CA upholds 14-year sentence on Illegal recruiter

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a Baguio Regional Trial Court (RTC) decision convicting a woman who charged applicants for employment in New Zealand as milkmen and hair stylists.

In a resolution uploaded Monday, the appellate court denied for lack of merit the motion for reconsideration filed by Sheila Tan in December last year.

The CA upheld Baguio RTC’ Branch 3’s decision in 2019 that found Tan guilty of illegal recruitment in two cases and sentenced her to up to 14 years and pay fines and damages of more than PHP1 million for each.

Brothers Renato and Fernando Gumilab testified on Tan’s involvement in the prohibited recruitment.

“They positively identified the appellant as the person who represented that she can send them to New Zealand for employment as a dairy farm worker and as a hair stylist,” the resolution written by Associate Justice Florencio Mamauag, Jr. read.

The tribunal added that Tan “cannot escape criminal liability even if her name does not appear in the receipts presented by the prosecution”.

“Proof that the accused received monetary consideration from the victim is not material to a prosecution for illegal recruitment considering that the definition of illegal recruitment under the law includes the phrase ‘whether for profit or not’. It is sufficient that the accused promises or offers for a fee employment to warrant conviction for illegal recruitment,” the resolution read.

The complainants claimed they were recruited by Tan in 2016 for supposed jobs in New Zealand and they shelled out P95,000 and P150,000, respectively, for processing fees and show money.

After his pre-departure orientation seminar, Fernando received an employment contract for Saudi Arabia but was assured by Tan that it would only be a “jump-off point” to New Zealand.

While in Saudi, he sent money to Tan, who said she would work for his eventual employment in New Zealand.

Renato, on the other hand, underwent training in Manila as hair stylist and received an employment contract and flight details for New Zealand but the trip did not materialize.

A certification from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration later showed that Tan was not licensed or authorized to recruit workers for employment.

Tan denied taking part in the recruitment and said she is a cosmetics company agent.

She said she knew the complainants “very briefly” in 2015 through her then live-in partner.

“As long as the prosecution is able to establish through credible testimonial evidence that the accused-appellant has engaged in illegal recruitment, a conviction for the offense can very well be justified,” the CA ruled. (PNA)

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