G.R. No. 189686, July 15, 2013
UNIVERSAL ROBINA CORPORATION AND LANCE Y. GOKONGWEI, Petitioners, v. WILFREDO Z. CASTILLO, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
x x x x
- Per Ms. Prezy Manansala, Liana’s San Pablo Branch Manager, URC agreed to sponsor their “Back to School Promo”.
- She showed us their copy of the Account Development Agreement x x x signed by URC Salesman and Ms. Manansala as proof that there was indeed an agreed promotional activity.
- Liana’s issued GCs worth P72,000.00 to RSM Castillo. Issuance of Liana’s GCs was covered by Charge Sales Invoice Nos. 2189 and 2190 dated June 25, 2005. As claimed by Ms. Manansala, this issuance of GC is part of the promo activity.
[4.] Ms. Manansala informed us that the “Back to School Raffle Promo” was cancelled. x x x.
[5.] We showed her photocopies of Charged Invoices [N]os. 2189 and 2190 x x x. Ms. Manansala confirmed that RSM Castillo is the one who signed on the received x x x portion of the documents we showed.
[6.] Copies of the Charged Invoice [N]os. 2189 and 2190 were marked/stamped paid as these charges were already deducted from their payment to URC.
x x x x
[7.] Based on the report of Mr. Patrick Ong, Trade Marketing personnel, dated August 29, 2005, he mentioned the following exceptions with regard to the subject promo activity:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
x x x x
- The “cut case” display was only implemented in June 2005.
- No shelf space added.
- According to Liana’s San Pablo Branch Manager, URC through RSM Wilfredo Castillo received Gift Certificates worth P72,000.00 from Liana’s.
[8.] On September 29, 2005, Liana’s HO officer confirmed that P72,000.00 worth of Gift Certificates were issued per Charged Invoice Nos. 2189 and 2190 dated June 25, 2005.
[9.] As of audit date, the P72,000.00 worth of promo deductions represented by the Gift Certificates allegedly received by RSM Castillo still floats or remains unresolved in the URC Account Receivable records. x x x.4
Directly or indirectly obtraining or accepting money or anything of value by entering into unauthorized arrangement/s with supplier/s, client or other outsider/s.6
- Raffle Draw
- Additional shelf Space for New products
- Cut case display
- Increment of 15% (Value)7
- You entered into an agreement with Liana’s Supermarket for the use of cut-case displays for the period from June 1, 2005 to August 31, 2005, inclusive, coinciding with the inclusive period of the implementation of the Account Development Agreement (ADA No. WZC-05-046), and admitted that you did not have any authority to enter into such contract.
- You signed two (2) blank Charge Invoices of Liana’s Supermarket to warrant the payment of the rentals for three (3) cut-case displays during the said period with the use thereof as basis for deducting the amount of PHP 72,000.00 from the account of the Company, without the authority to do so.
- Your act of signing the blank Charge Invoices included the payment of rental for the cut-case display that should have been part of the concessions without rental fees as per the supposed revised ADA prepared by Salesman Jose Moises C. Villareal, thereby resulting in undue payment to Liana’s Supermarket amounting to PHP 24,000.00.9
W[ith] deep regret, we hereby inform you that, after DUE PROCESS, you were found guilty of acts inimical to the interest of the Company and for breach of trust & confidence.
In the series of administrative investigations, the following has been clearly established;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
In view of the above, your services shall be terminated for cause effective immediately. In addition, you are required to restitute the amount of P72,000.00 that Liana’s Supermarket charged against the account of URC for the gift certificate you unduly received.10
- You signed two (2) blank Charge Invoices of Liana’s Supermarket. You failed to satisfactorily explain your failure to exercise the slightest degree of prudence required of your position as SENIOR MANAGER, when you signed the “blank” Charge Invoices despite full knowledge that the same will be used to cause the deduction of the subject amount from the account of URC.
- You authorized the changes in ADA despite of the fact that you have no authority to enter into any short term or long term contract for the rental of cut-case displays and shelf spaces.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring complainant’s dismissal as ILLEGAL. Respondents are hereby ordered jointly and severally liable:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
1) To pay complainant the amount of P1,343,000.00, representing his backwages computed only up to the promulgation of this decision;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
2) To pay complainant the amount of P1,728,000.00, representing his separation pay;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
3) To pay complainant an amount equivalent to ten (10%) percent of the total judgment award, as and for attorney’s fees.
Other claims are dismissed for lack of merit.12
In fine, this Court finds just cause for petitioner Castillo’s dismissal.
Petitioner nonetheless pleads for compassion, citing the fact that he honorably served the company for about twenty-three (23) years and this is his only and first offense.
