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G.R. Nos.

L-57999, 58143-53 August 15, 1989 In a corollary development, the private respondent, for failure of the petitioners to return the
overpayments made to them upon demand by the former, filed estafa charges against some of the
RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL, ANGELITO MENDOZA, ANTONIO petitioners. The criminal cases were eventually consolidated in the sala of then respondent Judge
TANEDO, AMORSOLO CABRERA, DOMINADOR SANTOS, ISIDRO BRACIA, RAMON DE Alfredo Benipayo. Hence, these consolidated petitions, G.R. No. 64781-99 and G.R. Nos. 57999
BELEN, ERNESTO SABADO, MARTIN MALABANAN, ROMEO HUERTO and VITALIANO and 58143-53, which respectively pray for the nullification of the decisions of the NLRC and the
PANGUE, petitioners, NSB, and the dismissal of the criminal cases against the petitioners.
THE HON. JUDGE ALFREDO L. BENIPAYO and MAGSAYSAY LINES, INC., respondents. The facts are found in the questioned decision of the NSB in G.R. No. 64781-99.

G.R. Nos. L-64781-99 August 15, 1989 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 respondents
RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL, ANGELITO MENDOZA, ANTONIO entered into separate contracts of employment (Exhs. "B" to "B-17", inclusive) with
TANEDO, RAYMUNDO PEREZ, AMORSOLO CABRERA, DOMINADOR SANTOS, ISIDRO complainant (private respondent) to work aboard vessels owned/operated/manned by the
BRACIA, CATALINO CASICA, VITALIANO PANGUE, RAMON DE BELEN, EDUARDO latter for a period of 12 calendar months and with different rating/position, salary, overtime
PAGTALUNAN, ANTONIO MIRANDA, RAMON UNIANA, ERNESTO SABADO, MARTIN pay and allowance, hereinbelow specified: ...; that aforesaid employment contracts were
MALABANAN, ROMEO HUERTO and WILFREDO CRISTOBAL, petitioners, verified and approved by this Board; that on different dates in April 1978 respondents
(petitioners) joined the M/V "GRACE RIVER"; that on or about October 30, 1978
aforesaid vessel, with the respondents on board, arrived at the port of Vancouver, Canada;
SEAMEN BOARD (now the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration), and
MAGSAYSAY LINES, INC., respondents. that at this port respondent received additional wages under rates prescribed by the
Intemational Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) in the total amount of US$98,261.70;
that the respondents received the amounts appearing opposite their names, to wit: ...; that
Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta, Pe;a and Nolasco for petitioners. aforesaid amounts were over and above the rates of pay of respondents as appearing in their
Samson S. Alcantara for private respondent. employment contracts approved by this Board; that on November 10, 1978, aforesaid
vessel, with respondent on board, left Vancouver, Canada for Yokohama, Japan; that on
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: December 14, 1978, while aforesaid vessel, was at Yura, Japan, they were made to
disembark. (pp. 64-66, Rollo)
These petitions ask for a re-examination of this Court's precedent setting decision in Vir-Jen
Shipping and Marine Services Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, et al. (125 SCRA 577 Furthermore, according to the petitioners, while the vessel was docked at Nagoya, Japan, a certain
[1983]). On constitutional, statutory, and factual grounds, we find no reason to disturb the doctrine Atty. Oscar Torres of the NSB Legal Department boarded the vessel and called a meeting of the
in Vir-Jen Shipping and to turn back the clock of progress for sea-based overseas workers. The seamen including the petitioners, telling them that for their own good and safety they should sign an
experience gained in the past few years shows that, following said doctrine, we should neither deny agreement prepared by him on board the vessel and that if they do, the cases filed against them with
nor diminish the enjoyment by Filipino seamen of the same rights and freedoms taken for granted NSB on November 17, 1978 would be dismissed. Thus, the petitioners signed the. "Agreement"
by other working-men here and abroad. dated December 5, 1978. (Annex C of Petition) However, when they were later furnished xerox
copies of what they had signed, they noticed that the line "which amount(s) was/were received and
The cases at bar involve a group of Filipino seamen who were declared by the defunct National held by CREWMEMBERS in trust for SHIPOWNERS" was inserted therein, thereby making it
Seamen Board (NSB) guilty of breaching their employment contracts with the private respondent appear that the amounts given to the petitioners representing the increase in their wages based on
because they demanded, upon the intervention and assistance of a third party, the International ITF rates were only received by them in trust for the private respondent.
Transport Worker's Federation (ITF), the payment of wages over and above their contracted rates
without the approval of the NSB. The petitioners were ordered to reimburse the total amount of When the vessel reached Manila, the private respondent demanded from the petitioners the
US$91,348.44 or its equivalent in Philippine Currency representing the said over-payments and to "overpayments" made to them in Canada. As the petitioners refused to give back the said amounts,
be suspended from the NSB registry for a period of three years. The National Labor Relations charges were filed against some of them with the NSB and the Professional Regulations
Commission (NLRC) affirmed the decision of the NSB. Commission. Estafa charges were also filed before different branches of the then Court of First
Instance of Manila which, as earlier stated, were subsequently consolidated in the sala of the representatives of the ITF in Vancouver, Canada assisted and intervened by reason of the
respondent Judge Alfredo Benipayo and which eventually led to G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53. assistance sought by the latter.

