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SECOND DIVISION
[ G.R. No. 240950, July 29, 2020 ]
EASTERN OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT CENTER, INC., AL AWADH COMPANY TRADING AND CONTRACTING,
MR. JUAN VILLABLANCA AND MRS. GLORIA ODULIO VILLABLANCA, PETITIONERS, VS. HEIRS OF THE
DECEASED NOMER P. ODULIO, REPRESENTED BY HIS WIFE, MAY IMBAG ODULIO, RESPONDENTS.
RESOLUTION
INTING, J.:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision[2] dated
April 27, 2018 and the Resolution[3] dated July 20, 2018 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 135583 that ordered Eastern
Overseas Employment Center, Inc. (Eastern Overseas), Al Awadh Company Trading and Contracting (Al Awadh Company), Juan
Villablanca, Eastern Overseas' President, and Gloria Odulio Villablanca, Eastern Overseas' General Manager, (collectively, petitioners) to
pay the heirs of Nomer Odulio (respondents) the amount of US$10,000.00, or its equivalent in Philippine Peso, plus 10% thereof as
attorney's fees.
The Antecedents
Sometime in 2007, Nomer P. Odulio (Nomer) was hired as a cable electrician by Al Awadh Company in Saudi Arabia, through its
placement agency in the Philippines, Eastern Overseas. Nomer's contract stipulated an employment period of two years from 2007 to
2009. When his contract expired in 2009, Nomer continued to work for Al Awadh Company until he returned to the Philippines in April
2011.[4]
On June 6, 2011, Nomer returned to Saudi Arabia to work as a lineman for Al Awadh Company for an employment period of 12
months. On May 19, 2012, Nomer unfortunately suffered a heart failure and died in the course of his employment.[5]
On January 7, 2013, respondents filed a complaint for payment of Nomer's death benefits against Al Awadh Company, Eastern
Overseas, its President Juan Villablanca, and General Manager Gloria Odulio Villablanca. In their Position Paper,[6] respondents cited
Section 37-A of Republic Act No. (RA) 8042,[7] as amended by RA 10022, and argued that since Nomer was an agency-hired worker, he
is covered by a compulsory insurance policy secured by Eastern Overseas at no cost to Nomer.[8]
In defense, petitioners contended that since Nomer was rehired by Al Awadh Company in June 2011 without any participation of
Eastern Overseas, Nomer was no longer covered by a compulsory insurance policy at the time of his death.[9] Nomer negotiated
directly with Al Awadh Company when his employment contract expired in June 2009. Having renewed his contract on his own, Nomer
continued to work for Al Awadh Company in Saudi Arabia until he went on leave in April 2011 to attend the graduation of his daughter
in the Philippines. Nomer processed his Saudi Arabia Visa to be able to resume his employment after his vacation. In his visa request,
he indicated that he started working for Al Awadh Company on June 28, 2007; that his contract expired on June 27, 2009; and that the
purpose of his leave was vacation whereby he purchased a round trip ticket for his return to Saudi Arabia.[10]
Petitioners also pointed out that in the Release of Claims which Nomer executed, he indicated that he was an employee of Al Awadh
Company from June 28, 2007 until April 4, 2011; thus, it only shows that he continued to work despite the expiration of his
employment contract on June 27, 2009. Before his return to Saudi Arabia in June 2011, Nomer processed the contract he secured from
Al Awadh Company with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA); he was tagged by the POEA as balik-manggagawa
which proves that he was a worker-on-leave.
Petitioners further pointed out that Eastern Overseas denied that Nomer was agency-hired when he was redeployed in June 2011.
Since Nomer was the nephew of the general manager of Eastern Overseas, the latter assisted Nomer in the processing of his
documents with the POEA as a form of courtesy, not because he was an agency-hired worker.[11]
Ruling of the Labor Arbiter (LA)
In the Decision[12] dated July 25, 2013, the LA ruled in favor of the heirs of Nomer, awarding to them the amount of US$10,000, plus
10% thereof as attorney's fees.[13] In ruling in favor of the heirs of Nomer, the LA brushed aside petitioners' contention that Nomer
was rehired by Al Awadh Company in June 2011 without Eastern Overseas' participation. The LA likewise found incredible petitioners'
allegation that Nomer was a worker-on-leave who only returned to Al Awadh Company in June 2011 to finish the unexpired portion of
his contract. The LA held that Nomer's return was by virtue of a new contract which was processed through the agency of Eastern
Overseas, and that having been employed and deployed through the recruitment agency of Eastern Overseas, Nomer was covered by a
compulsory insurance policy.[14]
Ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)
In the Decision[15] dated December 27, 2013, the NLRC reversed the LA Decision and held that Nomer was rehired in 2009 by Al

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