Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION

On April 20, 1975, private respondent Juvenal Lazaga was employed as a Research Associate an a probationary basis by the SEAFDEC-AQD and was appointed Senior External Affairs Officer on January 5, 1983 with a monthly basic salary of P8,000.00 and a monthly allowance of P4,000.00. Thereafter, he was appointed to the position of Professional III and designated as Head of External Affairs Office with the same pay and benefits. On May 8, 1986, petitioner Lacanilao in his capacity as Chief of SEAFDEC-AQD sent a notice of termination to private respondent informing him that due to the financial constraints being experienced by the department, his services shall be terminated at the close of office hours on May 15, 1986 and that he is entitled to separation benefits equivalent to one (1) month of his basic salary for every year of service plus other benefits (Rollo, p. 153). Upon petitioner SEAFDEC-AQD's failure to pay private respondent his separation pay, the latter filed on March 18, 1987 a complaint against petitioners for nonpayment of separation benefits plus moral damages and attorney's fees with the Arbitration Branch of the NLRC (Annex "C" of Petition for Certiorari). Petitioners in their answer with counterclaim alleged that the NLRC has no jurisdiction over the case inasmuch as the SEAFDEC-AQD is an international organization and that private respondent must first secure clearances from the proper departments for property or money accountability before any claim for separation pay will be paid, and which clearances had not yet been obtained by the private respondent. A formal hearing was conducted whereby private respondent alleged that the nonissuance of the clearances by the petitioners was politically motivated and in bad faith. On the other hand, petitioners alleged that private respondent has property accountability and an outstanding obligation to SEAFDEC-AQD in the amount of P27,532.11. Furthermore, private respondent is not entitled to accrued sick leave benefits amounting to P44,000.00 due to his failure to avail of the same during his employment with the SEAFDEC-AQD (Annex "D", Id.). On January 12, 1988, the labor arbiter rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondents: 1. To pay complainant P126,458.89, plus legal interest thereon computed from May 16, 1986 until full payment thereof is made, as separation pay and other post-employment benefits;


NOCON, J.: This is a petition for certiorari to annul and set aside the July 26, 1988 decision of the National Labor Relations Commission sustaining the labor arbiter, in holding herein petitioners Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center-Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC-AQD), Dr. Flor Lacanilao, Rufil Cuevas and Ben de los Reyes liable to pay private respondent Juvenal Lazaga the amount of P126,458.89 plus interest thereon computed from May 16, 1986 until full payment thereof is made, as separation pay and other post-employment benefits, and the resolution denying the petitioners' motion for reconsideration of said decision dated January 9, 1989. The antecedent facts of the case are as follows: SEAFDEC-AQD is a department of an international organization, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, organized through an agreement entered into in Bangkok, Thailand on December 28, 1967 by the governments of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines with Japan as the sponsoring country (Article 1, Agreement Establishing the SEAFDEC).

