The Supreme Court (SC) Second Division has upheld the conviction of an illegal recruiter who took from his victim almost P100,000 in cash and a car without fulfilling the promise of providing work abroad.
“This Court is convinced that the prosecution was able to prove both elements of illegal recruitment in this case,” reads the 18-page decision penned by SC Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez that was made public Tuesday, Sept. 19.
The SC Second Division denied the petition of Lee Saking who assailed the rulings of the Court of Appeals (CA) that affirmed the conviction made by the Regional Trial Court (RTC).
With this, the high court found Saking guilty of illegal recruitment and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment ranging from 12 years and one day up to 14 years.
Saking was also ordered to pay a find of P1 million.
The Second Division also found Saking guilty of estafa and sentenced him to imprisonment ranging from two months and one day up to one year and one day.
He was also ordered to pay the complainant, Jan Denver Palasi, P85,000 with legal interest of six percent per annum from the filing of the charges until the finality of the decision.
Palasi was getting his Mitsubishi Delica van fixed at a repair shop in 2013 when he met Saking who offered to get him work in Australia as a grape and apple picker.
The victim offered his van as payment and Saking agreed but asked for an additional P100,000.
“Palasi subsequently paid the PHP 100,000.00 in three installments,” the tribunal noted.
After Saking received the P100,000, Palasi said he “could no longer contact him.”
Palasi decided to follow up the status of his papers at the agency where Saking took him but was surprised to be told that “he had no pending application with the agency.
“On account of this discovery, he went to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) where it was confirmed that Saking had no license to recruit workers for overseas employment,” the SC noted.
“To make matters worse, Palasi found out that Saking took his Delican van from the car repair ship without his knowledge. Although the van was part of the payment for the placement fee, it was agreed that the vehicle would only be taken with the owner’s consent. Nevertheless, Palasi was able to recover it from a certain Ernesto Buya, the person who bought the vehicle from Saking.” it added.
In upholding the conviction, the high court said “Saking does not dispute that he did not possess a license or authority to engage in any recruitment and placement activities.”
The Second Division also pointed out that “it is evident in the instant Petition that Saking admits having represented to Palasi that there was a job opportunity in Australia.”
The tribunal said “this position by Saking reveals an admission confirming that he indeed represents himself as someone who could, at the very least, process his placement for work in Australia.”