G.R. No. 201018, July 12, 2017
UNITED COCONUT CHEMICALS, INC., Petitioner, v. VICTORIANO B. VALMORES, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
The base figure in the determination of full backwages is fixed at the salary rate received by the employee at the time he was illegally dismissed. The award shall include the benefits and allowances regularly received by the employee as of the time of the illegal dismissal, as well as those granted under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), if any.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and a new one entered finding respondents liable for illegal dismissal and ordered them to reinstate complainant to his former position without loss of seniority rights and with full backwages from the date of dismissal on 22 February 1996 to the date of actual reinstatement.The parties, including UELO, moved for reconsideration. The NLRC denied the motions for reconsideration of the respondent and UELO, but partially granted UCCI's motion by granting its prayer to be exempted from paying backwages.8
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the DECISION of the Third Division ofNLRC dated November 29, 2000 is AFFIRMED in all respect.Still, UCCI appealed to the Court, which, on November 17, 2003, denied the petition for review on certiorari.11 The denial became final and executory on February 26, 2004;12 hence, the respondent moved for the execution of the judgment in his favor.
The Resolution of the Third Division of NLRC dated January 31, 2001 which states:"The motion for reconsideration filed by respondent United Coconut Chemicals from the decision of November 29, 2000 is partially GRANTED in that it is not held liable insofar as the award of full backwages in favor of complainant is concerned."is ordered DELETED and declared null and void.
WHEREFORE, respondent [UCCI's] motion to hold respondent UELO primarily liable to pay complainant the herein monetary awards and/or direct respondent UELO to reimburse [UCCI] of whatever amount it may be made to pay complainant, disguised as a motion for clarification, is DENIED for lack of legal basis.Labor Arbiter Lontoc opined that the backwages due to the respondent should be computed by excluding the benefits under the CBA, to wit:
Complainant's motion for execution dated 29 November 2000 is GRANTED. Let a writ of execution be issued for its immediate implementation.
In fine, we compute the backwages of complainant beginning 22 February 1996 as directed in the 29 November 2000 decision of the NLRC up to 30 June 2008. Complainant was admittedly reinstated to work effective on 01 July 2008, with the corresponding wages beginning said period paid and received by complainant until he was declared in AWOL and consequently terminated from work. Thus;We do not neglect that in some of complainant's pleadings, he offered the computation of his backwages, which included a list of the benefits he claimed should be included, thus:
Backwages: P11,194.00 x 148.26 months = P1,659,622.44 13th Month Pay: P1,659,622.44 / 12 months = P 138,301.87 SILP: P11,194.00 30 days x 5 days/12 mos. x 148.26 mos. = P 23,050.31 TOTAL P 1,820,974.62
Monthly Wage Meal Subsid y Safety Incentive Pay SOFA Financial Grant Medical Assistance 1996 11,194.00 22.50 --- 1,000.00 2,500.00 3,800.00 1997 12,444.00 25.00 --- 1,000.00 2,500.00 3,800.00 1998 13,814.00 35.00 300.00 2,500.00 4,000.00 5,500.00 1999 15,314.00 35.00 300.00 2,500.00 4,000.00 5,500.00 2000 15,314.00 37.00 300.00 2,500.00 4,000.00 5,500.00 2001 16,314.00 37.00 300.00 2,500.00 4,000.00 5,500.00 2002 17,314.00 37.00 300.00 2,500.00 4,000.00 5,500.00 2003 19,064.00 40.00 500.00 2,500.00 4,000.00 6,500.00 2004 20,564.00 40.00 500.00 2,600.00 4,000.00 6,500.00 2005 22,564.00 40.00 500.00 2,600.00 5,000.00 10,000.00 2006 24,564.00 40.00 500.00 2,600.00 5,000.00 10,000.00 2007 26,614.00 40.00 500.00 2,600.00 5,000.00 10,000.00
We cannot recognize these alleged CBA granted benefits. While the term "backwages" used in Article 279 of the Labor Code includes the benefits which the complainant should have received had he not been dismissed from work, benefits which are not prescribed by law of those referring to benefits granted by the employer either pursuant to the CBA or its benevolence, cannot be recognized unless duly proved. The decision dated 29 November 2000, which is the subject of the instant execution proceedings, did not recognize the foregoing alleged CBA and company issued benefits, although they were enumerated by complainant in his position paper. Neither did we find the basis of these alleged CBA negotiated benefits. While complainant attached a few pages of what purports to be their collective bargaining agreement, the effectivity date thereof was never presented for the NLRC and for us to determine the dates of their applicability. Thus, complainant's entitlement to these benefits was not substantially proven. For the same reason, we have no basis to consider the same. Except for the bare allegation that he should have been paid these benefits, no proof of such grant was presented by complainant.