Par. Annex "H" Petition) (p. id. Annex "H". Petition). All other claims are hereby dismissed. the Republic of the Philippines agreed to be represented by one Director in the governing SEAFDEC Council (Agreement Establishing SEAFDEC.]) Pursuant to its being a signatory to the Agreement. Petitioner Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center-Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC-AQD) is an international agency beyond the jurisdiction of public respondent NLRC. Kingdom of Cambodia. Malaysia. 1.1968. In so far as they are autonomous and beyond the control of any one State. As Senator Jovito R.) On September 3.000. 1988. The then Minister of Justice likewise opined that Philippine Courts have no jurisdiction over SEAFDEC-AQD in Opinion No. pp. 51. Article 6 of the Agreement establishing SEAFDEC mandates: 1.that it is immune from the legal writs and processes issued by the tribunals of the country where it is found. (Agreement Establishing the SEAFDEC. To pay complainant actual damages in the amount of P50. Malaysia as one of the principal departments of SEAFDEC (Annex "I". enjoys functional independence and freedom from control of the state in whose territory its office is located. i. they have a distinct juridical personality independent of the municipal law of the State where they are situated. Kingdom of Thailand and Republic of Vietnam (Annex "H". 1973 in Kuala Lumpur.. 1989. and through collaboration with international organizations and governments external to the Center. (See Jenks. Art. Art. Paragraph 1. Annex "E") On July 26. Public International Law. Public International Law (p. the International Institute of Agriculture. SO ORDERED. The Republic of the Philippines became a signatory to the Agreement establishing SEAFDEC on January 16. p.) to be established in Iloilo for the promotion of research in aquaculture. Series of 1984 — 4. the International Danube Commission. Japan.00 as actual damages and attorney's fees for being baseless. economic or social and mainly non-political.ibid. movable and immovable property and services necessary for the establishment and operation of the Center" are concerned (Art. P. p. Yap stated in their book. 1988. SEAFDEC including its Departments (AQD). Its purpose is as follows: The purpose of the Center is to contribute to the promotion of the fisheries development in Southeast Asia by mutual co-operation among the member governments of the Center. id. 83. ibid.2. 292). 37-44) The obvious reason for this is that the subjection of such an organization to the . id." (Salonga and Yap. Thereafter.D.) and that its national laws and regulations shall apply only insofar as its contribution to SEAFDEC of "an agreed amount of money.): Permanent international commissions and administrative bodies have been created by the agreement of a considerable number of States for a variety of international purposes. (Rollo. 1956 ed. 139. 1. One of the basic immunities of an international organization is immunity from local jurisdiction.) which was denied on January 9. Republic of Indonesia. Republic of Singapore. according to one leading authority "they must be deemed to possess a species of international personality of their own.e. The petition is impressed with merit. said decision was affirmed by the Fifth Division of the NLRC except as to the award of P50. 11. petitioners instituted this petition for certiorari alleging that the NLRC has no jurisdiction to hear and decide respondent Lazaga's complaint since SEAFDEC-AQD is immune from suit owing to its international character and the complaint is in effect a suit against the State which cannot be maintained without its consent. As such. Being an intergovernmental organization. Rollo) SEAFDEC-AQD was organized during the Sixth Council Meeting of SEAFDEC on July 3-7. Kingdom of Laos. Republic of the Philippines. plus 10% attorney's fees. petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration (Annex "G". Id. 5. hereinafter called the "Members". (Annex "A"..000. It expressly waived the application of the Philippine laws on the disbursement of funds of petitioner SEAFDEC-AQD (Section 2. Among the notable instances are the International Labor Organization.). Salonga and Former Chief Justice Pedro L. No.310. It was established by the Governments of Burma. 83 [1956 ed. 28. The Council shall be the supreme organ of the Center and all powers of the Center shall be vested in the Council.

Said the Court: We would note. finding SEAFDEC-AQD to be an international agency beyond the jurisdiction of the courts or local agency of the Philippine government. WHEREFORE. Padilla and Regalado. that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. or a person claiming to be an officer or employee. Where there is none. De Leon (147 SCRA 286 [1987]) to justify its assumption of jurisdiction over SEAFDEC is misplaced. besides. at 300. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. and an officer or employee. G. in Calimlim vs. of the SEAFDEC. which may not necessarily coincide with the interests of the other member-states.R. the questioned decision and resolution of the NLRC dated July 26. virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.authority of the local courts would afford a convenient medium thru which the host government may interfere in there operations or even influence or control its policies and decisions of the organization. there being no plea for such immunity whether by or on behalf of SEAFDEC. JJ. Thus. . No costs. but rather the general rule. no agreement of the parties can provide one. Respondent Lazaga's invocation of estoppel with respect to the issue of jurisdiction is unavailing because estoppel does not apply to confer jurisdiction to a tribunal that has none over a cause of action. it could compromise the desired impartiality of the organization since it will have to suit its actuations to the requirements of Philippine law. Ramirez. [1982]) Respondent NLRC'S citation of the ruling of this Court in Lacanilao v. the entertainment by the National Labor Relations Commission of Mr. It is to be regretted. SO ORDERED. that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties.. Jurisdiction is conferred by law. this Court held: A rule. respectively. the Court in said case explained why it took cognizance of the case. this is not a controversy between the SEAFDEC on the one hand. No. that the present petition relates to a controversy between two claimants to the same position. (Calimlim vs. 284-1285). The exceptional circumstances involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of nonwaivability of objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and. In the case at bar. (See Jenks. finally. See also Bowett. pp. It is precisely to forestall these possibilities that in cases where the extent of the immunity is specified in the enabling instruments of international organizations. 1988 and January 9. even on appeal. Paras. concur. There is before us no question involving immunity from the jurisdiction of the Court. or by an official of SEAFDEC with the consent of SEAFDEC (Id.. Madamba's reinstatement cases would amount to interference by the Philippine Government in the management decisions of the SEARCA governing board. Settled is the rule that the decision of a tribunal not vested with appropriate jurisdiction is null and void. jurisdictional immunity from the host country is invariably among the first accorded. such subjection to local jurisdiction would impair the capacity of such body to discharge its responsibilities impartially on behalf of its member-states. On the contrary. however. even worse.. Id. Melencio-Herrera. This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which it stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. L-34362. emphasis supplied). are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE for having been rendered without jurisdiction. for instance. on the other hand. The Law of International Institutions. 1989. instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception. Ramirez. 118 SCRA 399.

