Almirante: Philippine laws govern OFW’s cases

Labor Case Digest

PHILIPPINE LAWS GOVERN OFW’s CASES Petitioner Julita M. Aldovino and six others were hired as sewers for Dipper Semi-Conductor Company, Ltd., a Taiwan-based company, through respondent Gold and Green Manpower Management and Development Services, Inc., a local manning agency whose foreign principal is Sage International Development Company, Ltd. Their respective employment contracts provided an 8-hour working day, a fixed monthly salary, and entitlement to overtime pay, among others.

When they arrived in Taiwan, they were made to sign another contract that provided that they would be paid on a piece-rate basis instead of a fixed monthly salary. Thus, they received salaries less than the fixed monthly salary stipulated in their original contract. They were constrained to file before a local court in Taiwan a complaint against their employers which was settled through a compromise agreement.

Upon their return to the Philippines, they filed before the Labor Arbiter a case for illegal termination, underpayment of salaries, human trafficking, illegal signing of papers, and other money claims such as overtime pay, return of placement fees, and moral and exemplary damages.

Which laws apply to the case: The Philippine or Taiwanese laws? Ruling: The Philippine laws.

It must be noted that this case is governed by Philippine laws. Both the Constitution and the Labor Code guarantee the security of tenure. It is not stripped off when Filipinos work in a different jurisdiction. We follow the lex loci contractus principle, which means that the law of the place where the contract is executed governs the contract.

In Triple Eight Integrated Services, Inc. v National Labor Relations Commission, 359 Phil. 955 (1998): First, established is the rule that lex loci contractus (the law of the place where the contract is made) governs in this jurisdiction. There is no question that the contract of employment in this case was perfected here in the Philippines. Therefore, the Labor Code, its implementing rules and regulations, and other laws affecting labor apply in this case. Furthermore, settled is the rule that the courts of the forum will not enforce any foreign claim obnoxious to the forum’s public policy. Here in the Philippines, employment agreements are more than contractual in nature. The Constitution itself, in Article XIII, Section 3, guarantees the special protection of workers ....

This public policy should be borne in mind in this case because to allow foreign employers to determine for and by themselves whether an overseas contract worker may be dismissed on the ground of illness would encourage illegal or arbitrary pre-termination of employment contracts.

Indeed, because petitioners’ employment contracts were executed in the Philippines, Philippine laws govern them. Respondents, then, must answer and be held liable under our laws. (Julita M. Aldovino, vs. Gold and Green Manpower Management and Development Services, Inc., G.R. No. 200811, June 19, 2019).


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