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G.R. No.

L-58011 & L-58012 November 18, 1983 thought that the vessel would 'trade in
Caribbean ports only.
VIR-JEN SHIPPING AND MARINE SERVICES, INC.,
petitioner, On 22 March 1979, the Company sent
vs. another cable to complainant Bisula, this time
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ROGELIO informing him of the respective amounts each
BISULA RUBEN ARROZA JUAN GACUTNO LEONILO of the officers and crew members would
ATOK, NILO CRUZ, ALVARO ANDRADA, NEMESIO ADUG receive as special compensation when the
SIMPLICIO BAUTISTA, ROMEO ACOSTA, and JOSE vessel called at the port of Kwinana Australia,
ENCABO respondents. an ITF-controlled port. This was followed by
another cable on 23 March 1979, informing
Antonio R. Atienza for petitioner. him that the officers and crew members had
been enrolled as members of the ITF in
Sidney, Australia, and that the membership
The Solicitor General for respondent NLRC, fee for the 28 personnel complement of the
vessel had already been paid.
Quasha, Asperilia, Ancheta &- Valmonte Pena Marcos Law
Offices for private respondents. In answer to the Company's cable last
mentioned, complainant Bisula, in
RESOLUTION representation of the other officers and crew
members, sent on 24 March 1979 a cable
informing the Company that the officers and
crew members were not agreeable to its
'suggestion'; that they were not contented
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:ñé+.£ªwph!1 with their present salaries 'based on the
volume of works, type of ship with hazardous
Before the Court en banc is a motion to reconsider the decision cargo and registered in a world wide trade':
promulgated on July 20, 1982 which set aside the decision of that the 'officers and crew (were) not
respondent National Labor Relations Commission and interested in ITF membership if not actually
reinstated the decision of the National Seamen Board. paid with ITF rate that their 'demand is only
50% increase based on present basic salary
and that the proposed wage increase is the
To better understand the issues raised in the motion for
'best and only solution to solve ITF problem'
reconsideration, we reiterate the background facts of the case,
since the Company's salary rates 'especially
Taken from the decision of the National Labor Relations
in tankers (are) very far in comparison with
Commission: têñ.£îhqwâ£
other shipping agencies in Manila ...

It appears that on different dates in


In reply, the Company proposed a 25%
December, 1978 and January, 1979, the
increase in the basic pay of the complainant
Seamen entered into separate contracts of
crew members, although it claimed, that it
employment with the Company, engaging
would "suffer and absorb considerable
them to work on board M/T' Jannu for a period
amount of losses." The proposal was
of twelve (12) months. After verification and
accepted by the Seamen with certain
approval of their contracts by the NSB, the
conditions which were accepted by the
Seamen boarded their vessel in Japan.
Company. Conformably with the agreement
of the parties which was effected through the
On 10 January 1919, the master of the vessel cables abovementioned, the Seamen were
complainant Rogelio H. Bisula, received a paid their new salary rates.
cable from the Company advising him of the
possibility that the vessel might be directed to
Subsequently, the Company sought authority
call at ITF-controlled ports said at the same
from the NSB to cancel the contracts of
time informing him of the procedure to be
employment of the Seamen, claiming that its
followed in the computation of the special or
principals had terminated their manning
additional compensation of crew members
agreement because of the actuations of the
while in said ports. ITF is the acronym for the
Seamen. The request was granted by the
International Transport Workers Federation, a
NSB Executive Director in a letter dated 10
militant international labor organization with
April 1979. Soon thereafter, the Company
affiliates in different ports of the world, which
cabled the Seamen informing them that their
reputedly can tie down a vessel in a port by
contracts would be terminated upon the
preventing its loading or unloading, This is a
vessel's arrival in Japan. On 19 April 1979
sanction resorted to by ITF to enforce the
they Arere asked to disembark from the
payment of its wages rates for seafarers the
vessel, their contracts were terminated, and
so-called ITF rates, if the wages of the crew
they were repatriated to Manila. There is no
members of a vessel who have affiliated with
showing that the Seamen were given the
it are below its prescribed rates.) In the same
opportunity to at least comment on the
cable of the Company, the expressed its
Company's request for the cancellation of
regrets for hot clarifying earlier the procedure
their contracts, although they had served only
in computing the special compensation as it
three (3) out of the twelve (12) months' F. THIS HONORABLE COURT
duration of their contracts. INADVERTENTLY DISCRIMINATED
AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.
The private respondents filed a complaint for illegal dismissal
and non-payment of earned wages with the National Seamen At the outset, we are faced with the question whether or not the
Board. The Vir-jen Shipping and Marine Services Inc. in turn Court en banc should give due course to the motion for
filed a complaint for breach of contract and recovery of excess reconsideration inspite of its having been denied twice by the
salaries and overtime pay against the private respondents. On Court's Second Division. The case was referred to and accepted
July 2, 1980, the NSB rendered a decision declaring that the by the Court en banc because of the movants' contention that
seamen breached their employment contracts when they the decision in this case by the Second Division deviated from
demanded and received from Vir-jen Shipping wages over and Wallem Phil. Shipping Inc. v. Minister of Labor (L-50734-37,
above their contracted rates. The dismissal of the seamen was February 20, 1981), a First Division case with the same facts
declared legal and the seamen were ordered suspended. and issues. We are constrained to answer the initial question in
the affirmative.
The seamen appealed the decision to the NLRC which reversed
the decision of the NSB and required the petitioner to pay the A fundamental postulate of Philippine Constitutional Law is the
wages and other monetary benefits corresponding to the fact, that there is only one Supreme Court from whose decisions
unexpired portion of the manning contract on the ground that the all other courts are required to take their bearings. (Albert v.
termination of the contract by the petitioner was without valid Court of First Instance, 23 SCRA 948; Barrera v. Barrera, 34
cause. Vir-jen Shipping filed the present petition. SCRA 98; Tugade v. Court of Appeals, 85 SCRA 226). The
majority of the Court's work is now performed by its two
The private respondents submit the following issues in their Divisions, but the Court remains one court, single, unitary,
motion for reconsideration: têñ.£îhqw⣠complete, and supreme. Flowing from this nature of the
Supreme Court is the fact that, while ' individual Justices may
dissent or partially concur with one another, when the Court
A. THIS HONORABLE COURT DID states what the law is, it speaks with only one voice. And that
VIOLENCE TO LAW AND voice being authoritative should be a clear as possible.
JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT HELD THAT
THE FINDING OF FACT OF THE NATIONAL
SEAMEN BOARD THAT THE SEAMEN Any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court, whether
VIOLATED THEIR CONTRACTS IS MORE en banc or in Division, may be modified or reversed only by the
CREDIBLE THAN THE FINDING OF FACT Court en banc. (Section 2(3), Article X, Constitution.) In the rare
OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS instances when one Division disagrees in its views with the other
COMMISSION THAT THE SEAMEN DID Division, or the necessary votes on an issue cannot be had in a
NOT VIOLATE THEIR CONTRACT. Division, the case is brought to the Court en banc to reconcile
any seeming conflict, to reverse or modify an earlier decision,
and to declare the Court's doctrine. This is what has happened
B. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN in this case.
FINDING THAT VIR-JEN'S HAVING
AGREED TO A 25% INCREASE OF THE
SEAMEN'S BASIC WAGE WAS NOT The decision sought to be reconsidered appears to be a
VOLUNTARY BUT WAS DUE TO THREATS. deviation from the Court's decision, speaking through the First
Division, in Wallem Shipping, Inc. v. Hon. Minister of Labor (102
SCRA 835). Faced with two seemingly conflicting resolutions of
C. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED basically the same issue by its two Divisions, the Court.
WHEN IT TOOK COGNIZANCE OF THE therefore, resolved to transfer the case to the Court en banc.
ADDENDUM AGREEMENT; ASSUMING Parenthetically, the petitioner's comment on the third motion for
THAT THE ADDENDUM AGREEMENT reconsideration states that the resolution of the motion might be
COULD BE TAKEN COGNIZANCE OF, THIS the needed vehicle to make the ruling in the Wallem case clearer
HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN' IT and more in time with the underlying principles of the Labor
FOUND THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS Code. We agree with the petitioner.
HAD VIOLATED THE SAME.
After an exhaustive, painstaking, and perspicacious
D, THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED consideration of the motions for reconsideration and the
WHEN IT DID NOT FIND PETITIONER comments, replies, and other pleadings related thereto, the
VIRJEN LIABLE FOR HAVING Court en banc is constrained to grant the motions. To grant the
TERMINATED BEFORE EXPIRY DATE THE motion is to keep faith with the constitutional mandate to afford
EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS OF PRIVATE protection to labor and to assure the rights of workers to self-
RESPONDENTS, THERE BEING NO LEGAL organization and to just and humane conditions of work. We
AND JUSTIFIABLE GROUND FOR SUCH sustain the decision of the respondent National labor Relations
TERMINATION. Commission.

E. THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN There are various arguments raised by the petitioners but the
FINDING THAT THE PREPARATION BY common thread running through all of them is the contention, if
PETITIONER OF THE TWO PAYROLLS not the dismal prophecy, that if the respondent seamen are
AND THE EXECUTION OF THE SIDE sustained by this Court, we would in effect "kill the en that lays
CONTRACT WERE NOT MADE IN BAD the golden egg." In other words, Filipino seamen, admittedly
FAITH. among the best in the world, should remain satisfied with
relatively lower if not the lowest, international rates of
compensation, should not agitate for higher wages while their entire industry, there is no evidence that it is typical of employers
contracts of employment are subsisting, should accept as hiring Filipino seamen or that it can speak for them.
sacred, iron clad, and immutable the side contracts which
require them to falsely pretend to be members of international The contention that manning industries in the Philippines would
labor federations, pretend to receive higher salaries at certain not survive if the instant case is not decided in favor of the
foreign ports only to return the increased pay once the ship petitioner is not supported by evidence. The Wallem case was
leaves that port, should stifle not only their right to ask for decided on February 20, 1981. There have been no severe
improved terms of employment but their freedom of speech and repercussions, no drying up of employment opportunities for
expression, and should suffer instant termination of employment seamen, and none of the dire consequences repeatedly
at the slightest sign of dissatisfaction with no protection from emphasized by the petitioner. Why should Vir-jen be all
their Government and their courts. Otherwise, the petitioners exception?
contend that Filipinos would no longer be accepted as seamen,
those employed would lose their jobs, and the still unemployed
would be left hopeless. 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 recruitment and who .usually
This is not the first time and it will not be the last where the threat gets a lump sum from the shipowner to defray the salaries of the
of unemployment and loss of jobs would be used to argue crew. The hiring of seamen and the determination of their
against the interests of labor; where efforts by workingmen to compensation is subject to the interplay of various market
better their terms of employment would be characterized as factors and one key factor is how much in terms of profits the
prejudicing the interests of labor as a whole. local manning office and the foreign shipowner may realize after
the costs of the voyage are met. And costs include salaries of
In 1867 or one hundred sixteen years ago. Chief Justice Beasley officers and crew members.
of the Supreme Court of New Jersey was ponente of the court's
opinion declaring as a conspiracy the threat of workingmen to Filipino seamen are admittedly as competent and reliable as
strike in connection with their efforts to promote unionism, seamen from any other country in the world. Otherwise, there
têñ.£îhqw⣠would not be so many of them in the vessels sailing in every
ocean and sea on this globe. It is competence and reliability, not
It is difficult to believe that a right exists in law cheap labor that makes our seamen so greatly in demand.
which we can scarcely conceive can produce, Filipino seamen have never demanded the same high salaries
in any posture of affairs, other than injuriois as seamen from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan
results. It is simply the right of workmen, by and other developed nations. But certainly they are entitled to
concert of action, and by taking advantage of government protection when they ask for fair and decent
their position, to control the business of treatment by their employer.-, and when they exercise the right
another, I am unwilling to hold that a right to petition for improved terms of employment, especially when
which cannot, in any, event, be advantageous they feel that these are sub-standard or are capable of
to the employee, and which must always be improvement according to internationally accepted rules. In the
hurtful to the employer, exists in law. In my domestic scene, there are marginal employers who prepare two
opinion this indictment sufficiently shows that sets of payrolls for their employees — one in keeping with
the force of the confederates was brought to minimum wages and the other recording the sub-standard
bear upon their employer for the purpose of wages that the employees really receive, The reliable
oppression and mischief and that this employers, however, not only meet the minimums required by
amounts to a conspiracy, (State v. fair labor standards legislation but even go way above the
Donaldson, 32 NJL 151, 1867. Cited in minimums while earning reasonable profits and prospering. The
Chamberlain, Sourcebook on Labor, p. 13. same is true of international employment. There is no reason
Emphasis supplied) why this Court and the Ministry of Labor and. Employment or its
agencies and commissions should come out with
The same arguments have greeted every major advance in the pronouncements based on the standards and practices of
rights of the workingman. And they have invariably been proved unscrupulous or inefficient shipowners, who claim they cannot
unfounded and false. survive without resorting to tricky and deceptive schemes,
instead of Government maintaining labor law and jurisprudence
according to the practices of honorable, competent, and law-
Unionism, employers' liability acts, minimum wages, workmen's abiding employers, domestic or foreign.
compensation, social security and collective bargaining to name
a few were all initially opposed by employers and even well
meaning leaders of government and society as "killing the hen If any minor advantages given to Filipino seamen may somehow
or goose which lays the golden eggs." The claims of workingmen cut into the profits of local manning agencies and foreign
were described as outrageously injurious not only to the shipowners, that is not sufficient reason why the NSB or the
employer but more so to the employees themselves before ILRC should not stand by the former instead of listening to
these claims or demands were established by law and unsubstantiated fears that they would be killing the hen which
jurisprudence as "rights" and before these were proved lays the golden eggs.
beneficial to management, labor, and the nation as a whole
beyond reasonable doubt. Prescinding from the above, we now hold that neither the
National Seamen Board nor the National Labor Relations
The case before us does not represent any major advance in Commission should, as a matter of official policy, legitimize and
the rights of labor and the workingmen. The private respondents enforce cubious arrangements where shipowners and seamen
merely sought rights already established. No matter how much enter into fictitious contracts similar to the addendum
the petitioner-employer tries to present itself as speaking for the agreements or side contracts in this case whose purpose is to
deceive. The Republic of the Philippines and its ministries and
agencies should present a more honorable and proper posture Special Agreement, to
in official acts to the whole world, notwithstanding our desire to honor and respect the
have as many job openings both here and abroad for our same, They were only
workers. At the very least, such as sensitive matter involving no acting in the exercise of
less than our dignity as a people and the welfare of our their rights, and to deprive
workingmen must proceed from the Batasang Pambansa in the them of their freedom of
form of policy legislation, not from administrative rule making or expression is contrary to
adjudication law and public policy.
There is no serious
Another issue raised by the movants is whether or not the misconduct to speak of in
seamen violated their contracts of employment. the case at bar which would
justify respondents'
dismissal just because of
The form contracts approved by the National Seamen Board are their firmness in their
designed to protect Filipino seamen not foreign shipowners who demand for the fulfillment
can take care of themselves. The standard forms embody' the by petitioner of its
basic minimums which must be incorporated as parts of the obligation it entered into
employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V, Rules and without any coercion,
Regulations Implementing the Labor Code.) They are not specially on the part of
collective bargaining agreements or immutable contracts which private respondents.
the parties cannot improve upon or modify in the course of the (Emphasis supplied).
agreed period of time. To state, therefore, that the affected
seamen cannot petition their employer for higher salaries during
the 12 months duration of the contract runs counter to The above citation is from Wallem.
established principles of labor legislation. The National Labor
Relations Commission, as the appellate tribunal from decisions The facts show that when the respondents boarded the M/T
of the National Seamen Board, correctly ruled that the seamen Jannu there was no intention to send their ship to Australia. On
did not violate their contracts to warrant their dismissal. January 10, 1979, the petitioner sent a cable to respondent
shipmaster Bisula informing him of the procedure to be followed
The respondent Commission ruled: têñ.£îhqw⣠in the computation of special compensation of crewmembers
while in ITF controlled ports and expressed regrets for not
having earlier clarified the procedure as it thought that the vessel
In the light of all the foregoing facts, we find would trade in Carribean ports only.
that the cable of the seamen proposing an
increase in their wage rates was not and could
not have been intended as a threat to comp el On March 22, 1979, the petitioner sent another cable informing
the Company to accede to their proposals. Bisula of the special compensation when the ship would call at
But even assuming, if only for the sake of Kwinana Australia.
argument, that the demand or — proposal for
a wage increase was accompanied by a The following day, shipmaster Bisula cabled Vir-jen stating that
threat that they would report to ITF if the the officers and crews were not interested in ITF membership if
Company did not accede to the contract not paid ITF rates and that their only demand was a 50 percent
revision - although there really was no such increase based on their then salaries. Bisula also pointed out
threat as pointed out earlier — the Seamen that Vir-jen rates were "very far in comparison with other
should not be held at fault for asking such a shipping agencies in Manila."
demand. In the same case cited above, the
Supreme Court held: têñ.£îhqw⣠In reply, Vir-jen counter proposed a 25 percent increase. Only
after Kyoei Tanker Co., Ltd., declined to increase the lumps sum
Petitioner claims that the amount given monthly to Vir-jen was the decision to terminate
dismissal of private the respondents' employment formulated.
respondents was justified
because the latter The facts show that Virjen Initiated the discussions which led to
threatened the ship the demand for increased . The seamen made a proposal and
authorities in acceding to the petitioner organized with a counter-proposal. The ship had
their demands, and this not vet gone to Australia or any ITF controlled port. There was
constitutes serious absolutely no mention of any strike. much less a threat to strike.
misconduct as The seamen had done in act which under Philippine law or any
contemplated by the Labor other civilized law would be termed illegal, oppressive, or
Code. This contention is malicious. Whatever pressure existed, it was mild compared to
not well-taken. But even if accepted valid modes of labor activity.
there had been such a
threat, respondents'
behavior should not be We reiterate our ruling in Wallem. têñ.£îhqwâ£
censured because it is but
natural for them to employ Petitioner claims that the
some means of pressing dismissal of private
their demands for respondents was justified
petitioner, the refusal to because the latter
abide with the terms of the threatened the ship
authorities in acceding to DE CASTRO, J., concurring:
their demands, and this
constitutes serious Being the ponente of the Wallem case, upon whose ruling the
misconduct as decision of the Court en banc in this case is mainly made to rest,
contemplated by the Labor at least insofar as said Court now finds that the respondent
Code. This contention is seamen have not committed any misconduct which would
not well-taken. The records constitute a just cause for the termination of their services just
fail to establish clearly the after three months of the 12-month term of their contract, a brief
commission of any threat, explanation why I voted in the Second Division in favor of the
But even if there had been petitioner company in the instant case, and not the respondent
such a threat, respondents' seamen, as I did in the Wallem case, is obviously called for.
behavior should not be
censured because it is but
natural for them to employ During our deliberations in the Division, it was made clear that
some means of pressing in the instant case,' threat was employed by the seamen against
their demands for the company or shipowners to obtain consent to the 50% raise
petitioner, who refused to of wages as proposed by the seamen upon being informed that
abide with the terms of the they would touch on ITF-controlled ports. I joined my colleagues
Special Agreement, to in the Second Division in concurring in the decision penned by
honor and respect the Justice Barredo, now retired, in the belief that threat was indeed
same, They were only committed, constituting a just cause for termination of the
acting in the exercise of services of the seamen with still nine months to go of their 12-
their rights, and to deprive month contract with the petitioner. As the facts are more
them of their form of thoroughly and accurately presented and discussed in the
expression is contrary to decision so brilliantly written by Justice Gutierrez, I am
law and public policy. ... persuaded that on the basis of the ruling of the Wallem case, a
mistake was committed in finding the existence of a just cause
for the instant and unexpected termination of the services of the
Our dismissing the petition is premised on the assumption that seamen.
the Ministry of Labor and Employment and all its agencies exist
primarily for the workinginan's interests and, of course, the
nation as a whole. The points raised by the Solicitor-General in The facts of this case show that to the proposal of the seamen
his comments refer to the issue of allowing what the petitioner for a 50% increase, made because they were informed that they
importunes under the argument of "killing the hen which lays the would touch on ITF-controlled ports, the company countered
golden eggs." This is one of policy which should perhaps be with an offer of only 25% raised The proposal of 5% was much
directed to the Batasang Pambansa and to our country's other lower than the rates which the ITF would surely force upon the
policy makers for more specific legislation on the matter, subject company When the company made a counter proposal of 25%
to the constitutional provisions protecting labor, promoting social raise the seamen accepted. The trip went on smoothly until upon
justice, and guaranteeing non-abridgement of the freedom of arriving at a port which afforded haven and safety to the
speech, press, peaceable assembly and petition. We agree with shipowner, the latter suddenly, and with imperious finality,
the movants that there is no showing of any cause, which under terminated the services of the seamen and repatriated them to
the Labor Code or any current applicable law, would warrant the Manila. These are the simple facts that call for the application of
termination of the respondents' services before the expiration of the law, mainly the provisions of the Labor Code. That law is
their contracts. The Constitution guarantees State assurance of none other than what is indicated in how the Walem case was
the rights of workers to security of tenure. (Sec. 9, Article II, decided — in vindication of how the Seamen were given a raw
Constitution). Presumptions and provisions of law, the evidence deal in being lulled into a false sense of security in their
on record, and fundamental State policy all dictate that the employment contract only to be rudely terminated and ordered
motions for reconsideration should be granted. repatriated.

WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration are hereby In the Wallem case, the seamen pressed their demand for the
GRANTED. The petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The enforcement of a special agreement entered into by the
decision of the National Labor Relations Commission is shipowner or company with the ITF. For this act, their services
AFFIRMED. No costs. were terminated and they were repatriated by their employer
shipping company. What the First Division said in favor of the
seamen, is in my opinion, the correct ruling which We should
SO ORDERED.1äwphï1.ñët reaffirm in the instant case. Thus — têñ.£îhqwâ£

Fernando, C.J., Guerrero, Abad Santos, Plana, Escolin and Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private
Relova, JJ., concur. respondent was justified because the latter
threatened the ship authorities in acceding to
their demands, and this constitutes serious
misconduct as contemplated by the Labor
Code. This contention is not welltaken. But
even en if there had been such a threat,
respondents' behavior should not be
Separate Opinions censured because it is but natural for them to
employ some means of pressing their
demands on petitioner, who refused to abide
with the terms of the Special Agreement, to
honor and respect the same. They were only committed, constituting a just cause for termination of the
acting in the exercise of their rights, and to services of the seamen with still nine months to go of their 12-
deprive them of their freedom of expression is month contract with the petitioner. As the facts are more
contrary to law and public policy. There is no thoroughly and accurately presented and discussed in the
serious misconduct to speak of in the case at decision so brilliantly written by Justice Gutierrez, I am
bar which would justify respondents' dismissal persuaded that on the basis of the ruling of the Wallem case, a
just because of their firmness in their demand mistake was committed in finding the existence of a just cause
for the fulfillment by petitioner of its obligation for the instant and unexpected termination of the services of the
it entered into without any coercion, specially seamen.
on the part of private respondents. (Emphasis
supplied). The facts of this case show that to the proposal of the seamen
for a 50% increase, made because they were informed that they
This above ruling is the law on the matter and, in my opinion. would touch on ITF-controlled ports, the company countered
controlling on the case at bar. Whatever policy may prove more with an offer of only 25% raised The proposal of 5% was much
beneficial to the cause of labor in general, as is sought to be lower than the rates which the ITF would surely force upon the
offered as argument in support of the Second Division decision, company When the company made a counter proposal of 25%
is not a proper ground for making said policy prevail over the raise the seamen accepted. The trip went on smoothly until upon
applicable law or jurisprudence, Questions of policy are better arriving at a port which afforded haven and safety to the
left to the Batasan Pambansa. We should confine ourselves to shipowner, the latter suddenly, and with imperious finality,
applying the law as it is. In so doing, We are not allowed to apply terminated the services of the seamen and repatriated them to
it to suit, or to respond to, the demands of what We may deem Manila. These are the simple facts that call for the application of
the better policy than what the law clearly intends. The policy is the law, mainly the provisions of the Labor Code. That law is
the law, and the law is the policy. We might be treading on none other than what is indicated in how the Walem case was
forbidden ground to bend the law to what We perceive to be a decided — in vindication of how the Seamen were given a raw
desirable policy. deal in being lulled into a false sense of security in their
employment contract only to be rudely terminated and ordered
Courts are called upon only to apply the law. Does the law permit repatriated.
the termination of the services of the seamen in violation of their
contract except only upon a just cause? This is the only question In the Wallem case, the seamen pressed their demand for the
to be answered in this case. The answer is given with eloquent enforcement of a special agreement entered into by the
persuasiveness in the decision in which I concur shipowner or company with the ITF. For this act, their services
wholeheartedly. were terminated and they were repatriated by their employer
shipping company. What the First Division said in favor of the
Teehankee, Makasiar, Aquino, ,Concepcion, Jr. and Melencio- seamen, is in my opinion, the correct ruling which We should
Herrera, JJ., took no part. reaffirm in the instant case. Thus — têñ.£îhqwâ£

Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private


respondent was justified because the latter
threatened the ship authorities in acceding to
their demands, and this constitutes serious
misconduct as contemplated by the Labor
Code. This contention is not welltaken. But
even en if there had been such a threat,
Separate Opinions respondents' behavior should not be
censured because it is but natural for them to
employ some means of pressing their
demands on petitioner, who refused to abide
with the terms of the Special Agreement, to
DE CASTRO, J., concurring: honor and respect the same. They were only
acting in the exercise of their rights, and to
deprive them of their freedom of expression is
Being the ponente of the Wallem case, upon whose ruling the
contrary to law and public policy. There is no
decision of the Court en banc in this case is mainly made to rest,
serious misconduct to speak of in the case at
at least insofar as said Court now finds that the respondent
bar which would justify respondents' dismissal
seamen have not committed any misconduct which would
just because of their firmness in their demand
constitute a just cause for the termination of their services just
for the fulfillment by petitioner of its obligation
after three months of the 12-month term of their contract, a brief
it entered into without any coercion, specially
explanation why I voted in the Second Division in favor of the
on the part of private respondents. (Emphasis
petitioner company in the instant case, and not the respondent
supplied).
seamen, as I did in the Wallem case, is obviously called for.

This above ruling is the law on the matter and, in my opinion.


During our deliberations in the Division, it was made clear that
controlling on the case at bar. Whatever policy may prove more
in the instant case,' threat was employed by the seamen against
beneficial to the cause of labor in general, as is sought to be
the company or shipowners to obtain consent to the 50% raise
offered as argument in support of the Second Division decision,
of wages as proposed by the seamen upon being informed that
is not a proper ground for making said policy prevail over the
they would touch on ITF-controlled ports. I joined my colleagues
applicable law or jurisprudence, Questions of policy are better
in the Second Division in concurring in the decision penned by
left to the Batasan Pambansa. We should confine ourselves to
Justice Barredo, now retired, in the belief that threat was indeed
applying the law as it is. In so doing, We are not allowed to apply
it to suit, or to respond to, the demands of what We may deem shipowner or company with the ITF. For this act, their services
the better policy than what the law clearly intends. The policy is were terminated and they were repatriated by their employer
the law, and the law is the policy. We might be treading on shipping company. What the First Division said in favor of the
forbidden ground to bend the law to what We perceive to be a seamen, is in my opinion, the correct ruling which We should
desirable policy. reaffirm in the instant case. Thus — têñ.£îhqwâ£

Courts are called upon only to apply the law. Does the law permit Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private
the termination of the services of the seamen in violation of their respondent was justified because the latter
contract except only upon a just cause? This is the only question threatened the ship authorities in acceding to
to be answered in this case. The answer is given with eloquent their demands, and this constitutes serious
persuasiveness in the decision in which I concur misconduct as contemplated by the Labor
wholeheartedly. Code. This contention is not welltaken. But
even en if there had been such a threat,
respondents' behavior should not be
censured because it is but natural for them to
employ some means of pressing their
Separate Opinions demands on petitioner, who refused to abide
with the terms of the Special Agreement, to
DE CASTRO, J., concurring: honor and respect the same. They were only
acting in the exercise of their rights, and to
Being the ponente of the Wallem case, upon whose ruling the deprive them of their freedom of expression is
decision of the Court en banc in this case is mainly made to rest, contrary to law and public policy. There is no
at least insofar as said Court now finds that the respondent serious misconduct to speak of in the case at
seamen have not committed any misconduct which would bar which would justify respondents' dismissal
constitute a just cause for the termination of their services just just because of their firmness in their demand
after three months of the 12-month term of their contract, a brief for the fulfillment by petitioner of its obligation
explanation why I voted in the Second Division in favor of the it entered into without any coercion, specially
petitioner company in the instant case, and not the respondent on the part of private respondents. (Emphasis
seamen, as I did in the Wallem case, is obviously called for. supplied).

During our deliberations in the Division, it was made clear that This above ruling is the law on the matter and, in my opinion.
in the instant case,' threat was employed by the seamen against controlling on the case at bar. Whatever policy may prove more
the company or shipowners to obtain consent to the 50% raise beneficial to the cause of labor in general, as is sought to be
of wages as proposed by the seamen upon being informed that offered as argument in support of the Second Division decision,
they would touch on ITF-controlled ports. I joined my colleagues is not a proper ground for making said policy prevail over the
in the Second Division in concurring in the decision penned by applicable law or jurisprudence, Questions of policy are better
Justice Barredo, now retired, in the belief that threat was indeed left to the Batasan Pambansa. We should confine ourselves to
committed, constituting a just cause for termination of the applying the law as it is. In so doing, We are not allowed to apply
services of the seamen with still nine months to go of their 12- it to suit, or to respond to, the demands of what We may deem
month contract with the petitioner. As the facts are more the better policy than what the law clearly intends. The policy is
thoroughly and accurately presented and discussed in the the law, and the law is the policy. We might be treading on
decision so brilliantly written by Justice Gutierrez, I am forbidden ground to bend the law to what We perceive to be a
persuaded that on the basis of the ruling of the Wallem case, a desirable policy.
mistake was committed in finding the existence of a just cause
for the instant and unexpected termination of the services of the Courts are called upon only to apply the law. Does the law permit
seamen. the termination of the services of the seamen in violation of their
contract except only upon a just cause? This is the only question
The facts of this case show that to the proposal of the seamen to be answered in this case. The answer is given with eloquent
for a 50% increase, made because they were informed that they persuasiveness in the decision in which I concur
would touch on ITF-controlled ports, the company countered wholeheartedly.
with an offer of only 25% raised The proposal of 5% was much
lower than the rates which the ITF would surely force upon the G.R. Nos. L-57999, 58143-53 August 15, 1989
company When the company made a counter proposal of 25%
raise the seamen accepted. The trip went on smoothly until upon RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL,
arriving at a port which afforded haven and safety to the ANGELITO MENDOZA, ANTONIO TANEDO, AMORSOLO
shipowner, the latter suddenly, and with imperious finality, CABRERA, DOMINADOR SANTOS, ISIDRO BRACIA,
terminated the services of the seamen and repatriated them to RAMON DE BELEN, ERNESTO SABADO, MARTIN
Manila. These are the simple facts that call for the application of MALABANAN, ROMEO HUERTO and VITALIANO PANGUE,
the law, mainly the provisions of the Labor Code. That law is petitioners,
none other than what is indicated in how the Walem case was vs.
decided — in vindication of how the Seamen were given a raw THE HON. JUDGE ALFREDO L. BENIPAYO and
deal in being lulled into a false sense of security in their MAGSAYSAY LINES, INC., respondents.
employment contract only to be rudely terminated and ordered
repatriated.
G.R. Nos. L-64781-99 August 15, 1989

In the Wallem case, the seamen pressed their demand for the
enforcement of a special agreement entered into by the RESURRECCION SUZARA, CESAR DIMAANDAL,
ANGELITO MENDOZA, ANTONIO TANEDO, RAYMUNDO
PEREZ, AMORSOLO CABRERA, DOMINADOR SANTOS, period of 12 calendar months and with
ISIDRO BRACIA, CATALINO CASICA, VITALIANO PANGUE, different rating/position, salary, overtime pay
RAMON DE BELEN, EDUARDO PAGTALUNAN, ANTONIO and allowance, hereinbelow specified: ...; that
MIRANDA, RAMON UNIANA, ERNESTO SABADO, MARTIN aforesaid employment contracts were verified
MALABANAN, ROMEO HUERTO and WILFREDO and approved by this Board; that on different
CRISTOBAL, petitioners, dates in April 1978 respondents (petitioners)
vs. joined the M/V "GRACE RIVER"; that on or
THE HONORABLE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS about October 30, 1978 aforesaid vessel, with
COMMISSION, THE NATIONAL SEAMEN BOARD (now the the respondents on board, arrived at the port
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration), and of Vancouver, Canada; that at this port
MAGSAYSAY LINES, INC., respondents. respondent received additional wages under
rates prescribed by the Intemational
Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta, Peñ;a and Nolasco for petitioners. Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) in the
total amount of US$98,261.70; that the
respondents received the amounts appearing
Samson S. Alcantara for private respondent. opposite their names, to wit: ...; that aforesaid
amounts were over and above the rates of
pay of respondents as appearing in their
employment contracts approved by this
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: Board; that on November 10, 1978, aforesaid
vessel, with respondent on board, left
Vancouver, Canada for Yokohama, Japan;
These petitions ask for a re-examination of this Court's that on December 14, 1978, while aforesaid
precedent — setting decision in Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine vessel, was at Yura, Japan, they were made
Services Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, et al. to disembark. (pp. 64-66, Rollo)
(125 SCRA 577 [1983]). On constitutional, statutory, and factual
grounds, we find no reason to disturb the doctrine in Vir-Jen
Shipping and to turn back the clock of progress for sea-based Furthermore, according to the petitioners, while the vessel was
overseas workers. The experience gained in the past few years docked at Nagoya, Japan, a certain Atty. Oscar Torres of the
shows that, following said doctrine, we should neither deny nor NSB Legal Department boarded the vessel and called a meeting
diminish the enjoyment by Filipino seamen of the same rights of the seamen including the petitioners, telling them that for their
and freedoms taken for granted by other working-men here and own good and safety they should sign an agreement prepared
abroad. by him on board the vessel and that if they do, the cases filed
against them with NSB on November 17, 1978 would be
dismissed. Thus, the petitioners signed the. "Agreement" dated
The cases at bar involve a group of Filipino seamen who were December 5, 1978. (Annex C of Petition) However, when they
declared by the defunct National Seamen Board (NSB) guilty of were later furnished xerox copies of what they had signed, they
breaching their employment contracts with the private noticed that the line "which amount(s) was/were received and
respondent because they demanded, upon the intervention and held by CREWMEMBERS in trust for SHIPOWNERS" was
assistance of a third party, the International Transport Worker's inserted therein, thereby making it appear that the amounts
Federation (ITF), the payment of wages over and above their given to the petitioners representing the increase in their wages
contracted rates without the approval of the NSB. The based on ITF rates were only received by them in trust for the
petitioners were ordered to reimburse the total amount of private respondent.
US$91,348.44 or its equivalent in Philippine Currency
representing the said over-payments and to be suspended from
the NSB registry for a period of three years. The National Labor When the vessel reached Manila, the private respondent
Relations Commission (NLRC) affirmed the decision of the NSB. demanded from the petitioners the "overpayments" made to
them in Canada. As the petitioners refused to give back the said
amounts, charges were filed against some of them with the NSB
In a corollary development, the private respondent, for failure of and the Professional Regulations Commission. Estafa charges
the petitioners to return the overpayments made to them upon were also filed before different branches of the then Court of
demand by the former, filed estafa charges against some of the First Instance of Manila which, as earlier stated, were
petitioners. The criminal cases were eventually consolidated in subsequently consolidated in the sala of the respondent Judge
the sala of then respondent Judge Alfredo Benipayo. Hence, Alfredo Benipayo and which eventually led to G.R. Nos. 57999
these consolidated petitions, G.R. No. 64781-99 and G.R. Nos. and 58143-53.
57999 and 58143-53, which respectively pray for the nullification
of the decisions of the NLRC and the NSB, and the dismissal of
the criminal cases against the petitioners. In G.R. Nos. 64781-99, the petitioners claimed before the NSB
that contrary to the private respondent's allegations, they did not
commit any illegal act nor stage a strike while they were on
The facts are found in the questioned decision of the NSB in board the vessel; that the "Special Agreement" entered into in
G.R. No. 64781-99. Vancouver to pay their salary differentials is valid, having been
executed after peaceful negotiations. Petitioners further argued
From the records of this case it appears that that the amounts they received were in accordance with the
the facts established and/or admitted by the provision of law, citing among others, Section 18, Rule VI, Book
parties are the following: that on different I of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code
dates in 1977 and 1978 respondents entered which provides that "the basic minimum salary of seamen shall
into separate contracts of employment (Exhs. not be less than the prevailing minimum rates established by the
"B" to "B-17", inclusive) with complainant International Labor Organization (ILO) or those prevailing in the
(private respondent) to work aboard vessels country whose flag the employing vessel carries, whichever is
owned/operated/manned by the latter for a higher ..."; and that the "Agreement" executed in Nagoya, Japan
had been forced upon them and that intercalations were made prevent further losses is shown in the
to make it appear that they were merely trustees of the amounts "Agreement" (Exhs. "R-21") ... (pp. 69-70,
they received in Vancouver. Rollo)

