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Marsaman Manning Agency vs. NLRC
G.R. No. 127195, August 25, 1999
R.A. 8042 (Migrant Workers Act)
Private respondent Wilfredo T. Cajeras was hired by petitioner MARSAMAN, the local manning agent of petitioner DIAMANTIDES, as Chief Cook Steward on the MV Prigipos, owned and operated by DIAMANTIDES, for a contract period of ten (10) months. Cajeras started work on 8 August 1995, but less than two (2) months later, he was repatriated to the Philippines allegedly by "mutual consent."
Private respondent Cajeras filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against petitioners with the NLRC alleging that he was dismissed illegally, denying that his repatriation was by mutual consent, and asking for his unpaid wages, overtime pay, damages, and attorney's fees.
On 29 January 1996 Labor Arbiter resolved the dispute in favor of private respondent Cajeras ruling that the latter's discharge from the MV Prigipos allegedly by "mutual consent" was not proved by convincing evidence.
Petitioners appealed to the NLRC. On 16 September 1996 the NLRC affirmed the appealed findings and conclusions of the Labor Arbiter. Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied by the NLRC in its Resolution dated 12 November 1996.
Hence, the petition contending that, among other things, the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering a monetary award beyond the maximum of three (3) months' salary for every year of service set by RA 8042.
Whether or not the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion
On the amount of salaries due private respondent, the rule has always been that an illegally dismissed worker whose employment is for a fixed period is entitled to payment of his salaries corresponding to the unexpired portion of his employment. On 15 July 1995, RA 8042 otherwise known as the "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995" took effect, Sec. 10 of which provides:
Sec. 10. In case of termination of overseas employment without just, valid or authorized cause as defined by law or contract, the worker shall be entitled to the full reimbursement of his placement fee with interest at twelve percent (12%) per annum, plus his salaries for the unexpired portion of the employment contract or for three (3) months for every year of the unexpired term whichever is less.
A plain reading of Sec. 10 clearly reveals that the choice of which amount to award an illegally dismissed overseas contract worker, i.e., whether his salaries for the unexpired portion of his employment contract or three (3) months' salary for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less, comes into play only when the employment contract concerned has a term of at least one (1) year or more.
To follow petitioners' thinking that private respondent is entitled to three (3) months salary only simply because it is the lesser amount is to completely disregard and overlook some words used in the statute while giving effect to some. This is contrary to the well-established rule in legal hermeneutics that in interpreting a statute, care should be taken that every part or word thereof be given effect since the law-making body is presumed to know the meaning of the words employed in the statue and to have used them advisedly.
The questioned Decision and Resolution of public respondent National Labor Relations Commission are AFFIRMED.
Acknowledgement: Prince Fulgado