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VIR-JEN SHIPPING AND MARINE SERVICES, INC., Petitioner, v. NATIONAL advance in the rights of the workingman.

hts of the workingman. And they have invariably been proved cause, which under the Labor Code or any current applicable law, would warrant
LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ROGELIO BISULA, RUBEN ARROZA, unfounded and false. the termination of the respondents` services before the expiration of their contracts.
JUAN GACUTNO, LEONILO ATOK, NILO CRUZ, ALVARO ANDRADA, NEMESIO The Constitution guarantees State assurance of the rights of workers to security of
ADUG, SIMPLICIO BAUTISTA, ROMEO ACOSTA, and JOSE 4. ID.; NO SEVERE REPERCUSSIONS NOR DRYING UP OF EMPLOYMENT tenure. (Sec. 9, Article II, Constitution) Presumptions and provisions of law, the
ENCABO, Respondents. OPPORTUNITIES FOR SEAMEN DESPITE THE WALLEM CASE RULING. The evidence on record, and fundamental State policy all dictate that the motions for
case before us does not represent any major advance in the rights of labor and the reconsideration should be granted.
Antonio R. Atienza for Petitioner. workingmen. The private respondents merely sought rights aleady established. No
matter how much the petitioner-employer tries to present itself as speaking for the DE CASTRO, J., concurring:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
The Solicitor General for respondent NLRC. 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 1. LABOR LAWS; MANNING CONTRACTS; THREATS OF SEAMEN
Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta & Valmonte, Pea & Marcos Law Offices Philippines would not survive if the instant case is not decided in favor of the CONSIDERED SERIOUS MISCONDUCT AND GROUND FOR DISMISSAL BY
for Private Respondents. petitioner is not supported by evidence. The Wallem case was decided on February EMPLOYER; HELD NOT JUSTIFIED. Petitioner claims that the dismissal of
20, 1981. There have been no severe repercussions, no drying up of employment private respondents was justified because the latter threatened the ship authorities
opportunities for seamen, and none of the dire consequences repeatedly in acceding to their demands, and this constitutes serious misconduct as
SYLLABUS emphasized by the petitioner. 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
5. ID.; DECEPTIVE SIDE CONTRACTS; NOT TO BE LEGITIMIZED NOR is but natural for them to employ some means of pressing their demands on
ENFORCED, AS A MATTER OF OFFICIAL POLICY. If any minor advantages petitioner, who refused to abide with the terms of the Special Agreement, to honor
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; JUDICIARY; SUPREME COURT; ONLY COURT
given to Filipino seamen may somehow cut into the profits of locai manning qencies and respect the same. They were only acting in the exercise of their rights, and to
WHOSE DECISIONS OTHER COURTS TAKE THEIR BEARINGS. A
and foreign shipowners, that is not sufficient reason why the NSB or the NLRC deprive them of their freedom of expression is contrary to law and public policy.
fundamental postulate of Philippine Constitutional Law is the fact that there is only
should not stand by the former instead of listening to unsubstantiated fears that they There is no serious misconduct to speak of in the case at bar which would justify
one Supreme Court from whose decisions all other courts are required to take their
would he killing the hen which lays the golden eggs. Prescinding from the above, respondents` dismissal just because of their firmness in their demand for the
bearings. Albert v. Court of First Instance, 23 SCRA 948; Barrera v. Barrera, 34
the Court now holds that neither the National Seamen Board nor the National Labor fulfillment by petitioner of its obligation it entered into without any coercion, specially
SCRA 98; Tugade v. Court of Appeals 85 SCRA 226). The majority of the Courts
Relations Commissions should, as a matter of official policy, legitimize and enforce on the part of private respondents.
work is now performed by its two Divisions, but the Court remains one court, single,
dubious arrangements where shipowners and seamen enter into fictitious contracts
unitary, complete, and supreme. Flowing from this nature of the Supreme Court is
similar to the addendum agreements or side contracts in this case whose purpose 2. REMEDIAL LAW; COURT; DULY BOUND TO APPLY THE LAW AS IT IS;
the fact that, while individual Justices may dissent or partially concur with one
is to deceive. The Repulilic of the Philippines and its ministries and agencies should QUESTIONS OF POLICY BETTER LEFT TO THE BATASANG PAMBANSA.
another, when the Court states what the law is, it speaks with only one voice. And
present a more honorable and proper posture in official acts to the whole world, Whatever policy may prove more beneficial to the cause of labor in general, as is
that voice being authoritative should be as clear as possible.
notwithstanding our desire to have as many job openings both here and abroad for sought to be offered as argument in support of the Second Division decision, is not
our workers. At the very least, such a sensitive matter involving no less than our a proper ground for making said policy prevail over the applicable law or
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; DOOTRINE RENDERED EN BANCOR IN DIVISION; REVERSED
dignity as a people and the welfare of our workingmen must proceed from the jurisprudence. Questions of policy are better left to the Batasang Pambansa. The
OR MODIFIED ONLY BY THE COURT EN BANC. Any doctrine or principle of
Batasang Pambansa in the form of policy legislation, not from administrative rule Court should confine itself to applying the law as it is. In so doing, the Court is not
law laid down by the Court, whether en banc or in Division, may be modified or
making or adjudication. allowed to apply it to suit, or to respond to, the demands of what this Court may
reversed only by the Court en banc. (Section 2[3], Article X, Constitution) In the rare
deem the better policy than what the law clearly intends. The policy is the law, and
instances when one Division disagrees in its views with the other Division, or the
6. ID.; MANNING CONTRACTS APPROVED BY THE NATIONAL SEAMENS the law is the policy. The Court might be treading on forbidden ground to bend the
necessary votes on an issue cannot be had in a Division, the case is brought to the
BOARD; BASIC MINIMUM INCORPORATED NOT A FORECLOSURE WHICH THE law to what the Court perceives to be a desirable policy.
Court en banc to reconcile any seeming conflict, to reverse or modify an earlier
PARTIES MAY IMPROVE UPON OR MODIFY WITHIN THE AGREED PERIOD OF
decision, and to declare the Courts doctrine. This is what has happened in this
TIME. The form contracts approved by the National Seamen Board are designed
case. The decision sought to be reconsidered appears to be a deviation from the
to protect Filipino seamen not foreign shipowners who can take care of themselves. RESOLUTION
Courts decision, speaking through the First Division, in Wallem Shipping, Inc. v.
The standard forms embody the basic minimums which must be incorporated as
Hon. Minister of Labor (102 SCRA 835). Faced with two seemingly conficting
parts of the employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V, Rules and Regulations
resolutions of basically the same issue by its two Divisions, the Court, therefore,
Implementing the Labor Code.) They are not collective bargaining agreements or
resolved to transfer the case to the Court en banc. GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
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
3. LABOR LAWS; THREATS OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND LOSS OF JOBS NO
petition their employer for higher salaries during the 12 months duration of the
ARGUMENT AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF LABOR. This is not the first time Before the Court en banc is a motion to reconsider the decision promulgated on
contract runs counter to established principles of labor legislation. The National
and it will not be the last where the threat of unemployment and loss of jobs would July 20, 1982 which set aside the decision of respondent National Labor Relations
Labor Relations Commission, as the appellate tribunal from decisions of the
he used to argue against the interests of labor; where efforts by workingmen to Commission and reinstated the decision of the National Seamen Board.
National Seamen Board, correctly ruled that the seamen did not violate their
better their terms of employment would be characterized as prejudicing the interests
contracts to warrant their dismissal.
of labor as a whole. In 1867 or one hundred sixteen years ago, Chief Justice To better understand the issues raised in the motion for reconsideration, we
Beasley of the Supreme Court of New Jersey was ponente of the courts opinion reiterate the background facts of the case, taken from the decision of the National
7. ID.; ID.; TERMINATION BEFORE EXPIRATION; NOT JUSTIFIED IN THE CASE
declaring as a conspiracy the threat of workingmen to strike in connection with their Labor Relations Commission:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
AT BAR. The Court qrees with the movants that there is no showing of any
efforts to promote unionism. The same arguments have greeted every major
thereafter, the Company cabled the Seamen informing them that their contracts PRIVATE RESPONDENTS."cralaw virtua1aw library
"It appears that on different dates in December, 1978 and January, 1979, the would be terminated upon the vessels arrival in Japan. On 19 April 1979 they were
Seamen entered into separate contracts of employment with the Company, asked to disembark from the vessel, their contracts were terminated, and they were At the outset, we are faced with the question whether or not the Court en banc
engaging them to work on board M/T Jannu for a period of twelve (12) months. repatriated to Manila. There is no showing that the Seamen were given the should give due course to the motion for reconsideration inspite of its having been
After verification and approval of their contracts by the NSB, the Seamen boarded opportunity to at least comment on the Companys request for the cancellation of denied twice by the Courts Second Division. The case was referred to and
their vessel in Japan. their contracts, although they had served only three (3) out of the twelve (12) accepted by the Court en banc because of the movants contention that the decision
months duration of their contracts."cralaw virtua1aw library in this case by the Second Division deviated from Wallem Phil. Shipping Inc. v.
"On 10 January 1979, the master of the vessel complainant Rogelio H. Bisula, Minister of Labor (L-50734-37, February 20, 1981), a First Division case with the
received a cable from the Company advising him of the possibility that the vessel The private respondents filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and non-payment of same facts and issues. We are constrained to answer the initial question in the
might be directed to call at ITF-controlled ports and at the same time informing him earned wages with the National Seamen Board. The Vir-jen Shipping and Marine affirmative.
of the procedure to be followed in the computation of the special or additional Services Inc. in turn filed a complaint for breach of contract and recovery of excess
compensation of crew members while in said ports. (ITF is the acronym for the salaries and overtime pay against the private respondents. On July 2, 1980, the A fundamental postulate of Philippine Constitutional Law is the fact that there is only
International Transport Workers Federation, a militant international labor NSB rendered a decision declaring that the seamen breached their employment one Supreme Court from whose decisions all other courts are required to take their
organization with affiliates in different ports of the world, which reputedly can tie contracts when they demanded and received from Vir-jen Shipping wages over and bearings. (Albert v. Court of First Instance, 23 SCRA. 948; Barrera v. Barrera, 34
down a vessel in a port by preventing its loading or unloading. This is a sanction above their contracted rates. The dismissal of the seamen was declared legal and SCRA 98; Tugade v. Court of Appeals, 85 SCRA 226). The majority of the Courts
resorted to by ITF to enforce the payment of its wages rates for seafarers, the so- the seamen were ordered suspended. work is now performed by its two Divisions, but the Court remains one court, single,
called ITF rates, if the wages of the crew members of a vessel who have affiliated unitary, complete, and supreme. Flowing from this nature of the Supreme Court is
with it are below its prescribed rates.) In the same cable of the Company, it The seamen appealed the decision to the NLRC which reversed the decision of the the fact that, while individual Justices may dissent or partially concur with one
expressed its regrets for not clarifying earlier the procedure in computing the special NSB and required the petitioner to pay the wages and other monetary benefits another, when the Court states what the law is, it speaks with only one voice. And
compensation as it thought that the vessel would trade in Caribbean ports only. corresponding to the unexpired portion of the manning contract on the ground that that voice being authoritative should be a clear as possible.
the termination of the contract by the petitioner was without valid cause. Vir-jen
"On 22 March 1979, the Company sent another cable to complainant Bisula, this Shipping filed the present petition. Any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court, whether en banc or in
time informing him of the respective amounts each of the officers and crew Division, may be modified or reversed only by the Court en banc. (Section 2(3),
members would receive as special compensation when the vessel called at the port The private respondents submit the following issues in their motion for Article X, Constitution.) In the rare instances when one Division disagrees in its
of Kwinana, Australia, an ITF-controlled port. This was followed by another cable on reconsideration:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph views with the other Division, or the necessary votes on an issue cannot be had in a
23 March 1979, informing him that the officers and crew members had been Division, the case is brought to the Court en banc to reconcile any seeming conflict,
enrolled as members of the ITF in Sidney, Australia, and that the membership fee "A. THIS HONORABLE COURT DID VIOLENCE TO LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE to reverse or modify an earlier decision, and to declare the Courts doctrine. This is
for the 28 personnel complement of the vessel had already been paid. WHEN IT HELD THAT THE FINDING OF FACT OF THE NATIONAL SEAMEN what has happened in this case.
BOARD THAT THE SEAMEN VIOLATED THEIR CONTRACTS IS MORE
"In answer to the Companys cable last mentioned, complainant Bisula, in CREDIBLE THAN THE FINDING OF FACT OF THE NATIONAL LABOR The decision sought to be reconsidered appears to be a deviation from the Courts
representation of the other officers and crew members, sent on 24 March 1979 a RELATIONS COMMISSION THAT THE SEAMEN DID NOT VIOLATE THEIR decision, speaking through the First Division, in Wallem Shipping, Inc. v. Hon.
cable informing the Company that the officers and crew members were not CONTRACT. Minister of Labor (102 SCRA 835). Faced with two seemingly conflicting resolutions
agreeable to its suggestion; that they were not contented with their present of basically the same issue by its two Divisions, the Court, therefore, resolved to
salaries based on the volume of works, type of ship with hazardous cargo and "B. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT VIRJENS HAVING transfer the case to the Court en banc. Parenthetically, the petitioners comment on
registered in a world wide trade; that the officers and crew (were) not interested in AGREED TO A 25% INCREASE OF THE SEAMENS BASIC WAGE WAS NOT the third motion for reconsideration states that the resolution of the motion might be
ITF membership if not actually paid with ITF rate: that their demand is only 50% VOLUNTARY BUT WAS DUE TO THREATS. the needed vehicle to make the ruling in the Wallem case clearer and more in line
increase based on present basic salary; and that the proposed wage increase is with the underlying principles of the Labor Code. We agree with the petitioner.
the best and only solution to solve ITF problem since the Companys salary rates "C. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT TOOK COGNIZANCE OF THE
especially in tankers (are) very far in comparison with other shipping agencies in ADDENDUM AGREEMENT; ASSUMING THAT THE ADDENDUM AGREEMENT After an exhaustive, painstaking, and perspicacious consideration of the motions for
Manila . . . COULD BE TAKEN COGNIZANCE OF, THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED reconsideration and the comments, replies, and other pleadings related thereto, the
WHEN IT FOUND THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAD VIOLATED THE SAME. Court en banc is constrained to grant the motions. To grant the motion is to keep
"In reply, the Company proposed a 25% increase in the basic pay of the faith with the constitutional mandate to afford protection to labor and to assure the
complainant crew members, although it claimed that it would suffer and absorb "D. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT DID NOT FIND PETITIONER rights of workers to self-organization and to just and humane conditions of work. We
considerable amount of losses. The proposal was accepted by the Seamen with VIRJEN LIABLE FOR HAVING TERMINATED BEFORE EXPIRY DATE THE sustain the decision of the respondent National Labor Relations Commission.
certain conditions which were accepted by the Company. Conformably with the EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS, THERE BEING NO
agreement of the parties which was effected through the cables above mentioned, LEGAL AND JUSTIFIABLE GROUND FOR SUCH TERMINATION. There are various arguments raised by the petitioners but the common thread
the Seamen were paid their new salary rates. running through all of them is the contention, if not the dismal prophecy, that if the
"E. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PREPARATION respondent seamen are sustained by this Court, we would in effect "kill the hen that
"Subsequently, the Company sought authority from the NSB to cancel the contracts BY PETITIONER OF THE TWO PAYROLLS AND THE EXECUTION OF THE SIDE lays the golden egg." In other words, Filipino seamen, admittedly among the best in
of employment of the Seamen, claiming that its principals had terminated their CONTRACT WERE NOT MADE IN BAD FAITH. the world, should remain satisfied with relatively lower if not the lowest, international
manning agreement because of the actuations of the Seamen. The request was rates of compensation, should not agitate for higher wages while their contracts of
granted by the NSB Executive Director in a letter dated 10 April 1979. Soon "F. THIS HONORABLE COURT INADVERTENTLY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST 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 repercussions, no drying up of employment opportunities for seamen, and none of
labor federations, pretend to receive higher salaries at certain foreign ports only to the dire consequences repeatedly emphasized by the petitioner. Why should Vir-jen Another issue raised by the movants is whether or not the seamen violated their
return the increased pay once the ship leaves that port, should stifle not only their be an exception?. contracts of employment.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
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 The wages of seamen engaged in international shipping are shouldered by the The form contracts approved by the National Seamen Board are designed to
of dissatisfaction with no protection from their Government and their courts, foreign principal. The local manning office is an agent whose primary function is protect Filipino seamen not foreign shipowners who can take care of themselves.
otherwise, the petitioners contend that Filipinos would no longer be accepted as recruitment and who usually gets a lump sum from the shipowner to defray the The standard forms embody the basic minimums which must be incorporated as
seamen, those employed would lose their jobs, and the still unemployed would be salaries of the crew. The hiring of seamen and the determination of their parts of the employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V, Rules and Regulations
left hopeless. compensation is subject to the interplay of various market factors and one key Implementing the Labor Code.) They are not collective bargaining agreements or
factor is how much in terms of profits the local manning office and the foreign immutable contracts which the parties cannot improve upon or modify in the course
This is not the first time and it will not be the last where the threat of unemployment shipowner may realize after the costs of the voyage are met. And costs include of the agreed period of time. To state, therefore, that the affected seamen cannot
and loss of jobs would be used to argue against the interests of labor; where efforts salaries of officers and crew members.chanrobles law library : red petition their employer for higher salaries during the 12 months duration of the
by workingmen to better their terms of employment would be characterized as contract runs counter to established principles of labor legislation. The National
prejudicing the interests of labor as a whole. Filipino seamen are admittedly as competent and reliable as seamen from any Labor Relations Commission, as the appellate tribunal from decisions of the
other country in the world. Otherwise, there would not be so many of them in the National Seamen Board, correctly ruled that the seamen did not violate their
In 1867 or one hundred sixteen years ago, Chief Justice Beasley of the Supreme vessels sailing in every ocean and sea on this globe. It is competence and reliability, contracts to warrant their dismissal.
