G.R. No. 214399, June 28, 2016
ARMANDO N. PUNCIA, Petitioner, v. TOYOTA SHAW/PASIG, INC., Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Decision2 dated June 9, 2014 and the Resolution3 dated September 23, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 132615, which annulled and set aside the Decision4 dated February 14, 2013 and the Resolution5 dated August 30, 2013 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NLRC NCR CN. 10-15949-11/NLRC LAC No. 07-001991-12 and instead, reinstated the Decision6 dated May 4, 2012 of the Labor Arbiter (LA) finding that respondent Toyota Shaw/Pasig, Inc. (Toyota) validly dismissed petitioner Armando N. Puncia (Puncia) for just cause.
Petitioners attempt to revive the issues in Civil Case No. CEB-16335 by moving for the consolidation of the same with Civil Case No. CEB-23653. Under Section 1, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court, only pending actions involving a common question of law or fact may be consolidated. Obviously, petitioners cannot make out a case for consolidation in this case since Civil Case No. CEB-16335, the case which petitioners seek to consolidate with the case a quo, has long become final and executory; as such, it cannot be re-litigated in the instant proceedings without virtually impeaching the correctness of the decision in the other case. Public policy abhors such eventuality.59 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)In the instant case, while there were indeed two (2) separate petitions filed before the CA assailing the Decision dated February 14, 2013 and the Resolution dated August 30, 2013 of the NLRC in NLRC NCR CN. 10-15949-11/NLRC LAC No. 07-001991-12, i.e., CA-G.R. SP No. 132615 and CA-G.R. SP No. 132674, it must nevertheless be stressed that CA-G.R. SP No. 132674 was dismissed by the CA-Eleventh Division as early as November 29, 2013 due to procedural grounds. This fact was even pointed out by the CA-First Division in its Resolution60 dated January 24, 2014 when it held that CA-G.R. SP No. 132674 could no longer be consolidated with CA-G.R. SP No. 132615 since the former case had already been dismissed. From that point until the CA-First Division's promulgation of the assailed June 9, 2014 Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 132615, no consolidation between CA-G.R. SP No. 132615 and CA-G.R. SP No. 132674 could take place mainly because the latter case remained dismissed during that time. In other words, when the CA-First Division promulgated its ruling in CA-G.R. SP No. 132615, it was the one and only case pending before the CA assailing the aforesaid NLRC rulings. Therefore, the CA-First Division acted within the scope of its jurisdiction when it promulgated its ruling in CA-G.R. SP No. 132615 without having the case consolidated with CA-G.R. SP No. 132674, notwithstanding the latter case's reinstatement after said promulgation.
[T]he practice of a company in laying off workers because they failed to make the work quota has been recognized in this jurisdiction, x x x. In the case at bar, the petitioners' failure to meet the sales quota assigned to each of them constitute a just cause of their dismissal, regardless of the permanent or probationary status of their employment. Failure to observe prescribed standards of work, or to fulfill reasonable work assignments due to inefficiency may constitute just cause for dismissal. Such inefficiency is understood to mean failure to attain work goals or work quotas, either by failing to complete the same within the allotted reasonable period, or by producing unsatisfactory results.70 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)Indisputably, Toyota complied with the substantive due process requirement as there was indeed just cause for Puncia's termination.
Section 2. Standards of due process; requirements of notice. - In all cases of termination of employment, the following standards of due process shall be substantially observed:The foregoing standards were then further refined in Unilever Philippines, Inc. v. Rivera72 as follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryI. For termination of employment based on just causes as defined in Article 282 [now Article 297] of the Labor Code:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary(a) A written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for termination, and giving to said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side;(b) A hearing or conference during which the employee concerned, with the assistance of counsel if the employee so desires, is given opportunity to respond to the charge, present his evidence, or rebut the evidence presented against him; and(c) A written notice of termination served on the employee indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his termination.
