2:35 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017
By: Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho
The original manning agency cannot claim that it will be exempted from liability because it is no longer the manning agency responsible to the dismissed seafarers since the new manning agencies had executed Affidavits of Assumption of Responsibility.
In Section 1 of Rule II of the POEA Rules and Regulations, it states that:
Section 1. Requirements for Issuance of License. Every applicant for license to operate a private employment agency or manning agency shall submit a written application together with the following requirements:
x x x
A verified undertaking stating that the applicant:
x x x
(3) Shall assume joint and solidary liability with the employer for all claims and liabilities which may arise in connection with the implementation of the contract; including but not limited to payment of wages, death and disability compensation and repatriation.
Accordingly, despite the execution of the Affidavits of Assumption of Responsibility by other manning agencies, the original manning agency cannot exempt itself from all the claims and liabilities arising from the implementation of the contract executed between the said original manning agency and the seafarers. It is very clear from the above-cited provisions of the Rules and Regulations of the POEA that the manning agency shall assume joint and solidary liability with the employer. Joint and solidary liability is meant to assure aggrieved workers of immediate and sufficient payment of what is due them. The reason for this ruling was given by this Court in the 1988 case of Catan v. National Labor Relations Commission (160 SCRA 691, 695) which is reproduced in part below:
This must be so, because the obligations covenanted in the recruitment [manning] agreement entered into by and between the local agent and its foreign principal are not coterminous with the term of such agreement so that if either or both of the parties decide to end the agreement, the responsibilities of such parties towards the contracted employees under the agreement do not at all end, but the same extends up to and until the expiration of the employment contracts of the employees recruited and employed pursuant to the said recruitment agreement. Otherwise, this will render nugatory the very purpose for which the law governing the employment of workers for foreign jobs abroad was enacted.
Also, according to Section 10, paragraph 2 of Republic Act No. 8042, the agency which deployed the employees whose employment contract were adjudged illegally terminated, shall be jointly and solidarily liable with the principal for the money claims awarded to the aforesaid employees.
The Affidavits of Assumption of Responsibility, though valid as between the original manning agency and the other two manning agencies, are not enforceable as against the respondents because the latter were not parties to those agreements. The provisions of the POEA Rules and Regulations are clear enough that the manning agreement extends up to and until the expiration of the employment contracts of the employees recruited and employed pursuant to the said recruitment agreement. Hence, despite the execution of the aforementioned affidavits, the original manning agency cannot exempt itself from the liabilities and responsibilities towards the seafarers.
(SKIPPERS UNITED PACIFIC, INC., and J.P. SAMARTZSIS MARITIME ENTERPRISES CO., S.A., vs. JERRY MAGUAD and PORFERIO CEUDADANO, G.R. No. 166363, August 15, 2006)