G.R. No. 129577-80: February 15 2000
Offense Involved: Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale
FACTS: Sometime in 1994, Sasis, Calleja, and Miranda applied with Craftrade Overseas Developers (Craftrade) for employment in South Korea. Bulu Chowdury, a consultant of Craftrade, conducted the interview. During the interview, Chowdury informed him about the requirements for employment and required him to pass the necessary documents and pay the processing fees which were collected by Josephine Ong. Chowdury was charged based on the fact that he was not registered with the POEA as employee of Craftrade and he is not in his personal capacity, licensed to recruit overseas workers. The complainants also averred that during their applications for employment for abroad, the license of Craftrade was already expired. 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. The trial Court found Chowdury guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in largescale. Aggrieved, Chowdury filed this appeal.
- Whether or not trial court erred in finding Chowdury guilty of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale?
- Yes. Trial court erred in finding accused-appellant guilty of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale. Chowdury is not guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale because 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. 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.