Labor Standards Cases

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  Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 78409 September 14, 1989NORBERTO SORIANO, petitioner, vs. OFFSHORE SHIPPING AND MANNING ORPORATION, !N T !N TSEN O.A.S., #$% NATIONA& &ABOR RE&ATIONS OMMISSION 'Se(o$% D)*)+)o$, respondents. R. C. Carrera Law Firm for petitioner. Elmer V. Pormento for private respondents.  FERNAN, C.J.: This is a petition for certiorari   seeking to annul and set aside the decision of public respondent National Labor Relations Commission affirming the decision of the Philippine Overseas Emploment !dministration in POE! Case No. #$%&'()'*+& entitled -Norberto oriano v. Offshore hipping and #anning Corporation and /nut /nutsen O.!..-, 0hich denied petitioner1s claim for salar differential and overtime pa and limited the reimbursement of his cash bond to P(&,***.** instead of P)*,***.**. 2n search for better opportunities and higher income, petitioner Norberto oriano, a licensed econd #arine Engineer, sought emploment and 0as hired b private respondent /nut /nutsen O.!.. through its authori3edshipping agent in the Philippines, Offshore hipping and #anning Corporation. !s evidenced b the Cre0  !greement, petitioner 0as hired to 0ork as Third #arine Engineer on board /nut Provider- 0ith a salar of 45%**.** a month on a conduction basis for a period of fifteen (&$ das. 6e admitted that the term of the contract 0as e7tended to si7 8$ months b mutual agreement on the promise of the emploer to the petitioner that he 0ill be promoted to econd Engineer. Thus, 0hile it appears that petitioner 9oined the aforesaid vessel on :ul ), (+%& he signed off on November );, (+%& due to the alleged failure of private respondent'emploer to fulfill its promise to promote petitioner to the position of econd Engineer and for the unilateral decision to reduce petitioner1s basic salar from 45%**.** to 45&8*.**. Petitioner 0as made to shoulder his return airfare to #anila. 2n the Philippines, petitioner filed 0ith the Philippine Overseas Emploment !dministration POE! for short$, a complaint against private respondent for pament of salar differential, overtime pa, unpaid salar for November, (+%& and refund of his return airfare and cash bond allegedl in the amount of P)*,***.** contending therein that private respondent unilaterall altered the emploment contract b reducing his salar of 45%**.** per month to 45&8*.**, causing him to re<uest for his repatriation to the Philippines. !lthough repatriated, he claims that he failed to receive pament for the follo0ing=(. alar for November 0hich is e<uivalent to 45%**.**> ). Leave pa e<uivalent to his salar for (8.& das in the sum of 45??*.**> . alar differentials 0hich is e<uivalent to 45)?*.** a month for four ?$ months and one ($ 0eek in the total sum of 45(,*)*,**> ?. @i7ed overtime pa e<uivalent to 45)?*.** a month for four ?$ months and one ($ 0eek in the sum of 45(,*)*.**>&. Overtime pa for (? undas e<uivalent to 45?%?.++>  8. Repatriation cost of 45+?&.?8> ;. Petitioner1s cash bond of P)*,***.**. 1 2n resolving aforesaid case, the Officer'in'Charge of the Philippine Overseas Emploment !dministration or POE! found that petitioner'complainant1s total monthl emolument is 45%**.** inclusive of fi7ed overtime as sho0n and proved in the Aage cale submitted to the !ccreditation Bepartment of its Office 0hich 0ould therefore not entitle petitioner to an salar differential> that the version of complainant that there 0as in effect contract substitution has no grain of truth because although the Emploment Contract seems to have corrections on it, said corrections or alterations are in conformit 0ith the Aage cale dul approved b the POE!> that the 0ithholding of a certain amount due petitioner 0as 9ustified to ans0er for his repatriation e7penses 0hich repatriation 0as found to havebeen re<uested b petitioner himself as sho0n in the entr in his eaman1s ook> and that petitioner deposited a total amount of P(&,***.** onl instead of P)*,***.** cash bond.  -   !ccordingl, respondent POE! ruled as follo0s=D2EAEB 2N T6E L26T O@ T6E @OREO2N, respondents are hereb ordered to pa complainant, 9ointl and severall 0ithin ten (*$ das from receipt hereof the amount of P(&,***.** representing the reimbursement of the cash bond deposited b complainant less 45)%&.% to be converted to its peso e<uivalent at the time of actual pament$. @urther, attorne1s fees e<uivalent to (* F of the aforesaid a0ard is assessed against respondents.  !ll other claims are hereb dismissed for lack of merit. O ORBEREB.  Bissatisfied, both parties appealed the aforementioned decision of the POE! to the National Labor Relations Commission. Complainant'petitioner1s appeal 0as dismissed for lack of merit 0hile respondents1 appeal 0as dismissed for having been filed out of time. Petitioner1s motion for reconsideration 0as like0ise denied. 6ence this recourse. Petitioner submits that public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion andGor acted 0ithout or in e7cess of 9urisdiction b disregarding the alteration of the emploment contract made b private respondent. Petitioner claims that the alteration b private respondent of his salar and overtime rate 0hich is evidenced b the Cre0 !greement and the e7it pass constitutes a violation of !rticle? of the Labor Code of the Philippines. /  On the other hand, public respondent through the olicitor eneral, contends that, as e7plained b the POE!= -!lthough the emploment contract seems to have corrections, it is in conformit 0ith the Aage cale submitted to said office. 7   !pparentl, petitioner emphasi3es the materialit of the alleged unilateral alteration of the emploment contract as this is proscribed b the Labor Code 0hile public respondent finds the same to be merel innocuous. Ae take a closer look at the effects of these alterationsupon petitioner1s right to demand for his differential, overtime pa and refund of his return airfare to #anila. ! careful e7amination of the records sho0s that there is in fact no alteration made in the Cre0 !greement 8  or in the E7it Pass. 9  !s the srcinal data appear, the figures 45%**.** fall under the column salar, 0hile the 0ord -inclusive- is indicated under the column overtime rate. Aith the supposed alterations, the figures 45&8*.** 0ere hand0ritten above the figures 45%**.** 0hile the figures 45)?*.** 0ere also 0ritten above the 0ord -inclusive-.  !s clearl e7plained b respondent NLRC, the correction 0as made onl to specif the salar and the overtime pa to 0hich petitioner is entitled under the contract. 2t 0as a mere breakdo0n of the total amount into 45&8*.** as basic 0age and 45)?*.** as overtime pa. Other0ise stated, 0ith or 0ithout the amendments the total emolument that petitioner 0ould receive under the agreement as approved b the POE! is 45%**.** monthl 0ith 0age differentials or overtime pa included. 10   #oreover, the presence of petitioner1s signature after said items renders improbable the possibilit that petitioner could have misunderstood the amount of compensation he 0ill be receiving under the contract. Nor has petitioner advanced an e7planation for statements contrar or inconsistent 0ith 0hat appears in the records. Thus, he claimed= HaI that private respondent e7tended the duration of the emploment contract indefinitel, 11   but admitted in his Repl that his emploment contract 0as e7tended for another si7 8$ months b agreement bet0een private respondent and himself= 1-  HbI that 0hen petitioner demanded for his overtime pa, respondents repatriated him 1  0hich again 0as discarded in his repl stating that he himself re<uested for his voluntar repatriation because of the bad faith and insincerit of private respondent> 14  HcI that he 0as re<uired to post a cash bond in the amount of P)*,***.** but it 0as found that he deposited onl the total amount of P(&,***.**> HdI that his salar for November (+%& 0as not paid 0hen in truth and in fact it 0as petitioner 0ho o0es private respondent 45)%&.