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Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
March-1997 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. 51765 March 3, 1997 - REPUBLIC PLANTERS BANK v. ENRIQUE A. AGANA, SR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 93397 March 3, 1997 - TRADERS ROYAL BANK v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 99425 March 3, 1997 - ANTONIO RAMOS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 100487 & 100607 March 3, 1997 - ARTURO JULIANO v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 106581 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RENATO FLORES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110419 March 3, 1997 - UERM-MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114383 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOEL COREA

  • G.R. No. 116437 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. PABLITO ANDAN

  • G.R. No. 117161 March 3, 1997 - RAMON INGLES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120704 March 3, 1997 - BARTOLOME C. CARALE, ET AL. v. PAMPIO A. ABARINTOS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123321 March 3, 1997 - ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123361 March 3, 1997 - TEOFILO CACHO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125198 March 3, 1997 - MSCI-NACUSIP v. NWPC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 84449 March 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BENEDICTO JAVIER, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 102876 March 4, 1997 - BATAAN SHIPYARD AND ENG’G CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118607 March 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JULITO FRANCO

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-96-1335 March 5, 1997 - INOCENCIO BASCO v. LEO H. RAPATALO

  • G.R. No. 126576 March 5, 1997 - RICARDO M. ANGOBUNG v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 83598 March 7, 1997 - LEONCIA BALOGBOG, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 94994-95 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LILIBETH CACO

  • G.R. No. 106212 March 7, 1997 - PROGRESS HOMES, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108395 March 7, 1997 - HEIRS OF TEODORO GUARING, JR. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 108604-10 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FEDERICO A. BURCE

  • G.R. No. 113420 March 7, 1997 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113905 March 7, 1997 - LEOPOLDO ALICBUSAN v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116211 March 7, 1997 - MEYNARDO POLICARPIO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116512 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. WILLIAM O. CASIDO, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-96-1353 March 11, 1997 - DANILO B. PARADA v. LORENZO B. VENERACION

  • G.R. No. 127066 March 11, 1997 - REYNALDO O. MALONZO v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117169 March 12, 1997 - PHILTREAD WORKERS UNION, ET AL. v. NIEVES R. CONFESOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121917 March 12, 1997 - ROBIN CARIÑO PADILLA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 99301 & 99343 March 13, 1997 - VICTOR KIERULF, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 100333 March 13, 1997 - HILARIO MAGCALAS, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 103611 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR HERBIETO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107131 March 13, 1997 - NFD INT’L. MANNING AGENTS, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108454 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TEDDY QUINAO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109779 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NESTOR MAÑOZCA

  • G.R. No. 110067 March 13, 1997 - LINDA T. ALMENDRAS v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111478 March 13, 1997 - GEORGE F. SALONGA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111567 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TEODORICO AVILLANO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116123 March 13, 1997 - SERGIO NAGUIAT, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116228 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EPIFANIO GAYON, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116352 March 13, 1997 - J. & D.O. AGUILAR CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 116596-98 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LORENZO TOPAGUEN

  • G.R. No. 117266 March 13, 1997 - CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST VENTURA O. DUCAT, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 117955-58 March 13, 1997 - HERMINIGILDO TOMARONG, ET AL. v. ANTONIO C. LUBGUBAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119058 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ERLINDA VILLARAN

  • G.R. No. 120853 March 13, 1997 - RUDY ALMEDA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122427 March 13, 1997 - BENJAMIN LAZA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123881 March 13, 1997 - VIVA PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 91694 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SABAS CALVO, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 97626 March 14, 1997 - PHIL. BANK OF COMMERCE, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114387 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ALEJANDRO DEVILLERES

  • G.R. No. 120592 March 14, 1997 - TRADERS ROYAL BANK EMPLOYEES UNION v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121765 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RANDOLF B. MONTEALTO

  • G.R. No. 122646 March 14, 1997 - ADELIA C. MENDOZA v. ANGELITO C. TEH, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112229 March 18, 1997 - RAYMOND PE LIM v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 114924-27 March 18, 1997 - DANTE NACURAY, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119321 March 18, 1997 - CATALINO F. BAÑEZ, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Bar Matter No. 712 March 19, 1997 - PETITION OF AL ARGOSINO TO TAKE THE LAWYER’S OATH

