When is the payment of damages as well as attorney’s fees proper?

In a Supreme Court case, the following damages were awarded:

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The RTC awarded moral damages, exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, plus P2,000.00 for every appearance, and costs of litigation.

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Moral damages are meant to compensate the claimant for any physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injuries unjustly caused. Petitioner Rosalina has adequately established the factual basis for the award of moral damages when she testified that she felt shocked and horrified upon knowing of the foreclosure sale.

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However, we find the RTC’s award of P2,000,000.00 excessive and unconscionable, and reduce the salve to P100,000.00.
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Exemplary damages are imposed by way of example for the public good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages. We reduce the RTC’s award of P500,000.00 to P30,000.00.
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Attorneys fees are allowed when exemplary damages are awarded and when the party to a suit is compelled to incur expenses to protect his interest. We find the RTC’s award of attorney’s fees in the amount of P100,000.00 proper.

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From the case of SPOUSES GILDARDO LOQUELLANO and ROSALINA JULIET B. LOQUELLANO, petitioners, xxx

Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

As a general rule, an employee who voluntarily resigns from employment is not entitled to separation pay

The Facts

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Petitioner Del Rio is an employee of respondent DPO Philippines, Inc. (DPO) which is a Belgian multi-national food distribution company. He was tasked to set up the operations in Cebu to cover Visayas and Mindanao. Respondent DPO succeeded with its business operations in Cebu and thereafter, petitioner was able to establish respondent’s office in Davao.

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On September 7, 2009, petitioner submitted his notice of resignation which would take effect on October 7, 2009. At the time of his resignation, he was holding the position of Assistant Country Manager. In a letter dated September 14, 2009, respondent DPO accepted petitioner’s resignation. On October 11, 2009, respondent DPO published in a newspaper that petitioner has resigned from DPO Philippines, Inc. effective October 7, 2009.

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Petitioner realized that after October 7, 2009, he was not yet paid of his salary for the period of September 16, 2009 to October 7, 2009. Petitioner sought from respondent DPO payments of his unpaid salaries, accrued leave credits and separation pay, but all of these were denied.

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Aggrieved, petitioner, on October 9, 2009, filed a complaint with the Regional Arbitration Branch of the NLRC in Cebu City for recovery of his monetary claims.

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Respondents, for their part, averred that after petitioner resigned, they came to know that in the last part of his employment, he was engaged in activities in direct competition with the business of respondent DPO, which is a violation of the non-competition clause of his contract of employment. On or about August 28, 2009, which was 10 days prior to the date of his resignation letter, petitioner was able to secure from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the registration of a corporation named Judphilan Foods which has the same primary purpose as that of respondent DPO.
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Respondent DPO was unhappy and disappointed with petitioner’s act of disloyalty and betrayal but it still offered petitioner the amount of P110,692.75 inclusive of his salary from September 16-30, 2009 and October 1-6, 2009; 13th month pay; tax refund; and commissions for August and September 2009. Petitioner refused what was offered to him insisting that aside from what respondent DPO offered, he is also entitled to separation pay and cash conversion of his leave credits.
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Respondent DPO asserted that petitioner is not entitled to conversion of unused leave credits from 2006 to 2008 because the same had been forfeited in accordance with the company policy. While his unused leave credits for 2009 was applied as terminal leave after he tendered his resignation. Respondent DPO also asserted that petitioner is not entitled to separation pay because he was the one who voluntarily resigned.

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In their Reply to petitioner’s Position Paper, respondents explained that the separation pay was given to Legaspi and Martinez in exchange for their resignation in order to spare the company of the pain of having to terminate them. Respondent DPO explained that it knows of the disloyalty of Martinez and Legaspi and their connivance with petitioner, but rather than terminating them, respondent asked them to tender their resignation with a promise of a separation pay.

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In their Verified Memorandum of Appeal, respondents explained that the separation pay given to Legaspi and Martinez was not strictly separation pay, but in consideration of their resignation, more of a gift, an act of generosity because Legaspi and Martinez’s resignation was more of a favor to the company as it was spared of going through litigation if it would terminate the employees. In other words, Legaspi and Martinez were given the said pay because they were forced to resign.

