Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines, International School Alliance of Educators v. Hon Leonardo A. Quisumbing and others, 1 June 2000, G.R. No. 128845
Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
Article II, Section 2
The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.
Protection against discrimination in employment and occupation
Reference to international law to strengthen a decision based on domestic law
Discrimination on the grounds of nationality/ Discrimination between local and foreign workers/ Action for discrimination/ Reference to international law to strengthen a decision based on domestic law
An international school in the Philippines employed both local and foreign workers, the latter being paid higher wages and also receiving other benefits. The Filipino employees instituted legal proceedings arguing that there was discrimination. The Court held that the provisions granting foreign employees higher wages and other benefits were unconstitutional and proceeded to rely on international law to add force to its case:
“International law, which springs from general principles of law, likewise prescribes discrimination. General principles of law include principles of equity, i.e. the general principles of fairness and justice, based on the test of what is reasonable. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No. 111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation – all embody the general principle against discrimination, the very antithesis of fairness and justice. The Philippines, through its Constitution, has incorporated this principle as part of its national laws.”
The Court subsequently examined the provisions of these various international instruments in greater detail:
“Notably, the International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, supra, in Article 7 thereof, provides:
“The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work, which ensure, in particular:
a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:
Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work.”
The foregoing provisions impregnably institutionalize in this jurisdiction the long-honored legal truism of “equal pay for equal work”. Persons who work with substantially equal qualifications, skill, effort and responsibility, under similar conditions, should be paid similar salaries. This rule applies to the School, its “international character” notwithstanding.”
After relying on national law, the Supreme Court of the Philippines referred to international instruments to point to the fundamental nature of the equal pay principle. The Court found in this instance that the differences in treatment between Filipino and foreign employees were discriminatory but that the foreign workers could continue to enjoy the benefits relating to their nationality such as the payment of their removal expenses, etc.
1 ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965; Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960.