  • G.R. Nos. 100382-100385 March 19, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MARIO TABACO

  • G.R. No. 111157 March 19, 1997 - ITOGON-SUYOC MINES, INC. v. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117029 March 19, 1997 - PELTAN DEVELOPMENT, INC., ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121112 March 19, 1997 - FELICIDAD MIRANO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997 - MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ET AL. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-95-1159 March 20, 1997 - COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. WILLIAM C. SEVILLO

  • G.R. No. 88684 March 20, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR LACBANES

  • G.R. No. 95551 March 20, 1997 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. CONCEPCION S. ALARCON VERGARA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107019 March 20, 1997 - FRANKLIN M. DRILON, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116404 March 20, 1997 - FRANCISCO LUNA, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117218 March 20, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GERRY NALANGAN

  • G.R. No. 119599 March 20, 1997 - MALAYAN INSURANCE CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127456 March 20, 1997 - JESUS A. JARIOL, ET AL. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-96-1091 March 21, 1997 - WILFREDO NAVARRO v. DEOGRACIAS K. DEL ROSARIO

  • G.R. No. 107699 March 21, 1997 - ALEX JACOBO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116692 March 21, 1997 - SAMAR II ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117097 March 21, 1997 - SAMAHAN NG OPTOMETRISTS SA PILIPINAS, ET AL. v. ACEBEDO INTL. CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118436 March 21, 1997 - HEIRS OF MANUEL A. ROXAS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118836 March 21, 1997 - FEDERICO DORDAS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122728 March 21, 1997 - CASIANO A. ANGCHANGCO, JR. v. OMBUDSMAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123037 March 21, 1997 - TEODORO Q. PEÑA v. HRET, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-96-1184 March 24, 1997 - NBI, ET AL. v. RODOLFO TULIAO

  • G.R. No. 106588 March 24, 1997 - RAUL H. SESBREÑO v. CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-89-318 March 25, 1997 - LUCIANA Vda. DE ARAGO v. PATERNO T. ALVAREZ

  • G.R. No. 96229 March 25, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GLORIOSA S. NAVARRO

  • G.R. No. 124137 March 25, 1997 - ROY M. LOYOLA v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126298 March 25, 1997 - PATRIA C. GUTIERREZ v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 99032 March 26, 1997 - RICARDO A. LLAMADO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 101817 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE IMMACULATA

  • G.R. No. 107801 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROSARIA V. IGNACIO

  • G.R. No. 110613 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDGAR VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 113470 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DANILO CORBES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 115951 March 26, 1997 - ZEBRA SECURITY AGENCY, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117378 March 26, 1997 - GIL CAPILI, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117408 March 26, 1997 - NATIONAL INVESTMENT AND DEV. CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117604 March 26, 1997 - CHINA BANKING CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118332 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. IRENEO PEREZ

  • G.R. No. 119528 March 26, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121031 March 26, 1997 - ROSAURO I. TORRES v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122013 March 26, 1997 - JOSE C. RAMIREZ v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124333 March 26, 1997 - NATIVIDAD P. ARAGON v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119877 March 31, 1997 - BIENVENIDO ONGKINGCO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  •  




     
     

    G.R. No. 106212   March 7, 1997 - PROGRESS HOMES, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    SECOND DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 106212. March 7, 1997.]

    PROGRESS HOMES and ERMELO ALMEDA, Petitioners, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, GREGORIO A. MEDRANO, DANTE BAGUIO, JAIME GUAN, JOSE SAPALARAN, RONNIE DELPINO, DIONISIO FRANCISCO and ELMER BAGUIO, Respondents.

    Topacio/Tagoc & Associates, for Petitioners.

    Rogelio N . Tormes for Private Respondents.


    SYLLABUS


    1. LABOR LAW; EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP; GUIDELINES TO DETERMINE THE EXISTENCE OF AN EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP. — To determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship, the courts have generally sought the answer to these guidelines: (1) the selection and engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissing; and (4) the power to control the employee’s conduct. Under the so-called "right of control" test, the person for whom the services are performed reserves a right to control, not only the end to be achieved, but the means to be used in reaching such an end. In addition, this Court has also considered the existing economic conditions prevailing between the parties, such as the inclusion of the employee in the payroll.

