Phil Employ Services & Resources Inc v. Paramio : 144786 : April 15,
2004 : J. Callejo Sr : Second Division : Decision
G. R. No. 144786 : April
PHIL. EMPLOY SERVICES and RESOURCES, INC., Petitioner, v. JOSEPH PARAMIO, RONALD NAVARRA, ROMEL SARMIENTO, RECTO GUILLERMO,
FERDINAND BAUTISTA and APOLINARIO CURAMENG, JR., Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a Petition for Review of the Decision1 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 54744 and its Resolution denying the
petitioners motion for reconsideration therefrom.
As culled from the records, the antecedents are as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
On different dates from April 1996 to October 1996, respondents
Joseph Paramio, Ronald Navarra, Romel Sarmiento, Recto Guillermo, Ferdinand
Bautista and Apolinario Curameng, Jr. applied for employment in Taiwan2 with petitioner, Phil. Employ Services and Resources, Inc. (PSRI for brevity),
a domestic corporation engaged in the recruitment and deployment of Filipino
Workers Overseas.3 Their applications were processed along with the requisite papers and documents
in support thereof, and they paid
P19,000 each as placement fee.4 Thereafter, they executed in the Philippinesseparate one-year contracts of employment with their employer in Taiwan, Kuan
Yuan Fiber Co.,
respondents were deployed in Taiwanas operators on different dates5 and
each of them had a monthly salary of NT$15,360 (New Taiwan Dollars),
food and accommodation.6 cralawred
After the orientation given by their employer, the respondents
were told that their schedule of work was up to 9:00
p. m.,7 except for respondent Navarra who was made to work up to 12:00midnight.8 The
respondents were downhearted when they discovered that, upon their arrival in
their quarters, they had no beddings, pillows and blankets.9 They
encountered worse problems in the course of their employment, viz. :chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
a). Irregular and deliberate
charging of deductions which were not fully accounted such as the blankets
issued, charging of penalties amounting to 400 NT to all employees for a
littering violation attributable only to one employee;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
b). Mandatory imposition of
overtime work exceeding 10 hours without just overtime compensation and night
c). Failure to comply with
some stipulations stated in the Employment Contract particularly those relating
to the accommodation and lodging of the contracted workers;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
d). Lack of observance of
safety precautions at work area.10 cralawred
The respondents brought their problems to the attention of the
In March of 1997, Fabian
Chua, local manager of the petitioner PSRI, made a surprise visit to Kuan Yuan
in Taiwan and was apprised of the said complaints. However, instead of solving the problems, Chua cautioned the
respondents not to air their complaints and to simply forget about whatever
plans they had in mind.11 Disappointed, the respondents, along with their co-workers, contacted the
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Taiwanand sought the latters assistance, only to be frustrated when their requests
were not favorably acted upon.12 cralawred
Sometime in April of 1997, through the intercession of Chih-Hung,
the manager of the new broker Chen Dard Manpower Co. Ltd.,
International Trade Co.,
Ltd, the overtime rate of the respondents was
increased from 55NT$ to 85NT$.
respondents discovered, however, that work in the factory increased because of
the increased volume of orders.13 Moreover, their working conditions did not improve.
On May 10, 1997, respondent Navarra and another employee, Pio
Gabito, were summoned by the management and told that they were to be
repatriated, without specifying the ground or cause therefor. They pleaded that
they be informed of the cause or causes for their repatriation, but their
requests were rejected.14 Worse, the manager of their employer summoned the police, who arrived and
escorted them to the airport.
even given time to pack all their personal belongings.
Upon respondent Navarras arrival in Manila,
the petitioner sought to settle his complaints.15 After the negotiations, the petitioner agreed to pay
P49,000 to the said
respondent but, in consideration thereof, the latter executed a quitclaim
releasing the petitioner from any or all liabilities for his repatriation.16 cralawred
Meanwhile, when the other respondents learned that Navarra and
Gabito were repatriated, they were disheartened at their fate.
The respondents also decided to go home, but
their employer and their broker told them17 that
they would be repatriated two days later, or on May
They were ready to
leave on the aforesaid date, but were informed that they would have to pay
their employer NT$30,000; otherwise, they would not be allowed to go home.
As they were unable to pay the NT$30,000,
the respondents failed to return to the Philippines.18 cralawred
The management and broker gave the respondents two (2) options:
(a) imprisonment for their refusal to pay NT$30,000. 00; or (b) sign separate
agreements with their employer.
respondents had no other recourse but to sign agreements19 authorizing their employer to (a) deduct the amount of NT$30,000 from their
salaries; (b) remit their salaries to the Philippines;
and, (c) deduct NT$10,000 from their salaries as bond.20 However, the respondents were still not repatriated. The next day, or on May
13, 1997, their employer issued a regulation that overtime of ten
hours or more would be implemented.21 Thus, the conditions in the respondents workplace worsened.