Although appellant was represented at the hearing and cross-examined the witnesses for the petitioner. 1941. L. but it was held on that date because the province was invaded by the Japanese forces on December 14. attending parties. He has remained a resident of this municipality. The case was declared reconstituted on May 10. The applicant is married to a Filipino by the name of Concepcion Segovia. except for a brief period from 1942 to July. It was established at the hearing that the petitioner is a native-born Russian. L. and the case remained pending until the records were destroyed during the military operations for liberation in March. Salvador Mariano.: In August. he filed his petition for naturalization supported by the affidavits of ex-Judge Jaime M. 1945. accompanied with supporting affidavits of two citizens. petitioner. First Assistant Solicitor General Roberto A. a school duly recognized by the Government. where he established his permanent residence since May. 1941. Petersburg. He grew up as a citizen of the defunct Imperial Russian Government under the Czars. On the same day resolution was issued granting the petition. Chan for appellee. in July. having first seen the light of day on November 4. 1947. 1923. L-1812 August 27. 1948 become a citizen of this country. both residents of Camarines Sur. When the revolution broke out in Russia in 1917. where he resided for about a year. In the preceding year. As he refused to join the Bolshevik regime. The applicant speaks and writes English and the Bicol dialect. He is at present studying in Saint Agnes Academy. In the latter part of the war. He has never been accused of any crime. and from this place he went to Iriga. Lockwood and Manuel O. PERFECTO. 1897 in the old City of St. 1940 to be precise. he did not file an opposition or presented any evidence. when by reason of his underground activities he roamed mountains of Caramoan as a guerrilla officer. vs. On the other hand. Socially he intermingles with the Filipinos. Russia. D. Gianzon and Solicitor Florencio Villamor for appellant. but before the Russian capitulation. He stayed in Manila for about seven months. No. 1945. 1925. he was transferred to the British Air Force under which he served for fourteen months. He has a good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution. arriving at this port as a member of a group of White Russians under Admiral Stark in March. with about eighty Filipino employees working under him. with whom he has one son named Ronald Kookooritchkin. appellee filed with the lower court a petition for naturalization. Camarines Sur. The lower court made the findings of fact in the following paragraphs of its resolution: Eremes Kookooritchkin applies for Philippine citizenship naturalization under the provisions of Commonwealth Act 473. World War I found him in the military service of this Government. and the evidence was presented on August 28 and September 30. was later transferred to the eastern front in Poland. Zambales. 1941. dances and other social functions with his wife. he filed his declaration of intention to .200 with free quarters and house allowance. J. Albay.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G. as amended by Act 535. he fled by sea from Vladivostok to Shanghai and from this Chinese port he found his way to Manila. After liberation he returned to Iriga where again he resides up to the present time. copy of a declaration of intention sworn in July. Notice of the hearing was published as required by law. 1947. Ammen Transportation Company. oppositor. and much later was sent as a navy flier to Asia Minor. and proper notice of the hearing. he has always conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during his entire period of EREMES KOOKOORITCHKIN. THE SOLICITOR GENERAL. The applicant is shop superintendent of A. The records shows that in August. then moved to Olongapo. he joined the White Russian Army at Vladivostok and fought against the Bolsheviks until 1922 when the White Russian Army was overwhelmed by the Bolsheviks. 1940. The petition was finally set for hearing on December 18. at Legaspi. In 1915 he volunteered for the Imperial Russian navy and was sent to the Navy Aviation School. He receives an annual salary of P13. Reyes and Dr.R. He fought with the Allies in the Baltic Sea. He also owns stocks and bonds of this and other companies.

