G.R. No. 162385, July 15, 2013 - SAMAR-MED DISTRIBUTION, Petitioner, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, AND JOSAFAT GUTANG, Respondents.
G.R. No. 162385, July 15, 2013
SAMAR-MED DISTRIBUTION, Petitioner, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, AND JOSAFAT GUTANG, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
On the other hand, We find in the records copies of Official Receipts signed and issued by the complainant, a copy of a Purchase Order as well as a Voucher for the payment of the Order which clearly shows his participation in the transactions (pp. 71-79, Records). However, upon close examination, We find no conflict between the Certification and the Receipts, Purchase Order and Voucher. The certification shows that complainant was employed by City Hall Manila from July 16, 1992 to April 30, 1994, while the Purchase Order was dated September 9, 1994 (p. 78, records). Clearly, the transactions entered into by complainant were made after his employment with City Hall Manila. Indubitably, complainant was an employee of respondent. Moreover, contrary to respondent’s later denials, it already admitted complainant’s status as a managerial employee when it stated in its position paper that “as discussed above, complainant is a managerial employee.” (p. 13, Records).
That notwithstanding, We simply cannot gloss over the fact that complainant stands charged of embezzling not just a few thousand pesos, but Three Million (P3,000,000.00) Pesos. While the Official Receipts, Purchase Order and Voucher proved his status as a managerial employee, it likewise shows that he received sums of money in behalf of respondent including the One Million, Six Hundred Thirty-Six Thousand, Seven Hundred Seventy-seven and Fifty-seven Centavos (1,636,777.57) paid by the Province of Leyte as evidence by his signature (p. 79, records). Obviously, complainant failed to account for the money hence the demand letter by respondent’s counsel dated May 15, 1996 (p. 98, records). When complainant failed to pay, the proper complaint was filed in the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office Cavite, who conducted the preliminary investigation before filing the appropriate Information for Estafa in Court. Indeed, the certification appended to the Information signed by Manuel Tano, Asst. Provincial Prosecutor, reads as follows: “It is hereby certified as shown by the records that the preliminary investigation in this case has been conducted by the Asst. City Prosecutor Mary June P. Orquiza; that upon review of the records, there is reasonable ground to believe that the crime charged has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof.” (p. 26-27, records). Such findings made by a fellow government agency especially tasked with resolving criminal complaints filed before it is persuasive and deserves full weight and credence. Pursuant thereto, a Warrant of Arrest was issued by the RTC, Branch 20, Imus, Cavite (p. 28, records).
Under the above circumstances, respondent has sufficient reasons to lose its trust and confidence on the complainant. More so, in this case where complainant is a managerial employee. “When an employee accepts a promotion to a managerial position or to an office requiring full trust and confidence, she gives up some of the rigid guarantees available to an ordinary worker. Infraction which if committed by others would be overlooked or condoned or penalties mitigated, may be visited with more serious disciplinary action.” (Metro Drug Corporation vs. NLRC, 143 SCRA 132).
Complainant claimed that he had elevated on appeal to the Department of Justice the findings of the Provincial Prosecutor. Whatever the outcome, the fact remains that the trust and confidence reposed on him by respondent has been breached as respondent has ample reasons to distrust him. “it has been repeatedly held by this Court in a long line of decisions that where an employee has been guilty of breach of trust or his employer has ample reason to distrust him, a labor tribunal cannot deny the employer the authority to dismiss the employee. Loss of trust and confidence by management justifies grant of clearance to dismiss. Indeed, it is an established principle that an employer cannot be compelled to continue in employment an employee guilty of acts inimical to the interests of the employer and justifying loss of confidence in him. (San Miguel Corp. vs. Deputy Minister of Labor and Employment, 145 SCRA 196).