On May 14, 1997,
respondent Paramio got ill as a result of the employers failure to give
breakfast on the said date and dinner the night before.22 His manager still ordered him to work.
When he pleaded that he be allowed to take some rest, the manager
Respondent Paramio was,
instead, made to carry a container weighing around 30 kilograms.
Due to his condition, the container slipped
from his hands and he injured his thumb.
He was brought to the hospital where he was operated on and treated for
his wound.23 Instead of giving him financial assistance for his hospital bills, his employer
told him a week after his release from the hospital that it would be better for
him to go home to the Philippinesto recuperate.
An official from the
Taiwanese Labor Department intervened for respondent Paramio and his employer
was told that it had no right to repatriate the respondent because the accident
which caused the injury happened while the latter was at work.24 cralawred
Although his wound had not yet healed, respondent Paramio was
made to report for work. After eight hours of working, his broker advised him
that as per the doctors orders, he was still on sick leave from May 14 to June
Hence, he could
not yet be compelled to work.
respondent then stayed in his quarters to recuperate.
On June 5, 1997,
respondent Paramio received his paycheck, but was flabbergasted when he
discovered that his employer had deducted NT$4,300 from his salary, representing
his plane ticket back to the Philippines.
Furthermore, his sick leave from May 14 to
June 5 were not included in his check.25 Still, he was not repatriated.
1, 1997, he reported back to work, only to be assigned to do the
second hardest job in the company, carrying containers weighing about 30
kilograms in the dyeing department.26 Although his thumb hurt, respondent Paramio had to endure the pain to earn more
After a week, respondent Paramio was transferred to the Lupo
Department, the hardest job in the factory, where he was made to carry about
200 meters of maongcloth.
He then set it and carried the same to the
When he could no
longer bear the pain in his thumb, he took a break. When the manager saw him resting, he was ordered to return to
Respondent Paramio refused and
contended that he could not resume work because of his thumb injury.
Incensed, the manager told him that he had
to stop working and would just have to wait for his plane ticket for his repatriation.
The respondent did as he was told.
The next day, Fabian Chua, the local representative of the
petitioner PSRI, arrived and asked the respondent why he did not report for
Respondent Paramio explained that
his thumb injury made it impossible for him to perform his assigned tasks.
23, 1997, he was given his paycheck and a plane ticket to the Philippines.
He was told that the amount of NT$3,700 was
deducted from his paycheck because he neglected his duty.
At around eight
oclockthat evening, respondent Paramio was repatriated to the Philippines.28 cralawred
Meanwhile, PSRI representative Fabian Chua renewed his warning to
the remaining respondents/employees not to complain about the working
conditions. But respondents Sarmiento, Guillermo, Bautista and Curameng, Jr.
could no longer bear the worsening working conditions.
In October 1997, they decided to go
Their employer agreed to have
them repatriated and to return their respective bonds, but required them to
write letters of resignation.
Respondents Sarmiento and Bautista did as they were told and wrote the
said letters.29 Respondent Curameng, Jr.,
for his part, signed a mimeographed form where he
agreed to return to the Philippines.30 On October 10, 1997, the
said respondents were repatriated, but were required to pay for their own plane
On October 22, 1997,
respondents Sarmiento, Guillermo, Curameng, Jr. and Bautista, together with
respondents Paramio and Navarra, filed separate complaints before the NLRC
Arbitration Branch against Bayani Fontanilla for illegal dismissal, non-payment
of overtime pay, refund of placement fee, tax refund, refund of plane fares,
attorneys fees and litigation expenses.
The cases were docketed as NLRC-OFW Cases No. (L) 97-10-4332 to 97-10-4335.32 cralawred
In their position paper, the respondents raised the issue of
whether or not the petitioner PSRI and Bayani Fontanilla were liable for the
reimbursement of their respective placement fees, nightshift differentials,
overtime pay and damages, and their salaries for the unexpired portion of their
respective contracts.33 cralawred
The respondents argued that under Section 10, Republic Act No.
8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of
1995, PSRI was solidarily liable with Kuan Yuan for their claims.
Since they were repatriated prior to the
expiration of their respective contracts for no valid reason, PSRI was liable
to pay their salaries for the unexpired portion of their contracts.
The petitioner denied any liability on the respondents claims
and asserted that the latter were validly dismissed. It averred that respondent Paramio was dismissed pursuant to Nos.
5 and 6, Article VIII of his employment contract. According to the petitioner, the said clauses allow the
termination of a contract of employment prior to its expiration when the
employee is (a) suffering from HIV positive antibody or other diseases; (b)
heavily wounded or has stool parasite and cannot be cured within one month; or
(c) found to have lost the ability to work.