In G.R. Nos. 64781-99, the petitioners claimed before the NSB that contrary to the private 2) The fact that the ITF assisted and intervened for and in behalf of the respondents
respondent's allegations, they did not commit any illegal act nor stage a strike while they were on in the latter's demand for higher wages could be gleaned from the answer of the
board the vessel; that the "Special Agreement" entered into in Vancouver to pay their salary respondents when they admitted that the ITF acted in their behalf in the
differentials is valid, having been executed after peaceful negotiations. Petitioners further argued negotiations for increase of wages. Moreover, respondent Cesar Dimaandal
that the amounts they received were in accordance with the provision of law, citing among others, admitted that the ITF differential pay was computed by the ITF representative
Section 18, Rule VI, Book I of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code which (TSN, p. 7, Dec. 12, 1979)
provides that "the basic minimum salary of seamen shall not be less than the prevailing minimum
rates established by the International Labor Organization (ILO) or those prevailing in the country 3) The fact that complainant and the owner/operator of the vessel were compelled
whose flag the employing vessel carries, whichever is higher ..."; and that the "Agreement" to sign the Special Agreement (Exh. "20") and to pay ITF differentials to
executed in Nagoya, Japan had been forced upon them and that intercalations were made to make it respondents in order not to delay the departure of the vessel and to prevent further
appear that they were merely trustees of the amounts they received in Vancouver. losses is shown in the "Agreement" (Exhs. "R-21") ... (pp. 69-70, Rollo)

On the other hand, the private respondent alleged that the petitioners breached their employment The NSB further said:
contracts when they, acting in concert and with the active participations of the ITF while the vessel
was in Vancouver, staged an illegal strike and by means of threats, coercion and intimidation While the Board recognizes the rights of the respondents to demand for higher
compelled the owners of the vessel to pay to them various sums totalling US$104,244.35; that the wages, provided the means are peaceful and legal, it could not, however, sanction
respondent entered into the "Special Agreement" to pay the petitioners' wage differentials because it the same if the means employed are violent and illegal. In the case at bar, the
was under duress as the vessel would not be allowed to leave Vancouver unless the said agreement means employed are violent and illegal for in demanding higher wages the
was signed, and to prevent the shipowner from incurring further delay in the shipment of goods; and respondents sought the aid of a third party and in turn the latter intervened in their
that in view of petitioners' breach of contract, the latter's names must be removed from the NSB's behalf and prohibited the vessel from sailing unless the owner and/or operator of
Registry and that they should be ordered to return the amounts they received over and above their the vessel acceded to respondents' demand for higher wages. To avoid suffering
contracted rates. further incalculable losses, the owner and/or operator of the vessel had no
altemative but to pay respondents' wages in accordance with the ITF scale. The
The respondent NSB ruled that the petitioners were guilty of breach of contract because despite Board condemns the act of a party who enters into a contract and with the use of
subsisting and valid NSB-approved employment contracts, the petitioners sought the assistance of a force/or intimidation causes the other party to modify said contract. If the
third party (ITF) to demand from the private respondent wages in accordance with the ITF rates, respondents believe that they have a valid ground to demand from the complainant
which rates are over and above their rates of pay as appearing in their NSB-approved contracts. As a revision of the terms of their contracts, the same should have been done in
bases for this conclusion, the NSB stated: accordance with law and not thru illegal means. (at p. 72, Rollo).

1) The fact that respondents sought the aid of a third party (ITF) and demanded for wages Although the respondent NSB found that the petitioners were entitled to the payment of earned
and overtime pay based on ITF rates is shown in the entries of their respective Pay-Off wages and overtime pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to December 14, 1978, it nevertheless
Clearance Slips which were marked as their Exhs. "1" to "18", and we quote ruled that the computation should be based on the rates of pay as appearing in the petitioners' NSB-
"DEMANDED ITF WAGES, OVERTIME, DIFFERENTIALS APRIL TO OCTOBER approved contracts. It ordered that the amounts to which the petitioners are entitled under the said
1978". Respondent Suzara admitted that the entries in his Pay-Off Clearance Slip (Exh. computation should be deducted from the amounts that the petitioners must return to the private
"1") are correct (TSN., p. 16, Dec. 6, 1979).lwph1.t Moreover, it is the policy respondent.
(reiterated very often) by the ITF that it does not interfere in the affairs of the crewmembers
and masters and/or owners of a vessel unless its assistance is sought by the crewmembers On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the NSB's findings. Hence, the petition in G.R. Nos. 64781-99.
themselves. Under this pronounced policy of the ITF, it is reasonable to assume that the
Meanwhile, the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53 moved to quash the criminal cases of nothing more than a refusal of ITF members to render service for the ship, such as to load or unload
estafa filed against them on the ground that the alleged crimes were committed, if at all, in its cargo, to provision it or to perform such other chores ordinarily incident to the docking of the
Vancouver, Canada and, therefore, Philippine courts have no jurisdiction. The respondent judge ship at a certain port. It was the fear of ITF interdiction, not any action taken by the seamen on
denied the motion. Hence, the second petition. board the vessel which led the shipowners to yield.

