Private respondents filed a motion for reconsideration with the Board which modified the decision of the Secretariat in
an Order 3 of December 19, 1977 and ruled that petitioner is liable for breach of contract when it ordered the dismissal
of private respondents and their subsequent repatriation before the expiration of their respective employment contracts.
The Chairman of the Board stressed that "where the contract is for a definite period, the captain and the crew members
may not be discharged until after the contract shall have been performed" citing the case of Madrigal Shipping Co.,
Inc. vs. Ogilvie, et al. (104 Phil. 748). He directed petitioner to pay private respondents the unexpired portion of their
contracts and their leave pay, less the amount they received as differentials by virtue of the special agreements entered
in Rotterdam, and ten percent of the total amounts recovered as attorney's fees.

Petitioner sought clarification and reconsideration of the said order and asked for a confrontation with private
respondents to determine the specific adjudications to be made. A series of conferences were conducted by the Board.
It was claimed by petitioner that it did not have in its possession the records necessary to determine the exact amount of
the judgment since the records were in the sole custody of the captain of the ship and demanded that private
respondents produce the needed records. On this score, counsel for respondents manifested that to require the master of
the ship to produce the records would result to undue delay in the disposition of the case to the detriment of his clients,
some of whom are still unemployed.

Under the circumstances, the Board was left with no alternative but to issue an Order dated April 3, 1979 4 fixing the
amount due private respondents at their three (3) months' salary equivalent without qualifications or deduction.
Hence,the instant petition before Us alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent official as
Chairman of the Board, in issuing said order which allegedly nullified the findings of the Secretariat and premised
adjudication on imaginary conditions which were never taken up with full evidence in the course of hearing on the merits.

The whole controversy is centered around the liability of petitioner when it ordered the dismissal of herein private
respondents before the expiration of their respective employment contracts.

In its Order of December 19, 1977 5 the Board, thru its Chairman, Minister Blas F. Ople, held that there is no showing
that the seamen conspired with the ITF in coercing the ship authorities to grant salary increases, and the Special
Agreement was signed only by petitioner and the ITF without any participation from the respondents who, accordingly,
may not be charged as they were, by the Secretariat, with violation of their employment contract. The Board likewise
stressed that the crew members may not be discharged until after the expiration of the contract which is for a definite
period, and where the crew members are discharged without just cause before the contract shall have been performed,
they shall be entitled to collect from the owner or agent of the vessel their unpaid salaries for the period they were
engaged to render the services, applying the case of Madrigal Shipping Co., Inc. vs. Jesus Ogilivie et al. 6

The findings and conclusion of the Board should be sustained. As already intimated above, there is no logic in the statement
made by the Secretariat's Hearing Officer that the private respondents are liable for breach of their employment contracts for
accepting salaries higher than their contracted rates. Said respondents are not signatories to the Special Agreement, nor was
there any showing that they instigated the execution thereof. Respondents should not be blamed for accepting higher salaries
since it is but human for them to grab every opportunity which would improve their working conditions and earning
capacity. It is a basic right of all workingmen to seek greater benefits not only for themselves but for their families as well,
and this can be achieved through collective bargaining or with the assistance of trade unions. The Constitution itself
guarantees the promotion of social welfare and protection to labor. It is therefore the Hearing Officer that gravely erred in
disallowing the payment of the unexpired portion of the seamen's respective contracts of employment.

Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because the latter threatened the ship authorities
in acceeding to their demands, and this constitutes serious misconduct as contemplated by the Labor Code. This
contention is not well-taken. The records fail to establish clearly the commission of any threat. But even if there had
been such a threat, respondents' behavior should not be censured because it is but natural for them to employ some
means of pressing their demands for petitioner, who refused to abide with the terms of the Special Agreement, to honor
and respect the same. They were only acting in the exercise of their rights, and to deprive them of their freedom of
expression is contrary to law and public policy. There is no serious misconduct to speak of in the case at bar which
would justify respondents' dismissal just because of their firmness in their demand for the fulfillment by petitioner of
its obligation it entered into without any coercion, specially on the part of private respondents.

On the other hand, it is petitioner who is guilty of breach of contract when they dismissed the respondents without just
cause and prior to the expiration of the employment contracts. As the records clearly show, petitioner voluntarily
entered into the Special Agreement with ITF and by virtue thereof the crew men were actually given their salary
differentials in view of the new rates. It cannot be said that it was because of respondents' fault that petitioner made a
sudden turn-about and refused to honor the special agreement.

In brief, We declare petitioner guilty of breach of contract and should therefore be made to comply with the directives
contained in the disputed Orders of December 19, 1977 and April 3, 1979.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision dated March 14, 1977 of the Hearing Officer is SET ASIDE and the
Orders dated December 19, 1977 and April 3, 1979 of the National Seamen Board are AFFIRMED in toto. This
decision is immediately executory. Without costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-58011 & L-58012 November 18, 1983
VIR-JEN SHIPPING AND MARINE SERVICES, INC., petitioner, vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ROGELIO BISULA RUBEN ARROZA JUAN GACUTNO
LEONILO ATOK, NILO CRUZ, ALVARO ANDRADA, NEMESIO ADUG SIMPLICIO BAUTISTA, ROMEO ACOSTA,
and JOSE ENCABO respondents.

Before the Court en banc is a motion to reconsider the decision promulgated on July 20, 1982 which set aside the decision of
respondent National Labor Relations Commission and reinstated the decision of the National Seamen Board.

To better understand the issues raised in the motion for reconsideration, we reiterate the background facts of the case,
Taken from the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission: t.hqw

It appears that on different dates in December, 1978 and January, 1979, the Seamen entered into separate contracts of
employment with the Company, engaging them to work on board M/T' Jannu for a period of twelve (12) months.
After verification and approval of their contracts by the NSB, the Seamen boarded their vessel in Japan.

On 10 January 1919, the master of the vessel complainant Rogelio H. Bisula, received a cable from the
Company advising him of the possibility that the vessel might be directed to call at ITF-controlled ports said at
the same time informing him of the procedure to be followed in the computation of the special or additional
compensation of crew members while in said ports. ITF is the acronym for the International Transport Workers
Federation, a militant international labor organization with affiliates in different ports of the world, which
reputedly can tie down a vessel in a port by preventing its loading or unloading, This is a sanction resorted to by
ITF to enforce the payment of its wages rates for seafarers the so-called ITF rates, if the wages of the crew
members of a vessel who have affiliated with it are below its prescribed rates.) In the same cable of the
Company, the expressed its regrets for hot clarifying earlier the procedure in computing the special
compensation as it thought that the vessel would 'trade in Caribbean ports only.

On 22 March 1979, the Company sent another cable to complainant Bisula, this time informing him of the respective
amounts each of the officers and crew members would receive as special compensation when the vessel called at the
port of Kwinana Australia, an ITF-controlled port. This was followed by another cable on 23 March 1979, informing
him that the officers and crew members had been enrolled as members of the ITF in Sidney, Australia, and that the
membership fee for the 28 personnel complement of the vessel had already been paid.

In answer to the Company's cable last mentioned, complainant Bisula, in representation of the other officers and
crew members, sent on 24 March 1979 a cable informing the Company that the officers and crew members were
not agreeable to its 'suggestion'; that they were not contented with their present salaries 'based on the volume of
works, type of ship with hazardous cargo and registered in a world wide trade': that the 'officers and crew (were) not
interested in ITF membership if not actually paid with ITF rate that their 'demand is only 50% increase based on
present basic salary and that the proposed wage increase is the 'best and only solution to solve ITF problem' since the
Company's salary rates 'especially in tankers (are) very far in comparison with other shipping agencies in Manila ...

In reply, the Company proposed a 25% increase in the basic pay of the complainant crew members, although it
claimed, that it would "suffer and absorb considerable amount of losses." The proposal was accepted by the
Seamen with certain conditions which were accepted by the Company. Conformably with the agreement of the
parties which was effected through the cables abovementioned, the Seamen were paid their new salary rates.

Subsequently, the Company sought authority from the NSB to cancel the contracts of employment of the
Seamen, claiming that its principals had terminated their manning agreement because of the actuations of the
Seamen. The request was granted by the NSB Executive Director in a letter dated 10 April 1979. Soon
thereafter, the Company cabled the Seamen informing them that their contracts would be terminated upon the
vessel's arrival in Japan. On 19 April 1979 they Arere asked to disembark from the vessel, their contracts were
terminated, and they were repatriated to Manila. There is no showing that the Seamen were given the
opportunity to at least comment on the Company's request for the cancellation of their contracts, although they
had served only three (3) out of the twelve (12) months' duration of their contracts.

The private respondents filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and non-payment of earned wages with the National
Seamen Board. The Vir-jen Shipping and Marine Services Inc. in turn filed a complaint for breach of contract and
recovery of excess salaries and overtime pay against the private respondents. On July 2, 1980, the NSB rendered a
decision declaring that the seamen breached their employment contracts when they demanded and received from Vir-
jen Shipping wages over and above their contracted rates. The dismissal of the seamen was declared legal and the
seamen were ordered suspended.

The seamen appealed the decision to the NLRC which reversed the decision of the NSB and required the petitioner to pay
the wages and other monetary benefits corresponding to the unexpired portion of the manning contract on the ground that the
termination of the contract by the petitioner was without valid cause. Vir-jen Shipping filed the present petition.

The private respondents submit the following issues in their motion for reconsideration: t.hqw

A. THIS HONORABLE COURT DID VIOLENCE TO LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT HELD THAT
THE FINDING OF FACT OF THE NATIONAL SEAMEN BOARD THAT THE SEAMEN VIOLATED THEIR
CONTRACTS IS MORE CREDIBLE THAN THE FINDING OF FACT OF THE NATIONAL LABOR
RELATIONS COMMISSION THAT THE SEAMEN DID NOT VIOLATE THEIR CONTRACT.

B. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT VIR-JEN'S HAVING AGREED TO A 25%
INCREASE OF THE SEAMEN'S BASIC WAGE WAS NOT VOLUNTARY BUT WAS DUE TO THREATS.

C. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT TOOK COGNIZANCE OF THE ADDENDUM


AGREEMENT; ASSUMING THAT THE ADDENDUM AGREEMENT COULD BE TAKEN COGNIZANCE OF,
THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN' IT FOUND THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAD VIOLATED
THE SAME.

D, THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT DID NOT FIND PETITIONER VIRJEN LIABLE FOR
HAVING TERMINATED BEFORE EXPIRY DATE THE EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS, THERE BEING NO LEGAL AND JUSTIFIABLE GROUND FOR SUCH TERMINATION.

E. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PREPARATION BY PETITIONER OF THE
TWO PAYROLLS AND THE EXECUTION OF THE SIDE CONTRACT WERE NOT MADE IN BAD FAITH.

F. THIS HONORABLE COURT INADVERTENTLY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.

At the outset, we are faced with the question whether or not the Court en banc should give due course to the motion for
reconsideration inspite of its having been denied twice by the Court's Second Division. The case was referred to and
accepted by the Court en banc because of the movants' contention that the decision in this case by the Second Division
deviated from Wallem Phil. Shipping Inc. v. Minister of Labor (L-50734-37, February 20, 1981), a First Division case
with the same facts and issues. We are constrained to answer the initial question in the affirmative.

A fundamental postulate of Philippine Constitutional Law is the fact, that there is only one Supreme Court from whose
decisions all other courts are required to take their bearings. (Albert v. Court of First Instance, 23 SCRA 948; Barrera
v. Barrera, 34 SCRA 98; Tugade v. Court of Appeals, 85 SCRA 226). The majority of the Court's work is now performed by
its two Divisions, but the Court remains one court, single, unitary, complete, and supreme. Flowing from this nature of the
Supreme Court is the fact that, while ' individual Justices may dissent or partially concur with one another, when the Court
states what the law is, it speaks with only one voice. And that voice being authoritative should be a clear as possible.

Any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court, whether en banc or in Division, may be modified or reversed
only by the Court en banc. (Section 2(3), Article X, Constitution.) In the rare instances when one Division disagrees in
its views with the other Division, or the necessary votes on an issue cannot be had in a Division, the case is brought to
the Court en banc to reconcile any seeming conflict, to reverse or modify an earlier decision, and to declare the Court's
doctrine. This is what has happened in this case.

The decision sought to be reconsidered appears to be a deviation from the Court's decision, speaking through the First
Division, in Wallem Shipping, Inc. v. Hon. Minister of Labor (102 SCRA 835). Faced with two seemingly conflicting
resolutions of basically the same issue by its two Divisions, the Court. therefore, resolved to transfer the case to the
Court en banc. Parenthetically, the petitioner's comment on the third motion for reconsideration states that the
resolution of the motion might be the needed vehicle to make the ruling in the Wallem case clearer and more in time
with the underlying principles of the Labor Code. We agree with the petitioner.

After an exhaustive, painstaking, and perspicacious consideration of the motions for reconsideration and the comments, replies,
and other pleadings related thereto, the Court en banc is constrained to grant the motions. To grant the motion is to keep faith with
the constitutional mandate to afford protection to labor and to assure the rights of workers to self-organization and to just and
humane conditions of work. We sustain the decision of the respondent National labor Relations Commission.

There are various arguments raised by the petitioners but the common thread running through all of them is the
contention, if not the dismal prophecy, that if the respondent seamen are sustained by this Court, we would in effect
"kill the en that lays the golden egg." In other words, Filipino seamen, admittedly among the best in the world, should
remain satisfied with relatively lower if not the lowest, international rates of compensation, should not agitate for
higher wages while their contracts of employment are subsisting, should accept as sacred, iron clad, and immutable the
side contracts which require them to falsely pretend to be members of international labor federations, pretend to receive
higher salaries at certain foreign ports only to return the increased pay once the ship leaves that port, should stifle not
only their right to ask for improved terms of employment but their freedom of speech and expression, and should suffer
instant termination of employment at the slightest sign of dissatisfaction with no protection from their Government and
their courts. Otherwise, the petitioners contend that Filipinos would no longer be accepted as seamen, those employed
would lose their jobs, and the still unemployed would be left hopeless.

This is not the first time and it will not be the last where the threat of unemployment and loss of jobs would be used to
argue against the interests of labor; where efforts by workingmen to better their terms of employment would be
characterized as prejudicing the interests of labor as a whole.

In 1867 or one hundred sixteen years ago. Chief Justice Beasley of the Supreme Court of New Jersey was ponente of
the court's opinion declaring as a conspiracy the threat of workingmen to strike in connection with their efforts to
promote unionism, t.hqw
It is difficult to believe that a right exists in law which we can scarcely conceive can produce, in any posture of
affairs, other than injuriois results. It is simply the right of workmen, by concert of action, and by taking
advantage of their position, to control the business of another, I am unwilling to hold that a right which cannot,
in any, event, be advantageous to the employee, and which must always be hurtful to the employer, exists in law.
In my opinion this indictment sufficiently shows that the force of the confederates was brought to bear upon their
employer for the purpose of oppression and mischief and that this amounts to a conspiracy, (State v. Donaldson,
32 NJL 151, 1867. Cited in Chamberlain, Sourcebook on Labor, p. 13. Emphasis supplied)

The same arguments have greeted every major advance in the rights of the workingman. And they have invariably been
proved unfounded and false.

Unionism, employers' liability acts, minimum wages, workmen's compensation, social security and collective
bargaining to name a few were all initially opposed by employers and even well meaning leaders of government and
society as "killing the hen or goose which lays the golden eggs." The claims of workingmen were described as
outrageously injurious not only to the employer but more so to the employees themselves before these claims or
demands were established by law and jurisprudence as "rights" and before these were proved beneficial to
management, labor, and the nation as a whole beyond reasonable doubt.

The case before us does not represent any major advance in the rights of labor and the workingmen. The private
respondents merely sought rights already established. No matter how much the petitioner-employer tries to present
itself as speaking for the entire industry, there is no evidence that it is typical of employers hiring Filipino seamen or
that it can speak for them.

The contention that manning industries in the Philippines would not survive if the instant case is not decided in favor of
the petitioner is not supported by evidence. The Wallem case was decided on February 20, 1981. There have been no
severe repercussions, no drying up of employment opportunities for seamen, and none of the dire consequences
repeatedly emphasized by the petitioner. Why should Vir-jen be all exception?

The wages of seamen engaged in international shipping are shouldered by the foreign principal. The local manning
office is an agent whose primary function is recruitment and who .usually gets a lump sum from the shipowner to
defray the salaries of the crew. The hiring of seamen and the determination of their compensation is subject to the interplay
of various market factors and one key factor is how much in terms of profits the local manning office and the foreign
shipowner may realize after the costs of the voyage are met. And costs include salaries of officers and crew members.