It averred that since complainant Paramio could no longer do his job
because of his thumb injury, the termination of his contract was valid, and his
dismissal proper.34 cralawred
Anent respondent Navarras claim, the petitioner PSRI
ratiocinated that the termination of his services was for a valid cause because
of an altercation he had with his supervisor.
The petitioner further averred that respondent Navarra had demanded that
he be paid the amount of
P50,000 and after some negotiation, agreed to
Navarra received the said amount and executed on May
23, 1997, a deed of release and quitclaim in favor of the
As for the claims of the other respondents, the petitioner
alleged that the respondents Guillermo, Bautista and Curameng, Jr. voluntarily
resigned, as evidenced by their respective letters and agreement with the
petitioner.36 Moreover, the termination of their employment was legal, and their repatriation
based on valid grounds.
contended that the respondents were not entitled to a refund of their plane
With respect to the claims for tax refund for amounts withheld by
their employer, the petitioner averred that the respondents were not entitled
thereto, as the law of Taiwanmandated such withholding of taxes.
indeed, the respondents were entitled to a refund of the said taxes, the same
should be coursed through the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the appropriate
governmental agency.38 cralawred
On October 29, 1998,
Labor Arbiter Felipe P. Pati rendered a decision declaring that the dismissal
of the respondents was illegal.
dispositive portion states, thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring complainants
dismissal to be illegal and respondents are ordered to pay to complainants as
1. Ronald Navarra
NT$46,080 or its peso equivalent;
P75,000. 00 refund of placement fee;
and P4,300 refund of plane fare less P49,000.
2. Recto Guillermo
NT$15,360 or its peso equivalent;
P75,000. 00 refund of placement fee;
and P4,300 refund of air fare.
3. Joseph Paramio
NT$46,080 or its peso equivalent;
P75,000. 00 refund of placement fee;
and P4,300 refund air fare.
4. Apolinario Curameng, Jr.
NT$23,040 or its peso equivalent;
P75,000 refund of placement fee and
P4,300 refund of air fare.
5. Ferdinand Bautista
NT$46,080 or its peso equivalent;
P75,000. 00 refund of placement fee;
and P4,300 refund of air fare; andcralawlibrary
6. Romel Sarmiento NT$ or
its peso equivalent
P75,000. 00 refund of placement fee; and P4,300
refund of air fare.
The claim for tax refund is dismissed for not having been
In declaring respondent Navarras dismissal illegal, the labor
arbiter held that the petitioner failed to substantiate its claim that the said
respondent had an altercation with his supervisor. As such, respondent Navarra was entitled to the payment of the
salaries due him for the unexpired portion of his contract, subject to the
deduction of the amount already advanced to him under the deed of release and
quitclaim he had executed in favor of the petitioner.40 cralawred
The labor arbiter likewise ruled that the dismissal of
complainant Paramio was illegal.
Considering that he had a thumb injury, his employer should have given
him a lighter job instead of repatriating him.
The dismissal of the remaining complainants was also adjudged
According to the labor
arbiter, the petitioners defense that its employees (respondents) voluntarily resigned
deserved scant consideration.
Considering that the dismissal of the respondents was illegal,
the labor arbiter awarded the salaries due them for the unexpired portion of
their contracts, as well as the refund of their plane fare. Recognizing that
the usual placement fee of workers for deployment in Taiwanwas approximately
P100,000, more or less, the labor arbiter granted each
of them a refund of their placement fee in the amount of P75,000.41 cralawred
Aggrieved, the petitioner appealed before the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC),
docketed as NLRC NCR CA 017927-99.
It raised the following grounds:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, AND SERIOUS
ERROR IN THE FINDING OF FACTS WHICH IF NOT CORRECTED WOULD CAUSE GRAVE AND
IRREPARABLE DAMAGE TO THE RESPONDENT42 cralawred
The petitioner insisted that the dismissal of the complainants
was anchored on valid and legal grounds; as such, the labor arbiter erred in
ruling for the respondents and awarding a refund of their airfares, placement
fees and payment of salaries for the unexpired portion of their respective
contracts of employment.
