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Erectors V NLRC

Facts

ISSUE: WON the Labor Arbiter has the jurisdiction over the case.

In September 1979, petitioner recruited private respondent to


work as service contract driver in Saudi Arabia for a period of twelve
(12) months with a salary of US$165.00 and an allowance of
US$165.00 per month. They further agreed that private respondent
shall be entitled to a bonus of US$ 1,000.00 if after the 12-month
period he renews or extends his employment contract without
availing of his vacation or home leave. Their contract dated
September 20, 1979 was duly approved by the Ministry of Labor and
Employment.

Held:

The contract was not implemented. Instead they executed


another one and this time with a different position and a lower salary.
The said contract was not submitted to Ministry of Labor and
Employment for approval.
When the respondent returned to the Philippines in August
1981, he invoked the first contract, demanding the petitioner the
difference between the salaries paid to him and the amount indicated
in the first contract, which the latter refused. The respondent then
filed a case to the Labor Arbiter against the petitioner for
underpayment of wages.
May 1,1982 while the case was still in the conciliation stage,
Executive Order (E.O.) No. 797 creating the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA) took effect. Section 4(a) of
E.O. No. 797 vested the POEA with "original and exclusive
jurisdiction over all cases, including money claims, involving
employer-employee relations arising out of or by virtue of any law or
contract involving Filipino workers for overseas employment.
Despite E.O. No. 797, respondent Labor Arbiter proceeded to try the
case on the merits. On September 23, 1983, he rendered a Decision in
favor of private respondent.

It was a settled rule that the jurisdiction over the subject matter
is determined by the law in force at the time of the commencement
of the action. At the time private respondent filed his complaint
against the petitioner, Presidential Decree No. 1691 and Presidential
Decree No. 1391 were the prevailing laws, which vested the
Regional Offices of the Ministry of Labor and the Labor Arbiters
with "original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases involving
employer-employee relations including money claims arising out of
any law or contracts involving Filipino workers for overseas
employment." At the time of the filing of the complaint, the Labor
Arbiter had clear jurisdiction over the same.
E.O. No. 797, is not a curative statute. It was not intended to
remedy any defect in the law. It created the POEA to assume the
functions of the Overseas Employment Development Board, the
National Seamen Board and the overseas employment functions of
the Bureau of Employment Services. Accordingly, it gave the POEA
"original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases, including money
claims, involving employer-employee relations arising out of or by
virtue of any law or contract involving Filipino workers for overseas
employment, including seamen. The rule on prospectivity of laws
should therefore apply to E.O. No. 797. It should not affect
jurisdiction over cases filed prior to its effectivity.
The petition was dismissed.