To clarify, the following should be considered in terminating the services of employees:In this case, at first glance it seemed like Toyota afforded Puncia procedural due process, considering that: (a) Puncia was given a Notice to Explain;74 (b) Toyota scheduled a hearing on October 17, 2011 regarding the charge stated in the Notice to Explain;75 (c) on the date of the hearing, Puncia was able to submit a letter76 addressed to Toyota's vehicle sales manager explaining his side, albeit he failed to attend said hearing; and (d) Toyota served a written Notice of Termination77 informing Puncia of his dismissal from work. However, a closer look at the records reveals that in the Notice to Explain, Puncia was being made to explain why no disciplinary action should be imposed upon him for repeatedly failing to reach his monthly sales quota, which act, as already adverted to earlier, constitutes gross inefficiency. On the other hand, a reading of the Notice of Termination shows that Puncia was dismissed not for the ground stated in the Notice to Explain, but for gross insubordination on account of his non-appearance in the scheduled October 17, 2011 hearing without justifiable reason. In other words, while Toyota afforded Puncia the opportunity to refute the charge of gross inefficiency against him, the latter was completely deprived of the same when he was dismissed for gross insubordination - a completely different ground from what was stated in the Notice to Explain. As such, Puncia's right to procedural due process was violated.
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary(1) The first written notice to be served on the employees should contain the specific causes or grounds for termination against them, and a directive that the employees are given the opportunity to submit their written explanation within a reasonable period. "Reasonable opportunity" under the Omnibus Rules means every kind of assistance that management must accord to the employees to enable them to prepare adequately for their defense. This should be construed as a period of at least five (5) calendar days from receipt of the notice to give the employees an opportunity to study the accusation against them, consult a union official or lawyer, gather data and evidence, and decide on the defenses they will raise against the complaint. Moreover, in order to enable the employees to intelligently prepare their explanation and defenses, the notice should contain a detailed narration of the facts and circumstances that will serve as basis for the charge against the employees. A general description of the charge will not suffice. Lastly, the notice should specifically mention which company rules, if any, are violated and/or which among the grounds under Art. 282 is being charged against the employees.
(2) After serving the first notice, the employers should schedule and conduct a hearing or conference wherein the employees will be given the opportunity to: (1) explain and clarify their defenses to the charge against them; (2) present evidence in support of their defenses; and (3) rebut the evidence presented against them by the management. During the hearing or conference, the employees are given the chance to defend themselves personally, with the assistance of a representative or counsel of their choice. Moreover, this conference or hearing could be used by the parties as an opportunity to come to an amicable settlement.
(3) After determining that termination of employment is justified, the employers shall serve the employees a written notice of termination indicating that: (1) all circumstances involving the charge against the employees have been considered; and (2) grounds have been established to justify the severance of their employment.73 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
1Rollo, pp. 10-30.
2 Id. at 34-46. Penned by Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro with Presiding Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and Associate Justice Manuel M. Barrios concurring.
3 Id. at 48-49.
4 Id. at 84-97. Penned by Presiding Commissioner Leonardo L. Leonida with Commissioners Dolores M. Peralta-Beley and Mercedes R. Posada-Lacap concurring.
5 Id. at 100-108. Penned by Commissioner Mercedes R. Posada-Lacap with Commissioner Dolores M. Peralta-Beley concurring, and certified by Presiding Commissioner Herminio V. Suelo.
6 Id. at 58-65. Penned by Labor Arbiter Antonio R. Macam.
7 Id. at 35.
8 Id. at 37.
10 Dated October 15, 2011. Id. at 328.
11 See letter-memorandum dated October 17, 2011; id. at 198.
12 Id. See also id. at 38.
13 Id. at 37.
14 Id. at 199.
16 Not attached to the rollo.
17Rollo, pp. 85-87.
18 See Reply to Complainant's Position Paper dated March 14, 2012; id. at 222-223 and Opposition to the Memorandum of Appeal dated July 4, 2012; id. at 333-335.
19 Id. at 58-65.
20 Id. at 65.
21 Id. at 61-63.
22 Id. at 64.
23 See Memorandum of Appeal dated June 13, 2012; id. at 66-82.
24 Id. at 84-97.
25cralawred Id. at 96.
26 Id. at 319.
27 Id. at 90-91.
28 Id. at 94.
29 See Puncia's Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated March 6, 2013; id. at 152-156. Toyota's motion for reconsideration is not attached to the rollo.