One-time CBA increase 2000 P20,000.00 Built-in OT/NSD P35,044.29/annum Other bonuses P 5,000/annum Rice subsidy one sack / month Uniform P8,765.00 monetary equivalent/annum Christmas package P1,000.00 / annum VL/SL 46 days / annum
WHEREFORE, the decision dated 10 January 2010 is MODIFIED. The case is remanded to the Arbitration Branch of origin only for the purpose of recomputation of complainant's full backwages using the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the covered period as basis of computation. Respondent [UCCI] is directed to furnish the office of the Labor Arbiter's copies of the Collective Bargaining Agreement pertinent thereto.The NLRC observed that there was a need to include the benefits granted under the CBA; that in the personnel action form submitted by UCCI, the reinstatement salary of the respondent amounted to 26,614.00 as opposed to the P11,194.00 alleged salary at the time of his dismissal; and the disparity should have prompted the Labor Arbiter to probe into his claim of entitlement to the benefits under the CBA as part of his backwages.17
The other findings are AFFIRMED.
THE COMPUTATION FOR THE PAYMENT OF BACKWAGES SHOULD CONFORM TO ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE WHICH PROVIDES THAT THE BASE FIGURE TO BE USED IN THE COMPUTATION OF BACKWAGES IS PEGGED AT THE WAGE RATE AT THE TIME OF THE EMPLOYEE'S DISMISSAL UNQUALIFIED BY DEDUCTIONS, INCREASES AND/OR MODIFICATIONS GRANTED IN THE INTERIM22Citing BPI Employees' Union-Metro Manila v. Bank of the Philippine Islands,23 UCCI posits that in determining the respondent's backwages the prospective increases in wages as well as the benefits provided in the CBA should be excluded; that, as a consequence, the base figure for computing the respondent's backwages should be his basic salary prevailing at the time of his dismissal, unqualified by deductions or increases; that the ruling of the CA and the NLRC to include the CBA-granted benefits was without legal basis and was contrary to prevailing jurisprudence; and that at any rate the respondent did not establish that he was enjoying such CBA benefits at the time of his dismissal.
Article 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.The settled rule is that full backwages shall be pegged at the wage rate at the time of the employee's dismissal, unqualified by any deductions and increases, thus:
[T]he determination of the salary base for the computation of backwages requires simply an application of judicial precedents defining the term "backwages." An unqualified award of backwages means that the employee is paid at the wage rate at the time of his dismissal. Furthermore, the award of salary differentials is not allowed, the established rule being that upon reinstatement, illegally dismissed employees are to be paid their backwages without deduction and qualification as to any wage increases or other benefits that may have been received by their co-workers who were not dismissed or did not go on strike.25The base figure for the computation of backwages should include not only the basic salary but also the regular allowances being received, such as the emergency living allowances and the 13th month pay mandated by the law.26 The purpose for this is to compensate the worker for what he has lost because of his dismissal, and to set the price or penalty on the employer for illegally dismissing his employee.27
The Labor Arbiter did not recognize the CBA benefits which complainant alleged should have been included in the computation because the complainant failed to prove the same. On 2 June 2008, the complainant filed a motion xxxx for computation of backwages and issuance of subpoena to the personnel manager/payroll officer or any employee of respondent employer-company to bring documents as well as the Collective Bargaining Agreement in force related to the latest salary/benefits of a Senior Utilities Operator and to testify thereon. This motion was not resolved by the Labor Arbiter. xxxx On 1 July 2008, respondent [UCCI] in its personnel action form xxx admitted complainant's re-instatement salary to be P26,614.00 per month. The difference or disparity between the amount of P11,194.00 allegedly complainant's salary at the time of his dismissal on 26 February 2006 and P26,614.00 salary of complainant for the month of July 2008 should have prompted the Labor Arbiter to dig deeper into the allegations of complainant that he is entitled to other benefits under the CBA, the same to form part of the full backwages awarded to him.The observations of the CA on this are adopted with approval, to wit:
In the case at bench, it is undisputed that private respondent was a regular employee of petitioner UCCI and a member of UELO. A perusal of the records also shows that his expulsion from the union was deemed unjustified. This was the finding of the Former Sixth Division of this Court in its Decision dated January 18, 2002. Had private respondent not been unlawfully ousted from the union and unjustly terminated from work, he would have been entitled to the benefits being regularly received by the employees of petitioner UCCI who are members of the bargaining unit. As aptly noted by the NLRC, petitioner UCCI failed to submit the documents providing the details of benefits granted to its employees from the time of private respondent's dismissal on February 22, 1996 up to the date of his reinstatement. The presumption that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced thus applies. Consequently, We sustain the NLRC's ruling that private respondent's full backwages should be re-computed in order to include the benefits regularly given to petitioner UCCI's employees under the CBA.29We consider as patent error on the part of the Labor Arbiter to declare that the respondent had not proved his entitlement to the CBA benefits. Accordingly, the remand to enable the proper determination of the CBA benefits that the respondent had been receiving as of February 22, 2006 is proper and necessary.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and a new one entered finding respondents liable for illegal dismissal and ordering them to reinstate complainant to his former position without loss of seniority rights and with full backwages from the date of dismissal on 22 February 1996 to the date of actual reinstatement.There is thus a conflict between the body of the decision and the dispositive portion or the fallo. As a rule, the fallo controls in such a situation on the theory that the fallo is the final order, while the opinion stated in the body is a mere statement ordering nothing.31 However, where the inevitable conclusion from the body of the decision is so clear as to show that there was a mistake in the dispositive portion, the body of the decision should prevail.32 Indeed, the rationality of the decision should justify the fallo. To say otherwise is to tolerate a farce. We have no doubt at all that the exception fully applies herein.
