ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™  
Main Index Law Library Philippine Laws, Statutes & Codes Latest Legal Updates Philippine Legal Resources Significant Philippine Legal Resources Worldwide Legal Resources Philippine Supreme Court Decisions United States Jurisprudence
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)
 

 
Chan Robles Virtual Law Library
 









 

 
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
May-2009 Jurisprudence                 

  • A.M. No. P-07-2356 - VIRGINIA L. APRIETO v. NOEL C. LINDO

  • A.C. No. 5704 - WILLEM KUPERS v. ATTY. JOHNSON B. HONTANOSAS

  • G.R. No. 120935 and G.R. NO. 124557 - LUCAS G. ADAMSON, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL./COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 136978 - GD EXPRESS WORLDWIDE N.V., ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 141001 and G.R. NO. 141018 - BANK OF AMERICA, NT AND SA v. ASSOCIATED CITIZENS BANK, ET AL./ASSOCIATED CITIZENS BANK v. BA FINANCE CORPORATION, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 147437 - LARRY V. CAMINOS, JR. v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 152071 - PRODUCERS BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES v. EXCELSA INDUSTRIES, INC.

  • G.R. No. 153983 - SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 154427 - ZACARIAS DELOS SANTOS v. CONSUELO B. PAPA AND MARIA C. MATEO

  • G.R. No. 156087 - KUWAIT AIRWAYS CORPORATION v. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC.

  • G.R. NOS. 156687-88 - PANFILO D. BONGCAC v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 162033 - HEIRS OF TRANQUILINO LABISTE, ET AL. v. HEIRS OF JOSE LABISTE, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 162467 - MINDANAO TERMINAL AND BROKERAGE SERVICE, INC. v. PHOENIX ASSURANCE COMPANY OF NEW YORK/MCGEE & CO., INC.

  • G.R. No. 162987 - SOFIA GUILLANG REPRESENTED BY SUSAN GUILLANG-CABATBAT, ET AL. v. RODOLFO BEDANIA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 163495 - SAMUEL MALABANAN v. RURAL BANK OF CABUYAO, INC.

  • G.R. No. 163891 - CHARTER CHEMICAL AND COATING CORPORATION v. HERBERT TAN AND AMALIA SONSING

  • G.R. No. 164025 - LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES v. HEIRS OF HONORIO DE LEON, REPRESENTED BY AMBROSIO DE LEON

  • G.R. No. 164108 - ALFREDO HILDAO, LOPEZ SUGAR CORPORATION, FIRST FARMERS HOLDING CORPORATION v. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 164437 - HECTOR C. VILLANUEVA v. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167195 - ASSET PRIVITAZATION TRUST v. T.J. ENTERPRISES

  • G.R. NOS. 168992-93 - IN RE: PETITION FOR ADOPTION OF MICHELLE P. LIM, MONINA P. LIM / IN RE: PETITION FOR ADOPTION OF MICHAEL JUDE P. LIM, MONINA P. LIM

  • G.R. No. 171399 - VICENTA CANTEMPRATE v. CRS REALTY DEVELOPMENT CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 171814 - SOUTH DAVAO DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, INC., ET AL. v. SERGIO L. GAMO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 173049 - GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (GSIS) v. TERESITA S. DE GUZMAN

  • G.R. No. 173215 - CEBU WINDLAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION v. ONG SIAO HUA

  • G.R. No. 173565 and G.R. NO. 173607 - TRANSPACIFIC BATTERY CORP., ET AL. v. SECURITY BANK AND TRUST COMPANY / MELCHOR G. SAY AND JOSEPHINE G. SAY v. SECURITY BANK AND TRUST COMPANY

  • G.R. No. 174269 - POLO S. PANTALEON v. AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC.