Filipino seamen are admittedly as competent and reliable as seamen from any other country in the world. Otherwise,
there would not be so many of them in the vessels sailing in every ocean and sea on this globe. It is competence and
reliability, not cheap labor that makes our seamen so greatly in demand. Filipino seamen have never demanded the
same high salaries as seamen from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and other developed nations. But
certainly they are entitled to government protection when they ask for fair and decent treatment by their employer.-,
and when they exercise the right to petition for improved terms of employment, especially when they feel that these are
sub-standard or are capable of improvement according to internationally accepted rules. In the domestic scene, there
are marginal employers who prepare two sets of payrolls for their employees one in keeping with minimum wages
and the other recording the sub-standard wages that the employees really receive, The reliable employers, however, not
only meet the minimums required by fair labor standards legislation but even go way above the minimums while
earning reasonable profits and prospering. The same is true of international employment. There is no reason why this
Court and the Ministry of Labor and. Employment or its agencies and commissions should come out with
pronouncements based on the standards and practices of unscrupulous or inefficient shipowners, who claim they cannot
survive without resorting to tricky and deceptive schemes, instead of Government maintaining labor law and
jurisprudence according to the practices of honorable, competent, and law-abiding employers, domestic or foreign.

If any minor advantages given to Filipino seamen may somehow cut into the profits of local manning agencies and
foreign shipowners, that is not sufficient reason why the NSB or the ILRC should not stand by the former instead of
listening to unsubstantiated fears that they would be killing the hen which lays the golden eggs.

Prescinding from the above, we now hold that neither the National Seamen Board nor the National Labor Relations
Commission should, as a matter of official policy, legitimize and enforce cubious arrangements where shipowners and
seamen enter into fictitious contracts similar to the addendum agreements or side contracts in this case whose purpose
is to deceive. The Republic of the Philippines and its ministries and agencies should present a more honorable and
proper posture in official acts to the whole world, notwithstanding our desire to have as many job openings both here
and abroad for our workers. At the very least, such as sensitive matter involving no less than our dignity as a people
and the welfare of our workingmen must proceed from the Batasang Pambansa in the form of policy legislation, not
from administrative rule making or adjudication

Another issue raised by the movants is whether or not the seamen violated their contracts of employment.

The form contracts approved by the National Seamen Board are designed to protect Filipino seamen not foreign
shipowners who can take care of themselves. The standard forms embody' the basic minimums which must be
incorporated as parts of the employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V, Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor
Code.) They are not collective bargaining agreements or immutable contracts which the parties cannot improve upon or
modify in the course of the agreed period of time. To state, therefore, that the affected seamen cannot petition their
employer for higher salaries during the 12 months duration of the contract runs counter to established principles of
labor legislation. The National Labor Relations Commission, as the appellate tribunal from decisions of the National
Seamen Board, correctly ruled that the seamen did not violate their contracts to warrant their dismissal.

The respondent Commission ruled: t.hqw

In the light of all the foregoing facts, we find that the cable of the seamen proposing an increase in their wage rates
was not and could not have been intended as a threat to comp el the Company to accede to their proposals. But even
assuming, if only for the sake of argument, that the demand or proposal for a wage increase was accompanied by
a threat that they would report to ITF if the Company did not accede to the contract revision - although there really
was no such threat as pointed out earlier the Seamen should not be held at fault for asking such a demand. In the
same case cited above, the Supreme Court held: t.hqw

Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because the latter threatened the ship
authorities in acceding to their demands, and this constitutes serious misconduct as contemplated by the Labor
Code. This contention is not well-taken. But even if there had been such a threat, respondents' behavior should
not be censured because it is but natural for them to employ some means of pressing their demands for
petitioner, the refusal to abide with the terms of the Special Agreement, to honor and respect the same, They
were only acting in the exercise of their rights, and to deprive them of their freedom of expression is contrary to
law and public policy. There is no serious misconduct to speak of in the case at bar which would justify
respondents' dismissal just because of their firmness in their demand for the fulfillment by petitioner of its
obligation it entered into without any coercion, specially on the part of private respondents. (Emphasis supplied).

The above citation is from Wallem.

The facts show that when the respondents boarded the M/T Jannu there was no intention to send their ship to Australia.
On January 10, 1979, the petitioner sent a cable to respondent shipmaster Bisula informing him of the procedure to be
followed in the computation of special compensation of crewmembers while in ITF controlled ports and expressed
regrets for not having earlier clarified the procedure as it thought that the vessel would trade in Carribean ports only.

On March 22, 1979, the petitioner sent another cable informing Bisula of the special compensation when the ship
would call at Kwinana Australia.

The following day, shipmaster Bisula cabled Vir-jen stating that the officers and crews were not interested in ITF
membership if not paid ITF rates and that their only demand was a 50 percent increase based on their then salaries.
Bisula also pointed out that Vir-jen rates were "very far in comparison with other shipping agencies in Manila."

In reply, Vir-jen counter proposed a 25 percent increase. Only after Kyoei Tanker Co., Ltd., declined to increase the
lumps sum amount given monthly to Vir-jen was the decision to terminate the respondents' employment formulated.

The facts show that Virjen Initiated the discussions which led to the demand for increased . The seamen made a
proposal and the petitioner organized with a counter-proposal. The ship had not vet gone to Australia or any ITF
controlled port. There was absolutely no mention of any strike. much less a threat to strike. The seamen had done in act
which under Philippine law or any other civilized law would be termed illegal, oppressive, or malicious. Whatever
pressure existed, it was mild compared to accepted valid modes of labor activity.

We reiterate our ruling in Wallem. t.hqw

Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because the latter threatened the ship
authorities in acceding to their demands, and this constitutes serious misconduct as contemplated by the Labor
Code. This contention is not well-taken. The records fail to establish clearly the commission of any threat, But
even if there had been such a threat, respondents' behavior should not be censured because it is but natural for
them to employ some means of pressing their demands for petitioner, who refused to abide with the terms of the
Special Agreement, to honor and respect the same, They were only acting in the exercise of their rights, and to
deprive them of their form of expression is contrary to law and public policy. ...

Our dismissing the petition is premised on the assumption that the Ministry of Labor and Employment and all its agencies
exist primarily for the workinginan's interests and, of course, the nation as a whole. The points raised by the Solicitor-
General in his comments refer to the issue of allowing what the petitioner importunes under the argument of "killing the hen
which lays the golden eggs." This is one of policy which should perhaps be directed to the Batasang Pambansa and to our
country's other policy makers for more specific legislation on the matter, subject to the constitutional provisions protecting
labor, promoting social justice, and guaranteeing non-abridgement of the freedom of speech, press, peaceable assembly and
petition. We agree with the movants that there is no showing of any cause, which under the Labor Code or any current
applicable law, would warrant the termination of the respondents' services before the expiration of their contracts. The
Constitution guarantees State assurance of the rights of workers to security of tenure. (Sec. 9, Article II, Constitution).
Presumptions and provisions of law, the evidence on record, and fundamental State policy all dictate that the motions for
reconsideration should be granted.

WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration are hereby GRANTED. The petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
The decision of the National Labor Relations Commission is AFFIRMED. No costs. SO ORDERED.1wph1.
G.R. Nos. L-57999, 58143-53 August 15, 1989
RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL, ANGELITO MENDOZA, ANTONIO TANEDO, AMORSOLO
CABRERA, DOMINADOR SANTOS, ISIDRO BRACIA, RAMON DE BELEN, ERNESTO SABADO, MARTIN
MALABANAN, ROMEO HUERTO and VITALIANO PANGUE, petitioners, vs.
THE HON. JUDGE ALFREDO L. BENIPAYO and MAGSAYSAY LINES, INC., respondents.

G.R. Nos. L-64781-99 August 15, 1989


RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL, ANGELITO MENDOZA, ANTONIO TANEDO, RAYMUNDO
PEREZ, AMORSOLO CABRERA, DOMINADOR SANTOS, ISIDRO BRACIA, CATALINO CASICA, VITALIANO
PANGUE, RAMON DE BELEN, EDUARDO PAGTALUNAN, ANTONIO MIRANDA, RAMON UNIANA, ERNESTO
SABADO, MARTIN MALABANAN, ROMEO HUERTO and WILFREDO CRISTOBAL, petitioners, vs.
THE HONORABLE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, THE NATIONAL SEAMEN BOARD (now the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration), and MAGSAYSAY LINES, INC., respondents.

These petitions ask for a re-examination of this Court's precedent setting decision in Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine
Services Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, et al. (125 SCRA 577 [1983]). On constitutional, statutory, and
factual grounds, we find no reason to disturb the doctrine in Vir-Jen Shipping and to turn back the clock of progress for
sea-based overseas workers. The experience gained in the past few years shows that, following said doctrine, we
should neither deny nor diminish the enjoyment by Filipino seamen of the same rights and freedoms taken for granted
by other working-men here and abroad.

The cases at bar involve a group of Filipino seamen who were declared by the defunct National Seamen Board (NSB)
guilty of breaching their employment contracts with the private respondent because they demanded, upon the
intervention and assistance of a third party, the International Transport Worker's Federation (ITF), the payment of
wages over and above their contracted rates without the approval of the NSB. The petitioners were ordered to
reimburse the total amount of US$91,348.44 or its equivalent in Philippine Currency representing the said over-
payments and to be suspended from the NSB registry for a period of three years. The National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) affirmed the decision of the NSB.

In a corollary development, the private respondent, for failure of the petitioners to return the overpayments made to
them upon demand by the former, filed estafa charges against some of the petitioners. The criminal cases were
eventually consolidated in the sala of then respondent Judge Alfredo Benipayo. Hence, these consolidated petitions,
G.R. No. 64781-99 and G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53, which respectively pray for the nullification of the decisions of
the NLRC and the NSB, and the dismissal of the criminal cases against the petitioners.

The facts are found in the questioned decision of the NSB in G.R. No. 64781-99.

From the records of this case it appears that the facts established and/or admitted by the parties are the
following: that on different dates in 1977 and 1978 respondents entered into separate contracts of
employment (Exhs. "B" to "B-17", inclusive) with complainant (private respondent) to work aboard
vessels owned/operated/manned by the latter for a period of 12 calendar months and with different
rating/position, salary, overtime pay and allowance, hereinbelow specified: ...; that aforesaid
employment contracts were verified and approved by this Board; that on different dates in April 1978
respondents (petitioners) joined the M/V "GRACE RIVER"; that on or about October 30, 1978
aforesaid vessel, with the respondents on board, arrived at the port of Vancouver, Canada; that at this
port respondent received additional wages under rates prescribed by the Intemational Transport
Worker's Federation (ITF) in the total amount of US$98,261.70; that the respondents received the
amounts appearing opposite their names, to wit: ...; that aforesaid amounts were over and above the
rates of pay of respondents as appearing in their employment contracts approved by this Board; that on
November 10, 1978, aforesaid vessel, with respondent on board, left Vancouver, Canada for
Yokohama, Japan; that on December 14, 1978, while aforesaid vessel, was at Yura, Japan, they were
made to disembark. (pp. 64-66, Rollo)

Furthermore, according to the petitioners, while the vessel was docked at Nagoya, Japan, a certain Atty. Oscar Torres
of the NSB Legal Department boarded the vessel and called a meeting of the seamen including the petitioners, telling
them that for their own good and safety they should sign an agreement prepared by him on board the vessel and that if
they do, the cases filed against them with NSB on November 17, 1978 would be dismissed. Thus, the petitioners signed
the. "Agreement" dated December 5, 1978. (Annex C of Petition) However, when they were later furnished xerox
copies of what they had signed, they noticed that the line "which amount(s) was/were received and held by
CREWMEMBERS in trust for SHIPOWNERS" was inserted therein, thereby making it appear that the amounts given
to the petitioners representing the increase in their wages based on ITF rates were only received by them in trust for the
private respondent.

When the vessel reached Manila, the private respondent demanded from the petitioners the "overpayments" made to
them in Canada. As the petitioners refused to give back the said amounts, charges were filed against some of them with
the NSB and the Professional Regulations Commission. Estafa charges were also filed before different branches of the
then Court of First Instance of Manila which, as earlier stated, were subsequently consolidated in the sala of the
respondent Judge Alfredo Benipayo and which eventually led to G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53.

In G.R. Nos. 64781-99, the petitioners claimed before the NSB that contrary to the private respondent's allegations,
they did not commit any illegal act nor stage a strike while they were on board the vessel; that the "Special Agreement"
entered into in Vancouver to pay their salary differentials is valid, having been executed after peaceful negotiations.
Petitioners further argued that the amounts they received were in accordance with the provision of law, citing among
others, Section 18, Rule VI, Book I of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code which provides that
"the basic minimum salary of seamen shall not be less than the prevailing minimum rates established by the
International Labor Organization (ILO) or those prevailing in the country whose flag the employing vessel carries,
whichever is higher ..."; and that the "Agreement" executed in Nagoya, Japan had been forced upon them and that
intercalations were made to make it appear that they were merely trustees of the amounts they received in Vancouver.

On the other hand, the private respondent alleged that the petitioners breached their employment contracts when they,
acting in concert and with the active participations of the ITF while the vessel was in Vancouver, staged an illegal
strike and by means of threats, coercion and intimidation compelled the owners of the vessel to pay to them various
sums totalling US$104,244.35; that the respondent entered into the "Special Agreement" to pay the petitioners' wage
differentials because it was under duress as the vessel would not be allowed to leave Vancouver unless the said
agreement was signed, and to prevent the shipowner from incurring further delay in the shipment of goods; and that in
view of petitioners' breach of contract, the latter's names must be removed from the NSB's Registry and that they
should be ordered to return the amounts they received over and above their contracted rates.

The respondent NSB ruled that the petitioners were guilty of breach of contract because despite subsisting and valid
NSB-approved employment contracts, the petitioners sought the assistance of a third party (ITF) to demand from the
private respondent wages in accordance with the ITF rates, which rates are over and above their rates of pay as
appearing in their NSB-approved contracts. As bases for this conclusion, the NSB stated:

1) The fact that respondents sought the aid of a third party (ITF) and demanded for wages and
overtime pay based on ITF rates is shown in the entries of their respective Pay-Off Clearance Slips
which were marked as their Exhs. "1" to "18", and we quote "DEMANDED ITF WAGES,
OVERTIME, DIFFERENTIALS APRIL TO OCTOBER 1978". Respondent Suzara admitted that the
entries in his Pay-Off Clearance Slip (Exh. "1") are correct (TSN., p. 16, Dec. 6,
1979).lwph1.t Moreover, it is the policy (reiterated very often) by the ITF that it does not interfere
in the affairs of the crewmembers and masters and/or owners of a vessel unless its assistance is sought
by the crewmembers themselves. Under this pronounced policy of the ITF, it is reasonable to assume
that the representatives of the ITF in Vancouver, Canada assisted and intervened by reason of the
assistance sought by the latter.

2) The fact that the ITF assisted and intervened for and in behalf of the respondents in the latter's
demand for higher wages could be gleaned from the answer of the respondents when they admitted
that the ITF acted in their behalf in the negotiations for increase of wages. Moreover, respondent Cesar
Dimaandal admitted that the ITF differential pay was computed by the ITF representative (TSN, p. 7,
Dec. 12, 1979)

3) The fact that complainant and the owner/operator of the vessel were compelled to sign the Special
Agreement (Exh. "20") and to pay ITF differentials to respondents in order not to delay the departure
of the vessel and to prevent further losses is shown in the "Agreement" (Exhs. "R-21") ... (pp. 69-70,
Rollo)

The NSB further said:

While the Board recognizes the rights of the respondents to demand for higher wages, provided the
means are peaceful and legal, it could not, however, sanction the same if the means employed are
violent and illegal. In the case at bar, the means employed are violent and illegal for in demanding
higher wages the respondents sought the aid of a third party and in turn the latter intervened in their
behalf and prohibited the vessel from sailing unless the owner and/or operator of the vessel acceded to
respondents' demand for higher wages. To avoid suffering further incalculable losses, the owner and/or
operator of the vessel had no altemative but to pay respondents' wages in accordance with the ITF
scale. The Board condemns the act of a party who enters into a contract and with the use of force/or
intimidation causes the other party to modify said contract. If the respondents believe that they have a
valid ground to demand from the complainant a revision of the terms of their contracts, the same
should have been done in accordance with law and not thru illegal means. (at p. 72, Rollo).

Although the respondent NSB found that the petitioners were entitled to the payment of earned wages and overtime
pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to December 14, 1978, it nevertheless ruled that the computation should be
based on the rates of pay as appearing in the petitioners' NSB-approved contracts. It ordered that the amounts to which
the petitioners are entitled under the said computation should be deducted from the amounts that the petitioners must
return to the private respondent.

On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the NSB's findings. Hence, the petition in G.R. Nos. 64781-99.

Meanwhile, the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53 moved to quash the criminal cases of estafa filed against
them on the ground that the alleged crimes were committed, if at all, in Vancouver, Canada and, therefore, Philippine
courts have no jurisdiction. The respondent judge denied the motion. Hence, the second petition.
The principal issue in these consolidated petitions is whether or not the petitioners are entitled to the amounts they
received from the private respondent representing additional wages as determined in the special agreement. If they are,
then the decision of the NLRC and NSB must be reversed. Similarly, the criminal cases of estafa must be dismissed
because it follows as a consequence that the amounts received by the petitioners belong to them and not to the private
respondent.