The principal issue in these consolidated petitions is whether or not the petitioners are entitled to the The NSB's contusion that it is ITF's policy not to intervene with the plight of crewmembers of a
amounts they received from the private respondent representing additional wages as determined in vessel unless its intervention was sought is without basis. This Court is cognizant of the fact that
the special agreement. If they are, then the decision of the NLRC and NSB must be reversed. during the period covered by the labor controversies in Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc. v.
Similarly, the criminal cases of estafa must be dismissed because it follows as a consequence that Minister of Labor (102 SCRA 835 [1981]; Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine Services, Inc. v.
the amounts received by the petitioners belong to them and not to the private respondent. NLRC (supra) and these consolidated petitions, the ITF was militant worldwide especially in
Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, and various European countries, interdicting foreign vessels and
In arriving at the questioned decision, the NSB ruled that the petitioners are not entitled to the wage demanding wage increases for third world seamen. There was no need for Filipino or other seamen
differentials as determined by the ITF because the means employed by them in obtaining the same to seek ITF intervention. The ITF was waiting on its own volition in all Canadian ports, not
were violent and illegal and because in demanding higher wages the petitioners sought the aid of a particularly for the petitioners' vessel but for all ships similarly situated. As earlier stated, the ITF
third party, which, in turn, intervened in their behalf and prohibited the vessel from sailing unless was not really acting for the petitioners out of pure altruism. The ITF was merely protecting the
the owner and/or operator of the vessel acceded to respondents' demand for higher wages. And as interests of its own members. The petitioners happened to be pawns in a higher and broader struggle
proof of this conclusion, the NSB cited the following: (a) the entries in the petitioners Pay-Off between the ITF on one hand and shipowners and third world seamen, on the other. To subject our
Clearance Slip which contained the phrase "DEMANDED ITF WAGES ..."; (b) the alleged policy seamen to criminal prosecution and punishment for having been caught in such a struggle is out of
of the ITF in not interfering with crewmembers of a vessel unless its intervention is sought by the the question.
crewmembers themselves; (c), the petitioners' admission that ITF acted in their behalf; and (d) the
fact that the private respondent was compelled to sign the special agreement at Vancouver, Canada. As stated in Vir-Jen Shipping (supra):

There is nothing in the public and private respondents' pleadings, to support the allegations that the The seamen had done no act which under Philippine law or any other civilized law would be termed
petitioners used force and violence to secure the special agreement signed in Vancouver. British illegal, oppressive, or malicious. Whatever pressure existed, it was mild compared to accepted and
Columbia. There was no need for any form of intimidation coming from the Filipino seamen valid modes of labor activity. (at page 591)
because the Canadian Brotherhood of Railways and Transport Workers (CBRT), a strong Canadian
labor union, backed by an international labor federation was actually doing all the influencing not Given these factual situations, therefore, we cannot affirm the NSB and NLRC's finding that there
only on the ship-owners and employers but also against third world seamen themselves who, by was violence, physical or otherwise employed by the petitioners in demanding for additional wages.
receiving lower wages and cheaper accommodations, were threatening the employment and The fact that the petitioners placed placards on the gangway of their ship to show support for ITF's
livelihood of seamen from developed nations. demands for wage differentials for their own benefit and the resulting ITF's threatened interdiction
do not constitute violence. The petitioners were exercising their freedom of speech and expressing
The bases used by the respondent NSB to support its decision do not prove that the petitioners sentiments in their hearts when they placed the placard We Want ITF Rates." Under the facts and
initiated a conspiracy with the ITF or deliberately sought its assistance in order to receive higher circumstances of these petitions, we see no reason to deprive the seamen of their right to freedom of
wages. They only prove that when ITF acted in petitioners' behalf for an increase in wages, the expression guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and the fundamental law of Canada where
latter manifested their support. This would be a logical and natural reaction for any worker in whose they happened to exercise it.
benefit the ITF or any other labor group had intervened. The petitioners admit that while they
expressed their conformity to and their sentiments for higher wages by means of placards, they, As we have ruled in Wallem Phil. Shipping Inc. v. Minister of Labor, et al. supra:
nevertheless, continued working and going about their usual chores. In other words, all they did was
to exercise their freedom of speech in a most peaceful way. The ITF people, in turn, did not employ Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private respondents was justified because the
any violent means to force the private respondent to accede to their demands. Instead, they simply latter threatened the ship authorities in acceding to their demands, and this
applied effective pressure when they intimated the possibility of interdiction should the shipowner
constitutes serious misconduct as contemplated by the Labor Code. This
fail to heed the call for an upward adjustment of the rates of the Filipino seamen. Interdiction is
contention is now well-taken. The records fail to establish clearly the commission An examination of Annex C of the petition, the agreement signed in Japan by the crewmembers of
of any threat. But even if there had been such a threat, respondents' behavior the M/V Grace River and a certain M. Tabei, representative of the Japanese shipowner lends
should not be censured because it is but natural for them to employ some means of credence to the petitioners' claim that the clause "which amount(s) was received and held by
pressing their demands for petitioner, who refused to abide with the terms of the CREWMEMBERS in trust for SHIPOWNER" was an intercalation added after the execution of the
Special Agreement, to honor and respect the same. They were only acting in the agreement. The clause appears too closely typed below the names of the 19 crewmen and their
exercise of their rights, and to deprive them of their freedom of expression is wages with no similar intervening space as that which appears between all the paragraphs and the
contrary to law and public policy. ... (at page 843) triple space which appears between the list of crewmembers and their wages on one hand and the
paragraph above which introduces the list, on the other. The verb "were" was also inserted above
We likewise, find the public respondents' conclusions that the acts of the petitioners in demanding the verb "was" to make the clause grammatically correct but the insertion of "were" is already on
and receiving wages over and above the rates appearing in their NSB-approved contracts is in effect the same line as "Antonio Miranda and 5,221.06" where it clearly does not belong. There is no other
an alteration of their valid and subsisting contracts because the same were not obtained through. space where the word "were" could be intercalated. (See Rollo, page 80).
mutual consent and without the prior approval of the NSB to be without basis, not only because the
private respondent's consent to pay additional wages was not vitiated by any violence or At any rate, the proposition that the petitioners should have pretended to accept the increased wages
intimidation on the part of the petitioners but because the said NSB-approved form contracts are not while in Vancouver but returned them to the shipowner when they reached its country, Japan, has
unalterable contracts that can have no room for improvement during their effectivity or which ban already been answered earlier by the Court:
any amendments during their term.
Filipino seamen are admittedly as competent and reliable as seamen from any
For one thing, the employer can always improve the working conditions without violating any law other country in the world. Otherwise, there would not be so many of them in the
or stipulation. vessels sailing in every ocean and sea on this globe. It is competence and
reliability, not cheap labor that makes our seamen so greatly in demand. Filipino
We stated in the Vir-Jen case (supra) that: seamen have never demanded the same high salaries as seamen from the United
States, the United Kingdom, Japan and other developed nations. But certainly they
The form contracts approved by the National Seamen Board are designed to are entitled to government protection when they ask for fair and decent treatment
protect Filipino seamen not foreign shipowners who can take care of themselves. by their employer and when they exercise the right to petition for improved terms
The standard forms embody the basic minimums which must be incorporated as of employment, especially when they feel that these are sub-standard or are
parts of the employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V, Rules and Regulations capable of improvement according to internationally accepted rules. In the
Implementing the Labor Code).lwph1.t They are not collective bargaining domestic scene, there are marginal employers who prepare two sets of payrolls for
agreements or immutable contracts which the parties cannot improve upon or their employees one in keeping with minimum wages and the other recording
modify in the course of the agreed period of time. To state, therefore, that the the sub-standard wages that the employees really receive. The reliable employers,
affected seamen cannot petition their employer for higher salaries during the 12 however, not only meet the minimums required by fair labor standards legislation
months duration of the contract runs counter to estabhshed principles of labor but even go away above the minimums while earning reasonable profits and
legislation. The National Labor Relations Commission, as the appellate tribunal prospering. The same is true of international employment. There is no reason why
from the decisions of the National Seamen Board, correctly ruled that the seamen this court and the Ministry of Labor and Employment or its agencies and
did not violate their contracts to warrant their dismissal. (at page 589) commissions should come out with pronouncements based on the standards and
practices of unscrupulous or inefficient shipowners, who claim they cannot survive
without resorting to tricky and deceptive schemes, instead of Government
It is impractical for the NSB to require the petitioners, caught in the middle of a labor struggle
maintaining labor law and jurisprudence according to the practices of honorable,
between the ITF and owners of ocean going vessels halfway around the world in Vancouver, British
competent, and law-abiding employers, domestic or foreign. (Vir-Jen
Columbia to first secure the approval of the NSB in Manila before signing an agreement which the
Shipping, supra, pp. 587-588)
employer was willing to sign. It is also totally unrealistic to expect the petitioners while in Canada
to exhibit the will and strength to oppose the ITF's demand for an increase in their wages, assuming
they were so minded. It is noteworthy to emphasize that while the Intemational Labor Organization (ILO) set the
minimum basic wage of able seamen at US$187.00 as early as October 1976, it was only in 1979
that the respondent NSB issued Memo Circular No. 45, enjoining all shipping companies to adopt case shall a shipboard employment contract (sic), or in any way conflict with any
the said minimum basic wage. It was correct for the respondent NSB to state in its decision that other provision embodied in the standard format.
when the petitioners entered into separate contracts between 1977-1978, the monthly minimum
basic wage for able seamen ordered by NSB was still fixed at US$130.00. However, it is not the It took three years for the NSB to implement requirements which, under the law, they were obliged
fault of the petitioners that the NSB not only violated the Labor Code which created it and the Rules to follow and execute immediately. During those three years, the incident in Vancouver happened.
and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code but also seeks to punish the seamen for a The terms and conditions agreed upon in Vancouver were well within ILO rates even if they were
shortcoming of NSB itself. above NSB standards at the time.

