1. whether a validly dismissed employee like respondent is entitled to an award of separation pay

We hold that henceforth separation pay shall be allowed as a measure of social justice only in those instances where the employee is validly dismissed for causes other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on his moral character. Where the reason for the valid dismissal is, for example, habitual intoxication or an offense involving moral turpitude, like theft or illicit sexual relations with a fellow worker, the employer may not be required to give the dismissed employee separation pay, or financial assistance, or whatever other name it is called, on the ground of social justice. (Emphasis supplied)

Separation pay therefore, depends on the cause of dismissal, and may be accordingly awarded provided that the dismissal does not fall under either of two circumstances: (1) there was serious misconduct, or (2) the dismissal reflected on the employee’s moral character.

The question that now arises in this case is whether the cause of respondent’s dismissal falls under the two circumstances, i.e., serious misconduct or the dismissal reflected on the employee’s moral character.

The Court holds that respondent’s cause of dismissal in this case amounts as a serious misconduct and as such, separation pay should not have been awarded to her. Thus, the petition should be granted.

Misconduct is improper or wrongful conduct. It is the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error of judgment. To be a valid cause for termination, the misconduct must be serious.

While it is true, as respondent contends, that the Labor Arbiter did not tag her cause of dismissal as serious misconduct, nevertheless, it is its nature, not its label that characterizes the cause as serious misconduct. There is no question as regards the incident that caused respondent’s dismissal. While respondent’s co-worker Sumalague was eating at the back of the store, respondent rushed toward Sumalague and hit the latter on the face causing injuries. A scuffle ensued and despite their supervisor Recide’s pleas, the two continued to fight, prompting Recide to call the mall security. When the two were brought to the administration office, they continued bickering and did not heed the request of the manager to stop, and thus they were brought to the Customer Relations Office. Because of the incident, the two were banned from working within the premises. The fact that Sumalague sustained injuries is a matter that cannot be taken lightly. Moreover, the incident disturbed the peace in the work place, not to mention that respondent and Sumalague committed a breach of its discipline. Clearly, respondent committed serious misconduct within the meaning of Art. 282 of the Labor Code, providing for the dismissal of employees.

Her cause of dismissal amounting to a serious misconduct, respondent is not entitled to an award of separation pay. As further stated in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. vs. NLRC:

The policy of social justice is not intended to countenance wrongdoing simply because it is committed by the underprivileged. At best it may mitigate the penalty but it certainly will not condone the offense. Compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but only when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege. Social justice cannot be permitted to be refuge of scoundrels any more than can equity be an impediment to the punishment of the guilty. Those who invoke social justice may do so only if their hands are clean and their motives blameless and not simply because they happen to be poor. This great policy of our Constitution is not meant for the protection of those who have proved they are not worthy of it, like the workers who have tainted the cause of labor with the blemishes of their own character.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated March 30, 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. 58219 is MODIFIED to the effect that the NLRC Decision dated September 30, 1999 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the award of separation pay in favor of respondent Juvy Soria is DELETED.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 147719, January 27, 2006 ]HA YUAN RESTAURANT, PETITIONER, VS. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION AND JUVY SORIA, RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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

PETITIONERS REQUESTED FOR CERTIFIED TRUE COPIES OF THE 30 SEPTEMBER 1999 DECISION AND 29 DECEMBER 1999 RESOLUTION BOTH ISSUED BY THE NLRC BUT ONLY CERTIFIED XEROX COPIES WERE GIVEN

The Court of Appeals based its denial of the petition on Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which provides that any petition filed under Rule 65 should be accompanied by a certified true copy of the judgment, order or resolution subject thereof and that, in this particular case, the petition was not so accompanied by a certified true copy of the NLRC resolution dated 29 December 1999 but only by a “mere photocopy.”

The problem presented is not novel. In fact, it is a fairly recurrent one in petitions for certiorari of NLRC decisions as it seems to be the practice of the NLRC to issue certified “xerox copies” only instead of certified “true copies.” We have, however, put an end to this issue in Quintano v. NLRC when we declared that there is no substantial distinction between a photocopy or a “Xerox copy” and a “true copy” for as long as the photocopy is certified by the proper officer of the court, tribunal, agency or office involved or his duly-authorized representative and that the same is a faithful reproduction of the original. We held therein:

The submission of the duplicate original or certified true copy of judgment, order, resolution or ruling subject of a petition for certiorari is essential to determine whether the court, body or tribunal, which rendered the same, indeed, committed grave abuse of discretion. The provision states that either a legible duplicate original or certified true copy thereof shall be submitted. If what is submitted is a copy, then it is required that the same is certified by the proper officer of the court, tribunal, agency or office involved or his duly-authorized representative. The purpose for this requirement is not difficult to see. It is to assure that such copy is a faithful reproduction of the judgment, order, resolution or ruling subject of the petition.

Indeed, for all intents and purposes, a “certified Xerox copy” is no different from a “certified true copy” of the original document. The operative word in the term “certified true copy” under Section 3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court is “certified”. The word means “made certain.” It comes from the Latin word certificare – meaning, to make certain. Thus, as long as the copy of the assailed judgment, order, resolution or ruling submitted to the court has been certified by the proper officer of the court, tribunal, agency or office involved or his duly-authorized representative and that the same is a faithful reproduction thereof, then the requirement of the law has been complied with. It is presumed that, before making the certification, the authorized representative had compared the Xerox copy with the original and found the same a faithful reproduction thereof.

A perusal of the attached NLRC Decision easily discloses that it is not a “mere photocopy” but is, in fact, a certified photocopy of said decision. Each page of the decision has been certified by the NLRC Third Division’s Deputy Clerk of Court, Atty. Catalino R. Laderas, who is undoubtedly a proper officer to make the said certification. Moreover, there seems to be no question that the attached copy of the NLRC decision is a faithful reproduction thereof.

The Court of Appeals, however, zeroed in on the copy of the NLRC Resolution denying petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. As correctly pointed out by it, said copy is neither a certified true copy nor a certified photocopy of the NLRC resolution but seems to be a mere photocopy of the duplicate original copy sent to petitioners’ counsel.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 144180, January 30, 2006 ]COCA COLA BOTTLERS PHILS., INC., NATALE J. DICOSMO, STEVE HEATH, MARY CHUA, ALBERTO FAJARDO, JESS BANGSIL, LITO GARCIA, NOEL ROXAS, CHITO ENRIQUEZ, FREDERICK KERULF, ARMANDO CANLAS AND DANILO DAUZ, PETITIONERS, VS. RODOLFO CABALO, JUANITO GERONA, LUIS GERONA, LUIS DE OCAMPO AND MARIO NILO MECUA, RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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 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 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

Are they entitled to 13th month pay, backwages, separation pay as well as unpaid salaries?

In view of the valid dismissal, there is, thus, no basis for awarding the spouses P12,787.50 as 13th month pay.

Lastly, the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC found that the spouses’ advances exceeded their unpaid salaries by P43,402.54. The NLRC even noted that Annexes 18 to 341 of the petitioners’ Position Paper contained the petty cash vouchers evidencing payment of their salaries up to December 29, 1997. Interestingly, the spouses argued in their Position Paper that they were not paid their monthly salary of P15,000 from March 1997 to January 8, 1998. Their total claim for unpaid salaries therefore amounted to P129,488.93, minus the P13,125 which Allado paid to them. Yet, in their Motion for Partial Clarification/Reconsideration, they admitted that their total advances amounted to P178,075.95. Hence, based on their admitted advances, they were overpaid by P48,587.02. This is even a larger amount than what was arrived at by the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Said amount of P48,587.02 should be paid back to petitioners, to prevent unjust enrichment.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Accordingly, the assailed Decision dated April 16, 2002, as well as the Resolution dated January 15, 2003, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66733, are SET ASIDE, and a new one entered upholding the legality of the dismissal. Petitioners are ORDERED to pay each of the private respondents the amount of P40,000, or a total of P80,000 for the spouses representing nominal damages. Private respondents, however, are also ORDERED to refund to petitioners the amount of P48,587.02, which is the amount of admitted advances taken by the Veruasa spouses exceeding the amount of their unpaid salaries.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 157133, January 30, 2006 ]BUSINESS SERVICES OF THE FUTURE TODAY, INC. AND RAMON F. ALLADO, PETITIONERS, VS. COURT OF APPEALS, GILBERT C. VERUASA AND MA. CELESTINA A. VERUASA, RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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 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

If they were employees of BSFTI, were they validly dismissed?

Were private respondents validly dismissed?

Article 283 of the Labor Code is the applicable law. It states,

ART. 283. Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel. –The employer may also terminate the employment of any employee due to the installation of labor saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless the closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by serving a written notice on the worker and the Ministry of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof. In case of termination due to the installation of labor saving devices or redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least his one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. In case of retrenchment to prevent losses and in cases of closures or cessation of operations of establishment or undertaking not due to serious business losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay or at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be considered as one (1) whole year.

For the cessation of business operations due to serious business losses or financial reverses to be valid, the employer must give the employee and the DOLE written notices 30 days prior to the effectivity of his separation.

In Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission, we ruled that where the dismissal is for an authorized cause, the lack of statutory due process should not nullify the dismissal, or render it illegal, or ineffectual. However, the employer should indemnify the employee, in the form of nominal damages, for the violation of his right to statutory due process. The amount of such damages is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court, taking into account the relevant circumstances. In Jaka Food Processing Corporation v. Pacot, we noted that the sanction should be stiffer because the dismissal process was initiated by the employer’s exercise of its management prerogative.

The NLRC and the Court of Appeals were unanimous in finding that BSFTI’s closure was bona fide. The records before us revealed that it suffered losses from 1996 to 1998. juxtaposing the facts of this case vis the applicable law and jurisprudence, P40,000 as nominal damages would be sufficient to vindicate each respondent’s right to due process. A violation of that right suffices to support an award of nominal damages.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 157133, January 30, 2006 ]BUSINESS SERVICES OF THE FUTURE TODAY, INC. AND RAMON F. ALLADO, PETITIONERS, VS. COURT OF APPEALS, GILBERT C. VERUASA AND MA. CELESTINA A. VERUASA, RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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

Were the spouses employees or stockholders of BSFTI?

Preliminarily, it bears stressing that the prior existence of an employer-employee relationship is an indispensable precondition for a claim of illegal dismissal to prosper. Here, both parties admitted that Gilbert and Celestina were hired as BSFTI’s manager and assistant manager, respectively, with P15,000 monthly salary. The petitioners would have us believe, however, that Gilbert was also a stockholder, hence, there was no need to notify DOLE of the closure since as stockholder, he was presumed to have taken part in the decision to close the business.

Notice of closure to the DOLE is mandatory. It allows the DOLE to ascertain whether the closure and/or dismissals were done in good faith and not a pretext for evading obligations to the employees. This requirement protects the workers’ right to security of tenure. Failure to comply with this requirement taints the dismissal. This rule, however, admits of exceptions. If the employee consented to his retrenchment due to the closure or cessation of operation, the required prior notice to the DOLE is not necessary as the employee thereby acknowledges the existence of a valid cause for termination of his employment.

Did respondent Gilbert Veruasa consent to his dismissal?

The evidence shows that he did not. Although only his correspondences with the petitioners suggest that he was a stockholder of BSFTI, there is no showing that he participated in the alleged stockholders’ meeting where the company’s closure was discussed. The self-serving Joint Affidavit of Allado and Dominguez attesting that Gilbert participated in the meeting discussing the closure is insufficient. The minutes of such meeting would have been better. Further, the SEC certification dated November 9, 1999, provided that BSFTI did not submit any communication signifying the termination of its corporate life nor its non-operation for 1998, giving rise to serious doubts that such meeting ever took place. Hence, there is no convincing evidence to show that Gilbert consented to his dismissal and for these reasons the petitioners should have submitted a written notice of BSFTI’s closure to the DOLE.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 157133, January 30, 2006 ]BUSINESS SERVICES OF THE FUTURE TODAY, INC. AND RAMON F. ALLADO, PETITIONERS, VS. COURT OF APPEALS, GILBERT C. VERUASA AND MA. CELESTINA A. VERUASA, RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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 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 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

No employer-employee relationship existed between the parties

The appellate court, finding that “[petitioner] was hired to render professional services for a specific project’ and her “primary cause of action is for a sum of money on account of [Infinite Loop’s] alleged breach of contractual obligation to pay her agreed professional fee,’ held by Decision dated October 20, 2003 that no employer-employee relationship existed between the parties, hence, the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter have no jurisdiction over the complaint. It accordingly reversed the NLRC decision and dismissed petitioner’s complaint.

Hence, the present petition, petitioner contending that the appellate court erred when it:

A.

x x x INCONSISTENTLY RULED THAT THERE WAS NO EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PARTIES BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT CITED THAT [PETITIONER] IS A PROJECT EMPLOYEE. MOREOVER, THE ASSAILED JUDGMENT IS BASED ON MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS.

B.

x x x FAILED TO CONSIDER THE RELIEF MENTIONED IN [PETITIONER’S] COMPLAINT FOR PAYMENT OF SALARY x x x

C.

x x x RULED THAT THE SEPARATION FROM SERVICE OF [PETITIONER] BECAUSE OF THE PROJECT’S DISCONTINUANCE DID NOT RESULT TO ILLEGAL DISMISSAL.

To ascertain the existence of an employer-employee relationship, jurisprudence has invariably applied the four-fold test, to wit: (1) the manner of selection and engagement; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the presence or absence of the power of dismissal; and (4) the presence or absence of the power of control. Of these four, the last one, the so called “control test” is commonly regarded as the most crucial and determinative indicator of the presence or absence of an employer-employee relationship.

Under the control test, an employer-employee relationship exists where the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control not only the end achieved, but also the manner and means to be used in reaching that end.

From the earlier-quoted scope of petitioner’s professional services, there is no showing of a power of control over petitioner. The services to be performed by her specified what she needed to achieve but not on how she was to go about it.

Contrary to the finding of the Labor Arbiter, as affirmed by the NLRC, above-quoted paragraph No. 6 of the “Scope of

[petitioner’s]

Professional Services’ requiring her to “[m]ake reports and recommendations to the company management team regarding work progress, revisions and improvement of process design on a regular basis as required by company management team” does not “show that the company’s management team exercises control over the means and methods in the performance of her duties as Refinery Process Design Engineer.” Having hired petitioner’s professional services on account of her “expertise and qualifications” as petitioner herself proffers in her Position Paper, the company naturally expected to be updated regularly of her “work progress,” if any, on the project for which she was specifically hired.

In bolstering her contention that there was an employer-employee relationship, petitioner draws attention to the pay slips and Infinite Loop’s deduction of her SSS, Philhealth, and withholding tax, and to the designation of the payments to her as “salaries.”

The deduction from petitioner’s remuneration of amounts representing SSS premiums, Philhealth contributions and withholding tax, was made in the only payslip issued to petitioner, that for the period of January 16-31, 2000, the other amounts of remuneration having been documented by cash vouchers. Such payslip cannot prove the existence of an employer-employee relationship between the parties.

The cases of Equitable Banking Corp. v. NLRC and Nagusara v. NLRC should be differentiated from the present case, as the employers in these two cases did not only regularly make similar deductions from the therein complainants” remuneration but also registered and declared the complainants with the SSS and Medicare (Philhealth) as their employees.

As for the designation of the payments to petitioner as “salaries,” it is not determinative of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. “Salary” is a general term defined as “a remuneration for services given.” It is the above-quoted contract of engagement of services-letter dated September 30, 1999, together with its attachments, which is the law between the parties. Even petitioner concedes rendering service “based on the contract,” which, as reflected earlier, is bereft of a showing of power of control, the most crucial and determinative indicator of the presence of an employer-employee relationship.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 162401, January 31, 2006 ]CORAZON ALMIREZ, PETITIONER, VS INFINITE LOOP TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION, EDWIN R. RABINO AND COURT OF APPEALS, RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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 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

The principal issue in this case is whether or not respondent was illegally terminated from his employment.

Petitioner’s main contention is that the Court of Appeals erred in failing to consider that respondent’s actions of allowing the opening of fictitious accounts, facilitating the anomalous transactions of Wynster Chua, participating in the unauthorized lending activities of Wynster Chua, convincing bank clients to invest in the CNRI, and failing to report and stop such activities constituted serious misconduct, willful disobedience to the lawful orders of the employer in connection with his work, and gross and habitual neglect of his duties. Since the acts of respondent, according to petitioner, already constitute just causes for dismissal, petitioner asserts that respondent was legally dismissed and therefore not entitled to the monetary award in the assailed decision.

It should be noted that respondent’s alleged infractions are the same acts which had been declared by the Labor Arbiter—and affirmed by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals—as not constitutive of just cause for dismissal. According to the forums below, their uniform verdict of illegal dismissal is supported by substantial evidence.

More specifically, it was established that respondent did not allow the opening of a fictitious account since the account name John B.K. Chua was the Chinese name of Wynster Chua. The account was opened before respondent became the Branch Manager but was merely a cashier and in his capacity then he had no authority to approve new accounts. There was no proof that the account was used for any illegal purpose, the same having been used for payments of PLDT, electric and water bills of Wynster Chua. The account had also passed several auditing procedures by petitioner itself. Wynster Chua was even able to obtain an accommodation for bills purchase using said account. There was likewise no evidence that the interbranch transactions made by Wynster Chua to respondent’s account was for an illegal purpose or for Wynster Chua’s unauthorized lending activities. It was pointed out that the use by Wynster Chua of the name “John A.J. Jazal” in making such interbranch deposits does not translate to respondent’s facilitating alleged anomalous transactions. Respondent had no way of knowing that Wynster Chua used a different name in making interbranch deposits unless he was informed beforehand. In any case, no proof was presented that respondent knew that the deposits came from one John A.J. Jazal.

As to the charge that respondent actively participated in soliciting investors for the CNRI, in particular convincing Emilia Laño Borromeo to withdraw her money with petitioner bank and invest it in CNRI, this was belied by the Affidavit[ executed by Borromeo stating that she voluntarily withdrew her money with petitioner bank since it offered very low interest rates. Petitioner alleges that Borromeo had written a letter dated 16 June 2000 addressed to the bank demanding from the latter the payment or return of her deposit in the total sum of P4,100,000.00 which she placed with the CNRI as investment. However, the letter had not been admitted in evidence before the Labor Arbiter but was merely attached to petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration of the Labor Arbiter’s Decision. Said letter cannot prevail over the sworn statement, especially when the letter did not form part of the records of the case.

Petitioner could also not be held liable for failing to disclose and stop the lending activities of Wynster Chua and CNRI. CNRI had its principal office and operations at the Cebu North Road branch, while respondent was Branch Manager of the Ramos branch. The CNRI was outside respondent’s area of responsibility. It was also established that other credit union cooperatives existed and operated in other branches of the bank but the officers and employees responsible were not disciplined.

The petition seeks a reversal of the findings of facts of the forums below and raises issues the resolution of which involves a review of the evidence presented by both parties. The Court has repeatedly ruled that the findings of the Labor Arbiter, when affirmed by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals, are binding on the Supreme Court, unless patently erroneous. It is not the function of this Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings below. The jurisdiction of this Court in a petition for review on certiorari is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of fact, unless the factual findings being assailed are not supported by the evidence on record or the impugned judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. Both exceptions are not present in the case at bar.

The Labor Arbiter had found that petitioner failed to observe due process in terminating respondent’s employment and on that basis awarded moral, exemplary, and nominal damages in addition to separation pay and backwages. On appeal, the NLRC in its Decision affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s findings that there was no just cause to dismiss respondent, extensively quoted with approval passages in the Labor Arbiter’s Decision concerning its finding about the absence of just cause. The NLRC no longer discussed whether due process had been observed by petitioner and instead proceeded to its determination of awards for other benefits prayed for by petitioner. However, the dispositive portion of the NLRC Decision deleted the awards for moral, exemplary, and nominal damages. The Court of Appeals, for its part, affirmed the finding that there was no compliance with the due process requirements in terminating respondent. The appellate court cited San Antonio v. NLRC as basis in saying that consultations and conferences, like the one conducted in this case, may not be valid substitutes for actual observance of notice and hearing.

This Court must disagree, however, with the determination that there was no due process in effecting respondent’s dismissal. In the dismissal of employees, it has been consistently held that the twin requirements of notice and hearing are essential elements of due process. The employer must furnish the worker with two written notices before termination of employment can be legally effected: (a) a notice apprising the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought, and (b) a subsequent notice informing the employee of the employer’s decision to dismiss him. With regard to the requirement of a hearing, the essence of due process lies simply in an opportunity to be heard, and not that an actual hearing should always and indispensably be held.

In the case at bar, petitioner appears to have complied with these requirements. Petitioner furnished respondent with a memorandum dated 16 January 1998 informing him that he had been found to have committed acts constituting serious misconduct and requiring him to explain why he should not be dismissed for cause for such acts. Respondent submitted his written explanation and later, petitioner set up a conference attended by respondent and other employees connected with the creation and operation of CNRI to give them further opportunity to be heard on the charges against them. Despite the explanations, petitioner still decided to dismiss respondent from the service and subsequently informed him of its decision through the Interoffice Letter dated 12 February 1998.

San Antonio v. NLRC may not be applied to the case at bar since it is not on all fours with the facts of the case. In San Antonio, after petitioner therein, in compliance with the company’s directive, had explained why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with, he received forthwith the company’s decision to dismiss him from employment. No hearing or a semblance thereof was conducted, unlike in the case at bar, where respondent’s written explanation was followed by a conference before petitioner’s final decision to terminate his employment.

Finding that petitioner had observed due process in terminating respondent’s employment, the award of moral, exemplary, and nominal damages has no basis and was correctly deleted in the decision of the NLRC as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
We affirm the award of “other benefits” in the assailed Decision, since such benefits were included in the prayer in petitioner’s complaint as “bonuses and other benefits,” reiterated in his position paper as “all his lawful claims,” and in his other pleadings as “such other reliefs,” and respondent’s entitlement thereto had been duly proven.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED and the Decision dated 24 September 2002 and Resolution dated 20 January 2003 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 157028, January 31, 2006 ]METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, PETITIONER, VS. LUIS B. BARRIENTOS, RESPONDENT. Tags: 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

The pivotal issue for resolution is whether petitioners are entitled to the death benefits provided for under the POEA Standard Employment Contract.

1. In case of death of the seaman during the term of his Contract, the employer shall pay his beneficiaries the Philippine Currency equivalent to the amount of US$50,000 and an additional amount of US$7,000 to each child under the age of twenty-one (21) but not exceeding four children at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment.

xxxx


3. The other liabilities of the employer when the seaman dies as a result of injury or illness during the term of employment are as follows:

a. The employer shall pay the deceased’s beneficiary all outstanding obligations due the seaman under this Contract.

xxxx


c. In all cases, the employer shall pay the beneficiaries of seamen the Philippine Currency equivalent to the amount of US$1,000 for burial expenses at exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment. (Underscoring supplied)

In order to give effect to the aforequoted benefits, it must be shown that the employee died during the effectivity of the contract of employment.

Part I, Section H, Nos. 1 and 2(a) of the POEA Standard Employment Contract provide:

Section H. Termination of Employment

  1. The employment of the seaman shall cease on expiration of the contract period indicated in the Crew Contract unless the Master and the Seaman, by mutual consent, in writing, agree to an early termination in which case the seaman is entitled to earned wages and benefits only.
  2. The master shall have the right to discharge or sign off the seaman at any place abroad in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Contract and specifically for the following reasons:
    1. If the seaman is incompetent, or is continuously incapacitated for the duties for which he was employed by reason of illness or injury (Underscoring supplied)

Upon mutual consent of Aya-ay and respondents, he was on July 5, 1995 repatriated on account of his eye injury. Thus his employment had been effectively terminated on that particular date.

At all events, under the October 15, 1994 Contract of Employment, Aya-ay ceased to be an employee on September 26, 1995,[36] hence, he was no longer an employee when he died on December 1, 1995.

It is, therefore, crucial to determine whether Aya-ay died as a result of, or in relation to, the eye injury he suffered during the term of his employment. If the injury is the proximate cause, or at least increased the risk, of his death for which compensation is sought, recovery may be had for said death.

Unless there is substantial evidence showing that: (a) the cause of Aya-ay’s death was reasonably connected with his work; or (b) the sickness/ailment for which he died is an accepted occupational disease; or (c) his working conditions increased the risk of contracting the disease for which he died, death compensation benefits cannot be awarded.

Aya-ay died due to CVA or stroke, a disease not listed as a compensable illness under Appendix 1 of the POEA Standard Employment Contract.

Hence, it was incumbent on petitioners to present substantial evidence, or such relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion, that the eye injury sustained by Aya-ay during the term of his employment with respondents caused, or increased the risk of, CVA.

Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. The evidence must be real and substantial, and not merely apparent; for the duty to prove work-causation or work-aggravation imposed by law is real and not merely apparent.

To buttress their position that there is a causal link between Aya-ay’s eye injury and his death, petitioners argue as follows:

If only Aya-ay, Jr. was immediately medically treated by a competent doctor and not by the respondents’ Captain with, among others, salt water, severe corneal infection (admitted and stated in paragraph 11 of the respondents’ Answer) could have been prevented. If the same was prevented, there will be no need for a “corneal graft” (Annex “2”, respondent’s Answer). If “corneal graft” have (sic) been unnecessary, there will be no “corneal graft rejection” and “repeat corneal transplantation” (Annex “4”, respondents’ Answer). If not because of the recommended “repeat corneal transplantation”, Dr. Anthony King could not have granted cardiac clearance. The seafarer was subjected to extreme anxiety and depression about the thought of totally losing his right eye. His blood pressure would not have risen and would not have suffered from CVA or stroke. He would not have died on December 1, 1995. Clearly, it is the negligence and fault of the respondents in taking for granted the situation of Aya-ay, Jr. that led to his untimely demise. The complications in his eye triggered the series of infections and operations and other procedures on the poor seafarer. These (sic) series of events logically presented, were (sic) more than enough to constitute substantial evidence.

Refuting petitioners’ arguments, respondents aver that, among other things, “there is no established link between seaman Aya-ay’s eye injury and the CVA that killed him; otherwise stated, the former is not the cause of the latter. CVA is not a ‘natural consequence’ of such an injury.”

That a seaman died several months after his repatriation for illness does not necessarily mean that: (a) he died of the same illness; (b) his working conditions increased the risk of contracting the illness which caused his death; and (c) the death is compensable, unless there is some reasonable basis to support otherwise.

This Court finds that under the circumstances petitioners’ bare allegations do not suffice to discharge the required quantum of proof of compensability. Awards of compensation cannot rest on speculations or presumptions. The beneficiaries must present evidence to prove a positive proposition.

While petitioners attempted to scientifically establish that Aya-ay’s eye injury resulted to, or increased the risk of, CVA by resorting to a “detailed medical discussion” lifted from medical sources and subjecting them to their own layman’s interpretation and randomly applying them to the circumstances attendant to the case, the same fails. Without an expert witness to evaluate and explain how the statements contained in such medical sources actually relate to the facts surrounding the case, they are insufficient to establish the nexus to support their claims.

Petitioners nevertheless argue that there is no need to resort to the intricacies of the Rules on Evidence to establish that the death of Aya-ay was caused by the eye injury, citing Section 10, Rule VII of the Rules of Procedure of the NLRC:

Section 10. Technical rules not binding. – The rules of procedure and evidence prevailing in courts of law and equity shall not be controlling and the Commission shall use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively, without regard to technicalities of law or procedure, all in the interest of due process.

That administrative quasi-judicial bodies like the NLRC are not bound by technical rules of procedure in the adjudication of cases does not mean that the basic rules on proving allegations should be entirely dispensed with. A party alleging a critical fact must still support his allegation with substantial evidence. Any decision based on unsubstantiated allegation cannot stand as it will offend due process.

xxx the liberality of procedure in administrative actions is subject to limitations imposed by basic requirements of due process. As this Court said in Ang Tibay v. CIR, the provision for flexibility in administrative procedure “does not go so far as to justify orders without a basis in evidence having rational probative value.” More specifically, as held in Uichico v. NLRC:

It is true that administrative and quasi-judicial bodies like the NLRC are not bound by the technical rules of procedure in the adjudication of cases. However, this procedural rule should not be construed as a license to disregard certain fundamental evidentiary rules.

While this Court commiserates with petitioners’ plight, absent substantial evidence from which reasonable basis for the grant of death benefits prayed for can be drawn, it is left with no alternative but to deny their petition.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated January 24, 2002 and the Resolution dated September 10, 2002 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 155359, January 31, 2006 ]SPOUSES PONCIANO AYA-AY, SR. AND CLEMENCIA AYA-AY, PETITIONERS, VS. ARPAPHIL SHIPPING CORP., AND MAGNA MARINE, INC., RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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

The sole issue is whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the resolution of the NLRC, which upheld the decision of the Labor Arbiter that petitioners illegally dismissed private respondents who should therefore receive separation pay, backwages, attorney’s fees and salary differential.

The Ruling of the Court


The petition is without merit.

Factual Findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC


We uphold the ruling of the Court of Appeals sustaining the findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC that petitioners illegally dismissed private respondents. The Court of Appeals held that the evidence on record supported such findings.

Factual findings of labor officials, who possess the expertise in matters within their jurisdiction, have conclusive effect on this Court provided substantial evidence support such factual findings. More so in this case, where the findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC coincide, and the Court of Appeals sustained such findings.

As found by the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, petitioners failed to prove their assertion that Alcovendas voluntarily resigned. Petitioners assert that Alcovendas stole his letter of resignation. However, the Prosecutor dismissed for insufficiency of evidence the charge for qualified theft against Alcovendas for allegedly stealing company documents, including his own letter of resignation. In the labor case, petitioners also failed to present substantial evidence to establish the charge of qualified theft against Alcovendas.

Petitioners were likewise unable to support their claim that Labrador was involved in faking the licenses of security guards who were not qualified. The Labor Arbiter held:

Respondents herein alleged that Labrador was validly terminated on June 5, 1993 for dishonesty involving the faking of guards’ licenses. Again, this alleged offense was never established by evidence. Invisible on record are the supposed documents issued to Labrador such as the notice of offense, notice requiring him to explain and the sworn statement of witnesses attesting to the charge. Even the very letter of termination dated June 14, 1993 served to Labrado[r] terminating the latter’s services does not contain the alleged cause for his termination. We therefore rule that the termination of complainant Labrador from employment was contrary to law.[11]

Petitioners also failed to substantiate their claim that Tacanloy engaged in black propaganda to discredit petitioners’ reputation. The Labor Arbiter held that petitioners failed to establish fraud and breach of trust on the part of Tacanloy which would justify termination of his employment.

We find no reason to deviate from the findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Petitioners failed to substantiate their allegations and accusations against private respondents. Although proof beyond reasonable doubt is not required, substantial evidence is necessary and the burden lies on the employer to establish that there was no illegal dismissal. This is in accord with Article 277 of the Labor Code, which explicitly states that the employer has the burden of proving that the termination of the employee is for a valid or authorized cause. The petitioners failed to discharge this burden, which makes a finding for illegal dismissal inevitable.

Loss of Trust and Confidence


Article 282(c) of the Labor Code provides that an employer may terminate an employee for fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative. An employer cannot be compelled to continue the employment of an employee who is guilty of acts inimical to the interest of the employer and which justifies loss of confidence in the employee. However, the right of an employer to terminate an employee based on loss of confidence must not be exercised arbitrarily and without just cause.

In Northwest Tourism Corp. v. Court of Appeals, Former Special Third Division, we held:

Loss of trust and confidence as a ground for dismissal does not entail proof beyond reasonable doubt of the employee’s misconduct. However, the evidence must be substantial and must establish clearly and convincingly the facts on which the loss of confidence in the employee rests. To be a valid reason for dismissal, loss of confidence must be genuine. Uncorroborated assertions and accusations by the employer will not suffice, otherwise it will jeopardize the constitutional guaranty of security of tenure of the employee.

In this case, petitioners failed to prove the acts and misconduct imputed upon private respondents which would justify their dismissal on the ground of loss of confidence.

Salary Differential, Attorney’s Fees, Separation Pay, and Backwages


We affirm the award of salary differential. As found by the Labor Arbiter, PMVSIA paid private respondents wages which were below the minimum rate for security guards as prescribed and adopted by the Philippine Association of Detective [and Protective] Agency Operators, Inc. (PADPAO). Petitioners failed to refute the Labor Arbiter’s finding of underpayment of wages.

We also sustain the award of attorney’s fees. We have held that “[i]n actions for recovery of wages or where an employee was forced to litigate and incur expenses to protect his rights and interest, he is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees.”

