Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PHIL. ASS. OF SERVICE EXPORTERS, INC. vs. RUBEN D. TORRES, ET AL. G.R. No. 101279 August 6, 1992

Prepared by: Arnel D. Mateo

Philippine Association of Service Exporters (PASEI, for short), is the largest national organization of private employment and recruitment agencies duly licensed and authorized by the POEA, to engaged in the business of obtaining overseas employment for Filipino landbased workers, including domestic helpers.

On June 1, 1991, as a result of published stories regarding the abuses suffered by Filipino housemaids employed in Hong Kong, DOLE Secretary Ruben D. Torres issued Department Order No. 16, Series of 1991, temporarily suspending the recruitment by private employment agencies of "Filipino domestic helpers going to Hong Kong".
Pursuant to the above DOLE circular, the POEA issued Memorandum Circular No. 30, Series of 1991, dated July 10, 1991, providing GUIDELINES on the Government processing and deployment of Filipino domestic helpers to Hong Kong and the accreditation of Hong Kong recruitment agencies intending to hire Filipino domestic helpers.
On August 1, 1991, the POEA Administrator also issued Memorandum Circular No. 37, Series of 1991, on the processing of employment contracts of domestic workers for Hong Kong. All Hong Kong recruitment agent/s hiring DHs from the Philippines shall recruit under the new scheme which requires prior accreditation which the POEA.
On September 2, 1991, the petitioner, PASEI, filed this petition for prohibition to annul the aforementioned DOLE and POEA circulars and to prohibit their implementation

WON the respondents acted with grave abuse of discretion and/or in excess of their rule-making authority in issuing said circulars.

No. Article 36 of the Labor Code grants the Labor Secretary the power to restrict and regulate recruitment and placement activities. On the other hand, the scope of the regulatory authority of the POEA, which was created by Executive Order No. 797 on May 1, 1982 to take over the functions of the Overseas Employment Development Board, the National Seamen Board, and the overseas employment functions of the Bureau of Employment Services, is broad and far-ranging.
The assailed circulars do not prohibit the petitioner from engaging in the recruitment and deployment of Filipino landbased workers for overseas employment. A careful reading of the challenged administrative issuances discloses that the same fall within the "administrative and policing powers expressly or by necessary implication conferred" upon the respondents.
Nevertheless, they are legally invalid, defective and unenforceable for lack of power publication and filing in the Office of the National Administrative Register as required in Article 2 of the Civil Code, Article 5 of the Labor Code and Sections 3(1) and 4, Chapter 2, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987. The administrative circulars in question may not be enforced and implemented.

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