Article 21(c) of the Labor Code, when it created the NSB, mandated the Board to "(O)btain the best The sanctions applied by NSB and affirmed by NLRC are moreover not in keeping with the basic
possible terms and conditions of employment for seamen." premise that this Court stressed in the Vir-Jen Shipping case (supra) that the Ministry now the
Department of Labor and Employment and all its agencies exist primarily for the workingman's
Section 15, Rule V of Book I of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code provides: interest and the nation's as a whole.

Sec. 15. Model contract of employment. The NSB shall devise a model contract Implicit in these petitions and the only reason for the NSB to take the side of foreign shipowners
of employment which shall embody all the requirements of pertinent labor and against Filipino seamen is the "killing the goose which lays the golden eggs" argument. We reiterate
social legislations and the prevailing standards set by applicable International the ruling of the Court in Vir-Jen Shipping (supra)
Labor Organization Conventions. The model contract shall set the minimum
standards of the terms and conditions to govern the employment of Filipinos on There are various arguments raised by the petitioners but the common thread
board vessels engaged in overseas trade. All employers of Filipinos shall adopt the running through all of them is the contention, if not the dismal prophecy, that if the
model contract in connection with the hiring and engagement of the services of respondent seamen are sustained by this Court, we would in effect "kill the hen
Filipino seafarers, and in no case shall a shipboard employment contract be that lays the golden egg." In other words, Filipino seamen, admittedly among the
allowed where the same provides for benefits less than those enumerated in the best in the world, should remain satisfied with relatively lower if not the lowest,
model employment contract, or in any way conflicts with any other provisions international rates of compensation, should not agitate for higher wages while their
embodied in the model contract. contracts of employment are subsisting, should accept as sacred, iron clad, and
immutable the side contracts which require: them to falsely pretend to be members
Section 18 of Rule VI of the same Rules and Regulations provides: of international labor federations, pretend to receive higher salaries at certain
foreign ports only to return the increased pay once the ship leaves that port, should
Sec. 18. Basic minimum salary of able-seamen. The basic minimum salary of stifle not only their right to ask for improved terms of employment but their
seamen shall be not less than the prevailing minimxun rates established by the freedom of speech and expression, and should suffer instant termination of
International Labor Organization or those prevailing in the country whose flag the employment at the slightest sign of dissatisfaction with no protection from their
employing vessel carries, whichever is higher. However, this provision shall not Government and their courts. Otherwise, the petitioners contend that Filipinos
apply if any shipping company pays its crew members salaries above the minimum would no longer be accepted as seamen, those employed would lose their jobs, and
herein provided. the still unemployed would be left hopeless.