On the other hand, the private respondent alleged that the The NSB further said:
petitioners breached their employment contracts when they,
acting in concert and with the active participations of the ITF While the Board recognizes the rights of the
while the vessel was in Vancouver, staged an illegal strike and respondents to demand for higher wages,
by means of threats, coercion and intimidation compelled the provided the means are peaceful and legal, it
owners of the vessel to pay to them various sums totalling could not, however, sanction the same if the
US$104,244.35; that the respondent entered into the "Special means employed are violent and illegal. In the
Agreement" to pay the petitioners' wage differentials because it case at bar, the means employed are violent
was under duress as the vessel would not be allowed to leave and illegal for in demanding higher wages the
Vancouver unless the said agreement was signed, and to respondents sought the aid of a third party
prevent the shipowner from incurring further delay in the and in turn the latter intervened in their behalf
shipment of goods; and that in view of petitioners' breach of and prohibited the vessel from sailing unless
contract, the latter's names must be removed from the NSB's the owner and/or operator of the vessel
Registry and that they should be ordered to return the amounts acceded to respondents' demand for higher
they received over and above their contracted rates. wages. To avoid suffering further incalculable
losses, the owner and/or operator of the
The respondent NSB ruled that the petitioners were guilty of vessel had no altemative but to pay
breach of contract because despite subsisting and valid NSB- respondents' wages in accordance with the
approved employment contracts, the petitioners sought the ITF scale. The Board condemns the act of a
assistance of a third party (ITF) to demand from the private party who enters into a contract and with the
respondent wages in accordance with the ITF rates, which rates use of force/or intimidation causes the other
are over and above their rates of pay as appearing in their NSB- party to modify said contract. If the
approved contracts. As bases for this conclusion, the NSB respondents believe that they have a valid
stated: ground to demand from the complainant a
revision of the terms of their contracts, the
1) The fact that respondents sought the aid of same should have been done in accordance
a third party (ITF) and demanded for wages with law and not thru illegal means. (at p. 72,
and overtime pay based on ITF rates is shown Rollo).
in the entries of their respective Pay-Off
Clearance Slips which were marked as their Although the respondent NSB found that the petitioners were
Exhs. "1" to "18", and we quote "DEMANDED entitled to the payment of earned wages and overtime
ITF WAGES, OVERTIME, DIFFERENTIALS pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to December 14, 1978,
APRIL TO OCTOBER 1978". Respondent it nevertheless ruled that the computation should be based on
Suzara admitted that the entries in his Pay-Off the rates of pay as appearing in the petitioners' NSB-approved
Clearance Slip (Exh. "1") are correct (TSN., p. contracts. It ordered that the amounts to which the petitioners
16, Dec. 6, 1979).lâwphî1.ñèt Moreover, it is are entitled under the said computation should be deducted from
the policy (reiterated very often) by the ITF the amounts that the petitioners must return to the private
that it does not interfere in the affairs of the respondent.
crewmembers and masters and/or owners of
a vessel unless its assistance is sought by the On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the NSB's findings. Hence, the
crewmembers themselves. Under this petition in G.R. Nos. 64781-99.
pronounced policy of the ITF, it is reasonable
to assume that the representatives of the ITF
in Vancouver, Canada assisted and Meanwhile, the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 57999 and 58143-53
intervened by reason of the assistance sought moved to quash the criminal cases of estafa filed against them
by the latter. on the ground that the alleged crimes were committed, if at all,
in Vancouver, Canada and, therefore, Philippine courts have no
jurisdiction. The respondent judge denied the motion. Hence,
2) The fact that the ITF assisted and the second petition.
intervened for and in behalf of the
respondents in the latter's demand for higher
wages could be gleaned from the answer of The principal issue in these consolidated petitions is whether or
the respondents when they admitted that the not the petitioners are entitled to the amounts they received from
ITF acted in their behalf in the negotiations for the private respondent representing additional wages as
increase of wages. Moreover, respondent determined in the special agreement. If they are, then the
Cesar Dimaandal admitted that the ITF decision of the NLRC and NSB must be reversed. Similarly, the
differential pay was computed by the ITF criminal cases of estafa must be dismissed because it follows
representative (TSN, p. 7, Dec. 12, 1979) as a consequence that the amounts received by the petitioners
belong to them and not to the private respondent.
3) The fact that complainant and the
owner/operator of the vessel were compelled In arriving at the questioned decision, the NSB ruled that the
to sign the Special Agreement (Exh. "20") and petitioners are not entitled to the wage differentials as
to pay ITF differentials to respondents in order determined by the ITF because the means employed by them in
not to delay the departure of the vessel and to obtaining the same were violent and illegal and because in
demanding higher wages the petitioners sought the aid of a third
party, which, in turn, intervened in their behalf and prohibited the To subject our seamen to criminal prosecution and punishment
vessel from sailing unless the owner and/or operator of the for having been caught in such a struggle is out of the question.
vessel acceded to respondents' demand for higher wages. And
as proof of this conclusion, the NSB cited the following: (a) the As stated in Vir-Jen Shipping (supra):
entries in the petitioners Pay-Off Clearance Slip which contained
the phrase "DEMANDED ITF WAGES ..."; (b) the alleged policy
of the ITF in not interfering with crewmembers of a vessel unless The seamen had done no act which under
its intervention is sought by the crewmembers themselves; (c), Philippine law or any other civilized law would
the petitioners' admission that ITF acted in their behalf; and (d) be termed illegal, oppressive, or malicious.
the fact that the private respondent was compelled to sign the Whatever pressure existed, it was mild
special agreement at Vancouver, Canada. compared to accepted and valid modes of
labor activity. (at page 591)
There is nothing in the public and private respondents'
pleadings, to support the allegations that the petitioners used Given these factual situations, therefore, we cannot affirm the
force and violence to secure the special agreement signed in NSB and NLRC's finding that there was violence, physical or
Vancouver. British Columbia. There was no need for any form otherwise employed by the petitioners in demanding for
of intimidation coming from the Filipino seamen because the additional wages. The fact that the petitioners placed placards
Canadian Brotherhood of Railways and Transport Workers on the gangway of their ship to show support for ITF's demands
(CBRT), a strong Canadian labor union, backed by an for wage differentials for their own benefit and the resulting ITF's
international labor federation was actually doing all the threatened interdiction do not constitute violence. The
influencing not only on the ship-owners and employers but also petitioners were exercising their freedom of speech and
against third world seamen themselves who, by receiving lower expressing sentiments in their hearts when they placed the
wages and cheaper accommodations, were threatening the placard We Want ITF Rates." Under the facts and circumstances
employment and livelihood of seamen from developed nations. of these petitions, we see no reason to deprive the seamen of
their right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Philippine
Constitution and the fundamental law of Canada where they
The bases used by the respondent NSB to support its decision happened to exercise it.
do not prove that the petitioners initiated a conspiracy with the
ITF or deliberately sought its assistance in order to receive
higher wages. They only prove that when ITF acted in As we have ruled in Wallem Phil. Shipping Inc. v. Minister of
petitioners' behalf for an increase in wages, the latter manifested Labor, et al. supra:
their support. This would be a logical and natural reaction for any
worker in whose benefit the ITF or any other labor group had Petitioner claims that the dismissal of private
intervened. The petitioners admit that while they expressed their respondents was justified because the latter
conformity to and their sentiments for higher wages by means of threatened the ship authorities in acceding to
placards, they, nevertheless, continued working and going about their demands, and this constitutes serious
their usual chores. In other words, all they did was to exercise misconduct as contemplated by the Labor
their freedom of speech in a most peaceful way. The ITF people, Code. This contention is now well-taken. The
in turn, did not employ any violent means to force the private records fail to establish clearly the
respondent to accede to their demands. Instead, they simply commission of any threat. But even if there
applied effective pressure when they intimated the possibility of had been such a threat, respondents'
interdiction should the shipowner fail to heed the call for an behavior should not be censured because it is
upward adjustment of the rates of the Filipino seamen. but natural for them to employ some means of
Interdiction is nothing more than a refusal of ITF members to pressing their demands for petitioner, who
render service for the ship, such as to load or unload its cargo, refused to abide with the terms of the Special
to provision it or to perform such other chores ordinarily incident Agreement, to honor and respect the same.
to the docking of the ship at a certain port. It was the fear of ITF They were only acting in the exercise of their
interdiction, not any action taken by the seamen on board the rights, and to deprive them of their freedom of
vessel which led the shipowners to yield. expression is contrary to law and public
policy. ... (at page 843)
The NSB's contusion that it is ITF's policy not to intervene with
the plight of crewmembers of a vessel unless its intervention We likewise, find the public respondents' conclusions that the
was sought is without basis. This Court is cognizant of the fact acts of the petitioners in demanding and receiving wages over
that during the period covered by the labor controversies in and above the rates appearing in their NSB-approved contracts
Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc. v. Minister of Labor (102 is in effect an alteration of their valid and subsisting contracts
SCRA 835 [1981]; Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine Services, Inc. v. because the same were not obtained through. mutual consent
NLRC (supra) and these consolidated petitions, the ITF was and without the prior approval of the NSB to be without basis,
militant worldwide especially in Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, not only because the private respondent's consent to pay
and various European countries, interdicting foreign vessels and additional wages was not vitiated by any violence or intimidation
demanding wage increases for third world seamen. There was on the part of the petitioners but because the said NSB-
no need for Filipino or other seamen to seek ITF intervention. approved form contracts are not unalterable contracts that can
The ITF was waiting on its own volition in all Canadian ports, not have no room for improvement during their effectivity or which
particularly for the petitioners' vessel but for all ships similarly ban any amendments during their term.
situated. As earlier stated, the ITF was not really acting for the
petitioners out of pure altruism. The ITF was merely protecting For one thing, the employer can always improve the working
the interests of its own members. The petitioners happened to conditions without violating any law or stipulation.
be pawns in a higher and broader struggle between the ITF on
one hand and shipowners and third world seamen, on the other.
We stated in the Vir-Jen case (supra) that:
The form contracts approved by the National when they ask for fair and decent treatment
Seamen Board are designed to protect by their employer and when they exercise the
Filipino seamen not foreign shipowners who right to petition for improved terms of
can take care of themselves. The standard employment, especially when they feel that
forms embody the basic minimums which these are sub-standard or are capable of
must be incorporated as parts of the improvement according to internationally
employment contract. (Section 15, Rule V, accepted rules. In the domestic scene, there
Rules and Regulations Implementing the are marginal employers who prepare two sets
Labor Code).lâwphî1.ñèt They are not of payrolls for their employees — one in
collective bargaining agreements or keeping with minimum wages and the other
immutable contracts which the parties cannot recording the sub-standard wages that the
improve upon or modify in the course of the employees really receive. The reliable
agreed period of time. To state, therefore, that employers, however, not only meet the
the affected seamen cannot petition their minimums required by fair labor standards
employer for higher salaries during the 12 legislation but even go away above the
months duration of the contract runs counter minimums while earning reasonable profits
to estabhshed principles of labor legislation. and prospering. The same is true of
The National Labor Relations Commission, as international employment. There is no reason
the appellate tribunal from the decisions of the why this court and the Ministry of Labor and
National Seamen Board, correctly ruled that Employment or its agencies and commissions
the seamen did not violate their contracts to should come out with pronouncements based
warrant their dismissal. (at page 589) on the standards and practices of
unscrupulous or inefficient shipowners, who
It is impractical for the NSB to require the petitioners, caught in claim they cannot survive without resorting to
the middle of a labor struggle between the ITF and owners of tricky and deceptive schemes, instead of
ocean going vessels halfway around the world in Vancouver, Government maintaining labor law and
British Columbia to first secure the approval of the NSB in Manila jurisprudence according to the practices of
before signing an agreement which the employer was willing to honorable, competent, and law-abiding
sign. It is also totally unrealistic to expect the petitioners while in employers, domestic or foreign. (Vir-Jen
Canada to exhibit the will and strength to oppose the ITF's Shipping, supra, pp. 587-588)
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
An examination of Annex C of the petition, the agreement signed at US$187.00 as early as October 1976, it was only in 1979 that
in Japan by the crewmembers of the M/V Grace River and a the respondent NSB issued Memo Circular No. 45, enjoining all
certain M. Tabei, representative of the Japanese shipowner shipping companies to adopt the said minimum basic wage. It
lends credence to the petitioners' claim that the clause "which was correct for the respondent NSB to state in its decision that
amount(s) was received and held by CREWMEMBERS in trust when the petitioners entered into separate contracts between
for SHIPOWNER" was an intercalation added after the 1977-1978, the monthly minimum basic wage for able seamen
execution of the agreement. The clause appears too closely ordered by NSB was still fixed at US$130.00. However, it is not
typed below the names of the 19 crewmen and their wages with the fault of the petitioners that the NSB not only violated the
no similar intervening space as that which appears between all Labor Code which created it and the Rules and Regulations
the paragraphs and the triple space which appears between the Implementing the Labor Code but also seeks to punish the
list of crewmembers and their wages on one hand and the seamen for a shortcoming of NSB itself.
paragraph above which introduces the list, on the other. The
verb "were" was also inserted above the verb "was" to make the Article 21(c) of the Labor Code, when it created the NSB,
clause grammatically correct but the insertion of "were" is mandated the Board to "(O)btain the best possible terms and
already on the same line as "Antonio Miranda and 5,221.06" conditions of employment for seamen."
where it clearly does not belong. There is no other space where
the word "were" could be intercalated. (See Rollo, page 80). Section 15, Rule V of Book I of the Rules and Regulations
Implementing the Labor Code provides:
At any rate, the proposition that the petitioners should have
pretended to accept the increased wages while in Vancouver but Sec. 15. Model contract of employment. —
returned them to the shipowner when they reached its country, The NSB shall devise a model contract of
Japan, has already been answered earlier by the Court: employment which shall embody all the
requirements of pertinent labor and social
Filipino seamen are admittedly as competent legislations and the prevailing standards set
and reliable as seamen from any other by applicable International Labor
country in the world. Otherwise, there would Organization Conventions. The model
not be so many of them in the vessels sailing contract shall set the minimum standards of
in every ocean and sea on this globe. It is the terms and conditions to govern the
competence and reliability, not cheap labor employment of Filipinos on board vessels
that makes our seamen so greatly in demand. engaged in overseas trade. All employers of
Filipino seamen have never demanded the Filipinos shall adopt the model contract in
same high salaries as seamen from the connection with the hiring and engagement of
United States, the United Kingdom, Japan the services of Filipino seafarers, and in no
and other developed nations. But certainly case shall a shipboard employment contract
they are entitled to government protection be allowed where the same provides for
benefits less than those enumerated in the should accept as sacred, iron clad, and
model employment contract, or in any way immutable the side contracts which require:
conflicts with any other provisions embodied them to falsely pretend to be members of
in the model contract. international labor federations, pretend to
receive higher salaries at certain foreign ports
Section 18 of Rule VI of the same Rules and Regulations only to return the increased pay once the ship
provides: leaves that port, should stifle not only their
right to ask for improved terms of employment
but their freedom of speech and expression,
Sec. 18. Basic minimum salary of able- and should suffer instant termination of
seamen. — The basic minimum salary of employment at the slightest sign of
seamen shall be not less than the prevailing dissatisfaction with no protection from their
minimxun rates established by the Government and their courts. Otherwise, the
International Labor Organization or those petitioners contend that Filipinos would no
prevailing in the country whose flag the longer be accepted as seamen, those
employing vessel carries, whichever is higher. employed would lose their jobs, and the still
However, this provision shall not apply if any unemployed would be left hopeless.
shipping company pays its crew members
salaries above the minimum herein provided.
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
Section 8, Rule X, Book I of the Omnibus Rules provides: against the interests of labor; where efforts by workingmen to
better their terms of employment would be characterized as
Section 8. Use of standard format of service prejudicing the interests of labor as a whole.
agreement. — The Board shall adopt a
standard format of service agreement in xxx xxx xxx
accordance with pertinent labor and social
legislation and prevailing standards set by
applicable International Labor Organization Unionism, employers' liability acts, minimum
Conventions. The standard format shall set wages, workmen's compensation, social
the minimum standard of the terms and security and collective bargaining to name a
conditions to govern the employment of few were all initially opposed by employers
Filipino seafarers but in no case shall a and even well meaning leaders of
shipboard employment contract (sic), or in government and society as "killing the hen or
any way conflict with any other provision goose which lays the golden eggs." The
embodied in the standard format. claims of workingmen were described as
outrageously injurious not only to the
employer but more so to the employees
It took three years for the NSB to implement requirements which, themselves before these claims or demands
under the law, they were obliged to follow and execute were established by law and jurisprudence as
immediately. During those three years, the incident in "rights" and before these were proved
Vancouver happened. The terms and conditions agreed upon in beneficial to management, labor, and the
Vancouver were well within ILO rates even if they were above national as a whole beyond reasonable doubt.
NSB standards at the time.
The case before us does not represent any
The sanctions applied by NSB and affirmed by NLRC are major advance in the rights of labor and the
moreover not in keeping with the basic premise that this Court workingmen. The private respondents merely
stressed in the Vir-Jen Shipping case (supra) that the Ministry sought rights already established. No matter
now the Department of Labor and Employment and all its how much the petitioner-employer tries to
agencies exist primarily for the workingman's interest and the present itself as speaking for the entire
nation's as a whole. industry, there is no evidence that it is typical
of employers hiring Filipino seamen or that it
Implicit in these petitions and the only reason for the NSB to take can speak for them.
the side of foreign shipowners against Filipino seamen is the
"killing the goose which lays the golden eggs" argument. We The contention that manning industries in the
reiterate the ruling of the Court in Vir-Jen Shipping (supra) Philippines would not survive if the instant
case is not decided in favor of the petitioner is
There are various arguments raised by the not supported by evidence. The Wallem case
petitioners but the common thread running was decided on February 20, 1981. There
through all of them is the contention, if not the have been no severe repercussions, no
dismal prophecy, that if the respondent drying up of employment opportunities for
seamen are sustained by this Court, we would seamen, and none of the dire consequences
in effect "kill the hen that lays the golden egg." repeatedly emphasized by the petitioner. Why
In other words, Filipino seamen, admittedly should Vir-Jen be an exception?
among the best in the world, should remain
satisfied with relatively lower if not the lowest, The wages of seamen engaged in
international rates of compensation, should international shipping are shouldered by the
not agitate for higher wages while their foreign principal. The local manning office is
contracts of employment are subsisting, an agent whose primary function is
recruitment and who usually gets a lump sum is ordered to pay the petitioners their earned but unpaid wages
from the shipowner to defray the salaries of and overtime pay/allowance from November 1, 1978 to
the crew. The hiring of seamen and the December 14, 1978 according to the rates in the Special
determination of their compensation is subject Agreement that the parties entered into in Vancouver, Canada.
to the interplay of various market factors and
one key factor is how much in terms of profits The criminal cases for estafa, subject matter of G. R. Nos. 57999
the local manning office and the foreign and 58143-53, are ordered DISMISSED.
shipowner may realize after the costs of the
voyage are met. And costs include salaries of
officers and crew members. (at pp. 585-586) SO ORDERED.

