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Ralph Vincent I.

Honorico December 14, 2017


1- Estrellado

SERRANO vs. GALLANT MARITIME SERVICES, INC.

Facts:
Antonio Serrano (petitioner), a Filipino seafarer, assails the constitutionality of the
last clause in the 5th paragraph of Section 10, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8042, to wit:
Sec. 10. Money Claims. - x x x In case of termination of overseas employment without
just, valid or authorized cause as defined by law or contract, the workers shall be entitled
to the full reimbursement of his placement fee with interest of twelve percent (12%) per
annum, plus his salaries for the unexpired portion of his employment contract or for three
(3) months for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less.
Petitioner was hired by Gallant Maritime Services, Inc. and Marlow Navigation Co.,
Ltd. (respondents) under a Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)-
approved Contract of Employment. On March 19, 1998, the date of his departure,
petitioner was constrained to accept a downgraded employment contract for the position
of Second Officer with a monthly salary of US$1,000.00, upon the assurance and
representation of respondents that he would be made Chief Officer by the end of April
1998.
Respondents did not deliver on their promise to make petitioner Chief Officer.7
Hence, petitioner refused to stay on as Second Officer and was repatriated to the
Philippines on May 26, 1998.8
Petitioner's employment contract was for a period of 12 months or from March 19,
1998 up to March 19, 1999, but at the time of his repatriation on May 26, 1998, he had
served only two (2) months and seven (7) days of his contract, leaving an unexpired
portion of nine (9) months and twenty-three (23) days.
The Labor Arbiter and NLRC rendered a decision in favor of the petitioner awarding
him his unpaid salary but only representing three (3) months of the unexpired portion of
the aforesaid contract of employment.
Issue: Whether or not the 5th paragraph of Section 10, R.A. No. 8042 is unconstitutional.
Held:
Yes, since it concludes that the subject clause contains a suspect classification in
that, in the computation of the monetary benefits of fixed-term employees who are illegally
discharged, it imposes a 3-month cap on the claim of OFWs with an unexpired portion of
one year or more in their contracts, but none on the claims of other OFWs or local workers
with fixed-term employment. The subject clause singles out one classification of OFWs
and burdens it with a peculiar disadvantage.
There being a suspect classification involving a vulnerable sector protected by the
Constitution, the Court now subjects the classification to a strict judicial scrutiny, and
determines whether it serves a compelling state interest through the least restrictive
means. Along the same line of reasoning, the Court further holds that the subject clause
violates petitioner's right to substantive due process, for it deprives him of property,
consisting of monetary benefits, without any existing valid governmental purpose.
The subject clause does not state or imply any definitive governmental purpose;
and it is for that precise reason that the clause violates not just petitioner's right to equal
protection, but also her right to substantive due process under Section 1, Article III of the
Constitution.
The subject clause being unconstitutional, petitioner is entitled to his salaries for
the entire unexpired period of nine months and 23 days of his employment contract,
pursuant to law and jurisprudence prior to the enactment of R.A. No. 8042.
SAMEER OVERSEAS PLACEMENT AGENCY, INC. vs. CABILES