Mindful of the Court’s duty to accord compassion to the working man in light of the social justice mandate in our Constitution, this Court deems proper an award of separation pay to petitioner Castillo as a form of equitable relief.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition for certiorari is PARTLY GRANTED. Private respondent URC is hereby ordered to pay SEPARATION PAY to petitioner Castillo for his twenty-three (23) years of service in the company, equivalent to one-half (1/2) month salary for every year of service inclusive of allowances.13
ART. 282. Termination by employer. – An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following causes:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
(a) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
(b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
(c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
(d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representatives; and
(e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing.
x x x [L]abor adjudicatory officials and the CA must demur the award of separation pay based on social justice when an employee’s dismissal is based on serious misconduct or willful disobedience; gross and habitual neglect of duty; fraud or willful breach of trust; or commission of a crime against the person of the employer or his immediate family—grounds under Art. 282 of the Labor Code that sanction dismissals of employees. They must be most judicious and circumspect in awarding separation pay or financial assistance as the constitutional policy to provide full protection to labor is not meant to be an instrument to oppress the employers. The commitment of the Court to the cause of labor should not embarrass us from sustaining the employers when they are right, as here. In fine, we should be more cautious in awarding financial assistance to the undeserving and those who are unworthy of the liberality of the law.19
x x x The principal charge against petitioner Castillo was hinged upon “unauthorized arrangements” which he allegedly entered into. Petitioner Castillo’s unauthorized dealing with respect to the changes in the Account Development Agreement is exactly the offending cause of the host of infractions he committed, i.e., his neglect in signing the blank charge invoices and his improper receipt of gift certificates for his personal gain. These acts taken together constitute a breach of the trust and confidence reposed on petitioner Castillo by private respondent URC. x x x.
Indeed, petitioner Castillo’s acts of receiving the gift certificates and signing the blank invoices are closely intertwined and inextricably connected with each other. In other words, petitioner Castillo’s acquisition of the gift certificates could not have been facilitated without him signing the blank invoices. Such signing was a ruse to cover up his receipt of the gift certificates. Oddly enough, petitioner Castillo readily admitted to signing receipt on Charge Invoices Nos. 2189 and 2190 covering the gift certificates in the amounts of P60,000.00 and P12,000.00, respectively, but made the qualification that the same were in blank when he signed on them. Such claim was obviously to create the impression that he was really not aware of any gift certificates and that whatever misstep he committed was merely brought about by his good faith.
Nonetheless, the evidence on record negates petitioner Castillo’s claim of good faith and furnishes sufficient basis for the breach of trust and loss of confidence reposed on him by private respondent URC. Petitioner Castillo’s receipt of the gift certificates is categorically confirmed by Peter Sy, the Vice President of Marketing of Liana’s Supermarket. This piece of evidence, coming from a disinterested party, speaks eloquently of petitioner Castillo’s perfidy. Such an affirmative statement coupled with petitioner Castillo’s signatures on the charge invoices convincingly established the fact that he indeed received the P72,000.00 worth of gift certificates.
Assuming that he did not receive the gift certificates, petitioner Castillo’s ready admission that he signed the charge invoices even if these were blank clearly shows his negligence and utter lack of care in the interests of private respondent URC. As a Regional Sales Manager, petitioner Castillo occupied a position of responsibility and as such, he should have known that he placed the interests of the company at a disadvantage by signing the blank charge invoices. Because of such act, private respondent URC was prejudiced by no less than P72,000.00. This alone is sufficient cause for breach of trust and loss of confidence.20
* Per Special Order No. 1484 dated 9 July 2013.cralawlibrary
1 Penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando with Associate Justices Magdangal M. De Leon and Ramon R. Garcia, concurring. Rollo, pp. 285-296.cralawlibrary
2 Id. at 307.cralawlibrary
3 Id. at 72.cralawlibrary
4 Records, pp. 27-28.cralawlibrary
5 Id. at 110.cralawlibrary
6 Id. at 34.cralawlibrary
7 Id. at 35.cralawlibrary
9 Id. at 40.cralawlibrary
10Rollo, p. 167.cralawlibrary
11 Records, pp. 2-3.cralawlibrary
12Rollo, p. 96.cralawlibrary
13 Id. at 295.cralawlibrary
14 Id. at 34.cralawlibrary
15 G.R. No. L-80609, 23 August 1988, 164 SCRA 671.cralawlibrary
16 Id. at 682.cralawlibrary
17 G.R. Nos. 158786 & 158789, 158798-99, 19 October 2007, 537 SCRA 171, 223.cralawlibrary
18Central Philippines Bandag Retreaders, Inc. v. Diasnes, G.R. No. 163607, 14 July 2008, 558 SCRA 194, 204-205 citing San Miguel Corporation v. Lao, 433 Phil. 890, 899-890 (2002).cralawlibrary
19 Id. at 207.cralawlibrary
20Rollo, pp. 292-294.cralawlibrary
21 G.R. No. 179801, 18 June 2010, 621 SCRA 283, 293.