The Wallem Shipping case, was decided in 1981. Vir-Jen G.R. No. 80918 August 16, 1989
Shipping was decided in 1983. It is now 1989. There has'been
no drying up of employment opportunities for Filipino seamen. JOSEFINA M. PRINCIPE, petitioner
Not only have their wages improved thus leading ITF to be placid vs.
and quiet all these years insofar as Filipinos are concerned but PHILIPPINE-SINGAPORE TRANSPORT SERVICES, INC.
the hiring of Philippine seamen is at its highest level ever. and CHUAN HUP AGENCIES, PTE. LTD., NATIONAL LABOR
RELATIONS COMMISSION AND PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS
Reporting its activities for the year 1988, the Philippine EMPLOYEES EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION,
Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) stated that there respondents.
will be an increase in demand for seamen based overseas in
1989 boosting the number to as high as 105,000. This will R. C. Carrera Law Firm for petitioner.
represent a 9.5 percent increase from the 1988 aggregate.
(Business World, News Briefs, January 11, 1989 at page 2) Eladio B. Samson for private respondent.
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 compared to those of landbased
workers. (The Business Star, Indicators, January 11, 1988 at GANCAYCO, J.:
page 2)
Once again this Tribunal is faced with the issue of the validity of
Augmenting this optimistic report of POEA Administrator Tomas the quitclaim executed by the employee's heir in favor of the
Achacoso is the statement of Secretary of Labor Franklin M. employer.
Drilon that the Philippines has a big jump over other crewing
nations because of the Filipinos' abilities compared with any
Petitioner is the widow of the late Abelardo Principe who was
European or westem crewing country. Drilon added that cruise
then the Chief Engineer of M/V OSAM Falcon, a commercial
shipping is also a growing market for Filipino seafarers because
vessel of Singaporean registry owned by Chuan Hup Agencies,
of their flexibility in handling odd jobs and their expertise in
Pte. Ltd. (Chuan Hup for brevity), one of the private respondents
handling almost all types of ships, including luxury liners. (Manila
herein, who is the principal of Philippine-Singapore Transport
Bulletin, More Filipino Seamen Expected Development,
Services, Inc. (PSTSI), also a private respondent herein. The
December 27, 1988 at page 29).lâwphî1.ñèt Parenthetically, the
contract of employment of the deceased with private respondent
minimum monthly salary of able bodied seamen set by the ILO
Chua Hup provides, among others, that Principe would receive
and adhered to by the Philippines is now $276.00 (id.) more than
Singapore $2,800.00 a month to commence on September 7,
double the $130.00 sought to be enforced by the public
1982, medical benefits and insurance coverage through group
respondents in these petitions.
hospitalization and surgical insurance and group and personal
accident insurance for a capital sum of US$75,000.00. It also
The experience from 1981 to the present vindicates the finding provides that the laws of Singapore shall apply in cases of
in Vir-Jen Shipping that a decision in favor of the seamen would disputes arising out of the said appointment and that said
not necessarily mean severe repercussions, drying up of disputes are to be resolved by the courts of the Republic of
employment opportunities for seamen, and other dire Singapore. 1
consequences predicted by manning agencies and recruiters in
the Philippines.
On September 15,1982, while Principe was on duty in Malintoc
Field, Palawan, Philippines, he suddenly contracted a serious
From the foregoing, we find that the NSB and NLRC committed illness which eventually resulted to his death.2
grave abuse of discretion in finding the petitioners guilty of using
intimidation and illegal means in breaching their contracts of
On July 5, 1983, petitioner filed a complaint 3 against PSTSI with
employment and punishing them for these alleged offenses.
the Workers Assistance and Adjudication Office of the Philippine
Consequently, the criminal prosecutions for estafa in G.R. Nos.
Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), seeking the
57999 and 58143-53 should be dismissed.
payment of death compensation benefits and other benefits
accruing to her deceased husband. While the aforesaid case
WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. The was pending, the parties entered into a compromise agreement.
decisions of the National Seamen Board and National Labor On December 22, 1983, petitioner executed a release and
Relations Commission in G. R. Nos. 64781-99 are REVERSED quitclaim in favor of PSTSI in consideration of the sum of Seven
and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered holding the petitioners Thousand Pesos (P7,000.00) together with hospital, burial and
not guilty of the offenses for which they were charged. The other incidental expenses previously disbursed by PSTSI in
petitioners' suspension from the National Seamen Board's favor of petitioner's deceased husband. 4 Consequently, Atty.
Registry for three (3) years is LIFTED. The private respondent Wellington Lachica, counsel for petitioner, with the latter's
conformity, filed a motion to dismiss the case with prejudice I
against PSTSI and without prejudice as against Chuan Hup 5 N
C
On the basis of the compromise agreement and the motion to I
dismiss dated November 23, 1983, the POEA issued an order P
dated December 27, 1983, dismissing petitioner's complaint with L
prejudice against PSTSI. E
,
o
On April 21, 1986, petitioner filed with the POEA another claim f
for death benefits against PSTSI, this time including Chuan Hup. l
The new case was docketed as POEA Case No. (L) 86-04-328. e
In the decision dated January 27, 1987, the POEA dismissed the g
complaint on the ground that there exist identity of parties, a
subject matter and cause of action between the previous case, l
POEA Case No. L-635-83 and the new case, and that the a
present case is barred by prior judgment based on a g
compromise agreement in the previous case. 6 e
,
Petitioner appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission
(NLRC).lâwphî1.ñèt In a resolution dated September 25, 1987, w
the NLRC dismissed the appeal for lack of merit. 7 i
d
Hence, the present petition. o
w
It is the position of the petitioner that the release and quitclaim ,
that she signed in favor of private respondent PSTSI is null and a
void on the ground that the consideration given in exchange n
thereof in the amount of P7,000.00 is extremely low and d
unconscionable. Petitioner added that she was merely misled to r
sign the quitclaim due to the assurance given by PSTSI that it e
will help her recover the death compensation and insurance s
proceeds due her deceased husband. She argued that even on i
the assumption that the quitclaim is valid, the release should d
benefit PSTSI alone and should not include Chua Hup as the e
quitclaim was executed only in favor of PSTSI. Further she n
contended that notwithstanding the quitclaim executed in favor t
of PSTSI, the latter may still be held liable since it is an agent of a
Chuan Hup here in the Philippines. 8 t
1
2
The Solicitor General supports petitioner's view stating that the 8
principle of res judicata is inapplicable to the case at bar since 7
petitioner and PSTSI agreed that the dismissal of the suit -
against the latter is without prejudice insofar as the principal E
Chuan Hup is concerned; that the quitclaim is null and void as ,
the consideration given is unconscionably low as it is not even G
equal to one percent (1%) of petitioner's claim; and that the .
quitclaim is inequitable and incongrous to the declared policy of T
the State to afford protection to labor, citing Section 3, Article u
XIII of the 1987 Constitution. 9 a
z
We rule for the petitioner. o
n
The release and quitclaim in question reads as follows:
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a and all claims, actions obligations and
r liabilities which she have or might have
t against Philippine-Singapore Transport
i Services, Inc. in connection with the death of
n her husband Abelardo D. Principe on
e September 15, 1982 in Matintoc Field,
z Offshore Palawan under the circumstances
B narrated in the aforementioned case.
l
d That she hereby represents and warrants to
g Philippine-Singapore Transport Services, Inc.
. that she is the surviving spouse legally
, entitled to claim for damages/support which
may arise from the death of said Abelardo D.
D Principe, and further, that she hereby
a manifests that any and all rights or claims
s which she, as a surviving forced heir of the
m late Abelardo D. Principe might have against
a Philippine-Singapore Transport Services,
r Inc., its directors, employees, principals and
i agents arising out of or by reason of the death
n of said Abelardo D. Principe are hereby
a deemed waived and discharged and she have
s (sic) Philippine-Singapore Transport
, Services, Inc., its directors, officers,
M employees, principals and agents and
a whoever may be held liable, completely free
n and harmless from any claim and/or liabilities
i that may arise from the death of said Abelardo
l D. Principe (sic).
a
. That in the event that any other
person/persons, as surviving spouse of the
WITNESSETH, that: deceased Abelardo D. Principe should claim
against Philippine-Singapore Transport
WHEREAS, on July 5, 1983, Josefina M. Services, Inc. for such damages/support
Principe fled a complaint for death benefits arising from the death of Abelardo D. Principe,
against Philippine-Singapore Transport and the claim is held valid, then Josefina M.
Services, Inc. as a shipping agency of Chuan Principe hereby undertakes and agrees to
Hup Agencies Pte. Ltd. of the Republic of reimburse to Philippine-Singapore Transport
Singapore for the death of her husband, Engr. Services, Inc. the amounts hereunder
Abelardo D. Principe, on September 15, 1982 received, plus legal interest therein.
in Matinloc Field, Offshore Palawan,
Philippines while in the course of as That she further states that the foregoing
employment as Chief Engineer of OSAM consideration is voluntarily accepted by her
Falcon' in POEA Case No. (L) 635-83 of the as a full and final compromise, adjustment
Philippine Overseas Employment and settlement of any and all claims that she
Administration, entitled Josefina M. Principe may have against Philippine-Singapore
vs. Philippine-Singapore Transport Services, Transport Services, Inc., its directors, officers,
Inc.;' employees, principals and agents; and she
hereby irrevocably affirm (sic) that Philippine-
WHEREAS, the parties have agreed to settle Singapore Transport Services, Inc. has made
the above- entitled case amicably. this settlement solely to buy peace, avoid
litigation and on human consideration, and
she acknowledges that the payment of said
NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration consideration is not and shall never be
of the sum of SEVEN THOUSAND PESOS construed as an admission of liability or
(P7,000.00), Philippine currency and of the obligation by Philippine-Singapore Transport
hospital, burial and other incidental expenses Services, Inc., its officers, directors,
previously disbursed by Philippine-Singapore employees, principals and agents. 10
Transport Services, Inc., receipt of which in
full is hereby acknowledged to her full and
complete satisfaction, JOSEFINA M. It is true that a compromise agreement once approved by the
PRINCIPLE have (sic) released and court has the effect of res judicata between the parties and
discharged, as she hereby releases and should not be disturbed except for vices of consent and forgery.
discharges, Philippine-Singapore Transport However, settled is the rule that the NLRC may disregard
Services, Inc., its directors, officers, technical rules of procedure in order to give life to the
employees, principals and agents from any constitutional mandate affording protection to labor and to
conform to the need of protecting the working class whose
inferiority against the employer has always been earmarked by Lastly, it must be noted that the first complaint of petitioner was
disadvantage. 11 merely an action against PSTSI whereas in the second
complaint Chuan Hup was already included. The POEA ruled
The Court finds that the compromise agreement entered into by that the second complaint was merely an afterthought, and that
the petitioner in favor of PSTSI was not intended to totally it was a product of a pre-conceived mind considering the interval
foreclose her right over the death benefits of her husband. First, of time from the issuance of the order of dismissal in the previous
the motion to dismiss, filed by petitioner through Atty. Lachica case and the institution of the second complaint. We do not think
before the POEA, which cited the compromise agreement so. On the contrary, the Court holds that the delay was due to
entered into by the parties, clearly and unequivocally reflects the PSTSI's failure to make good its promise to assist the petitioner
undertaking that the release is without prejudice as regards in recovering the death benefits of her husband. We see no other
private respondent Chuan Hup. This fact was acknowledged in reason thereby. Hence, even if the second action was filed
the decision of POEA Administrator Tomas D. Achacoso in beyond the three (3) year reglementary period as provided by
POEA Case No. (L) 86-04-328. It is surprising why both the law for such claims, We cannot buy PSTSI's argument that the
POEA and the NLRC failed to consider this aspect in the claim is already barred. The blame for the delay, if any, can only
resolution of the second complaint filed by the petitioner against be attributed to PSTSI.
PSTSI and Chuan Hup.
On the other hand, PSTSI argues that it cannot be held
The second complaint was filed by petitioner to enforce the joint responsible on the ground that the aforesaid affidavit of
and several liability of PSTSI and Chuan Hup per joint affidavit undertaking with Chua Hup is applicable only to those members
of responsibility executed by said parties in entering into a of the crew recruited by PSTSI in the Philippines for and in behalf
principal agent relationship after PSTSI failed to live up to its of its principal Chuan Hup and that since Principe was directly
commitment to assist petitioner in the recovery of death hired by Chuan Hup, PSTSI cannot be held responsible as it has
compensation. 12 This observation is supported by the no privity of contract with those personnel recruited in
provisions of the release signed by the petitioner wherein the Singapore.
parties referred to therein were only the petitioner and PSTSI.
The release is from any claim against PSTSI. Chuan Hup is not The argument is untenable. This is the first time PSTSI raised
a party thereto. He cannot be considered covered by the this defense when it had all the chance to do so below.
release. Moreover, if PSTSI honestly believed it had no privity of contract
with Principe who was directly recruited by Chuan Hup, then
Moreover, the Court sees no reason why petitioner, with the there is no reason why it entered into a compromise agreement
assistance of a counsel would ever agree to foreclose her right with herein petitioner. From the very start, it should have asked
against Chuan Hup over the death benefits of her husband in for the dismissal of the case against it on the ground of lack of
exchange for a very measly sum of Seven Thousand Pesos cause of action, but it did not do so. What is obvious is that
(P7,000.00). They must have been aware that should she Principe was actually recruited by PSTSI and that he signed the
pursue her case, she was assured of getting at least One employment contract with the principal Chuan Hup. Thus,
Hundred Thousand Eight Hundred Singapore dollars private respondents stand jointly and severally liable for the
(US$100,800.00). This Court has laid down the rule in similar claim of petitioner.
cases that applying the Singapore Maritime Laws in case of a
seaman's death, the heirs of the seaman should receive the Anent the argument that the Philippine courts are without
equivalent of 36 months wages of the deceased seaman. 13 jurisdiction over the subject matter as jurisdiction was, by
agreement of the parties, vested in the courts of the Republic of
The fact that petitioner received the sum of P7,000.00 only Singapore, it is well-settled that an agreement to deprive a court
should not be taken to mean as a waiver of her right. The of jurisdiction conferred on it by law is void and of no legal effect.
circumstances she was confronted with during that time left her 16 In this jurisdiction labor cases, are within the competence of
with no other alternative but to accept the same as she was in the National Labor Relations Commission.
dire need of money due to the sudden death of her husband.
PSTSI contends that it was precisely because of her need for With respect to petitioner's monetary claim, since the parties
cash that petitioner thereby totally waived her right over the agreed that the laws of Singapore shall govern their relationship
death benefits of her husband. We do not think so. What is and that any dispute arising from the contract shall be resolved
plausible is the protestation of petitioner that PSTSI took by the law of that country, then the petitioner is entitled to death
advantage of her financial distress and led her to signing the benefits equivalent to 36 months salary of her husband. 17 As
release and quitclaim without explaining the consequences to the wage of deceased Abelardo Principe was S$2,800.00 a
her. While it may be true that her counsel assisted her in the month, then petitioner is entitled to a total of S$100,800.00.
process, said counsel must have been persuaded by the
assurance of PSTSI that it shall help obtain for her the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is granted.
corresponding benefits from Chuan Hup. The resolution of the NLRC dated September 25,1987 is hereby
set aside and another decision is hereby rendered ordering
Even assuming for the sake of argument that the quitclaim had private respondents PSTSI and Chuan Hup Agencies, Pte. Ltd.
foreclosed petitioner's right over the death benefits of her to jointly and severally pay petitioner the sum of S$100,800. 00
husband, the fact that the consideration given in exchange in its equivalent in Philippine pesos. This decision is immediately
thereof was very much less than the amount petitioner is executory.
claiming renders the quitclaim null and void for being contrary to
public policy. 14 The State must be firm in affording protection SO ORDERED.
to labor. The quitclaim wherein the consideration is scandalously
low and inequitable cannot be an obstacle to petitioner's
pursuing her legitimate claim. 15 Equity dictates that the Narvasa, Actg. C.J., Cruz, Griñ;o-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ.,
compromise agreement should be voided in this instance. concur.
G.R. No. L-104776 December 5, 1994 MODESTO PINPIN, JUANITO PAREA, ROMEO I. PATAG,
FRANCISCO PINPIN, LEONARDO POBLETE, JAIME
BIENVENIDO M. CADALIN, ROLANDO M. AMUL, DONATO POLLOS, DOMINGO PONDALIS, EUGENIO RAMIREZ,
B. EVANGELISTA, and the rest of 1,767 NAMED- LUCIEN M. RESPALL, GAUDENCIO RETANAN, JR., TOMAS
COMPLAINANTS, thru and by their Attorney-in-fact, Atty. B. RETENER, ALVIN C. REYES, RIZALINO REYES,
GERARDO A. DEL MUNDO, petitioners, SOLOMON B. REYES, VIRGILIO G. RICAZA, RODELIO
vs. RIETA, JR., BENITO RIVERA, JR., BERNARDO J.
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ROBILLOS, PABLO A. ROBLES, JOSE ROBLEZA, QUIRINO
ADMINISTRATION'S ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL LABOR RONQUILLO, AVELINO M. ROQUE, MENANDRO L. SABINO,
RELATIONS COMMISSION, BROWN & ROOT PEDRO SALGATAR, EDGARDO SALONGA, NUMERIANO
INTERNATIONAL, INC. AND/OR ASIA INTERNATIONAL SAN MATEO, FELIZARDO DE LOS SANTOS, JR., GABRIEL
BUILDERS CORPORATION, respondents. SANTOS, JUANITO SANTOS, PAQUITO SOLANTE,
CONRADO A. SOLIS, JR., RODOLFO SULTAN, ISAIAS
TALACTAC, WILLIAM TARUC, MENANDRO TEMPROSA,
G.R. Nos. 104911-14 December 5, 1994 BIENVENIDO S. TOLENTINO, BENEDICTO TORRES,
MAXIMIANO TORRES, FRANCISCO G. TRIAS, SERGIO A.
BIENVENIDO M. CADALIN, ET AL., petitioners, URSOLINO, ROGELIO VALDEZ, LEGORIO E. VERGARA,
vs. DELFIN VICTORIA, GILBERT VICTORIA, HERNANE
HON. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, VICTORIANO, FRANCISCO VILLAFLORES, DOMINGO
BROWN & ROOT INTERNATIONAL, INC. and/or ASIA VILLAHERMOSA, ROLANDO VILLALOBOS, ANTONIO
INTERNATIONAL BUILDERS CORPORATION, respondents. VILLAUZ, DANILO VILLANUEVA, ROGELIO VILLANUEVA,
ANGEL VILLARBA, JUANITO VILLARINO, FRANCISCO
G.R. Nos. 105029-32 December 5, 1994 ZARA, ROGELIO AALAGOS, NICANOR B. ABAD, ANDRES
ABANES, REYNALDO ABANES, EDUARDO ABANTE, JOSE
ABARRO, JOSEFINO ABARRO, CELSO S. ABELANIO,
ASIA INTERNATIONAL BUILDER CORPORATION and HERMINIO ABELLA, MIGUEL ABESTANO, RODRIGO G.
BROWN & ROOT INTERNATIONAL, INC., petitioners, ABUBO, JOSE B. ABUSTAN, DANTE ACERES, REYNALDO
vs. S. ACOJIDO, LEOWILIN ACTA, EUGENIO C. ACUEZA,
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, EDUARDO ACUPAN, REYNALDO ACUPAN, SOLANO
BIENVENIDO M. CADALIN, ROLANDO M. AMUL, DONATO ACUPAN, MANUEL P. ADANA, FLORENTINO R. AGNE,
B. EVANGELISTA, ROMEO PATAG, RIZALINO REYES, QUITERIO R. AGUDO, MANUEL P. AGUINALDO, DANTE
IGNACIO DE VERA, SOLOMON B. REYES, JOSE M. ABAN, AGUIRRE, HERMINIO AGUIRRE, GONZALO ALBERTO, JR.,
EMIGDIO N. ABARQUEZ, ANTONIO ACUPAN, ROMEO CONRADO ALCANTARA, LAMBERTO Q. ALCANTARA,
ACUPAN, BENJAMIN ALEJANDRE, WILFREDO D. MARIANITO J. ALCANTARA, BENCIO ALDOVER, EULALIO
ALIGADO, MARTIN AMISTAD, JR., ROLANDO B. AMUL, V. ALEJANDRO, BENJAMIN ALEJANDRO, EDUARDO L.
AMORSOLO ANADING, ANTONIO T. ANGLO, VICENTE ALEJANDRO, MAXIMINO ALEJANDRO, ALBERTO
ARLITA, HERBERT AYO, SILVERIO BALATAZO, ALFREDO ALMENAR, ARNALDO ALONZO, AMADO ALORIA, CAMILO
BALOBO, FALCONERO BANAAG, RAMON BARBOSA, ALVAREZ, MANUEL C. ALVAREZ, BENJAMIN R.
FELIX BARCENA, FERNANDO BAS, MARIO BATACLAN, AMBROCIO, CARLOS AMORES, BERNARD P. ANCHETA,
ROBERTO S. BATICA, ENRICO BELEN, ARISTEO BICOL, TIMOTEO O. ANCHETA, JEOFREY ANI, ELINO P.
LARRY C. BICOL, PETRONILLO BISCOCHO, FELIX M. ANTILLON, ARMANDRO B. ANTIPONO, LARRY T.
BOBIER, DIONISIO BOBONGO, BAYANI S. BRACAMANTE, ANTONIO, ANTONIO APILADO, ARTURO P. APILADO,
PABLITO BUSTILLO, GUILLERMO CABEZAS, BIENVENIDO FRANCISCO APOLINARIO, BARTOLOME M. AQUINO,
CADALIN, RODOLFO CAGATAN, AMANTE CAILAO, ISIDRO AQUINO, PASTOR AQUINO, ROSENDO M. AQUINO,
IRENEO CANDOR, JOSE CASTILLO, MANUEL CASTILLO, ROBERTO ARANGORIN, BENJAMIN O. ARATEA, ARTURO
REMAR CASTROJERES, REYNALDO CAYAS, ROMEO V. ARAULLO, PRUDENCIO ARAULLO, ALEXANDER
CECILIO, TEODULO CREUS, BAYANI DAYRIT, RICARDO ARCAIRA, FRANCISCO ARCIAGA, JOSE AREVALO,
DAYRIT, ERNESTO T. DELA CRUZ, FRANCISCO DE JUANTO AREVALO, RAMON AREVALO, RODOLFO
GUZMAN, ONOFRE DE RAMA, IGNACIO DE VERA, AREVALO, EULALIO ARGUELLES, WILFREDO P. ARICA,
MODESTO DIZON, REYNALDO DIZON, ANTONIO S. JOSE M. ADESILLO, ANTONIO ASUNCION, ARTEMIO M.
DOMINGUEZ, GILBERT EBRADA, RICARDO EBRADA, ASUNCION, EDGARDO ASUNCION, REXY M. ASUNCION,
ANTONIO EJERCITO, JR., EDUARTE ERIDAO, ELADIO VICENTE AURELIO, ANGEL AUSTRIA, RICARDO P.
ESCOTOTO, JOHN ESGUERRA, EDUARDO ESPIRITU, AVERILLA, JR., VIRGILIO AVILA, BARTOLOME AXALAN,
ERNESTO ESPIRITU, RODOLFO ESPIRITU, NESTOR M. ALFREDO BABILONIA, FELIMON BACAL, JOSE L. BACANI,
ESTEVA, BENJAMIN ESTRADA, VALERIO EVANGELISTA, ROMULO R. BALBIERAN, VICENTE BALBIERAN,
OLIGARIO FRANCISCO, JESUS GABAWAN, ROLANDO RODOLFO BALITBIT, TEODORO Y. BALOBO, DANILO O.
GARCIA, ANGEL GUDA, PACITO HERNANDEZ, ANTONIO BARBA, BERNARDO BARRO, JUAN A. BASILAN,
HILARIO, HENRY L. JACOB, HONESTO JARDINIANO, CEFERINO BATITIS, VIVENCIO C. BAUAN, GAUDENCIO S.
ANTONIO JOCSON, GERARDO LACSAMANA, EFREN U. BAUTISTA, LEONARDO BAUTISTA, JOSE D. BAUTISTA,
LIRIO LORETO LONTOC, ISRAEL LORENZO, ALEJANDRO ROSTICO BAUTISTA, RUPERTO B. BAUTISTA, TEODORO
LORINO, JOSE MABALAY, HERMIE MARANAN, S. BAUTISTA, VIRGILIO BAUTISTA, JESUS R. BAYA,
LEOVIGILDO MARCIAL, NOEL MARTINEZ, DANTE WINIEFREDO BAYACAL, WINIEFREDO BEBIT, BEN G.
MATREO, LUCIANO MELENDEZ, RENATO MELO, FRANCIS BELIR, ERIC B. BELTRAN, EMELIANO BENALES, JR.,
MEDIODIA, JOSE C. MILANES, RAYMUNDO C. MILAY, RAUL BENITEZ, PERFECTO BENSAN, IRENEO BERGONIO,
CRESENCIANO MIRANDA, ILDEFONSO C. MOLINA, ISABELO BERMUDEZ, ROLANDO I. BERMUDEZ, DANILO
ARMANDO B. MONDEJAR RESURRECCION D. BERON, BENJAMIN BERSAMIN, ANGELITO BICOL,
NAZARENO, JUAN OLINDO, FRANCISCO R. OLIVARES, ANSELMO BICOL, CELESTINO BICOL, JR., FRANCISCO
PEDRO ORBISTA, JR., RICARDO ORDONEZ, ERNIE BICOL, ROGELIO BICOL, ROMULO L. BICOL, ROGELIO
PANCHO, JOSE PANCHO, GORGONIO P. PARALA, BILLIONES, TEOFILO N. BITO, FERNANDO BLANCO,
AUGUSTO BONDOC, DOMINGO BONDOC, PEPE S. BOOC, GARCIA, JR., ARMANDO M. GARCIA, EUGENIO GARCIA,
JAMES R. BORJA, WILFREDO BRACEROS, ANGELES C. MARCELO L. GARCIA, PATRICIO L. GARCIA, JR.,
BRECINO, EURECLYDON G. BRIONES, AMADO BRUGE, PONCIANO G. GARCIA, PONCIANO G. GARCIA, JR.,
PABLITO BUDILLO, ARCHIMEDES BUENAVENTURA, RAFAEL P. GARCIA, ROBERTO S. GARCIA, OSIAS G.
BASILIO BUENAVENTURA, GUILLERMO BUENCONSEJO, GAROFIL, RAYMUNDO C. GARON, ROLANDO G. GATELA,
ALEXANDER BUSTAMANTE, VIRGILIO BUTIONG, JR., AVELINO GAYETA, RAYMUNDO GERON, PLACIDO
HONESTO P. CABALLA, DELFIN CABALLERO, GONZALES, RUPERTO H. GONZALES, ROGELIO D.
BENEDICTO CABANIGAN, MOISES CABATAY, GUANIO, MARTIN V. GUERRERO, JR., ALEXIS GUNO,
HERMANELI CABRERA, PEDRO CAGATAN, JOVEN C. RICARDO L. GUNO, FRANCISCO GUPIT, DENNIS J.
CAGAYAT, ROGELIO L. CALAGOS, REYNALDO V. GUTIERREZ, IGNACIO B. GUTIERREZ, ANGELITO DE
CALDEJON, OSCAR C. CALDERON, NESTOR D. CALLEJA, GUZMAN, JR., CESAR H. HABANA, RAUL G. HERNANDEZ,
RENATO R. CALMA, NELSON T. CAMACHO, SANTOS T. REYNALDO HERNANDEZ, JOVENIANO D. HILADO, JUSTO
CAMACHO, ROBERTO CAMANA, FLORANTE C. CAMANAG HILAPO, ROSTITO HINAHON, FELICISIMO HINGADA,
EDGARDO M. CANDA, SEVERINO CANTOS, EPIFANIO A. EDUARDO HIPOLITO, RAUL L. IGNACIO, MANUEL L.
CAPONPON, ELIAS D. CARILLO, JR., ARMANDO ILAGAN, RENATO L. ILAGAN, CONRADO A. INSIONG,
CARREON, MENANDRO M. CASTAÑEDA, BENIGNO A. GRACIANO G. ISLA, ARNEL L. JACOB, OSCAR J.
CASTILLO, CORNELIO L. CASTILLO, JOSEPH B. JAPITENGA, CIRILO HICBAN, MAXIMIANO HONRADES,
CASTILLO, ANSELMO CASTILLO, JOAQUIN CASTILLO, GENEROSO IGNACIO, FELIPE ILAGAN, EXPEDITO N.
PABLO L. CASTILLO, ROMEO P. CASTILLO, SESINANDO JACOB, MARIO JASMIN, BIENVENIDO JAVIER, ROMEO M.
CATIBOG, DANILO CASTRO, PRUDENCIO A. CASTRO, JAVIER, PRIMO DE JESUS, REYNALDO DE JESUS,
RAMO CASTRO, JR., ROMEO A. DE CASTRO, JAIME B. CARLOS A. JIMENEZ, DANILO E. JIMENEZ, PEDRO C.
CATLI, DURANA D. CEFERINO, RODOLFO B. CELIS, JOAQUIN, FELIPE W. JOCSON, FELINO M. JOCSON,
HERMINIGILDO CEREZO, VICTORIANO CELESTINO, PEDRO N. JOCSON, VALENTINO S. JOCSON, PEDRO B.
BENJAMIN CHAN, ANTONIO C. CHUA, VIVENCIO B. JOLOYA, ESTEBAN P. JOSE, JR., RAUL JOSE, RICARDO
CIABAL, RODRIGO CLARETE, AUGUSTO COLOMA, SAN JOSE, GERTRUDO KABIGTING, EDUARDO S.
TURIANO CONCEPCION, TERESITO CONSTANTINO, KOLIMLIM, SR., LAURO J. LABAY, EMMANUEL C.
ARMANDO CORALES, RENATO C. CORCUERA, APOLINAR LABELLA, EDGARDO B. LACERONA, JOSE B. LACSON,
CORONADO, ABELARDO CORONEL, FELIX CORONEL, MARIO J. LADINES, RUFINO LAGAC, RODRIGO
JR., LEONARDO CORPUZ, JESUS M. CORRALES, CESAR LAGANAPAN, EFREN M. LAMADRID, GUADENCIO
CORTEMPRATO, FRANCISCO O. CORVERA, FRANCISCO LATANAN, VIRGILIO LATAYAN, EMILIANO LATOJA,
COSTALES, SR., CELEDONIO CREDITO, ALBERTO A. WENCESLAO LAUREL, ALFREDO LAXAMANA, DANIEL R.
CREUS, ANACLETO V. CRUZ, DOMINGO DELA CRUZ, LAZARO, ANTONIO C. LEANO, ARTURO S. LEGASPI,
AMELIANO DELA CRUZ, JR., PANCHITO CRUZ, BENITO DE LEMOS, JR., PEDRO G. DE LEON, MANOLITO
REYNALDO B. DELA CRUZ, ROBERTO P. CRUZ, TEODORO C. LILOC, GERARDO LIMUACO, ERNESTO S. LISING,
S. CRUZ, ZOSIMO DELA CRUZ, DIONISIO A. CUARESMA, RENATO LISING, WILFREDO S. LISING, CRISPULO
FELIMON CUIZON, FERMIN DAGONDON, RICHARD LONTOC, PEDRO M. LOPERA, ROGELIO LOPERA,
DAGUINSIN, CRISANTO A. DATAY, NICASIO CARLITO M. LOPEZ, CLODY LOPEZ, GARLITO LOPEZ,
DANTINGUINOO, JOSE DATOON, EDUARDO DAVID, GEORGE F. LOPEZ, VIRGILIO M. LOPEZ, BERNARDITO G.
ENRICO T. DAVID, FAVIO DAVID, VICTORIANO S. DAVID, LOREJA, DOMINGO B. LORICO, DOMINGO LOYOLA,
EDGARDO N. DAYACAP, JOSELITO T. DELOSO, DANTE LUAGE, ANTONIO M. LUALHATI, EMMANUEL
CELERINO DE GUZMAN, ROMULO DE GUZMAN, LUALHATI, JR., LEONIDEZ C. LUALHATI, SEBASTIAN
LIBERATO DE GUZMAN, JOSE DE LEON, JOSELITO L. DE LUALHATI, FRANCISCO LUBAT, ARMANDO LUCERO,
LUMBAN, NAPOLEON S. DE LUNA, RICARDO DE RAMA, JOSELITO L. DE LUMBAN, THOMAS VICENTE O. LUNA,
GENEROSO DEL ROSARIO, ALBERTO DELA CRUZ, JOSE NOLI MACALADLAD, ALFREDO MACALINO, RICARDO
DELA CRUZ, LEONARDO DELOS REYES, ERNESTO F. MACALINO, ARTURO V. MACARAIG, ERNESTO V.
DIATA, EDUARDO A. DIAZ, FELIX DIAZ, MELCHOR DIAZ, MACARAIG, RODOLFO V. MACARAIG, BENJAMIN
NICANOR S. DIAZ, GERARDO C. DIGA, CLEMENTE MACATANGAY, HERMOGENES MACATANGAY, RODEL
DIMATULAC, ROLANDO DIONISIO, PHILIPP G. DISMAYA, MACATANGAY, ROMULO MACATANGAY, OSIAS Q.
BENJAMIN DOCTOLERO, ALBERTO STO. DOMINGO, MADLANGBAYAN, NICOLAS P. MADRID, EDELBERTO G.
BENJAMIN E. DOZA, BENJAMIN DUPA, DANILO C. DURAN, MAGAT, EFREN C. MAGBANUA, BENJAMIN MAGBUHAT,
GREGORIO D. DURAN, RENATO A. EDUARTE, ALFREDO C. MAGCALENG, ANTONIO MAGNAYE,
GODOFREDO E. EISMA, ARDON B. ELLO, UBED B. ELLO, ALFONSO MAGPANTAY, RICARDO C. MAGPANTAY,
JOSEFINO ENANO, REYNALDO ENCARNACION, SIMEON M. MAGPANTAY, ARMANDO M. MAGSINO,
EDGARDO ENGUANCIO, ELIAS EQUIPANO, FELIZARDO MACARIO S. MAGSINO, ANTONIO MAGTIBAY, VICTOR V.
ESCARMOSA, MIGUEL ESCARMOSA, ARMANDO MAGTIBAY, GERONIMO MAHILUM, MANUEL MALONZO,
ESCOBAR, ROMEO T. ESCUYOS, ANGELITO ESPIRITU, RICARDO MAMADIS, RODOLFO MANA, BERNARDO A.
EDUARDO S. ESPIRITU, REYNALDO ESPIRITU, ROLANDO MANALILI, MANUEL MANALILI, ANGELO MANALO,
ESPIRITU, JULIAN ESPREGANTE, IGMIDIO ESTANISLAO, AGUILES L. MANALO, LEOPOLDO MANGAHAS, BAYANI
ERNESTO M. ESTEBAN, MELANIO R. ESTRO, ERNESTO M. MANIGBAS, ROLANDO C. MANIMTIM, DANIEL
ESTEVA, CONRADO ESTUAR, CLYDE ESTUYE, ELISEO MANONSON, ERNESTO F. MANUEL, EDUARDO MANZANO,
FAJARDO, PORFIRIO FALQUEZA, WILFREDO P. RICARDO N. MAPA, RAMON MAPILE, ROBERTO C.
FAUSTINO, EMILIO E. FERNANDEZ, ARTEMIO FERRER, MARANA, NEMESIO MARASIGAN, WENCESLAO
MISAEL M. FIGURACION, ARMANDO F. FLORES, MARASIGAN, LEONARDO MARCELO, HENRY F. MARIANO,
BENJAMIN FLORES, EDGARDO C. FLORES, JOEL MARIDABLE, SANTOS E. MARINO, NARCISO A.
BUENAVENTURA FRANCISCO, MANUEL S. FRANCISCO, MARQUEZ, RICARDO MARTINEZ, DIEGO MASICAMPO,
ROLANDO FRANCISCO, VALERIANO FRANCISCO, AURELIO MATABERDE, RENATO MATILLA, VICTORIANO
RODOLFO GABAWAN, ESMERALDO GAHUTAN, CESAR C. MATILLA, VIRGILIO MEDEL, LOLITO M. MELECIO,
GALANG, SANTIAGO N. GALOSO, GABRIEL GAMBOA, BENIGNO MELENDEZ, RENER J. MEMIJE, REYNALDO F.
BERNARDO GANDAMON, JUAN GANZON, ANDRES MEMIJE, RODEL MEMIJE, AVELINO MENDOZA, JR.,
CLARO MENDOZA, TIMOTEO MENDOZA, GREGORIO SIMBAHON, DOMINGO SOLANO, JOSELITO C. SOLANTE,
MERCADO, ERNANI DELA MERCED, RICARDO MERCENA, CARLITO SOLIS, CONRADO SOLIS, III, EDGARDO SOLIS,
NEMESIO METRELLO, RODEL MEMIJE, GASPAR MINIMO, ERNESTO SOLIS, ISAGANI M. SOLIS, EDUARDO L. SOTTO,
BENJAMIN MIRANDA, FELIXBERTO D. MISA, CLAUDIO A. ERNESTO G. STA. MARIA, VICENTE G. STELLA, FELIMON
MODESTO, JR., OSCAR MONDEDO, GENEROSO MONTON, SUPANG, PETER TANGUINOO, MAXIMINO TALIBSAO,
RENATO MORADA, RICARDO MORADA, RODOLFO FELICISMO P. TALUSIK, FERMIN TARUC, JR., LEVY S.
MORADA, ROLANDO M. MORALES, FEDERICO M. TEMPLO, RODOLFO S. TIAMSON, LEONILO TIPOSO,
MORENO, VICTORINO A. MORTEL, JR., ESPIRITU A. ARNEL TOLENTINO, MARIO M. TOLENTINO, FELIPE
MUNOZ, IGNACIO MUNOZ, ILDEFONSO MUNOZ, ROGELIO TORRALBA, JOVITO V. TORRES, LEONARDO DE TORRES,
MUNOZ, ERNESTO NAPALAN, MARCELO A. NARCIZO, GAVINO U. TUAZON, AUGUSTO B. TUNGUIA, FRANCISCO
REYNALDO NATALIA, FERNANDO C. NAVARETTE, UMALI, SIMPLICIO UNIDA, WILFREDO V. UNTALAN,
PACIFICO D. NAVARRO, FLORANTE NAZARENO, RIZAL B. ANTONIO VALDERAMA, RAMON VALDERAMA, NILO
NAZARIO, JOSUE NEGRITE, ALFREDO NEPUMUCENO, VALENCIANO, EDGARDO C. VASQUEZ, ELPIDIO
HERBERT G. NG, FLORENCIO NICOLAS, ERNESTO C. VELASQUEZ, NESTOR DE VERA, WILFREDO D. VERA,
NINON, AVELINO NUQUI, NEMESIO D. OBA, DANILO BIENVENIDO VERGARA, ALFREDO VERGARA, RAMON R.
OCAMPO, EDGARDO OCAMPO, RODRIGO E. OCAMPO, VERZOSA, FELICITO P. VICMUNDO, ALFREDO
ANTONIO B. OCCIANO, REYNALDO P. OCSON, BENJAMIN VICTORIANO, TEOFILO P. VIDALLO, SABINO N. VIERNEZ,
ODESA, ANGEL OLASO, FRANCISCO OLIGARIO, ZOSIMO JESUS J. VILLA, JOVEN VILLABLANCO, EDGARDO G.
OLIMBO, BENJAMIN V. ORALLO, ROMEO S. ORIGINES, VILLAFLORES, CEFERINO VILLAGERA, ALEX
DANILO R. ORTANEZ, WILFREDO OSIAS, VIRGILIO PA-A, VILLAHERMOZA, DANILO A. VILLANUEVA, ELITO
DAVID PAALAN, JESUS N. PACHECO, ALFONSO L. VILLANUEVA, LEONARDO M. VILLANUEVA, MANUEL R.
PADILLA, DANILO PAGSANJAN, NUMERIANO VILLANUEVA, NEPTHALI VILLAR, JOSE V. VILLAREAL,
PAGSISIHAN, RICARDO T. PAGUIO, EMILIO PAKINGAN, FELICISIMO VILLARINO, RAFAEL VILLAROMAN, CARLOS
LEANDRO PALABRICA, QUINCIANO PALO, JOSE VILLENA, FERDINAND VIVO, ROBERTO YABUT, VICENTE
PAMATIAN, GONZALO PAN, PORFIRIO PAN, BIENVENIDO YNGENTE, AND ORO C. ZUNIGA, respondents.
PANGAN, ERNESTO PANGAN, FRANCISCO V. PASIA,
EDILBERTO PASIMIO, JR., JOSE V. PASION, ANGELITO M. Gerardo A. Del Mundo and Associates for petitioners.
PENA, DIONISIO PENDRAS, HERMINIO PERALTA,
REYNALDO M. PERALTA, ANTONIO PEREZ, ANTOLIANO
E. PEREZ, JUAN PEREZ, LEON PEREZ, ROMEO E. PEREZ, Romulo, Mabanta, Sayoc, Buenaventura, De los Angeles Law
ROMULO PEREZ, WILLIAM PEREZ, FERNANDO G. PERINO, Offices for BRII/AIBC.
FLORENTINO DEL PILAR, DELMAR F. PINEDA, SALVADOR
PINEDA, ELIZALDE PINPIN, WILFREDO PINPIN, ARTURO Florante M. De Castro for private respondents in 105029-32.
POBLETE, DOMINADOR R. PRIELA, BUENAVENTURA
PRUDENTE, CARMELITO PRUDENTE, DANTE PUEYO,
REYNALDO Q. PUEYO, RODOLFO O. PULIDO, ALEJANDRO
PUNIO, FEDERICO QUIMAN, ALFREDO L. QUINTO, ROMEO
QUINTOS, EDUARDO W. RACABO, RICARDO C. DE RAMA, QUIASON, J.:
RICARDO L. DE RAMA, ROLANDO DE RAMA, FERNANDO
A. RAMIREZ, LITO S. RAMIREZ, RICARDO G. RAMIREZ, The petition in G.R. No. 104776, entitled "Bienvenido M.
RODOLFO V. RAMIREZ, ALBERTO RAMOS, ANSELMO C. Cadalin, et. al. v. Philippine Overseas Employment
RAMOS, TOBIAS RAMOS, WILLARFREDO RAYMUNDO, Administration's Administrator, et. al.," was filed under Rule 65
REYNALDO RAQUEDAN, MANUEL F. RAVELAS, of the Revised Rules of Court:
WILFREDO D. RAYMUNDO, ERNESTO E. RECOLASO,
ALBERTO REDAZA, ARTHUR REJUSO, TORIBIO M.
(1) to modify the Resolution dated September
RELLAMA, JAIME RELLOSA, EUGENIO A. REMOQUILLO,
2, 1991 of the National Labor Relations
GERARDO RENTOZA, REDENTOR C. REY, ALFREDO S.
Commission (NLRC) in POEA Cases Nos.
REYES, AMABLE S. REYES, BENEDICTO R. REYES,
L-84-06-555, L-85-10-777, L-85-10-779 and
GREGORIO B. REYES, JOSE A. REYES, JOSE C. REYES,
L-86-05-460; (2) to render a new decision: (i)
ROMULO M. REYES, SERGIO REYES, ERNESTO F. RICO,
declaring private respondents as in default;
FERNANDO M. RICO, EMMANUEL RIETA, RICARDO RIETA,
(ii) declaring the said labor cases as a class
LEO B. ROBLES, RUBEN ROBLES, RODOLFO ROBLEZA,
suit; (iii) ordering Asia International Builders
RODRIGO ROBLEZA, EDUARDO ROCABO, ANTONIO R.
Corporation (AIBC) and Brown and Root
RODRIGUEZ, BERNARDO RODRIGUEZ, ELIGIO
International Inc. (BRII) to pay the claims of
RODRIGUEZ, ALMONTE ROMEO, ELIAS RONQUILLO,
the 1,767 claimants in said labor cases; (iv)
ELISE RONQUILLO, LUIS VAL B. RONQUILLO, REYNOSO
declaring Atty. Florante M. de Castro guilty of
P. RONQUILLO, RODOLFO RONQUILLO, ANGEL
forum-shopping; and (v) dismissing POEA
ROSALES, RAMON ROSALES, ALBERTO DEL ROSARIO,
Case No. L-86-05-460; and
GENEROSO DEL ROSARIO, TEODORICO DEL ROSARIO,
VIRGILIO L. ROSARIO, CARLITO SALVADOR, JOSE
SAMPARADA, ERNESTO SAN PEDRO, ADRIANO V. (3) to reverse the Resolution dated March 24,
SANCHA, GERONIMO M. SANCHA, ARTEMIO B. SANCHEZ, 1992 of NLRC, denying the motion for
NICASIO SANCHEZ, APOLONIO P. SANTIAGO, JOSELITO reconsideration of its Resolution dated
S. SANTIAGO, SERGIO SANTIAGO, EDILBERTO C. September 2, 1991 (Rollo, pp. 8-288).
SANTOS, EFREN S. SANTOS, RENATO D. SANTOS,
MIGUEL SAPUYOT, ALEX S. SERQUINA, DOMINADOR P. The petition in G.R. Nos. 104911-14, entitled "Bienvenido M.
SERRA, ROMEO SIDRO, AMADO M. SILANG, FAUSTINO D. Cadalin, et. al., v. Hon. National Labor Relations Commission,
SILANG, RODOLFO B. DE SILOS, ANICETO G. SILVA, et. al.," was filed under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court:
EDGARDO M. SILVA, ROLANDO C. SILVERTO, ARTHUR B.
(1) to reverse the Resolution dated from their recruitment by AIBC and employment by BRII (POEA
September 2, 1991 of NLRC in POEA Cases Case No. L-84-06-555). The claimants were represented by
Nos. L-84-06-555, L-85-10-777, L-85-10-799 Atty. Gerardo del Mundo.
and
L-86-05-460 insofar as it: (i) applied the three- BRII is a foreign corporation with headquarters in Houston,
year prescriptive period under the Labor Code Texas, and is engaged in construction; while AIBC is a domestic
of the Philippines instead of the ten-year corporation licensed as a service contractor to recruit, mobilize
prescriptive period under the Civil Code of the and deploy Filipino workers for overseas employment on behalf
Philippines; and (ii) denied the of its foreign principals.
"three-hour daily average" formula in the
computation of petitioners' overtime pay; and
The amended complaint principally sought the payment of the
unexpired portion of the employment contracts, which was
(2) to reverse the Resolution dated March 24, terminated prematurely, and secondarily, the payment of the
1992 of NLRC, denying the motion for interest of the earnings of the Travel and Reserved Fund,
reconsideration of its Resolution dated interest on all the unpaid benefits; area wage and salary
September 2, 1991 (Rollo, pp. 8-25; 26-220). differential pay; fringe benefits; refund of SSS and premium not
remitted to the SSS; refund of withholding tax not remitted to the
The petition in G.R. Nos. 105029-32, entitled "Asia International BIR; penalties for committing prohibited practices; as well as the
Builders Corporation, et. al., v. National Labor Relations suspension of the license of AIBC and the accreditation of BRII
Commission, et. al." was filed under Rule 65 of the Revised (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 13-14).
Rules of Court:
At the hearing on June 25, 1984, AIBC was furnished a copy of
(1) to reverse the Resolution dated the complaint and was given, together with BRII, up to July 5,
September 2, 1991 of NLRC in POEA Cases 1984 to file its answer.
Nos. L-84-06-555, L-85-10-777, L-85-10-779
and On July 3, 1984, POEA Administrator, upon motion of AIBC and
L-86-05-460, insofar as it granted the claims BRII, ordered the claimants to file a bill of particulars within ten
of 149 claimants; and days from receipt of the order and the movants to file their
answers within ten days from receipt of the bill of particulars. The
(2) to reverse the Resolution dated March 21, POEA Administrator also scheduled a pre-trial conference on
1992 of NLRC insofar as it denied the motions July 25, 1984.
for reconsideration of AIBC and BRII (Rollo,
pp. 2-59; 61-230). On July 13, 1984, the claimants submitted their "Compliance
and Manifestation." On July 23, 1984, AIBC filed a "Motion to
The Resolution dated September 2, 1991 of NLRC, which Strike Out of the Records", the "Complaint" and the "Compliance
modified the decision of POEA in four labor cases: (1) awarded and Manifestation." On July 25, 1984, the claimants filed their
monetary benefits only to 149 claimants and (2) directed Labor "Rejoinder and Comments," averring, among other matters, the
Arbiter Fatima J. Franco to conduct hearings and to receive failure of AIBC and BRII to file their answers and to attend the
evidence on the claims dismissed by the POEA for lack of pre-trial conference on July 25, 1984. The claimants alleged that
substantial evidence or proof of employment. AIBC and BRII had waived their right to present evidence and
had defaulted by failing to file their answers and to attend the
Consolidation of Cases pre-trial conference.