Section 8, Rule X, Book I of the Omnibus Rules provides: This is not the first time and it will not be the last where the threat of unemployment and loss of
jobs would be used to argue against the interests of labor; where efforts by workingmen to better
Section 8. Use of standard format of service agreement. The Board shall adopt their terms of employment would be characterized as prejudicing the interests of labor as a whole.
a standard format of service agreement in accordance with pertinent labor and
social legislation and prevailing standards set by applicable International Labor xxx xxx xxx
Organization Conventions. The standard format shall set the minimum standard of
the terms and conditions to govern the employment of Filipino seafarers but in no
Unionism, employers' liability acts, minimum wages, workmen's compensation, compared to those of landbased workers. (The Business Star, Indicators, January 11, 1988 at page
social security and collective bargaining to name a few were all initially opposed 2)
by employers and even well meaning leaders of government and society as "killing
the hen or goose which lays the golden eggs." The claims of workingmen were Augmenting this optimistic report of POEA Administrator Tomas Achacoso is the statement of
described as outrageously injurious not only to the employer but more so to the Secretary of Labor Franklin M. Drilon that the Philippines has a big jump over other crewing
employees themselves before these claims or demands were established by law and nations because of the Filipinos' abilities compared with any European or westem crewing country.
jurisprudence as "rights" and before these were proved beneficial to management, Drilon added that cruise shipping is also a growing market for Filipino seafarers because of their
labor, and the national as a whole beyond reasonable doubt. flexibility in handling odd jobs and their expertise in handling almost all types of ships, including
luxury liners. (Manila Bulletin, More Filipino Seamen Expected Development,December 27, 1988
The case before us does not represent any major advance in the rights of labor and at page 29).lwph1.t Parenthetically, the minimum monthly salary of able bodied seamen set by
the workingmen. The private respondents merely sought rights already established. the ILO and adhered to by the Philippines is now $276.00 (id.) more than double the $130.00
No matter how much the petitioner-employer tries to present itself as speaking for sought to be enforced by the public respondents in these petitions.
the entire industry, there is no evidence that it is typical of employers hiring
Filipino seamen or that it can speak for them. The experience from 1981 to the present vindicates the finding in Vir-Jen Shipping that a decision
in favor of the seamen would not necessarily mean severe repercussions, drying up of employment
The contention that manning industries in the Philippines would not survive if the opportunities for seamen, and other dire consequences predicted by manning agencies and recruiters
instant case is not decided in favor of the petitioner is not supported by evidence. in the Philippines.
The Wallem case was decided on February 20, 1981. There have been no severe
repercussions, no drying up of employment opportunities for seamen, and none of From the foregoing, we find that the NSB and NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in
the dire consequences repeatedly emphasized by the petitioner. Why should Vir- finding the petitioners guilty of using intimidation and illegal means in breaching their contracts of
Jen be an exception? employment and punishing them for these alleged offenses. Consequently, the criminal prosecutions
for estafa in G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53 should be dismissed.
The wages of seamen engaged in international shipping are shouldered by the
foreign principal. The local manning office is an agent whose primary function is WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. The decisions of the National Seamen Board
recruitment and who usually gets a lump sum from the shipowner to defray the and National Labor Relations Commission in G. R. Nos. 64781-99 are REVERSED and SET
salaries of the crew. The hiring of seamen and the determination of their ASIDE and a new one is entered holding the petitioners not guilty of the offenses for which they
compensation is subject to the interplay of various market factors and one key were charged. The petitioners' suspension from the National Seamen Board's Registry for three (3)
factor is how much in terms of profits the local manning office and the foreign years is LIFTED. The private respondent is ordered to pay the petitioners their earned but unpaid
shipowner may realize after the costs of the voyage are met. And costs include wages and overtime pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to December 14, 1978 according to the
salaries of officers and crew members. (at pp. 585-586) rates in the Special Agreement that the parties entered into in Vancouver, Canada.

The Wallem Shipping case, was decided in 1981. Vir-Jen Shipping was decided in 1983. It is now The criminal cases for estafa, subject matter of G. R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53, are ordered
1989. There has'been no drying up of employment opportunities for Filipino seamen. Not only have DISMISSED.
their wages improved thus leading ITF to be placid and quiet all these years insofar as Filipinos are
concerned but the hiring of Philippine seamen is at its highest level ever. SO ORDERED.