    2. ID.; NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION; DECISION SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF THE POSITION PAPERS. — As regards the matter of evidence, it is clear that the Labor Arbiter relied solely on the bare allegations of the parties in their position papers in rendering his now assailed decision. Rule V, Sections 4 and 5(b) of The New Rules of Procedure of the National Labor Relations Commission states: "Section 4. Determination of Necessity of Hearing. — Immediately after the submission by the parties of their position papers/memorandum, the Labor Arbiter shall motu proprio determine whether there is need for a formal trial or hearing. At this stage, he may, at his discretion and for the purpose of making such determination, ask clarificatory questions to further elicit facts or information, including but not limited to the subpoena of relevant documentary evidence, if any from any party or witness. Section 5. . . .. (b) If the Labor Arbiter finds no necessity of further hearing after the parties have submitted their position papers and supporting documents, he shall issue an Order to that effect and shall inform the parties, stating the reasons therefor. In any event, he shall render his decision in the case within the same period provided in paragraph (a) hereof." In Greenhills Airconditioning and Services, Inc. v. NLRC, (245 SCRA 390 [1995]) whose issues are similar to instant case, we stated that there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the labor arbiter when he submitted the case for decision solely on the basis of the position papers.

    3. ID; EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP; NO EVIDENCE ON RECORD TO PROVE THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS WERE EMPLOYED BY PETITIONERS. — The evidence on record fails to convince the Court that private respondents were indeed employed by petitioners. The Labor Arbiter does not give credence to the affidavit of petitioners’ foreman that he did not hire private respondents. Said affidavit cannot just be perfunctorily dismissed as "self-serving," absent any showing that he was lying when he made the statements therein. The question that obtrudes itself at this stage is: who did hire them? Private respondents have not presented any evidence that petitioners were their immediate employers. It was speculative and conjectural on the part of the NLRC to declare petitioners’ argument as "mere alibi." The employment contract presented by petitioners, while admittedly defective, did not refer to any of the private respondents. No evidence was presented to show that petitioners engaged the services of private respondents.

    4. ID.; CORPORATE DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS ARE SOLIDARILY LIABLE WITH THE CORPORATION FOR THE TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT OF EMPLOYEES ONLY IF THE TERMINATION IS DONE WITH MALICE OR IN BAD FAITH. — The NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion when it affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s decision holding petitioner Almeda jointly and severally liable with Progress Homes. The Court has held that corporate directors and officers are solidarity liable with the corporation for the termination of employment of employees only if the termination is done with malice or in bad faith. The Labor Arbiter’s decision failed to disclose why Almeda was made personally liable. There appears no evidence on record that he acted maliciously or in bad faith in terminating the services of private respondents.


    D E C I S I O N


    ROMERO, J.:


    Petitioners seek to set aside the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter, the dispositive portion of which states:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "WHEREFORE, judgment (sic) is rendered directing respondents Progress Homes and Ermelo Almeda jointly and severally liable to pay the petitioners within ten (10) days from receipt hereof thru this Branch the aggregate amount of EIGHTY THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED PESOS (P83,800.00) as Backwages and Separation pay.

    All other claims are denied for lack of merit.

    SO ORDERED."cralaw virtua1aw library

    Petitioner Progress Homes Subdivision (Progress Homes), is a housing project undertaken by the Ermelo M. Almeda Foundation, Inc., a non-stock organization duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). When it engaged in constructing low-cost housing units for low-income employees, it named its project "Progress Homes Subdivision" in Camarines Sur. The other petitioner, Ermelo Almeda, is the President and General Manager of Progress Homes and the owner of the land where the Progress Homes Subdivision is located.

    Private respondents allegedly were among the workers employed by petitioners in their construction and development of the subdivision from 1986 to 1988. They were paid varying salaries.

    Forty of these workers, including private respondents, filed before the NLRC Arbitration Branch a petition for reinstatement, salary adjustment, ECOLA, overtime pay and 13th month pay.

    Petitioners amicably settled the case with thirty-three of the laborers, leaving private respondents as the only claimants. Private respondents alleged that they worked as laborers and carpenters for 8.5 hours a day at a salary below the minimum wage and that when they demanded payment of the benefits due them, they were summarily dismissed and barred from entering the workplace.

    Petitioners denied that private respondents were regular employees claiming that they were only project employees and that there was no employer-employee relationship between them.

    On December 27, 1991, the Labor Arbiter in Legazpi City forthwith issued a decision in favor of private respondents.

    On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s decision.

    Hence, this petition.

    Petitioners maintain that there never existed an employer- employee relationship between them and private respondents and that due process was denied them in proceedings before the Labor Arbiter and in the NLRC.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary:red

    Moreover, they point out that private respondents could not say who hired them, nor could they produce pay slips to prove that they were on petitioners’ payroll. Petitioners present the affidavit of their foreman stating that he never hired the workers, as evidence of the alleged non-hiring of private respondents.

    We find merit in this petition.

    The Labor Arbiter, in finding that an employer-employee relationship existed between the parties, said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "This Branch holds that herein petitioners were illegally dismissed by the respondents, it being an established fact that employer-employee relationship exists; Respondents hired all the petitioners thru the former’s foreman Rodolfo Badillo. Although this foreman denied hiring the petitioners an admission was made that oftentimes said foreman saw these petitioners working in the residential units which the respondents were constructing at that time. The affidavit of foreman Rodolfo Badillo to the contrary is without merit for being self-serving, particularly in the light that the same was never alleged and/or utilized when the amicable settlement was entered into by and between the respondents and the other co-employees/co- petitioners of herein petitioners. To argue that the affiant considers the latter employees who opted to amicably settle their disputes with the same respondents, as having ‘actually work (sic) for Progress Homes Subdivision’ while maintaining that the former (petitioners) were not, without any other basis other than said self-serving allegation, is patently untenable. The least that the respondents could have done was to present the alleged written contracts of all the petitioners expressly stating therein the terms and conditions of their employment if indeed they were executed. Finding none in the records except a xerox copy of one supposedly entered by a certain Salvador B. Añonuevo, who is not even one of the petitioners in the instant cases respondents’ argument not only lack factual basis but borders on insult to ones (sic) sensibility. Apparently, said piece of document (Annex ‘D’) together with the xerox copy of the alleged Certificate of Filing of Amended Articles of Incorporation from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were not even certified true copies and/or properly authenticated."cralaw virtua1aw library

    The evidence on record fails to convince the Court that private respondents were indeed employed by petitioners. The Labor Arbiter does not give credence to the affidavit of petitioners’ foreman that he did not hire private respondents.

    Said affidavit cannot just be perfunctorily dismissed as "self-serving," absent any showing that he was lying when he made the statements therein. The question that obtrudes itself at this stage is: who did hire them? Private respondents have not presented any evidence that petitioners were their immediate employers.

    It does not make sense to require petitioners to produce contracts when they categorically deny having entered into any contract of employment with private respondents.

    To determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship, the courts have generally sought the answer to these guidelines:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    (1) the selection and engagement of the employee;

    (2) the payment of wages;

    (3) the power of dismissing; and

    (4) the power to control the employee’s conduct. 1

    Under the so-called "right of control" test, the person for whom the services are performed reserves a right to control, not only the end to be achieved, but the means to be used in reaching such an end. In addition, this Court has also considered the existing economic conditions prevailing between the parties, such as the inclusion of the employee in the payroll. 2

    It was speculative and conjectural on the part of the NLRC to declare petitioners’ argument as "mere alibi." The employment contract presented by petitioners, while admittedly defective, did not refer to any of the private respondents. No evidence was presented to show that petitioners engaged the services of private respondents.

    As regards the matter of evidence, it is clear that the Labor Arbiter relied solely on the bare allegations of the parties in their position papers in rendering his now assailed decision. Rule V, Sections 4 and 5(b) of The New Rules of Procedure of the National Labor Relations Commission states:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Section 4. Determination of Necessity of Hearing. — Immediately after the submission by the parties of their position papers/memorandum, the Labor Arbiter shall motu proprio determine whether there is need for a formal trial or hearing. At this stage, he may, at his discretion and for the purpose of making such determination, ask clarificatory questions to further elicit facts or information, including but not limited to the subpoena of relevant documentary evidence, if any from any party or witness.