much less to the present Government of the land of his birth to which he is uncompromisingly opposed. had been lost or destroyed during the battle for the liberation of Manila. 1923. took the matter up with the authorities in Washington in lengthy correspondence. He is not against organized government or affiliated with any association which upholds and teaches doctrine opposing all organized governments. Appellee's alleges that the office of the President has certified that it is a matter of record that petitioner was one of the Russian refugees who entered the Philippines under the command of Admiral Stark. the facts regarding arrival of the latter fleet being a matter of common knowledge. can be taken as evidence that he is enjoying permanent residence legally. personal assault or assassination for the success or predominance of his ideas. and that he was lawfully admitted for permanent residence. as shown by the attached certificate of arrival or landing certificate of residence. Although a Russian by birth he is not a citizen of Soviet Russia. What an unreconstituted document intended to prove may be shown by other competent evidence. He is. except about 800 who were allowed to go to the United States and given free transportation on the naval transport "Merritt. that the certificate cannot be supposed that the receiving official would have accepted the declaration without the certificate mentioned therein as attached thereto. Neither is he a polygamist or a believer in the practice of polygamy. The records of the Bureau of Justice. He disclaims allegiance to the present Communist Government of Russia. Appellant's contention that attachment of the certificate of arrival is essential to the validity of a declaration finds no support in the wordings of the law. as rightly contended by appellee.residence in Camarines Sur. In the reconstituted declaration (page 11. the applicant of his own volition chose to cast his lot with the guerrilla movement and fought the enemy in several encounters in the Province of Camarines Sur. He does not believe in the necessity or propriety of violence. place and manner of his arrival has been issued. Appellee suggests that we would not consider the question here raised by appellant. When the fleet entered the Philippine waters. as the above-quoted section 5 of Commonwealth Act no. and the certificate alluded to has not been reconstituted. belonging to no State. We will consider them separately. who are presumed to have been regularly performing their duties and would have arrested petitioner if his residence is illegal. later. and the testimony of petitioner has not been refuted. I Appellant claims that the lower court erred in not finding that the declaration of intention to become a Filipino citizen filed by appellee is invalid and insufficient as a basis for the petition of naturalization. of which this Court may properly take judicial notice under section 5 of Rule 123. a stateless refugee in this country. it was met by a Governor General Wood who. where the declarations of intention to become a Filipino citizen were filed. 473 uses the words "has been issued. We conclude that petitioner's declaration is valid under section 5 of the Naturalization Law. record on appeal) the following can be read: I arrived at the Port of Manila on or about the first day of March. Appellant alleges that no documentary or testimonial evidence was introduced to establish the fact that appellee had lawfully been admitted into the Philippines for permanent residence. That a certificate of arrival has been issued is a fact that should be accepted upon the petitioner's undisputed statement in his declaration of July. therefore. and the 1. Upon the arrival of the forces of liberation he was attached to the American Army from April to June.200 persons manning the fleet were allowed to land and to remain in the Philippines or proceed to other countries. . He belonged to the guerrilla outfit of Colonel Padua with rank of major. widely publicized in the newspapers at the time. 1945. without having been molested by the authorities. He is not suffering from any mental alienation or incurable contagious disease." The ships of the fleet were sold in the Philippines. 1940. Appellant assigns four errors in the appealed resolution. the latter having failed to raise it in lower court and points out that there is testimonial evidence showing appellee's arrival March. in his relations with the constituted authorities as well as with the community. 1923. Although he could have lived in ease by maintaining good relations with the enemy by reason of his being Russian-born during the years preceding the declaration of war by Russia against Japan. The undisputed fact that the petitioner has been continuously residing in the Philippines for about 25 years. The question calls for the application of the following provision of section 5 of the Revised Naturalization Law: No declaration shall be valid until entry for permanent residence has been established and a certificate showing the date. failure to reconstitute the certificate of arrival notwithstanding.