Reporting its activities for the year 1988, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA) stated that there will be an increase in demand for seamen 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 Briefs,January 11, 1989 at page 2) According to the POEA,
seabased workers numbering 95,913 in 1988 exceeded by a wide margin of 28.15 percent the year
end total in 1987. The report shows that sea-based workers posted bigger monthly increments
G.R. Nos. L-58674-77 July 11, 1990 two or more persons are needed where the recruitment and placement consists of an offer or
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. promise of employment but not when it is done through "canvassing, enlisting, contracting,
HON. DOMINGO PANIS, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Zambales & transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring (of) workers.
Olongapo City, Branch III and SERAPIO ABUG, respondents.
As we see it, the proviso was intended neither to impose a condition on the basic rule nor to provide
an exception thereto but merely to create a presumption. The presumption is that the individual or
entity is engaged in recruitment and placement whenever he or it is dealing with two or more
The basic issue in this case is the correct interpretation of Article 13(b) of P.D. 442, otherwise
persons to whom, in consideration of a fee, an offer or promise of employment is made in the course
known as the Labor Code, reading as follows:
of the "canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring (of) workers. "
(b) Recruitment and placement' refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting,
hiring, or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for The number of persons dealt with is not an essential ingredient of the act of recruitment and
employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, That any person or entity which, placement of workers. Any of the acts mentioned in the basic rule in Article 13(b) win constitute
in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed recruitment and placement even if only one prospective worker is involved. The proviso merely lays
engaged in recruitment and placement. down a rule of evidence that where a fee is collected in consideration of a promise or offer of
employment to two or more prospective workers, the individual or entity dealing with them shall be
Four informations were filed on January 9, 1981, in the Court of First Instance of Zambales and
deemed to be engaged in the act of recruitment and placement. The words "shall be deemed" create
Olongapo City alleging that Serapio Abug, private respondent herein, "without first securing a
that presumption.
license from the Ministry of Labor as a holder of authority to operate a fee-charging employment
agency, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally operate a private fee charging This is not unlike the presumption in article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, for example, regarding
employment agency by charging fees and expenses (from) and promising employment in Saudi the failure of a public officer to produce upon lawful demand funds or property entrusted to his
Arabia" to four separate individuals named therein, in violation of Article 16 in relation to Article custody. Such failure shall beprima facie evidence that he has put them to personal use; in other
39 of the Labor Code. 1 words, he shall be deemed to have malversed such funds or property. In the instant case, the word
"shall be deemed" should by the same token be given the force of a disputable presumption or
Abug filed a motion to quash on the ground that the informations did not charge an offense because
of prima facie evidence of engaging in recruitment and placement. (Klepp vs. Odin Tp., McHenry
he was accused of illegally recruiting only one person in each of the four informations. Under the
County 40 ND N.W. 313, 314.)
proviso in Article 13(b), he claimed, there would be illegal recruitment only "whenever two or more
persons are in any manner promised or offered any employment for a fee. " 2
It is unfortunate that we can only speculate on the meaning of the questioned provision for lack of
Denied at first, the motion was reconsidered and finally granted in the Orders of the trial court dated records of debates and deliberations that would otherwise have been available if the Labor Code had
June 24 and September 17, 1981. The prosecution is now before us on certiorari. 3 been enacted as a statute rather than a presidential decree. The trouble with presidential decrees is
The posture of the petitioner is that the private respondent is being prosecuted under Article 39 in
that they could be, and sometimes were, issued without previous public discussion or consultation,
relation to Article 16 of the Labor Code; hence, Article 13(b) is not applicable. However, as the first two the promulgator heeding only his own counsel or those of his close advisers in their lofty pinnacle
cited articles penalize acts of recruitment and placement without proper authority, which is the charge of power. The not infrequent results are rejection, intentional or not, of the interest of the greater
embodied in the informations, application of the definition of recruitment and placement in Article 13(b) number and, as in the instant case, certain esoteric provisions that one cannot read against the
is unavoidable. background facts usually reported in the legislative journals.
The view of the private respondents is that to constitute recruitment and placement, all the acts At any rate, the interpretation here adopted should give more force to the campaign against illegal
mentioned in this article should involve dealings with two or mre persons as an indispensable recruitment and placement, which has victimized many Filipino workers seeking a better life in a
requirement. On the other hand, the petitioner argues that the requirement of two or more persons is foreign land, and investing hard- earned savings or even borrowed funds in pursuit of their dream,
imposed only where the recruitment and placement consists of an offer or promise of employment only to be awakened to the reality of a cynical deception at the hands of theirown countrymen.
to such persons and always in consideration of a fee. The other acts mentioned in the body of the WHEREFORE, the Orders of June 24, 1981, and September 17, 1981, are set aside and the four
article may involve even only one person and are not necessarily for profit. informations against the private respondent reinstated. No costs.
Neither interpretation is acceptable. We fail to see why the proviso should speak only of an offer or
promise of employment if the purpose was to apply the requirement of two or more persons to all SO ORDERED.
the acts mentioned in the basic rule. For its part, the petitioner does not explain why dealings with
THIRD DIVISION for a fee, which they received from complainants Edith Bonifacio-Ulanday, Rogelio Enriquez y
Buenavidez, Billy dela Cruz, Jr. y Fernandez, Dante Lopez y Enriquez, Teodulo dela Cruz y
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 176264 Mendoza, Edwin Enriquez y Panganiban and Gary Bustillos y de Guzman by recruiting and
Appellee, Present: promising them job placement abroad, more particularly in Guam, which did not materialize,
without first having secured the required license or authority from the Department of Labor and
BERSAMIN, That the crime is committed in a large scale tantamount to economic sabotage as the
- versus - VILLARAMA, JR., and aforementioned seven persons were [recruited] individually or as a group.
Contrary to law.
TERESITA TESSIE LAOGO, Promulgated: The charge stemmed from the following set of facts.
Appellant. Sometime during the second week of March 2000, Susan invited several individuals including
January 10, 2011 six of the seven complainants namely, Teodulo dela Cruz, Billy dela Cruz, Jr., Dante Lopez,
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
Edwin Enriquez, Rogelio Enriquez, and Gary Bustillos to her house in Bulacan, Bulacan to
celebrate the town fiesta. Appellant was among the several guests in Susans house during the
said occasion.
According to Teodulo dela Cruz, during the fiesta, Gary Bustillos introduced him to Susan as
somebody who could help him find work abroad. Since Susan was Garys aunt, Teodulo
This petition assails the July 31, 2006 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
immediately trusted Susan. Susan told him he can apply as assistant cook and can work in
CR.-H.C. No. 01664, which affirmed the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
Guam, USA. Upon Susans instruction, Teodulo filled up an application form[4] and gave
12, of Malolos, Bulacan in Criminal Case No. 693-M-2001. The RTC found appellant Teresita
her P3,000.00 after the latter promised to process his application to work abroad.[5] On May 22,
Tessie Laogo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale.
2000, Susan accompanied Teodulo to appellants travel agency office in Ermita where he paid
an additional P15,000.00 for his placement fee.[6] A receipt bearing the logo and name of Laogo
Appellant Teresita Tessie Laogo was the proprietor and manager of Laogo Travel Consultancy,
Travel Consultancy was issued to him signed by Susan.[7] Months later, when Susans promise
a travel agency firm located along Padre Faura Street in Manila. On March 7, 2001, an
to send him abroad remained unfulfilled, Teodulo, along with several other applicants, went to
Information[3] was filed against appellant and a certain Susan Navarro (Susan) in Malolos,
appellants office and to Susans house to follow up their application, but the two always told
