Labor Law

Pacific Asia Overseas Shipping vs NLRC and Rances

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Labor Standards – Delay in Filing Appeal (Employer) – Foreign Judgments Cannot Be Enforced by POEA

Pacific Asia is an overseas employment agency that provided Rances work abroad. Rances was engaged by Gulf-East Ship Management a Radio Operator but due to insubordination he was dismissed our months later. According to Rances he sued Gulf-East in Dubai and the Gulf-East compromised with him that instead of paying him $9k+ they’ll just pay him $5.5k plus his fare going home to the Philippines plus if in case Rances’ wife does not agree with the amount of the allowance being sent to her via Pacific Asia, Rances is entitled to have $1.5k more from pacific Asia.

Back in the Philippines, Rances was sued by Pacific Asia for acts unbecoming of a marine officer (due in part to his insubordination to Pacific Asia’s client). Rances filed a counterclaim for the $1.5k as his wife did not agree with the monthly allowance sent by Pacific Asia to her. POEA ruled in favor of Pacific Asia but did not rule on Rances’ counterclaim. Rances then filed a separate case for his $1.5k claim. Rances produced the original copy of the Dubai court decision awarding him the compromised amount of $5.5k. The said court decision was in Arabic but it came with an English translation. It also came with a certification from a certain Mohd Bin Saleh who was purportedly an Honorary Consul for the Philippines. This time he won.

Pacific Asia appealed but its appeal was one day late after the reglementary period. POEA denied the appeal. NLRC likewise denied the appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not Pacific Asia can be allowed to appeal.

HELD: Yes. The delay was due to an excusable mistake. Apparently, there was a mistake in the filing of the appeal when the new messenger honestly thought that the appeal was supposed to be filed in NLRC Intramuros but actually it was supposed to be in POEA Ortigas (that happened to be the last day as well, and when he was advised to go to Ortigas, offices were already closed).

Also, on the merits; POEA has no jurisdiction to enforce foreign judgments. It’s the regular courts that have jurisdiction. The POEA is not a court; it is an administrative agency exercising, inter alia, adjudicatory or quasi-judicial functions. Further, Rances is not suing on the strength of an employer-employee relationship between him and Gulf-East, but rather on the strength of a foreign judgment.

And, even if the POEA has jurisdiction over the matter, it cannot take in evidence the alleged original copy o the court decision from Dubai as it was not properly authenticated pursuant to the Rules of Court (Sect 25, 26 Rule 132). The translation was also not duly authenticated. And an honorary consul is not authorized to make authentication of foreign public records.

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