G.R. Nos. 104776 and 105029-32 were originally raffled to the On October 2, 1984, the POEA Administrator denied the "Motion
Third Division while G.R. Nos. 104911-14 were raffled to the to Strike Out of the Records" filed by AIBC but required the
Second Division. In the Resolution dated July 26, 1993, the claimants to correct the deficiencies in the complaint pointed out
Second Division referred G.R. Nos. 104911-14 to the Third in the order.
Division (G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, p. 895).
On October 10, 1984, claimants asked for time within which to
In the Resolution dated September 29, 1993, the Third Division comply with the Order of October 2, 1984 and filed an "Urgent
granted the motion filed in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 for the Manifestation," praying that the POEA Administrator direct the
consolidation of said cases with G.R. Nos. 104776 and 105029- parties to submit simultaneously their position papers, after
32, which were assigned to the First Division (G.R. Nos. 104911- which the case should be deemed submitted for decision. On
14, Rollo, pp. 986-1,107; G.R. Nos. 105029-30, Rollo, pp. 369- the same day, Atty. Florante de Castro filed another complaint
377, 426-432). In the Resolution dated October 27, 1993, the for the same money claims and benefits in behalf of several
First Division granted the motion to consolidate G.R. Nos. claimants, some of whom were also claimants in POEA Case
104911-14 with G.R. No. 104776 (G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, No. L-84-06-555 (POEA Case No. 85-10-779).
p. 1109; G.R. Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, p. 1562).
On October 19, 1984, claimants filed their "Compliance" with the
I Order dated October 2, 1984 and an "Urgent Manifestation,"
praying that the POEA direct the parties to submit
simultaneously their position papers after which the case would
On June 6, 1984, Bienvenido M.. Cadalin, Rolando M. Amul and be deemed submitted for decision. On the same day, AIBC
Donato B. Evangelista, in their own behalf and on behalf of 728 asked for time to file its comment on the "Compliance" and
other overseas contract workers (OCWs) instituted a class suit "Urgent Manifestation" of claimants. On November 6, 1984, it
by filing an "Amended Complaint" with the Philippine Overseas filed a second motion for extension of time to file the comment.
Employment Administration (POEA) for money claims arising
On November 8, 1984, the POEA Administrator informed AIBC On October 17, 1985, the law firm of Florante M. de Castro &
that its motion for extension of time was granted. Associates asked for the substitution of the original counsel of
record and the cancellation of the special powers of attorney
On November 14, 1984, claimants filed an opposition to the given the original counsel.
motions for extension of time and asked that AIBC and BRII be
declared in default for failure to file their answers. On December 12, 1985, Atty. Del Mundo filed in NLRC a notice
of the claim to enforce attorney's lien.
On November 20, 1984, AIBC and BRII filed a "Comment"
praying, among other reliefs, that claimants should be ordered On May 29, 1986, Atty. De Castro filed a complaint for money
to amend their complaint. claims (POEA Case No. 86-05-460) in behalf of 11 claimants
including Bienvenido Cadalin, a claimant in POEA Case No. 84-
On December 27, 1984, the POEA Administrator issued an 06-555.
order directing AIBC and BRII to file their answers within ten
days from receipt of the order. On December 12, 1986, the NLRC dismissed the two appeals
filed on February 27, 1985 and September 18, 1985 by AIBC
On February 27, 1985, AIBC and BRII appealed to NLRC and BRII.
seeking the reversal of the said order of the POEA
Administrator. Claimants opposed the appeal, claiming that it In narrating the proceedings of the labor cases before the POEA
was dilatory and praying that AIBC and BRII be declared in Administrator, it is not amiss to mention that two cases were filed
default. in the Supreme Court by the claimants, namely — G.R. No.
72132 on September 26, 1985 and Administrative Case No.
On April 2, 1985, the original claimants filed an "Amended 2858 on March 18, 1986. On May 13, 1987, the Supreme Court
Complaint and/or Position Paper" dated March 24, 1985, adding issued a resolution in Administrative Case No. 2858 directing the
new demands: namely, the payment of overtime pay, extra night POEA Administrator to resolve the issues raised in the motions
work pay, annual leave differential pay, leave indemnity pay, and oppositions filed in POEA Cases Nos. L-84-06-555 and L-
retirement and savings benefits and their share of forfeitures 86-05-460 and to decide the labor cases with deliberate
(G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 14-16). On April 15, 1985, the dispatch.
POEA Administrator directed AIBC to file its answer to the
amended complaint (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, p. 20). AIBC also filed a petition in the Supreme Court (G.R. No.
78489), questioning the Order dated September 4, 1985 of the
On May 28, 1985, claimants filed an "Urgent Motion for POEA Administrator. Said order required BRII and AIBC to
Summary Judgment." On the same day, the POEA issued an answer the amended complaint in POEA Case No. L-84-06-555.
order directing AIBC and BRII to file their answers to the In a resolution dated November 9, 1987, we dismissed the
"Amended Complaint," otherwise, they would be deemed to petition by informing AIBC that all its technical objections may
have waived their right to present evidence and the case would properly be resolved in the hearings before the POEA.
be resolved on the basis of complainant's evidence.
Complaints were also filed before the Ombudsman. The first
On June 5, 1985, AIBC countered with a "Motion to Dismiss as was filed on September 22, 1988 by claimant Hermie Arguelles
Improper Class Suit and Motion for Bill of Particulars Re: and 18 co-claimants against the POEA Administrator and
Amended Complaint dated March 24, 1985." Claimants several NLRC Commissioners. The Ombudsman merely
opposed the motions. 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 28, 1989
On September 4, 1985, the POEA Administrator reiterated his by claimants Emigdio P. Bautista and Rolando R. Lobeta
directive to AIBC and BRII to file their answers in POEA Case charging AIBC and BRII for violation of labor and social
No. L-84-06-555. legislations. The third was filed by Jose R. Santos, Maximino N.
Talibsao and Amado B. Bruce denouncing AIBC and BRII of
On September 18, 1985, AIBC filed its second appeal to the violations of labor laws.
NLRC, together with a petition for the issuance of a writ of
injunction. On September 19, 1985, NLRC enjoined the POEA On January 13, 1987, AIBC filed a motion for reconsideration of
Administrator from hearing the labor cases and suspended the the NLRC Resolution dated December 12, 1986.
period for the filing of the answers of AIBC and BRII.
On January 14, 1987, AIBC reiterated before the POEA
On September 19, 1985, claimants asked the POEA Administrator its motion for suspension of the period for filing an
Administrator to include additional claimants in the case and to answer or motion for extension of time to file the same until the
investigate alleged wrongdoings of BRII, AIBC and their resolution of its motion for reconsideration of the order of the
respective lawyers. NLRC dismissing the two appeals. On April 28, 1987, NLRC en
banc denied the motion for reconsideration.
On October 10, 1985, Romeo Patag and two co-claimants filed
a complaint (POEA Case No. L-85-10-777) against AIBC and At the hearing on June 19, 1987, AIBC submitted its answer to
BRII with the POEA, demanding monetary claims similar to the complaint. At the same hearing, the parties were given a
those subject of POEA Case No. L-84-06-555. In the same period of 15 days from said date within which to submit their
month, Solomon Reyes also filed his own complaint (POEA respective position papers. On June 24, 1987 claimants filed
Case No. L-85-10-779) against AIBC and BRII. their "Urgent Motion to Strike Out Answer," alleging that the
answer was filed out of time. On June 29, 1987, claimants filed
their "Supplement to Urgent Manifestational Motion" to comply
with the POEA Order of June 19, 1987. On February 24, 1988, are dismissed for having
AIBC and BRII submitted their position paper. On March 4, prescribed;
1988, claimants filed their "Ex-Parte Motion to Expunge from the
Records" the position paper of AIBC and BRII, claiming that it 2. Respondents AIBC and
was filed out of time. Brown & Root are hereby
ordered, jointly and
On September 1, 1988, the claimants represented by Atty. De severally, to pay the 149
Castro filed their memorandum in POEA Case No. L-86-05-460. complainants, identified
On September 6, 1988, AIBC and BRII submitted their and listed in Annex "B"
Supplemental Memorandum. On September 12, 1988, BRII filed hereof, the peso
its "Reply to Complainant's Memorandum." On October 26, equivalent, at the time of
1988, claimants submitted their "Ex-Parte Manifestational payment, of the total
Motion and Counter-Supplemental Motion," together with 446 amount in US dollars
individual contracts of employments and service records. On indicated opposite their
October 27, 1988, AIBC and BRII filed a "Consolidated Reply." respective names;