In arriving at the questioned decision, the NSB ruled that the petitioners are not entitled to the wage differentials as
determined by the ITF because the means employed by them in obtaining the same were violent and illegal and
because in demanding higher wages the petitioners sought the aid of a third party, which, in turn, intervened in their
behalf and prohibited the vessel from sailing unless the owner and/or operator of the vessel acceded to respondents'
demand for higher wages. And as proof of this conclusion, the NSB cited the following: (a) the entries in the
petitioners Pay-Off Clearance Slip which contained the phrase "DEMANDED ITF WAGES ..."; (b) the alleged policy
of the ITF in not interfering with crewmembers of a vessel unless its intervention is sought by the crewmembers
themselves; (c), the petitioners' admission that ITF acted in their behalf; and (d) the fact that the private respondent was
compelled to sign the special agreement at Vancouver, Canada.

There is nothing in the public and private respondents' pleadings, to support the allegations that the petitioners used
force and violence to secure the special agreement signed in Vancouver. British Columbia. There was no need for any
form of intimidation coming from the Filipino seamen because the Canadian Brotherhood of Railways and Transport
Workers (CBRT), a strong Canadian labor union, backed by an international labor federation was actually doing all the
influencing not only on the ship-owners and employers but also against third world seamen themselves who, by
receiving lower wages and cheaper accommodations, were threatening the employment and livelihood of seamen from
developed nations.

The bases used by the respondent NSB to support its decision do not prove that the petitioners initiated a conspiracy
with the ITF or deliberately sought its assistance in order to receive higher wages. They only prove that when ITF acted
in petitioners' behalf for an increase in wages, the latter manifested their support. This would be a logical and natural
reaction for any worker in whose benefit the ITF or any other labor group had intervened. The petitioners admit that
while they expressed their conformity to and their sentiments for higher wages by means of placards, they,
nevertheless, continued working and going about their usual chores. In other words, all they did was to exercise their
freedom of speech in a most peaceful way. The ITF people, in turn, did not employ any violent means to force the
private respondent to accede to their demands. Instead, they simply applied effective pressure when they intimated the
possibility of interdiction should the shipowner fail to heed the call for an upward adjustment of the rates of the
Filipino seamen. Interdiction is nothing more than a refusal of ITF members to render service for the ship, such as to
load or unload its cargo, to provision it or to perform such other chores ordinarily incident to the docking of the ship at
a certain port. It was the fear of ITF interdiction, not any action taken by the seamen on board the vessel which led the
shipowners to yield.

The NSB's contusion that it is ITF's policy not to intervene with the plight of crewmembers of a vessel unless its
intervention was sought is without basis. This Court is cognizant of the fact that during the period covered by the labor
controversies in Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc. v. Minister of Labor (102 SCRA 835 [1981]; Vir-Jen Shipping and
Marine Services, Inc. v. NLRC (supra) and these consolidated petitions, the ITF was militant worldwide especially in
Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, and various European countries, interdicting foreign vessels and demanding wage
increases for third world seamen. There was no need for Filipino or other seamen to seek ITF intervention. The ITF
was waiting on its own volition in all Canadian ports, not particularly for the petitioners' vessel but for all ships
similarly situated. As earlier stated, the ITF was not really acting for the petitioners out of pure altruism. The ITF was
merely protecting the interests of its own members. The petitioners happened to be pawns in a higher and broader
struggle between the ITF on one hand and shipowners and third world seamen, on the other. To subject our seamen to
criminal prosecution and punishment for having been caught in such a struggle is out of the question.

As stated in Vir-Jen Shipping (supra):

The seamen had done no act which under Philippine law or any other civilized law would be termed
illegal, oppressive, or malicious. Whatever pressure existed, it was mild compared to accepted and
valid modes of labor activity. (at page 591)

Given these factual situations, therefore, we cannot affirm the NSB and NLRC's finding that there was violence,
physical or otherwise employed by the petitioners in demanding for additional wages. The fact that the petitioners
placed placards on the gangway of their ship to show support for ITF's demands for wage differentials for their own
benefit and the resulting ITF's threatened interdiction do not constitute violence. The petitioners were exercising their
freedom of speech and expressing sentiments in their hearts when they placed the placard We Want ITF Rates." Under
the facts and circumstances of these petitions, we see no reason to deprive the seamen of their right to freedom of
expression guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and the fundamental law of Canada where they happened to
exercise it.

As we have ruled in Wallem Phil. Shipping Inc. v. Minister of Labor, et al. supra:

Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because the latter threatened
the ship authorities in acceding to their demands, and this constitutes serious misconduct as
contemplated by the Labor Code. This contention is now well-taken. The records fail to establish
clearly the commission of any threat. But even if there had been such a threat, respondents' behavior
should not be censured because it is but natural for them to employ some means of pressing their
demands for petitioner, who refused to abide with the terms of the Special Agreement, to honor and
respect the same. They were only acting in the exercise of their rights, and to deprive them of their
freedom of expression is contrary to law and public policy. ... (at page 843)

We likewise, find the public respondents' conclusions that the acts of the petitioners in demanding and receiving wages
over and above the rates appearing in their NSB-approved contracts is in effect an alteration of their valid and
subsisting contracts because the same were not obtained through. mutual consent and without the prior approval of the
NSB to be without basis, not only because the private respondent's consent to pay additional wages was not vitiated by
any violence or intimidation on the part of the petitioners but because the said NSB-approved form contracts are not
unalterable contracts that can have no room for improvement during their effectivity or which ban any amendments
during their term.

For one thing, the employer can always improve the working conditions without violating any law or stipulation.

We stated in the Vir-Jen case (supra) that:

The form contracts approved by the National Seamen Board are designed to protect Filipino seamen
not foreign shipowners who can take care of themselves. The standard forms embody the basic
minimums which must be incorporated as parts of the employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V,
Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code).lwph1.t They are not collective bargaining
agreements or immutable contracts which the parties cannot improve upon or modify in the course of
the agreed period of time. To state, therefore, that the affected seamen cannot petition their employer
for higher salaries during the 12 months duration of the contract runs counter to estabhshed principles
of labor legislation. The National Labor Relations Commission, as the appellate tribunal from the
decisions of the National Seamen Board, correctly ruled that the seamen did not violate their contracts
to warrant their dismissal. (at page 589)

It is impractical for the NSB to require the petitioners, caught in the middle of a labor struggle between the ITF and
owners of ocean going vessels halfway around the world in Vancouver, British Columbia to first secure the approval of
the NSB in Manila before signing an agreement which the employer was willing to sign. It is also totally unrealistic to
expect the petitioners while in Canada to exhibit the will and strength to oppose the ITF's demand for an increase
in their wages, assuming they were so minded.

An examination of Annex C of the petition, the agreement signed in Japan by the crewmembers of the M/V Grace
River and a certain M. Tabei, representative of the Japanese shipowner lends credence to the petitioners' claim that the
clause "which amount(s) was received and held by CREWMEMBERS in trust for SHIPOWNER" was an intercalation
added after the execution of the agreement. The clause appears too closely typed below the names of the 19 crewmen
and their wages with no similar intervening space as that which appears between all the paragraphs and the triple space
which appears between the list of crewmembers and their wages on one hand and the paragraph above which
introduces the list, on the other. The verb "were" was also inserted above the verb "was" to make the clause
grammatically correct but the insertion of "were" is already on the same line as "Antonio Miranda and 5,221.06" where
it clearly does not belong. There is no other space where the word "were" could be intercalated. (See Rollo, page 80).

At any rate, the proposition that the petitioners should have pretended to accept the increased wages while in
Vancouver but returned them to the shipowner when they reached its country, Japan, has already been answered earlier
by the Court:

Filipino seamen are admittedly as competent and reliable as seamen from any other country in the
world. Otherwise, there would not be so many of them in the vessels sailing in every ocean and sea on
this globe. It is competence and reliability, not cheap labor that makes our seamen so greatly in
demand. Filipino seamen have never demanded the same high salaries as seamen from the United
States, the United Kingdom, Japan and other developed nations. But certainly they are entitled to
government protection when they ask for fair and decent treatment by their employer and when they
exercise the right to petition for improved terms of employment, especially when they feel that these
are sub-standard or are capable of improvement according to internationally accepted rules. In the
domestic scene, there are marginal employers who prepare two sets of payrolls for their employees
one in keeping with minimum wages and the other recording the sub-standard wages that the
employees really receive. The reliable employers, however, not only meet the minimums required by
fair labor standards legislation but even go away above the minimums while earning reasonable profits
and prospering. The same is true of international employment. There is no reason why this court and
the Ministry of Labor and Employment or its agencies and commissions should come out with
pronouncements based on the standards and practices of unscrupulous or inefficient shipowners, who
claim they cannot survive without resorting to tricky and deceptive schemes, instead of Government
maintaining labor law and jurisprudence according to the practices of honorable, competent, and law-
abiding employers, domestic or foreign. (Vir-Jen Shipping, supra, pp. 587-588)

It is noteworthy to emphasize that while the Intemational Labor Organization (ILO) set the minimum basic wage of
able seamen at US$187.00 as early as October 1976, it was only in 1979 that the respondent NSB issued Memo
Circular No. 45, enjoining all shipping companies to adopt the said minimum basic wage. It was correct for the
respondent NSB to state in its decision that when the petitioners entered into separate contracts between 1977-1978, the
monthly minimum basic wage for able seamen ordered by NSB was still fixed at US$130.00. However, it is not the
fault of the petitioners that the NSB not only violated the Labor Code which created it and the Rules and Regulations
Implementing the Labor Code but also seeks to punish the seamen for a shortcoming of NSB itself.

Article 21(c) of the Labor Code, when it created the NSB, mandated the Board to "(O)btain the best possible terms and
conditions of employment for seamen."

Section 15, Rule V of Book I of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code provides:

Sec. 15. Model contract of employment. The NSB shall devise a model contract of employment
which shall embody all the requirements of pertinent labor and social legislations and the prevailing
standards set by applicable International Labor Organization Conventions. The model contract shall set
the minimum standards of the terms and conditions to govern the employment of Filipinos on board
vessels engaged in overseas trade. All employers of Filipinos shall adopt the model contract in
connection with the hiring and engagement of the services of Filipino seafarers, and in no case shall a
shipboard employment contract be allowed where the same provides for benefits less than those
enumerated in the model employment contract, or in any way conflicts with any other provisions
embodied in the model contract.

Section 18 of Rule VI of the same Rules and Regulations provides:

Sec. 18. Basic minimum salary of able-seamen. The basic minimum salary of seamen shall be not
less than the prevailing minimxun rates established by the International Labor Organization or those
prevailing in the country whose flag the employing vessel carries, whichever is higher. However, this
provision shall not apply if any shipping company pays its crew members salaries above the minimum
herein provided.

Section 8, Rule X, Book I of the Omnibus Rules provides:

Section 8. Use of standard format of service agreement. The Board shall adopt a standard format of
service agreement in accordance with pertinent labor and social legislation and prevailing standards set
by applicable International Labor Organization Conventions. The standard format shall set the
minimum standard of the terms and conditions to govern the employment of Filipino seafarers but in
no case shall a shipboard employment contract (sic), or in any way conflict with any other provision
embodied in the standard format.

It took three years for the NSB to implement requirements which, under the law, they were obliged to follow and
execute immediately. During those three years, the incident in Vancouver happened. The terms and conditions agreed
upon in Vancouver were well within ILO rates even if they were above NSB standards at the time.

The sanctions applied by NSB and affirmed by NLRC are moreover not in keeping with the basic premise that this
Court stressed in the Vir-Jen Shipping case (supra) that the Ministry now the Department of Labor and Employment
and all its agencies exist primarily for the workingman's interest and the nation's as a whole.

Implicit in these petitions and the only reason for the NSB to take the side of foreign shipowners against Filipino
seamen is the "killing the goose which lays the golden eggs" argument. We reiterate the ruling of the Court in Vir-Jen
Shipping (supra)

There are various arguments raised by the petitioners but the common thread running through all of
them is the contention, if not the dismal prophecy, that if the respondent seamen are sustained by this
Court, we would in effect "kill the hen that lays the golden egg." In other words, Filipino seamen,
admittedly among the best in the world, should remain satisfied with relatively lower if not the lowest,
international rates of compensation, should not agitate for higher wages while their contracts of
employment are subsisting, should accept as sacred, iron clad, and immutable the side contracts which
require: them to falsely pretend to be members of international labor federations, pretend to receive
higher salaries at certain foreign ports only to return the increased pay once the ship leaves that port,
should stifle not only their right to ask for improved terms of employment but their freedom of speech
and expression, and should suffer instant termination of employment at the slightest sign of
dissatisfaction with no protection from their Government and their courts. Otherwise, the petitioners
contend that Filipinos would no longer be accepted as seamen, those employed would lose their jobs,
and the still unemployed would be left hopeless.

This is not the first time and it will not be the last where the threat of unemployment and loss of jobs would be used to
argue against the interests of labor; where efforts by workingmen to better their terms of employment would be
characterized as prejudicing the interests of labor as a whole.

xxx xxx xxx


Unionism, employers' liability acts, minimum wages, workmen's compensation, social security and
collective bargaining to name a few were all initially opposed by employers and even well meaning
leaders of government and society as "killing the hen or goose which lays the golden eggs." The claims
of workingmen were described as outrageously injurious not only to the employer but more so to the
employees themselves before these claims or demands were established by law and jurisprudence as
"rights" and before these were proved beneficial to management, labor, and the national as a whole
beyond reasonable doubt.

The case before us does not represent any major advance in the rights of labor and the workingmen.
The private respondents merely sought rights already established. No matter how much the petitioner-
employer tries to present itself as speaking for the entire industry, there is no evidence that it is typical
of employers hiring Filipino seamen or that it can speak for them.

The contention that manning industries in the Philippines would not survive if the instant case is not
decided in favor of the petitioner is not supported by evidence. The Wallem case was decided on
February 20, 1981. There have been no severe repercussions, no drying up of employment
opportunities for seamen, and none of the dire consequences repeatedly emphasized by the petitioner.
Why should Vir-Jen be an exception?

The wages of seamen engaged in international shipping are shouldered by the foreign principal. The
local manning office is an agent whose primary function is recruitment and who usually gets a lump
sum from the shipowner to defray the salaries of the crew. The hiring of seamen and the determination
of their compensation is subject to the interplay of various market factors and one key factor is how
much in terms of profits the local manning office and the foreign shipowner may realize after the costs
of the voyage are met. And costs include salaries of officers and crew members. (at pp. 585-586)

The Wallem Shipping case, was decided in 1981. Vir-Jen Shipping was decided in 1983. It is now 1989. There has'been
no drying up of employment opportunities for Filipino seamen. Not only have their wages improved thus leading ITF
to be placid and quiet all these years insofar as Filipinos are concerned but the hiring of Philippine seamen is at its
highest level ever.

Reporting its activities for the year 1988, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) stated that
there will be an increase in demand for seamen based overseas in 1989 boosting the number to as high as 105,000. This
will represent a 9.5 percent increase from the 1988 aggregate. (Business World, News Briefs, January 11, 1989 at page
2) According to the POEA, seabased workers numbering 95,913 in 1988 exceeded by a wide margin of 28.15 percent
the year end total in 1987. The report shows that sea-based workers posted bigger monthly increments compared to
those of landbased workers. (The Business Star, Indicators, January 11, 1988 at page 2)

Augmenting this optimistic report of POEA Administrator Tomas Achacoso is the statement of Secretary of Labor
Franklin M. Drilon that the Philippines has a big jump over other crewing nations because of the Filipinos' abilities
compared with any European or westem crewing country. Drilon added that cruise shipping is also a growing market
for Filipino seafarers because of their flexibility in handling odd jobs and their expertise in handling almost all types of
ships, including luxury liners. (Manila Bulletin, More Filipino Seamen Expected Development, December 27, 1988 at
page 29).lwph1.t Parenthetically, the minimum monthly salary of able bodied seamen set by the ILO and adhered
to by the Philippines is now $276.00 (id.) more than double the $130.00 sought to be enforced by the public
respondents in these petitions.

The experience from 1981 to the present vindicates the finding in Vir-Jen Shipping that a decision in favor of the
seamen would not necessarily mean severe repercussions, drying up of employment opportunities for seamen, and
other dire consequences predicted by manning agencies and recruiters in the Philippines.

From the foregoing, we find that the NSB and NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in finding the petitioners
guilty of using intimidation and illegal means in breaching their contracts of employment and punishing them for these
alleged offenses. Consequently, the criminal prosecutions for estafa in G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53 should be
dismissed.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. The decisions of the National Seamen Board and National Labor
Relations Commission in G. R. Nos. 64781-99 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered holding the
petitioners not guilty of the offenses for which they were charged. The petitioners' suspension from the National
Seamen Board's Registry for three (3) years is LIFTED. The private respondent is ordered to pay the petitioners their
earned but unpaid wages and overtime pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to December 14, 1978 according to the
rates in the Special Agreement that the parties entered into in Vancouver, Canada.

