Bienvenido Cadalin vs. Philippine Overseas Employment Agency.

G.R. No. 104776, December 5, 1994


Bienvenido M. Cadalin et al, overseas contract workers (OCWs) , instituted a class suit with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for money claims arising from their recruitment by AIBC and employment by BRII (foreign corporation engaged in construction).   The complaint principally sought the (a) payment of the unexpired portion of the employment contracts, which was terminated prematurely, and (b), the payment of the interest on all the unpaid benefits and  (c) the suspension of the license of AIBC and the accreditation of BRII. They worked in Bahrain for BRII and they filed the suit after 1 yr. from the termination of their employment contract.

As provided by Art. 156 of the Amiri Decree aka as the Labor Law of the Private Sector of Bahrain: “a claim arising out of a contract of employment shall not be actionable after the lapse of 1 year from the date of the expiry of the contract,” it appears that their suit has prescribed.

Plaintiff contends that the prescription period should be 10 years as provided by Art. 1144 of the Civil Code as their claim arose from a violation of a contract.

The POEA Administrator holds that the 10 year period of prescription should be applied but the NLRC provides a different view asserting that Art 291 of the Labor Code of the Phils with a 3 years prescription period should be applied. The Solicitor General expressed his personal point of view that the 1 yr period provided by the Amiri Decree should be applied.


Whether the claim had already prescribed as provided by Art. 156 of the Amiri Decree aka as the Labor Law of the Private Sector of Bahrain.


NO. As a general rule, a foreign procedural law will not be applied in the forum. Procedural matters, such as service of process, joinder of actions, period and requisites for appeal, and so forth, are governed by the laws of the forum. This is true even if the action is based upon a foreign substantive law.

A law on prescription of actions is sui generis in the Conflict of Laws in the sense that it may be viewed either as procedural or substantive, depending on the characterization given such a law. However, the characterization of a statute into a procedural or substantive law becomes irrelevant when the country of the forum has a “borrowing statute.” A “borrowing statute” directs the state of the forum to apply the foreign statute of limitations to the pending claims based on a foreign law (Siegel, Conflicts, 183 [1975]).

In the light of the 1987 Constitution, however, Section 48 cannot be enforced ex proprio vigore insofar as it ordains the application in this jurisdiction of Section 156 of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976. To enforce the one-year prescriptive period of the Amiri Decree No. 23 of 1976 as regards the claims in question would contravene the public policy on the protection to labor.

“The state shall promote social justice in all phases of national development” (Sec. 10).

“The state affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare” (Sec. 18).

“Sec. 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all”

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