Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the Supreme Court has upheld a decision of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) against a recruitment agency for violation of the POEA’s Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Overseas Workers.
The case arose from the complaint filed by Renelson L. Carlos against Worldview International Services Corporation and Humanlink Manpower Consultants before the POEA for violation of the 2002 POEA Rules’ Section 2(b) excessive collection of fees, (d) collecting a fee without issuing a receipt, and (e) misrepresentation.
On 13 July 2015, the Legal Representation Division (LRD) of the DOLE’s Legal Service received a Notice of Judgment with the attached copy of the decision dated 22 April 2015 rendered by the Third Division of the Supreme Court on the case, “Republic of the Philippines vs. Humanlink Manpower Consultants, Inc.”, and docketed as G.R. No. 205188.
Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by then DOLE Undersecretary Lourdes M. Trasmonte and then POEA Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili, filed a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court assailing the Court of Appeals’ 24 September 2012 Decision and 14 January 2013 Resolution in CA-G.R. SP No. 121332.
In the complaint filed by Carlos, he alleged that he applied at Worldview as a heavy equipment driver for Doha, Qatar with a salary of US$700.00. After undergoing the required medical examination, Worldview submitted Carlos’ application to the POEA, under Humanlink as his recruiting agency. He also paid a placement fee of P60,000.00 without receiving any official receipt.
On 02 December 2007, while awaiting his departure at the airport, he was made to sign an employment contract stating that he was to work as a duct man with a salary of US$400.00, instead of the heavy equipment driver position he applied for. He was told that the duct man contract was for entry purposes and was assured that he would work as heavy equipment driver in Doha as advertised.
Upon arrival in Doha, he worked as a duct installer with as salary of US$400.00. Carlos complained that the terms of the employment contract were not complied with. In March 2008, the foreign employer made Carlos sign a new employment contract reducing his monthly salary in half. Carlos filed a complaint with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).
On 29 April 2008, Carlos was informed that his visa was cancelled and that he was being repatriated at his own expense. Upon his return to the Philippines, Humalink’s President persuaded Carlos to sign a quitclaim absolving it of any liability from collection of the placement fee.
On 31 March 2010, the POEA Adjudication Office found the assertions of Carlos credible and supported by sufficient evidence.
First, it noticed that no receipts were issued to Carlos for the payments he made.
Second, considering that Carlos’ salary only amounted to US$400.00, the amount of P60,000.00 collected from him as placement fee was patently excessive.
Lastly, it further found that for advertising the position for heavy equipment driver, but having Carlos sign a contract for a duct man, Humanlink engaged in misrepresentation.
It thus found Humanlink liable for violation of Section 2(b), (d) and (e) of the 2002 POEA Rules and Worldview liable for violating Section 2(e) of the 2002 POEA Rules.
Humanlink appealed before the DOLE but the same was dismissed for lack of merit in the DOLE 17 February 2011 Order. It moved for reconsideration but the same was denied.
Humanlink filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA).
In its 24 September 2012 Decision, the CA affirmed with modification the 17 February 2011 Order. It agreed that Humanlink was guilty of violating Section 2 (b), (d), and (e) of the 2002 POEA Rules and ordered the cancellation of its license. However, it disagreed that as consequence of the cancellation of the license, automatic disqualification of officers and directors from participating in government’s overseas employment program should be imposed. It considered such penalty to be violative of due process and in excess of the POEA’s supervisory powers. Humanlink moved for reconsideration but it was denied.
Thereafter, the DOLE and POEA filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 before the Supreme Court (SC).
The Supreme Court granted the petition and partially reversed the CA 24 September 2012 decision. It said that upon the cancellation of license of an overseas recruitment agency, persons, officers and directors of the concerned corporations are automatically prohibited from engaging in recruiting and placement of land-based overseas Filipino workers.
“The grant of license is a privilege and not a right thus making it a proper subject of POEA’s regulatory powers. If we are to protect the welfare of the overseas workers, then we must prevent all instances wherein they may be taken advantage upon. This must be so since the rules must be read as a whole to achieve its particular purpose. Particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions but as a whole and every part of the statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole,” the Supreme Court said.
It added it is inconsequential whether or not the POEA or the DOLE stated in their decision that persons, officers and directors are disqualified from participating in the government’s overseas employment program.
“The law and rules implementing the same unequivocally state that once a recruitment license of an entity is cancelled, its officers and directors are automatically prohibited from engaging in such activity. The failure of the POEA and DOLE to indicate this fact cannot by any means indicate the contrary. Dura lex sed lex,” the Court further said.
The Supreme Court affirmed with modification the decision of the CA and reiterate that officers and director of Humanlink are prohibited from engaging in the recruitment and placement of overseas workers upon cancellation of Humanlink’s license.
Based on the listed qualifications and disqualification of the Rules, they are not qualified to participate in the government’s overseas employment program upon such cancellation. It was thus unnecessary for POEA and DOLE to issue a separate decision explicitly stating that persons, officers or directors of Humanlink are disqualified from participating in government overseas recruitment programs.