  • G.R. No. 174981 - TELECOMMUNICATIONS DISTRIBUTORS SPECIALIST, INC., ET AL. v. RAYMUND GARRIEL

  • G.R. No. 175647 - GUIDO CATUIRAN Y NECUDEMUS v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. NOS. 175728 & 178914 - DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES v. PRIME NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION

  • G.R. No. 176308 - ANGEL M. PAGADUAN v. SPOUSES ESTANISLAO & FE POSADAS OCUMA

  • G.R. No. 176709 - FORT BONIFACIO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION v. HON. EDWIN D. SORONGON, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 176832 - GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM v. MARIAN T. VICENCIO

  • G.R. NO. 178188, G.R. NO. 180674, G.R. NO. 181141 and G.R. NO. 183527 - OLYMPIC MINES AND DEVELOPMENT CORP., v. PLATINUM GROUP OF METALS CORP. / CITINICKEL MINES AND DEVELOPMENT CORP. v. HON. JUDGE BEIENVENIDO C. BLANCAFLOR, ET AL. / PLATINUM GROUP OF MET

  • G.R. No. 179652 - PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING v. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 179934 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ERLINDA ABORDO AND VINA CABANLONG

  • G.R. No. 180668 - MARIETTA C. AZCUETA v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES AND THE CA

  • G.R. No. 182191 - THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. LORENZO LAYCO, SR.

  • G.R. No. 182418 - THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. EDWIN PARTOZA Y EVORA

  • G.R. No. 183566 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. BONIFACIO BADRIAGO

  • G.R. No. 184050 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. BIENVENIDO MARA Y BOLAQUE A

  • G.R. No. 184172 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. LUIS ANTONIO GARCHITORENA

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 179652 - PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING v. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, ET AL.

      G.R. No. 179652 - PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING v. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, ET AL.

    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    SECOND DIVISION

    [G.R. NO. 179652 : May 8, 2009]

    PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING (BOMBO RADYO PHILS., INC.), Petitioner, v. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR, DOLE REGION VII, and JANDELEON JUEZAN, Respondents.

    D E C I S I O N

    TINGA, J.:

    The present controversy concerns a matter of first impression, requiring as it does the determination of the demarcation line between the prerogative of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary and his duly authorized representatives, on the one hand, and the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Commission, on the other, under Article 128 (b) of the Labor Code in an instance where the employer has challenged the jurisdiction of the DOLE at the very first level on the ground that no employer-employee relationship ever existed between the parties.

    I.

    The instant petition for certiorari under Rule 65 assails the decision and the resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 26 October 2006 and 26 June 2007, respectively, in C.A. G.R. CEB-SP No. 00855.1

    The petition traces its origins to a complaint filed by Jandeleon Juezan (respondent) against People's Broasting Service, Inc. (Bombo Radyo Phils., Inc) (petitioner) for illegal deduction, non-payment of service incentive leave, 13th month pay, premium pay for holiday and rest day and illegal diminution of benefits, delayed payment of wages and non-coverage of SSS, PAG-IBIG and Philhealth before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office No. VII, Cebu City.2 On the basis of the complaint, the DOLE conducted a plant level inspection on 23 September 2003. In the Inspection Report Form,3 the Labor Inspector wrote under the heading "Findings/Recommendations" "non-diminution of benefits" and "Note: Respondent deny employer-employee relationship with the complainant - see Notice of Inspection results." In the Notice of Inspection Results4 also bearing the date 23 September 2003, the Labor Inspector made the following notations:

    Management representative informed that complainant is a drama talent hired on a per drama " participation basis" hence no employer-employeeship [sic] existed between them. As proof of this, management presented photocopies of cash vouchers, billing statement, employments of specific undertaking (a contract between the talent director & the complainant), summary of billing of drama production etc. They (mgt.) has [sic] not control of the talent if he ventures into another contract w/ other broasting industries.

    On the other hand, complainant Juezan's alleged violation of non-diminution of benefits is computed as follows:

    @ P 2,000/15 days + 1.5 mos = P 6,000

    (August 1/03 to Sept 15/03)

    Note: Recommend for summary investigation or whatever action deem proper.5

    Petitioner was required to rectify/restitute the violations within five (5) days from receipt. No rectification was effected by petitioner; thus, summary investigations were conducted, with the parties eventually ordered to submit their respective position papers.6