The criminal cases for estafa, subject matter of G. R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53, are ordered DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. L-58674-77 July 11, 1990
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs.
HON. DOMINGO PANIS, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Zambales & Olongapo City, Branch III and
SERAPIO ABUG, respondents.

The basic issue in this case is the correct interpretation of Article 13(b) of P.D. 442, otherwise known as the Labor
Code, reading as follows:

(b) Recruitment and placement' refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting,
hiring, or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, That any person or entity which, in
any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged
in recruitment and placement.

Four informations were filed on January 9, 1981, in the Court of First Instance of Zambales and Olongapo City
alleging that Serapio Abug, private respondent herein, "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. 1

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. " 2

Denied at first, the motion was reconsidered and finally granted in the Orders of the trial court dated June 24 and
September 17, 1981. The prosecution is now before us on certiorari. 3

The posture of the petitioner is that the private respondent is being prosecuted under Article 39 in relation to Article 16
of the Labor Code; hence, Article 13(b) is not applicable. However, as the first two cited articles penalize acts of
recruitment and placement without proper authority, which is the charge embodied in the informations, application of
the definition of recruitment and placement in Article 13(b) is unavoidable.

The view of the private respondents is that to constitute recruitment and placement, all the acts mentioned in this article
should involve dealings with two or mre persons as an indispensable requirement. On the other hand, the petitioner
argues that the requirement of two or more persons is imposed only where the recruitment and placement consists of an
offer or promise of employment to such persons and always in consideration of a fee. The other acts mentioned in the
body of the article may involve even only one person and are not necessarily for profit.

Neither interpretation is acceptable. We fail to see why the proviso should speak only of an offer or promise of
employment if the purpose was to apply the requirement of two or more persons to all the acts mentioned in the basic
rule. For its part, the petitioner does not explain why dealings with two or more persons are needed where the
recruitment and placement consists of an offer or promise of employment but not when it is done through "canvassing,
enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring (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.

This is not unlike the presumption in article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, for example, regarding the failure of a
public officer to produce upon lawful demand funds or property entrusted to his custody. Such failure shall be prima
facie evidence that he has put them to personal use; in other words, he shall be deemed to have malversed such funds or
property. 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. (Klepp vs. Odin Tp., McHenry
County 40 ND N.W. 313, 314.)

It is unfortunate that we can only speculate on the meaning of the questioned provision for lack of records of debates
and deliberations that would otherwise have been available if the Labor Code had been enacted as a statute rather than
a presidential decree. The trouble with presidential decrees is that they could be, and sometimes were, issued without
previous public discussion or consultation, the promulgator heeding only his own counsel or those of his close advisers
in their lofty pinnacle of power. The not infrequent results are rejection, intentional or not, of the interest of the greater
number and, as in the instant case, certain esoteric provisions that one cannot read against the background facts usually
reported in the legislative journals.

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.

WHEREFORE, the Orders of June 24, 1981, and September 17, 1981, are set aside and the four informations against
the private respondent reinstated. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 176264 January 10, 2011
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, vs. TERESITA "TESSIE" LAOGO, Appellant.

This petition assails the July 31, 2006 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01664, which
affirmed the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, of Malolos, Bulacan in Criminal Case No. 693-
M-2001. The RTC found appellant Teresita "Tessie" Laogo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal
recruitment in large scale.

Appellant Teresita "Tessie" Laogo was the proprietor and manager of Laogo Travel Consultancy, a travel agency firm
located along Padre Faura Street in Manila. On March 7, 2001, an Information3 was filed against appellant and a
certain Susan Navarro (Susan) in Malolos, Bulacan charging them of the crime of Illegal Recruitment (Large Scale).
The information reads:

INFORMATION

The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses Susan Navarro and Tessie [Teresita] Laogo of the crime of illegal
recruitment, penalized under Art. 38 in relation to Art[s]. 34 and 39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended
by Presidential Decree No. 1412, committed as follows:

That in or about and during the months of May and June 2000, in the municipality of Bulacan, province of Bulacan,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, knowing that they are non-
licensee or non-holder of authority from the Department of Labor to recruit and/or place workers in employment either
locally or overseas, conspiring, confederating together and helping each other, did then and there wi[l]lfully,
unlawfully and feloniously engage in illegal recruitment, placement or deployment activities for a fee, which they
received from complainants Edith Bonifacio-Ulanday, Rogelio Enriquez y Buenavidez, Billy dela Cruz, Jr. y
Fernandez, Dante Lopez y Enriquez, Teodulo dela Cruz y Mendoza, Edwin Enriquez y Panganiban and Gary Bustillos
y de Guzman by recruiting and promising them job placement abroad, more particularly in Guam, which did not
materialize, without first having secured the required license or authority from the Department of Labor and
Employment.

That the crime is committed in a large scale tantamount to economic sabotage as the aforementioned seven persons
were [recruited] individually or as a group.

Contrary to law.

The charge stemmed from the following set of facts.

Sometime during the second week of March 2000, Susan invited several individuals including six of the seven
complainants namely, Teodulo dela Cruz, Billy dela Cruz, Jr., Dante Lopez, Edwin Enriquez, Rogelio Enriquez, and
Gary Bustillos to her house in Bulacan, Bulacan to celebrate the town fiesta. Appellant was among the several guests
in Susans house during the said occasion.

According to Teodulo dela Cruz, during the fiesta, Gary Bustillos introduced him to Susan as somebody who could
help him find work abroad. Since Susan was Garys aunt, Teodulo immediately trusted Susan. Susan told him he can
apply as assistant cook and can work in Guam, USA. Upon Susans instruction, Teodulo filled up an application
form4 and gave her 3,000.00 after the latter promised to process his application to work abroad. 5 On May 22, 2000,
Susan accompanied Teodulo to appellants travel agency office in Ermita where he paid an additional 15,000.00 for
his placement fee.6 A receipt bearing the logo and name of Laogo Travel Consultancy was issued to him signed by
Susan.7 Months later, when Susans promise to send him abroad remained unfulfilled, Teodulo, along with several
other applicants, went to appellants office and to Susans house to follow up their application, but the two always told
them that their visas have yet to be released.8

Similarly, Billy dela Cruz, Jr. also met Susan through Gary, who himself was seeking help from Susan to work in
Guam. At Susans house, Billy saw Dante Lopez, Edwin Enriquez, and Rogelio Enriquez. Like him, the three were
also seeking Susans help to work abroad.9 Susan introduced Billy to appellant, who promised him that she will send
them abroad within three months.10 After the meeting, Billy issued to Susan two Metrobank checks, dated March 11
and May 10, 2000, bearing the amounts 23,000.00 and 44,000.00, respectively, as partial payment for his placement
fee.11 On May 19, 2000, Billy also went to appellants travel agency in Ermita and personally handed an additional
cash of 6,000.00 to Susan, who thereafter gave the money to appellant. Appellant issued a corresponding receipt12 for
the 6,000.00 cash bearing her signature and the name and logo of Laogo Travel Consultancy. After several months,
no word was heard from either Susan or appellant. Sensing that something was wrong, Billy decided to report the
matter to the authorities in Bulacan, Bulacan and filed the complaint against Susan and appellant.13

Dante Lopez testified that he was also introduced by Gary Bustillos to appellant and Susan. Susan identified herself as
an employee of appellants travel agency. The two told him that they can send him and his companions to Guam within
the span of three months.14 Lopez paid both accused 6,000.00 to process his papers, covered by a receipt dated May
19, 2000 showing appellants signature.15 Appellants promise, however, turned sour after three months. When he
confronted appellant, the latter told him that he would be sent to a different country. Left without a choice, Lopez
waited. Again, the promise remained unfulfilled.16
According to Rogelio Enriquez, he also met appellant during the town fiesta when Susan invited him to cook for her
guests. Susan introduced appellant as someone who could send him to work abroad. Eager about the prospect, Rogelio
immediately gave his 3,000.00 cash to Susan for the processing of his visa and employment documents.17 He saw
Susan hand the money to appellant.18 A week later, Rogelio gave an additional 900.00 to Susan.19 No receipts were
issued on both payments since Rogelio failed to complete the required 6,000.00 placement fee.20 Months passed but
Rogelio heard nothing from either Susan or appellant. Apprehensive, Rogelio verified the status of the Laogo Travel
Consultancy with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). From the POEA, Rogelio learned that
neither of the accused nor Laogo Travel was licensed to recruit workers for employment abroad. Aggrieved, Rogelio,
together with his six companions, filed the complaint against Susan and appellant.

Edwin Enriquez also paid 12,000.00 to Susan as processing fee for his application to work in Guam. According to
him, Susans husband and appellant were present when he gave the money to Susan during the town fiesta.21Susan
issued a receipt dated May 16, 2000 to Edwin. The receipt contained the logo of Laogo Travel Consultancy and was
signed by Susan with a description which says "Payment was for Placement Fee."22

Two other persons, namely Edith Bonifacio-Ulanday and Gary Bustillos, Susans nephew, were among the seven who
filed the complaint against Susan and appellant. The two, however, later decided to withdraw their complaints after
executing their respective affidavits of desistance.23

On March 15, 2001, warrants of arrest24 were issued against Susan and appellant. When arraigned, appellant pleaded
not guilty.25 Susan, meanwhile, remained at large. An alias warrant of arrest 26 was issued by the trial court against her
but to no avail.

During the trial, appellant denied any participation in the illegal activities undertaken by Susan. She insisted that Susan
was not in any way connected with her travel agency and that she confronted the latter when she came to know of
Susans recruitment activities. Appellant claimed that she even had to rename her travel agency to Renz Consultancy
and Employment Services to avoid being associated with Susans recruitment activities.27

Appellant admitted having met Rogelio at Susans house during the town fiesta, but denied knowing the other
complainants. According to appellant, she came to know Rogelio when Susan specifically identified him as the one
who cooked the dishes after some guests prodded Susan.28

Unsatisfied with appellants explanation, the trial court promulgated a Decision29 finding her guilty of large scale
illegal recruitment. The fallo of the trial courts July 16, 2002 Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, finding herein accused Teresita (Tessie) Laogo y Villamor guilty as principal beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, she is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and
pay a fine of 500,000.00 as imposed by law[;] to indemnify the private offended parties x x x actual damages, as
follows: Teodulo dela Cruz 15,000.00, Billy dela Cruz 73,000.00, Dante Lopez 6,000.00, Rogelio Enriquez
3,000.00, and Edwin Enriquez 12,000.00[;] and to pay the costs of the proceedings.

In the service of her sentence the said accused, a detention prisoner, shall be credited with the full time during which
she had undergone preventive imprisonment, pursuant to the provisions of Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code.

Pending the actual apprehension of the other accused Susan Navarro, [who is] still at-large, on the strength of the
warrant of arrest earlier issued, let the record be committed to the archives subject to recall and reinstatement, should
circumstances so warrant for due prosecution against her of this case.

SO ORDERED.30

Appellant filed an appeal before this Court, but said appeal was transferred to the CA following our pronouncement in
People v. Mateo.31

In her Appellants Brief32 before the CA, appellant insisted that she had no hand in the recruitment of the complainants
and maintains that the recruitment activities were made solely upon the initiative of accused Susan
Navarro.33 Appellant anchored her defense on the testimonies of the complainants who declared that the transactions
and the payments were made not with her but with Susan.34 Appellant admitted that her consultancy firm was merely
engaged in the business of assisting clients in the procurement of passports and visas, and denied that her agency was
involved in any recruitment activity as defined under the Labor Code, as amended.35

On July 31, 2006, the appellate court rendered the assailed decision affirming appellants conviction.36 The CA noted
that although at times, it was Susan with whom the complainants transacted, the records nevertheless bear that
appellant had a hand in the recruitment of the complainants. The CA pointed out that appellant, together with Susan,
repeatedly assured the private complainants that her consultancy firm could deploy them for overseas
employment,37 leading the appellate court to conclude that appellant consciously and actively participated in the
recruitment of the complainants.38

Aggrieved, appellant brought the case to us on appeal, raising the same arguments she had raised at the CA.

We affirm appellants conviction.


Recruitment and placement refers to the act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or
procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or
abroad, whether for profit or not. When a person or entity, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to
two or more persons, that person or entity shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.39

Article 38(a) of the Labor Code, as amended, specifies that recruitment activities undertaken by non-licensees or non-
holders of authority are deemed illegal and punishable by law. And when the illegal recruitment is committed against
three or more persons, individually or as a group, then it is deemed committed in large scale and carries with it stiffer
penalties as the same is deemed a form of economic sabotage.401avvphi1

But to prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that the accused, without being duly authorized by law, gave
complainants the distinct impression that he had the power or ability to send them abroad for work, such that the latter
were convinced to part with their money in order to be employed.41 It is important that there must at least be a promise
or offer of an employment from the person posing as a recruiter, whether locally or abroad. 42

Here, both the trial court and the CA found that all the five complainants were promised to be sent abroad by Susan and
herein appellant43 as cooks and assistant cooks. The follow up transactions between appellant and her victims were
done inside the said travel agency. Moreover, all four receipts issued to the victims bear the name and logo of Laogo
Travel Consultancy,44 with two of the said receipts personally signed by appellant herself. 45 Indubitably, appellant and
her co-accused acting together made complainants believe that they were transacting with a legitimate recruitment
agency and that Laogo Travel Consultancy had the authority to recruit them and send them abroad for work when in
truth and in fact it had none as certified by the POEA.46 Absent any showing that the trial court and the CA overlooked
or misappreciated certain significant facts and circumstances, which if properly considered, would change the result,
we are bound by said findings.47

Appellants contention that she had to change the name of her travel agency to disassociate herself with Susans
recruitment activities is too lame to deserve serious consideration. In light of the testimonies of the complainants that
appellant with her co-accused promised them employment abroad, we find appellants act of closing Laogo Travel
Consultancy and establishing a new one under her husbands name48 as just an afterthought, a belated decision which
cannot undo the damage suffered by the private offended parties. It could indeed hardly be construed as a simple
reaction of an innocent person, as it in fact smacks of a desperate attempt of a guilty individual to escape liability or to
confuse and dishearten her victims.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision dated July 31, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-
H.C. No. 01664 is AFFIRMED in toto.

With costs against the accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 119076 March 25, 2002
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
ROGER SEGUN and JOSEPHINE CLAM, accused-appellants.

Appellants Roger Segun and Josephine Clam were charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iligan City with
violating Article 38 of the Labor Code, as amended, in an information reading:

That on or about the 3rd day of March, 1993 and for sometime thereafter, at Linamon, Lanao del Norte,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating and mutually helping each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
canvass, enlist, contract, transport and recruit for employment the following persons, namely:
1. Mario Tambacan; 8. Loreta Caban;
2. Mary Jane Cantil; 9. Jonard Genemelo;
3. Richard Araas; 10. Jhonely Genemelo;
4. Victoria Collantes; 11. Pedro Ozarraga;
5. Christine Collantes; 12. Pablo Ozarraga; and
6. Rogelio Collantes; 13. Pacifico Villaver,
7. Luther Caban;
Without any license and/or authority to engage in recruitment and placement of workers from the Department
of Labor and Employment.1

Upon arraignment, appellants pleaded not guilty to the above charges.

The prosecution presented eight (8) witnesses, namely, Francita L. Manequis, Conchita Tambacan, Josephine Aba,
Melecio Ababa, Rogelio Collantes, Loreta Caban, Christine Collantes and Elena Araas.

Manequis, Employment Officer III and Administrative Officer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),
identified two certifications issued by Allan Macaraya, then DOLE Director for Region XII. 2 The first
Certification,3dated October 7, 1993, stated that "per records available in this Office" appellants were "neither licensed
nor authorized by this Department to recruit workers for overseas employment." The second, 4 dated May 17, 1993, was
"issued upon the request of [the] Honorable Mayor of Linamon, Lanao del Norte, Mayor Alejandro C. Alfeche." It
stated that appellants, "per records of this Office," were "not authorized to conduct recruitment for local and overseas
employment."

Conchita Tambacan, 50, married, a tobacco vendor and a resident of Linamon, Lanao del Norte testified that her son
Mario, then 17, was "recruited" by appellants on March 6, 1993 and brought to Manila. She knew that he was recruited
only because "many told [her]." Her son did not consult her regarding the recruitment. At the time of her testimony, her
son had sent her only two letters from Cabanatuan City but had not returned home to Linamon, Lanao del Norte.