Bulacan charging them of the crime of Illegal Recruitment (Large Scale). The information
them that their visas have yet to be released.[8]
Similarly, Billy dela Cruz, Jr. also met Susan through Gary, who himself was seeking help
from Susan to work in Guam. At Susans house, Billy saw Dante Lopez, Edwin Enriquez, and
The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses Susan Navarro and Tessie [Teresita]
Rogelio Enriquez. Like him, the three were also seeking Susans help to work abroad.[9] Susan
Laogo of the crime of illegal recruitment, penalized under Art. 38 in relation to Art[s]. 34 and
introduced Billy to appellant, who promised him that she will send them abroad within three
39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1412,
months.[10]After the meeting, Billy issued to Susan two Metrobank checks, dated March 11 and
committed as follows:
May 10, 2000, bearing the amounts P23,000.00 and P44,000.00, respectively, as partial
That in or about and during the months of May and June 2000, in the municipality of Bulacan,
payment for his placement fee.[11] On May 19, 2000, Billy also went to appellants travel agency
province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
in Ermita and personally handed an additional cash of P6,000.00 to Susan, who thereafter gave
above-named accused, knowing that they are non-licensee or non-holder of authority from the
the money to appellant. Appellant issued a corresponding receipt[12] for the P6,000.00 cash
Department of Labor to recruit and/or place workers in employment either locally or overseas,
bearing her signature and the name and logo of Laogo Travel Consultancy. After several
conspiring, confederating together and helping each other, did then and there wi[l]lfully,
months, no word was heard from either Susan or appellant. Sensing that something was wrong,
unlawfully and feloniously engage in illegal recruitment, placement or deployment activities
Billy decided to report the matter to the authorities in Bulacan, Bulacan and filed the complaint confronted the latter when she came to know of Susans recruitment activities. Appellant
against Susan and appellant.[13] claimed that she even had to rename her travel agency to Renz Consultancy and Employment
Services to avoid being associated with Susans recruitment activities.[27]
Dante Lopez testified that he was also introduced by Gary Bustillos to appellant and
Susan. Susan identified herself as an employee of appellants travel agency. The two told him Appellant admitted having met Rogelio at Susans house during the town fiesta, but denied
that they can send him and his companions to Guam within the span of three months.[14] Lopez knowing the other complainants. According to appellant, she came to know Rogelio when
paid both accused P6,000.00 to process his papers, covered by a receipt dated May 19, 2000 Susan specifically identified him as the one who cooked the dishes after some guests prodded
showing appellants signature.[15] Appellants promise, however, turned sour after three months. Susan.[28]
When he confronted appellant, the latter told him that he would be sent to a different country.
Left without a choice, Lopez waited. Again, the promise remained unfulfilled.[16] Unsatisfied with appellants explanation, the trial court promulgated a Decision[29] finding her
guilty of large scale illegal recruitment. The fallo of the trial courts July 16, 2002 Decision
According to Rogelio Enriquez, he also met appellant during the town fiesta when Susan reads:
invited him to cook for her guests. Susan introduced appellant as someone who could send him WHEREFORE, finding herein accused Teresita (Tessie) Laogo y Villamor guilty as principal
to work abroad. Eager about the prospect, Rogelio immediately gave hisP3,000.00 cash to beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, she is hereby
Susan for the processing of his visa and employment documents.[17] He saw Susan hand the sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and pay a fine of P500,000.00 as imposed
money to appellant.[18] A week later, Rogelio gave an additional P900.00 to Susan.[19] No by law[;] to indemnify the private offended parties x x x actual damages, as follows: Teodulo
receipts were issued on both payments since Rogelio failed to complete the required P6,000.00 dela Cruz P15,000.00, Billy dela Cruz P73,000.00, Dante Lopez P6,000.00, Rogelio
placement fee.[20] Months passed but Rogelio heard nothing from either Susan or appellant. Enriquez P3,000.00, and Edwin Enriquez P12,000.00[;] and to pay the costs of the proceedings.
Apprehensive, Rogelio verified the status of the Laogo Travel Consultancy with the Philippine In the service of her sentence the said accused, a detention prisoner, shall be credited with the
Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). From the POEA, Rogelio learned that neither full time during which she had undergone preventive imprisonment, pursuant to the provisions
of the accused nor Laogo Travel was licensed to recruit workers for employment abroad. of Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code.
Aggrieved, Rogelio, together with his six companions, filed the complaint against Susan and
appellant. Pending the actual apprehension of the other accused Susan Navarro, [who is] still at-large, on
the strength of the warrant of arrest earlier issued, let the record be committed to the archives
Edwin Enriquez also paid P12,000.00 to Susan as processing fee for his application to work in subject to recall and reinstatement, should circumstances so warrant for due prosecution against
Guam. According to him, Susans husband and appellant were present when he gave the money her of this case.
to Susan during the town fiesta.[21] Susan issued a receipt dated May 16, 2000 to Edwin. The
receipt contained the logo of Laogo Travel Consultancy and was signed by Susan with a SO ORDERED.[30]
description which says Payment was for Placement Fee.[22]
Appellant filed an appeal before this Court, but said appeal was transferred to the CA following
Two other persons, namely Edith Bonifacio-Ulanday and Gary Bustillos, Susans nephew, were our pronouncement in People v. Mateo.[31]
among the seven who filed the complaint against Susan and appellant. The two, however, later
decided to withdraw their complaints after executing their respective affidavits of desistance.[23] In her Appellants Brief[32] before the CA, appellant insisted that she had no hand in the
recruitment of the complainants and maintains that the recruitment activities were made solely
On March 15, 2001, warrants of arrest[24] were issued against Susan and appellant. When upon the initiative of accused Susan Navarro.[33] Appellant anchored her defense on the
arraigned, appellant pleaded not guilty.[25] Susan, meanwhile, remained at large. An alias testimonies of the complainants who declared that the transactions and the payments were
warrant of arrest[26] was issued by the trial court against her but to no avail. made not with her but with Susan.[34] Appellant admitted that her consultancy firm was merely
engaged in the business of assisting clients in the procurement of passports and visas, and
During the trial, appellant denied any participation in the illegal activities undertaken by Susan. denied that her agency was involved in any recruitment activity as defined under the Labor
She insisted that Susan was not in any way connected with her travel agency and that she Code, as amended.[35]
On July 31, 2006, the appellate court rendered the assailed decision affirming appellants CA overlooked or misappreciated certain significant facts and circumstances, which if properly
conviction.[36] The CA noted that although at times, it was Susan with whom the complainants considered, would change the result, we are bound by said findings.[47]
transacted, the records nevertheless bear that appellant had a hand in the recruitment of the
complainants. The CA pointed out that appellant, together with Susan, repeatedly assured the Appellants contention that she had to change the name of her travel agency to disassociate
private complainants that her consultancy firm could deploy them for overseas herself with Susans recruitment activities is too lame to deserve serious consideration. In light
employment,[37] leading the appellate court to conclude that appellant consciously and actively of the testimonies of the complainants that appellant with her co-accused promised them
participated in the recruitment of the complainants.[38] employment abroad, we find appellants act of closing Laogo Travel Consultancy and
establishing a new one under her husbands name[48] as just an afterthought, a belated decision
Aggrieved, appellant brought the case to us on appeal, raising the same arguments she had which cannot undo the damage suffered by the private offended parties. It could indeed hardly
raised at the CA. be construed as a simple reaction of an innocent person, as it in fact smacks of a desperate
attempt of a guilty individual to escape liability or to confuse and dishearten her victims.
We affirm appellants conviction.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision dated July 31, 2006 of the Court of
Recruitment and placement refers to the act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01664 is AFFIRMED in toto.
utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or With costs against the accused-appellant.
advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not. When a person or SO ORDERED.
entity, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons, that
person or entity shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.[39]