and it is much easier to write Bicol than English. there are authorities who would reduce basic English to a few hundred words. We know that Bicol. after he was liberated in 1942 from the Japanese in the Naga prison. III Appellant contends that the lower court erred in finding appellee stateless and not a Russian citizen and in not finding that he has failed to establish that he is not disqualified for Philippine citizenship under section 4 (h) of the Revised Naturalization Law. we believe that his knowledge of the language satisfies the requirement of the law. While there may be persons ambitious enough to have a command of the about 600.000 words recorded in the Webster's International Dictionary. The ability to write cannot be denied to a person like petitioner. the Filipino language that petitioner alleges to know. petitioner joined the guerrilla in the Bicol region. who has undergone the exacting technical training to be able to render services as flier in the Russian Naval Squadron in the Baltic Sea and in the British Air Forces during the first World War. it was demonstrated that petitioner has only a smattering of Bicol. and our Roman alphabet. But appellant contends that there is no piece of positive evidence to support petitioner's allegation that he can write too in the Bicol language. took part in encounters and skirmishes against the Japanese. on record circumstantial evidence from which it can be concluded that petitioner ought to know also how to write Bicol. and the petitioner disclaims allegiance or connection with the Soviet Government established after the overthrow of the Czarist Government. he succeeded answering correctly in Bicol the questions propounded by his counsel.000. Perhaps less than one hundred well selected words will be enough for the ordinary purposes of daily life. appellant alleges that in the oral test at the hearing.000 by the average individual. as now used by Russians. and remained with the guerrilla until the Americans liberated the Bicol provinces. because he has shown by the appealed resolution and by his questions propounded to appellee.000 are used by the better educated persons and about 3.000 different English words. A person who has shown the command of English which can be seen in his testimony on record can easily make use of an alphabet of twenty or more letters universally used in this country where he has been residing continuously for 25 years. and he cannot speak it as he was not able to translate from English to Bicol questions asked by the court and the provincial fiscal. that the lower court erred (1) in not finding that appellee has not established a legal residence in the Philippines. Perusal of the testimonies on record leads to the conclusion that petitioner has shown legal residence in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than ten years as required by section 2 of Commonwealth Act No. His testimony supports the lower court's pronouncement that petitioner is a stateless refugee in this country. he fumbled and failed to give the translation of such a common word as 'love' which the fiscal asked of him. The first question has already been disposed of in the above discussion. and the King's Bible about 10. appellee has lost his Russian citizenship and failed to show that Russia grants to Filipinos the right to become a naturalized citizens or subjects thereof. As to the next question. is. because it is phonetic. while about 5. 473. as all the important Philippine languages. while English words deviate very often from the basic sounds of the alphabet. cannot weigh much to deny petitioner the ability to use the latter. If appellee with his smattering of Bicol was able to get along with his Bicol comrades in the hazardous life of the resistance movement. The law has not set a specific standard of the principal Philippine languages. Vowels and consonants have in them single and not interchangeable phonetic values. . The lower court made the finding of fact that applicant speaks and writes English and Bicol and there seems to be no question about the competency of the judge who made the pronouncement. There is a reason to believe that the lower court's pronouncement is well taken considering the fact that. Petitioner testified categorically that he is not a Russian citizen and that he has no citizenship. 1947. although. The difference between the Cyrillic alphabet. in the continuation of the hearing on September 30. There.II The second assignment of error touches upon two questions. but the Empire of Russia has ceased to exist since the Czars were overthrown in 1917 by the Bolshevists. and (2) in not finding that he cannot speak and write any of the principal Philippine languages. however. Appellant points out that petitioner stated in his petition for naturalization that he is citizen or subject of the Empire of Russia. A great number of standards can be set. "surprisingly enough. that he has command of both English and Bicol. There are experts in English who say that Shakespeare has used in his works 15. It is contended that petitioner failed to show that under the laws of Russia. uses the same alphabet used in English. The controversy centers on the question as to whether petitioner is a Russian citizen or is stateless. however.

. Pablo. besides being uncontradicted. it being only a sequel of the other assignments and has necessarily been disposed of in their discussion. Padilla and Tuason. as all cultured persons all over the world ought to know. he fled from Russia to permanently reside in the Philippines. concur. Knowing. and enjoying for 25 years the freedoms and blessings of our democratic way of life.We do not believe that the lower court erred in pronouncing appellee stateless. and it is only natural that the not-so-fortunate ones who were able to escape to foreign countries should feel the loss of all bonds of attachment to the hells which were formerly their fatherland's. is supported by the wellknown fact that the ruthlessness of modern dictatorship has scattered throughout the world a large number of stateless refugees or displaced persons. Appellee's testimony. nature and character of the Soviet dictatorship. The tyrannical intolerance of said dictatorships toward all opposition induced them to resort to beastly oppression. IV The fourth and last assignment of error need not be discussed. and after showing his resolution to retain the happiness he found in our political system to the extent of refusing to claim Russian citizenship even to secure his release from the Japanese and of casting his lot with that of our people by joining the fortunes and misfortunes of our guerrillas. . The appealed resolution is affirmed. presently the greatest menace to humanity and civilization. the history. Feria. is because he has been at war with it. concentration camps and blood purges. Bengzon. JJ. Petitioner belongs to that group of stateless refugees. Paras. it would be beyond comprehension to support that the petitioner could feel any bond of attachment to the Soviet dictatorship. Briones. without country and without flag. After finding in this country economic security in a remunerative job. establishing a family by marrying a Filipina with whom he has a son. it would be technically fastidious to require further evidence of petitioner's claim that he is stateless than his testimony that he owes no allegiance to the Russian Communist Government and.

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