    In his Order dated 27 February 2004,7 DOLE Regional Director Atty. Rodolfo M. Sabulao (Regional Director) ruled that respondent is an employee of petitioner, and that the former is entitled to his money claims amounting to P203,726.30. Petitioner sought reconsideration of the Order, claiming that the Regional Director gave credence to the documents offered by respondent without examining the originals, but at the same time he missed or failed to consider petitioner's evidence. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied.8 On appeal to the DOLE Secretary, petitioner denied once more the existence of employer-employee relationship. In its Order dated 27 January 2005, the Acting DOLE Secretary dismissed the appeal on the ground that petitioner did not post a cash or surety bond and instead submitted a Deed of Assignment of Bank Deposit.9

    Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, claiming that it was denied due process when the DOLE Secretary disregarded the evidence it presented and failed to give it the opportunity to refute the claims of respondent. Petitioner maintained that there is no employer-employee relationship had ever existed between it and respondent because it was the drama directors and producers who paid, supervised and disciplined respondent. It also added that the case was beyond the jurisdiction of the DOLE and should have been considered by the labor arbiter because respondent's claim exceeded P5,000.00.

    The Court of Appeals held that petitioner was not deprived of due process as the essence thereof is only an opportunity to be heard, which petitioner had when it filed a motion for reconsideration with the DOLE Secretary. It further ruled that the latter had the power to order and enforce compliance with labor standard laws irrespective of the amount of individual claims because the limitation imposed by Article 29 of the Labor Code had been repealed by Republic Act No. 7730.10 Petitioner sought reconsideration of the decision but its motion was denied.11

    Before this Court, petitioner argues that the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), and not the DOLE Secretary, has jurisdiction over respondent's claim, in view of Articles 217 and 128 of the Labor Code.12 It adds that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion when it dismissed petitioner's appeal without delving on the issues raised therein, particularly the claim that no employer-employee relationship had ever existed between petitioner and respondent. Finally, petitioner avers that there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to it.

    On the other hand, respondent posits that the Court of Appeals did not abuse its discretion. He invokes Republic Act No. 7730, which "removes the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives, from the effects of the restrictive provisions of Article 129 and 217 of the Labor Code, regarding the confinement of jurisdiction based on the amount of claims."13 Respondent also claims that petitioner was not denied due process since even when the case was with the Regional Director, a hearing was conducted and pieces of evidence were presented. Respondent stands by the propriety of the Court of Appeals' ruling that there exists an employer-employee relationship between him and petitioner. Finally, respondent argues that the instant petition for certiorari is a wrong mode of appeal considering that petitioner had earlier filed a Petition for Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition with the Court of Appeals; petitioner, instead, should have filed a Petition for Review.14

    II.

    The significance of this case may be reduced to one simple question does the Secretary of Labor have the power to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship?cralawred

    To resolve this pivotal issue, one must look into the extent of the visitorial and enforcement power of the DOLE found in Article 128 (b) of the Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act 7730. It reads:

    Article 128 (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Articles 129 and 217 of this Code to the contrary, and in cases where the relationship of employer-employee still exists, the Secretary of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives shall have the power to issue compliance orders to give effect to the labor standards provisions of this Code and other labor legislation based on the findings of labor employment and enforcement officers or industrial safety engineers made in the course of inspection. The Secretary or his duly authorized representative shall issue writs of execution to the appropriate authority for the enforcement of their orders, except in cases where the employer contests the findings of the labor employment and enforcement officer and raises issues supported by documentary proofs which were not considered in the course of inspection. (emphasis supplied)

    x x x

    The provision is quite explicit that the visitorial and enforcement power of the DOLE comes into play only "in cases when the relationship of employer-employee still exists." It also underscores the avowed objective underlying the grant of power to the DOLE which is "to give effect to the labor standard provision of this Code and other labor legislation." Of course, a person's entitlement to labor standard benefits under the labor laws presupposes the existence of employer-employee relationship in the first place.

    The clause "in cases where the relationship of employer-employee still exists" signifies that the employer-employee relationship must have existed even before the emergence of the controversy. Necessarily, the DOLE's power does not apply in two instances, namely: (a) where the employer-employee relationship has ceased; and (b) where no such relationship has ever existed.