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“Loss of confidence as a ground for dismissal does not entail proof beyond reasonable doubt of the employee’s misconduct. It is enough that there be “some basis” for such loss of confidence or that “the employer has reasonable grounds to believe, if not to entertain the moral conviction that the employee concerned is responsible for the misconduct and that the nature of his participation therein rendered him absolutely unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his position.” (Tabacalera Insurance Co. vs. NLRC, 152 SCRA 667).
WHEREFORE, premises considered, Our decision is hereby MODIFIED, reinstating and giving due course to respondent’s appeal. The decision of the Executive Labor Arbiter is hereby SET ASIDE and a new one entered DISMISSING the complaint for illegal dismissal.
WHETHER OR NOT THE NLRC GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT ADMITTED PRIVATE RESPONDENT’S APPEAL DESPITE THE LATE POSTING OF AN APPEAL BOND.
WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER WAS ILLEGALLY DISMISSED.
The petition is partly meritorious.
On the first issue, this Court finds that the NLRC did not abuse its discretion when it considered private respondent’s appeal as perfected. Indeed, the Supreme Court has relaxed the requirement of posting a supersedeas bond for the perfection of appeal when there is a substantial compliance with the rules (Star Angel Handicraft v. NLRC, 236 SCRA 580, Globe General Services and Security Agency v. NLRC, 249 SCRA 408).
It appears from the records that private respondent filed a manifestation to allow the late filing of a surety bond within the period to appeal. Thereafter, it filed the surety bond on March 8, 2000. As such, the NLRC acted within its discretion when it reconsidered its resolution dismissing the appeal for failure to post a bond and considered petitioner’s manifestation as a motion to reduce bond. It is worthy to note that the purpose of the posting of a bond is to assure the workers that if they finally prevail in the case the monetary award will be given to them upon dismissal of the employer’s appeal. It is further meant to discourage employers from using the appeal to delay or evade payment of their obligations to the employees (Coral Point Development Corporation v. NLRC, 336 SCRA 554).
On the second issue, however, the Court finds the same meritorious. It is clear from the records that there is an employer-employee relationship between the parties. As such, a valid termination of the same by the employer may only be had after the latter has complied with both the substantive and procedural requirements of the law. The Labor Code in Articles 282 and 283 provide for the just and authorized causes for termination while the procedural requirement pertains to the two notices and hearing requirements. These requirements provide that the employer must: 1) serve notice to the employee informing him/her of the grounds for his/her possible termination, 2) give the employee a chance to be heard, and 3) serve termination notice to the employee therefore (Rules Implementing the Labor Code, Rule XXIII, Section 2). The employer has the burden of proving the same.
Based on the foregoing requirements, petitioner’s termination from employment is illegal. Private respondent submitted that it was petitioner who abandoned his job. The records, however, is bereft of proof to show abandonment on the part of petitioner. It is settled that for abandonment to be a just cause for termination, the following requisites must concur: 1) the employee’s intention to abandon employment, and 2) overt acts from which such intention may be inferred – as when the employee shows no desire to resume work (Hyatt Taxi Service, Inc. v. Catinoy, 359 SCRA 686). It is well to note that petitioner looked for another source of income after he was not paid his salary for several months. Thereafter, he filed a complaint for money claims against private respondent only several months after he decided to look for other sources of income. This circumstance would show that petitioner had no intention to abandon his work.
Moreover, even granting that petitioner abandoned his job, private respondent still failed to provide petitioner with the procedural due process required by law consisting of the two notices and hearing requirements. Thus, since private respondent failed to prove the valid termination of petitioner, the decision of the Labor Arbiter granting the money claims of petitioner including his backwages and separation pay is proper.
WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed decision and resolution of the NLRC are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The decision of the Labor Arbiter is hereby REINSTATED. The records of the case are remanded to the Labor Arbiter for proper computation of the monetary awards.