Court of New Jersey was ponente of the courts opinion declaring as a conspiracy not cheap labor that makes our seamen so greatly in demand. Filipino seamen
the threat of workingmen to strike in connection with their efforts to promote have never demanded the same high salaries as seamen from the United States, The respondent Commission ruled:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
unionism. 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 "In the light of all the foregoing facts, we find that the cable of the seamen proposing
It is difficult to believe that a right exists in law which we can scarcely conceive can their employers and when they exercise the right to petition for improved terms of an increase in their wage rates was not and could not have been intended as a
produce, in any posture of affairs, other than injurious results. It is simply the right of employment, especially when they feel that these are sub-standard or are capable threat to compel the Company to accede to their proposals. But even assuming, if
workmen, by concert of action, and by taking advantage of their position, to control of improvement according to internationally accepted rules. In the domestic scene, only for the sake of argument, that the demand or proposal for a wage increase was
the business of another. I am unwilling to hold that a right which cannot, in any there are marginal employers who prepare two sets of payrolls for their employees accompanied by a threat that they would report to ITF if the Company did not
event be advantageous to the employee, and which must always be hurtful to the one in keeping with minimum wages and the other recording the sub-standard accede to the contract revision although there really was no such threat as
employer, exists in law. In my opinion this indictment sufficiently shows that the wages that the employees really receive. The reliable employers, however, not only pointed out earlier the Seamen should not be held at fault for asking such a
force of the confederates was brought to bear upon their employer for the purpose meet the minimums required by fair labor standards legislation but even go way demand. In the same case cited above, the Supreme Court held:chanrobles law
of oppression and mischief and that this amounts to a conspiracy. (State v. above the minimums while earning reasonable profits and prospering. The same is library
Donaldson, 32 NJL 151, 1867. Cited in Chamberlain, Sourcebook on Labor, p. true of international employment. There is no reason why this Court and the Ministry
13. Italics supplied) of Labor and Employment or its agencies and commissions should come out with "Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because
pronouncements based on the standards and practices of unscrupulous or the latter threatened the ship authorities in acceding to their demands, and this
The same arguments have greeted every major advance in the rights of the inefficient shipowners, who claim they cannot survive without resorting to tricky and constitutes serious misconduct as contemplated by the Labor Code. This contention
workingman. And they have invariably been proved unfounded and false. deceptive schemes, instead of Government maintaining labor law and jurisprudence is not well-taken. But even if there had been such a threat, respondents behavior
according to the practices of honorable, competent, and law-abiding employers, should not be censured because it is but natural for them to employ some means of
Unionism, employers liability acts, minimum wages, workmens compensation, domestic or foreign. pressing their demands for petitioner, the refusal to abide with the terms of the
social security and collective bargaining to name a few were all initially opposed by Special Agreement, to honor and respect the same. They were only acting in the
employers and even well meaning leaders of government and society as "killing the If any minor advantages given to Filipino seamen may somehow cut into the profits exercise of their rights, and to deprive them of their freedom of expression is
hen or goose which lays the golden eggs." The claims of workingmen were of local manning agencies and foreign shipowners, that is not sufficient reason why contrary to law and public policy. There is no serious misconduct to speak of in the
described as outrageously injurious not only to the employer but more so to the the NSB or the NLRC should not stand by the former instead of listening to case at bar which would justify respondents dismissal just because of their firmness
employees themselves before these claims or demands were established by law unsubstantiated fears that they would be killing the hen which lays the golden eggs. in their demand for the fulfillment by petitioner of its obligation it entered into without
and jurisprudence as "rights" and before these were proved beneficial to any coercion, specially on the part of private respondents. (Emphasis
management, labor, and the nation as a whole beyond reasonable doubt. Prescinding from the above, we now hold that neither the National Seamen Board supplied)."cralaw virtua1aw library
nor the National Labor Relations Commission should, as a matter of official policy,
The case before us does not represent any major advance in the rights of labor and legitimize and enforce dubious arrangements where shipowners and seamen enter The above citation is from Wallem.
the workingmen. The private respondents merely sought rights already established. into fictitious contracts similar to the addendum agreements or side contracts in this
No matter how much the petitioner-employer tries to present itself as speaking for case whose purpose is to deceive. The Republic of the Philippines and its ministries The facts show that when the respondents boarded the M/T Jannu, there was no
the entire industry, there is no evidence that it is typical of employers hiring Filipino and agencies should present a more honorable and proper posture in official acts to intention to send their ship to Australia. On January 10, 1979, the petitioner sent a
seamen or that it can speak for them. the whole world, notwithstanding our desire to have as many job openings both cable to respondent shipmaster Bisula informing him of the procedure to be
here and abroad for our workers. At the very least, such as sensitive matter followed in the computation of special compensation of crewmembers while in ITF
The contention that manning industries in the Philippines would not survive if the involving no less than our dignity as a people and the welfare of our workingmen controlled ports and expressed regrets for not having earlier clarified the procedure
instant case is not decided in favor of the petitioner is not supported by evidence. must proceed from the Batasang Pambansa in the form of policy legislation, not as it thought that the vessel would trade in Carribean ports only.
The Wallem case was decided on February 20, 1981. There have been no severe from administrative rule making or adjudication.
On March 22, 1979, the petitioner sent another cable informing Bisula of the special is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The decision of the National Labor Relations The facts are found in the questioned decision of the NSB in G.R. No. 64781-99.
compensation when the ship would call at Kwinana, Australia. Commission is AFFIRMED. No costs. 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
The following day, shipmaster Bisula cabled Vir-jen stating that the officers and SO ORDERED. respondents entered into separate contracts of employment (Exhs. "B" to "B-17",
crews were not interested in ITF membership if not paid ITF rates and that their only inclusive) with complainant (private respondent) to work aboard vessels
demand was a 50 percent increase based on their then salaries. Bisula also pointed RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL, ANGELITO MENDOZA, owned/operated/manned by the latter for a period of 12 calendar months and with
out that Vir-jen rates were "very far in comparison with other shipping agencies in ANTONIO TANEDO, AMORSOLO CABRERA, DOMINADOR SANTOS, ISIDRO different rating/position, salary, overtime pay and allowance, hereinbelow
Manila."cralaw virtua1aw library BRACIA, RAMON DE BELEN, ERNESTO SABADO, MARTIN MALABANAN, specified: ...; that aforesaid employment contracts were verified and approved by
ROMEO HUERTO and VITALIANO PANGUE, petitioners, this Board; that on different dates in April 1978 respondents (petitioners) joined the
In reply, Vir-jen counter proposed a 25 percent increase. Only after Kyoei Tanker vs. M/V "GRACE RIVER"; that on or about October 30, 1978 aforesaid vessel, with the
Co., Ltd., declined to increase the lumps sum amount given monthly to Vir-jen was THE HON. JUDGE ALFREDO L. BENIPAYO and MAGSAYSAY LINES, respondents on board, arrived at the port of Vancouver, Canada; that at this port
the decision to terminate the respondents employment formulated. INC., respondents. respondent received additional wages under rates prescribed by the Intemational
G.R. Nos. L-64781-99 August 15, 1989 Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) in the total amount of US$98,261.70; that the
The facts show that Vir-jen initiated the discussions which led to the demand for RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL, ANGELITO MENDOZA, respondents received the amounts appearing opposite their names, to wit: ...; that
increased wages. The seamen made a proposal and the petitioner answered with a ANTONIO TANEDO, RAYMUNDO PEREZ, AMORSOLO CABRERA, aforesaid amounts were over and above the rates of pay of respondents as
counter-proposal. The ship had not yet gone to Australia or any ITF controlled port. DOMINADOR SANTOS, ISIDRO BRACIA, CATALINO CASICA, VITALIANO appearing in their employment contracts approved by this Board; that on November
There was absolutely no mention of any strike, much less a threat to strike. The PANGUE, RAMON DE BELEN, EDUARDO PAGTALUNAN, ANTONIO MIRANDA, 10, 1978, aforesaid vessel, with respondent on board, left Vancouver, Canada for
seamen had done no act which under Philippine law or any other civilized law would RAMON UNIANA, ERNESTO SABADO, MARTIN MALABANAN, ROMEO Yokohama, Japan; that on December 14, 1978, while aforesaid vessel, was at Yura,
be termed illegal, oppressive, or malicious. Whatever pressure existed, it was mild HUERTO and WILFREDO CRISTOBAL, petitioners, Japan, they were made to disembark. (pp. 64-66, Rollo)
compared to accepted and valid modes of labor activity.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary vs. Furthermore, according to the petitioners, while the vessel was docked at Nagoya,
THE HONORABLE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, THE Japan, a certain Atty. Oscar Torres of the NSB Legal Department boarded the
We reiterate our ruling in Wallem:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph NATIONAL SEAMEN BOARD (now the Philippine Overseas Employment vessel and called a meeting of the seamen including the petitioners, telling them
Administration), and MAGSAYSAY LINES, INC., respondents. that for their own good and safety they should sign an agreement prepared by him
"Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta, Pe;a and Nolasco for petitioners. on board the vessel and that if they do, the cases filed against them with NSB on
the latter threatened the ship authorities in acceding to their demands, and this Samson S. Alcantara for private respondent. November 17, 1978 would be dismissed. Thus, the petitioners signed the.
constitutes serious misconduct as contemplated by the Labor Code. This contention "Agreement" dated December 5, 1978. (Annex C of Petition) However, when they
is not well-taken. The records fail to establish clearly the commission of any threat. GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: were later furnished xerox copies of what they had signed, they noticed that the line
But even if there had been such a threat, respondents behavior should not be These petitions ask for a re-examination of this Court's precedent setting "which amount(s) was/were received and held by CREWMEMBERS in trust for
censured because it is but natural for them to employ some means of pressing their decision in Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine Services Inc. v. National Labor Relations SHIPOWNERS" was inserted therein, thereby making it appear that the amounts
demands for petitioner, who refused to abide with the terms of the Special Commission, et al. (125 SCRA 577 [1983]). On constitutional, statutory, and factual given to the petitioners representing the increase in their wages based on ITF rates
Agreement, to honor and respect the same. They were only acting in the exercise of grounds, we find no reason to disturb the doctrine in Vir-Jen Shipping and to turn were only received by them in trust for the private respondent.
their rights, and to deprive them of their freedom of expression is contrary to law back the clock of progress for sea-based overseas workers. The experience gained When the vessel reached Manila, the private respondent demanded from the
and public policy . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library in the past few years shows that, following said doctrine, we should neither deny petitioners the "overpayments" made to them in Canada. As the petitioners refused
nor diminish the enjoyment by Filipino seamen of the same rights and freedoms to give back the said amounts, charges were filed against some of them with the
Our dismissing the petition is premised on the assumption that the Ministry of Labor taken for granted by other working-men here and abroad. NSB and the Professional Regulations Commission. Estafa charges were also filed
and Employment and all its agencies exist primarily for the workingmans interests The cases at bar involve a group of Filipino seamen who were declared by the before different branches of the then Court of First Instance of Manila which, as
and, of course, the nation as a whole. The points raised by the Solicitor-General in defunct National Seamen Board (NSB) guilty of breaching their employment earlier stated, were subsequently consolidated in the sala of the respondent Judge
his comments refer to the issue of allowing what the petitioner importunes under the contracts with the private respondent because they demanded, upon the Alfredo Benipayo and which eventually led to G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53.
argument of "killing the hen which lays the golden eggs." This is one of policy which intervention and assistance of a third party, the International Transport Worker's In G.R. Nos. 64781-99, the petitioners claimed before the NSB that contrary to the
should perhaps be directed to the Batasang Pambansa and to our countrys other Federation (ITF), the payment of wages over and above their contracted rates private respondent's allegations, they did not commit any illegal act nor stage a
policy makers for more specific legislation on the matter, subject to the without the approval of the NSB. The petitioners were ordered to reimburse the total strike while they were on board the vessel; that the "Special Agreement" entered
constitutional provisions protecting labor, promoting social justice, and guaranteeing amount of US$91,348.44 or its equivalent in Philippine Currency representing the into in Vancouver to pay their salary differentials is valid, having been executed after
non-abridgement of the freedom of speech, press, peaceable assembly and said over-payments and to be suspended from the NSB registry for a period of peaceful negotiations. Petitioners further argued that the amounts they received
petition. We agree with the movants that there is no showing of any cause, which three years. The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) affirmed the were in accordance with the provision of law, citing among others, Section 18, Rule
under the Labor Code or any current applicable law, would warrant the termination decision of the NSB. VI, Book I of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code which
of the respondents services before the expiration of their contracts. The In a corollary development, the private respondent, for failure of the petitioners to provides that "the basic minimum salary of seamen shall not be less than the
Constitution guarantees State assurance of the rights of workers to security of return the overpayments made to them upon demand by the former, filed estafa prevailing minimum rates established by the International Labor Organization (ILO)
tenure. (Sec. 9, Article I, Constitution). Presumptions and provisions of law, the charges against some of the petitioners. The criminal cases were eventually or those prevailing in the country whose flag the employing vessel carries,
evidence on record, and fundamental State policy all dictate that the motions for consolidated in the sala of then respondent Judge Alfredo Benipayo. Hence, these whichever is higher ..."; and that the "Agreement" executed in Nagoya, Japan had
reconsideration should be granted. consolidated petitions, G.R. No. 64781-99 and G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53, been forced upon them and that intercalations were made to make it appear that
which respectively pray for the nullification of the decisions of the NLRC and the they were merely trustees of the amounts they received in Vancouver.
WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration are hereby GRANTED. The petition NSB, and the dismissal of the criminal cases against the petitioners.