On March 29, 1999,
the NLRC issued a resolution43 finding that the respondents were legally dismissed and set aside the decision
of the labor arbiter.
portion of the decision reads as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision appealed from is
hereby SET ASIDE and the instant case dismissed for lack of merit.44 cralawred
In reversing the decision of the labor arbiter, the NLRC made the
following findings: (a) respondent Navarra did not refute the allegation of the
petitioner that he had an altercation with his supervisor; (b) respondent
Navarras execution of a deed of release and quitclaim released the petitioner
from any or all liability on account of his repatriation; (c) the repatriation
of complainant Paramio was sanctioned by Article VIII, paragraphs 5 and 6 of
his employment contract; and, (d) the written documents executed by the
remaining respondents showed that they voluntarily resigned from their
Dissatisfied, the respondents filed a motion for reconsideration45 of the resolution, but the NLRC denied the motion in a Resolution dated May
17, 1999.46 cralawred
The respondents filed a Petition for Certiorariunder Rule
65 of the Rules of Court against the petitioner before the Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA-G. R. SP No. 54744.
respondents (petitioners therein) raised the following issues:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE
PETITIONERS WERE ILLEGALLY DISMISSED WHEN THEY WERE REPATRIATED TO THE PHIL. BY
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE THUMB
INJURY SUFFERED BY JOSEPH PARAMIO WHILE AT WORK [SHOULD] BE CONSIDERED A LEGAL
GROUND FOR HIS REPATRIATION.
3. WHETHER OR NOT RONALD
NAVARRAS REPATRIATION AND EXECUTION OF QUITCLAIM AND RECEIPT OF
BE SUFFICIENT GROUND TO CONCLUDE HIS WAIVER OF RIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL DISMISSAL.
4. WHETHER OR NOT
PETITIONERS ARE ENTITLED TO THEIR MONEY CLAIMS.47 cralawred
The petitioners prayed, thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed of
this Honorable Court that this Petition be given due course and after its due
consideration, REVERSE and SET ASIDE the Resolution of the public respondent
National Labor Relations Commission dated March 29, 1999 and May 17, 1999 and a
new one rendered REINSTATING the Decision of the Labor Arbiter Felipe P. Pati
dated August 29, 1998 with modification for the reward of moral and exemplary
Petitioners further pray for such other reliefs and remedies deemed
just and equitable in the premises.48 cralawred
On May 29, 2000,
the CA rendered a decision partly granting the petition in that it nullified
the March 29 and May 17, 1999Resolutions of the NLRC and reinstated the decision of the labor arbiter with
The decretal portion of
the decision reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is partly
granted insofar as the public respondents Resolutions dated March
29, 1999and May 17, 1999are set aside and the labor arbiters Decision dated August
29, 1998is reinstated with modification on the award of refunds for
The petitioners claims
for moral and exemplary damages are denied for lack of merit.49 cralawred
The CA held that respondents Curameng, Bautista, Sarmiento and
Guillermo were constructively dismissed, as the petitioner failed to
substantiate its claim that the aforesaid petitioners voluntarily resigned from
The CA also ruled that the repatriation of respondent Paramio was
in violation of his employment contract.
It declared that paragraph 8. 2, Nos. 5 and 6, Article VIII of the said
contract applied only to illnesses already existing and discovered during employment.
The loss of ability to work under the
contract could not be used as a ground for respondent Paramios termination
because his thumb injury was work-related.
As to respondent Navarra, the CA ruled that his alleged
confrontation with his supervisor did not amount to serious misconduct which
would justify his dismissal.
that the deed of release executed by respondent Navarra barred him from
instituting the said complaint.
However, the CA agreed that the money he was able to collect from the
petitioner by reason of the execution of a deed of release and quitclaim should
be considered as an advance on the amount he was entitled to.
Considering that the dismissal of the respondents was illegal,
the petitioner, as the local agent of Kuan Yuan, was declared solidarily liable
with the latter for the payment of the respondents salaries for the unexpired
portion of their respective contracts and other awards, pursuant to Section 10,
paragraph 2 of Rep. Act No. 8042.
The CA reduced the award of refund of placement fee to the
P75,000 to P19,000, which was the amount
substantiated by the petitioners.
The petitioner PSRI filed a motion for reconsideration but the
appellate court denied the said motion.50 Dissatisfied, the petitioner filed this instant petition against the
respondents, alleging that:
THE FINDINGS OF FACTS BY THE COURT OF
APPEALS ARE CONTRARY TO THE FINDINGS OF FACTS BY THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
THE APPELLATE COURT DECIDED THE CASE NOT
IN ACCORD WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT51 cralawred
The issues for resolution are the following: (a) whether or not
the respondents were illegally dismissed; and (b) whether or not the deed of
release and quitclaim executed by respondent Navarra was valid.
Ordinarily, factual findings of labor officials who are deemed to
have acquired expertise in matters within their respective jurisdictions are
generally accorded not only respect but even finality, and are binding upon
this Court.52 However, when the findings of the labor arbiter and the NLRC are inconsistent,
there is a need to review the records to determine which of them should be
preferred as more conformable to the evidentiary facts.53 Considering that the CAs findings of fact clash with those of the NLRC, this
Court is compelled to go over the records of the case, as well as the
submissions of the parties.54 cralawred
Anent the first issue, the petitioner insists that the dismissal
of the respondents was based on valid and legal grounds.