    The first situation is categorically covered by Sec. 3, Rule 11 of the Rules on the Disposition of Labor Standards Cases15 issued by the DOLE Secretary. It reads:

    Rule II MONEY CLAIMS ARISING FROM COMPLAINT/ROUTINE INSPECTION

    Sec. 3. Complaints where no employer-employee relationship actually exists. Where employer-employee relationship no longer exists by reason of the fact that it has already been severed, claims for payment of monetary benefits fall within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the labor arbiters. Accordingly, if on the face of the complaint, it can be ascertained that employer-employee relationship no longer exists, the case, whether accompanied by an allegation of illegal dismissal, shall immediately be endorsed by the Regional Director to the appropriate branch of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

    In the recent case of Bay Haven, Inc. v. Abuan,16 this Court recognized the first situation and accordingly ruled that a complainant's allegation of his illegal dismissal had deprived the DOLE of jurisdiction as per Article 217 of the Labor Code.17

    In the first situation, the claim has to be referred to the NLRC because it is the NLRC which has jurisdiction in view of the termination of the employer-employee relationship. The same procedure has to be followed in the second situation since it is the NLRC that has jurisdiction in view of the absence of employer-employee relationship between the evidentiary parties from the start.

    Clearly the law accords a prerogative to the NLRC over the claim when the employer-employee relationship has terminated or such relationship has not arisen at all. The reason is obvious. In the second situation especially, the existence of an employer-employee relationship is a matter which is not easily determinable from an ordinary inspection, necessarily so, because the elements of such a relationship are not verifiable from a mere ocular examination. The intricacies and implications of an employer-employee relationship demand that the level of scrutiny should be far above the cursory and the mechanical. While documents, particularly documents found in the employer's

    office are the primary source materials, what may prove decisive are factors related to the history of the employer's business operations, its current state as well as accepted contemporary practices in the industry. More often than not, the question of employer-employee relationship becomes a battle of evidence, the determination of which should be comprehensive and intensive and therefore best left to the specialized quasi-judicial body that is the NLRC.

    It can be assumed that the DOLE in the exercise of its visitorial and enforcement power somehow has to make a determination of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Such prerogatival determination, however, cannot be coextensive with the visitorial and enforcement power itself. Indeed, such determination is merely preliminary, incidental and collateral to the DOLE's primary function of enforcing labor standards provisions. The determination of the existence of employer-employee relationship is still primarily lodged with the NLRC. This is the meaning of the clause "in cases where the relationship of employer-employee still exists" in Art. 128 (b).

    Thus, before the DOLE may exercise its powers under Article 128, two important questions must be resolved: (1) Does the employer-employee relationship still exist, or alternatively, was there ever an employer-employee relationship to speak of; and (2) Are there violations of the Labor Code or of any labor law?cralawred

    The existence of an employer-employee relationship is a statutory prerequisite to and a limitation on the power of the Secretary of Labor, one which the legislative branch is entitled to impose. The rationale underlying this limitation is to eliminate the prospect of competing conclusions of the Secretary of Labor and the NLRC, on a matter fraught with questions of fact and law, which is best resolved by the quasi-judicial body, which is the NRLC, rather than an administrative official of the executive branch of the government. If the Secretary of Labor proceeds to exercise his visitorial and enforcement powers absent the first requisite, as the dissent proposes, his office confers jurisdiction on itself which it cannot otherwise acquire.

    The approach suggested by the dissent is frowned upon by common law. To wit:

    [I]t is a general rule, that no court of limited jurisdiction can give itself jurisdiction by a wrong decision on a point collateral to the merits of the case upon which the limit to its jurisdiction depends; and however its decision may be final on all particulars, making up together that subject matter which, if true, is within its jurisdiction, and however necessary in many cases it may be for it to make a preliminary inquiry, whether some collateral matter be or be not within the limits, yet, upon this preliminary question, its decision must always be open to inquiry in the superior court.18

    A more liberal interpretative mode, "pragmatic or functional analysis," has also emerged in ascertaining the jurisdictional boundaries of administrative agencies whose jurisdiction is established by statute. Under this approach, the Court examines the intended function of the tribunal and decides whether a particular provision falls within or outside that function, rather than making the provision itself the determining centerpiece of the analysis.19 Yet even under this more expansive approach, the dissent fails.