On the other hand, the private respondent alleged that the petitioners breached respondents believe that they have a valid ground to demand from the complainant nevertheless, continued working and going about their usual chores. In other words,
their employment contracts when they, acting in concert and with the active a revision of the terms of their contracts, the same should have been done in all they did was to exercise their freedom of speech in a most peaceful way. The ITF
participations of the ITF while the vessel was in Vancouver, staged an illegal strike accordance with law and not thru illegal means. (at p. 72, Rollo). people, in turn, did not employ any violent means to force the private respondent to
and by means of threats, coercion and intimidation compelled the owners of the Although the respondent NSB found that the petitioners were entitled to the accede to their demands. Instead, they simply applied effective pressure when they
vessel to pay to them various sums totalling US$104,244.35; that the respondent payment of earned wages and overtime pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to intimated the possibility of interdiction should the shipowner fail to heed the call for
entered into the "Special Agreement" to pay the petitioners' wage differentials December 14, 1978, it nevertheless ruled that the computation should be based on an upward adjustment of the rates of the Filipino seamen. Interdiction is nothing
because it was under duress as the vessel would not be allowed to leave the rates of pay as appearing in the petitioners' NSB-approved contracts. It ordered more than a refusal of ITF members to render service for the ship, such as to load
Vancouver unless the said agreement was signed, and to prevent the shipowner that the amounts to which the petitioners are entitled under the said computation or unload its cargo, to provision it or to perform such other chores ordinarily incident
from incurring further delay in the shipment of goods; and that in view of petitioners' should be deducted from the amounts that the petitioners must return to the private to the docking of the ship at a certain port. It was the fear of ITF interdiction, not any
breach of contract, the latter's names must be removed from the NSB's Registry respondent. action taken by the seamen on board the vessel which led the shipowners to yield.
and that they should be ordered to return the amounts they received over and On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the NSB's findings. Hence, the petition in G.R. Nos. The NSB's contusion that it is ITF's policy not to intervene with the plight of
above their contracted rates. 64781-99. crewmembers of a vessel unless its intervention was sought is without basis. This
The respondent NSB ruled that the petitioners were guilty of breach of contract Meanwhile, the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53 moved to quash the Court is cognizant of the fact that during the period covered by the labor
because despite subsisting and valid NSB-approved employment contracts, the criminal cases of estafa filed against them on the ground that the alleged crimes controversies in Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc. v. Minister of Labor (102 SCRA
petitioners sought the assistance of a third party (ITF) to demand from the private were committed, if at all, in Vancouver, Canada and, therefore, Philippine courts 835 [1981]; Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine Services, Inc. v. NLRC (supra) and these
respondent wages in accordance with the ITF rates, which rates are over and have no jurisdiction. The respondent judge denied the motion. Hence, the second consolidated petitions, the ITF was militant worldwide especially in Canada,
above their rates of pay as appearing in their NSB-approved contracts. As bases for petition. Australia, Scandinavia, and various European countries, interdicting foreign vessels
this conclusion, the NSB stated: The principal issue in these consolidated petitions is whether or not the petitioners and demanding wage increases for third world seamen. There was no need for
1) The fact that respondents sought the aid of a third party (ITF) and demanded for are entitled to the amounts they received from the private respondent representing Filipino or other seamen to seek ITF intervention. The ITF was waiting on its own
wages and overtime pay based on ITF rates is shown in the entries of their additional wages as determined in the special agreement. If they are, then the volition in all Canadian ports, not particularly for the petitioners' vessel but for all
respective Pay-Off Clearance Slips which were marked as their Exhs. "1" to "18", decision of the NLRC and NSB must be reversed. Similarly, the criminal cases of ships similarly situated. As earlier stated, the ITF was not really acting for the
and we quote "DEMANDED ITF WAGES, OVERTIME, DIFFERENTIALS APRIL TO estafa must be dismissed because it follows as a consequence that the amounts petitioners out of pure altruism. The ITF was merely protecting the interests of its
OCTOBER 1978". Respondent Suzara admitted that the entries in his Pay-Off received by the petitioners belong to them and not to the private respondent. own members. The petitioners happened to be pawns in a higher and broader
Clearance Slip (Exh. "1") are correct (TSN., p. 16, Dec. 6, In arriving at the questioned decision, the NSB ruled that the petitioners are not struggle between the ITF on one hand and shipowners and third world seamen, on
1979).lwph1.t Moreover, it is the policy (reiterated very often) by the ITF that it entitled to the wage differentials as determined by the ITF because the means the other. To subject our seamen to criminal prosecution and punishment for having
does not interfere in the affairs of the crewmembers and masters and/or owners of a employed by them in obtaining the same were violent and illegal and because in been caught in such a struggle is out of the question.
vessel unless its assistance is sought by the crewmembers themselves. Under this demanding higher wages the petitioners sought the aid of a third party, which, in As stated in Vir-Jen Shipping (supra):
pronounced policy of the ITF, it is reasonable to assume that the representatives of turn, intervened in their behalf and prohibited the vessel from sailing unless the The seamen had done no act which under Philippine law or any other civilized law
the ITF in Vancouver, Canada assisted and intervened by reason of the assistance owner and/or operator of the vessel acceded to respondents' demand for higher would be termed illegal, oppressive, or malicious. Whatever pressure existed, it was
sought by the latter. wages. And as proof of this conclusion, the NSB cited the following: (a) the entries mild compared to accepted and valid modes of labor activity. (at page 591)
2) The fact that the ITF assisted and intervened for and in behalf of the respondents in the petitioners Pay-Off Clearance Slip which contained the phrase "DEMANDED Given these factual situations, therefore, we cannot affirm the NSB and NLRC's
in the latter's demand for higher wages could be gleaned from the answer of the ITF WAGES ..."; (b) the alleged policy of the ITF in not interfering with finding that there was violence, physical or otherwise employed by the petitioners in
respondents when they admitted that the ITF acted in their behalf in the crewmembers of a vessel unless its intervention is sought by the crewmembers demanding for additional wages. The fact that the petitioners placed placards on the
negotiations for increase of wages. Moreover, respondent Cesar Dimaandal themselves; (c), the petitioners' admission that ITF acted in their behalf; and (d) the gangway of their ship to show support for ITF's demands for wage differentials for
admitted that the ITF differential pay was computed by the ITF representative (TSN, fact that the private respondent was compelled to sign the special agreement at their own benefit and the resulting ITF's threatened interdiction do not constitute
p. 7, Dec. 12, 1979) Vancouver, Canada. violence. The petitioners were exercising their freedom of speech and expressing
3) The fact that complainant and the owner/operator of the vessel were compelled There is nothing in the public and private respondents' pleadings, to support the sentiments in their hearts when they placed the placard We Want ITF Rates." Under
to sign the Special Agreement (Exh. "20") and to pay ITF differentials to allegations that the petitioners used force and violence to secure the special the facts and circumstances of these petitions, we see no reason to deprive the
respondents in order not to delay the departure of the vessel and to prevent further agreement signed in Vancouver. British Columbia. There was no need for any form seamen of their right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Philippine
losses is shown in the "Agreement" (Exhs. "R-21") ... (pp. 69-70, Rollo) of intimidation coming from the Filipino seamen because the Canadian Brotherhood Constitution and the fundamental law of Canada where they happened to exercise
The NSB further said: of Railways and Transport Workers (CBRT), a strong Canadian labor union, backed it.
While the Board recognizes the rights of the respondents to demand for higher by an international labor federation was actually doing all the influencing not only on As we have ruled in Wallem Phil. Shipping Inc. v. Minister of Labor, et al. supra:
wages, provided the means are peaceful and legal, it could not, however, sanction the ship-owners and employers but also against third world seamen themselves Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because the
the same if the means employed are violent and illegal. In the case at bar, the who, by receiving lower wages and cheaper accommodations, were threatening the latter threatened the ship authorities in acceding to their demands, and this
means employed are violent and illegal for in demanding higher wages the employment and livelihood of seamen from developed nations. constitutes serious misconduct as contemplated by the Labor Code. This contention
respondents sought the aid of a third party and in turn the latter intervened in their The bases used by the respondent NSB to support its decision do not prove that the is now well-taken. The records fail to establish clearly the commission of any threat.
behalf and prohibited the vessel from sailing unless the owner and/or operator of petitioners initiated a conspiracy with the ITF or deliberately sought its assistance in But even if there had been such a threat, respondents' behavior should not be
the vessel acceded to respondents' demand for higher wages. To avoid suffering order to receive higher wages. They only prove that when ITF acted in petitioners' censured because it is but natural for them to employ some means of pressing their
further incalculable losses, the owner and/or operator of the vessel had no behalf for an increase in wages, the latter manifested their support. This would be a demands for petitioner, who refused to abide with the terms of the Special
altemative but to pay respondents' wages in accordance with the ITF scale. The logical and natural reaction for any worker in whose benefit the ITF or any other Agreement, to honor and respect the same. They were only acting in the exercise of
Board condemns the act of a party who enters into a contract and with the use of labor group had intervened. The petitioners admit that while they expressed their their rights, and to deprive them of their freedom of expression is contrary to law
force/or intimidation causes the other party to modify said contract. If the conformity to and their sentiments for higher wages by means of placards, they, and public policy. ... (at page 843)
We likewise, find the public respondents' conclusions that the acts of the petitioners the United Kingdom, Japan and other developed nations. But certainly they are legislation and prevailing standards set by applicable International Labor
in demanding and receiving wages over and above the rates appearing in their entitled to government protection when they ask for fair and decent treatment by Organization Conventions. The standard format shall set the minimum standard of
NSB-approved contracts is in effect an alteration of their valid and subsisting their employer and when they exercise the right to petition for improved terms of the terms and conditions to govern the employment of Filipino seafarers but in no
contracts because the same were not obtained through. mutual consent and without employment, especially when they feel that these are sub-standard or are capable case shall a shipboard employment contract (sic), or in any way conflict with any
the prior approval of the NSB to be without basis, not only because the private of improvement according to internationally accepted rules. In the domestic scene, other provision embodied in the standard format.
respondent's consent to pay additional wages was not vitiated by any violence or there are marginal employers who prepare two sets of payrolls for their employees It took three years for the NSB to implement requirements which, under the law,
intimidation on the part of the petitioners but because the said NSB-approved form one in keeping with minimum wages and the other recording the sub-standard they were obliged to follow and execute immediately. During those three years, the
contracts are not unalterable contracts that can have no room for improvement wages that the employees really receive. The reliable employers, however, not only incident in Vancouver happened. The terms and conditions agreed upon in
during their effectivity or which ban any amendments during their term. meet the minimums required by fair labor standards legislation but even go away Vancouver were well within ILO rates even if they were above NSB standards at the
For one thing, the employer can always improve the working conditions without above the minimums while earning reasonable profits and prospering. The same is time.
violating any law or stipulation. true of international employment. There is no reason why this court and the Ministry The sanctions applied by NSB and affirmed by NLRC are moreover not in keeping
We stated in the Vir-Jen case (supra) that: of Labor and Employment or its agencies and commissions should come out with with the basic premise that this Court stressed in the Vir-Jen Shipping case (supra)
The form contracts approved by the National Seamen Board are designed to pronouncements based on the standards and practices of unscrupulous or that the Ministry now the Department of Labor and Employment and all its agencies
protect Filipino seamen not foreign shipowners who can take care of themselves. inefficient shipowners, who claim they cannot survive without resorting to tricky and exist primarily for the workingman's interest and the nation's as a whole.
The standard forms embody the basic minimums which must be incorporated as deceptive schemes, instead of Government maintaining labor law and jurisprudence Implicit in these petitions and the only reason for the NSB to take the side of foreign
parts of the employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V, Rules and Regulations according to the practices of honorable, competent, and law-abiding employers, shipowners against Filipino seamen is the "killing the goose which lays the golden
Implementing the Labor Code).lwph1.t They are not collective bargaining domestic or foreign. (Vir-Jen Shipping, supra, pp. 587-588) eggs" argument. We reiterate the ruling of the Court in Vir-Jen Shipping (supra)
agreements or immutable contracts which the parties cannot improve upon or It is noteworthy to emphasize that while the Intemational Labor Organization (ILO) There are various arguments raised by the petitioners but the common thread
modify in the course of the agreed period of time. To state, therefore, that the set the minimum basic wage of able seamen at US$187.00 as early as October running through all of them is the contention, if not the dismal prophecy, that if the
affected seamen cannot petition their employer for higher salaries during the 12 1976, it was only in 1979 that the respondent NSB issued Memo Circular No. 45, respondent seamen are sustained by this Court, we would in effect "kill the hen that
months duration of the contract runs counter to estabhshed principles of labor enjoining all shipping companies to adopt the said minimum basic wage. It was lays the golden egg." In other words, Filipino seamen, admittedly among the best in
legislation. The National Labor Relations Commission, as the appellate tribunal from correct for the respondent NSB to state in its decision that when the petitioners the world, should remain satisfied with relatively lower if not the lowest, international
the decisions of the National Seamen Board, correctly ruled that the seamen did not entered into separate contracts between 1977-1978, the monthly minimum basic rates of compensation, should not agitate for higher wages while their contracts of
violate their contracts to warrant their dismissal. (at page 589) wage for able seamen ordered by NSB was still fixed at US$130.00. However, it is employment are subsisting, should accept as sacred, iron clad, and immutable the
It is impractical for the NSB to require the petitioners, caught in the middle of a labor not the fault of the petitioners that the NSB not only violated the Labor Code which side contracts which require: them to falsely pretend to be members of international
struggle between the ITF and owners of ocean going vessels halfway around the created it and the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code but also labor federations, pretend to receive higher salaries at certain foreign ports only to
world in Vancouver, British Columbia to first secure the approval of the NSB in seeks to punish the seamen for a shortcoming of NSB itself. return the increased pay once the ship leaves that port, should stifle not only their
Manila before signing an agreement which the employer was willing to sign. It is Article 21(c) of the Labor Code, when it created the NSB, mandated the Board to right to ask for improved terms of employment but their freedom of speech and
also totally unrealistic to expect the petitioners while in Canada to exhibit the will "(O)btain the best possible terms and conditions of employment for seamen." expression, and should suffer instant termination of employment at the slightest sign
and strength to oppose the ITF's demand for an increase in their wages, assuming Section 15, Rule V of Book I of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor of dissatisfaction with no protection from their Government and their courts.
they were so minded. Code provides: Otherwise, the petitioners contend that Filipinos would no longer be accepted as
An examination of Annex C of the petition, the agreement signed in Japan by the Sec. 15. Model contract of employment. The NSB shall devise a model contract seamen, those employed would lose their jobs, and the still unemployed would be
crewmembers of the M/V Grace River and a certain M. Tabei, representative of the of employment which shall embody all the requirements of pertinent labor and left hopeless.