After learning of her sons recruitment, Mrs. Tambacan went to the Mayor of Linamon who, in turn, verified from
DOLE whether appellants had any authority to undertake recruitment. Subsequently, the mayor handed Mrs. Tambacan
the certification dated May 17, 1993.5

Josephine Ozarraga Aba, 28, married, a housekeeper, and a resident of Linamon, is the aunt of twins Pedro and Pablo
Ozarraga. Pedro and Pablo, then 18, are the sons of her deceased sister. Mrs. Aba testified that sometime in March or
April 1993 her nephews told her that they wanted to go to Manila and that they were "recruited." Her nephews were
then jobless and were looking for work. Mrs. Aba went to appellants house to inquire from appellants, who were her
neighbors, if what her nephews told her was true. In appellants house, she saw appellants, her nephews, among others.
Appellants told her that her nephews would be given free fare to Manila, free meals and good wages. These they also
promised her nephews. Mrs. Aba claimed that appellants brought one of the twins to Cabanatuan and the other to
Bulacan. When she testified, her nephews had not yet returned to Linamon.6

Melecio Ababa, 64, married, a fish vendor, and a resident of Linamon, Lanao del Norte, is the grandfather of Jhonely
and Jonard Genemelo. Sometime in April 1992, Ababa learned that appellants had "recruited" his grandsons. Ababa
asked his grandsons, "Why will you work there [in Cabanatuan City] [when] in fact you can find jobs here?" Ababa
went to the house of appellants who assured him that the transportation to Manila was free, and that his grandsons were
to be provided free meals and paid good wages. Because of these promises, he acquiesced to the recruitment. At the
time of his testimony, Ababas grandsons had not returned to Linamon. All he received from them were two letters but
no money.7

Another complainant, Rogelio Collantes, 44, jobless and a resident of Linamon, Lanao del Norte, is the husband of
Victoria Collantes and the father of Christine, then 13, and Rogelio, Jr., then 6. Sometime in April 1993, Rogelio
learned that appellants had "recruited" Victoria, Christine and Roger. Rogelio talked to appellants who promised that
his wife and childrens transportation to Manila and meals will be free and that they will receive good wages. Victoria,
Christine and Rogelio, Jr., who were then looking for jobs, were then brought to Cabanatuan City.

At the time of his testimony, Rogelios children had already returned to Linamon, traveling home with appellant
Josephine Clam. Collantes wife, though, was still in Nueva Ecija. She had sent letters to Rogelio thrice, and money
twice, once in the amount of P1,000.00 and the other time P800.00.8
The prosecution also presented Rogelios daughter Christine, who was among those allegedly recruited by appellants.
Christine said her parents were jobless during the months of March and April 1993 and were looking for work. Upon
the invitation of appellants, she and her mother went to the house of appellants on March 26, 1993. Appellants offered
her mother a job. Christine went with her mother to Cabanatuan City where her mother forced her to work. According
to Christine, those "recruited" totaled thirteen, including her mother and her brother. She and the others took a boat to
Manila and Cabanatuan City. Appellants shouldered the transportation expenses.

In Cabanatuan, Christine did housework for a certain Engr. Sy for seven (7) months. She was paid P500.00 a month.
She returned home in Linamon on December 4, 1993. Neri Clam, Josephines sister, paid for her fare to Manila.

Like Christine, her mother Victoria also performed housework in Cabanatuan City for a certain Mabini Llanera. Her
brother, Rogelio, Jr., was not able to find work because he was still a child.9

Loreta Cavan,* 14, and also a resident of Linamon, Lanao del Norte, testified that sometime in March 1993, she was
"recruited" by appellants and brought to Manila then to Cabanatuan City. She related that she met appellants in the
house of Josephine Clam, where she was recruited. Appellants told her that Cabanatuan City was a "good place"
"because the salary [was] big." Loreta agreed to go. Loreta further stated that those "recruited" by the couple totaled
thirteen, including the twin brothers Pedro and Pablo, a certain woman named Pasbel, a certain Johnny, and Loretas
sister Luther.

At Cabanatuan City, Loreta was able to work for a certain Barangay Captain Centioco for three (3) months for P600.00
a month. Loreta purportedly was not paid for her services since her two months salary was supposed to pay for her
fare to Manila.

Loreta denied that she went to the house of appellants to seek their help. Rather, appellants allegedly offered her a job.
Appellants invited her to go to their house on March 27, 1993. Loreta learned from her sister Luther that appellants
were recruiting.

Loretas sister Luther, who was among those listed in the information as having been recruited by appellants, went to
Manila to work but her job was not provided by appellants.10

The prosecution also offered the testimony of Ester Cavan, the mother of Loreta Cavan, to corroborate the latters
testimony. The same was dispensed with, however, the corroborative nature thereof having been admitted by counsel
for the defense.11

Finally, Elena Araas, mother of Richard Araas, related that on March 6, 1993 appellants brought her son, then 19, to
Cabanatuan City. Her son, who was then looking for work, was promised that he would be given a good salary. She
learned of the promise when she went to appellants house where she saw appellants, her son, among others. Elena
claimed that she was present when appellants approached her son and offered him work in Cabanatuan City. Elena
agreed to the recruitment of her son because of the promise of a good salary. However, she has not heard from her son
since he left nor had she received any money from him.12

Appellants defense was predicated on denial. They presented five witnesses to support their case.

Myrna Sasil, 35, married, a housekeeper and a resident of Iligan City, testified that in March 1993 she went to the
appellants residence to ask them to find a job in Manila for her daughter Margie. Prior to that, Myrna had known
appellants for almost a year. She knew that appellants could help their daughter find work in Manila because they just
came from Manila themselves. She said that before she went to appellants house, she did not know that appellants
were sending people to Manila for work. As Myrnas family was then suffering from financial difficulties, Josephine
agreed to find work for Myrnas daughter.

According to Myrna, Margie left with the thirteen persons listed in the information as having been recruited by
appellants. Appellants paid for Margies fare to Manila, which she reimbursed from her salary. At the time of Myrnas
testimony, Margie was still working in Cabanatuan City and was sending Myrna money from her salary.13

Losendo Servano, 50, married, a farmer and a resident of Linamon, Lanao del Norte, is a neighbor of appellants as well
as those of the thirteen persons they allegedly recruited. Losendo had known Josephine Clam since she was born, and
Roger Segun when the latter and Josephine got married.

Losendo testified that his son Ruel did not have work in Linamon. If Ruel stayed in Linamon, Losendo said he would
become a hoodlum or a delinquent. His son thus requested appellants to take him with them to Manila and find work
for him, saying "Manang, Manong, I just go with you to Manila."

In April 1993, Ruel, appellants and thirteen others left for Manila by boat. Appellants shouldered Ruels expenses in
going to Manila. When Ruel was able to find work, he paid appellants by installment. Losendo claims that his son
found work through the help of appellants.14

Virgincita Ozarraga, 30, a housekeeper and a resident of Linamon, Lanao del Norte, is the sister of appellant Josephine
Clam. She is also the aunt of the twins Pedro and Pablo Ozarraga and a neighbor of the thirteen persons allegedly
recruited by appellants.
According to Virgincita, Josephine Clam went to Nueva Ecija in 1991 but transferred in 1992 to Dagupan City. In both
places, Josephine worked as a house helper. Roger Segun, on the other hand, worked as liaison officer for Rolmar
Employment Services.

Virgincita disputed Conchita Tambacans testimony that appellants recruited the latters son Mario. She said that Mario
went to appellants house. Josephine did not promise him a job because they were not recruiters although appellants
assured him they would help him find a job.

Virgincita further testified that in March 1993 Pedro and Pablo Ozarraga also went to the house of Virgincitas mother
to ask appellants to help them find work because there were times they could not eat. Josephine allegedly told the twins
that she was not a recruiter but she would help them find work. She purportedly said the same thing to Jhonely and
Jonard Genemelo, Victoria and Christine Collantes, and Loreta and Luther Cavan. Josephine also told them that she
was not promising them anything.

Appellants and the thirteen persons they purportedly recruited left for Manila by boat. Appellants paid for their fare and
were able to find work for them in Manila, Cabanatuan and other places in Luzon. Thereafter, appellants returned to
Linamon. To Virgincitas knowledge, no people sought their help to find them jobs after the couple returned from Manila.15

Appellant Roger Segun, 34, single, is an employee of the Rolmar Employment Services. As the liaison officer of the
agency, appellant undertakes the processing of the papers for the agencys license.

According to appellant, around April and May of 1993, the thirteen persons listed in the information went to the house
of Josephine Clam to ask her to help them find jobs in Cabanatuan City. Their neighbors knew that Josephine used to
work in Cabanatuan City, Pangasinan and Dagupan City. Josephine told them that she was not a recruiter although she
would help them find work.

Appellants accompanied the thirteen to Manila as they (appellants) were going there anyway. Appellants shouldered
their neighbors transportation and other expenses from Linamon to Cabanatuan City upon the promise that they (appellants)
would be paid back. Eventually, some paid while others did not. Roger did not bother to ask for payment from those who did
not pay. He claimed he was able to help find jobs for their neighbors by recommending them to friends who needed helpers
and workers. Until they were able to find jobs, the thirteen stayed in Rogers house in Cabanatuan City.

Roger admitted that neither he nor Josephine Clam had a license to recruit. He said he was not a recruiter. He also revealed
that after he brought the thirteen to Manila, he tried to secure a license to recruit but his application was disapproved.16

Appellant Josephine Clam, 28, single, and residing at Linamon, Lanao del Norte, used to work as a house helper in
Pangasinan and Bulacan for a year after which she returned to Linamon.

Around March and April 1993, the thirteen persons listed in the information went to her house to ask her help to find
them work. They knew that Josephine used to work in Pangasinan and Dagupan. She told them she would try her best
to help them but informed them that she was not a recruiter.1wphi1.nt

Roger and Josephine shouldered their neighbors transportation and food expenses on the condition that their neighbors
reimburse appellants once they found jobs. Some of them eventually paid them back although others did not.
Appellants were able to find jobs for the thirteen since Roger had many friends.

Josephine admitted that she did not have any license to recruit since she was not a recruiter. She and Roger helped their
neighbors find jobs because she took pity on them when they begged her to help them find jobs. She even spent her and
Rogers joint savings to answer for her neighbors expenses.17

Based on the foregoing evidence, the Iligan City RTC convicted appellants for violating Article 38 of the Labor Code,
as amended:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Illegal Recruitment of the 13 persons
mentioned in the information, namely: Mario Tambacan, Mary Jane Cantil, Richard Aranas, Victoria Collantes, Christine
Collantes, Rogelio Collantes, Luther Caban, Loreta Caban, Jonard Genemilo, Jhonely Genemilo, Pedro Ozarraga, Pablo
Ozarraga and Pacifico Villaver in a large scale, the accused are hereby sentenced to suffer a penalty of life imprisonment
for each of them and to pay a fine of P100,000.00 each. The bail bond put up by the accused is hereby ordered cancelled,
in view of the penalty imposed by this Court of life imprisonment, which is a nonbailable offense.

SO ORDERED.18

Appellants contend that their guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. They maintain that it was their neighbors
who approached them in the house of Josephine Clams mother and solicited their assistance in their (the neighbors)
desire to go to Manila. Josephine Clam had a history of employment in Luzon and had just returned to Linamon. In
Josephine, the neighbors saw an opportunity to taste economic progress and escape poverty and stagnation. Appellants
took pity on them and helped them find jobs, even defraying their neighbors travel expenses. They submit, therefore,
that they were not engaged in the recruitment of persons for employment but in pursuit of a lawful and noble endeavor
for the benefit of the less fortunate. They neither collected nor received any consideration for their efforts. Appellants point
out that of the 13 allegedly recruited only Christine Collantes and Loreta Cavan testified against them. Considering these
circumstances, appellants submit that the evidence against them is at most ambiguous and inconclusive.19

The crime of illegal recruitment in large scale is committed when three elements concur. First, the offender has no
valid license or authority required by law to enable one to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers.
Second, he or she 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. Third, the offender commits
said acts against three or more persons, individually or as a group.20

There is no dispute that the first element is present in this case. The certification dated May 17, 1993 and issued by
DOLE Region XII Director Allen Macaraya, states that appellants "were not authorized to conduct recruitment for
local and overseas employment." Both appellants conceded they have no license to recruit.21

The next question is whether appellants undertook any activity constituting recruitment and placement as defined by
Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code, which states:

"Recruitment and Placement" refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing,
hiring or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment,
locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, That any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or
promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.

Did the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellants canvassed, enlisted, contracted and transported the
thirteen persons listed in the information? In examining the prosecutions evidence, we bear in mind that a conviction
for large scale illegal recruitment must be based on a finding in each case of illegal recruitment of three (3) or more persons
whether individually or as a group.22 While the law does not require that at least three (3) victims testify at the trial, it is
necessary that there is sufficient evidence proving that the offense was committed against three (3) or more persons.23

There is no evidence that appellant undertook the recruitment of Mary Jane Cantil and Pacifico Villaver. Neither Cantil
nor Villaver testified in court. No witness testified as to the fact of their recruitment.

As regards Mario Tambacan, his mother Conchita testified that she learned of his recruitment only from other persons.
On direct examination she said:
Q How did you know that he was recruited?
A Many told me.24
On cross-examination, she further revealed:
Q You claimed that he was recruited but you did not see the recruitment?
A This Josephine Clam and a companion recruited my son because many saw them.
ATTY. BAYRON: That is hearsay.
COURT:
Q But you, yourself, you did not see that he was recruited? Were you present when Mario Tambacan was recruited
by the accused?
A I was not present.
Q You were only informed?
A Yes.
Q Your testimony here that he was recruited was only told to you?
A Yes.25
Conchita Tambacans testimony is clearly hearsay and, thus, of little probative value.26 It hardly suffices to prove
Mario Tambacans recruitment beyond reasonable doubt.
We now examine the evidence offered to prove the recruitment of the Collanteses. The prosecutions evidence consists
of the testimonies of Rogelio Collantes and his daughter Christine. Rogelio testified that his wife and children were
"recruited" by appellants, that appellants promised that his wife and children were to be provided free meals and
transportation to Manila and good wages, and that appellants brought his wife and children to Manila.

Q Do you recall what happen[ed] to Victoria, Cristine and Roger Collantes, Jr., sometime in April, 1993?
A They were recruited.
Q By whom?
A Roger Segun and Josephine Clam.
xxx
Q When you learn[ed] that your wife Victoria, Cristine your daughter and son Roger Segun, Jr., were being
recruited by the accused whom you just identified, what did you do then?
A I verified about their recruited (sic).
Q You mean you were to talk to Josephine Clam and Roger Segun?
A Yes.
Q Have you talked to Josephine Clam and Roger Segun?
A Yes.
Q What did they tell you?
A They promised that the transportation to Manila will be free and the meals and good wages.
xxx
Q Were these two accused Roger Segun and Josephine Clam able to bring your wife and children to Manila?
A Yes.
Q Do you know what place in Manila they were taken?
A In Cabanatuan City.27
By itself, Rogelios testimony is far from conclusive that appellants actually recruited his wife and children. Rogelio
used the term "recruit" which is a conclusion of law; the prosecution did not elicit from him the specific act
constituting the recruitment. Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court states that a witness can testify only to
those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge. He is not permitted to testify as to a conclusion of law. Law in
the sense here used embraces whatever conclusions belong properly to the court.28 Thus, it has been held that the bare
statements of a rape victim that she was "sexually assaulted" or "raped" by the accused are not sufficient to establish
the accuseds guilt for the crime of rape.29 Testimony constituting conclusions of law has no probative value and is not
binding upon the court.30
Rogelio also said that appellants made certain promises but it is not clear if these were made to Rogelio or to his wife and
children. That appellants "brought" them to Manila does not necessarily mean that they were "transported" in the context of
Article 13 (b) for if we subscribe to the defenses account, appellants merely accompanied Rogelios family to Manila. If two
inculpatory facts are capable of two different interpretations, that which would favor the accused should be adopted.31
On the other hand, Christine Collantes testified on direct examination:
Q Do you recall sometime in April, 1993 what transpired between you and these 2 accused in this case?
A They treated me well.
Q How did it happen that these 2 accused treated you well sometime in April, 1993?
A They told us we would be given work.
Q Where will you be given work?
A In Cabanatuan City, sir.
Q In other words how many were you these 2 accused promised to give you work in Cabanatuan City?
A We were 13.
Q That includes your mother and your brother Rogelio, Jr.?
A Yes, sir.
Q And that includes you also?
A Yes.
Q Did you agree to their proposal that you will be given job in Cabanatuan City if you will go there?
A Yes, sir.
Q How about your mother?
A Yes, sir.
Q How about your brother?
A My brother went with my mother.
Q When you agree[d] with your mother, were you able to go in Cabanatuan City together with the accused as they
promised?
A Yes, sir.
Q That includes the others recruited with the total of 13 of you?
A Yes, sir.
Q What means of transportation did you take from here to Manila?
A William Lines.
Q Who shoulder[ed] the expenses of that boat in going there from here?
A Josephine Clam and Roger Segun.
Q When you arrived in Manila you proceeded to Cabanatuan City, is that correct?
A Yes.
Q That includes your mother and your brother?
A Yes, sir.
Q As promised by the accused that you would be given a job, were [you] able to have a job there in Cabanatuan City?
A Yes, sir.
Q What is your work there?
A House work.
Q To whom did you work with?
A With Engr. Sy.
Q How much did he agree as your wages?
A P500.00 a month.
Q Do you know if your mother was able to secure a job as promised by the accused?
A Yes.
Q Was she able to get a job?
A Yes.
Q What kind of job?
A House work.
Q How about your younger brother, was he able to have a work there?
A No he is still a child.