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In their Motion for Reconsideration, respondents maintained that the payments to Legaspi and Martinez were made after their resignations were tendered and accepted, or two months thereafter. Hence, there can be no company policy or practice to speak of. In the said motion, respondents likewise averred that even assuming that by doing so, it became a company practice, it was created after the resignation of petitioner. Verily, petitioner cannot avail of it, because at the time it became a practice, he was already resigned.

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Even if these arguments were not considered by the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter in their Decisions, this does not preclude the CA from considering them, especially if they were raised and became part of the records.
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It is a well-settled rule that the NLRC’s factual findings, if supported by substantial evidence, are entitled to great respect and even finality, unless it was shown that it simply and arbitrarily disregarded evidence before it or had misapprehended evidence to such an extent as to compel a contrary conclusion if such evidence had been properly appreciated. 21 The CA, therefore, may review the factual findings of the NLRC and reverse its ruling if it finds that the NLRC disregarded and misappreciated the evidence extant on records.

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In the same manner, factual findings of the CA are generally not subject to this Court’s review under Rule 45. However, the general rule on the conclusiveness of the factual findings of the CA is also subject to well-recognized exceptions such as, where the CA’s findings of facts contradict those of the lower court, or the administrative bodies, as in this case. 22 Since their findings are at variance, we are compelled to review factual questions and make a further calibration of the evidence at hand.
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There is no dispute that petitioner resigned from his employment. This fact is established by the letter of resignation dated September 7, 2009 sent by petitioner to respondents and was even admitted by the latter.
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Suffice it to say, an employee who voluntarily resigns from employment is not entitled to separation pay, except when it is stipulated in the employment contract or the CBA, or it is sanctioned by established employer practice or policy. The cited exceptions do not obtain in this case. As correctly found by the CA, there was no employment contract, much less a CBA, which contained the stipulation that would grant separation pay to resigning employees. Neither was there a company practice or policy that was proven to exist in the instant case.

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In his attempt to prove that there was a company practice of giving separation pay to resigning employees, petitioner presented the payslips of Martinez and Legaspi showing that they received separation pay after they resigned. We are not convinced.
To be considered a company practice, the giving of the benefits should have been done over a long period of time, and must be shown to have been consistent and deliberate. As records would show, the giving of the monetary benefit by respondents in favor of Legaspi and Martinez is merely an isolated instance. From the beginning of respondents’ business and up until petitioner’s resignation took effect on October 7, 2009, there was no showing that payments of such benefit had been made by respondents to their employees who voluntarily resigned. The first and only instance when such a benefit was given to resigned employees was on or after November 15, 2009 — not because it was a company practice but only to pave the way for Legaspi and Martinez’s graceful exit, so to speak.

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As explained by respondents, the said benefit was not intended as a separation pay but more of a promise or an assurance to Legaspi and Martinez that they would be paid a benefit if they tender their resignation. Given respondents’ knowledge of Legaspi and Martinez’s acts of disloyalty and betrayal of trust, respondents opted to give them an alternative way of exit, in lieu of termination. Respondents’ decision to give Legaspi and Martinez a graceful exit is perfectly within their prerogative. It is settled that there is nothing reprehensible or illegal when the employer grants the employee a chance to resign and save face rather than smear the latter’s employment record.

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Relying on respondents’ assurance, Legaspi and Martinez tendered their resignation and it is incumbent upon respondents to make good of their promise. As held in Alfaro v. Court of Appeals, 27 an employer who agrees to expend such benefit as an incident of the resignation should not be allowed to renege in the performance of such commitment. And true enough, after Legaspi and Martinez resigned, they were paid the promised benefit.
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This was not the case for petitioner. There was no promise given to him. Rather, petitioner resigned on his own volition. Respondents did not make any commitment to petitioner that he would be paid after his voluntary resignation.
Based on the foregoing, it becomes all too apparent that the CA committed no reversible error in issuing the assailed decision and ruling that petitioner voluntarily resigned from his employment. Thus, the granting of separation pay in his favor has no basis in law and jurisprudence, and must be deleted.

