[G.R. No. 110187. September 4, 1996.]
JOSE G. EBRO III, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC MIGRATION COMMISSION, JON DARRAH, ALEX DY-REYES, CARRIE WILSON, and MARIVIC SOLIVEN, respondents.
Jose R. Ebro, Jr. for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for public respondent.
The Law Firm of Araullo & Raymundo for International Catholic Migration Commission.
POLITICAL LAW; PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW; CONVENTION ON THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITY OF SPECIALIZED AGENCIES OF THE UNITED NATIONS; GRANT OF IMMUNITY FROM SUIT TO INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC MIGRATION COMMISSION (ICMC); THUS, BOTH THE LABOR ARBITER AND THE NLRC HAD NO JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE. — The basic issue in this case is whether the Memorandum of Agreement executed on July 15, 1988 gave ICMC immunity from suit. The Court holds it did. Consequently, both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC had no jurisdiction over the case. Petitioner's contention that the Memorandum of Agreement is not an act of Congress which is needed to "repeal or supersede" the provision of the Labor Code on the jurisdiction of the NLRC and of the Labor Arbiter is untenable. The grant of immunity to ICMC is in virtue of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of Specialized Agencies of the United Nations, adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 21, 1947, and concurred in by the Philippine Senate on May 17, 1949. This Convention has the force and effect of law, considering that under the Constitution, the Philippines adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. The Memorandum of Agreement in question merely carries out Philippine government's obligation under the Convention.
ID.; THIS COURT DID NOT REJECT ICMC'S INVOCATION OF IMMUNITY FOR CAUSES OF ACTION ACCRUING PRIOR TO THE EXECUTION OF THE MEMORANDUM. — Petitioner argues that in any case ICMC's immunity cannot apply because this case was filed below before the signing of the Memorandum on July 15, 1988. Petitioner cites in support the statement of this Court in the aforesaid case of International Catholic Migration Commission v. Calleja, distinguishing that case from an earlier case also involving ICMC, wherein the NLRC, as well as the Court, took cognizance of a complaint against ICMC for payment of salary for the unexpired portion of a six-month probationary employment. This Court did not really reject ICMC's invocation of immunity for causes of action accruing prior to the execution of the Memorandum. It left open the possibility that ICMC may have been tacitly enjoying diplomatic immunity beforehand. It is important to note that in the 1989 case ICMC did not invoke its immunity notwithstanding the fact that the Memorandum took effect while the case was pending before the Court.
ID.; SCOPE OF IMMUNITY OF THE ICMC; IMMUNITY FROM "EVERY FORM OF LEGAL PROCESS." — The scope of immunity of the ICMC contained in the convention on the privileges and immunities of the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations is instructive. Art. III, Section 4 of the Convention provides for immunity from "every form of legal process." Thus, even if private respondents had been served summons and subpoenas prior to the execution of the Memorandum, they, as officers of ICMC, can claim immunity under the same in order to prevent enforcement of an adverse judgment, since a writ of execution is "a legal process" within the meaning of Article III, Section 4.
ID.; WAIVER OF IMMUNITY MUST BE EXPRESS; ESTOPPEL DOES NOT OPERATE TO CONFER JURISDICTION TO A TRIBUNAL THAT HAS NONE OVER A CAUSE OF ACTION. — Another question is whether ICMC can invoke its immunity because it only did so in its memorandum before the Labor Arbiter. It is contended that ICMC waived its immunity in any event. Art. III, Section 4 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations requires, however, that the waiver...
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