On January 30, 1989, the POEA Administrator rendered his 3. The awards given by the
decision in POEA Case No. L-84-06-555 and the other POEA to the 19
consolidated cases, which awarded the amount of $824,652.44 complainants classified
in favor of only 324 complainants. and listed in Annex "C"
hereof, who appear to have
On February 10, 1989, claimants submitted their "Appeal worked elsewhere than in
Memorandum For Partial Appeal" from the decision of the Bahrain are hereby set
POEA. On the same day, AIBC also filed its motion for aside.
reconsideration and/or appeal in addition to the "Notice of
Appeal" filed earlier on February 6, 1989 by another counsel for 4. All claims other than
AIBC. those indicated in Annex
"B", including those for
On February 17, 1989, claimants filed their "Answer to Appeal," overtime work and
praying for the dismissal of the appeal of AIBC and BRII. favorably granted by the
POEA, are hereby
dismissed for lack of
On March 15, 1989, claimants filed their "Supplement to substantial evidence in
Complainants' Appeal Memorandum," together with their "newly support thereof or are
discovered evidence" consisting of payroll records. beyond the competence of
this Commission to pass
On April 5, 1989, AIBC and BRII submitted to NLRC their upon.
"Manifestation," stating among other matters that there were
only 728 named claimants. On April 20, 1989, the claimants filed In addition, this Commission, in the exercise
their "Counter-Manifestation," alleging that there were 1,767 of of its powers and authority under Article
them. 218(c) of the Labor Code, as amended by
R.A. 6715, hereby directs Labor Arbiter
On July 27, 1989, claimants filed their "Urgent Motion for Fatima J. Franco of this Commission to
Execution" of the Decision dated January 30, 1989 on the summon parties, conduct hearings and
grounds that BRII had failed to appeal on time and AIBC had not receive evidence, as expeditiously as
posted the supersedeas bond in the amount of $824,652.44. possible, and thereafter submit a written
report to this Commission (First Division) of
On December 23, 1989, claimants filed another motion to the proceedings taken, regarding the claims
resolve the labor cases. of the following:

On August 21, 1990, claimants filed their "Manifestational (a) complainants identified
Motion," praying that all the 1,767 claimants be awarded their and listed in Annex "D"
monetary claims for failure of private respondents to file their attached and made an
answers within the reglamentary period required by law. integral part of this
Resolution, whose claims
were dismissed by the
On September 2, 1991, NLRC promulgated its Resolution, POEA for lack of proof of
disposing as follows: employment in Bahrain
(these complainants
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the numbering 683, are listed
Decision of the POEA in these consolidated in pages 13 to 23 of the
cases is modified to the extent and in decision of POEA, subject
accordance with the following dispositions: of the appeals) and,

1. The claims of the 94 (b) complainants identified


complainants identified and and listed in Annex "E"
listed in Annex "A" hereof attached and made an
integral part of this pp. 518-626; G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp.
Resolution, whose awards 407-516);
decreed by the POEA, to
Our mind, are not 4) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
supported by substantial claimant Antonio T. Anglo and 17 co-
evidence" (G.R. No. claimants dated October 14, 1992 (G.R. Nos.
104776; Rollo, pp. 113- 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 778-843; G.R. No.
115; G.R. Nos. 104911-14, 104776, Rollo, pp. 650-713; G.R. Nos.
pp. 85-87; G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 530-590);
105029-31, pp. 120-122).
5) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
On November 27, 1991, claimant Amado S. Tolentino and 12 claimant Dionisio Bobongo and 6 co-
co-claimants, who were former clients of Atty. Del Mundo, filed claimants dated January 15, 1993 (G.R. No.
a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court (G.R. Nos. 104776, Rollo, pp. 813-836; G.R. Nos.
120741-44). The petition was dismissed in a resolution dated 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 629-652);
January 27, 1992.
6) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
Three motions for reconsideration of the September 2, 1991 claimant Valerio A. Evangelista and 4 co-
Resolution of the NLRC were filed. The first, by the claimants claimants dated March 10, 1993 (G.R. Nos.
represented by Atty. Del Mundo; the second, by the claimants 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 731-746; G.R. No.
represented by Atty. De Castro; and the third, by AIBC and BRII. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1815-1829);

In its Resolution dated March 24, 1992, NLRC denied all the 7) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
motions for reconsideration. claimants Palconeri Banaag and 5 co-
claimants dated March 17, 1993 (G.R. No.
Hence, these petitions filed by the claimants represented by 104776, Rollo, pp. 1657-1703; G.R. Nos.
Atty. Del Mundo (G.R. No. 104776), the claimants represented 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 655-675);
by Atty. De Castro (G.R. Nos. 104911-14) and by AIBC and BRII
(G.R. Nos. 105029-32). 8) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
claimant Benjamin Ambrosio and 15 other co-
II claimants dated May 4, 1993 (G.R. Nos.
105029-32, Rollo, pp. 906-956; G.R. Nos.
Compromise Agreements 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 679-729; G.R. No.
104776, Rollo, pp. 1773-1814);
Before this Court, the claimants represented by Atty. De Castro
and AIBC and BRII have submitted, from time to time, 9) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
compromise agreements for our approval and jointly moved for Valerio Evangelista and 3 co-claimants dated
the dismissal of their respective petitions insofar as the May 10, 1993 (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp.
claimants-parties to the compromise agreements were 1815-1829);
concerned (See Annex A for list of claimants who signed
quitclaims). 10) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
petitioner Quiterio R. Agudo and 36 co-
Thus the following manifestations that the parties had arrived at claimants dated June 14, 1993 (G.R. Nos.
a compromise agreement and the corresponding motions for the 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 974-1190; G.R. Nos.
approval of the agreements were filed by the parties and 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 748-864; G.R. No.
approved by the Court: 104776, Rollo, pp. 1066-1183);

1) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving 11) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
claimant Emigdio Abarquez and 47 co- claimant Arnaldo J. Alonzo and 19 co-
claimants dated September 2, 1992 (G.R. claimants dated July 22, 1993 (G.R. No.
Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 263-406; G.R. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1173-1235; G.R. Nos.
Nos. 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 1193-1256; G.R. Nos.
470-615); 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 896-959);

2) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving 12) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
petitioner Bienvenido Cadalin and 82 co- claimant Ricardo C. Dayrit and 2 co-claimants
petitioners dated September 3, 1992 (G.R. dated September 7, 1993 (G.R. Nos.
No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 364-507); 105029-32, Rollo, pp. 1266-1278; G.R. No.
104776, Rollo, pp. 1243-1254; G.R. Nos.
104911-14, Rollo, pp. 972-984);
3) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
claimant Jose
M. Aban and 36 co-claimants dated 13) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
September 17, 1992 (G.R. Nos. 105029-32, claimant Dante C. Aceres and 37 co-
Rollo, pp. 613-722; G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, claimants dated September 8, 1993 (G.R. No.
104776, Rollo, pp. 1257-1375; G.R. Nos.
104911-14, Rollo, pp. 987-1105; G.R. Nos. xxx xxx xxx
105029-32, Rollo, pp. 1280-1397);
3. HOURS OF WORK AND
14) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving COMPENSATION
Vivencio V. Abella and 27 co-claimants dated
January 10, 1994 (G.R. Nos. 105029-32, a) The Employee is employed at the hourly
Rollo, Vol. II); rate and overtime rate as set out in Part B of
this Document.
15) Joint Manifestation and Motion involving
Domingo B. Solano and six co-claimants b) The hours of work shall be those set forth
dated August 25, 1994 (G.R. Nos. 105029-32; by the Employer, and Employer may, at his
G.R. No. 104776; G.R. Nos. 104911-14). sole option, change or adjust such hours as
maybe deemed necessary from time to time.
III
4. TERMINATION
The facts as found by the NLRC are as follows:
a) Notwithstanding any other terms and
We have taken painstaking efforts to sift over conditions of this agreement, the Employer
the more than fifty volumes now comprising may, at his sole discretion, terminate
the records of these cases. From the records, employee's service with cause, under this
it appears that the complainants-appellants agreement at any time. If the Employer
allege that they were recruited by respondent- terminates the services of the Employee
appellant AIBC for its accredited foreign under this Agreement because of the
principal, Brown & Root, on various dates completion or termination, or suspension of
from 1975 to 1983. They were all deployed at the work on which the Employee's services
various projects undertaken by Brown & Root were being utilized, or because of a reduction
in several countries in the Middle East, such in force due to a decrease in scope of such
as Saudi Arabia, Libya, United Arab Emirates work, or by change in the type of construction
and Bahrain, as well as in Southeast Asia, in of such work. The Employer will be
Indonesia and Malaysia. responsible for his return transportation to his
country of origin. Normally on the most
Having been officially processed as overseas expeditious air route, economy class
contract workers by the Philippine accommodation.
Government, all the individual complainants
signed standard overseas employment xxx xxx xxx
contracts (Records, Vols. 25-32. Hereafter,
reference to the records would be sparingly 10. VACATION/SICK LEAVE BENEFITS
made, considering their chaotic arrangement)
with AIBC before their departure from the
Philippines. These overseas employment a) After one (1) year of continuous service
contracts invariably contained the following and/or satisfactory completion of contract,
relevant terms and conditions. employee shall be entitled to 12-days
vacation leave with pay. This shall be
computed at the basic wage rate. Fractions of
PART B — a year's service will be computed on a pro-
rata basis.
(1) Employment Position Classification :——
——————— b) Sick leave of 15-days shall be granted to
(Code) :————————— the employee for every year of service for
non-work connected injuries or illness. If the
(2) Company Employment Status :————— employee failed to avail of such leave
———— benefits, the same shall be forfeited at the end
(3) Date of Employment to Commence on :— of the year in which said sick leave is granted.
————————
(4) Basic Working Hours Per Week :———— 11. BONUS
—————
(5) Basic Working Hours Per Month :————
————— A bonus of 20% (for offshore work) of gross
(6) Basic Hourly Rate :————————— income will be accrued and payable only upon
(7) Overtime Rate Per Hour :——————— satisfactory completion of this contract.
——
(8) Projected Period of Service 12. OFFDAY PAY
(Subject to C(1) of this [sic]) :———————
—— The seventh day of the week shall be
Months and/or observed as a day of rest with 8 hours regular
Job Completion pay. If work is performed on this day, all hours
work shall be paid at the premium rate. A worker shall be entitled to
However, this offday pay provision is such leave upon a quantum
applicable only when the laws of the Host meruit in respect of the
Country require payments for rest day. proportion of his service in
that year.
In the State of Bahrain, where some of the
individual complainants were deployed, His Art. 107: A contract of
Majesty Isa Bin Salman Al Kaifa, Amir of employment made for a
Bahrain, issued his Amiri Decree No. 23 on period of indefinite duration
June 16, 1976, otherwise known as the may be terminated by
Labour Law for the Private Sector (Records, either party thereto after
Vol. 18). This decree took effect on August 16, giving the other party thirty
1976. Some of the provisions of Amiri Decree days' prior notice before
No. 23 that are relevant to the claims of the such termination, in writing,
complainants-appellants are as follows (italics in respect of monthly paid
supplied only for emphasis): workers and fifteen days'
notice in respect of other
Art. 79: . . . A worker shall workers. The party
receive payment for each terminating a contract
extra hour equivalent to his without giving the required
wage entitlement notice shall pay to the other
increased by a minimum of party compensation
twenty-five per centum equivalent to the amount of
thereof for hours worked wages payable to the
during the day; and by a worker for the period of
minimum of fifty per centum such notice or the
thereof for hours worked unexpired portion thereof.
during the night which shall
be deemed to being from Art. 111: . . . the employer
seven o'clock in the concerned shall pay to
evening until seven o'clock such worker, upon
in the morning. . . . termination of employment,
a leaving indemnity for the
Art. 80: Friday shall be period of his employment
deemed to be a weekly day calculated on the basis of
of rest on full pay. fifteen days' wages for
each year of the first three
years of service and of one
. . . an employer may month's wages for each
require a worker, with his year of service thereafter.
consent, to work on his Such worker shall be
weekly day of rest if entitled to payment of
circumstances so require leaving indemnity upon a
and in respect of which an quantum meruit in
additional sum equivalent proportion to the period of
to 150% of his normal wage his service completed
shall be paid to him. . . . within a year.

Art. 81: . . . When All the individual


conditions of work require complainants-appellants
the worker to work on any have already been
official holiday, he shall be repatriated to the
paid an additional sum Philippines at the time of
equivalent to 150% of his the filing of these cases
normal wage. (R.R. No. 104776, Rollo,
pp. 59-65).
Art. 84: Every worker who
has completed one year's IV
continuous service with his
employer shall be entitled
to leave on full pay for a The issues raised before and resolved by the NLRC were:
period of not less than 21
days for each year First: — Whether or not complainants are
increased to a period not entitled to the benefits provided by Amiri
less than 28 days after five Decree No. 23 of Bahrain;
continuous years of
service. (a) Whether or not the
complainants who have
worked in Bahrain are jointly are severally liable for the judgment
entitled to the above- awards despite the alleged finding that the
mentioned benefits. former was the employer of the complainants;

(b) Whether or not Art. 44 of (a) Whether or not the


the same Decree (allegedly POEA has acquired
prescribing a more jurisdiction over Brown &
favorable treatment of alien Root;
employees) bars
complainants from (b) Whether or not the
enjoying its benefits. undisputed fact that AIBC
was a licensed construction
Second: — Assuming that Amiri Decree No. contractor precludes a
23 of Bahrain is applicable in these cases, finding that Brown & Root is
whether or not complainants' claim for the liable for complainants
benefits provided therein have prescribed. claims.

Third: — Whether or not the instant cases Sixth: — Whether or not the POEA
qualify as a class suit. Administrator's failure to hold respondents in
default constitutes a reversible error.
Fourth: — Whether or not the proceedings
conducted by the POEA, as well as the Seventh: — Whether or not the POEA
decision that is the subject of these appeals, Administrator erred in dismissing the following
conformed with the requirements of due claims:
process;
a. Unexpired portion of
(a) Whether or not the contract;
respondent-appellant was
denied its right to due b. Interest earnings of
process; Travel and Reserve Fund;

(b) Whether or not the c. Retirement and Savings


admission of evidence by Plan benefits;
the POEA after these
cases were submitted for
decision was valid; d. War Zone bonus or
premium pay of at least
100% of basic pay;
(c) Whether or not the
POEA acquired jurisdiction
over Brown & Root e. Area Differential Pay;
International, Inc.;
f. Accrued interests on all
(d) Whether or not the the unpaid benefits;
judgment awards are
supported by substantial g. Salary differential pay;
evidence;
h. Wage differential pay;
(e) Whether or not the
awards based on the i. Refund of SSS premiums
averages and formula not remitted to SSS;
presented by the
complainants-appellants
are supported by j. Refund of withholding tax
substantial evidence; not remitted to BIR;

(f) Whether or not the k. Fringe benefits under B


POEA awarded sums & R's "A Summary of
beyond what the Employee Benefits" (Annex
complainants-appellants "Q" of Amended
prayed for; and, if so, Complaint);
whether or not these
awards are valid. l. Moral and exemplary
damages;
Fifth: — Whether or not the POEA erred in
holding respondents AIBC and Brown & Root
m. Attorney's fees of at employer of the complainants, or at the very least, the indirect
least ten percent of the employer, with AIBC as the labor contractor.
judgment award;
NLRC also held that jurisdiction over BRII was acquired by the
n. Other reliefs, like POEA Administrator through the summons served on AIBC, its
suspending and/or local agent.
cancelling the license to
recruit of AIBC and the On the sixth issue, NLRC held that the POEA Administrator was
accreditation of B & R correct in denying the Motion to Declare AIBC in default.
issued by POEA;
On the seventh issue, which involved other money claims not
o. Penalty for violations of based on the Amiri Decree No. 23, NLRC ruled:
Article 34 (prohibited
practices), not excluding
reportorial requirements (1) that the POEA Administrator has no
thereof. jurisdiction over the claims for refund of the
SSS premiums and refund of withholding
taxes and the claimants should file their
Eighth: — Whether or not the POEA claims for said refund with the appropriate
Administrator erred in not dismissing POEA government agencies;
Case No. (L) 86-65-460 on the ground of
multiplicity of suits (G.R. Nos. 104911-14,
Rollo, pp. 25-29, 51-55). (2) the claimants failed to establish that they
are entitled to the claims which are not based
on the overseas employment contracts nor
Anent the first issue, NLRC set aside Section 1, Rule 129 of the the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976;
1989 Revised Rules on Evidence governing the pleading and
proof of a foreign law and admitted in evidence a simple copy of
the Bahrain's Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 (Labour Law for the (3) that the POEA Administrator has no
Private Sector). NLRC invoked Article 221 of the Labor Code of jurisdiction over claims for moral and
the Philippines, vesting on the Commission ample discretion to exemplary damages and nonetheless, the
use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in basis for granting said damages was not
each case without regard to the technicalities of law or established;
procedure. NLRC agreed with the POEA Administrator that the
Amiri Decree No. 23, being more favorable and beneficial to the (4) that the claims for salaries corresponding
workers, should form part of the overseas employment contract to the unexpired portion of their contract may
of the complainants. be allowed if filed within the three-year
prescriptive period;
NLRC, however, held that the Amiri Decree No. 23 applied only
to the claimants, who worked in Bahrain, and set aside awards (5) that the allegation that complainants were
of the POEA Administrator in favor of the claimants, who worked prematurely repatriated prior to the expiration
elsewhere. of their overseas contract was not
established; and
On the second issue, NLRC ruled that the prescriptive period for
the filing of the claims of the complainants was three years, as (6) that the POEA Administrator has no
provided in Article 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, and jurisdiction over the complaint for the
not ten years as provided in Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the suspension or cancellation of the AIBC's
Philippines nor one year as provided in the Amiri Decree No. 23 recruitment license and the cancellation of the
of 1976. accreditation of BRII.