Japanese shipowner lends credence to the petitioners' claim that the clause "which social legislations and the prevailing standards set by applicable International Labor This is not the first time and it will not be the last where the threat of unemployment
amount(s) was received and held by CREWMEMBERS in trust for SHIPOWNER" Organization Conventions. The model contract shall set the minimum standards of and loss of jobs would be used to argue against the interests of labor; where efforts
was an intercalation added after the execution of the agreement. The clause the terms and conditions to govern the employment of Filipinos on board vessels by workingmen to better their terms of employment would be characterized as
appears too closely typed below the names of the 19 crewmen and their wages with engaged in overseas trade. All employers of Filipinos shall adopt the model contract prejudicing the interests of labor as a whole.
no similar intervening space as that which appears between all the paragraphs and in connection with the hiring and engagement of the services of Filipino seafarers, xxx xxx xxx
the triple space which appears between the list of crewmembers and their wages on and in no case shall a shipboard employment contract be allowed where the same Unionism, employers' liability acts, minimum wages, workmen's compensation,
one hand and the paragraph above which introduces the list, on the other. The verb provides for benefits less than those enumerated in the model employment social security and collective bargaining to name a few were all initially opposed by
"were" was also inserted above the verb "was" to make the clause grammatically contract, or in any way conflicts with any other provisions embodied in the model employers and even well meaning leaders of government and society as "killing the
correct but the insertion of "were" is already on the same line as "Antonio Miranda contract. hen or goose which lays the golden eggs." The claims of workingmen were
and 5,221.06" where it clearly does not belong. There is no other space where the Section 18 of Rule VI of the same Rules and Regulations provides: described as outrageously injurious not only to the employer but more so to the
word "were" could be intercalated. (See Rollo, page 80). Sec. 18. Basic minimum salary of able-seamen. The basic minimum salary of employees themselves before these claims or demands were established by law
At any rate, the proposition that the petitioners should have pretended to accept the seamen shall be not less than the prevailing minimxun rates established by the and jurisprudence as "rights" and before these were proved beneficial to
increased wages while in Vancouver but returned them to the shipowner when they International Labor Organization or those prevailing in the country whose flag the management, labor, and the national as a whole beyond reasonable doubt.
reached its country, Japan, has already been answered earlier by the Court: employing vessel carries, whichever is higher. However, this provision shall not The case before us does not represent any major advance in the rights of labor and
Filipino seamen are admittedly as competent and reliable as seamen from any apply if any shipping company pays its crew members salaries above the minimum the workingmen. The private respondents merely sought rights already established.
other country in the world. Otherwise, there would not be so many of them in the herein provided. No matter how much the petitioner-employer tries to present itself as speaking for
vessels sailing in every ocean and sea on this globe. It is competence and reliability, Section 8, Rule X, Book I of the Omnibus Rules provides: the entire industry, there is no evidence that it is typical of employers hiring Filipino
not cheap labor that makes our seamen so greatly in demand. Filipino seamen Section 8. Use of standard format of service agreement. The Board shall adopt a seamen or that it can speak for them.
have never demanded the same high salaries as seamen from the United States, standard format of service agreement in accordance with pertinent labor and social
The contention that manning industries in the Philippines would not survive if the from the National Seamen Board's Registry for three (3) years is LIFTED. The of the order of dismissal in the previous case and the institution of the second
instant case is not decided in favor of the petitioner is not supported by evidence. private respondent is ordered to pay the petitioners their earned but unpaid wages complaint. We do not think so. On the contrary, the Court holds that the delay was
The Wallem case was decided on February 20, 1981. There have been no severe and overtime pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to December 14, 1978 due to PSTSIs failure to make good its. promise to assist the petitioner in
repercussions, no drying up of employment opportunities for seamen, and none of according to the rates in the Special Agreement that the parties entered into in recovering the death benefits of her husband. We see no other reason thereby.
the dire consequences repeatedly emphasized by the petitioner. Why should Vir- Vancouver, Canada. Hence, even if the second action was filed beyond the three (3) year reglementary
Jen be an exception? The criminal cases for estafa, subject matter of G. R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53, period as provided by law for such claims, We cannot buy PSTSIs argument that
The wages of seamen engaged in international shipping are shouldered by the are ordered DISMISSED. the claim is already barred. The blame for the delay, if any, can only be attributed to
foreign principal. The local manning office is an agent whose primary function is SO ORDERED. PSTSI.
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 OSEFINA M. PRINCIPE, Petitioner, v. PHILIPPINE-SINGAPORE TRANSPORT 5. CIVIL LAW; OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS; AGENCY; AGENT, SOLIDARILY
compensation is subject to the interplay of various market factors and one key SERVICES, INC. and CHUAN HUP AGENCIES, PTE. LTD., NATIONAL LABOR LIABLE WITH PRINCIPAL. PSTSI claims that it cannot be held responsible as it
factor is how much in terms of profits the local manning office and the foreign RELATIONS COMMISSION AND PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT has no privity of contract with those personnel recruited in Singapore. The argument
shipowner may realize after the costs of the voyage are met. And costs include ADMINISTRATION, Respondents. is untenable. This is the first time PSTSI raised this defense when it had all the
salaries of officers and crew members. (at pp. 585-586) chance to do so below. Moreover, if PSTSI honestly believed it had no private of
The Wallem Shipping case, was decided in 1981. Vir-Jen Shipping was decided in R.C. Carrera Law Firm for Petitioner. contract with Principe who was directly recruited by Chuan Hup, then there is no
1983. It is now 1989. There has'been no drying up of employment opportunities for reason why it entered into a compromise agreement with herein petitioner. From the
Filipino seamen. Not only have their wages improved thus leading ITF to be placid Eladio B. Samson for Private Respondent. very start, it should have asked for the dismissal of the case against it on the
and quiet all these years insofar as Filipinos are concerned but the hiring of ground of lack of cause of action, but it did not do so. What is obvious is that
Philippine seamen is at its highest level ever. Principe was actually recruited by PSTSI and that he signed the employment
Reporting its activities for the year 1988, the Philippine Overseas Employment SYLLABUS contract with the principal Chuan Hup. Thus, private respondents stand jointly and
Administration (POEA) stated that there will be an increase in demand for seamen severally liable for the claim of petitioner.
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 6. REMEDIAL LAW; JURISDICTION; NOT SUBJECT TO STIPULATION OF
1. REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; COMPROMISE AGREEMENT; ONCE APPROVED
Briefs, January 11, 1989 at page 2) According to the POEA, seabased workers PARTIES. An agreement to deprive a court of jurisdiction conferred on it by law is
BY THE COURT HAS THE EFFECT OF RES JUDICATA. It is true that a
numbering 95,913 in 1988 exceeded by a wide margin of 28.15 percent the year void and of no legal effect.
compromise agreement once approved by the count has the effect of res judicata
end total in 1987. The report shows that sea-based workers posted bigger monthly
between the parties and should not be disturbed except for vices of consent and
increments compared to those of landbased workers. (The Business 7. LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; LABOR CODE; OVERSEAS
forgery.
Star, Indicators, January 11, 1988 at page 2) EMPLOYMENT; SEAMEN; CLAIMS GOVERNED BY STIPULATION OF PARTIES;
Augmenting this optimistic report of POEA Administrator Tomas Achacoso is the CASE AT BAR. With respect to petitioners monetary claim, since the parties
2. LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; LABOR CODE; NATIONAL LABOR
statement of Secretary of Labor Franklin M. Drilon that the Philippines has a big agreed that the laws of Singapore shall govern their relationship and that any
RELATIONS COMMISSION; MAY DISREGARD TECHNICAL RULES OF
jump over other crewing nations because of the Filipinos' abilities compared with dispute arising from the contract shall be resolved by the law of that country, then
PROCEDURE. That the NLRC may disregard technical rules of procedure in
any European or westem crewing country. Drilon added that cruise shipping is also the petitioner is entitled to death benefits equivalent to 36 months salary of her
order to give life to the constitutional mandate affording protection to labor and to
a growing market for Filipino seafarers because of their flexibility in handling odd husband. As the wage of deceased Abelardo Principe was S$2,800.00 a month,
conform to the need of protecting the working class whose inferiority against the
jobs and their expertise in handling almost all types of ships, including luxury liners. then petitioner is entitled to a total of S$100,800.00.
employer has always been earmarked by disadvantage.
(Manila Bulletin, More Filipino Seamen Expected Development, December 27, 1988
at page 29).lwph1.t Parenthetically, the minimum monthly salary of able bodied CADALIN vs. BROWN ROOT
3. ID.; ID.; OVERSEAS; SEAMAN; DEATH CLAIM; QUITCLAIM, VOIDED IF
seamen set by the ILO and adhered to by the Philippines is now $276.00 (id.) more
CONSIDERATION THEREOF WAS VERY MUCH LESS THAN THE AMOUNT
than double the $130.00 sought to be enforced by the public respondents in these The petition in G.R. No. 104776, entitled "Bienvenido M. Cadalin, et. al. v. Philippine
CLAIMED. Even assuming for the sake of argument that the quitclaim had
petitions. Overseas Employment Administration's Administrator, et. al.," was filed under Rule
foreclosed petitioners right over the death benefits of her husband, the fact that the
The experience from 1981 to the present vindicates the finding in Vir-Jen 65 of the Revised Rules of Court:
consideration given in exchange thereof was very much less than the amount
Shipping that a decision in favor of the seamen would not necessarily mean severe (1) to modify the Resolution dated September 2, 1991 of the National Labor
petitioner is claiming renders the quitclaim null and void for being contrary to public
repercussions, drying up of employment opportunities for seamen, and other dire Relations Commission (NLRC) in POEA Cases Nos.
policy. The State must be firm in affording protection to labor. The quitclaim wherein
consequences predicted by manning agencies and recruiters in the Philippines. L-84-06-555, L-85-10-777, L-85-10-779 and L-86-05-460; (2) to render a new
the consideration is scandalously low and inequitable cannot be an obstacle to
From the foregoing, we find that the NSB and NLRC committed grave abuse of decision: (i) declaring private respondents as in default; (ii) declaring the said labor
petitioners pursuing her legitimate claim. Equity dictates that the compromise
discretion in finding the petitioners guilty of using intimidation and illegal means in cases as a class suit; (iii) ordering Asia International Builders Corporation (AIBC)
agreement should be voided in this instance.
breaching their contracts of employment and punishing them for these alleged and Brown and Root International Inc. (BRII) to pay the claims of the 1,767
offenses. Consequently, the criminal prosecutions for estafa in G.R. Nos. 57999 and claimants in said labor cases; (iv) declaring Atty. Florante M. de Castro guilty of
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; THREE-YEAR PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD NOT BARRED
58143-53 should be dismissed. forum-shopping; and (v) dismissing POEA Case No. L-86-05-460; and
WHERE THE DELAY IN FILING CLAIM WAS DUE TO EMPLOYER. Lastly, it
WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. The decisions of the National (3) to reverse the Resolution dated March 24, 1992 of NLRC, denying the motion
must be noted that the first complaint of petitioner was merely an action against
Seamen Board and National Labor Relations Commission in G. R. Nos. 64781-99 for reconsideration of its Resolution dated September 2, 1991 (Rollo, pp. 8-288).
PSTSI whereas in the second complaint Chuan Hup was already included. The
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered holding the petitioners
POEA ruled that the second complaint was merely an afterthought, and that it was a
not guilty of the offenses for which they were charged. The petitioners' suspension
product of a pre-conceived mind considering the interval of time from the issuance
The petition in G.R. Nos. 104911-14, entitled "Bienvenido M. Cadalin, et. al., v. Hon. all the unpaid benefits; area wage and salary differential pay; fringe benefits; refund 104776, Rollo, pp. 14-16). On April 15, 1985, the POEA Administrator directed AIBC
National Labor Relations Commission, et. al.," was filed under Rule 65 of the of SSS and premium not remitted to the SSS; refund of withholding tax not remitted to file its answer to the amended complaint (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, p. 20).
Revised Rules of Court: to the BIR; penalties for committing prohibited practices; as well as the suspension On May 28, 1985, claimants filed an "Urgent Motion for Summary Judgment." On
(1) to reverse the Resolution dated September 2, 1991 of NLRC in POEA Cases of the license of AIBC and the accreditation of BRII (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 13- the same day, the POEA issued an order directing AIBC and BRII to file their
Nos. L-84-06-555, L-85-10-777, L-85-10-799 and 14). answers to the "Amended Complaint," otherwise, they would be deemed to have
L-86-05-460 insofar as it: (i) applied the three-year prescriptive period under the At the hearing on June 25, 1984, AIBC was furnished a copy of the complaint and waived their right to present evidence and the case would be resolved on the basis
Labor Code of the Philippines instead of the ten-year prescriptive period under the was given, together with BRII, up to July 5, 1984 to file its answer. of complainant's evidence.
Civil Code of the Philippines; and (ii) denied the On July 3, 1984, POEA Administrator, upon motion of AIBC and BRII, ordered the On June 5, 1985, AIBC countered with a "Motion to Dismiss as Improper Class Suit
"three-hour daily average" formula in the computation of petitioners' overtime pay; claimants to file a bill of particulars within ten days from receipt of the order and the and Motion for Bill of Particulars Re: Amended Complaint dated March 24, 1985."
and movants to file their answers within ten days from receipt of the bill of particulars. Claimants opposed the motions.
(2) to reverse the Resolution dated March 24, 1992 of NLRC, denying the motion The POEA Administrator also scheduled a pre-trial conference on July 25, 1984. On September 4, 1985, the POEA Administrator reiterated his directive to AIBC and
for reconsideration of its Resolution dated September 2, 1991 (Rollo, pp. 8-25; 26- On July 13, 1984, the claimants submitted their "Compliance and Manifestation." On BRII to file their answers in POEA Case No. L-84-06-555.
220). July 23, 1984, AIBC filed a "Motion to Strike Out of the Records", the "Complaint" On September 18, 1985, AIBC filed its second appeal to the NLRC, together with a
The petition in G.R. Nos. 105029-32, entitled "Asia International Builders and the "Compliance and Manifestation." On July 25, 1984, the claimants filed their petition for the issuance of a writ of injunction. On September 19, 1985, NLRC
Corporation, et. al., v. National Labor Relations Commission, et. al." was filed under "Rejoinder and Comments," averring, among other matters, the failure of AIBC and enjoined the POEA Administrator from hearing the labor cases and suspended the
Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court: BRII to file their answers and to attend the pre-trial conference on July 25, 1984. period for the filing of the answers of AIBC and BRII.
(1) to reverse the Resolution dated September 2, 1991 of NLRC in POEA Cases The claimants alleged that AIBC and BRII had waived their right to present On September 19, 1985, claimants asked the POEA Administrator to include
Nos. L-84-06-555, L-85-10-777, L-85-10-779 and evidence and had defaulted by failing to file their answers and to attend the pre-trial additional claimants in the case and to investigate alleged wrongdoings of BRII,
L-86-05-460, insofar as it granted the claims of 149 claimants; and conference. AIBC and their respective lawyers.
(2) to reverse the Resolution dated March 21, 1992 of NLRC insofar as it denied the On October 2, 1984, the POEA Administrator denied the "Motion to Strike Out of the On October 10, 1985, Romeo Patag and two co-claimants filed a complaint (POEA
motions for reconsideration of AIBC and BRII (Rollo, pp. 2-59; 61-230). Records" filed by AIBC but required the claimants to correct the deficiencies in the Case No. L-85-10-777) against AIBC and BRII with the POEA, demanding
The Resolution dated September 2, 1991 of NLRC, which modified the decision of complaint pointed out in the order. monetary claims similar to those subject of POEA Case No. L-84-06-555. In the
POEA in four labor cases: (1) awarded monetary benefits only to 149 claimants and On October 10, 1984, claimants asked for time within which to comply with the same month, Solomon Reyes also filed his own complaint (POEA Case No. L-85-
(2) directed Labor Arbiter Fatima J. Franco to conduct hearings and to receive Order of October 2, 1984 and filed an "Urgent Manifestation," praying that the 10-779) against AIBC and BRII.
evidence on the claims dismissed by the POEA for lack of substantial evidence or POEA Administrator direct the parties to submit simultaneously their position On October 17, 1985, the law firm of Florante M. de Castro & Associates asked for
proof of employment. papers, after which the case should be deemed submitted for decision. On the the substitution of the original counsel of record and the cancellation of the special
Consolidation of Cases same day, Atty. Florante de Castro filed another complaint for the same money powers of attorney given the original counsel.
G.R. Nos. 104776 and 105029-32 were originally raffled to the Third Division while claims and benefits in behalf of several claimants, some of whom were also On December 12, 1985, Atty. Del Mundo filed in NLRC a notice of the claim to
G.R. Nos. 104911-14 were raffled to the Second Division. In the Resolution dated claimants in POEA Case No. L-84-06-555 (POEA Case No. 85-10-779). enforce attorney's lien.
July 26, 1993, the Second Division referred G.R. Nos. 104911-14 to the Third On October 19, 1984, claimants filed their "Compliance" with the Order dated On May 29, 1986, Atty. De Castro filed a complaint for money claims (POEA Case
Division (G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, p. 895). October 2, 1984 and an "Urgent Manifestation," praying that the POEA direct the No. 86-05-460) in behalf of 11 claimants including Bienvenido Cadalin, a claimant in
In the Resolution dated September 29, 1993, the Third Division granted the motion parties to submit simultaneously their position papers after which the case would be POEA Case No. 84-06-555.
filed in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 for the consolidation of said cases with G.R. Nos. deemed submitted for decision. On the same day, AIBC asked for time to file its On December 12, 1986, the NLRC dismissed the two appeals filed on February 27,
104776 and 105029-32, which were assigned to the First Division (G.R. Nos. comment on the "Compliance" and "Urgent Manifestation" of claimants. On 1985 and September 18, 1985 by AIBC and BRII.