Consequently, the award of salaries for the
unexpired portion of their respective contracts, and the refund of placement
fee and airfare was barren of factual and legal basis.
We rule that the respondents dismissal was not based on just,
valid and legal grounds.
Preliminarily, it bears stressing that the respondents who filed
complaints for illegal dismissal against the petitioner were overseas Filipino
workers whose employment contracts were approved by the Philippine and Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA) and were entered into and perfected here in
As such, the rule lex loci contractus(the law of the place where the contract is
Therefore, the Labor
Code, its implementing rules and regulations, and other laws affecting labor,
apply in this case.55 cralawred
In order to effect a valid dismissal of an employee, the law
requires that there be just and valid cause as provided in Article 28256 and that the employee was afforded an opportunity to be heard and to defend
himself.57 Dismissal may also be based on any of the authorized causes provided for in
Articles 283 and 284 of the Labor Code.58 cralawred
The petitioner contends that the termination of respondent
Paramios employment was sanctioned by paragraph 8. 2, Nos. 5 and 6, Article
VIII of the employment contract.
aforesaid provisions are herein reproduced:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
8. 2In the event the
Employee is found offend (sic) one of the following prohibitions during his/her
employment, Employer may terminate this Employment contract and repatriate
him/her to his/her country of origin.
Employee shall comply immediately without objection and assume the cost
of round-trip transportation by air to and from R. O. C. unconditionally.
In the event Employer or any other person
pay the airfare for the Employee, Employee shall reimburse the fare to the
person who paid it.
(5) During the
period of employment, being found out suffering HIV positive anti-body or other
disease, heavily wounded or stool parasite, which cannot be cured within one
(6) Being found
losing ability to work.
The foregoing provision is akin to Article 284 of the Labor Code,
Disease as a
ground for termination An employer may terminate the services of an employee
who has been found to be suffering from any disease and whose continued employment
is prohibited by law or prejudicial to his health as well as the health of his
Furthermore, Section 8, Rule 1, Book VI of the Omnibus Rules
Implementing the Labor Code provides, thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Disease as a ground
for dismissal - Where the employee suffers from a disease and his continued
employment is prohibited by law or prejudicial to his health or to the health
of his co-employees, the employer shall not terminate his employment unless
there is a certification by competent public authority that the disease is of
such nature or at such a stage that it cannot be cured within a period of six
(6) months with proper medical treatment.
If the disease or ailment can be cured within the period, the employer
shall not terminate the employee but shall ask the employee to take a
The employer shall reinstate
such employee to his former position immediately upon the restoration of his
Applying the law and the rule, the employer is burdened to prove
that the employee was suffering from a disease which prevented his continued
employment, or that the employees wound prevented his continued employment.
Section 8, Rule 1, Book VI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code
requires a certification from competent public authority59 that the employee was heavily wounded and had lost the ability to work.
In the case at bar, the petitioner did not adduce in evidence a
certification from a public authority to the effect that respondent Paramio had
been heavily wounded.
It also failed to
show that by reason of his thumb injury, he lost the ability to work.
Respondent Paramio was not, for a time, able
to perform the backbreaking tasks required by his manager.
However, despite his injury, he managed to
perform the other tasks assigned to him, including carrying of 30-kilogram
containers with the exception of the work in the Lupo Department.60 The fact that respondent Paramio was assigned to perform the second hardest and
heaviest task in the company shows the heartlessness of the companys
Despite his wound, the
respondent tried to accomplish the work assigned to him.
The least the manager should have done was
to assign the respondent to a lighter task, until such time that the latters
wound had completely healed.
be stressed where there is no showing of a clear, valid and legal cause for the
termination of employment, the law considers the matter a case of illegal
dismissal.61 Consequently, respondent Paramio is entitled to the full reimbursement of his
placement fee with interest at twelve percent (12%) per annum, plus his
salaries for the unexpired portion of his employment contract for three months
for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less under paragraph 5,
Section 10 of Rep. Act No. 8042.
In case of termination of overseas employment without just, valid
or authorized cause as defined by law or contract, the worker shall be entitled
to the full reimbursement of his placement fee with interest at twelve percent
(12%) per annum, plus his salaries for the unexpired portion of his employment
contract or three (3) months for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is
In Skippers Pacific, Inc. v. Mira ,63 we ruled that an overseas Filipino
worker who is illegally terminated shall be entitled to his salary equivalent
to the unexpired portion of his employment contract if such contract is less
than one year.
However, if his contract
is for a period of at least one year, he is entitled to receive his salaries
equivalent to the unexpired portion of his contract, or three months salary
for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is lower.
In Marsaman Manning Agency, Inc. v. NLRC ,64 involving Section 10 of Rep. Act No. 8042, we held:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
W]e cannot subscribe to the view that private respondent is
entitled to three (3) months salary loan only.