% for cash advances 1   and on November );, (+%& the  final pa slip 0as e7ecuted and signed> 1/  and HeI that he finished his contract 0hen on the contrar, despite proddings that he continue 0orking until the rene0ed contract has e7pired, he adamantl insisted on his termination. Deril, it is <uite apparent that the 0hole conflict centers on the failure of respondent compan to give the petitioner the desired promotion 0hich appears to be improbable at the moment because the #GD /nut Provider continues to be laid off at Limassol for lack of charterers. 17   2t is a7iomatic that la0s should be given a reasonable interpretation, not one 0hich defeats the ver purpose for 0hich the 0ere passed. This Court has in man cases involving the construction of statutes al0as cautioned against narro0l interpreting a statute as to defeat the purpose of the legislator and stressed that it is of the essence of 9udicial dut to construe statutes so as to avoid such a deplorable result of in9ustice or absurdit$ and that therefore -a literal interpretation is to be re9ected if it 0ould be un9ust or lead to absurd results.-  18   There is no dispute that an alteration of the emploment contract 0ithout the approval of the Bepartment of Labor is a serious violation of la0. pecificall, the la0 provides= !rticle ? paragraph i$ of the Labor Code reads= Prohibited Practices. J 2t shall be unla0ful for an individual, entit, licensee, or holder of authorit= 7 7 7 7 i$ To substitute or alter emploment contracts approved and verified b the Bepartment of Labor from the time of actual signing thereof b the parties up to and including the period of e7piration of the same 0ithout the approval of the Bepartment of Labor.2n the case at bar, both the Labor !rbiter and the National Labor Relations Commission correctl anal3ed the <uestioned annotations as not constituting an alteration of the srcinal emploment contract but onl a clarification thereof 0hich b no stretch of the imagination can be considered a violation of the above'<uoted la0. 4nder similar circumstances, this Court ruled that as a general proposition, e7ceptions from the coverage of a statute are strictl construed. ut such construction nevertheless must be at all times reasonable, sensible and fair. 6ence, to rule out from the e7emption amendments set forth, although the did not materiall change the terms and conditions of the srcinal letter of credit, 0as held to be unreasonable and un9ust, and not in accord 0ith the declared purpose of the #argin La0. 19   The purpose of !rticle ?, paragraph ( of the Labor Code is clearl the protection of both parties. 2n the instant case, the alleged amendment served to clarif 0hat 0as agreed upon b the parties and approved b the Bepartment of Labor. To rule other0ise 0ould go beond the bounds of reason and 9ustice.  !s recentl laid do0n b this Court, the rule that there should be concern, smpath and solicitude for the rights and 0elfare of the 0orking class, is meet and proper. That in controversies bet0een a laborer and his master, doubts reasonabl arising from the evidenceor in the interpretation of agreements and 0ritings should be resolved in the former1s favor, is not an unreasonable or unfair rule. -0   ut to disregard the emploer1s o0n rights and interests solel on the basis of that concern and solicitude for labor is un9ust and unacceptable. @inall, it is 0ell'settled that factual findings of <uasi'9udicial agencies like the National Labor Relations Commission 0hich have ac<uired e7pertise because their 9urisdiction is confined to specific matters are generall accorded not onl respect but at times even finalit if such findings are supported b substantial evidence.  -1   2n fact since Madrigal v. Rafferty    --   great 0eight has been accorded to the interpretation or construction of a statute b the government agenc called upon to implement the same. -   A6ERE@ORE, the instant petition is BEN2EB. The assailed decision of the National Labor Relations Commission is !@@2R#EB in toto .O ORBEREB. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila  EN BANC G.R. No. 46727 September 27, 1939PAMBUSCO EMPLOEES! UN ON, NC.,  petitioner !s T#E COURT O$ N%USTR AL RELAT ONS, &ompo'e( to #o)or*b+e' $r*)&'&o -+et*, Leopo+(o Ro/r*, *)(0o'e Ge)ero'o, *)( PAMPANGA BUS COMPAN, NC.,  respon#ents  Jose Alejandrino for petitioner. Manuel Escudero for respondent court. L.D. Lockwood for respondent Pampanga Bus Co., nc. LAUREL,  J.: This is a petition for a $rit of certiorari  to re!ie$ the #ecision of the Court of In#ustrial Relations pro%ul&ate# on 'anuar( )* )+,+ #en(in& the #e%an#s of the Pa%busco E%plo(ees- .nion Inc The follo$in& are the pertinent facts $hich ha!e &i!en occasion to this in#ustrial #ispute/ On March 01 )+,2 the Pa%busco E%plo(ees- .nion Inc  a##resse# a thirteen3 point petition to the %ana&e%ent of the Pa%pan&a Bus Co .ponthe failure of the co%pan( officials to act upon the petition a stri4e $as #eclare# b( the $or4ers on April )* )+,2 Ho$e!er throu&h the ti%el( %e#iation of the Depart%ent of 5abor a pro!isional a&ree%ent $as reache# b( !irtue of $hich the stri4e $as calle# off ei&ht #e%an#s $ere &rante# an# the re%ainin& fi!e $ere sub%itte# to the Court of In#ustrial Relations for settle%ent One of these #e%an#s in the lan&ua&e of the petitioner is that the respon#ent Pa%pan&a Bus Co 6pa( to all Co%pan( #ri!ers affiliate# $ith the Pa%busco E%plo(ees- .nion Inc  all the bac4 o!erti%e pa( #ue the% un#er the la$ 6 After trial on the #ispute# #e%an#s the Court of In#ustrial Relations #eci#e# inter alia  that the clai% for bac4 o!erti%e pa( coul# not be allo$e# The pertinent portion of the #ecision of the respon#ent Court of In#ustrial Relations is as follo$s/ The e!i#ence is clear that e!en before the final appro!al of Act No *0*0 a%en#in& Act No *)0, the Ei&ht Hour 5abor 5a$ b( e7ten#in& the pro!isions of the latter to other class of laborers inclu#in& #ri!ers of public ser!ice !ehicles a petition $as a##resse# b( ** #ri!ers of the co%pan( to the 8o!ernor38eneral as4in& hi% to !eto the  bill a%en#in& the la$ e7ten#in& it to #ri!ers for the reason state# in their petition 9E7hibit : an# :3a; About the 1th #a( of Septe%ber )+,: a petition $as a&ain a##resse# b( +< #ri!ers of the co%pan( to the Co%%issioner of 5abor re=uestin& a#>ust%ent of $or4in& hours to per%it the% to retain their present status $ith the co%pan( as nearl( as possible un#er the la$ 9E7hibits * *3a *3b *3c *3# an# *3e; This petition $as prepare# after a %eetin&of the e%plo(ees $as hel# an# $as #ra$n $ith the help of the %ana&er of the respon#ent about the last #a(s of Au&ust )+,: In Septe%ber )+,< about ,*< e%plo(ees of the #ifferent #epart%ents of the co%pan( a&ain a##resses a petition to the Director of 5abor e7pressin& their satisfaction $ith the hours the( $or4 an# the pa( the( recei!e for their labor inclu#in& the special bonuses an# o!erti%e pa( the( recei!e for e7tra $or4 an# as4in& in !ie$ thereof that the la$ be not applie# to the% 9E7hibits 1 13a to 13&; After the enact%ent of Act No *0*0 se!eral transportation co%panies operatin& %otor buses file# $ith Co%%issioner of 5abor petitions for a rea#>ust%ent of the hours of labor specifie# in section ) of the Act on the  basis of %aintainin& the  status !uo  as to the hours the #ri!ers $ere re=uire# to be actuall( on #ut( in or#er to enable the% to %a4e the prescribe# hours #ail( that the e7i&encies of the ser!ice re=uire# The petitions $ere  base# on the i%practicabilit( of appl(in& the pro!isions of the la$ to #ri!ers of public ser!ice !ehicles $ithout #isruptin& the public ser!ice an# causin& pecuniar( loss to both e%plo(ers an# e%plo(ees ali4e an# the resultin& #ifficulties on the part of the #ri!ers The testi%on( of Att( Carlos Al!ear on this point in uncontra#icte# He testifie# that in )+,: he $as presi#ent of the Philippine Motor Association co%pose# of bus operators operatin& in the Philippines of $hich the respon#ent is a %e%ber Ma>or Olson $ho $as at the ti%e the e7ecuti!e secretar(of the association an# hi%self too4 up the %atter $ith the Secretar( of the Interior an# the Secretar( of 5abor after the passa&e of the Act e7ten#in& the operation of the Ei&ht 5abor 5a$ to #ri!ers In their conference $ith theCo%%issioner of 5abor the( $ere tol# to ta4e a#!anta&e of the pro!isions of the la$ in $hich the( %a( appl( for 
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