104911-14, Rollo, pp. 986-1,107; G.R. Nos. 105029-30, Rollo, pp. 369-377, 426- November 6, 1984, it filed a second motion for extension of time to file the In narrating the proceedings of the labor cases before the POEA Administrator, it is
432). In the Resolution dated October 27, 1993, the First Division granted the comment. not amiss to mention that two cases were filed in the Supreme Court by the
motion to consolidate G.R. Nos. 104911-14 with G.R. No. 104776 (G.R. Nos. On November 8, 1984, the POEA Administrator informed AIBC that its motion for claimants, namely G.R. No. 72132 on September 26, 1985 and Administrative
104911-14, Rollo, p. 1109; G.R. Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, p. 1562). extension of time was granted. Case No. 2858 on March 18, 1986. On May 13, 1987, the Supreme Court issued a
I On November 14, 1984, claimants filed an opposition to the motions for extension resolution in Administrative Case No. 2858 directing the POEA Administrator to
On June 6, 1984, Bienvenido M.. Cadalin, Rolando M. Amul and Donato B. of time and asked that AIBC and BRII be declared in default for failure to file their resolve the issues raised in the motions and oppositions filed in POEA Cases Nos.
Evangelista, in their own behalf and on behalf of 728 other overseas contract answers. L-84-06-555 and L-86-05-460 and to decide the labor cases with deliberate
workers (OCWs) instituted a class suit by filing an "Amended Complaint" with the On November 20, 1984, AIBC and BRII filed a "Comment" praying, among other dispatch.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for money claims arising reliefs, that claimants should be ordered to amend their complaint. AIBC also filed a petition in the Supreme Court (G.R. No. 78489), questioning the
from their recruitment by AIBC and employment by BRII (POEA Case No. L-84-06- On December 27, 1984, the POEA Administrator issued an order directing AIBC Order dated September 4, 1985 of the POEA Administrator. Said order required
555). The claimants were represented by Atty. Gerardo del Mundo. and BRII to file their answers within ten days from receipt of the order. BRII and AIBC to answer the amended complaint in POEA Case No. L-84-06-555.
BRII is a foreign corporation with headquarters in Houston, Texas, and is engaged On February 27, 1985, AIBC and BRII appealed to NLRC seeking the reversal of In a resolution dated November 9, 1987, we dismissed the petition by informing
in construction; while AIBC is a domestic corporation licensed as a service the said order of the POEA Administrator. Claimants opposed the appeal, claiming AIBC that all its technical objections may properly be resolved in the hearings
contractor to recruit, mobilize and deploy Filipino workers for overseas employment that it was dilatory and praying that AIBC and BRII be declared in default. before the POEA.
on behalf of its foreign principals. On April 2, 1985, the original claimants filed an "Amended Complaint and/or Complaints were also filed before the Ombudsman. The first was filed on
The amended complaint principally sought the payment of the unexpired portion of Position Paper" dated March 24, 1985, adding new demands: namely, the payment September 22, 1988 by claimant Hermie Arguelles and 18 co-claimants against the
the employment contracts, which was terminated prematurely, and secondarily, the of overtime pay, extra night work pay, annual leave differential pay, leave indemnity POEA Administrator and several NLRC Commissioners. The Ombudsman merely
payment of the interest of the earnings of the Travel and Reserved Fund, interest on pay, retirement and savings benefits and their share of forfeitures (G.R. No. referred the complaint to the Secretary of Labor and Employment with a request for
the early disposition of POEA Case No. L-84-06-555. The second was filed on April WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the POEA in these Thus the following manifestations that the parties had arrived at a compromise
28, 1989 by claimants Emigdio P. Bautista and Rolando R. Lobeta charging AIBC consolidated cases is modified to the extent and in accordance with the following agreement and the corresponding motions for the approval of the agreements were
and BRII for violation of labor and social legislations. The third was filed by Jose R. dispositions: filed by the parties and approved by the Court:
Santos, Maximino N. Talibsao and Amado B. Bruce denouncing AIBC and BRII of 1. The claims of the 94 complainants identified and listed in Annex "A" hereof are 1) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Emigdio Abarquez and 47 co-
violations of labor laws. dismissed for having prescribed; claimants dated September 2, 1992 (G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 263-406; G.R.
On January 13, 1987, AIBC filed a motion for reconsideration of the NLRC 2. Respondents AIBC and Brown & Root are hereby ordered, jointly and severally, Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, pp.
Resolution dated December 12, 1986. to pay the 149 complainants, identified and listed in Annex "B" hereof, the peso 470-615);
On January 14, 1987, AIBC reiterated before the POEA Administrator its motion for equivalent, at the time of payment, of the total amount in US dollars indicated 2) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving petitioner Bienvenido Cadalin and 82
suspension of the period for filing an answer or motion for extension of time to file opposite their respective names; co-petitioners dated September 3, 1992 (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 364-507);
the same until the resolution of its motion for reconsideration of the order of the 3. The awards given by the POEA to the 19 complainants classified and listed in 3) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Jose
NLRC dismissing the two appeals. On April 28, 1987, NLRC en banc denied the Annex "C" hereof, who appear to have worked elsewhere than in Bahrain are M. Aban and 36 co-claimants dated September 17, 1992 (G.R. Nos. 105029-
motion for reconsideration. hereby set aside. 32, Rollo, pp. 613-722; G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 518-626; G.R. Nos. 104911-
At the hearing on June 19, 1987, AIBC submitted its answer to the complaint. At the 4. All claims other than those indicated in Annex "B", including those for overtime 14, Rollo, pp. 407-516);
same hearing, the parties were given a period of 15 days from said date within work and favorably granted by the POEA, are hereby dismissed for lack of 4) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Antonio T. Anglo and 17 co-
which to submit their respective position papers. On June 24, 1987 claimants filed substantial evidence in support thereof or are beyond the competence of this claimants dated October 14, 1992 (G.R. Nos.
their "Urgent Motion to Strike Out Answer," alleging that the answer was filed out of Commission to pass upon. 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 778-843; G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 650-713; G.R. Nos.
time. On June 29, 1987, claimants filed their "Supplement to Urgent Manifestational In addition, this Commission, in the exercise of its powers and authority under 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 530-590);
Motion" to comply with the POEA Order of June 19, 1987. On February 24, 1988, Article 218(c) of the Labor Code, as amended by R.A. 6715, hereby directs Labor 5) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Dionisio Bobongo and 6 co-
AIBC and BRII submitted their position paper. On March 4, 1988, claimants filed Arbiter Fatima J. Franco of this Commission to summon parties, conduct hearings claimants dated January 15, 1993 (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 813-836; G.R. Nos.
their "Ex-Parte Motion to Expunge from the Records" the position paper of AIBC and receive evidence, as expeditiously as possible, and thereafter submit a written 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 629-652);
and BRII, claiming that it was filed out of time. report to this Commission (First Division) of the proceedings taken, regarding the 6) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Valerio A. Evangelista and 4
On September 1, 1988, the claimants represented by Atty. De Castro filed their claims of the following: co-claimants dated March 10, 1993 (G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 731-746; G.R.
memorandum in POEA Case No. L-86-05-460. On September 6, 1988, AIBC and (a) complainants identified and listed in Annex "D" attached and made an integral No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1815-1829);
BRII submitted their Supplemental Memorandum. On September 12, 1988, BRII part of this Resolution, whose claims were dismissed by the POEA for lack of proof 7) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimants Palconeri Banaag and 5 co-
filed its "Reply to Complainant's Memorandum." On October 26, 1988, claimants of employment in Bahrain (these complainants numbering 683, are listed in pages claimants dated March 17, 1993 (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1657-1703; G.R. Nos.
submitted their "Ex-Parte Manifestational Motion and Counter-Supplemental 13 to 23 of the decision of POEA, subject of the appeals) and, 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 655-675);
Motion," together with 446 individual contracts of employments and service records. (b) complainants identified and listed in Annex "E" attached and made an integral 8) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Benjamin Ambrosio and 15
On October 27, 1988, AIBC and BRII filed a "Consolidated Reply." part of this Resolution, whose awards decreed by the POEA, to Our mind, are not other co-claimants dated May 4, 1993 (G.R. Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 906-956;
On January 30, 1989, the POEA Administrator rendered his decision in POEA Case supported by substantial evidence" (G.R. No. 104776; Rollo, pp. 113-115; G.R. Nos. G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 679-729; G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1773-1814);
No. L-84-06-555 and the other consolidated cases, which awarded the amount of 104911-14, pp. 85-87; G.R. Nos. 105029-31, pp. 120-122). 9) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving Valerio Evangelista and 3 co-claimants
$824,652.44 in favor of only 324 complainants. On November 27, 1991, claimant Amado S. Tolentino and 12 dated May 10, 1993 (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1815-1829);
On February 10, 1989, claimants submitted their "Appeal Memorandum For Partial co-claimants, who were former clients of Atty. Del Mundo, filed a petition 10) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving petitioner Quiterio R. Agudo and 36 co-
Appeal" from the decision of the POEA. On the same day, AIBC also filed its motion for certiorari with the Supreme Court (G.R. Nos. 120741-44). The petition was claimants dated June 14, 1993 (G.R. Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 974-1190; G.R.
for reconsideration and/or appeal in addition to the "Notice of Appeal" filed earlier on dismissed in a resolution dated January 27, 1992. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 748-864; G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1066-1183);
February 6, 1989 by another counsel for AIBC. Three motions for reconsideration of the September 2, 1991 Resolution of the 11) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Arnaldo J. Alonzo and 19 co-
On February 17, 1989, claimants filed their "Answer to Appeal," praying for the NLRC were filed. The first, by the claimants represented by Atty. Del Mundo; the claimants dated July 22, 1993 (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1173-1235; G.R. Nos.
dismissal of the appeal of AIBC and BRII. second, by the claimants represented by Atty. De Castro; and the third, by AIBC and 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 1193-1256; G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 896-959);
On March 15, 1989, claimants filed their "Supplement to Complainants' Appeal BRII. 12) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Ricardo C. Dayrit and 2 co-
Memorandum," together with their "newly discovered evidence" consisting of payroll In its Resolution dated March 24, 1992, NLRC denied all the motions for claimants dated September 7, 1993 (G.R. Nos.
records. reconsideration. 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 1266-1278; G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1243-1254; G.R.
On April 5, 1989, AIBC and BRII submitted to NLRC their "Manifestation," stating Hence, these petitions filed by the claimants represented by Atty. Del Mundo (G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 972-984);
among other matters that there were only 728 named claimants. On April 20, 1989, No. 104776), the claimants represented by Atty. De Castro (G.R. Nos. 104911-14) 13) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving claimant Dante C. Aceres and 37 co-
the claimants filed their "Counter-Manifestation," alleging that there were 1,767 of and by AIBC and BRII (G.R. Nos. 105029-32). claimants dated September 8, 1993 (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1257-1375; G.R.
them. II Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 987-1105; G.R. Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 1280-1397);
On July 27, 1989, claimants filed their "Urgent Motion for Execution" of the Decision Compromise Agreements 14) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving Vivencio V. Abella and 27 co-claimants
dated January 30, 1989 on the grounds that BRII had failed to appeal on time and Before this Court, the claimants represented by Atty. De Castro and AIBC and BRII dated January 10, 1994 (G.R. Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, Vol. II);
AIBC had not posted the supersedeas bond in the amount of $824,652.44. have submitted, from time to time, compromise agreements for our approval and 15) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving Domingo B. Solano and six co-
On December 23, 1989, claimants filed another motion to resolve the labor cases. jointly moved for the dismissal of their respective petitions insofar as the claimants- claimants dated August 25, 1994 (G.R. Nos. 105029-32; G.R. No. 104776; G.R.
On August 21, 1990, claimants filed their "Manifestational Motion," praying that all parties to the compromise agreements were concerned (See Annex A for list of Nos. 104911-14).
the 1,767 claimants be awarded their monetary claims for failure of private claimants who signed quitclaims). III
respondents to file their answers within the reglamentary period required by law. The facts as found by the NLRC are as follows:
On September 2, 1991, NLRC promulgated its Resolution, disposing as follows:
We have taken painstaking efforts to sift over the more than fifty volumes now leave benefits, the same shall be forfeited at the end of the year in which said sick First: Whether or not complainants are entitled to the benefits provided by Amiri
comprising the records of these cases. From the records, it appears that the leave is granted. Decree No. 23 of Bahrain;
complainants-appellants allege that they were recruited by respondent-appellant 11. BONUS (a) Whether or not the complainants who have worked in Bahrain are entitled to the
AIBC for its accredited foreign principal, Brown & Root, on various dates from 1975 A bonus of 20% (for offshore work) of gross income will be accrued and payable above-mentioned benefits.
to 1983. They were all deployed at various projects undertaken by Brown & Root in only upon satisfactory completion of this contract. (b) Whether or not Art. 44 of the same Decree (allegedly prescribing a more
several countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, Libya, United Arab 12. OFFDAY PAY favorable treatment of alien employees) bars complainants from enjoying its
Emirates and Bahrain, as well as in Southeast Asia, in Indonesia and Malaysia. The seventh day of the week shall be observed as a day of rest with 8 hours regular benefits.
Having been officially processed as overseas contract workers by the Philippine pay. If work is performed on this day, all hours work shall be paid at the premium Second: Assuming that Amiri Decree No. 23 of Bahrain is applicable in these
Government, all the individual complainants signed standard overseas employment rate. However, this offday pay provision is applicable only when the laws of the Host cases, whether or not complainants' claim for the benefits provided therein have
contracts (Records, Vols. 25-32. Hereafter, reference to the records would be Country require payments for rest day. prescribed.
sparingly made, considering their chaotic arrangement) with AIBC before their In the State of Bahrain, where some of the individual complainants were deployed, Third: Whether or not the instant cases qualify as a class suit.
departure from the Philippines. These overseas employment contracts invariably His Majesty Isa Bin Salman Al Kaifa, Amir of Bahrain, issued his Amiri Decree No. Fourth: Whether or not the proceedings conducted by the POEA, as well as the
contained the following relevant terms and conditions. 23 on June 16, 1976, otherwise known as the Labour Law for the Private Sector decision that is the subject of these appeals, conformed with the requirements of
PART B (Records, Vol. 18). This decree took effect on August 16, 1976. Some of the due process;
(1) Employment Position Classification : provisions of Amiri Decree No. 23 that are relevant to the claims of the (a) Whether or not the respondent-appellant was denied its right to due process;
(Code) : complainants-appellants are as follows (italics supplied only for emphasis): (b) Whether or not the admission of evidence by the POEA after these cases were
(2) Company Employment Status : Art. 79: . . . A worker shall receive payment for each extra hour equivalent to his submitted for decision was valid;
(3) Date of Employment to Commence on : wage entitlement increased by a minimum of twenty-five per centum thereof for (c) Whether or not the POEA acquired jurisdiction over Brown & Root International,
(4) Basic Working Hours Per Week : hours worked during the day; and by a minimum of fifty per centum thereof for Inc.;
(5) Basic Working Hours Per Month : hours worked during the night which shall be deemed to being from seven o'clock in (d) Whether or not the judgment awards are supported by substantial evidence;
(6) Basic Hourly Rate : the evening until seven o'clock in the morning. . . . (e) Whether or not the awards based on the averages and formula presented by the
(7) Overtime Rate Per Hour : Art. 80: Friday shall be deemed to be a weekly day of rest on full pay. complainants-appellants are supported by substantial evidence;
(8) Projected Period of Service . . . an employer may require a worker, with his consent, to work on his weekly day (f) Whether or not the POEA awarded sums beyond what the complainants-
(Subject to C(1) of this [sic]) : of rest if circumstances so require and in respect of which an additional sum appellants prayed for; and, if so, whether or not these awards are valid.