    A reading of Art. 128 of the Labor Code reveals that the Secretary of Labor or his authorized representatives was granted visitorial and enforcement powers for the purpose of determining violations of, and enforcing, the Labor Code and any labor law, wage order, or rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto. Necessarily, the actual existence of an employer-employee relationship affects the complexion of the putative findings that the Secretary of Labor may determine, since employees are entitled to a different set of rights under the Labor Code from the employer as opposed to non-employees. Among these differentiated rights are those accorded by the "labor standards" provisions of the Labor Code, which the Secretary of Labor is mandated to enforce. If there is no employer-employee relationship in the first place, the duty of the employer to adhere to those labor standards with respect to the non-employees is questionable.

    This decision should not be considered as placing an undue burden on the Secretary of Labor in the exercise of visitorial and enforcement powers, nor seen as an unprecedented diminution of the same, but rather a recognition of the statutory limitations thereon. A mere assertion of absence of employer-employee relationship does not deprive the DOLE of jurisdiction over the claim under Article 128 of the Labor Code. At least a prima facie showing of such absence of relationship, as in this case, is needed to preclude the DOLE from the exercise of its power. The Secretary of Labor would not have been precluded from exercising the powers under Article 128 (b) over petitioner if another person with better-grounded claim of employment than that which respondent had. Respondent, especially if he were an employee, could have very well enjoined other employees to complain with the DOLE, and, at the same time, petitioner could ill-afford to disclaim an employment relationship with all of the people under its aegis.

    Without a doubt, petitioner, since the inception of this case had been consistent in maintaining that respondent is not its employee. Certainly, a preliminary determination, based on the evidence offered, and noted by the Labor Inspector during the inspection as well as submitted during the proceedings before the Regional Director puts in genuine doubt the existence of employer-employee relationship. From that point on, the prudent recourse on the part of the DOLE should have been to refer respondent to the NLRC for the proper dispensation of his claims. Furthermore, as discussed earlier, even the evidence relied on by the Regional Director in his order are mere self-serving declarations of respondent, and hence cannot be relied upon as proof of employer-employee relationship.

    III.

    Aside from lack of jurisdiction, there is another cogent reason to to set aside the Regional Director's 27 February 2004 Order. A careful study of the case reveals that the said Order, which found respondent as an employee of petitioner and directed the payment of respondent's money claims, is not supported by substantial evidence, and was even made in disregard of the evidence on record.

    It is not enough that the evidence be simply considered. The standard is substantial evidence as in all other quasi-judicial agencies. The standard employed in the last sentence of Article 128(b) of the Labor Code that the documentary proofs be "considered in the course of inspection" does not apply. It applies only to issues other than the fundamental issue of existence of employer-employee relationship. A contrary rule would lead to controversies on the part of labor officials in resolving the issue of employer-employee relationship. The onset of arbitrariness is the advent of denial of substantive due process.

    As a general rule, the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. This applies with greater force in cases before quasi-judicial agencies whose findings of fact are accorded great respect and even finality. To be sure, the same findings should be supported by substantial evidence from which the said tribunals can make its own independent evaluation of the facts. Likewise, it must not be rendered with grave abuse of discretion; otherwise, this Court will not uphold the tribunals' conclusion.20 In the same manner, this Court will not hesitate to set aside the labor tribunal's findings of fact when it is clearly shown that they were arrived at arbitrarily or in disregard of the evidence on record or when there is showing of fraud or error of law.21

    At the onset, it is the Court's considered view that the existence of employer - employee relationship could have been easily resolved, or at least prima facie determined by the labor inspector, during the inspection by looking at the records of petitioner which can be found in the work premises. Nevertheless, even if the labor inspector had noted petitioner's manifestation and documents in the Notice of Inspection Results, it is clear that he did not give much credence to said evidence, as he did not find the need to investigate the matter further. Considering that the documents shown by petitioner, namely: cash vouchers, checks and statements of account, summary billings evidencing payment to the alleged real employer of respondent, letter-contracts denominated as "Employment for a Specific Undertaking," prima facie negate the existence of employer-employee relationship, the labor inspector could have exerted a bit more effort and looked into petitioner's payroll, for example, or its roll of employees, or interviewed other employees in the premises. After all, the labor inspector, as a labor regulation officer is given "access to employer's records and premises at any time of day or night whenever work is being undertaken therein, and the right to copy therefrom, to question any employee and investigate any fact, condition or matter which may be necessary to determine violations or which may aid in the enforcement of this Code and of any labor law, wage order or rules and regulations pursuant thereto."22 Despite these far-reaching powers of labor regulation officers, records reveal that no additional efforts were exerted in the course of the inspection.

    The Court further examined the records and discovered to its dismay that even the Regional Director turned a blind eye to the evidence presented by petitioner and relied instead on the self-serving claims of respondent.

    In his position paper, respondent claimed that he was hired by petitioner in September 1996 as a radio talent/spinner, working from 8:00 am until 5 p.m., six days a week, on a gross rate of P60.00 per script, earning an average of P15,0000.00 per month, payable on a semi-monthly basis. He added that the payment of wages was delayed; that he was not given any service incentive leave or its monetary commutation, or his 13th month pay; and that he was not made a member of the Social Security System (SSS), Pag-Ibig and PhilHealth. By January 2001, the number of radio programs of which respondent was a talent/spinner was reduced, resulting in the reduction of his monthly income from P15,000.00 to only P4,000.00, an amount he could barely live on. Anent the claim of petitioner that no employer-employee relationship ever existed, respondent argued that that he was hired by petitioner, his wages were paid under the payroll of the latter, he was under the control of petitioner and its agents, and it was petitioner who had the power to dismiss him from his employment.23 In support of his position paper, respondent attached a photocopy of an identification card purportedly issued by petitioner, bearing respondent's picture and name with the designation "Spinner"; at the back of the I.D., the following is written: " This certifies that the card holder is a duly Authorized MEDIA Representative of BOMBO RADYO PHILIPPINES - THE NO.1 Radio Network in the Country ***BASTA RADYO BOMBO***"24 Respondent likewise included a Certification which reads:

    This is to certify that MR. JANDELEON JUEZAN is a program employee of PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC. (DYMF - Bombo Radyo Cebu) since 1990 up to the present.

    Furtherly certifies that Mr. Juezan is receiving a monthly salary of FIFTEEN THOUSAND (P15,000.00) PESOS.

    This certification is issued upon the request of the above stated name to substantiate loan requirement.

    Given this 18th day of April 2000, Cebu City, Philippines.

    (signed)
    GREMAN B. SOLANTE
    Station Manager

    On the other hand, petitioner maintained in its position paper that respondent had never been its employee. Attached as annexes to its position paper are photocopies of cash vouchers it issued to drama producers, as well as letters of employment captioned "Employment for a Specific Undertaking", wherein respondent was appointed by different drama directors as spinner/narrator for specific radio programs.25

    In his Order, the Regional Director merely made a passing remark on petitioner's claim of lack of employer-employee relationship a token paragraph and proceeded to a detailed recitation of respondent's allegations. The documents introduced by petitioner in its position paper and even those presented during the inspection were not given an iota of credibility. Instead, full recognition and acceptance was accorded to the claims of respondent from the hours of work to his monthly salary, to his alleged actual duties, as well as to his alleged "evidence." In fact, the findings are anchored almost verbatim on the self-serving allegations of respondent.

    Furthermore, respondent's pieces of evidence the identification card and the certification issued by petitioner's Greman Solante' are not even determinative of an employer-employee relationship. The certification, issued upon the request of respondent, specifically stated that "MR. JANDELEON JUEZAN is a program employee of PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC. (DYMF - Bombo Radyo Cebu)," it is not therefore "crystal clear that complainant is a station employee rather than a program employee hence entitled to all the benefits appurtenant thereto,"26 as found by the DOLE Regional Director. Respondent should be bound by his own evidence. Moreover, the classification as to whether one is a "station employee" and "program employee," as lifted from Policy Instruction No. 40,27 dividing the workers in the broast industry into only two groups is not binding on this Court, especially when the classification has no basis either in law or in fact.28

    Even the identification card purportedly issued by petitioner is not proof of employer-employee relationship since it only identified respondent as an "Authorized Representative of Bombo Radyo', " and not as an employee. The phrase gains significance when compared vis a vis the following notation in the sample identification cards presented by petitioner in its motion for reconsideration:

    1. This is to certify that the person whose picture and signature appear hereon is an employee of Bombo Radio Philippines.