COURT
Q To whom did your mother work?
A Mabini Llanera in Cabanatuan City.32

On cross-examination, she related:


Q Is it not a fact that your mother went to the house of the accused and beg[ged] you to find a job?
A Yes, sir.
Q You also went with your parents when your mother went to the house of the accused?
A Yes, sir.
Q The accused did not offer [a] job for your mother?
A She offered.
Q You went along with your mother to Cabanatuan City, is that correct?
A Yes.
Q Now, will you please tell the court why did you go along with your mother to Cabanatuan City?
A In order to work.
Q The accused did not offer you [a] job but you only went along with your mother to Cabanatuan City, is that correct?
A No.

COURT
Q What do you mean when you say no?
A I was forced by my mother to work in Cabanatuan City.33
And on re-cross:
ATTY. BAYRON
Q The accused did not invite you to go to their house on March 26, 1993, am I correct?
A We were invited.
Q You and your mother went to the house of the accused because you ask[ed] for help to find a job, am I correct?
FISCAL BALABAGAN
Already answered, Your Honor.
COURT
Answer.
WITNESS
A We were invited.34
Christines testimony establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that appellants recruited Christines mother Victoria.
Christine explicitly stated that appellants offered her mother a job and told them that they "would be given work."
Victoria thus agreed to appellants "proposal" that she would be given a job in Cabanatuan City.
However, there is reasonable doubt whether appellants actually recruited Christine herself since Christine said that she
"was forced by [her] mother to work in Cabanatuan City."
The Court also entertains grave doubts regarding the alleged recruitment of Christines brother Rogelio, Jr., who,
according to Christine, went with their mother and was not able to work because, at 6, he was "still a child." Did
Rogelio, Jr. go to Cabanatuan City to work or did he just go together with his mother so she could look after him? The
former is unlikely while the latter is not farfetched since the child was too young to work and still needed looking after.
The prosecution, however, succeeded in proving that appellants recruited Loreta Cavan. Loreta testified that appellants
told her that the salary in Cabanatuan City was good, that she agreed to their proposal for her to work there, and that
they brought her to Manila then to Cabanatuan City:
Q Who brought you to Manila and then Cabanatuan City?
A Josephine Clam and Roger Segun.
Q Why did they bring you to Manila then to Cabanatuan City?
A According to them that place is good because the salary is big.
xxx
Q You said you were brought to Manila by these two accused on March 27, 1993, before that March 27, was there
any occasion that you met the accused in this case?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where did you meet them?
A In Linamon.
Q In the house of Mrs. Josephine Clam?
A Yes, sir.
Q What transpired when you first met with the accused Josephine Clam in their house in Linamon?
A They told us that in the boat where we are going to take, we are prohibited to go around the boat.
COURT
Q Prior to that when for the first time you met the accused?
WITNESS
A At the time when we are recruited.
Q How did they recruit you?
A They told me that the salary in that place is good.
FISCAL BALABAGAN
And because they told you that the salary is good, you are referring to Cabanatuan City?
WITNESS
A Yes.
Q When they told you that the salary is good, what did you do?
A I am willing to go.
Q You mean you agreed with their proposal to you and that you are going to work there?
A Yes, sir.35
On cross-examination, she said that appellants offered her employment and she went to appellants house because they
were recruiting:
ATTY. BAYRON
Q You said awhile ago that you went to the house of the accused in Linamon, Lanao del Norte, can you recall when
was that when you went to the house of the accused in this case?
A March 27.
Q Did you go to the house of the accused alone or with companion?
A I have companions.
Q Please tell the court why did you go to the house of the accused on March 27, 1993?
A Because they have recruited us.
Q Is it not a fact that you went to the house of the accused in Linamon because you sought their help to find a job?
A No, sir.
Q The accused in this case did not offer you a job?
A They offered me.
Q Is it not a fact that you beg[ged] the accused to help you find a job outside Linamon, Lanao del Norte?
A No, sir.
Q The accused in this case did not invite you to go in their house on March 27, 1993?
A No, sir.
Q You went there on March 27, 1993 on your own volition, am I correct?
A Sir, sir.
Q You are familiar with the house of the accused in Linamon, Lanao del Norte, am I correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q In the house of the accused you can not find any signboard that they are recruiting people for jobs, am I correct?
A No, sir.
COURT
Q What is your purpose in going to the house of the accused?
A Because they are recruiting.
Q Prior to that when you went there, you have not met them before?
A No, sir.
Q Why did you go to the house of the accused and knew that they are recruiting?
A I was told by my sister.
Q Luther is your elder sister?
A Yes.36
The prosecution however failed to prove that appellants recruited Loretas sister, Luther. Loreta testified, thus:
Q How many of you were brought and were recruited by the accused?
A We were 13.
Q Can you mention who were your companions?
A The twin brother, Pedro and Pablo.
xxx
Q Who else?
A Luther Caban.
Q What is your relation with Luther Cavan?
A She is my sister.
xxx
FISCAL BALABAGAN
Q You said that you were recruited together with your sister and others and were brought to Cabanatuan City, is
that correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q Who brought you there?
ATTY. BAYRON
Already answered.
COURT
Witness may answer.
WITNESS
A Josephine Clam and Roger Segun.37
Again, the term "recruit" is a conclusion of law. The prosecution failed to elicit from Loreta how appellants "recruited"
Luther. While Loreta also said that Luther was among the thirteen brought to Manila, it does not necessarily mean that
her transportation was for purposes of employment. Moreover, Loreta said that Luthers job, at least at the time Loreta
testified, was not a result of appellants efforts.
Q How about your sister Luther, where is she now?
A She is in Manila.
Q Why [is] she is still in Manila until now?
A She went there to work.
Q Who gave her work, were the accused in this case as promised to you?
A No, sir.38
These circumstances give rise to doubts whether appellants indeed recruited Luther Cavan.
Neither was the prosecution able to establish that appellants recruited the twins Pedro and Pablo Ozarraga. Josephine
Ozarraga Aba, the twins aunt, testified:
Q Sometime in March or April, 1993, what happen to these two nephews of yours?
A They were recruited by Josephine Clam and Roger Segun.
xxx
Q You said that these 2 accused were the ones who recruited your 2 nephews sometime in March or April, 1993.
When you learn that they were recruited what did you do if any?
A I went to their house and confronted them about my nephews and they told me that my nephews will be given
free fare to Manila, free meals and good wages and they also promised that to my nephews.
Q You said they promised your nephews free fare to Manila, free meals and good wages, whom are you referring they?
A Josephine Clam and Roger Segun.
Q Why were Josephine Clam and Roger Segun able to recruit your two nephews?
A Because they brought them.
Q Where did they brought your nephews?
A One in Cabanatuan and the other one in Bulacan.39
As we held earlier, "recruit" is a legal conclusion. The witness must testify as to the facts that would prove recruitment.
It does not suffice that the witness simply state that the accused "recruited" the "victim." Hence, the testimony of
Josephine Aba that appellants "recruited" her nephews is, by itself, insufficient to convict appellants for the recruitment
of Pedro and Pablo Ozarraga.
That appellants allegedly told Josephine Aba that her nephews would be given free fare and meals is not inconsistent
with appellants account that they paid for their neighbors expenses. The same holds true for the claim that appellants
brought the twins to Cabanatuan and Bulacan. According to appellants, they accompanied the thirteen persons to help
them find work. The reference to good wages could mean that the rates of compensation in Cabanatuan or Bulacan are
relatively high compared to those in Lanao del Norte. These circumstances do not necessarily mean that appellants
recruited Pedro and Pablo Ozarraga.
We cannot give much credence to Josephines statement that appellants also promised free fare and meals, and good
wages to her nephews since the prosecution did not show that Josephine was present when appellants made this
supposed promise to her nephews.
Neither did the prosecution prove beyond reasonable doubt that appellants recruited Jhonely and Jonard Genemelo.
Melecio Ababa, grandfather of Jhonely and Jonard testified on direct examination:
Q Do you recall what happen to your 2 grandsons sometime in the month of April, 1993?
A They were recruited by Roger Segun and Josephine Clam.
xxx
FISCAL BALABAGAN
Q When you learn that your grandsons were being recruited by Roger and Segun and Josephine Clam, what did you
do?
A I went to their house.
Q You said you went to their house, whose house are your referring?
A The house of Roger Segun and Josephine Clam.
xxx
FISCAL BALABAGAN
Q Who were the people you met inside the house of Josephine Clam?
A Them.
Q Are you referring Roger Segun and Josephine Clam?
A Yes.
Q Then what happen there when you went to the house of the accused?
A They promised that the transportation to Manila is free and free meals and good wages.
Q Because of this free meals and transportation to Manila they promised to your grandsons and you what happen?
A They brought them to Cabanatuan City.
Q Did you agree with this?
A Yes, I agree.
Q You agreed because of this promise of free transportation and good wages for your grandchildren?
A Yes.40
On cross-examination, Melecio said:
Q You only learn from somebody that your grandsons were recruited by the two accused?
A From them personally because I went to their house.
Q You mean the house of your grandson?
A I went to the house of the recruiters because they were staying in my house.
Q When you went to their house your grandsons were not there?
A My two grandsons were there.
Q Can you recall when your two grandsons Johnely and Jonard allegedly recruited by the two accused?
A Sometime on the 16 or 17th.
Q What month?
A April.
Q You were not present when your two grandsons were allegedly recruited by the two accused?
A I was there present.41
Note again the use of the term "recruit," a defect present in the testimonies of Rogelio Collantes, Loreta Cavan and
Josephine Aba. While Melecio Aba said that appellants promised his grandsons free transportation and meals, and
good wages, these promises, as we have observed in analyzing Josephine Abas testimony, are not incongruent with
appellants version.

Lastly, Elena Araas testimony on her son Richards alleged recruitment is insufficient to prove appellants guilt.
Elena testified on direct examination:
FISCAL BALABAGAN
Q Mrs. Elena Araas, do you know Richard Araas?
WITNESS
A Yes, he is my son.
Q Where is he now?
A In Cabanatuan City brought by Josephine Clam
Q Do you know what is the family name of Josephine?
A Yes, Clam.
Q When was your son brought by Josephine Clam and Roger Segun?
A March 6, that was Saturday.
Q Do you know the reason why they brought your son in Cabanatuan on March 6, 1993?
A Because of the promise that he would be given good salary.
COURT
Q How do you know that he was promised of a good salary?
A Because I went to their house.
FISCAL BALABAGAN
Q Are you referring to the house of Josephine Clam?
A Yes.
Q Were there people there when you arrived there?
A Yes, Josephine Clam, Roger Segun, my son and others.
Q Did you agree to recruitment that your son will be brought to Cabanatuan City?
A Yes.
Q Why did you agree?
A Because of the promise that they would receive good salary.
Q Did he went there personally?
A No.
xxx
FISCAL BALABAGAN
Q How was your son recruited by the accused in this case?
A As they promised that the salary is quite big.42
On cross-examination, Elena said:
Q You were not present when your son was allegedly recruited by the accused?
A I was there.
Q The accused in this case did not offer to your son but it was your son who asked helped (sic) to find a job?
A My son was recruited that he would be given work.
COURT
Q The 2 accused never approached your son they have work in Cabanatuan City?
A Yes, they said that.
ATTY. BAYRON
Q The accused tell (sic) your son that they will help your son to find a job?
A Yes, sir.43

Elenas testimony fails to state the specific act constituting the recruitment. Elena merely declared that her son
was "recruited" a legal conclusion. Appellants also supposedly said that "they have work in Cabanatuan City" and
that "they will help [her] son to find a job." Elena did not state the context and the circumstances under which these
statements were made. Moreover, the statements attributed to appellants are ambiguous and hardly incongruous with
appellants claim that they assisted their neighbors find work, which assistance does not necessarily translate to an act
of recruitment. That there was a supposed promise of a good salary is also ambiguous for, as noted earlier, the
reference to good wages could mean that the rates of compensation in Cabanatuan City are higher compared to those in
Lanao del Norte.1wphi1.nt

In sum, the prosecution failed to elicit from many of its witnesses the specific acts constituting the recruitment of the
other alleged victims. The prosecution was able to prove that appellants performed recruitment activities only in the
cases of Victoria Collantes and Loreta Cavan. The third element of illegal recruitment, i.e., that the offender commits
the acts of recruitment against three or more persons is, therefore, absent. Consequently, appellants can be convicted
only of two counts of "simple" illegal recruitment.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court is MODIFIED. Appellants are found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of two counts of illegal recruitment, as defined and punished by Article 38 (a) of the Labor Code, in
relation to Articles 13 (b) and 39 thereof. They are each sentenced to suffer for each count imprisonment of four (4) to
five (5) years.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 113161 August 29, 1995
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
LOMA GOCE y OLALIA, DAN GOCE and NELLY D. AGUSTIN, accused. NELLY D. AGUSTIN, accused-appellant.

On January 12, 1988, an information for illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate and in large scale, punishable
under Articles 38 and 39 of the Labor Code (Presidential Decree No. 442) as amended by Section 1(b) of Presidential
Decree No. 2018, was filed against spouses Dan and Loma Goce and herein accused-appellant Nelly Agustin in the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 5, alleging

That in or about and during the period comprised between May 1986 and June 25, 1987, both dates inclusive, in the
City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and helping one another,
representing themselves to have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport Filipino workers for employment
abroad, did then and there willfully and unlawfully, for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement
abroad, to (1) Rolando Dalida y Piernas, (2) Ernesto Alvarez y Lubangco, (3) Rogelio Salado y Savillo, (4) Ramona
Salado y Alvarez, (5) Dionisio Masaya y de Guzman, (6) Dave Rivera y de Leon, (7) Lorenzo Alvarez y Velayo,
and (8) Nelson Trinidad y Santos, without first having secured the required license or authority from the
Department of Labor.1

On January 21, 1987, a warrant of arrest was issued against the three accused but not one of them was arrested. 2Hence, on
February 2, 1989, the trial court ordered the case archived but it issued a standing warrant of arrest against the accused.3

Thereafter, on learning of the whereabouts of the accused, one of the offended parties, Rogelio Salado, requested on
March 17, 1989 for a copy of the warrant of arrest.4 Eventually, at around midday of February 26, 1993, Nelly Agustin
was apprehended by the Paraaque police.5 On March 8, 1993, her counsel filed a motion to revive the case and
requested that it be set for hearing "for purposes of due process and for the accused to immediately have her day in
court" 6 Thus, on April 15, 1993, the trial court reinstated the case and set the arraignment for May 3, 1993,7 on which
date of Agustin pleaded not guilty8 and the case subsequently went to trial.