Article 38(a) of the Labor Code, as amended, specifies that recruitment activities undertaken by
non-licensees or non-holders of authority are deemed illegal and punishable by law. And when
the illegal recruitment is committed against three or more persons, individually or as a group,
then it is deemed committed in large scale and carries with it stiffer penalties as the same is
deemed a form of economic sabotage.[40]

But to prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that the accused, without being duly
authorized by law, gave complainants the distinct impression that he had the power or ability to
send them abroad for work, such that the latter were convinced to part with their money in
order to be employed.[41] It is important that there must at least be a promise or offer of an
employment from the person posing as a recruiter, whether locally or abroad.[42]

Here, both the trial court and the CA found that all the five complainants were promised to be
sent abroad by Susan and herein appellant[43] as cooks and assistant cooks. The follow up
transactions between appellant and her victims were done inside the said travel agency.
Moreover, all four receipts issued to the victims bear the name and logo of Laogo Travel
Consultancy,[44] with two of the said receipts personally signed by appellant
herself.[45] Indubitably, appellant and her co-accused acting together made complainants believe
that they were transacting with a legitimate recruitment agency and that Laogo Travel
Consultancy had the authority to recruit them and send them abroad for work when in truth and
in fact it had none as certified by the POEA.[46] Absent any showing that the trial court and the