    2. This ID must be worn at all times within Bombo Radyo Philippines premises for proper identification and security. Furthermore, this is the property of Bombo Radyo Philippines and must be surrendered upon separation from the company.

    HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARMENT

    (Signed)
    JENALIN D. PALER
    HRD HEAD

    Respondent tried to address the discrepancy between his identification card and the standard identification cards issued by petitioner to its employees by arguing that what he annexed to his position paper was the old identification card issued to him by petitioner. He then presented a photocopy of another "old" identification card, this time purportedly issued to one of the employees who was issued the new identification card presented by petitioner.29 Respondent's argument does not convince. If it were true that he is an employee of petitioner, he would have been issued a new identification card similar to the ones presented by petitioner, and he should have presented a copy of such new identification card. His failure to show a new identification card merely demonstrates that what he has is only his "Media" ID, which does not constitute proof of his employment with petitioner.

    It has long been established that in administrative and quasi-judicial proceedings, substantial evidence is sufficient as a basis for judgment on the existence of employer-employee relationship. Substantial evidence, which is the quantum of proof required in labor cases, is "that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion."30 No particular form of evidence is required to prove the existence of such employer-employee relationship. Any competent and relevant evidence to prove the relationship may be admitted.31 Hence, while no particular form of evidence is required, a finding that such relationship exists must still rest on some substantial evidence. Moreover, the substantiality of the evidence depends on its quantitative as well as its qualitative aspects.32

    In the instant case, save for respondent's self-serving allegations and self-defeating evidence, there is no substantial basis to warrant the Regional Director's finding that respondent is an employee of petitioner. Interestingly, the Order of the Secretary of Labor denying petitioner's appeal dated 27 January 2005, as well as the decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the petition for certiorari, are silent on the issue of the existence of an employer-employee relationship, which further suggests that no real and proper determination the existence of such relationship was ever made by these tribunals. Even the dissent skirted away from the issue of the existence of employer-employee relationship and conveniently ignored the dearth of evidence presented by respondent.

    Although substantial evidence is not a function of quantity but rather of quality, the peculiar environmental circumstances of the instant case demand that something more should have been proffered.33 Had there been other proofs of employment, such as respondent's inclusion in petitioner's payroll, or a clear exercise of control, the Court would have affirmed the finding of employer-employee relationship. The Regional Director, therefore, committed grievous error in ordering petitioner to answer for respondent's claims. Moreover, with the conclusion that no employer-employee relationship has ever existed between petitioner and respondent, it is crystal-clear that the DOLE Regional Director had no jurisdiction over respondent's complaint. Thus, the improvident exercise of power by the Secretary of Labor and the Regional Director behooves the court to subject their actions for review and to invalidate all the subsequent orders they issued.

    IV.

    The records show that petitioner's appeal was denied because it had allegedly failed to post a cash or surety bond. What it attached instead to its appeal was the Letter Agreement34 executed by petitioner and its bank, the cash voucher,35 and the Deed of Assignment of Bank Deposits.36 According to the DOLE, these documents do not constitute the cash or surety bond contemplated by law; thus, it is as if no cash or surety bond was posted when it filed its appeal.

    The Court does not agree.