- Whether the fact that respondent's complaint against Samar-Med before the Labor Arbiter did not include “illegal dismissal” as his cause of action means that the instant case does not involve the issue of “illegal dismissal”;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
- Whether the fact that respondent crossed out the word “dismissed” and replaced it with the word “stopped” is indicative that he voluntarily abandoned his work and had no intention to continue employment with Samar-Med;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
- Whether the notice requirement was complied with when respondent received the demand letter from Samar-Med to return the amount of P3,302,000.71;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
- Assuming that respondent was dismissed, the same was justified as he was guilty of loss of trust and confidence and/or abandonment;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
- Whether there was a need for the CA to determine anew the facts of the case considering that NLRC's decision and findings were supported by substantial evidence.11
Article 277. Miscellaneous provisions. – x x x
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(b) Subject to the constitutional right of workers to security of tenure and their right to be protected against dismissal except for a just and authorized cause and without prejudice to the requirement of notice under Article 283 of this Code, the employer shall furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the causes for termination and shall afford the latter ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative if he so desires in accordance with company rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to guidelines set by the Department of Labor and Employment. Any decision taken by the employer shall be without prejudice to the right of the worker to contest the validity or legality of his dismissal by filing a complaint with the regional branch of the National Labor Relations Commission. The burden of proving that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause shall rest on the employer. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment may suspend the effects of the termination pending resolution of the dispute in the event of a prima facie finding by the appropriate official of the Department of Labor and Employment before whom such dispute is pending that the termination may cause a serious labor dispute or is in implementation of a mass lay-off.18 (Bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)
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1Rollo, pp. 29-35; penned by Associate Justice Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. (retired), with Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios (retired/deceased) and Associate Justice Arsenio J. Magpale (retired/deceased) concurring.
2 Id. at 47-53.
3 Id. at 48.
4 Id. at 89-90.
5 Id. at 68-71.
6 Id. at 49.
7 Id. at 37-46.
89Id. at 47-53.nadcralawlibrary
9 Supra note 1.redcralaw
10 Supra note 2.
11 Id. at 10-11.
12Tegimenta Chemical Phils. v. Buensalida, G.R. No. 176466, June 17, 2008, 554 SCRA 670, 675-676.
13 Id. at 676-677.
14 Supra note 7.
15 Great Southern Maritime Services Corporation v. Acuña, G.R. No. 140189, February 28, 2005, 452 SCRA 422, 437.
16Concepcion v. Minex Import Corporation/Minerama Corporation, G.R. No. 153569, January 24, 2012, 663 SCRA 497, 507, citing Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Co. (BLTB Co.) v. NLRC, No. L-69875, October 28, 1988, 166 SCRA 721, 726.
17Jerusalem v. Keppel Monte Bank, G.R. No. 169564, April 6, 2011, 647 SCRA 313, 323.
18 As amended by Section 33, Republic Act No. 6715, March 21, 1989.
19 Section 2. Security of Tenure. – x x x
x x x x
(d) In all cases of termination of employment, the following standards of due process shall be substantially observed:cralawlibrary
For termination of employment based on just causes as defined in Article 282 of the Labor Code:cralawlibrary
(i) A written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for termination, and giving said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side.
(ii) A hearing or conference during which the employee concerned, with the assistance of counsel if he so desires is given opportunity to respond to the charge, present his evidence, or rebut the evidence presented against him.
(iii) 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.
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20 Section 7. Termination of employment by employer. – The just causes for terminating the services of an employee shall be those provided in Article 282 of the Code. The separation from work of an employee for a just cause does not entitle him to the termination pay provided in Code, without prejudice, however, to whatever rights, benefits and privileges he may have under the applicable individual or collective bargaining agreement with the employer or voluntary employer policy or practice.
21 Lim v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 118434, July 26, 1996, 259 SCRA 485, 498.
22 Colegio de San Juan de Letran–Calamba v. Villas, G.R. No. 137795, March 26, 2003, 399 SCRA 550, 559; Equitable Banking Corporation v. NLRC, G.R. No. 102467, June 13, 1997, 273 SCRA 352, 378.
23 G.R. No. 158693, November 17, 2004, 442 SCRA 573, 616-617.