On the third issue, NLRC agreed with the POEA Administrator NLRC passed sub silencio the last issue, the claim that POEA
that the labor cases cannot be treated as a class suit for the Case No. (L) 86-65-460 should have been dismissed on the
simple reason that not all the complainants worked in Bahrain ground that the claimants in said case were also claimants in
and therefore, the subject matter of the action, the claims arising POEA Case No. (L) 84-06-555. Instead of dismissing POEA
from the Bahrain law, is not of common or general interest to all Case No. (L) 86-65-460, the POEA just resolved the
the complainants. corresponding claims in POEA Case No. (L) 84-06-555. In other
words, the POEA did not pass upon the same claims twice.
On the fourth issue, NLRC found at least three infractions of the
cardinal rules of administrative due process: namely, (1) the V
failure of the POEA Administrator to consider the evidence
presented by AIBC and BRII; (2) some findings of fact were not G.R. No. 104776
supported by substantial evidence; and (3) some of the evidence
upon which the decision was based were not disclosed to AIBC
and BRII during the hearing. Claimants in G.R. No. 104776 based their petition for certiorari
on the following grounds:
On the fifth issue, NLRC sustained the ruling of the POEA
Administrator that BRII and AIBC are solidarily liable for the (1) that they were deprived by NLRC and the
claims of the complainants and held that BRII was the actual POEA of their right to a speedy disposition of
their cases as guaranteed by Section 16, (4) that the prescriptive period for filing the
Article III of the 1987 Constitution. The POEA claims is that prescribed by Article 291 of the
Administrator allowed private respondents to Labor Code of the Philippines (three years)
file their answers in two years (on June 19, and not the one prescribed by Article 1144 of
1987) after the filing of the original complaint the Civil Code of the Philippines (ten years);
(on April 2, 1985) and NLRC, in total disregard and
of its own rules, affirmed the action of the
POEA Administrator; (5) that they are not concerned with the issue
of whether POEA Case No. L-86-05-460
(2) that NLRC and the POEA Administrator should be dismissed, this being a private
should have declared AIBC and BRII in quarrel between the two labor lawyers (Rollo,
default and should have rendered summary pp. 292-305).
judgment on the basis of the pleadings and
evidence submitted by claimants; Attorney's Lien

(3) the NLRC and POEA Administrator erred On November 12, 1992, Atty. Gerardo A. del Mundo moved to
in not holding that the labor cases filed by strike out the joint manifestations and motions of AIBC and BRII
AIBC and BRII cannot be considered a class dated September 2 and 11, 1992, claiming that all the claimants
suit; who entered into the compromise agreements subject of said
manifestations and motions were his clients and that Atty.
(4) that the prescriptive period for the filing of Florante M. de Castro had no right to represent them in said
the claims is ten years; and agreements. He also claimed that the claimants were paid less
than the award given them by NLRC; that Atty. De Castro
(5) that NLRC and the POEA Administrator collected additional attorney's fees on top of the 25% which he
should have dismissed POEA Case No. L-86- was entitled to receive; and that the consent of the claimants to
05-460, the case filed by Atty. Florante de the compromise agreements and quitclaims were procured by
Castro (Rollo, pp. 31-40). fraud (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 838-810). In the Resolution
dated November 23, 1992, the Court denied the motion to strike
out the Joint Manifestations and Motions dated September 2 and
AIBC and BRII, commenting on the petition in G.R. No. 104776, 11, 1992 (G.R. Nos. 104911-14, Rollo, pp. 608-609).
argued:
On December 14, 1992, Atty. Del Mundo filed a "Notice and
(1) that they were not responsible for the Claim to Enforce Attorney's Lien," alleging that the claimants
delay in the disposition of the labor cases, who entered into compromise agreements with AIBC and BRII
considering the great difficulty of getting all with the assistance of Atty. De Castro, had all signed a retainer
the records of the more than 1,500 claimants, agreement with his law firm (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 623-
the piece-meal filing of the complaints and the 624; 838-1535).
addition of hundreds of new claimants by
petitioners;
Contempt of Court
(2) that considering the number of complaints
and claimants, it was impossible to prepare On February 18, 1993, an omnibus motion was filed by Atty. Del
the answers within the ten-day period Mundo to cite Atty. De Castro and Atty. Katz Tierra for contempt
provided in the NLRC Rules, that when the of court and for violation of Canons 1, 15 and 16 of the Code of
motion to declare AIBC in default was filed on Professional Responsibility. The said lawyers allegedly misled
July 19, 1987, said party had already filed its this Court, by making it appear that the claimants who entered
answer, and that considering the staggering into the compromise agreements were represented by Atty. De
amount of the claims (more than Castro, when in fact they were represented by Atty. Del Mundo
US$50,000,000.00) and the complicated (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 1560-1614).
issues raised by the parties, the ten-day rule
to answer was not fair and reasonable; On September 23, 1994, Atty. Del Mundo reiterated his charges
against Atty. De Castro for unethical practices and moved for the
(3) that the claimants failed to refute NLRC's voiding of the quitclaims submitted by some of the claimants.
finding that
there was no common or general interest in G.R. Nos. 104911-14
the subject matter of the controversy — which
was the applicability of the Amiri Decree No. The claimants in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 based their petition for
23. Likewise, the nature of the claims varied, certiorari on the grounds that NLRC gravely abused its
some being based on salaries pertaining to discretion when it: (1) applied the three-year prescriptive period
the unexpired portion of the contracts while under the Labor Code of the Philippines; and (2) it denied the
others being for pure money claims. Each claimant's formula based on an average overtime pay of three
claimant demanded separate claims peculiar hours a day (Rollo, pp. 18-22).
only to himself and depending upon the
particular circumstances obtaining in his
case; The claimants argue that said method was proposed by BRII
itself during the negotiation for an amicable settlement of their
money claims in Bahrain as shown in the Memorandum dated
April 16, 1983 of the Ministry of Labor of Bahrain (Rollo, pp. 21- In the instant case, what the respondents
22). violated are not the rights of the workers as
provided by the Labor Code, but the
BRII and AIBC, in their Comment, reiterated their contention in provisions of the Amiri Decree No. 23 issued
G.R. No. 104776 that the prescriptive period in the Labor Code in Bahrain, which ipso facto amended the
of the Philippines, a special law, prevails over that provided in worker's contracts of employment.
the Civil Code of the Philippines, a general law. Respondents consciously failed to conform to
these provisions which specifically provide for
the increase of the worker's rate. It was only
As to the memorandum of the Ministry of Labor of Bahrain on after June 30, 1983, four months after the
the method of computing the overtime pay, BRII and AIBC brown builders brought a suit against B & R in
claimed that they were not bound by what appeared therein, Bahrain for this same claim, when respondent
because such memorandum was proposed by a subordinate AIBC's contracts have undergone
Bahrain official and there was no showing that it was approved amendments in Bahrain for the new
by the Bahrain Minister of Labor. Likewise, they claimed that the hires/renewals (Respondent's Exhibit 7).
averaging method was discussed in the course of the
negotiation for the amicable settlement of the dispute and any
offer made by a party therein could not be used as an admission Hence, premises considered, the applicable
by him (Rollo, pp. 228-236). law of prescription to this instant case is
Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines, which provides:
G.R. Nos. 105029-32
Art. 1144. The following
In G.R. Nos. 105029-32, BRII and AIBC claim that NLRC gravely actions may be brought
abused its discretion when it: (1) enforced the provisions of the within ten years from the
Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 and not the terms of the time the cause of action
employment contracts; (2) granted claims for holiday, overtime accrues:
and leave indemnity pay and other benefits, on evidence
admitted in contravention of petitioner's constitutional right to
due process; and (3) ordered the POEA Administrator to hold (1) Upon a written contract;
new hearings for the 683 claimants whose claims had been
dismissed for lack of proof by the POEA Administrator or NLRC (2) Upon an obligation
itself. Lastly, they allege that assuming that the Amiri Decree No. created by law;
23 of 1976 was applicable, NLRC erred when it did not apply the
one-year prescription provided in said law (Rollo, pp. 29-30). Thus, herein money claims of the
complainants against the respondents shall
VI prescribe in ten years from August 16, 1976.
Inasmuch as all claims were filed within the
G.R. No. 104776; G.R. Nos. 104911-14; G.R. Nos. 105029-32 ten-year prescriptive period, no claim suffered
the infirmity of being prescribed (G.R. No.
104776, Rollo, 89-90).
All the petitions raise the common issue of prescription although
they disagreed as to the time that should be embraced within
the prescriptive period. In overruling the POEA Administrator, and holding that the
prescriptive period is three years as provided in Article 291 of
the Labor Code of the Philippines, the NLRC argued as follows:
To the POEA Administrator, the prescriptive period was ten
years, applying Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
NLRC believed otherwise, fixing the prescriptive period at three The Labor Code provides that "all money
years as provided in Article 291 of the Labor Code of the claims arising from employer-employee
Philippines. relations . . . shall be filed within three years
from the time the cause of action accrued;
otherwise they shall be forever barred" (Art.
The claimants in G.R. No. 104776 and G.R. Nos. 104911-14, 291, Labor Code, as amended). This three-
invoking different grounds, insisted that NLRC erred in ruling year prescriptive period shall be the one
that the prescriptive period applicable to the claims was three applied here and which should be reckoned
years, instead of ten years, as found by the POEA Administrator. from the date of repatriation of each individual
complainant, considering the fact that the
The Solicitor General expressed his personal view that the case is having (sic) filed in this country. We do
prescriptive period was one year as prescribed by the Amiri not agree with the POEA Administrator that
Decree No. 23 of 1976 but he deferred to the ruling of NLRC that this three-year prescriptive period applies
Article 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines was the only to money claims specifically recoverable
operative law. under the Philippine Labor Code. Article 291
gives no such indication. Likewise, We can
The POEA Administrator held the view that: not consider complainants' cause/s of action
to have accrued from a violation of their
employment contracts. There was no
These money claims (under Article 291 of the violation; the claims arise from the benefits of
Labor Code) refer to those arising from the the law of the country where they worked.
employer's violation of the employee's right as (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp.
provided by the Labor Code. 90-91).
Anent the applicability of the one-year prescriptive period as (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp.
provided by the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976, NLRC opined that 92-94).
the applicability of said law was one of characterization, i.e.,
whether to characterize the foreign law on prescription or statute Claimants in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 are of the view that Article
of limitation as "substantive" or "procedural." NLRC cited the 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, which was applied by
decision in Bournias v. Atlantic Maritime Company (220 F. 2d. NLRC, refers only to claims "arising from the employer's
152, 2d Cir. [1955], where the issue was the applicability of the violation of the employee's right as provided by the Labor Code."
Panama Labor Code in a case filed in the State of New York for They assert that their claims are based on the violation of their
claims arising from said Code. In said case, the claims would employment contracts, as amended by the Amiri Decree No. 23
have prescribed under the Panamanian Law but not under the of 1976 and therefore the claims may be brought within ten years
Statute of Limitations of New York. The U.S. Circuit Court of as provided by Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
Appeals held that the Panamanian Law was procedural as it was (Rollo, G.R. Nos. 104911-14, pp.
not "specifically intended to be substantive," hence, the 18-21). To bolster their contention, they cite PALEA v. Philippine
prescriptive period provided in the law of the forum should apply. Airlines, Inc., 70 SCRA 244 (1976).
The Court observed:
AIBC and BRII, insisting that the actions on the claims have
. . . And where, as here, we are dealing with a prescribed under the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976, argue that
statute of limitations of a foreign country, and there is in force in the Philippines a "borrowing law," which is
it is not clear on the face of the statute that its Section 48 of the Code of Civil Procedure and that where such
purpose was to limit the enforceability, kind of law exists, it takes precedence over the common-law
outside as well as within the foreign country conflicts rule (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 45-46).
concerned, of the substantive rights to which
the statute pertains, we think that as a
yardstick for determining whether that was the First to be determined is whether it is the Bahrain law on
purpose this test is the most satisfactory one. prescription of action based on the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976
It does not lead American courts into the or a Philippine law on prescription that shall be the governing
necessity of examining into the unfamiliar law.
peculiarities and refinements of different
foreign legal systems. . . Article 156 of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 provides:

The court further noted: A claim arising out of a contract of


employment shall not be actionable after the
xxx xxx xxx lapse of one year from the date of the expiry
of the contract. (G.R. Nos. 105029-31, Rollo,
p. 226).
Applying that test here it appears to us that
the libelant is entitled to succeed, for the
respondents have failed to satisfy us that the As a general rule, a foreign procedural law will not be applied in
Panamanian period of limitation in question the forum. Procedural matters, such as service of process,
was specifically aimed against the particular joinder of actions, period and requisites for appeal, and so forth,
rights which the libelant seeks to enforce. The are governed by the laws of the forum. This is true even if the
Panama Labor Code is a statute having broad action is based upon a foreign substantive law (Restatement of
objectives, viz: "The present Code regulates the Conflict of Laws, Sec. 685; Salonga, Private International
the relations between capital and labor, Law, 131 [1979]).
placing them on a basis of social justice, so
that, without injuring any of the parties, there A law on prescription of actions is sui generis in Conflict of Laws
may be guaranteed for labor the necessary in the sense that it may be viewed either as procedural or
conditions for a normal life and to capital an substantive, depending on the characterization given such a
equitable return to its investment." In law.
pursuance of these objectives the Code gives
laborers various rights against their Thus in Bournias v. Atlantic Maritime Company, supra, the
employers. Article 623 establishes the period American court applied the statute of limitations of New York,
of limitation for all such rights, except certain instead of the Panamanian law, after finding that there was no
ones which are enumerated in Article 621. showing that the Panamanian law on prescription was intended
And there is nothing in the record to indicate to be substantive. Being considered merely a procedural law
that the Panamanian legislature gave special even in Panama, it has to give way to the law of the forum on
consideration to the impact of Article 623 prescription of actions.
upon the particular rights sought to be
enforced here, as distinguished from the other
rights to which that Article is also applicable. However, the characterization of a statute into a procedural or
Were we confronted with the question of substantive law becomes irrelevant when the country of the
whether the limitation period of Article 621 forum has a "borrowing statute." Said statute has the practical
(which carves out particular rights to be effect of treating the foreign statute of limitation as one of
governed by a shorter limitation period) is to substance (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws 152-153 [1938]). A
be regarded as "substantive" or "procedural" "borrowing statute" directs the state of the forum to apply the
under the rule of "specifity" we might have a foreign statute of limitations to the pending claims based on a
different case; but here on the surface of foreign law (Siegel, Conflicts, 183 [1975]). While there are
things we appear to be dealing with a "broad," several kinds of "borrowing statutes," one form provides that an
and not a "specific," statute of limitations action barred by the laws of the place where it accrued, will not
be enforced in the forum even though the local statute has not (3) Upon a judgment.
run against it (Goodrich and Scoles, Conflict of Laws, 152-153
[1938]). Section 48 of our Code of Civil Procedure is of this kind. NLRC, on the other hand, believes that the applicable provision
Said Section provides: is Article 291 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, which in
pertinent part provides:
If by the laws of the state or country where the
cause of action arose, the action is barred, it Money claims-all money claims arising from
is also barred in the Philippines Islands. employer-employee relations accruing during
the effectivity of this Code shall be filed within
Section 48 has not been repealed or amended by the Civil Code three (3) years from the time the cause of
of the Philippines. Article 2270 of said Code repealed only those action accrued, otherwise they shall be
provisions of the Code of Civil Procedures as to which were forever barred.
inconsistent with it. There is no provision in the Civil Code of the
Philippines, which is inconsistent with or contradictory to Section xxx xxx xxx
48 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Paras, Philippine Conflict of
Laws 104 [7th ed.]).
The case of Philippine Air Lines Employees Association v.
Philippine Air Lines, Inc., 70 SCRA 244 (1976) invoked by the
In the light of the 1987 Constitution, however, Section 48 cannot claimants in G.R. Nos. 104911-14 is inapplicable to the cases at
be enforced ex proprio vigore insofar as it ordains the application bench (Rollo, p. 21). The said case involved the correct
in this jurisdiction of Section 156 of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of computation of overtime pay as provided in the collective
1976. bargaining agreements and not the Eight-Hour Labor Law.

The courts of the forum will not enforce any foreign claim As noted by the Court: "That is precisely why petitioners did not
obnoxious to the forum's public policy (Canadian Northern make any reference as to the computation for overtime work
Railway Co. v. Eggen, 252 U.S. 553, 40 S. Ct. 402, 64 L. ed. under the Eight-Hour Labor Law (Secs. 3 and 4, CA No. 494)
713 [1920]). To enforce the one-year prescriptive period of the and instead insisted that work computation provided in the
Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 as regards the claims in question collective bargaining agreements between the parties be
would contravene the public policy on the protection to labor. observed. Since the claim for pay differentials is primarily
anchored on the written contracts between the litigants, the ten-
In the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, the 1987 year prescriptive period provided by Art. 1144(1) of the New Civil
Constitution emphasized that: Code should govern."

The state shall promote social justice in all Section 7-a of the Eight-Hour Labor Law (CA No. 444 as
phases of national development. (Sec. 10). amended by R.A. No. 19933) provides:

The state affirms labor as a primary social Any action to enforce any cause of action
economic force. It shall protect the rights of under this Act shall be commenced within
workers and promote their welfare (Sec. 18). three years after the cause of action accrued
otherwise such action shall be forever barred,
In article XIII on Social Justice and Human Rights, the 1987 ....
Constitution provides:
The court further explained:
Sec. 3. The State shall afford full protection to
labor, local and overseas, organized and The three-year prescriptive period fixed in the
unorganized, and promote full employment Eight-Hour Labor Law (CA No. 444 as
and equality of employment opportunities for amended) will apply, if the claim for
all. differentials for overtime work is solely based
on said law, and not on a collective bargaining
Having determined that the applicable law on prescription is the agreement or any other contract. In the instant
Philippine law, the next question is whether the prescriptive case, the claim for overtime compensation is
period governing the filing of the claims is three years, as not so much because of Commonwealth Act
provided by the Labor Code or ten years, as provided by the Civil No. 444, as amended but because the claim
Code of the Philippines. is demandable right of the employees, by
reason of the above-mentioned collective
bargaining agreement.
The claimants are of the view that the applicable provision is
Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which provides:
Section 7-a of the Eight-Hour Labor Law provides the
prescriptive period for filing "actions to enforce any cause of
The following actions must be brought within action under said law." On the other hand, Article 291 of the
ten years from the time the right of action Labor Code of the Philippines provides the prescriptive period
accrues: for filing "money claims arising from employer-employee
relations." The claims in the cases at bench all arose from the
(1) Upon a written contract; employer-employee relations, which is broader in scope than
claims arising from a specific law or from the collective
(2) Upon an obligation created by law; bargaining agreement.
The contention of the POEA Administrator, that the three-year It must be here emphasized that the right to a
prescriptive period under Article 291 of the Labor Code of the speedy disposition of a case, like the right to
Philippines applies only to money claims specifically recoverable speedy trial, is deemed violated only when the
under said Code, does not find support in the plain language of proceeding is attended by vexatious,
the provision. Neither is the contention of the claimants in G.R. capricious, and oppressive delays; or when
Nos. 104911-14 that said Article refers only to claims "arising unjustified postponements of the trial are
from the employer's violation of the employee's right," as asked for and secured, or when without cause
provided by the Labor Code supported by the facial reading of or justified motive a long period of time is
the provision. allowed to elapse without the party having his
case tried.
VII
Since July 25, 1984 or a month after AIBC and BRII were served
G.R. No. 104776 with a copy of the amended complaint, claimants had been
asking that AIBC and BRII be declared in default for failure to file
their answers within the ten-day period provided in Section 1,
A. As to the first two grounds for the petition in G.R. No. 104776, Rule III of Book VI of the Rules and Regulations of the POEA.
claimants aver: (1) that while their complaints were filed on June At that time, there was a pending motion of AIBC and BRII to
6, 1984 with POEA, the case was decided only on January 30, strike out of the records the amended complaint and the
1989, a clear denial of their right to a speedy disposition of the "Compliance" of claimants to the order of the POEA, requiring
case; and (2) that NLRC and the POEA Administrator should them to submit a bill of particulars.
have declared AIBC and BRII in default (Rollo, pp.
31-35).
The cases at bench are not of the run-of-the-mill variety, such
that their final disposition in the administrative level after seven
Claimants invoke a new provision incorporated in the 1987 years from their inception, cannot be said to be attended by
Constitution, which provides: unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive delays as to violate the
constitutional rights to a speedy disposition of the cases of
Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a complainants.
speedy disposition of their cases before all
judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative The amended complaint filed on June 6, 1984 involved a total of
bodies. 1,767 claimants. Said complaint had undergone several
amendments, the first being on April 3, 1985.
It is true that the constitutional right to "a speedy disposition of
cases" is not limited to the accused in criminal proceedings but The claimants were hired on various dates from 1975 to 1983.
extends to all parties in all cases, including civil and They were deployed in different areas, one group in and the
administrative cases, and in all proceedings, including judicial other groups outside of, Bahrain. The monetary claims totalling
and quasi-judicial hearings. Hence, under the Constitution, any more than US$65 million according to Atty. Del Mundo, included:
party to a case may demand expeditious action on all officials
who are tasked with the administration of justice.
1. Unexpired portion of contract;
However, as held in Caballero v. Alfonso, Jr., 153 SCRA 153
(1987), "speedy disposition of cases" is a relative term. Just like 2. Interest earnings of Travel and Fund;
the constitutional guarantee of "speedy trial" accorded to the
accused in all criminal proceedings, "speedy disposition of 3. Retirement and Savings Plan benefit;
cases" is a flexible concept. It is consistent with delays and
depends upon the circumstances of each case. What the 4. War Zone bonus or premium pay of at least
Constitution prohibits are unreasonable, arbitrary and 100% of basic pay;
oppressive delays which render rights nugatory.
5. Area Differential pay;
Caballero laid down the factors that may be taken into
consideration in determining whether or not the right to a
"speedy disposition of cases" has been violated, thus: 6. Accrued Interest of all the unpaid benefits;