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WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the Decision dated November 6, 2013 and the Resolution dated February 7, 2014 of the Court of Appeals-Cebu City in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 05921, are hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Tags Alcantara Alcoy Alegria Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan Tudela Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy Luz Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust

REVISED RULES OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION; REQUIREMENT OF VERIFIED POSITION PAPER APPLICABLE ONLY IN PROCEEDINGS BEFORE LABOR ARBITERS.

REVISED RULES OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION; REQUIREMENT OF VERIFIED POSITION PAPER APPLICABLE ONLY IN PROCEEDINGS BEFORE LABOR ARBITERS. — Petitioner asseverates that the NLRC erroneously anchored its ruling on Section 2, Rule VII of its Revised Rules. A perusal of this provision shows that the requirement of a verified position paper is applicable only in proceedings before the Labor Arbiters.

LACK OF VERIFICATION OF POSITION PAPER A FORMAL RATHER THAN A SUBSTANTIAL DEFECT. — There is a need to rectify another faux pas of the NLRC, namely, that Section 2, Rule VII of its Revised Rules is “not only procedural but also jurisdictional.” Even prior to the questioned decision of the NLRC, We have had an occasion to rule squarely that the lack of verification of the position paper is a formal, rather than a substantial defect. It is not fatal in this case. It could have been easily corrected by requiring an oath. xxx

VERIFIED ANSWER A SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 2, RULE VII THEREOF; CASE AT BAR. — The filing of a verified answer by petitioner before the POEA is a matter of record. Granting arguendo that it was still necessary for petitioner to verify its defenses and allegations in the position paper, the verified answer was in substantial compliance with Section 2, Rule VII of the Revised Rules of the NLRC. After all, the averments and defenses raised in its position paper are mere clarifications of averments and defenses in the answer.

PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION RULES AND REGULATIONS; REQUIREMENT OF VERIFICATION APPLIES ONLY TO ANSWER. — Sections 2 and 5, Rule III, Book VI of the POEA Rules and Regulations do not require verification of position papers. The requirement of verification applies only to an answer.

SECTIONS 2 AND 5, RULE III, BOOK VI THEREOF APPLICABLE TO CASE AT BAR. — Petitioner correctly invokes the applicability in this case of Sections 2 and 5, Rule III, Book VI of the POEA Rules and Regulations, which provide: “Section 2. Filing of Answer. Within the period indicated in paragraph 1 of Section 1 hereof, the respondent shall file a verified answer, not a motion to dismiss, incorporating therein all pertinent documents in support of his defense. “Section 5. Judgment Based on Position Paper. Whenever summary judgment is not appropriate, the Hearing Officer shall direct the parties to the case to simultaneously submit their position papers and/or memoranda within fifteen (15) calendar days from notice after which the case shall be deemed submitted for decision.” instead of Section 2, Rule VII of the Revised Rules of the NLRC which provides: “Section 2. Submission of position papers. — During the initial conference/hearing, or immediately thereafter, the Labor Arbiter shall require the parties to simultaneously submit to him their respective verified position papers, which shall cover only the issues raised in the complaint, accompanied by all supporting documents then available to them and the affidavits of their witnesses which shall take the place of their direct testimony. The parties shall thereafter not be allowed to allege, or present evidence to prove, facts not referred to and any cause or causes of action not included in their complaint or position papers, affidavits and other documents. The parties shall furnish each other with copies of the position papers, together with the supporting affidavits and documents submitted by them.” Sections 2 and 5, Rule III, Book VI of the POEA Rules and Regulations are the governing provisions because this case concerns adjudication proceedings before the POEA, which has the “original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide all cases involving employer-employee relation arising out of or by virtue of . . . (a) contract involving Filipino workers for overseas employment . . .” (Section 1, Rule I, Book VI of the POEA Rules and Regulations). As pointed out by petitioner, verification of the position paper is not required therein; only the answer is required to be verified. From cd asia

FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 87644. April 20, 1992.] G & P MANPOWER SERVICES, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ORLANDO S. JIMENEZ AND ARMANDO S. JIMENEZ, respondents. Alcantara Alcoy Alegria Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan Tudela Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy Luz Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu