G.R. No. 196249, July 21, 2014
ROSE HANA ANGELES, doing business under the name and style [of] LAS MARIAS GRILL AND RESTAURANT[,] and ZENAIDA ANGELES[,] doing business under the name and style [of] CAFÉ TERIA BAR AND RESTAURANT, Petitioners, v. FERDINAND M. BUCAD, CHARLESTON A. REYNANTE, BERNADINE B. ROAQUIN, MARLON A. OMPOY, RUBEN N. LAROZA, EVANGELINE B. BUMACOD, WILMA CAINGLES, BRIAN OGARIO, EVELYN A. BASTAN, ANACLITO A. BASTAN, MA. GINA BENITEZ, HERMINIO AGSAOAY, NORBERTO BALLASTEROS, DEMETRIO L. BERDIN, JR., JOEL DUCUSIN, JOVY R. BALATA, and MARIBEL ROAQUIN, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
This Petition for Certiorari has its precursor in the consolidated Complaints for Illegal Dismissal and Money Claims filed by x x x respondents against petitioners Las Marias Grill and Restaurant and Café Teria Bar and Restaurant, single proprietorships owned by petitioners Rose Hana Angeles and Zenaida Angeles, respectively.
x x x [R]espondents bewailed that they were underpaid workers employed on various dates [for] the following positions, viz:cralawlawlibrary
“Name Date Hired Position Daily Rate Date Dismissed 1. Ferdinand Bucad 4-30-97 Manager P7,000.00/month 1-31-2000 2. Charleston Reynante 9-1-98 Supervisor P 130.00 1-31-2000 3. Bernardine7 Roaquin 9-7-99 Cook/helper 60.00 still employed 4. Marlon Ompoy 4-1-99 Driver 75.00 still employed 5. Ruben Laroza 8-6-99 Janitor 60.00 2-4-2000 6. Evangeline Bumacod 10-10-99 Stock clerk 70.00 still employed 7. Wilma Caingles 5-19-99 Waitress 70.00 7-1-99 9-7-99 -do- 70.00 still employed 8. Brian Ogario 5-19-99 Waiter 70.00 2-19-2000 9. Joel Ducusin 1-1-2000 Dishwasher 170.00 1-17-2000 10. Evelyn A. Bastan 7-29-96 Stock clerk 105.00 5-8-99 resigned 11. Anacleto8 Bastan 8-10-97 Helper Cook 80.00 5-8-98 resigned 12. Ma. Gina Benitez 1-13-96 Waitress/Cashier 83.33 10-20-98 resigned 10-7-99 -do- 83.33 4-6-2000 13. Herminio Agsaoay 11-24-99 Dishwasher 60.00 presently employed 14. Norberto Ballesteros9
Cook helper 60.00 2-4-2000 15. Demetrio Berdin, Jr. 2-22-97 -do- 100.00 Oct. 99 16. Jovy R. Balanta10 9-22-99 Waitress 60.00 10-31-99 resigned 17. Maribel Roaquin 9-22-99 -do- 60.00 still employed”
The employees hurled, inter alia, a litany of charges against petitioners, namely: 1) payment of salaries below the minimum wage and which were oftentimes paid after much delay; 2) non-coverage under the Social Security System (SSS); 3) termination from employment without giving just benefits despite long service; 4) signing of blank payroll without indicating the amount; and, 5) non-payment of night differential, holiday pay, COLA, commutation pay for sick leave and annual leave, 13th month pay and service charges.
x x x [R]espondents likewise charged petitioners with enforcing long hours of service so that stay-in employees rendered a minimum of 10 hours of work while stay-out employees were required to work for a minimum of 9 hours. They avowed that petitioners heaped verbal abuses upon them, and worse, maltreated them by splashing water to wake them up when anyone fell asleep at work. Petitioners forced sick employees to go home to their respective provinces despite their illness. They professed that petitioners failed to provide them security of tenure but only private respondents Joel Ducusin x x x, Ma. Gina Benitez x x x and Demetrio Berdin, Jr. x x x sued for illegal dismissal.
In the midst of these imputations, petitioners offered not a tinge of explanation as they failed to submit their Position Paper.
Ensuingly, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision dated 30 June 2000 plowing solely through the submissions of the x x x respondents, viz –“WHEREFORE, the (petitioner) Zenaida Angeles, doing business under the name and style (of) Las Marias Grill and Restaurant is hereby adjudged guilty of illegal dismissal with respect to (respondents) Joel Ducusin, Ma. Gina Benitez and Demetrio Berdin, Jr. and is hereby ordered to pay their backwages computed from the time they were illegally dismissed on January 17, 2000, April 6, 2000 and October 1999 respectively up to the date of this Decision and separation pay of one-month salary for every year of service in lieu of reinstatement considering the strained relationship that exists between the parties; salary differentials; overtime pay; premium pay for holidays and rest days; night shift differentials; 13th month pay; service incentive leave pay; unpaid salaries of complainant Jovy Balanta for the month of October 1999, summarized as follows:cralawlawlibraryAggrieved, petitioners seasonably appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (“NLRC”) flatly denying the charges against them. They were surprised to discover that their former counsel did not file any pleading in their behalf to refute x x x respondents’ accusations.
Name 1. Ferdinand M. Bucad P 19,250.00 2. Charleston A. Reynante 143,199.98 3. Bernadine B. Roaquin 76,240.01 4. Marlon A. Ompoy 182,515.03 5. Ruben N. Laroza 45,247.96 6. Evangeline B. Bumacod 66,465.10 7. Wilma Caingles 73,499.39 8. Brian Ogario 64,298.90 9. Joel Ducusin 37,717.33 10. Evelyn A. Bastan
11. Anacleto A. Bastan 38,801.68 12. Ma. Gina Benitez 130,070.88 13. Herminio Agsaoay 65,191.25 14. Norberto Ballesteros 30,767.55 15. Demetrio L. Berdin, Jr. 150,967.56 16. Jovy R. Balanta 9,624.87 17. Maribel B. Roaquin 38,472.65 Total P1,287,120.71
The Computation Sheet is hereto attached and forms part of this Decision.
All other claims are hereby Denied for lack of merit.
Petitioners theorized that the Complaints were instigated by x x x respondent Ferdinand Bucad (“Bucad”), restaurant manager of petitioner Las Marias Grill and Restaurant (“Las Marias”). Bucad had been performing unsatisfactorily prompting management to conduct an inquiry as to his performance. Bucad feared that the results of the investigation might implicate him so he convinced his fellow employees to fabricate baseless inculpations against their employers.
Petitioners proceeded to proffer documentary evidence against each of the x x x respondents. Bucad was given a notice to explain certain violations he had allegedly committed. He answered and explained his side but the management decided to conduct a hearing giving him the opportunity to adduce his evidence. He replied that he would not attend the investigation for he had already sought recourse before the Labor Arbiter which scheduled the hearing on 28 January 2000. With Bucad’s absence on the day of the investigation, petitioners sent him a Notice of Termination dated 31 January 2000.
Petitioners adduced the same documentary evidence with respect to x x x respondents Charleston Reynante (“Reynante”), Brian Ogario, and Marlon Ompoy, to wit: the notice to explain, notice of hearing and of termination. Petitioners likewise propounded documentary evidence to prove that x x x respondents Ruben Laroza, Marvin Ballesteros, Evangeline Bumacod, and Maribel Roaquin were probationary employees whose employment were terminated only after they were served notices of their respective violations.
As for x x x respondents Bernadine Roaquin (“Roaquin”) and Albert Agsaoay (“Agsaoay”), petitioners insisted they voluntarily resigned from their posts. Roaquin signed a Release, Waiver and Quitclaim while Agsaoay signed a Certification to confirm that he received his salary and benefits and had no complaints against petitioners. Along the same strain, petitioners presented the respective Sinumpaang Salaysay of one Melba Pacheca and Nida Bahe. They were the employees who averred that Berdin likewise resigned when he was caught surreptitiously taking food out of the kitchen for his girlfriend.
The Sinumpaang Salaysay of a certain Lando Villanueva, another employee, affirmed that x x x respondent Ma. Gina Benitez (“Benitez”) was caught sleeping with x x x respondent Reynante at the workers’ quarters, in violation of management rules. The couple immediately left their jobs, but returned a year later beseeching petitioners to accept them back. Petitioners took pity on them giving Reynante a job albeit there was no vacancy at that time, and allowing the couple to live in the workers’ quarters. When Reynante’s employment was terminated on 31 January 2000, Benitez went with him voluntarily and left her job.
Petitioners then claimed that x x x respondents-spouses Evelyn and Anacleto Bastan had a misunderstanding with their co-employees. They decided to leave their posts, despite the management’s pleas for them to stay.
Still and all, the NLRC remained unperturbed and dismissed the Appeal in the assailed Decision dated 28 December 2007. Petitioners moved for reconsideration thereof but obtained no favorable relief in the challenged Resolution dated 30 March 2009.11chanrobleslaw
After considering the arguments presented by the respondents12 in their memorandum of appeal, it appears that the respondents failed to submit sufficient evidence to compel Us to reverse the findings of the Labor Arbiter. There is no substantial proof presented that the money claims were paid to the complainants.13 The best evidence of such payment is the payroll, whereas in this case, respondents merely allege payment.
Moreover, respondents indirectly admit that they give less than the statutory benefits to the employees on the ground that the latter were provided facilities computed in the amount of [P]75.00 per day x x x and for advances and transportation expenses x x x. Article 97[f] of the Labor Code provides that wages include the fair and reasonable value of board and lodging or other facilities customarily provided by the employer to the employee. It is also well-settled that in deducting the value of facilities from the employees’ wages, three (3) requirements must first be complied with, to wit: 1) proof must be shown that such facilities are customarily furnished by the trade; 2) the provision of deductible facilities must be voluntarily accepted in writing by the employee; finally, 3) facilities must be charged at fair and reasonable value (Mabeza vs. NLRC, et al., G.R. No. 118506, April 18, 1997). In this case, there is no showing that these requirements were complied with by the respondents before deductions were made from the employees’ wages. Respondents failed to prove that such deductions were voluntarily accepted in writing by the employees and that these were customarily furnished by the trade. As such, deduction [from] the salaries is erroneous.
Anent the issue of payment of backwages, the same is proper considering that the complainants were terminated without proof that their termination was with just cause and after observance of due process.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit, and the Decision of the Labor Arbiter dated June 30, 2000 is hereby AFFIRMED.
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 28 December 2007 and Resolution dated 30 March 2009 of the National Labor Relations Commission are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that (1) the ruling that private respondents Ma. Gina Benitez and Demetrio Berdin, Jr. were illegally dismissed is VACATED; and (2) the awards of backwages and separation pay to private respondents Ma. Gina Benitez and Demetrio Berdin, Jr. are DELETED.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT JOEL DUCUSIN WAS ILLEGALLY TERMINATED AND THAT PETITIONERS HAVE FAILED TO OVERCOME THE BURDEN OF PAYMENT OF THE MONEY CLAIMS OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.20
x x x The purpose of a time record is to show an employee’s attendance in office for work and to be paid accordingly, taking into account the policy of “no work, no pay”. A daily time record is primarily intended to prevent damage or loss to the employer, which could result in instances where it pays an employee for no work done; it is a mandatory requirement for inclusion in the payroll, and in the absence of an employment agreement, it constitutes evidence of employment.33 (Emphasis supplied)
x x x The punching of time card is undoubtedly work related. It signifies and records the commencement of one’s work for the day. It is from that moment that an employee dons the cape of duties and responsibilities attached to his position in the workplace. It is the reckoning point of the employer’s corresponding obligation to him – to pay his salary and provide his occupational and welfare protection or benefits. x x x34 (Emphasis supplied)
1Rollo, pp. 3-33.
2 Id. at 35-44; penned by Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao and concurred in by Presiding Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and Associate Justice Jane Aurora C. Lantion.
3 Id. at 46-47.
4 CA rollo, pp. 29-33; penned by Presiding Commissioner Gerardo C. Nograles and concurred in by Commissioners Perlita B. Velasco and Romeo L. Go.
5 Id. at 47-48.
6 Also referred to as NLRC CA No. 025347-00 in some parts of the records.
7 Also referred to as Bernadine in some parts of the records.
8 Also referred to as Anaclito in some parts of the records.
9 Also referred to as Ballasteros in some parts of the records.
10 Also referred to as Balata in some parts of the records.
11Rollo, pp. 35-40.
12 Herein petitioners.
13 Herein respondents.
14 CA rollo, pp. 31-32.
15 Id. at 34-45.
16 Id. at 47-48.
17 Id. at 3-27.
18Rollo, p. 44. Italics in the original.
19 CA rollo, pp. 440-453.
20 Rollo, p. 15.
21 Id. at 263-271.
22 588 Phil. 495 (2008).
23Rollo, pp. 52-101.
24 Id. at 112-115, 167-203, 208, 212-215, 219-220, 224-229.
25 Id. at 252-260.
26Best Wear Garments v. De Lemos, G.R. No. 191281, December 5, 2012, 687 SCRA 355, 363; also, Samar-Med Distribution v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 162385, July 15, 2013, 701 SCRA 148, 158-159; Co v. Vargas, G.R. No. 195167, November 16, 2011, 660 SCRA 451, 458; National Union of Workers in the Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN-APL-IUF) Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter v. Court of Appeals (Former 8th Div.), 591 Phil. 570, 585 (2008).
27Ropali Trading Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, 357 Phil. 314, 317-318 (1998).
28New City Builders, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 499 Phil. 207, 212 (2005).
29 Aujero v. Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation, G.R. No. 193484, January 18, 2012, 663 SCRA 467, 485.
30 Abella v. People, G.R. No. 198400, October 7, 2013.
31 Sugar Regulatory Administration v. Tormon, G.R. No. 195640, December 4, 2012, 686 SCRA 854, 867.
32 See Malayang Manggagawa ng Stayfast Phils., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 155306, August 28, 2013, 704 SCRA 24, 41.
33Ang v. San Joaquin, G.R. No. 185549, August 7, 2013, 703 SCRA 269, 287.
34Alvarez v. Golden Tri Bloc, Inc., G.R. No. 202158, September 25, 2013.
35Rollo, pp. 168, 213, 219-220.