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Serrano vs.

Gallant Maritime Services

G.R. No. 167614 March 24, 2009 Non-
impairment of Contract Clause, OFW
Employment Contract
DECEMBER 4, 2017


For Antonio Serrano, a Filipino seafarer, the last clause in the 5thparagraph of Section 10,
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8042, does not magnify the contributions of OFWs to national
development, but exacerbates the hardships borne by them by unduly limiting their entitlement in
case of illegal dismissal to their lump-sum salary either for the unexpired portion of their
employment contract “or for three months for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is
less” (subject clause). Petitioner claims that the last clause violates the OFWs’ constitutional
rights in that it impairs the terms of their contract, deprives them of equal protection and denies
them due process.


Does the 5th paragraph of Section 10, RA 8042 violate the non-impairment of contract clause of
the Constitution?


NO. The prohibition is aligned with the general principle that laws newly enacted have only a
prospective operation, and cannot affect acts or contracts already perfected; however, as to laws
already in existence, their provisions are read into contracts and deemed a part thereof. Thus, the
non-impairment clause under Section 10, Article II is limited in application to laws about to be
enacted that would in any way derogate from existing acts or contracts by enlarging, abridging or
in any manner changing the intention of the parties thereto.

As aptly observed by the OSG, the enactment of R.A. No. 8042 in 1995 preceded the execution
of the employment contract between petitioner and respondents in 1998. Hence, it cannot be
argued that R.A. No. 8042, particularly the subject clause, impaired the employment contract of
the parties. Rather, when the parties executed their 1998 employment contract, they were
deemed to have incorporated into it all the provisions of R.A. No. 8042.