SAMEER OVERSEAS PLACEMENT AGENCY, INC., Petitioner,
JOY C. CABILES, Respondent.
G.R. No. 170139 August 5, 2014
TOPIC: Section 10 of RA 8042 vis-a-vis Section 7 of RA 10022
Petitioner, Sameer Overseas Placement Agency, Inc., is a recruitment and placement agency.
Respondent Joy Cabiles was hired thus signed a one-year employment contract for a monthly salary of NT$15,360.00. Joy was deployed to work for Taiwan Wacoal, Co. Ltd. (Wacoal) on June 26, 1997. She alleged that in her employment contract, she agreed to work as quality control for one year. In Taiwan, she was asked to work as a cutter.
Sameer claims that on July 14, 1997, a certain Mr. Huwang from Wacoal informed Joy, without prior notice, that she was terminated and that “she should immediately report to their office to get her salary and passport.” She was asked to “prepare for immediate repatriation.” Joy claims that she was told that from June 26 to July 14, 1997, she only earned a total of NT$9,000.15 According to her, Wacoal deducted NT$3,000 to cover her plane ticket to Manila.
On October 15, 1997, Joy filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with the NLRC against petitioner and Wacoal. LA dismissed the complaint. NLRC reversed LA’s decision. CA affirmed the ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission finding respondent illegally dismissed and awarding her three months’ worth of salary, the reimbursement of the cost of her repatriation, and attorney’s fees
Whether or not Cabiles was entitled to the unexpired portion of her salary due to illegal dismissal.
YES. The Court held that the award of the three-month equivalent of respondent’s salary should be increased to the amount equivalent to the unexpired term of the employment contract.
In Serrano v. Gallant Maritime Services, Inc. and Marlow Navigation Co., Inc., this court ruled that the clause “or for three (3) months for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less” is unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause and substantive due process.
A statute or provision which was declared unconstitutional is not a law. It “confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is inoperative as if it has not been passed at all.”
The Court said that they are aware that the clause “or for three (3) months for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less” was reinstated in Republic Act No. 8042 upon promulgation of Republic Act No. 10022 in 2010.
Ruling on the constitutional issue
In the hierarchy of laws, the Constitution is supreme. No branch or office of the government may exercise its powers in any manner inconsistent with the Constitution, regardless of the existence of any law that supports such exercise. The Constitution cannot be trumped by any other law. All laws must be read in light of the Constitution. Any law that is inconsistent with it is a nullity.
Thus, when a law or a provision of law is null because it is inconsistent with the Constitution, the nullity cannot be cured by reincorporation or reenactment of the same or a similar law or provision. A law or provision of law that was already declared unconstitutional remains as such unless circumstances have so changed as to warrant a reverse conclusion.
The Court observed that the reinstated clause, this time as provided in Republic Act. No. 10022, violates the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.96 Petitioner as well as the Solicitor General have failed to show any compelling change in the circumstances that would warrant us to revisit the precedent.
The Court declared, once again, the clause, “or for three (3) months for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less” in Section 7 of Republic Act No. 10022 amending Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8042 is declared unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void.