Four of the complainants testified for the prosecution. Rogelio Salado was the first to take the witness stand and he
declared that sometime in March or April, 1987, he was introduced by Lorenzo Alvarez, his brother-in-law and a co-
applicant, to Nelly Agustin in the latter's residence at Factor, Dongalo, Paraaque, Metro Manila. Representing herself
as the manager of the Clover Placement Agency, Agustin showed him a job order as proof that he could readily be
deployed for overseas employment. Salado learned that he had to pay P5,000.00 as processing fee, which amount he
gave sometime in April or May of the same year. He was issued the corresponding receipt.9

Also in April or May, 1987, Salado, accompanied by five other applicants who were his relatives, went to the office of
the placement agency at Nakpil Street, Ermita, Manila where he saw Agustin and met the spouses Dan and Loma
Goce, owners of the agency. He submitted his bio-data and learned from Loma Goce that he had to give P12,000.00,
instead of the original amount of P5,000.00 for the placement fee. Although surprised at the new and higher sum, they
subsequently agreed as long as there was an assurance that they could leave for abroad.10

Thereafter, a receipt was issued in the name of the Clover Placement Agency showing that Salado and his aforesaid co-
applicants each paid P2,000.00, instead of the P5,000.00 which each of them actually paid. Several months passed but
Salado failed to leave for the promised overseas employment. Hence, in October, 1987, along with the other recruits,
he decided to go to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to verify the real status of Clover
Placement Agency. They discovered that said agency was not duly licensed to recruit job applicants. Later, upon
learning that Agustin had been arrested, Salado decided to see her and to demand the return of the money he had paid,
but Agustin could only give him P500.00. 11

Ramona Salado, the wife of Rogelio Salado, came to know through her brother, Lorenzo Alvarez, about Nelly Agustin.
Accompanied by her husband, Rogelio, Ramona went to see Agustin at the latter's residence. Agustin persuaded her to
apply as a cutter/sewer in Oman so that she could join her husband. Encouraged by Agustin's promise that she and her
husband could live together while working in Oman, she instructed her husband to give Agustin P2,000.00 for each of
them as placement fee, or the total sum of P4,000.00. 12

Much later, the Salado couple received a telegram from the placement agency requiring them to report to its office
because the "NOC" (visa) had allegedly arrived. Again, around February, or March, 1987, Rogelio gave P2,000.00 as
payment for his and his wife's passports. Despite follow-up of their papers twice a week from February to June, 1987,
he and his wife failed to leave for abroad. 13

Complainant Dionisio Masaya, accompanied by his brother-in-law, Aquiles Ortega, applied for a job in Oman with the
Clover Placement Agency at Paraaque, the agency's former office address. There, Masaya met Nelly Agustin, who
introduced herself as the manager of the agency, and the Goce spouses, Dan and Loma, as well as the latter's daughter.
He submitted several pertinent documents, such as his bio-data and school credentials. 14

In May, 1986, Masaya gave Dan Goce P1,900.00 as an initial downpayment for the placement fee, and in September of
that same year, he gave an additional P10,000.00. He was issued receipts for said amounts and was advised to go to the
placement office once in a while to follow up his application, which he faithfully did. Much to his dismay and chagrin,
he failed to leave for abroad as promised. Accordingly, he was forced to demand that his money be refunded but Loma
Goce could give him back only P4,000.00 in installments. 15
As the prosecution's fourth and last witness, Ernesto Alvarez took the witness stand on June 7, 1993. He testified that
in February, 1987, he met appellant Agustin through his cousin, Larry Alvarez, at her residence in Paraaque. She
informed him that "madalas siyang nagpapalakad sa Oman" and offered him a job as an ambulance driver at the Royal
Hospital in Oman with a monthly salary of about $600.00 to $700.00. 16

On March 10, 1987, Alvarez gave an initial amount of P3,000.00 as processing fee to Agustin at the latter's residence.
In the same month, he gave another P3,000.00, this time in the office of the placement agency. Agustin assured him
that he could leave for abroad before the end of 1987. He returned several times to the placement agency's office to
follow up his application but to no avail. Frustrated, he demanded the return of the money he had paid, but Agustin
could only give back P500.00. Thereafter, he looked for Agustin about eight times, but he could no longer find her. 17

Only herein appellant Agustin testified for the defense. She asserted that Dan and Loma Goce were her neighbors at Tambo,
Paraaque and that they were licensed recruiters and owners of the Clover Placement Agency. Previously, the Goce couple
was able to send her son, Reynaldo Agustin, to Saudi Arabia. Agustin met the aforementioned complainants through
Lorenzo Alvarez who requested her to introduce them to the Goce couple, to which request she acceded. 18

Denying any participation in the illegal recruitment and maintaining that the recruitment was perpetrated only by the
Goce couple, Agustin denied any knowledge of the receipts presented by the prosecution. She insisted that the
complainants included her in the complaint thinking that this would compel her to reveal the whereabouts of the Goce
spouses. She failed to do so because in truth, so she claims, she does not know the present address of the couple. All
she knew was that they had left their residence in 1987. 19

Although she admitted having given P500.00 each to Rogelio Salado and Alvarez, she explained that it was entirely for
different reasons. Salado had supposedly asked for a loan, while Alvarez needed money because he was sick at that time. 20

On November 19, 1993, the trial court rendered judgment finding herein appellant guilty as a principal in the crime of
illegal recruitment in large scale, and sentencing her to serve the penalty of life imprisonment, as well as to pay a fine
of P100,000.00. 21

In her present appeal, appellant Agustin raises the following arguments: (1) her act of introducing complainants to the
Goce couple does not fall within the meaning of illegal recruitment and placement under Article 13(b) in relation to
Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) there is no proof of conspiracy to commit illegal recruitment among appellant and the
Goce spouses; and (3) there is no proof that appellant offered or promised overseas employment to the
complainants. 22 These three arguments being interrelated, they will be discussed together.

Herein appellant is accused of violating Articles 38 and 39 of the Labor Code. Article 38 of the Labor Code, as
amended by Presidential Decree No. 2018, provides that any recruitment activity, including the prohibited practices
enumerated in Article 34 of said Code, undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority shall be deemed illegal
and punishable under Article 39 thereof. The same article further provides that illegal recruitment shall be considered
an offense involving economic sabotage if any of these qualifying circumstances exist, namely, (a) when illegal
recruitment is committed by a syndicate, i.e., if it is carried out by a group of three or more persons conspiring and/or
confederating with one another; or (b) when illegal recruitment is committed in large scale, i.e., if it is committed
against three or more persons individually or as a group.

At the outset, it should be made clear that all the accused in this case were not authorized to engage in any recruitment activity, as
evidenced by a certification issued by Cecilia E. Curso, Chief of the Licensing and Regulation Office of the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration, on November 10, 1987. Said certification states that Dan and Loma Goce and Nelly Agustin are
neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas
employment. 23 Appellant does not dispute this. As a matter of fact her counsel agreed to stipulate that she was neither licensed nor
authorized to recruit applicants for overseas employment. Appellant, however, denies that she was in any way guilty of illegal
recruitment. 24

It is appellant's defensive theory that all she did was to introduce complainants to the Goce spouses. Being a neighbor
of said couple, and owing to the fact that her son's overseas job application was processed and facilitated by them, the
complainants asked her to introduce them to said spouses. Allegedly out of the goodness of her heart, she complied
with their request. Such an act, appellant argues, does not fall within the meaning of "referral" under the Labor Code to
make her liable for illegal recruitment.

Under said Code, recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting,
utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not; provided, that any person or entity which, in any manner,
offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and
placement. 25 On the other hand, referral is the act of passing along or forwarding of an applicant for employment after
an initial interview of a selected applicant for employment to a selected employer, placement officer or bureau. 26

Hence, the inevitable query is whether or not appellant Agustin merely introduced complainants to the Goce couple or her
actions went beyond that. The testimonial evidence hereon show that she indeed further committed acts constitutive of illegal
recruitment. All four prosecution witnesses testified that it was Agustin whom they initially approached regarding their plans
of working overseas. It was from her that they learned about the fees they had to pay, as well as the papers that they had to
submit. It was after they had talked to her that they met the accused spouses who owned the placement agency.
As correctly held by the trial court, being an employee of the Goces, it was therefore logical for appellant to introduce
the applicants to said spouses, they being the owners of the agency. As such, appellant was actually making referrals to
the agency of which she was a part. She was therefore engaging in recruitment activity. 27

Despite Agustin's pretensions that she was but a neighbor of the Goce couple, the testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses paint a different picture. Rogelio Salado and Dionisio Masaya testified that appellant represented herself as
the manager of the Clover Placement Agency. Ramona Salado was offered a job as a cutter/sewer by Agustin the first
time they met, while Ernesto Alvarez remembered that when he first met Agustin, the latter represented herself as
"nagpapaalis papunta sa Oman." 28 Indeed, Agustin played a pivotal role in the operations of the recruitment agency,
working together with the Goce couple.

There is illegal recruitment when one gives the impression of having the ability to send a worker abroad." 29 It is
undisputed that appellant gave complainants the distinct impression that she had the power or ability to send people
abroad for work such that the latter were convinced to give her the money she demanded in order to be so employed. 30

It cannot be denied that Agustin received from complainants various sums for purpose of their applications. Her act of
collecting from each of the complainants payment for their respective passports, training fees, placement fees, medical
tests and other sundry expenses unquestionably constitutes an act of recruitment within the meaning of the law. In fact,
appellant demanded and received from complainants amounts beyond the allowable limit of P5,000.00 under
government regulations. It is true that the mere act of a cashier in receiving money far exceeding the amount allowed
by law was not considered per se as "recruitment and placement" in contemplation of law, but that was because the
recipient had no other participation in the transactions and did not conspire with her co-accused in defrauding the
victims. 31 That is not the case here.

Appellant further argues that "there is no evidence of receipts of collections/payments from complainants to appellant."
On the contrary, xerox copies of said receipts/vouchers were presented by the prosecution. For instance, a cash voucher
marked as Exhibit D, 32 showing the receipt of P10,000.00 for placement fee and duly signed by appellant, was
presented by the prosecution. Another receipt, identified as Exhibit E, 33 was issued and signed by appellant on
February 5, 1987 to acknowledge receipt of P4,000.00 from Rogelio and Ramona Salado for "processing of documents
for Oman." Still another receipt dated March 10, 1987 and presented in evidence as Exhibit F, shows that appellant
received from Ernesto Alvarez P2,000.00 for "processing of documents for Oman." 34

Apparently, the original copies of said receipts/vouchers were lost, hence only xerox copies thereof were presented and
which, under the circumstances, were admissible in evidence. When the original writing has been lost or destroyed or
cannot be produced in court, upon proof of its execution and loss or destruction, or unavailability, its contents may be
proved by a copy or a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the recollection of witnesses. 35

Even assuming arguendo that the xerox copies presented by the prosecution as secondary evidence are not allowable in
court, still the absence thereof does not warrant the acquittal of appellant. In People vs. Comia, 36where this particular
issue was involved, the Court held that the complainants' failure to ask for receipts for the fees they paid to the accused
therein, as well as their consequent failure to present receipts before the trial court as proof of the said payments, is not
fatal to their case. The complainants duly proved by their respective testimonies that said accused was involved in the
entire recruitment process. Their testimonies in this regard, being clear and positive, were declared sufficient to
establish that factum probandum.

Indeed, the trial court was justified and correct in accepting the version of the prosecution witnesses, their statements
being positive and affirmative in nature. This is more worthy of credit than the mere uncorroborated and self-serving
denials of appellant. The lame defense consisting of such bare denials by appellant cannot overcome the evidence
presented by the prosecution proving her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. 37

The presence of documentary evidence notwithstanding, this case essentially involves the credibility of witnesses
which is best left to the judgment of the trial court, in the absence of abuse of discretion therein. The findings of fact of
a trial court, arrived at only after a hearing and evaluation of what can usually be expected to be conflicting testimonies
of witnesses, certainly deserve respect by an appellate court. 38 Generally, the findings of fact of the trial court on the
matter of credibility of witnesses will not be disturbed on appeal. 39

In a last-ditch effort to exculpate herself from conviction, appellant argues that there is no proof of conspiracy between
her and the Goce couple as to make her liable for illegal recruitment. We do not agree. The evidence presented by the
prosecution clearly establish that appellant confabulated with the Goces in their plan to deceive the complainants.
Although said accused couple have not been tried and convicted, nonetheless there is sufficient basis for appellant's
conviction as discussed above.

In People vs. Sendon, 40 we held that the non-prosecution of another suspect therein provided no ground for the appellant
concerned to fault the decision of the trial court convicting her. The prosecution of other persons, equally or more culpable than
herein appellant, may come later after their true identities and addresses shall have been ascertained and said malefactors duly
taken into custody. We see no reason why the same doctrinal rule and course of procedure should not apply in this case.

WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment of the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED in toto, with costs against accused-
appellant Nelly D. Agustin. SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 148198 October 1, 2003
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ELIZABETH "BETH" CORPUZ, appellant.

This is an appeal from the decision1 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 54, in Criminal Case No. 99-176637
finding appellant Elizabeth Corpuz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale constituting
economic sabotage under Sec. 6 (l) and (m) in relation to Sec. 7(b) of R.A. No. 8042, otherwise known as the "Migrant
Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of l995," and sentencing her to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P500,000.00.

The Information against appellant reads as follows:

That sometime in July 1998 in the City of Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, representing herself to have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport workers abroad, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit for a fee the following persons, namely: BELINDA CABANTOG,
CONCEPCION SAN DIEGO, ERLINDA PASCUAL AND RESTIAN SURIO for employment abroad without first
obtaining the required license and/or authority from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and said
accused failed to actually deploy without valid reasons said complainants abroad and to reimburse the expenses
incurred by them in connection with their documentation and processing for purposes of deployment abroad to their
damage and prejudice.

CONTRARY TO LAW.2

When arraigned on March 21, 2000, appellant pleaded not guilty. Whereupon, trial on the merits ensued.

The facts of the case are as follows:

In June 1998, private complainants Belinda Cabantog, Concepcion San Diego, Erlinda Pascual and Restian Surio went
to Alga-Moher International Placement Services Corporation at 1651 San Marcelino Street, Malate, Manila to apply for
employment as factory workers in Taiwan. They were accompanied by a certain "Aling Josie" who introduced them to
the agencys President and General Manager Mrs. Evelyn Gloria H. Reyes. 3 Mrs. Reyes asked them to accomplish the
application forms. Thereafter, they were told to return to the office with P10,000.00 each as processing fee.4

On July 30, 1998, private complainants returned to the agency to pay the processing fees. Mrs. Reyes was not at the
agency that time, but she called appellant on the telephone to ask her to receive the processing fees. Thereafter,
appellant advised them to wait for the contracts to arrive from the Taiwan employers.5

Two months later, nothing happened to their applications. Thus, private complainants decided to ask for the refund of
their money from appellant6 who told them that the processing fees they had paid were already remitted to Mrs. Reyes.
When they talked to Mrs. Reyes, she told them that the money she received from appellant was in payment of the
latters debt. Thus, on January 13, 1999, private complainants filed their complaint with the National Bureau of
Investigation7 which led to the arrest and detention of appellant.

On March 23, 2000, while the case was before the trial court, private complainants received the refund of their
processing fees from appellants sister-in-law. Consequently, they executed affidavits of desistance8 from participation
in the case against appellant.

For her part, appellant resolutely denied having a hand in the illegal recruitment and claimed that she merely received
the money on behalf of Mrs. Reyes, the President/General Manager of Alga-Moher International Placement Services
Corporation, where she had been working as secretary for three months prior to July 30, 1998. On that day, Mrs. Reyes
called her on the telephone and told her to receive private complainants processing fees. In compliance with the order
of her employer and since the cashier was absent, she received the processing fees of private complainants, which she
thereafter remitted to Mrs. Reyes. She had no knowledge that the agencys license was suspended by the POEA on July
29, 1998.9

On November 16, 2000, the trial court rendered the assailed decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the above observations and findings accused Elizabeth "Beth" Corpuz is hereby found
guilty of the offense charged in the Information for violation of Sec. 6 (l), (m) in relation to Sec. 7 (b) of R.A. 8042
without any mitigating nor aggravating circumstances attendant to its commission, without applying the benefit of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, Elizabeth "Beth" Corpuz is hereby sentenced to suffer a life imprisonment and to pay a
fine of P500,000.00.

Her body is hereby committed to the custody of the Director of the Bureau of Correction for Women, Mandaluyong
City thru the City Jail Warden of Manila. She shall be credited with the full extent of her preventive imprisonment
under Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code.

No pronouncement of civil liability is hereby made since all the complainants have been refunded of the fees.

SO ORDERED.10
In this appeal, appellant raises the following assignment of errors:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED IN THAT:

A. THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THE ACCUSED
REPRESENTED HERSELF TO HAVE THE CAPACITY TO CONTRACT, ENLIST AND TRANSPORT
WORKERS ABROAD, OR UNLAWFULLY RECRUIT THE COMPLAINANTS FOR A FEE.

B. THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THE ACCUSED
HAS MANAGEMENT CONTROL OVER ALGA-MOHERs RECRUITMENT BUSINESS.11

The Information charged appellant for Illegal recruitment in large scale under Section 6 (l) and (m) of R.A. No. 8042,
otherwise known as "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995," which reads:

SECTION 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:

xxxxxxxxx

(l) Failure to actually deploy without valid reason as determined by the Department of Labor and Employment; and

(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 an offense involving economic
sabotage.

xxxxxxxxx

Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons
conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or
more persons individually or as a group.

The persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals, accomplices and accessories. In case of juridical
persons, the officers having control, management or direction of their business shall be liable.

Appellant contends that she is not liable for the foregoing illegal recruitment activities considering that she was merely
an employee having no control over the recruitment business of the Alga-Moher International Placement Services
Corporation and that she did not actually recruit the private complainants. Moreover, she did not appropriate for her
own use the processing fees she received and she had no knowledge that the agencys license was suspended by the
POEA.

The trial court convicted appellant based on its findings that despite the suspension of the agencys license, appellant
still convinced the applicants to give their money with the promise to land a job abroad. Moreover, as the registered
secretary of the agency she had management control of the recruitment business.

It is axiomatic that findings of facts of the trial court, its calibration of the collective testimonies of witnesses and
probative weight thereof and its conclusions culled from said findings are accorded by this Court great respect, if not
conclusive effect, because of the unique advantage of the trial court in observing and monitoring at close range, the
conduct, deportment and demeanor of the witnesses as they testify before the trial court. 12 However, this principle does
not apply if the trial court ignored, misunderstood or misconstrued cogent facts and circumstances of substance which,
if considered, would alter the outcome of the case.13 The exception obtains in this case.

The records of the case show that Alga-Moher International Placement Service Corporation is a licensed land-based
recruitment agency. Its license was valid until August 24, 1999.14 Likewise, appellant was its registered secretary while
Mrs. Evelyn Gloria H. Reyes is its President/General Manager.15 Part of its regular business activity is to accept
applicants who desire to work here or abroad. Appellant, as secretary of the agency, was in charge of the custody and
documentation of the overseas contracts.