xxxx Despite a closed shop provision in the CBA and the expulsion of Casio, et al. from IBP-Local 31, law and jurisprudence imposes upon GMC the obligation to accord Casio, et al. substantive and procedural due process before complying with the demand of IBP-Local 31 to dismiss the expelled union members from service. The failure of GMC to carry out this obligation makes it liable for illegal dismissal of Casio, et al.
In Malayang Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa M. Greenfield, the Court held that notwithstanding the fact that the dismissal was at the instance of the federation and that the federation undertook to hold the company free from any liability resulting from the dismissal of several employees, the company may still be held liable if it was remiss in its duty to accord the would-be dismissed employees their right to be heard on the matter.
* In lieu of Justice Francis H. Jardeleza, who inhibited due to prior close relations with a party, per the raffle of July 3, 2017.
** Additional Member, per Special Order No. 2461 dated July 10, 2017.
1Rollo, pp. 34-45; penned by Associate Justice Ramon R. Garcia, with Associate Justice Rosmari D. Carandang and Associate Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan, concurring.
2 Id. at 50-60.
3 Id. at 35.
4 Id. at 35-36.
5 Docketed as NLRC Case No. RAB-IV-02-07928-96-B entitled Victoriano B. Valmores v. United Coconut Chemicals, Inc. (COCOCHEM) and United Coconut Chemicals, Inc. Employees' Labor Organization, its Executive Officers led by Mr. Nello Borbon.
6Rollo, pp. 62-71.
7 Id. at 88.
8 Id. at 91-92.
9 Id. at 90-98; penned by Associate Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria and concurred in by Associate Justice Teodoro P. Regino and Associate Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador.
10 Id. at 97-98.
11 Id. at 100.
12 Id. at 102.
13 Id. at 113-114.
14 Id. at 112-113.
15 Id. at 50-60.
16 Id. at 59.
17 Id. at 57-58.
18 G.R. No. 183810, January 21, 2010, 610 SCRA 567.
19Rollo, pp. 43-44.
20 Id. at 47-48.
21 Id. at 119-124.
22 Id. at 20.
23 G.R. Nos. 178699 and 178735, September 21, 2011, 658 SCRA 127.
24 Now Article 294 pursuant to R.A. No. 10151 (See DOLE Department Advisory No. 01, series of 2015).
25Evangelista v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 93915, October 11, 1995, 248 SCRA 194, 196, citing Paramount Vinyl Products Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 81200, October 17, 1990, 190 SCRA 525, 537.
26Paramount Vinyl Products Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 81200, October 17, 1990, 190 SCRA 525, 537.
27Bustamante v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 111651, November 28, 1996, 265 SCRA 61, 70.
28Rollo, pp. 57-58.
29 Id. at 43-44.
30 Id. at 88 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis).
31Florentino v. Rivera, G.R. No. 167968, January 23, 2006, 479 SCRA 522, 528-529; Asian Center for Career and Employment System and Services, Inc. (ACCESS) v. NLRC, G.R. No. 131656, October 12, 1998, 297 SCRA 727, 731.
32Asian Center for Career and Employment System and Services, Inc. (ACCESS) v. NLRC, G.R. No. 131656, October 12, 1998, 297 SCRA 727, 731-732.
33 G.R. No. 149552, March 10, 2010, 615 SCRA 13, 37.
34 Article 2209. If the obligation consists in the payment of a sum of money, and the debtor incurs in delay, the indemnity for damages, there being no stipulation to the contrary, shall be the payment of the interest agreed upon, and in the absence of stipulation, the legal interest, which is six per cent per annum. (1108)
35 Supra note 23.
36 G.R. No. 97412, July 12, 1994, 234 SCRA 78.