Facts:
Petitioner, Sameer Overseas Placement Agency, Inc., is a recruitment and
placement agency. Responding to an ad it published, respondent, Joy C. Cabiles,
submitted her application for a quality control job in Taiwan. Joy’s application was
accepted. Joy was later asked to sign a one year employment contract for a monthly
salary of NT$15,360.00. Joy was deployed to work for Taiwan Wacoal, Co. Ltd. (Wacoal)
on June 26, 1997. She alleged that in her employment contract, she agreed to work as
quality control for one year. In Taiwan, she was asked to work as a cutter.
Sameer Overseas Placement Agency claims that on July 14, 1997, a certain Mr.
Huwang from Wacoal informed Joy, without prior notice, that she was terminated that
"she should immediately report to their office to get her salary and passport." She was
asked to "prepare for immediate repatriation." Joy claims that she was told that from June
26 to July 14, 1997, she only earned a total of NT$9,000. According to her, Wacoal
deducted NT$3,000 to cover her plane ticket to Manila.
Joy filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Commission against
petitioner and Wacoal. She claimed that she was illegally dismissed. However, the Labor
Arbiter dismissed her complaint on the ground that it was based on mere allegations.
Respondent appealed to the NLRC and it rendered a decision in favor to her. The
National Labor Relations Commission awarded respondent only three (3) months of
salary in the amount of NT$46,080, the reimbursement of the NT$3,000 withheld from
her, and attorney’s fees of NT$300.
Issue: Whether or not R.A. 10022 which incorporates the exact clause declared as
unconstitutional be valid?
Held:
No, the Court observe that the reinstated clause, this time as provided in Republic
Act. No. 10022, violates the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.
Petitioner as well as the Solicitor General have failed to show any compelling change in
the circumstances that would warrant us to revisit the precedent. We reiterate our finding
in Serrano v. Gallant Maritime that limiting wages that should be recovered by an illegally
dismissed overseas worker to three months is both a violation of due process and the
equal protection clauses of the Constitution.
Equal protection of the law is a guarantee that persons under like circumstances
and falling within the same class are treated alike, in terms of “privileges conferred and
liabilities enforced.” It is a guarantee against “undue favor and individual or class privilege,
as well as hostile discrimination or the oppression of inequality.”
In creating laws, the legislature has the power “to make distinctions and
classifications.” In exercising such power, it has a wide discretion. The equal protection
clause does not infringe on this legislative power. A law is void on this basis, only if
classifications are made arbitrarily. There is no violation of the equal protection clause if
the law applies equally to persons within the same class and if there are reasonable
grounds for distinguishing between those falling within the class and those who do not fall
within the class.
A law that does not violate the equal protection clause prescribes a reasonable
classification. A reasonable classification “(1) must rest on substantial distinctions; (2)
must be germane to the purposes of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions
only; and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class.” The reinstated clause
does not satisfy the requirement of reasonable classification.
Opinion on the Rulings

The rulings of the Supreme Court in the case of Serrano vs Gallant and Sameer
vs Cabiles illustrates how the Supreme Court exercised its power to construe or interpret
a statute. In my opinion, the decision rendered by the Court in the cases mentioned is
correct. Particularly in the case of Serrano, I agree with the Court when it did not give
cognizance to the contention of the OSG that the purpose of the subject clause is to
mitigate the liability of the placement agencies. Indeed, everyone must be accorded with
equal protection including the employers but for me it is the welfare of the employee that
should be given more leeway because they are the ones who have less in life. I think the
Supreme Court, in exercising its power to construe, is taking into consideration the pros
and cons and weighing such before rendering a decision. In the case at bar, rendering a
decision in favor of the petitioner Serrano is the more advantageous choice. Aside from
the pros and cons, the main consideration of the Supreme Court in rendering decision is
the Constitution. The doctrine of constitutional supremacy states that all laws and statues
must conform to the Constitution otherwise it will be declared null and void. In the case at
bar, the subject clause violates the equal protection clause of the constitution since is
classify or distinguish the type of person who are subject of the law, thus is declared as
unconstitutional.
In my opinion the purpose of the power to construe is for the general welfare of the
public. It is granted by the constitution to the judiciary to prevent legislations that are
oppressive and discriminatory. Indeed it is the branch of the government that protect the
rights of every people. For me, the judiciary is the protectors of the poor and those who
have less in life. For me, it is the most powerful branch of government because it can
interrupt the actions of the executive and legislative branch provided it acted arbitrarily.
For example, the legislative department has the power to make laws, and it distinguish or
classify those can be subject to such laws, as illustrated in the case of Serrano, the
judiciary, through its power to construe can overturn such legislation because it is contrary
to the Constitution. Of course such opinion is not conclusive because of the doctrine of
separation of powers.
With regards to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Sameer, it think
the Court is correct in invalidating the reincorporation of the subject clause that was
previously declared as unconstitutional by the Court in the case of Serrano. While it is
true that the legislative has the power to enact laws, it cannot enact a law which was
previously declared as unconstitutional by the judiciary. It will defeat the purpose of the
power of judicial review. I agree with the Court when it said that the petitioner failed to
present any compelling changes in the circumstances. For me, in addition to the
requirement that all laws must conform to the constitution, the Court must also consider
the present and evident circumstances that would affect the public or the parties in a
particular case. I think, in construing a law, the Court, inter alia, must also consider the
external factors that are significant in the present case. In short, in construing, the Court
must consider all factors, not only the constitution but also the general welfare of the
public.