On July 30, 1998, appellant received the processing fees of the private complainants since the cashier was absent that
day. Her receipt of the money was in compliance with the order of her employer, Mrs. Reyes. She did not convince the
applicants to give her their money since they went to the agency precisely to pay the processing fees upon the earlier
advice of Mrs. Reyes. Private complainant Belinda Cabantog testified as follows:

FISCAL BALLENA:
Q. Please tell the Court how did it happen that you went to the said agency?
A. When someone brought us there and introduced to the owner, Sir.
Q. And who is this friend or person you said you know who accompanied you?
A. Aling Josie, Sir.
Q. What is her full name?
A. I do not know, Sir.
Q. And who is this owner to whom you were introduced?
A. Mrs. Evelyn Ty, Sir.
Q. And why do you know this Ty was the owner?
A. Because she is the friend of Aling Josie, Sir.
Q. Now, after the introduction to this owner what happened?
A. We were told to fill up the application form by Mrs. Evelyn Ty, Sir.
Q. And after filling up this application form, what did you do with the same?
A. We went home and we were asked to come back, Sir.
Q. Now, did you come back?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. When did you come back?
A. July 30, Sir.
COURT:
Q. What year?
A. 1998, Your Honor.
FISCAL BALLENA:
Q. What happened when you come back?
A. When we came back we brought along the processing fee they needed, Sir.
Q. Why did you bring this processing fee?
A. We were required to bring it for the smooth processing of the papers, Sir.
Q. Who required you to bring this processing fee?
A. Mrs. Evelyn Ty, Sir.
Q. Now, when you came back what happened?
A. She was not at the office so she called up by phone and told us to give the money, Sir.
Q. And to whom did to give the money?
A. Beth Corpuz, Sir.16

From the foregoing testimony, it is clear that all appellant did was receive the processing fees upon instruction of Mrs.
Reyes. She neither convinced the private complainants to give their money nor promised them employment abroad.

Moreover, as stated in the last sentence of Section 6 of RA 8042, the persons who may be held liable for illegal
recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. In case of juridical persons, the officers having control,
management or direction of their business shall be liable.

In the case at bar, we have carefully reviewed the records of the case and found that the prosecution failed to establish
that appellant, as secretary, had control, management or direction of the recruitment agency. Appellant started her
employment with the agency on May 1, 1998 and she was tasked to hold and document employment contracts from the
foreign employers.17 She did not entertain applicants and she had no discretion over how the business was
managed.18 The trial courts finding that appellant, being the secretary of the agency, had control over its business, is
not only non sequitur but has no evidentiary basis.

An employee of a company or corporation engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable as principal, together with
his employer, if it is shown that he actively and consciously participated in illegal recruitment. Settled is the rule that
the existence of the corporate entity does not shield from prosecution the corporate agent who knowingly and
intentionally causes the corporation to commit a crime. The corporation obviously acts, and can act, only by and
through its human agents, and it is their conduct which the law must deter. The employee or agent of a corporation
engaged in unlawful business naturally aids and abets in the carrying on of such business and will be prosecuted as
principal if, with knowledge of the business, its purpose and effect, he consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct
and promotion, however slight his contribution may be. The law of agency, as applied in civil cases, has no application
in criminal cases, and no man can escape punishment when he participates in the commission of a crime upon the
ground that he simply acted as an agent of any party. The culpability of the employee therefore hinges on his
knowledge of the offense and his active participation in its commission. Where it is shown that the employee was
merely acting under the direction of his superiors and was unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not be held
criminally liable for an act done for and in behalf of his employer.19

Anent the issue of whether or not appellant knowingly and intentionally participated in the commission of the crime
charged, we find that she did not.

In the appreciation of evidence in criminal cases, it is a basic tenet that the prosecution has the burden of proof in
establishing the guilt of the accused for the offense with which he is charged. 20 Ei incumbit probation qui dicit non qui
negat, i.e., "he who asserts, not he who denies, must prove."21 The conviction of appellant must rest not on the
weakness of his defense, but on the strength of the prosecutions evidence.22

In the case at bar, the prosecution failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove appellants active participation in the
illegal recruitment activities of the agency. As already established, appellant received the processing fees of the private
complainants for and in behalf of Mrs. Reyes who ordered her to receive the same. She neither gave an impression that
she had the ability to deploy them abroad nor convinced them to part with their money. More importantly, she had no
knowledge that the license was suspended the day before she received the money. Their failure to depart for Taiwan
was due to the suspension of the license, an event which appellant did not have control of. Her failure to refund their
money immediately upon their demand was because the money had been remitted to Mrs. Reyes on the same day she
received it from them.

While we strongly condemn the pervasive proliferation of illegal job recruiters and syndicates preying on innocent
people anxious to obtain employment abroad, nevertheless, we find the pieces of evidence insufficient to prove the
guilt of appellant beyond reasonable doubt. They do not pass the requisite moral certainty, as they admit of the
alternative inference that other persons, not necessarily the appellant, may have perpetrated the crime. Where the
evidence admits of two interpretations, one of which is consistent with guilt, and the other with innocence, the accused
must be acquitted. Indeed, it would be better to set free ten men who might be probably guilty of the crime charged
than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not commit.23

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 54, in Criminal Case No. 99-176637 finding appellant Elizabeth Corpuz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale constituting economic sabotage under Sec. 6 (l) and (m) in relation to Sec. 7(b) of
R.A. No. 8042, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant Elizabeth Corpuz is ACQUITTED of the offense charged
on the ground of reasonable doubt. The Superintendent of the Correctional Institution for Women is directed to cause
the immediate release of appellant unless she is lawfully held for another offense, and to inform this Court of the date
of her release, or the ground for her continued confinement, within ten days from notice.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 129577-80 February 15, 2000
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. BULU CHOWDURY, accused-appellant.

In November 1995, Bulu Chowduly and Josephine Ong were charged before the Regional Trial Court of Manila with
the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale committed as follows:

That sometime between the period from August 1994 to October 1994 in the City of Manila, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, representing themselves to have the
capacity to contract, enlist and transport workers for employment abroad, conspiring, confederating and
mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit the herein
complainants: Estrella B. Calleja, Melvin C. Miranda and Aser S. Sasis, individually or as a group for
employment in Korea without first obtaining the required license and/or authority from the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration.1

They were likewise charged with three counts of estafa committed against private complainants. 2 The State Prosecutor,
however, later dismissed the estafa charges against Chowdury3 and filed an amended information indicting only Ong
for the offense.4

Chowdury was arraigned on April 16, 1996 while Ong remained at large. He pleaded "not guilty" to the charge of
illegal recruitment in large scale.5

Trial ensued.

The prosecution presented four witnesses: private complainants Aser Sasis, Estrella Calleja and Melvin Miranda, and
Labor Employment Officer Abbelyn Caguitla.

Sasis testified that he first met Chowdury in August 1994 when he applied with Craftrade Overseas Developers
(Craftrade) for employment as factory worker in South Korea. Chowdury, a consultant of Craftrade, conducted the
interview. During the interview, Chowdury informed him about the requirements for employment. He told him to
submit his passport, NBI clearance, passport size picture and medical certificate. He also required him to undergo a
seminar. He advised him that placement would be on a first-come-first-serve basis and urged him to complete the
requirements immediately. Sasis was also charged a processing fee of P25,000.00. Sasis completed all the requirements
in September 1994. He also paid a total amount of P16,000.00 to Craftrade as processing fee. All payments were
received by Ong for which she issued three receipts.6 Chowdury then processed his papers and convinced him to
complete his payment.7

Sasis further said that he went to the office of Craftrade three times to follow up his application but he was always told
to return some other day. In one of his visits to Craftrade's office, he was informed that he would no longer be deployed
for employment abroad. This prompted him to withdraw his payment but he could no longer find Chowdury. After two
unsuccessful attempts to contact him, he decided to file with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA) a case for illegal recruitment against Chowdury. Upon verification with the POEA, he learned that Craftrade's
license had already expired and has not been renewed and that Chowdury, in his personal capacity, was not a licensed
recruiter.8

Calleja testified that in June 1994, she applied with Craftrade for employment as factory worker in South Korea. She
was interviewed by Chowdury. During the interview, he asked questions regarding her marital status, her age and her
province. Toward the end of the interview, Chowdury told her that she would be working in a factory in Korea. He
required her to submit her passport, NBI clearance, ID pictures, medical certificate and birth certificate. He also
obliged her to attend a seminar on overseas employment. After she submitted all the documentary requirements,
Chowdury required her to pay P20,000.00 as placement fee. Calleja made the payment on August 11, 1994 to Ong for
which she was issued a receipt.9 Chowdury assured her that she would be able to leave on the first week of September
but it proved to be an empty promise. Calleja was not able to leave despite several follow-ups. Thus, she went to the
POEA where she discovered that Craftrade's license had already expired. She tried to withdraw her money from
Craftrade to no avail. Calleja filed a complaint for illegal recruitment against Chowdury upon advice of POEA's legal
counsel.10

Miranda testified that in September 1994, his cousin accompanied him to the office of Craftrade in Ermita, Manila and
introduced him to Chowdury who presented himself as consultant and interviewer. Chowdury required him to fill out a
bio-data sheet before conducting the interview. Chowdury told Miranda during the interview that he would send him to
Korea for employment as factory worker. Then he asked him to submit the following documents: passport, passport
size picture, NBI clearance and medical certificate. After he complied with the requirements, he was advised to wait for
his visa and to pay P25,000.00 as processing fee. He paid the amount of P25,000.00 to Ong who issued receipts
therefor.11 Craftrade, however, failed to deploy him. Hence, Miranda filed or complaint with the POEA against
Chowdury for illegal recruitment.12

Labor Employment Officer Abbelyn Caguitla of the Licensing Branch of the POEA testified that she prepared a
certification on June 9, 1996 that Chowdury and his co-accused, Ong, were not, in their personal capacities, licensed
recruiters nor were they connected with any licensed agency. She nonetheless stated that Craftrade was previously
licensed to recruit workers for abroad which expired on December 15, 1993. It applied for renewal of its license but
was only granted a temporary license effective December 16, 1993 until September 11, 1994. From September 11,
1994, the POEA granted Craftrade another temporary authority to process the expiring visas of overseas workers who
have already been deployed. The POEA suspended Craftrade's temporary license on December 6, 1994.13

For his defense, Chowdury testified that he worked as interviewer at Craftrade from 1990 until 1994. His primary duty
was to interview job applicants for abroad. As a mere employee, he only followed the instructions given by his
superiors, Mr. Emmanuel Geslani, the agency's President and General Manager, and Mr. Utkal Chowdury, the agency's
Managing Director. Chowdury admitted that he interviewed private complainants on different dates. Their office
secretary handed him their bio-data and thereafter he led them to his room where he conducted the interviews. During
the interviews, he had with him a form containing the qualifications for the job and he filled out this form based on the
applicant's responses to his questions. He then submitted them to Mr. Utkal Chowdury who in turn evaluated his
findings. He never received money from the applicants. He resigned from Craftrade on November 12, 1994.14

Another defense witness, Emelita Masangkay who worked at the Accreditation Branch of the POEA presented a list of
the accredited principals of Craftrade Overseas Developers15 and a list of processed workers of Craftrade Overseas
Developers from 1988 to 1994.16

The trial court found Chowdury guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale. It
sentenced him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00. It further ordered him to pay Aser Sasis the
amount of P16,000.00, Estrella Calleja, P20,000.00 and Melvin Miranda, P25,000.00. The dispositive portion of the
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the prosecution having proved the guilt of the accused
Bulu Chowdury beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale, he is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00 under Art. 39 (b) of the New
Labor Code of the Philippines. The accused is ordered to pay the complainants Aser Sasis the amount of
P16,000.00; Estrella Calleja the amount of P20,000.00; Melvin Miranda the amount of P25,000.00.17

Chowdury appealed.

The elements of illegal recruitment in large scale are:

(1) The accused undertook any recruitment activity defined under Article 13 (b) or any prohibited practice
enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code;

(2) He did not have the license or authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers;
and

(3) He committed the same against three or more persons, individually or as a group.18

The last paragraph of Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) 804219 states who shall be held liable for the offense, thus:

The persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals, accomplices and accessories. In case of
juridical persons, the officers having control, management or direction of their business shall be liable.

The Revised Penal Code which supplements the law on illegal recruitment20 defines who are the principals,
accomplices and accessories. The principals are: (1) those who take a direct part in the execution of the act; (2) those
who directly force or induce others to commit it; and (3) those who cooperate in the commission of the offense by
another act without which it would not have been accomplished.21 The accomplices are those persons who may not be
considered as principal as defined in Section 17 of the Revised Penal Code but cooperate in the execution of the
offense by previous or simultaneous act.22 The accessories are those who, having knowledge of the commission of the
crime, and without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its
commission in any of the following manner: (1) by profiting themselves or assisting the offenders to profit by the
effects of the crime; (2) by concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, in
order to prevent its discovery; and (3) by harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principal of the crime,
provided the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or whenever the author of the crime is guilty of treason,
parricide, murder, or an attempt at the life of the chief executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of some other
crime.23

Citing the second sentence of the last paragraph of Section 6 of RA 8042, accused-appellant contends that he may not
be held liable for the offense as he was merely an employee of Craftrade and he only performed the tasks assigned to
him by his superiors. He argues that the ones who should be held liable for the offense are the officers having control,
management and direction of the agency.

As stated in the first sentence of Section 6 of RA 8042, the persons who may be held liable for illegal recruitment are
the principals, accomplices and accessories. An employee of a company or corporation engaged in illegal recruitment
may be held liable as principal, together with his employer,24 if it is shown that he actively and consciously
participated in illegal recruitment.25 It has been held that the existence of the corporate entity does not shield from
prosecution the corporate agent who knowingly and intentionally causes the corporation to commit a crime. The
corporation obviously acts, and can act, only by and through its human agents, and it is their conduct which the law
must deter, The employee or agent of a corporation engaged in unlawful business naturally aids and abets in the
carrying on of such business and will be prosecuted as principal if with knowledge of the business, its purpose and
effect, he consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct and promotion, however slight his contribution may
be.26 The law of agency, as applied in civil cases, has no application in criminal cases, and no man can escape
punishment when he participates in the commission of a crime upon the ground that he simply acted as an agent of any
party.27 The culpability of the employee therefore hinges on his knowledge of the offense and his active participation in
its commission. Where it is shown that the employee was merely acting under the direction of his superiors and was
unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not be held criminally liable for an act done for and in behalf of his
employer.28

The fundamental issue in this case, therefore, is whether accused-appellant knowingly and intentionally participated in
the commission of the crime charged.

We find that he did not.

Evidence shows that accused-appellant interviewed private complainants in the months of June, August and September
in 1994 at Craftrade's office. At that time, he was employed as interviewer of Craftrade which was then operating
under a temporary authority given by the POEA pending renewal of its license.29 The temporary license included the
authority to recruit workers.30 He was convicted based on the fact that he was not registered with the POEA as
employee of Craftrade. Neither was he, in his personal capacity, licensed to recruit overseas workers. Section 10 Rule
II Book II of the Rules and Regulation Governing Overseas Employment (1991) requires that every change,
termination or appointment of officers, representatives and personnel of licensed agencies be registered with the
POEA. Agents or representatives appointed by a licensed recruitment agency whose appointments are not previously
approved by the POEA are considered "non-licensee" or "non-holder of authority" and therefore not authorized to
engage in recruitment activity.31

Upon examination of the records, however, we find that the prosecution failed to prove that accused-appellant was
aware of Craftrade's failure to register his name with the POEA and that he actively engaged in recruitment despite this
knowledge. The obligation to register its personnel with the POEA belongs to the officers of the agency. 32 A mere
employee of the agency cannot be expected to know the legal requirements for its operation. The evidence at hand
shows that accused-appellant carried out his duties as interviewer of Craftrade believing that the agency was duly
licensed by the POEA and he, in turn, was duly authorized by his agency to deal with the applicants in its behalf.
Accused-appellant in fact confined his actions to his job description. He merely interviewed the applicants and
informed them of the requirements for deployment but he never received money from them. Their payments were
received by the agency's cashier, Josephine Ong. Furthermore, he performed his tasks under the supervision of its
president and managing director. Hence, we hold that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt accused-
appellant's conscious and active participation in the commission of the crime of illegal recruitment. His conviction,
therefore, is without basis.

This is not to say that private complainants are left with no remedy for the wrong committed against them. The
Department of Justice may still file a complaint against the officers having control, management or direction of the
business of Craftrade Overseas Developers (Craftrade), so long as the offense has not yet prescribed. Illegal
recruitment is a crime of economic sabotage which need to be curbed by the strong arm of the law. It is important,
however, to stress that the government's action must be directed to the real offenders, those who perpetrate the crime
and benefit from it.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-
appellant is hereby ACQUITTED. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to RELEASE accused-
appellant unless he is being held for some other cause, and to REPORT to this Court compliance with this order within
ten (10) days from receipt of this decision. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Secretary of the Department of
Justice for his information and appropriate action.1wphi1.nt

SO ORDERED.