We, however, modify the amount of separation pay. The payment of separation pay may be granted when reinstatement is no longer feasible. Separation pay is equivalent to one (1) month pay for every year of service up to the finality of this Decision. Thus, the computation for the separation pay should be adjusted accordingly.

Finally, we rule that private respondents are entitled to backwages. Article 279 of the Labor Code reads:

ART. 279. Security of Tenure. – In cases of regular employment, the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.

In accordance with this provision, illegally dismissed private respondents are entitled to full backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits. Where reinstatement is no longer possible, as in this case, the backwages shall be computed from the time of the employee’s illegal termination up to the finality of the decision.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM with MODIFICATION the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 March 1999 and its Resolution dated 23 June 1999. We SUSTAIN the award of salary differential and attorney’s fees. We REMAND this case to the Labor Arbiter for the computation, within thirty days from receipt of this Decision, of separation pay and backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits due to Teodulo C. Alcovendas, Cesar W. Labrador and Jordan T. Tacanloy, from the time of their illegal dismissal until the finality of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 139159, January 31, 2006 ]PHILIPPINE MILITARY VETERANS SECURITY AND INVESTIGATION AGENCY AND/OR RAMON MACOROL, PETITIONERS, VS. COURT OF APPEALS, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, TEODULO C. ALCOVENDAS, CESAR W. LABRADOR, AND JORDAN T. TACANLOY, RESPONDENTS. Tags: 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

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A MOST GRIEVOUS ERROR WHEN IT DID NOT EXPRESSLY RULE ON THE ISSUE OF THE RIGHT OF PETITIONERS TO BACKWAGES AND IN EFFECT AFFIRMED THE TERRIBLY WRONG RULING OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION THAT PETITIONERS HAVE NO RIGHT TO BACKWAGES

Petitioners are no longer pleading for exoneration from the administrative charges filed against them. Instead, petitioners are merely asking for the payment of back wages computed from the time they could not teach pursuant to Secretary Cariño’s dismissal orders minus the six months suspension until their actual reinstatement.[8]

Petitioners have no right to back wages because they were neither exonerated nor unjustifiably suspended.  Petitioners admitted participating in the teachers’ strike which disrupted the education of public school students.  For this offense, the CSC reduced Secretary Cariño’s dismissal orders to six months suspension without pay.  The Court has already put to rest the issue of the award of back wages to public school teachers whom the CSC reinstated in the service after commuting Secretary Cariño’s dismissal orders to six months suspension without pay.[9] In Alipat v. Court of Appeals,[10] the Court denied the teachers’ claim for back wages stating thus:

This Court has also resolved the issue of whether back wages may be awarded to the teachers who were ordered reinstated to the service after the dismissal orders of Secretary Cariño were commuted by the Civil Service Commission to six (6) months’ suspension.  The issue was resolved in the negative in Bangalisan vs. Court of Appeals on the ground that the teachers were neither exonerated nor unjustifiably suspended.  The Bangalisan case also ruled that the immediate implementation of the dismissal orders, being clearly sanctioned by law, was not unjustified.  The Court held that as regards the payment of back salaries during the period of suspension of a member of the civil service who is subsequently ordered reinstated, the payment of back wages may be decreed if “he is found innocent of the charges which caused the suspension and when the suspension is unjustified.”

Citing the Bangalisan ruling, this Court in Jacinto vs. Court of Appeals held that when the teachers have given cause for their suspension – i.e., the unjustified abandonment of classes to the prejudice of their students – they were not fully innocent of the charges against them although they were eventually found guilty only of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and not grave misconduct or other offense warranting their dismissal from the service; “being found liable for a lesser offense is not equivalent to exoneration.”[11]

The facts in this case are substantially the same as those in Bangalisan v. Court of Appeals,[12]De la Cruz v. Court of Appeals,[13]Alipat v. Court of Appeals[14] and Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports v. Court of Appeals.[15] In these cases, the Court categorically declared that the payment of back wages during the period of suspension of a civil servant who is subsequently reinstated is proper if he is found innocent of the charges and the suspension is unjustified.  These two circumstances are absent in the present case.  When a court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases where the facts are substantially the same.[16]

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition.  We AFFIRM the Decision dated 31 July 1996 and Resolution dated 29 February 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 37794-99 and SP Nos. 37800-05.  Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NOS. 142332-43, January 31, 2005 ]YOLANDA BRUGADA, ANGELINA CORPUZ, EVELYN ESCANO, SHIRLEY GARMA, DEDAICA JUSAY, PARSIMA LERIA, SONIA C. MAHINAY, ADELA SOLO, ELSIE SOMERA, VIRGINIA TALICURAN, JOSE S. VALLO, AND TEOFILA VILLANUEVA, PETITIONERS, VS. THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS, RESPONDENT. Tags: 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