A plain reading of Sec. 10 clearly reveals that the choice of which
amount to award an illegally dismissed overseas contract worker, i. e., whether his salaries for the
unexpired portion of his employment contract or three (3) months salary for
every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less, comes into play only when
the employment contract concerned has a term of at least one (1) year or
This is evident from the words
for every year of the unexpired term which follows the words salaries x x x
for three months.
petitioners thinking that private respondent is entitled to three (3) months
salary only simply because it is the lesser amount is to completely disregard
and overlook some words used in the statute while giving effect to some.
This is contrary to the well-established
rule in legal hermeneutics that interpreting a statute, care should be taken
that every part or word thereof be given effect since the lawmaking body is
presumed to know the meaning of the words employed in the statute and to have
used them advisedly. Ut res magis valeat
Respondent Paramio was deployed on December
6, 1996.65 His
contract was for a period of twelve months or one year.66 He was repatriated on September 23,
1997, approximately two months from the expiration of his contract.67 Since the termination of his employment was not based on any valid or legal
ground, he is entitled to the payment of his salary equivalent to the unexpired
portion of his contract.
He is likewise
entitled to full reimbursement of his placement fee. Based on the record, respondent Paramio paid a placement fee of
P19,000.68 Thus, he should be reimbursed the amount of P19,000 with 12% interest
Similarly, the petitioner failed to substantiate its claim that
respondent Navarras repatriation was based on a valid, legal and just cause.
The petitioner merely alleged that it was
made clear to respondent Navarra that his repatriation was due to the fight he
had with his supervisor.69 Contrary to the allegation of the petitioner, respondent Navarra denied this in
his affidavit, as well as in his reply to the position paper of the
Respondent Navarra asserted
that he merely enforced his rights under the employment contract when he
requested, time and again, that the provisions of his contract regarding the
accommodation be fulfilled.70 The
claim of petitioner that respondent Navarra shouted invectives against his
supervisor71 was, likewise, unsubstantiated.
petitioner did not even present an affidavit of the superior with whom the
respondent reportedly fought.
while fighting a supervisor may constitute serious misconduct72 and may, consequently, be considered a ground for dismissal, in light of the
petitioners failure to adduce substantial evidence to prove its claim that
respondent Navarra fought his supervisor, this ground cannot be used to justify
Thus, the termination of
respondent Navarras employment was without factual and legal basis.
Respondent Navarra was deployed on November
6, 1996.73 He
was repatriated on May 10, 1997,
approximately five months prior to the expiration of his one-year
Considering our ruling in Marsamman Manning Agency v. NLRC,74 he shall be entitled to an amount equivalent to three months salary, or
Similarly, having admitted
that he paid a placement fee of
P19,00075 only,he is entitled to be fully
plus 12% interest
As to the other respondents, the petitioner alleges that they
refused to go to work and, in fact, voluntarily resigned.
It appended the daily time records76 of respondents Apolinario, Sarmiento, Ferdinand(Bautista) and Recto (Guillermo),
as well as the resignation
letters of Bautista and Sarmiento,77 and
Curameng, Jr. s written agreement with their employer.
We do not agree.
records reveal that the three respondents agreed to execute the foregoing
because they could no longer bear the working conditions in their place of
Despite protestations to
their employer and the attempt to seek help from the OWWA in Taiwan,
they were victims to the following acts/omissions of their employer:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
a). Irregular and deliberate charging of
deductions which were not fully accounted such as the blankets issued, charging
of penalties amounting to 400 NT to all employees for a littering violation
attributable only to one employee;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
b). Mandatory imposition of overtime work
exceeding 10 hours without just overtime compensation and night shift
c). Failure to comply with some stipulations
stated in the Employment Contract particularly those relating to the
accommodation and lodging of the contracted workers;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
d). Lack of observance of safety precautions at
work area78 .
1. They dont give us day off.
2. They feed us once a day.
3. They even let us work without rest.
4. Their (sic) were so many deductions in our salaries like payment for our
boarding house, electricity and garbage fee.
5. The money they were sending to the Philippineswas also reduced with the amount ranging from
P2000 to P5000.79 cralawred
The petitioner failed to adduce substantial evidence to overcome
the evidence of the respondents as contained in their respective
Contrary to the
petitioners claim, the said affidavits are not hearsay evidence.
The respondents were the victims of the
abuses of their employer; as such, they had personal knowledge of the contents
of their affidavits. Moreover, when there is a doubt between the evidence
presented by the employer and the employee, such doubt should be resolved in
favor of labor.80 cralawred
On the letters of resignation of respondents Sarmiento, Bautista
and the agreement of Curameng, Jr.,
we agree with the ruminations of the
appellate court, viz:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
It is not necessary that there be an express termination of ones
services before a case of illegal dismissal can exist.
In the landmark case of Philippine Japan Active Carbon Corporation v. National Labor Relations
Commission, et al(171 SCRA 164) the Supreme Court ruled that a
constructive discharge is defined as: A quitting because continued employment
is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely. In the case at bar, the petitioners were made to suffer
unbearable conditions in the workplace and the inhuman treatment of their
employer until they were left with no choice but to quit.
Thus, it cannot be said that the resignation
and repatriation of complainants Curameng, Bautista, Sarmienta and Guillermo
It was held in the case of Valdez v. NLRC, 286 SCRA 87:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
It would have been illogical for herein petitioner to resign and then
file a complaint for illegal dismissal.
Resignation is inconsistent with the filing of said complaint.
Indeed, unlike the Valdezcase where there was no pronouncement of resignation on the part of the
complainant, there were written resignations submitted by the said petitioners
in the case at bar.
The more important
consideration is whether such written resignations were made voluntarily.
Based on the foregoing circumstances, it
cannot be gainsaid that the instant complaint for illegal dismissal indicates
that the resignations and repatriations of the petitioners were not done freely
on their part.
It is highly unlikely
that these workers, after having invested so much time, effort and money to
secure their employment abroad would just quit even before the expiration of
We have more reason to rule that the repatriations of petitioners
Paramio and Navarra were not voluntary.81 cralawred
We thus rule that the respondents were constructively dismissed
from their employment. There is constructive dismissal if an act of clear
discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer becomes so unbearable
on the part of the employee that it would foreclose any choice by him except to
forego his continued employment.82 It
exists where there is cessation of work because continued employment is
rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, as an offer involving a demotion
in rank and a diminution in pay.83 cralawred
We find it incredible that, after all the expenses and the
trouble they went through in seeking greener pastures and financial upliftment, and the concomitant tribulations of being separated from their families, the
respondents would suddenly and without reason decide to resign, return home and
be jobless once again.
had no choice but to agree to their employers demand to sign and execute the
stranded in a foreign land, with their remunerations considerably diminished by
numerous illegal deductions. Their plight was all the more made unbearable by
the inhumane working conditions.
We note that the agreement signed by respondent Curameng, Jr. was
mimeographed and prepared by his employer.
Except for his handwritten name, the words Im go (sic) very verry
(sic) and his signature at the bottom of the document, the rest of the spaces
to be filled up were all blank. Most of the contents of the agreement were even
in Chinese characters.
In sum, there can be no other conclusion than that the
aforementioned respondents were illegally dismissed, and their employment
contract illegally terminated.
Under Section 10, paragraph 5 of Rep. Act No. 8042, respondents
Sarmiento, Bautista, Curameng and Guillermo are entitled to the full
reimbursement of their placement fees.
Since each of the respondents remitted only
P19,000 to the
petitioner, each of them is entitled to P19,000, plus 12% interest per
According to Section 10, paragraph 2 of Rep. Act No. 8042,84 the agency which deployed the employees whose employment contract were adjudged
illegally terminated, shall be jointly and solidarily liable with the principal
for the money claims awarded to the aforesaid employees.
Consequently, the petitioner, as the agency
of the respondents, is solidarily liable with its principal Kuan Yuan for the
payment of the salaries due to the respondents corresponding to the unexpired
portion of their contract, as well as the reimbursement of their placement
Under Section 15 of the same Act, the repatriation of the worker
and the transport of his personal belongings shall be the primary
responsibility of the agency which recruited or deployed the overseas contract
All the costs attendant thereto
shall be borne by the agency concerned and/or its principal.85 Consequently, the petitioner is obliged to refund
P4,300 to each of the
respondents, representing their airfare.
Anent the second issue, we rule that the deed of release executed
by respondent Navarra did not completely release the petitioner from its
liability on the latters claim. As a rule, quitclaims, waivers or releases are
looked upon with disfavor and are commonly frowned upon as contrary to public
policy and ineffective to bar claims for the measure of a workers legal
rights.86 If (a) there is clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an unsuspecting or
gullible person; or (b) the terms of the settlement are unconscionable, and on
their face invalid,87 such
quitclaims must be struck down as invalid or illegal.
The records reveal that respondent Navarra executed a deed of
release and waiver for and in consideration of only
P49,000.88 There is no evidence that he was informed that he was entitled to much more
than the said amount, including a refund for the placement fee he paid to the
petitioner. Respondent Navarra started working on November
contract was for a period of one year.