Months and/or equivalent to 150% of his normal wage shall be paid to him. . . . Fifth: Whether or not the POEA erred in holding respondents AIBC and Brown &
Job Completion Art. 81: . . . When conditions of work require the worker to work on any official Root jointly are severally liable for the judgment awards despite the alleged finding
xxx xxx xxx holiday, he shall be paid an additional sum equivalent to 150% of his normal wage. that the former was the employer of the complainants;
3. HOURS OF WORK AND COMPENSATION Art. 84: Every worker who has completed one year's continuous service with his (a) Whether or not the POEA has acquired jurisdiction over Brown & Root;
a) The Employee is employed at the hourly rate and overtime rate as set out in Part employer shall be entitled to leave on full pay for a period of not less than 21 days (b) Whether or not the undisputed fact that AIBC was a licensed construction
B of this Document. for each year increased to a period not less than 28 days after five continuous contractor precludes a finding that Brown & Root is liable for complainants claims.
b) The hours of work shall be those set forth by the Employer, and Employer may, at years of service. Sixth: Whether or not the POEA Administrator's failure to hold respondents in
his sole option, change or adjust such hours as maybe deemed necessary from A worker shall be entitled to such leave upon a quantum meruit in respect of the default constitutes a reversible error.
time to time. proportion of his service in that year. Seventh: Whether or not the POEA Administrator erred in dismissing the
4. TERMINATION Art. 107: A contract of employment made for a period of indefinite duration may be following claims:
a) Notwithstanding any other terms and conditions of this agreement, the Employer terminated by either party thereto after giving the other party thirty days' prior notice a. Unexpired portion of contract;
may, at his sole discretion, terminate employee's service with cause, under this before such termination, in writing, in respect of monthly paid workers and fifteen b. Interest earnings of Travel and Reserve Fund;
agreement at any time. If the Employer terminates the services of the Employee days' notice in respect of other workers. The party terminating a contract without c. Retirement and Savings Plan benefits;
under this Agreement because of the completion or termination, or suspension of giving the required notice shall pay to the other party compensation equivalent to d. War Zone bonus or premium pay of at least 100% of basic pay;
the work on which the Employee's services were being utilized, or because of a the amount of wages payable to the worker for the period of such notice or the e. Area Differential Pay;
reduction in force due to a decrease in scope of such work, or by change in the type unexpired portion thereof. f. Accrued interests on all the unpaid benefits;
of construction of such work. The Employer will be responsible for his return Art. 111: . . . the employer concerned shall pay to such worker, upon termination of g. Salary differential pay;
transportation to his country of origin. Normally on the most expeditious air route, employment, a leaving indemnity for the period of his employment calculated on the h. Wage differential pay;
economy class accommodation. basis of fifteen days' wages for each year of the first three years of service and of i. Refund of SSS premiums not remitted to SSS;
xxx xxx xxx one month's wages for each year of service thereafter. Such worker shall be entitled j. Refund of withholding tax not remitted to BIR;
10. VACATION/SICK LEAVE BENEFITS to payment of leaving indemnity upon a quantum meruit in proportion to the period k. Fringe benefits under B & R's "A Summary of Employee Benefits" (Annex "Q" of
a) After one (1) year of continuous service and/or satisfactory completion of of his service completed within a year. Amended Complaint);
contract, employee shall be entitled to 12-days vacation leave with pay. This shall All the individual complainants-appellants have already been repatriated to the l. Moral and exemplary damages;
be computed at the basic wage rate. Fractions of a year's service will be computed Philippines at the time of the filing of these cases (R.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 59- m. Attorney's fees of at least ten percent of the judgment award;
on a pro-rata basis. 65). n. Other reliefs, like suspending and/or cancelling the license to recruit of AIBC and
b) Sick leave of 15-days shall be granted to the employee for every year of service IV the accreditation of B & R issued by POEA;
for non-work connected injuries or illness. If the employee failed to avail of such The issues raised before and resolved by the NLRC were: o. Penalty for violations of Article 34 (prohibited practices), not excluding reportorial
requirements thereof.
Eighth: Whether or not the POEA Administrator erred in not dismissing POEA (6) that the POEA Administrator has no jurisdiction over the complaint for the On November 12, 1992, Atty. Gerardo A. del Mundo moved to strike out the joint
Case No. (L) 86-65-460 on the ground of multiplicity of suits (G.R. Nos. 104911- suspension or cancellation of the AIBC's recruitment license and the cancellation of manifestations and motions of AIBC and BRII dated September 2 and 11, 1992,
14, Rollo, pp. 25-29, 51-55). the accreditation of BRII. claiming that all the claimants who entered into the compromise agreements subject
Anent the first issue, NLRC set aside Section 1, Rule 129 of the 1989 Revised NLRC passed sub silencio the last issue, the claim that POEA Case No. (L) 86-65- of said manifestations and motions were his clients and that Atty. Florante M. de
Rules on Evidence governing the pleading and proof of a foreign law and admitted 460 should have been dismissed on the ground that the claimants in said case were Castro had no right to represent them in said agreements. He also claimed that the
in evidence a simple copy of the Bahrain's Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 (Labour also claimants in POEA Case No. (L) 84-06-555. Instead of dismissing POEA Case claimants were paid less than the award given them by NLRC; that Atty. De Castro
Law for the Private Sector). NLRC invoked Article 221 of the Labor Code of the No. (L) 86-65-460, the POEA just resolved the corresponding claims in POEA Case collected additional attorney's fees on top of the 25% which he was entitled to
Philippines, vesting on the Commission ample discretion to use every and all No. (L) 84-06-555. In other words, the POEA did not pass upon the same claims receive; and that the consent of the claimants to the compromise agreements and
reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case without regard to the twice. quitclaims were procured by fraud (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 838-810). In the
technicalities of law or procedure. NLRC agreed with the POEA Administrator that V Resolution dated November 23, 1992, the Court denied the motion to strike out the
the Amiri Decree No. 23, being more favorable and beneficial to the workers, should G.R. No. 104776 Joint Manifestations and Motions dated September 2 and 11, 1992 (G.R. Nos.
form part of the overseas employment contract of the complainants. Claimants in G.R. No. 104776 based their petition for certiorari on the following 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 608-609).
NLRC, however, held that the Amiri Decree No. 23 applied only to the claimants, grounds: On December 14, 1992, Atty. Del Mundo filed a "Notice and Claim to Enforce
who worked in Bahrain, and set aside awards of the POEA Administrator in favor of (1) that they were deprived by NLRC and the POEA of their right to a speedy Attorney's Lien," alleging that the claimants who entered into compromise
the claimants, who worked elsewhere. disposition of their cases as guaranteed by Section 16, Article III of the 1987 agreements with AIBC and BRII with the assistance of Atty. De Castro, had all
On the second issue, NLRC ruled that the prescriptive period for the filing of the Constitution. The POEA Administrator allowed private respondents to file their signed a retainer agreement with his law firm (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 623-624;
claims of the complainants was three years, as provided in Article 291 of the Labor answers in two years (on June 19, 1987) after the filing of the original complaint (on 838-1535).
Code of the Philippines, and not ten years as provided in Article 1144 of the Civil April 2, 1985) and NLRC, in total disregard of its own rules, affirmed the action of Contempt of Court
Code of the Philippines nor one year as provided in the Amiri Decree No. 23 of the POEA Administrator; On February 18, 1993, an omnibus motion was filed by Atty. Del Mundo to cite Atty.
1976. (2) that NLRC and the POEA Administrator should have declared AIBC and BRII in De Castro and Atty. Katz Tierra for contempt of court and for violation of Canons 1,
On the third issue, NLRC agreed with the POEA Administrator that the labor cases default and should have rendered summary judgment on the basis of the pleadings 15 and 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The said lawyers allegedly
cannot be treated as a class suit for the simple reason that not all the complainants and evidence submitted by claimants; misled this Court, by making it appear that the claimants who entered into the
worked in Bahrain and therefore, the subject matter of the action, the claims arising (3) the NLRC and POEA Administrator erred in not holding that the labor cases filed compromise agreements were represented by Atty. De Castro, when in fact they
from the Bahrain law, is not of common or general interest to all the complainants. by AIBC and BRII cannot be considered a class suit; were represented by Atty. Del Mundo (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1560-1614).
On the fourth issue, NLRC found at least three infractions of the cardinal rules of (4) that the prescriptive period for the filing of the claims is ten years; and On September 23, 1994, Atty. Del Mundo reiterated his charges against Atty. De
administrative due process: namely, (1) the failure of the POEA Administrator to (5) that NLRC and the POEA Administrator should have dismissed POEA Case No. Castro for unethical practices and moved for the voiding of the quitclaims submitted
consider the evidence presented by AIBC and BRII; (2) some findings of fact were L-86-05-460, the case filed by Atty. Florante de Castro (Rollo, pp. 31-40). by some of the claimants.
not supported by substantial evidence; and (3) some of the evidence upon which AIBC and BRII, commenting on the petition in G.R. No. 104776, argued: G.R. Nos. 104911-14
the decision was based were not disclosed to AIBC and BRII during the hearing. (1) that they were not responsible for the delay in the disposition of the labor cases, The claimants in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 based their petition for certiorari on the
On the fifth issue, NLRC sustained the ruling of the POEA Administrator that BRII considering the great difficulty of getting all the records of the more than 1,500 grounds that NLRC gravely abused its discretion when it: (1) applied the three-year
and AIBC are solidarily liable for the claims of the complainants and held that BRII claimants, the piece-meal filing of the complaints and the addition of hundreds of prescriptive period under the Labor Code of the Philippines; and (2) it denied the
was the actual employer of the complainants, or at the very least, the indirect new claimants by petitioners; claimant's formula based on an average overtime pay of three hours a day (Rollo,
employer, with AIBC as the labor contractor. (2) that considering the number of complaints and claimants, it was impossible to pp. 18-22).
NLRC also held that jurisdiction over BRII was acquired by the POEA Administrator prepare the answers within the ten-day period provided in the NLRC Rules, that The claimants argue that said method was proposed by BRII itself during the
through the summons served on AIBC, its local agent. when the motion to declare AIBC in default was filed on July 19, 1987, said party negotiation for an amicable settlement of their money claims in Bahrain as shown in
On the sixth issue, NLRC held that the POEA Administrator was correct in denying had already filed its answer, and that considering the staggering amount of the the Memorandum dated April 16, 1983 of the Ministry of Labor of Bahrain (Rollo, pp.
the Motion to Declare AIBC in default. claims (more than US$50,000,000.00) and the complicated issues raised by the 21-22).
On the seventh issue, which involved other money claims not based on the Amiri parties, the ten-day rule to answer was not fair and reasonable; BRII and AIBC, in their Comment, reiterated their contention in G.R. No. 104776
Decree No. 23, NLRC ruled: (3) that the claimants failed to refute NLRC's finding that that the prescriptive period in the Labor Code of the Philippines, a special law,
(1) that the POEA Administrator has no jurisdiction over the claims for refund of the there was no common or general interest in the subject matter of the controversy prevails over that provided in the Civil Code of the Philippines, a general law.
SSS premiums and refund of withholding taxes and the claimants should file their which was the applicability of the Amiri Decree No. 23. Likewise, the nature of the As to the memorandum of the Ministry of Labor of Bahrain on the method of
claims for said refund with the appropriate government agencies; claims varied, some being based on salaries pertaining to the unexpired portion of computing the overtime pay, BRII and AIBC claimed that they were not bound by
(2) the claimants failed to establish that they are entitled to the claims which are not the contracts while others being for pure money claims. Each claimant demanded what appeared therein, because such memorandum was proposed by a
based on the overseas employment contracts nor the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976; separate claims peculiar only to himself and depending upon the particular subordinate Bahrain official and there was no showing that it was approved by the
(3) that the POEA Administrator has no jurisdiction over claims for moral and circumstances obtaining in his case; Bahrain Minister of Labor. Likewise, they claimed that the averaging method was
exemplary damages and nonetheless, the basis for granting said damages was not (4) that the prescriptive period for filing the claims is that prescribed by Article 291 of discussed in the course of the negotiation for the amicable settlement of the dispute
established; the Labor Code of the Philippines (three years) and not the one prescribed by and any offer made by a party therein could not be used as an admission by him
(4) that the claims for salaries corresponding to the unexpired portion of their Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines (ten years); and (Rollo, pp. 228-236).
contract may be allowed if filed within the three-year prescriptive period; (5) that they are not concerned with the issue of whether POEA Case No. L-86-05- G.R. Nos. 105029-32
(5) that the allegation that complainants were prematurely repatriated prior to the 460 should be dismissed, this being a private quarrel between the two labor lawyers In G.R. Nos. 105029-32, BRII and AIBC claim that NLRC gravely abused its
expiration of their overseas contract was not established; and (Rollo, pp. 292-305). discretion when it: (1) enforced the provisions of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976
Attorney's Lien and not the terms of the employment contracts; (2) granted claims for holiday,
overtime and leave indemnity pay and other benefits, on evidence admitted in which should be reckoned from the date of repatriation of each individual the employer's violation of the employee's right as provided by the Labor Code."
contravention of petitioner's constitutional right to due process; and (3) ordered the complainant, considering the fact that the case is having (sic) filed in this country. They assert that their claims are based on the violation of their employment
POEA Administrator to hold new hearings for the 683 claimants whose claims had We do not agree with the POEA Administrator that this three-year prescriptive contracts, as amended by the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 and therefore the claims
been dismissed for lack of proof by the POEA Administrator or NLRC itself. Lastly, period applies only to money claims specifically recoverable under the Philippine may be brought within ten years as provided by Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the
they allege that assuming that the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 was applicable, Labor Code. Article 291 gives no such indication. Likewise, We can not consider Philippines (Rollo, G.R. Nos. 104911-14, pp.
NLRC erred when it did not apply the one-year prescription provided in said law complainants' cause/s of action to have accrued from a violation of their 18-21). To bolster their contention, they cite PALEA v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., 70
(Rollo, pp. 29-30). employment contracts. There was no violation; the claims arise from the benefits of SCRA 244 (1976).
VI the law of the country where they worked. (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. AIBC and BRII, insisting that the actions on the claims have prescribed under the
G.R. No. 104776; G.R. Nos. 104911-14; G.R. Nos. 105029-32 90-91). Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976, argue that there is in force in the Philippines a
All the petitions raise the common issue of prescription although they disagreed as Anent the applicability of the one-year prescriptive period as provided by the Amiri "borrowing law," which is Section 48 of the Code of Civil Procedure and that where
to the time that should be embraced within the prescriptive period. Decree No. 23 of 1976, NLRC opined that the applicability of said law was one of such kind of law exists, it takes precedence over the common-law conflicts rule
To the POEA Administrator, the prescriptive period was ten years, applying Article characterization, i.e., whether to characterize the foreign law on prescription or (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 45-46).
1144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. NLRC believed otherwise, fixing the statute of limitation as "substantive" or "procedural." NLRC cited the decision First to be determined is whether it is the Bahrain law on prescription of action
prescriptive period at three years as provided in Article 291 of the Labor Code of the in Bournias v. Atlantic Maritime Company (220 F. 2d. 152, 2d Cir. [1955], where the based on the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 or a Philippine law on prescription that
Philippines. issue was the applicability of the Panama Labor Code in a case filed in the State of shall be the governing law.
The claimants in G.R. No. 104776 and G.R. Nos. 104911-14, invoking different New York for claims arising from said Code. In said case, the claims would have Article 156 of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 provides:
grounds, insisted that NLRC erred in ruling that the prescriptive period applicable to prescribed under the Panamanian Law but not under the Statute of Limitations of A claim arising out of a contract of employment shall not be actionable after the
the claims was three years, instead of ten years, as found by the POEA New York. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Panamanian Law was lapse of one year from the date of the expiry of the contract. (G.R. Nos. 105029-
Administrator. procedural as it was not "specifically intended to be substantive," hence, the 31, Rollo, p. 226).
The Solicitor General expressed his personal view that the prescriptive period was prescriptive period provided in the law of the forum should apply. The Court As a general rule, a foreign procedural law will not be applied in the forum.
one year as prescribed by the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 but he deferred to the observed: Procedural matters, such as service of process, joinder of actions, period and
ruling of NLRC that Article 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines was the . . . And where, as here, we are dealing with a statute of limitations of a foreign requisites for appeal, and so forth, are governed by the laws of the forum. This is
operative law. country, and it is not clear on the face of the statute that its purpose was to limit the true even if the action is based upon a foreign substantive law (Restatement of the
The POEA Administrator held the view that: enforceability, outside as well as within the foreign country concerned, of the Conflict of Laws, Sec. 685; Salonga, Private International Law, 131 [1979]).