    Section 5. . . .

    (b) If the Labor Arbiter finds no necessity of further hearing after the parties have submitted their position papers and supporting documents, he shall issue an Order to that effect and shall inform the parties, stating the reasons therefor. In any event, he shall render his decision in the case within the same period provided in paragraph (a) hereof."cralaw virtua1aw library

    In Greenhills Airconditioning and Services, Inc. v. NLRC, 3 whose issues are similar to instant case, we stated that there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the labor arbiter when he submitted the case for decision solely on the basis of the position papers:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "It is of note that certain important issues are raised by the position papers filed before the labor arbiter among which are:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    1. whether respondent Abellano was a project employee whose employment was deemed ended when the project was cancelled or whether he was a regular employee;

    2. If he was a regular employee, whether he voluntarily resigned as alleged by petitioners or was dismissed;

    3. If he was dismissed, whether there were valid grounds for his dismissal.

    The nature of the above issues shows that there was indeed grave abuse of discretion on the part of the labor arbiter in issuing the order dated 18 September 1992 submitting the case for decision, without any hearing.

    Article 221 of the Labor Code states in part:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    ‘Art. 221. Technical Rules Not Binding and Prior Resort to Amicable Settlement.— In any proceeding before the Commission or any of the Labor Arbiters, the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling and it is the spirit and intention of this Code that the Commission and its members and the Labor Arbiters shall use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively and without regard to technicalities of law or procedure, all in the interest of due process. . . .’

    In rendering his now assailed decision, the labor arbiter relied solely on the bare allegations of the parties in their position papers. There is nothing in the labor arbiter’s decision to show how he arrived at the conclusion that it was respondent Abellano’s allegations that deserved belief. The prudent and logical action which the labor arbiter should have taken was to set the case for hearing particularly on the abovementioned three (3) issues to avoid any impression of denial of due process to either or both of the parties.

    While it is true that the employer has the burden of proving the presence of valid grounds for dismissal of a worker, the abovestated issues in this case require a hearing and reception of evidence before the issue of the validity of Abellano’s dismissal can be resolved. The respondent NLRC in sustaining and affirming the decision of the labor arbiter which was arrived at without hearing on the vital issues involved, itself committed grave abuse of discretion."cralaw virtua1aw library

    The same issues are raised in the instant case and the Labor Arbiter should have set the case for further presentation of evidence considering the dearth of evidence supporting private respondents’ claims.

    Furthermore, the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion when it affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s decision holding petitioner Almeda jointly and severally liable with Progress Homes. The Court has held that corporate directors and officers are solidarily liable with the corporation for the termination of employment of employees only if the termination is done with malice or in bad faith. 4 The Labor Arbiter’s decision failed to disclose why Almeda was made personally liable. There appears no evidence on record that he acted maliciously or in bad faith in terminating the services of private respondents. 5 Petitioner Almeda, therefore, should not have been made personally answerable for the payment of private respondents’ salaries.chanrobles.com : virtual lawlibrary

    WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent National Labor Relations Commission is hereby SET ASIDE. The complaint of private respondents against herein petitioner is hereby REMANDED to the Labor Arbiter of Naga City for hearing, reception of evidence and decision. No pronouncement as to costs.

    SO ORDERED.

    Regalado, Puno, Mendoza and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Zanotte Shoes v. NLRC, 241 SCRA 261 (1995); Wiluga v. NLRC, 225 SCRA 537 (1993).

    2. Sevilla v. Court of Appeals, 160 SCRA 171 (1988): Visayan Stevedore Trans. Co. v. Court of Industrial Relations, 19 SCRA 426 (1967) .

    3. 245 SCRA 390 (1995).

    4. MAM Realty Development Corp. v. NLRC, 244 SCRA 803 (1995).

    5. Sunio v. NLRC, 127 SCRA 390 (1984); General Bank and Trust Co. v. CA, 135 SCRA 569 (1985).

    G.R. No. 106212   March 7, 1997 - PROGRESS HOMES, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.




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