He was repatriated on May 10,
1997, or after a little over six months. The unexpired portion of his contract is, thus, five months and
Per Section 10, paragraph 5 of
Rep. Act No. 8042, he is entitled to the payment of three months salary or
NT$46,08089 and P19,000 placement fee, plus interest at twelve percent (12%) per
We, thus, agree with the ruling
of the appellate court, viz. :chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
With regard to the deed of quitclaim and acceptance, it is a
well-settled principle that the law does not consider as valid any agreement to
receive less compensation than what a worker is entitled to recover nor prevent
him from demanding benefits to which he is entitled. Quitclaims executed are ineffective to bar recovery for the full
measure of the workers rights (Medina v. Consolidated Broasting System
(CBS) -DZWX, 222 SCRA 707). The reason why quitclaims are commonly frowned
upon as contrary to public policy and they are ineffective to bar claims for
the full measure of the workers legal rights is because the employer and
employee do not stand on the same footing, such that quitclaims usually take
the form of contracts of adherence, not of choice. (Wyeth-Suaco Laboratories, Inc. v. NLRC, 219 SCRA 356). Assuming arguendothat the quitclaim was executed
voluntarily, still, it cannot diminish petitioners entitlement to the full
compensation provided in their contract. At the most, such amount can be
considered an advance on his claim.90 cralawred
In sum, we rule that the termination of the respondents
respective contracts of employment was illegal. Pursuant to Section 10, paragraph 5, Rep. Act No. 8042, each of
them is entitled to the full reimbursement of the placement fee of
P19,000, and interest at 12% per annum.
Navarra is, likewise, entitled to the payment of an amount equivalent to three
(3) months salary.
All the remaining
respondents are entitled to payment of their salaries, equivalent to three
Pursuant to Section 15 of Rep. Act No. 8042, the petitioner
should refund the amount of
P4,300 to each of the respondents
representing the expenses they incurred for their repatriation.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is
The Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 54744 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONS.
The petitioner is ordered to pay the
(1) The amount of NT$46,080 or its peso
equivalent to respondent Ronald Navarra minus the amount of
already advanced to him;
(2) To the respondents Romel Sarmiento,
Recto Guillermo, Ferdinand Bautista, Apolinario Curameng, Jr. and Joseph
Paramio, their respective salaries corresponding to the unexpired portion of
their respective contracts;
(3) The amount of the placement fees as
indicated in the respective official receipts issued to each of the
respondents, with interest of 12% per annum, in conformity with Section 10,
paragraph 5 of Rep. Act No. 8042;
(4) To each of the respondents, the amount
P4,300 representing the expenses they incurred for their return to the
Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Austria-Martinez, J., no part.
Penned by Associate Justice Elvi John Asuncion with Associate Justices Ma.
Alicia Austria-Martinez (now an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court) and
Portia Alio-Hormachuelos concurring.
Romel Sarmiento was deployed on December
6, 1996; Records, p. 54.
Ronald A. Navarra was deployed on November
6, 1996; Id. at 8.
Recto A. Guillermo was deployed on October
29, 1996; Id. at 9.
Joseph M. Paramio was deployed on December
6, 1996; Id. at 10.
Apolinario A. Curameng, Jr. was deployed on November
29, 1996; Id. at 11.
Ferdinand A. Bautista was deployed on January
16, 1999; Id. at 12.
. at 54, 58, 62, 66, 70, 74.
Termination by employer.
An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following causes:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his
employer or representative in connection with his work;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(b) Gross and
habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(c) Fraud or
willful breach of the trust reposed in him by the employer or duly authorized
of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any
immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; andcralawlibrary
causes analogous to the foregoing.
Article 283 Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel as a result
of installation of labor saving device, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent
losses; Article 284 disease as ground for termination.
Section 10, paragraph 5, R. A. No. 8042.
Article 282(a) of the Labor Code.
. at 54, 58, 62, 66, 70, 74.
The liability of the principal/employer and the recruitment
agency for any and all claims under this section shall be joint and
This provision shall be
incorporated in the contract for overseas employment and shall be a condition
precedent for its approval.
performance bond to be filed by the recruitment/placement agency, as provided
by law; shall be answerable for all money claims or damages that may be awarded
to the workers.
If the recruitment
agency is a juridical being the corporate officers and directors and partners
as the case may be, shall themselves be solidarily liable with the corporation
or partnership for the aforesaid claims and damages.
Repatriation of Workers;
Emergency Repatriation Fund. The repatriation of the worker and the transport
of his personal belongings shall be the primary responsibility of the agency
which recruited or deployed the worker overseas. All costs attendant to repatriation shall be borne by or charged
to the agency concerned and/or its principal.
Likewise, the repatriation of remains of the deceased worker and all
costs attendant thereto shall be borne by the principal and/or the local
However, in cases where the
termination of employment is due solely to the fault of the worker, the principal/employer
or agency shall not in any manner be responsible for the reparation of the
former and/or his belongings
The exchange rate is pegged at NT$ =
1. 7027 (Philippine Daily Inquirer,
Business, Currencies, March 24, 2004,
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