These money claims (under Article 291 of the Labor Code) refer to those arising substantive rights to which the statute pertains, we think that as a yardstick for A law on prescription of actions is sui generis in Conflict of Laws in the sense that it
from the employer's violation of the employee's right as provided by the Labor determining whether that was the purpose this test is the most satisfactory one. It may be viewed either as procedural or substantive, depending on the
Code. does not lead American courts into the necessity of examining into the unfamiliar characterization given such a law.
In the instant case, what the respondents violated are not the rights of the workers peculiarities and refinements of different foreign legal systems. . . Thus in Bournias v. Atlantic Maritime Company, supra, the American court applied
as provided by the Labor Code, but the provisions of the Amiri Decree No. 23 The court further noted: the statute of limitations of New York, instead of the Panamanian law, after finding
issued in Bahrain, which ipso facto amended the worker's contracts of employment. xxx xxx xxx that there was no showing that the Panamanian law on prescription was intended to
Respondents consciously failed to conform to these provisions which specifically Applying that test here it appears to us that the libelant is entitled to succeed, for the be substantive. Being considered merely a procedural law even in Panama, it has
provide for the increase of the worker's rate. It was only after June 30, 1983, four respondents have failed to satisfy us that the Panamanian period of limitation in to give way to the law of the forum on prescription of actions.
months after the brown builders brought a suit against B & R in Bahrain for this question was specifically aimed against the particular rights which the libelant seeks However, the characterization of a statute into a procedural or substantive law
same claim, when respondent AIBC's contracts have undergone amendments in to enforce. The Panama Labor Code is a statute having broad objectives, viz: "The becomes irrelevant when the country of the forum has a "borrowing statute." Said
Bahrain for the new hires/renewals (Respondent's Exhibit 7). present Code regulates the relations between capital and labor, placing them on a statute has the practical effect of treating the foreign statute of limitation as one of
Hence, premises considered, the applicable law of prescription to this instant case basis of social justice, so that, without injuring any of the parties, there may be substance (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws 152-153 [1938]). A "borrowing statute" directs
is Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which provides: guaranteed for labor the necessary conditions for a normal life and to capital an the state of the forum to apply the foreign statute of limitations to the pending claims
Art. 1144. The following actions may be brought within ten years from the time the equitable return to its investment." In pursuance of these objectives the Code gives based on a foreign law (Siegel, Conflicts, 183 [1975]). While there are several kinds
cause of action accrues: laborers various rights against their employers. Article 623 establishes the period of of "borrowing statutes," one form provides that an action barred by the laws of the
(1) Upon a written contract; limitation for all such rights, except certain ones which are enumerated in Article place where it accrued, will not be enforced in the forum even though the local
(2) Upon an obligation created by law; 621. And there is nothing in the record to indicate that the Panamanian legislature statute has not run against it (Goodrich and Scoles, Conflict of Laws, 152-153
Thus, herein money claims of the complainants against the respondents shall gave special consideration to the impact of Article 623 upon the particular rights [1938]). Section 48 of our Code of Civil Procedure is of this kind. Said Section
prescribe in ten years from August 16, 1976. Inasmuch as all claims were filed sought to be enforced here, as distinguished from the other rights to which that provides:
within the ten-year prescriptive period, no claim suffered the infirmity of being Article is also applicable. Were we confronted with the question of whether the If by the laws of the state or country where the cause of action arose, the action is
prescribed (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, 89-90). limitation period of Article 621 (which carves out particular rights to be governed by barred, it is also barred in the Philippines Islands.
In overruling the POEA Administrator, and holding that the prescriptive period is a shorter limitation period) is to be regarded as "substantive" or "procedural" under Section 48 has not been repealed or amended by the Civil Code of the Philippines.
three years as provided in Article 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, the the rule of "specifity" we might have a different case; but here on the surface of Article 2270 of said Code repealed only those provisions of the Code of Civil
NLRC argued as follows: things we appear to be dealing with a "broad," and not a "specific," statute of Procedures as to which were inconsistent with it. There is no provision in the Civil
The Labor Code provides that "all money claims arising from employer-employee limitations (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. Code of the Philippines, which is inconsistent with or contradictory to Section 48 of
relations . . . shall be filed within three years from the time the cause of action 92-94). the Code of Civil Procedure (Paras, Philippine Conflict of Laws 104 [7th ed.]).
accrued; otherwise they shall be forever barred" (Art. 291, Labor Code, as Claimants in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 are of the view that Article 291 of the Labor Code
amended). This three-year prescriptive period shall be the one applied here and of the Philippines, which was applied by NLRC, refers only to claims "arising from
In the light of the 1987 Constitution, however, Section 48 cannot be enforced ex The court further explained: answering judicial inquiry whether or not a person officially charged with the
proprio vigore insofar as it ordains the application in this jurisdiction of Section 156 The three-year prescriptive period fixed in the Eight-Hour Labor Law (CA No. 444 administration of justice has violated the speedy disposition of cases.
of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976. as amended) will apply, if the claim for differentials for overtime work is solely based Likewise, in Gonzales v. Sandiganbayan, 199 SCRA 298, (1991), we held:
The courts of the forum will not enforce any foreign claim obnoxious to the forum's on said law, and not on a collective bargaining agreement or any other contract. In It must be here emphasized that the right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the
public policy (Canadian Northern Railway Co. v. Eggen, 252 U.S. 553, 40 S. Ct. the instant case, the claim for overtime compensation is not so much because of right to speedy trial, is deemed violated only when the proceeding is attended by
402, 64 L. ed. 713 [1920]). To enforce the one-year prescriptive period of the Amiri Commonwealth Act No. 444, as amended but because the claim is demandable vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of
Decree No. 23 of 1976 as regards the claims in question would contravene the right of the employees, by reason of the above-mentioned collective bargaining the trial are asked for and secured, or when without cause or justified motive a long
public policy on the protection to labor. agreement. period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried.
In the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, the 1987 Constitution Section 7-a of the Eight-Hour Labor Law provides the prescriptive period for filing Since July 25, 1984 or a month after AIBC and BRII were served with a copy of the
emphasized that: "actions to enforce any cause of action under said law." On the other hand, Article amended complaint, claimants had been asking that AIBC and BRII be declared in
The state shall promote social justice in all phases of national development. (Sec. 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines provides the prescriptive period for filing default for failure to file their answers within the ten-day period provided in Section
10). "money claims arising from employer-employee relations." The claims in the cases 1, Rule III of Book VI of the Rules and Regulations of the POEA. At that time, there
The state affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights at bench all arose from the employer-employee relations, which is broader in scope was a pending motion of AIBC and BRII to strike out of the records the amended
of workers and promote their welfare (Sec. 18). than claims arising from a specific law or from the collective bargaining agreement. complaint and the "Compliance" of claimants to the order of the POEA, requiring
In article XIII on Social Justice and Human Rights, the 1987 Constitution provides: The contention of the POEA Administrator, that the three-year prescriptive period them to submit a bill of particulars.
Sec. 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized under Article 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines applies only to money claims The cases at bench are not of the run-of-the-mill variety, such that their final
and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment specifically recoverable under said Code, does not find support in the plain disposition in the administrative level after seven years from their inception, cannot
opportunities for all. language of the provision. Neither is the contention of the claimants in G.R. Nos. be said to be attended by unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive delays as to
Having determined that the applicable law on prescription is the Philippine law, the 104911-14 that said Article refers only to claims "arising from the employer's violate the constitutional rights to a speedy disposition of the cases of complainants.
next question is whether the prescriptive period governing the filing of the claims is violation of the employee's right," as provided by the Labor Code supported by the The amended complaint filed on June 6, 1984 involved a total of 1,767 claimants.
three years, as provided by the Labor Code or ten years, as provided by the Civil facial reading of the provision. Said complaint had undergone several amendments, the first being on April 3,
Code of the Philippines. VII 1985.
The claimants are of the view that the applicable provision is Article 1144 of the Civil G.R. No. 104776 The claimants were hired on various dates from 1975 to 1983. They were deployed
Code of the Philippines, which provides: A. As to the first two grounds for the petition in G.R. No. 104776, claimants aver: (1) in different areas, one group in and the other groups outside of, Bahrain. The
The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the right of that while their complaints were filed on June 6, 1984 with POEA, the case was monetary claims totalling more than US$65 million according to Atty. Del Mundo,
action accrues: decided only on January 30, 1989, a clear denial of their right to a speedy included:
(1) Upon a written contract; disposition of the case; and (2) that NLRC and the POEA Administrator should have 1. Unexpired portion of contract;
(2) Upon an obligation created by law; declared AIBC and BRII in default (Rollo, pp. 2. Interest earnings of Travel and Fund;
(3) Upon a judgment. 31-35). 3. Retirement and Savings Plan benefit;
NLRC, on the other hand, believes that the applicable provision is Article 291 of the Claimants invoke a new provision incorporated in the 1987 Constitution, which 4. War Zone bonus or premium pay of at least 100% of basic pay;
Labor Code of the Philippines, which in pertinent part provides: provides: 5. Area Differential pay;
Money claims-all money claims arising from employer-employee relations accruing Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases 6. Accrued Interest of all the unpaid benefits;
during the effectivity of this Code shall be filed within three (3) years from the time before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies. 7. Salary differential pay;
the cause of action accrued, otherwise they shall be forever barred. It is true that the constitutional right to "a speedy disposition of cases" is not limited 8. Wage Differential pay;
xxx xxx xxx to the accused in criminal proceedings but extends to all parties in all cases, 9. Refund of SSS premiums not remitted to Social Security System;
The case of Philippine Air Lines Employees Association v. Philippine Air Lines, Inc., including civil and administrative cases, and in all proceedings, including judicial 10. Refund of Withholding Tax not remitted to Bureau of Internal Revenue (B.I.R.);
70 SCRA 244 (1976) invoked by the claimants in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 is and quasi-judicial hearings. Hence, under the Constitution, any party to a case may 11. Fringe Benefits under Brown & Root's "A Summary of Employees Benefits
inapplicable to the cases at bench (Rollo, p. 21). The said case involved the correct demand expeditious action on all officials who are tasked with the administration of consisting of 43 pages (Annex "Q" of Amended Complaint);
computation of overtime pay as provided in the collective bargaining agreements justice. 12. Moral and Exemplary Damages;
and not the Eight-Hour Labor Law. However, as held in Caballero v. Alfonso, Jr., 153 SCRA 153 (1987), "speedy 13. Attorney's fees of at least ten percent of amounts;
As noted by the Court: "That is precisely why petitioners did not make any reference disposition of cases" is a relative term. Just like the constitutional guarantee of 14. Other reliefs, like suspending and/or cancelling the license to recruit of AIBC
as to the computation for overtime work under the Eight-Hour Labor Law (Secs. 3 "speedy trial" accorded to the accused in all criminal proceedings, "speedy and issued by the POEA; and
and 4, CA No. 494) and instead insisted that work computation provided in the disposition of cases" is a flexible concept. It is consistent with delays and depends 15. Penalty for violation of Article 34 (Prohibited practices) not excluding reportorial
collective bargaining agreements between the parties be observed. Since the claim upon the circumstances of each case. What the Constitution prohibits are requirements thereof (NLRC Resolution, September 2, 1991, pp. 18-19; G.R. No.
for pay differentials is primarily anchored on the written contracts between the unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive delays which render rights nugatory. 104776, Rollo, pp. 73-74).
litigants, the ten-year prescriptive period provided by Art. 1144(1) of the New Civil Caballero laid down the factors that may be taken into consideration in determining Inasmuch as the complaint did not allege with sufficient definiteness and clarity of
Code should govern." whether or not the right to a "speedy disposition of cases" has been violated, thus: some facts, the claimants were ordered to comply with the motion of AIBC for a bill
Section 7-a of the Eight-Hour Labor Law (CA No. 444 as amended by R.A. No. In the determination of whether or not the right to a "speedy trial" has been violated, of particulars. When claimants filed their "Compliance and Manifestation," AIBC
19933) provides: certain factors may be considered and balanced against each other. These are moved to strike out the complaint from the records for failure of claimants to submit
Any action to enforce any cause of action under this Act shall be commenced within length of delay, reason for the delay, assertion of the right or failure to assert it, and a proper bill of particulars. While the POEA Administrator denied the motion to strike
three years after the cause of action accrued otherwise such action shall be forever prejudice caused by the delay. The same factors may also be considered in out the complaint, he ordered the claimants "to correct the deficiencies" pointed out
barred, . . . . by AIBC.
Before an intelligent answer could be filed in response to the complaint, the records rights sought irrespective of whether they worked in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates While Administrative Circular No. 04-94 extended the application of the anti-forum
of employment of the more than 1,700 claimants had to be retrieved from various or in Abu Dhabi, Libya or in any part of the Middle East" (Rollo, pp. 35-38). shopping rule to the lower courts and administrative agencies, said circular took
countries in the Middle East. Some of the records dated as far back as 1975. A class suit is proper where the subject matter of the controversy is one of common effect only on April 1, 1994.
The hearings on the merits of the claims before the POEA Administrator were or general interest to many and the parties are so numerous that it is impracticable POEA and NLRC could not have entertained the complaint for unethical conduct
interrupted several times by the various appeals, first to NLRC and then to the to bring them all before the court (Revised Rules of Court, Rule 3, Sec. 12). against Atty. De Castro because NLRC and POEA have no jurisdiction to investigate
Supreme Court. While all the claims are for benefits granted under the Bahrain Law, many of the charges of unethical conduct of lawyers.
Aside from the inclusion of additional claimants, two new cases were filed against claimants worked outside Bahrain. Some of the claimants were deployed in Attorney's Lien
AIBC and BRII on October 10, 1985 (POEA Cases Nos. Indonesia and Malaysia under different terms and conditions of employment. The "Notice and Claim to Enforce Attorney's Lien" dated December 14, 1992 was
L-85-10-777 and L-85-10-779). Another complaint was filed on May 29, 1986 NLRC and the POEA Administrator are correct in their stance that inasmuch as the filed by Atty. Gerardo A. Del Mundo to protect his claim for attorney's fees for legal
(POEA Case No. L-86-05-460). NLRC, in exasperation, noted that the exact first requirement of a class suit is not present (common or general interest based on services rendered in favor of the claimants (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 841-844).
number of claimants had never been completely established (Resolution, Sept. 2, the Amiri Decree of the State of Bahrain), it is only logical that only those who A statement of a claim for a charging lien shall be filed with the court or
1991, G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, p. 57). All the three new cases were consolidated worked in Bahrain shall be entitled to file their claims in a class suit. administrative agency which renders and executes the money judgment secured by
with POEA Case No. L-84-06-555. While there are common defendants (AIBC and BRII) and the nature of the claims the lawyer for his clients. The lawyer shall cause written notice thereof to be
NLRC blamed the parties and their lawyers for the delay in terminating the is the same (for employee's benefits), there is no common question of law or fact. delivered to his clients and to the adverse party (Revised Rules of Court, Rule 138,
proceedings, thus: While some claims are based on the Amiri Law of Bahrain, many of the claimants Sec. 37). The statement of the claim for the charging lien of Atty. Del Mundo should
These cases could have been spared the long and arduous route towards never worked in that country, but were deployed elsewhere. Thus, each claimant is have been filed with the administrative agency that rendered and executed the
resolution had the parties and their counsel been more interested in pursuing the interested only in his own demand and not in the claims of the other employees of judgment.
truth and the merits of the claims rather than exhibiting a fanatical reliance on defendants. The named claimants have a special or particular interest in specific Contempt of Court
technicalities. Parties and counsel have made these cases a litigation of emotion. benefits completely different from the benefits in which the other named claimants The complaint of Atty. Gerardo A. Del Mundo to cite Atty. Florante De Castro and
The intransigence of parties and counsel is remarkable. As late as last month, this and those included as members of a "class" are claiming (Berses v. Villanueva, 25 Atty. Katz Tierra for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility should be
Commission made a last and final attempt to bring the counsel of all the parties (this Phil. 473 [1913]). It appears that each claimant is only interested in collecting his filed in a separate and appropriate proceeding.