30 Id. at 100-108.
31 Dated October 19, 2013. Id. at 376-411.
32 Dated November 13,2013. Id. at 416-437.
33 See id. at 10-11.
34 Id. at 439. Issued by Division Clerk of Court Atty. Celedonia M. Ogsimer.
35 Dated December 26, 2013. Id. at 255-265.
36 Dated December 27, 2013. Id. at 344-345.
37 Id. at 440. Issued by Division Clerk of Court Atty. Anita Jamerlan Rey.
38 Id. at 34-45.
39 See id. at 41-45.
40 Dated June 23, 2014: id. at 454-459.
41 Id. at 48-49.
42 Id. at 496-497. Penned by Associate Justice Eduardo B. Peralta, Jr. with Associate Justices Vicente S.E. Veloso and Jane Aurora C. Lantion concurring.
43 Id. at 10-30.
44 See id. at 22 and 29.
45 See Comment dated April 28, 2015; id. at 354-373.
46 Id. at 361-363.
47 Rule 31, Section 1 of the RULES OF COURT states:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrarySection 1. Consolidation. - When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated; and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.48Producers Bank of the Philippines v. Excelsa Industries, Inc., 685 Phil. 694, 700 (2012).
49Deutsche Bank AG v. CA, 683 Phil. 80, 93 (2012), citing Benguet Corporation Inc. v. CA, 247-A Phil. 356 (1988).
50 See Herrera, Oscar M., Remedial Law (Revised Edition), 1994 Ed., pp. 48-49.
51 RULES OF COURT, Rule 31, Section 1.
52Deutsche Bank AG v. CA, supra note 49, at 94-95.
53 See Herrera, Oscar M., Remedial Law (Revised Edition), 1994 Ed., p. 48, citing Active Wood Products Co., Inc. v. CA, 260 Phil. 825, 830 (1990).
54 Section 3 (a), Rule III of the 2009 Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals has forthrightly mandated the consolidation of related cases assigned to different Justices, viz.:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrarySection 3. Consolidation of Cases. — When related cases are assigned to different Justices, they shall be consolidated and assigned to one Justice.55Deutsche Bank AG v. CA, supra note 49, at 91.
(a) Upon motion of a party with notice to the other party/ies, or at the instance of the Justice to whom any or the related cases is assigned, upon notice to the parties, consolidation shall ensue when the cases involve the same parties and/or related questions of fact and/ or law. (Emphasis supplied)
56Philippine National Bank v. Gotesco Tyan Ming Development, Inc., 606 Phil. 806, 812 (2009), citing Teston v. Development Bank of the Philippines, 511 Phil. 221, 229 (2005).
57 RULES OR COURT, Rule 31, Section 1.
58 504 Phil. 204 (2005).
59 Id. at 212-213.
60Rollo, p. 440.
61 See Domdom v. Sandiganbayan, 627 Phil. 341, 349 (2010).
62 See Deutsche Bank AG v. CA, supra note 49, at 97-98.
63 See rollo, p. 27.
64 See Comment dated April 28, 2015; id. at 355-356 and 363.
65 See Department of Labor and Employment Department Advisory No. 01, Series of 2015, entitled "RENUMBERING OF THE LABOR CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, AS AMENDED," approved on April 21, 2015.
66Alps Transportation v. Rodriguez, 711 Phil. 122, 129 (2013); citations omitted.
67 See rollo, pp. 36-37.
68 See Aliling v. Feliciano, 686 Phil. 889, 910 (2012), citing Lim v. NLRC, 328 Phil. 843 (1996).
70 Id. at 911, citing Leonardo v. NLRC, 389 Phil. 118, 126-127.
71 As amended by DOLE Department Order No. 009-97 entitled "AMENDING THE RULES IMPLEMENTING BOOK V OF THE LABOR CODE AS AMENDED" approved on May 1, 1997.
72 710 Phil. 124 (2013).
73 Id. at 136-137, citing King of Kings Transport, Inc. v. Mamac, 553 Phil. 108, 115-116 (2007).
74Rollo, p. 328.
76 Id. at 198.
77 Id. at 199.
78 See Sang-an v. Equator Knights Detective and Security Agency. Inc., 703 Phil. 492, 503 (2013), citing Agabon v. NLRC, 485 Phil. 248 (2004).