In the determination of whether or not the right 7. Salary differential pay;


to a "speedy trial" has been violated, certain
factors may be considered and balanced 8. Wage Differential pay;
against each other. These are length of delay,
reason for the delay, assertion of the right or 9. Refund of SSS premiums not remitted to
failure to assert it, and prejudice caused by Social Security System;
the delay. The same factors may also be
considered in answering judicial inquiry
whether or not a person officially charged with 10. Refund of Withholding Tax not remitted to
the administration of justice has violated the Bureau of Internal Revenue (B.I.R.);
speedy disposition of cases.
11. Fringe Benefits under Brown & Root's "A
Likewise, in Gonzales v. Sandiganbayan, 199 SCRA 298, Summary of Employees Benefits consisting of
(1991), we held: 43 pages (Annex "Q" of Amended Complaint);
12. Moral and Exemplary Damages; The squabble between the lawyers of claimants added to the
delay in the disposition of the cases, to the lament of NLRC,
13. Attorney's fees of at least ten percent of which complained:
amounts;
It is very evident from the records that the
14. Other reliefs, like suspending and/or protagonists in these consolidated cases
cancelling the license to recruit of AIBC and appear to be not only the individual
issued by the POEA; and complainants, on the one hand, and AIBC and
Brown & Root, on the other hand. The two
lawyers for the complainants, Atty. Gerardo
15. Penalty for violation of Article 34 Del Mundo and Atty. Florante De Castro, have
(Prohibited practices) not excluding yet to settle the right of representation, each
reportorial requirements thereof (NLRC one persistently claiming to appear in behalf
Resolution, September 2, 1991, pp. 18-19; of most of the complainants. As a result, there
G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 73-74). are two appeals by the complainants.
Attempts by this Commission to resolve
Inasmuch as the complaint did not allege with sufficient counsels' conflicting claims of their respective
definiteness and clarity of some facts, the claimants were authority to represent the complainants prove
ordered to comply with the motion of AIBC for a bill of particulars. futile. The bickerings by these two counsels
When claimants filed their "Compliance and Manifestation," are reflected in their pleadings. In the charges
AIBC moved to strike out the complaint from the records for and countercharges of falsification of
failure of claimants to submit a proper bill of particulars. While documents and signatures, and in the
the POEA Administrator denied the motion to strike out the disbarment proceedings by one against the
complaint, he ordered the claimants "to correct the deficiencies" other. All these have, to a large extent,
pointed out by AIBC. abetted in confounding the issues raised in
these cases, jumble the presentation of
Before an intelligent answer could be filed in response to the evidence, and even derailed the prospects of
complaint, the records of employment of the more than 1,700 an amicable settlement. It would not be far-
claimants had to be retrieved from various countries in the fetched to imagine that both counsel,
Middle East. Some of the records dated as far back as 1975. unwittingly, perhaps, painted a rainbow for the
complainants, with the proverbial pot of gold
at its end containing more than US$100
The hearings on the merits of the claims before the POEA million, the aggregate of the claims in these
Administrator were interrupted several times by the various cases. It is, likewise, not improbable that their
appeals, first to NLRC and then to the Supreme Court. misplaced zeal and exuberance caused them
to throw all caution to the wind in the matter of
Aside from the inclusion of additional claimants, two new cases elementary rules of procedure and evidence
were filed against AIBC and BRII on October 10, 1985 (POEA (Rollo, pp. 58-59).
Cases Nos.
L-85-10-777 and L-85-10-779). Another complaint was filed on Adding to the confusion in the proceedings before NLRC, is the
May 29, 1986 (POEA Case No. L-86-05-460). NLRC, in listing of some of the complainants in both petitions filed by the
exasperation, noted that the exact number of claimants had two lawyers. As noted by NLRC, "the problem created by this
never been completely established (Resolution, Sept. 2, 1991, situation is that if one of the two petitions is dismissed, then the
G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, p. 57). All the three new cases were parties and the public respondents would not know which claim
consolidated with POEA Case No. L-84-06-555. of which petitioner was dismissed and which was not."

NLRC blamed the parties and their lawyers for the delay in B. Claimants insist that all their claims could properly be
terminating the proceedings, thus: consolidated in a "class suit" because "all the named
complainants have similar money claims and similar rights
These cases could have been spared the long sought irrespective of whether they worked in Bahrain, United
and arduous route towards resolution had the Arab Emirates or in Abu Dhabi, Libya or in any part of the Middle
parties and their counsel been more East" (Rollo, pp. 35-38).
interested in pursuing the truth and the merits
of the claims rather than exhibiting a fanatical A class suit is proper where the subject matter of the controversy
reliance on technicalities. Parties and counsel is one of common or general interest to many and the parties
have made these cases a litigation of are so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before
emotion. The intransigence of parties and the court (Revised Rules of Court, Rule 3, Sec. 12).
counsel is remarkable. As late as last month,
this Commission made a last and final attempt
to bring the counsel of all the parties (this While all the claims are for benefits granted under the Bahrain
Commission issued a special order directing Law, many of the claimants worked outside Bahrain. Some of
respondent Brown & Root's resident agent/s the claimants were deployed in Indonesia and Malaysia under
to appear) to come to a more conciliatory different terms and conditions of employment.
stance. Even this failed (Rollo,
p. 58). NLRC and the POEA Administrator are correct in their stance
that inasmuch as the first requirement of a class suit is not
present (common or general interest based on the Amiri Decree
of the State of Bahrain), it is only logical that only those who
worked in Bahrain shall be entitled to file their claims in a class Attorney's Lien
suit.
The "Notice and Claim to Enforce Attorney's Lien" dated
While there are common defendants (AIBC and BRII) and the December 14, 1992 was filed by Atty. Gerardo A. Del Mundo to
nature of the claims is the same (for employee's benefits), there protect his claim for attorney's fees for legal services rendered
is no common question of law or fact. While some claims are in favor of the claimants (G.R. No. 104776, Rollo, pp. 841-844).
based on the Amiri Law of Bahrain, many of the claimants never
worked in that country, but were deployed elsewhere. Thus, A statement of a claim for a charging lien shall be filed with the
each claimant is interested only in his own demand and not in court or administrative agency which renders and executes the
the claims of the other employees of defendants. The named money judgment secured by the lawyer for his clients. The
claimants have a special or particular interest in specific benefits lawyer shall cause written notice thereof to be delivered to his
completely different from the benefits in which the other named clients and to the adverse party (Revised Rules of Court, Rule
claimants and those included as members of a "class" are 138, Sec. 37). The statement of the claim for the charging lien
claiming (Berses v. Villanueva, 25 Phil. 473 [1913]). It appears of Atty. Del Mundo should have been filed with the administrative
that each claimant is only interested in collecting his own claims. agency that rendered and executed the judgment.
A claimants has no concern in protecting the interests of the
other claimants as shown by the fact, that hundreds of them
have abandoned their co-claimants and have entered into Contempt of Court
separate compromise settlements of their respective claims. A
principle basic to the concept of "class suit" is that plaintiffs The complaint of Atty. Gerardo A. Del Mundo to cite Atty.
brought on the record must fairly represent and protect the Florante De Castro and Atty. Katz Tierra for violation of the Code
interests of the others (Dimayuga v. Court of Industrial of Professional Responsibility should be filed in a separate and
Relations, 101 Phil. 590 [1957]). For this matter, the claimants appropriate proceeding.
who worked in Bahrain can not be allowed to sue in a class suit
in a judicial proceeding. The most that can be accorded to them G.R. No. 104911-14
under the Rules of Court is to be allowed to join as plaintiffs in
one complaint (Revised Rules of Court, Rule 3, Sec. 6).
Claimants charge NLRC with grave abuse of discretion in not
accepting their formula of "Three Hours Average Daily
The Court is extra-cautious in allowing class suits because they Overtime" in computing the overtime payments. They claim that
are the exceptions to the condition sine qua non, requiring the it was BRII itself which proposed the formula during the
joinder of all indispensable parties. negotiations for the settlement of their claims in Bahrain and
therefore it is in estoppel to disclaim said offer (Rollo, pp. 21-22).
In an improperly instituted class suit, there would be no problem
if the decision secured is favorable to the plaintiffs. The problem Claimants presented a Memorandum of the Ministry of Labor of
arises when the decision is adverse to them, in which case the Bahrain dated April 16, 1983, which in pertinent part states:
others who were impleaded by their self-appointed
representatives, would surely claim denial of due process.
After the perusal of the memorandum of the
Vice President and the Area Manager, Middle
C. The claimants in G.R. No. 104776 also urged that the POEA East, of Brown & Root Co. and the Summary
Administrator and NLRC should have declared Atty. Florante De of the compensation offered by the Company
Castro guilty of "forum shopping, ambulance chasing activities, to the employees in respect of the difference
falsification, duplicity and other unprofessional activities" and his of pay of the wages of the overtime and the
appearances as counsel for some of the claimants as illegal difference of vacation leave and the perusal
(Rollo, pp. 38-40).
of the documents attached thereto i.e.,
minutes of the meetings between the
The Anti-Forum Shopping Rule (Revised Circular No. 28-91) is Representative of the employees and the
intended to put a stop to the practice of some parties of filing management of the Company, the complaint
multiple petitions and complaints involving the same issues, with filed by the employees on 14/2/83 where they
the result that the courts or agencies have to resolve the same have claimed as hereinabove stated, sample
issues. Said Rule, however, applies only to petitions filed with of the Service Contract executed between
the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. It is entitled one of the employees and the company
"Additional Requirements For Petitions Filed with the Supreme through its agent in (sic) Philippines, Asia
Court and the Court of Appeals To Prevent Forum Shopping or International Builders Corporation where it
Multiple Filing of Petitioners and Complainants." The first has been provided for 48 hours of work per
sentence of the circular expressly states that said circular week and an annual leave of 12 days and an
applies to an governs the filing of petitions in the Supreme Court overtime wage of 1 & 1/4 of the normal hourly
and the Court of Appeals. wage.

While Administrative Circular No. 04-94 extended the xxx xxx xxx
application of the anti-forum shopping rule to the lower courts
and administrative agencies, said circular took effect only on The Company in its computation reached the
April 1, 1994. following averages:

POEA and NLRC could not have entertained the complaint for A. 1. The average duration of the actual
unethical conduct against Atty. De Castro because NLRC and service of the employee is 35 months for the
POEA have no jurisdiction to investigate charges of unethical Philippino (sic) employees . . . .
conduct of lawyers.
2. The average wage per hour for the AIBC and BRII claim that NLRC acted capriciously and
Philippino (sic) employee is US$2.69 . . . . whimsically when it refused to enforce the overseas-
employment contracts, which became the law of the parties.
3. The average hours for the overtime is 3 They contend that the principle that a law is deemed to be a part
hours plus in all public holidays and of a contract applies only to provisions of Philippine law in
weekends. relation to contracts executed in the Philippines.

4. Payment of US$8.72 per months (sic) of The overseas-employment contracts, which were prepared by
service as compensation for the difference of AIBC and BRII themselves, provided that the laws of the host
the wages of the overtime done for each country became applicable to said contracts if they offer terms
Philippino (sic) employee . . . (Rollo, p.22). and conditions more favorable that those stipulated therein. It
was stipulated in said contracts that:
BRII and AIBC countered: (1) that the Memorandum was not
prepared by them but by a subordinate official in the Bahrain The Employee agrees that while in the employ
Department of Labor; (2) that there was no showing that the of the Employer, he will not engage in any
Bahrain Minister of Labor had approved said memorandum; and other business or occupation, nor seek
(3) that the offer was made in the course of the negotiation for employment with anyone other than the
an amicable settlement of the claims and therefore it was not Employer; that he shall devote his entire time
admissible in evidence to prove that anything is due to the and attention and his best energies, and
claimants. abilities to the performance of such duties as
may be assigned to him by the Employer; that
he shall at all times be subject to the direction
While said document was presented to the POEA without and control of the Employer; and that the
observing the rule on presenting official documents of a foreign benefits provided to Employee hereunder are
government as provided in Section 24, Rule 132 of the 1989 substituted for and in lieu of all other benefits
Revised Rules on Evidence, it can be admitted in evidence in provided by any applicable law, provided of
proceedings before an administrative body. The opposing course, that total remuneration and benefits
parties have a copy of the said memorandum, and they could do not fall below that of the host country
easily verify its authenticity and accuracy. regulation or custom, it being understood that
should applicable laws establish that fringe
The admissibility of the offer of compromise made by BRII as benefits, or other such benefits additional to
contained in the memorandum is another matter. Under Section the compensation herein agreed cannot be
27, Rule 130 of the 1989 Revised Rules on Evidence, an offer waived, Employee agrees that such
to settle a claim is not an admission that anything is due. compensation will be adjusted downward so
that the total compensation hereunder, plus
Said Rule provides: the non-waivable benefits shall be equivalent
to the compensation herein agreed (Rollo, pp.
352-353).
Offer of compromise not admissible. — In civil
cases, an offer of compromise is not an
admission of any liability, and is not The overseas-employment contracts could have been drafted
admissible in evidence against the offeror. more felicitously. While a part thereof provides that the
compensation to the employee may be "adjusted downward so
that the total computation (thereunder) plus the non-waivable
This Rule is not only a rule of procedure to avoid the cluttering benefits shall be equivalent to the compensation" therein
of the record with unwanted evidence but a statement of public agreed, another part of the same provision categorically states
policy. There is great public interest in having the protagonists "that total remuneration and benefits do not fall below that of the
settle their differences amicable before these ripen into litigation. host country regulation and custom."
Every effort must be taken to encourage them to arrive at a
settlement. The submission of offers and counter-offers in the
negotiation table is a step in the right direction. But to bind a Any ambiguity in the overseas-employment contracts should be
party to his offers, as what claimants would make this Court do, interpreted against AIBC and BRII, the parties that drafted it
would defeat the salutary purpose of the Rule. (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Margarine-Verkaufs-Union, 93
SCRA 257 [1979]).

G.R. Nos. 105029-32


Article 1377 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides:

A. NLRC applied the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976, which


provides for greater benefits than those stipulated in the The interpretation of obscure words or
overseas-employment contracts of the claimants. It was of the stipulations in a contract shall not favor the
belief that "where the laws of the host country are more party who caused the obscurity.
favorable and beneficial to the workers, then the laws of the host
country shall form part of the overseas employment contract." It Said rule of interpretation is applicable to contracts of adhesion
quoted with approval the observation of the POEA Administrator where there is already a prepared form containing the
that ". . . in labor proceedings, all doubts in the implementation stipulations of the employment contract and the employees
of the provisions of the Labor Code and its implementing merely "take it or leave it." The presumption is that there was an
regulations shall be resolved in favor of labor" (Rollo, pp. 90-94). imposition by one party against the other and that the employees
signed the contracts out of necessity that reduced their
bargaining power (Fieldmen's Insurance Co., Inc. v. Songco, 25
SCRA 70 [1968]).
Applying the said legal precepts, we read the overseas- of the POEA Administrator granting these benefits on a finding
employment contracts in question as adopting the provisions of that the POEA Administrator failed to consider the evidence
the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 as part and parcel thereof. presented by AIBC and BRII, that some findings of fact of the
POEA Administrator were not supported by the evidence, and
The parties to a contract may select the law by which it is to be that some of the evidence were not disclosed to AIBC and BRII
governed (Cheshire, Private International Law, 187 [7th ed.]). In (Rollo, pp. 35-36; 106-107). But instead of remanding the case
such a case, the foreign law is adopted as a "system" to regulate to the POEA Administrator for a new hearing, which means
the relations of the parties, including questions of their capacity further delay in the termination of the case, NLRC decided to
to enter into the contract, the formalities to be observed by them, pass upon the validity of the claims itself. It is this procedure that
matters of performance, and so forth (16 Am Jur 2d, AIBC and BRII complain of as being irregular and a "reversible
150-161). error."

Instead of adopting the entire mass of the foreign law, the parties They pointed out that NLRC took into consideration evidence
may just agree that specific provisions of a foreign statute shall submitted on appeal, the same evidence which NLRC found to
be deemed incorporated into their contract "as a set of terms." have been "unilaterally submitted by the claimants and not
By such reference to the provisions of the foreign law, the disclosed to the adverse parties" (Rollo, pp. 37-39).
contract does not become a foreign contract to be governed by
the foreign law. The said law does not operate as a statute but NLRC noted that so many pieces of evidentiary matters were
as a set of contractual terms deemed written in the contract submitted to the POEA administrator by the claimants after the
(Anton, Private International Law, 197 [1967]; Dicey and Morris, cases were deemed submitted for resolution and which were
The Conflict of Laws, 702-703, [8th ed.]). taken cognizance of by the POEA Administrator in resolving the
cases. While AIBC and BRII had no opportunity to refute said
A basic policy of contract is to protect the expectation of the evidence of the claimants before the POEA Administrator, they
parties (Reese, Choice of Law in Torts and Contracts, 16 had all the opportunity to rebut said evidence and to present their
Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 1, 21 [1977]). Such party counter-evidence before NLRC. As a matter of fact, AIBC and
expectation is protected by giving effect to the parties' own BRII themselves were able to present before NLRC additional
choice of the applicable law (Fricke v. Isbrandtsen Co., Inc., 151 evidence which they failed to present before the POEA
F. Supp. 465, 467 [1957]). The choice of law must, however, Administrator.
bear some relationship to the parties or their transaction (Scoles
and Hayes, Conflict of Law 644-647 [1982]). There is no Under Article 221 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, NLRC is
question that the contracts sought to be enforced by claimants enjoined to "use every and all reasonable means to ascertain
have a direct connection with the Bahrain law because the the facts in each case speedily and objectively and without
services were rendered in that country. regard to technicalities of law or procedure, all in the interest of
due process."
In Norse Management Co. (PTE) v. National Seamen Board,
117 SCRA 486 (1982), the "Employment Agreement," between In deciding to resolve the validity of certain claims on the basis
Norse Management Co. and the late husband of the private of the evidence of both parties submitted before the POEA
respondent, expressly provided that in the event of illness or Administrator and NLRC, the latter considered that it was not
injury to the employee arising out of and in the course of his expedient to remand the cases to the POEA Administrator for
employment and not due to his own misconduct, "compensation that would only prolong the already protracted legal
shall be paid to employee in accordance with and subject to the controversies.
limitation of the Workmen's Compensation Act of the Republic
of the Philippines or the Worker's Insurance Act of registry of the Even the Supreme Court has decided appealed cases on the
vessel, whichever is greater." Since the laws of Singapore, the merits instead of remanding them to the trial court for the
place of registry of the vessel in which the late husband of reception of evidence, where the same can be readily
private respondent served at the time of his death, granted a determined from the uncontroverted facts on record
better compensation package, we applied said foreign law in (Development Bank of the Philippines v. Intermediate Appellate
preference to the terms of the contract. Court, 190 SCRA 653 [1990]; Pagdonsalan v. National Labor
Relations Commission, 127 SCRA 463 [1984]).
The case of Bagong Filipinas Overseas Corporation v. National
Labor Relations Commission, 135 SCRA 278 (1985), relied C. AIBC and BRII charge NLRC with grave abuse of discretion
upon by AIBC and BRII is inapposite to the facts of the cases at when it ordered the POEA Administrator to hold new hearings
bench. The issue in that case was whether the amount of the for 683 claimants listed in Annex D of the Resolution dated
death compensation of a Filipino seaman should be determined September 2, 1991 whose claims had been denied by the POEA
under the shipboard employment contract executed in the Administrator "for lack of proof" and for 69 claimants listed in
Philippines or the Hongkong law. Holding that the shipboard Annex E of the same Resolution, whose claims had been found
employment contract was controlling, the court differentiated by NLRC itself as not "supported by evidence" (Rollo, pp. 41-
said case from Norse Management Co. in that in the latter case 45).
there was an express stipulation in the employment contract that
the foreign law would be applicable if it afforded greater
compensation. NLRC based its ruling on Article 218(c) of the Labor Code of the
Philippines, which empowers it "[to] conduct investigation for the
determination of a question, matter or controversy, within its
B. AIBC and BRII claim that they were denied by NLRC of their jurisdiction, . . . ."
right to due process when said administrative agency granted
Friday-pay differential, holiday-pay differential, annual-leave
differential and leave indemnity pay to the claimants listed in It is the posture of AIBC and BRII that NLRC has no authority
Annex B of the Resolution. At first, NLRC reversed the resolution under Article 218(c) to remand a case involving claims which
had already been dismissed because such provision
contemplates only situations where there is still a question or
controversy to be resolved (Rollo, pp. 41-42).

A principle well embedded in Administrative Law is that the


technical rules of procedure and evidence do not apply to the
proceedings conducted by administrative agencies (First Asian
Transport & Shipping Agency, Inc. v. Ople, 142 SCRA 542
[1986]; Asiaworld Publishing House, Inc. v. Ople, 152 SCRA 219
[1987]). This principle is enshrined in Article 221 of the Labor
Code of the Philippines and is now the bedrock of proceedings
before NLRC.

Notwithstanding the non-applicability of technical rules of


procedure and evidence in administrative proceedings, there are
cardinal rules which must be observed by the hearing officers in
order to comply with the due process requirements of the
Constitution. These cardinal rules are collated in Ang Tibay v.
Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 635 (1940).

VIII

The three petitions were filed under Rule 65 of the Revised


Rules of Court on the grounds that NLRC had committed grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in issuing
the questioned orders. We find no such abuse of discretion.

WHEREFORE, all the three petitions are DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.