Commission issued a special order directing respondent Brown & Root's resident own claims. A claimants has no concern in protecting the interests of the other G.R. No. 104911-14
agent/s to appear) to come to a more conciliatory stance. Even this failed (Rollo, claimants as shown by the fact, that hundreds of them have abandoned their co- Claimants charge NLRC with grave abuse of discretion in not accepting their
p. 58). claimants and have entered into separate compromise settlements of their formula of "Three Hours Average Daily Overtime" in computing the overtime
The squabble between the lawyers of claimants added to the delay in the respective claims. A principle basic to the concept of "class suit" is that plaintiffs payments. They claim that it was BRII itself which proposed the formula during the
disposition of the cases, to the lament of NLRC, which complained: brought on the record must fairly represent and protect the interests of the others negotiations for the settlement of their claims in Bahrain and therefore it is in
It is very evident from the records that the protagonists in these consolidated cases (Dimayuga v. Court of Industrial Relations, 101 Phil. 590 [1957]). For this matter, the estoppel to disclaim said offer (Rollo, pp. 21-22).
appear to be not only the individual complainants, on the one hand, and AIBC and claimants who worked in Bahrain can not be allowed to sue in a class suit in a Claimants presented a Memorandum of the Ministry of Labor of Bahrain dated April
Brown & Root, on the other hand. The two lawyers for the complainants, Atty. judicial proceeding. The most that can be accorded to them under the Rules of 16, 1983, which in pertinent part states:
Gerardo Del Mundo and Atty. Florante De Castro, have yet to settle the right of Court is to be allowed to join as plaintiffs in one complaint (Revised Rules of Court, After the perusal of the memorandum of the Vice President and the Area Manager,
representation, each one persistently claiming to appear in behalf of most of the Rule 3, Sec. 6). Middle East, of Brown & Root Co. and the Summary of the compensation offered by
complainants. As a result, there are two appeals by the complainants. Attempts by The Court is extra-cautious in allowing class suits because they are the exceptions the Company to the employees in respect of the difference of pay of the wages of
this Commission to resolve counsels' conflicting claims of their respective authority to the condition sine qua non, requiring the joinder of all indispensable parties. the overtime and the difference of vacation leave and the perusal of the documents
to represent the complainants prove futile. The bickerings by these two counsels In an improperly instituted class suit, there would be no problem if the decision attached thereto i.e., minutes of the meetings between the Representative of the
are reflected in their pleadings. In the charges and countercharges of falsification of secured is favorable to the plaintiffs. The problem arises when the decision is employees and the management of the Company, the complaint filed by the
documents and signatures, and in the disbarment proceedings by one against the adverse to them, in which case the others who were impleaded by their self- employees on 14/2/83 where they have claimed as hereinabove stated, sample of
other. All these have, to a large extent, abetted in confounding the issues raised in appointed representatives, would surely claim denial of due process. the Service Contract executed between one of the employees and the company
these cases, jumble the presentation of evidence, and even derailed the prospects C. The claimants in G.R. No. 104776 also urged that the POEA Administrator and through its agent in (sic) Philippines, Asia International Builders Corporation where it
of an amicable settlement. It would not be far-fetched to imagine that both counsel, NLRC should have declared Atty. Florante De Castro guilty of "forum shopping, has been provided for 48 hours of work per week and an annual leave of 12 days
unwittingly, perhaps, painted a rainbow for the complainants, with the proverbial pot ambulance chasing activities, falsification, duplicity and other unprofessional and an overtime wage of 1 & 1/4 of the normal hourly wage.
of gold at its end containing more than US$100 million, the aggregate of the claims activities" and his appearances as counsel for some of the claimants as illegal xxx xxx xxx
in these cases. It is, likewise, not improbable that their misplaced zeal and (Rollo, pp. 38-40). The Company in its computation reached the following averages:
exuberance caused them to throw all caution to the wind in the matter of elementary The Anti-Forum Shopping Rule (Revised Circular No. 28-91) is intended to put a A. 1. The average duration of the actual service of the employee is 35 months for
rules of procedure and evidence (Rollo, pp. 58-59). stop to the practice of some parties of filing multiple petitions and complaints the Philippino (sic) employees . . . .
Adding to the confusion in the proceedings before NLRC, is the listing of some of involving the same issues, with the result that the courts or agencies have to 2. The average wage per hour for the Philippino (sic) employee is US$2.69 . . . .
the complainants in both petitions filed by the two lawyers. As noted by NLRC, "the resolve the same issues. Said Rule, however, applies only to petitions filed with the 3. The average hours for the overtime is 3 hours plus in all public holidays and
problem created by this situation is that if one of the two petitions is dismissed, then Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. It is entitled "Additional Requirements For weekends.
the parties and the public respondents would not know which claim of which Petitions Filed with the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals To Prevent Forum 4. Payment of US$8.72 per months (sic) of service as compensation for the
petitioner was dismissed and which was not." Shopping or Multiple Filing of Petitioners and Complainants." The first sentence of difference of the wages of the overtime done for each Philippino (sic) employee . . .
B. Claimants insist that all their claims could properly be consolidated in a "class the circular expressly states that said circular applies to an governs the filing of (Rollo, p.22).
suit" because "all the named complainants have similar money claims and similar petitions in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. BRII and AIBC countered: (1) that the Memorandum was not prepared by them but
by a subordinate official in the Bahrain Department of Labor; (2) that there was no
showing that the Bahrain Minister of Labor had approved said memorandum; and adjusted downward so that the total compensation hereunder, plus the non- Republic of the Philippines or the Worker's Insurance Act of registry of the vessel,
(3) that the offer was made in the course of the negotiation for an amicable waivable benefits shall be equivalent to the compensation herein agreed (Rollo, pp. whichever is greater." Since the laws of Singapore, the place of registry of the
settlement of the claims and therefore it was not admissible in evidence to prove 352-353). vessel in which the late husband of private respondent served at the time of his
that anything is due to the claimants. The overseas-employment contracts could have been drafted more felicitously. death, granted a better compensation package, we applied said foreign law in
While said document was presented to the POEA without observing the rule on While a part thereof provides that the compensation to the employee may be preference to the terms of the contract.
presenting official documents of a foreign government as provided in Section 24, "adjusted downward so that the total computation (thereunder) plus the non- The case of Bagong Filipinas Overseas Corporation v. National Labor Relations
Rule 132 of the 1989 Revised Rules on Evidence, it can be admitted in evidence in waivable benefits shall be equivalent to the compensation" therein agreed, another Commission, 135 SCRA 278 (1985), relied upon by AIBC and BRII is inapposite to
proceedings before an administrative body. The opposing parties have a copy of the part of the same provision categorically states "that total remuneration and benefits the facts of the cases at bench. The issue in that case was whether the amount of
said memorandum, and they could easily verify its authenticity and accuracy. do not fall below that of the host country regulation and custom." the death compensation of a Filipino seaman should be determined under the
The admissibility of the offer of compromise made by BRII as contained in the Any ambiguity in the overseas-employment contracts should be interpreted against shipboard employment contract executed in the Philippines or the Hongkong law.
memorandum is another matter. Under Section 27, Rule 130 of the 1989 Revised AIBC and BRII, the parties that drafted it (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Margarine- Holding that the shipboard employment contract was controlling, the court
Rules on Evidence, an offer to settle a claim is not an admission that anything is Verkaufs-Union, 93 SCRA 257 [1979]). differentiated said case from Norse Management Co. in that in the latter case there
due. Article 1377 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides: was an express stipulation in the employment contract that the foreign law would be
Said Rule provides: The interpretation of obscure words or stipulations in a contract shall not favor the applicable if it afforded greater compensation.
Offer of compromise not admissible. In civil cases, an offer of compromise is not party who caused the obscurity. B. AIBC and BRII claim that they were denied by NLRC of their right to due process
an admission of any liability, and is not admissible in evidence against the offeror. Said rule of interpretation is applicable to contracts of adhesion where there is when said administrative agency granted Friday-pay differential, holiday-pay
This Rule is not only a rule of procedure to avoid the cluttering of the record with already a prepared form containing the stipulations of the employment contract and differential, annual-leave differential and leave indemnity pay to the claimants listed
unwanted evidence but a statement of public policy. There is great public interest in the employees merely "take it or leave it." The presumption is that there was an in Annex B of the Resolution. At first, NLRC reversed the resolution of the POEA
having the protagonists settle their differences amicable before these ripen into imposition by one party against the other and that the employees signed the Administrator granting these benefits on a finding that the POEA Administrator failed
litigation. Every effort must be taken to encourage them to arrive at a settlement. contracts out of necessity that reduced their bargaining power (Fieldmen's to consider the evidence presented by AIBC and BRII, that some findings of fact of
The submission of offers and counter-offers in the negotiation table is a step in the Insurance Co., Inc. v. Songco, 25 SCRA 70 [1968]). the POEA Administrator were not supported by the evidence, and that some of the
right direction. But to bind a party to his offers, as what claimants would make this Applying the said legal precepts, we read the overseas-employment contracts in evidence were not disclosed to AIBC and BRII (Rollo, pp. 35-36; 106-107). But
Court do, would defeat the salutary purpose of the Rule. question as adopting the provisions of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 as part and instead of remanding the case to the POEA Administrator for a new hearing, which
G.R. Nos. 105029-32 parcel thereof. means further delay in the termination of the case, NLRC decided to pass upon the
A. NLRC applied the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976, which provides for greater The parties to a contract may select the law by which it is to be governed (Cheshire, validity of the claims itself. It is this procedure that AIBC and BRII complain of as
benefits than those stipulated in the overseas-employment contracts of the Private International Law, 187 [7th ed.]). In such a case, the foreign law is adopted being irregular and a "reversible error."
claimants. It was of the belief that "where the laws of the host country are more as a "system" to regulate the relations of the parties, including questions of their They pointed out that NLRC took into consideration evidence submitted on appeal,
favorable and beneficial to the workers, then the laws of the host country shall form capacity to enter into the contract, the formalities to be observed by them, matters the same evidence which NLRC found to have been "unilaterally submitted by the
part of the overseas employment contract." It quoted with approval the observation of performance, and so forth (16 Am Jur 2d, claimants and not disclosed to the adverse parties" (Rollo, pp. 37-39).
of the POEA Administrator that ". . . in labor proceedings, all doubts in the 150-161). NLRC noted that so many pieces of evidentiary matters were submitted to the
implementation of the provisions of the Labor Code and its implementing Instead of adopting the entire mass of the foreign law, the parties may just agree POEA administrator by the claimants after the cases were deemed submitted for
regulations shall be resolved in favor of labor" (Rollo, pp. 90-94). that specific provisions of a foreign statute shall be deemed incorporated into their resolution and which were taken cognizance of by the POEA Administrator in
AIBC and BRII claim that NLRC acted capriciously and whimsically when it refused contract "as a set of terms." By such reference to the provisions of the foreign law, resolving the cases. While AIBC and BRII had no opportunity to refute said
to enforce the overseas-employment contracts, which became the law of the the contract does not become a foreign contract to be governed by the foreign law. evidence of the claimants before the POEA Administrator, they had all the
parties. They contend that the principle that a law is deemed to be a part of a The said law does not operate as a statute but as a set of contractual terms opportunity to rebut said evidence and to present their
contract applies only to provisions of Philippine law in relation to contracts executed deemed written in the contract (Anton, Private International Law, 197 [1967]; Dicey counter-evidence before NLRC. As a matter of fact, AIBC and BRII themselves
in the Philippines. and Morris, The Conflict of Laws, 702-703, [8th ed.]). were able to present before NLRC additional evidence which they failed to present
The overseas-employment contracts, which were prepared by AIBC and BRII A basic policy of contract is to protect the expectation of the parties (Reese, Choice before the POEA Administrator.
themselves, provided that the laws of the host country became applicable to said of Law in Torts and Contracts, 16 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 1, 21 Under Article 221 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, NLRC is enjoined to "use
contracts if they offer terms and conditions more favorable that those stipulated [1977]). Such party expectation is protected by giving effect to the parties' own every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and
therein. It was stipulated in said contracts that: choice of the applicable law (Fricke v. Isbrandtsen Co., Inc., 151 F. Supp. 465, 467 objectively and without regard to technicalities of law or procedure, all in the interest
The Employee agrees that while in the employ of the Employer, he will not engage [1957]). The choice of law must, however, bear some relationship to the parties or of due process."
in any other business or occupation, nor seek employment with anyone other than their transaction (Scoles and Hayes, Conflict of Law 644-647 [1982]). There is no In deciding to resolve the validity of certain claims on the basis of the evidence of
the Employer; that he shall devote his entire time and attention and his best question that the contracts sought to be enforced by claimants have a direct both parties submitted before the POEA Administrator and NLRC, the latter
energies, and abilities to the performance of such duties as may be assigned to him connection with the Bahrain law because the services were rendered in that considered that it was not expedient to remand the cases to the POEA
by the Employer; that he shall at all times be subject to the direction and control of country. Administrator for that would only prolong the already protracted legal controversies.
the Employer; and that the benefits provided to Employee hereunder are substituted In Norse Management Co. (PTE) v. National Seamen Board, 117 SCRA 486 (1982), Even the Supreme Court has decided appealed cases on the merits instead of
for and in lieu of all other benefits provided by any applicable law, provided of the "Employment Agreement," between Norse Management Co. and the late remanding them to the trial court for the reception of evidence, where the same can
course, that total remuneration and benefits do not fall below that of the host husband of the private respondent, expressly provided that in the event of illness or be readily determined from the uncontroverted facts on record (Development Bank
country regulation or custom, it being understood that should applicable laws injury to the employee arising out of and in the course of his employment and not of the Philippines v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 190 SCRA 653 [1990];
establish that fringe benefits, or other such benefits additional to the compensation due to his own misconduct, "compensation shall be paid to employee in accordance Pagdonsalan v. National Labor Relations Commission, 127 SCRA 463 [1984]).
herein agreed cannot be waived, Employee agrees that such compensation will be with and subject to the limitation of the Workmen's Compensation Act of the
C. AIBC and BRII charge NLRC with grave abuse of discretion when it ordered the provision contemplates only situations where there is still a question or controversy Constitution. These cardinal rules are collated in Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial
POEA Administrator to hold new hearings for 683 claimants listed in Annex D of the to be resolved (Rollo, pp. 41-42). Relations, 69 Phil. 635 (1940).
Resolution dated September 2, 1991 whose claims had been denied by the POEA A principle well embedded in Administrative Law is that the technical rules of VIII
Administrator "for lack of proof" and for 69 claimants listed in Annex E of the same procedure and evidence do not apply to the proceedings conducted by The three petitions were filed under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court on the
Resolution, whose claims had been found by NLRC itself as not "supported by administrative agencies (First Asian Transport & Shipping Agency, Inc. v. Ople, 142 grounds that NLRC had committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
evidence" (Rollo, pp. 41-45). SCRA 542 [1986]; Asiaworld Publishing House, Inc. v. Ople, 152 SCRA 219 [1987]). jurisdiction in issuing the questioned orders. We find no such abuse of discretion.
NLRC based its ruling on Article 218(c) of the Labor Code of the Philippines, which This principle is enshrined in Article 221 of the Labor Code of the Philippines and is WHEREFORE, all the three petitions are DISMISSED.
empowers it "[to] conduct investigation for the determination of a question, matter or now the bedrock of proceedings before NLRC. SO ORDERED.
controversy, within its jurisdiction, . . . ." Notwithstanding the non-applicability of technical rules of procedure and evidence
It is the posture of AIBC and BRII that NLRC has no authority under Article 218(c) to in administrative proceedings, there are cardinal rules which must be observed by
remand a case involving claims which had already been dismissed because such the hearing officers in order to comply with the due process requirements of the