Pioneer Concrete Philippines Inc v. Antonio D. Todaro (G.R. No. 154830)

Facts:

Pioneer International Limited (PIL), an Australian company engaged in the ready-mix concrete business, established herein petitioner PCPI to undertake its business in the Philippines. PIL contacted respondent Todaro and asked if the latter is available to join them in their intention to establish plant operations in the country to which the latter agreed. Subsequently, PIL and Todaro came to an agreement wherein the former consented to engage the services of the latter as consultant for 2-3 months, after which he would be employed as manager of concrete operations should PIL decide to invest in the Philippines. PIL started its operation however it refused to comply with its undertaking to employ Todaro on a permanent basis. Respondent thus filed a complaint for sum of money and damages against petitioner. Petitioner meanwhile contends that the case should fall with the NLRC as the damages arose from an alleged breach of employment contract. Both the trial court and CA ruled in favor of respondent.

Issue:

Whether or not there is employer-employee relationship between PIL and respondent.

Ruling: NO.

In the present case, no employer-employee relationship exists between petitioners and respondent. In fact, in his complaint, private respondent is not seeking any relief under the Labor Code, but seeks payment of damages on account of petitioners’ alleged breach of their obligation under their agreement to employ him. It is settled that an action for breach of contractual obligation is intrinsically a civil dispute. In the alternative, respondent seeks redress on the basis of the provisions of Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code. Hence, it is clear that the present action is within the realm of civil law, and jurisdiction over it belongs to the regular courts.

This Court has consistently held that where no employer-employee relationship exists between the parties and no issue is involved which may be resolved by reference to the Labor Code, other labor statutes or any collective bargaining agreement, it is the Regional Trial Court that has jurisdiction.

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