    The provision on appeals from the DOLE Regional Offices to the DOLE Secretary is in the last paragraph of Art. 128 (b) of the Labor Code, which reads:

    An order issued by the duly authorized representative of the Secretary of Labor and Employment under this article may be appealed to the latter. In case said order involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the order appealed from. (emphasis supplied)

    While the requirements for perfecting an appeal must be strictly followed as they are considered indispensable interdictions against needless delays and for orderly discharge of judicial business, the law does admit exceptions when warranted by the circumstances. Technicality should not be allowed to stand in the way of equitably and completely resolving the rights and obligations of the parties.37 Thus, in some cases, the bond requirement on appeals involving monetary awards had been relaxed, such as when (i) there was substantial compliance with the Rules; (ii) the surrounding facts and circumstances constitute meritorious ground to reduce the bond; (iii) a liberal interpretation of the requirement of an appeal bond would serve the desired objective of resolving controversies on the merits; or (iv) the appellants, at the very least exhibited their willingness and/or good faith by posting a partial bond during the reglementary period.38

    A review of the documents submitted by petitioner is called for to determine whether they should have been admitted as or in lieu of the surety or cash bond to sustain the appeal and serve the ends of substantial justice.

    The Deed of Assignment reads:

    DEED OF ASSIGNMENT OF BANK DEPOSIT
    WITH SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY

    KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

    That I, GREMAN B. SOLANTE in my capacity as Station Manager of DYMF Cebu City, PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC., a corporation duly authorized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippines, for and in consideration of the sum of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SIX PESOS & 30/100 ONLY (P203,726.30) Phil. Currency, as CASH BOND GUARANTEE for the monetary award in favor to the Plaintiff in the Labor Case docketed as LSED Case No. R0700-2003-09-CI-09, now pending appeal.

    That Respondent-Appellant do hereby undertake to guarantee available and sufficient funds covered by Platinum Savings Deposit (PSD) No. 010-8-00038-4 of PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC. in the amount of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SIX PESOS & 30/100 ONLY (P203,726.30) payable to Plaintiff-Appellee/Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office VII at Queen City Development Bank, Cebu Branch, Sanciangko St. Cebu City.

    It is understood that the said bank has the full control of Platinum Savings Deposit (PSD) No. 010-8-00038-4 from and after this date and that said sum cannot be withdrawn by the Plaintiff-Appellee/ Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office VII until such time that a Writ of Execution shall be ordered by the Appellate Office.

    FURTHER, this Deed of Assignment is limited to the principal amount of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SIX PESOS & 30/100 ONLY (P203,726.30) Phil. Currency, therefore, any interest to be earned from the said Deposit will be for the account holder.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my signature this 18th day if June, 2004, in the City of Cebu, Philippines.

    PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC.

    By:

    (Signed)
    GREMAN B. SOLANTE
    Station Manager

    As priorly mentioned, the Deed of Assignment was accompanied by a Letter Agreement between Queen City Development Bank and petitioner concerning Platinum Savings Deposit (PSD) No. 010-8-00038-4,39 and a Cash Voucher issued by petitioner showing the amount of P203,726.30 deposited at the said bank.

    Casting aside the technical imprecision and inaptness of words that mark the three documents, a liberal reading reveals the documents petitioner did assign, as cash bond for the monetary award in favor of respondent in LSED Case NO. RO700-2003-CI-09, the amount of P203,726.30 covered by petitioner's PSD Account No. 010-8-00038-4 with the Queen City Development Bank at Sanciangko St. Cebu City, with the depositary bank authorized to remit the amount to, and upon withdrawal by respondent and or the Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office VII, on the basis of the proper writ of execution. The Court finds that the Deed of Assignment constitutes substantial compliance with the bond requirement.

    The purpose of an appeal bond is to ensure, during the period of appeal, against any occurrence that would defeat or diminish recovery by the aggrieved employees under the judgment if subsequently affirmed.40 The Deed of Assignment in the instant case, like a cash or surety bond, serves the same purpose. First, the Deed of Assignment constitutes not just a partial amount, but rather the entire award in the appealed Order. Second, it is clear from the Deed of Assignment that the entire amount is under the full control of the bank, and not of petitioner, and is in fact payable to the DOLE Regional Office, to be withdrawn by the same office after it had issued a writ of execution. For all intents and purposes, the Deed of Assignment in tandem with the Letter Agreement and Cash Voucher is as good as cash. Third, the Court finds that the execution of the Deed of Assignment, the Letter Agreement and the Cash Voucher were made in good faith, and constituted clear manifestation of petitioner's willingness to pay the judgment amount.

    The Deed of Assignment must be distinguished from the type of bank certification submitted by appellants in Cordova v. Keysa's Boutique,41 wherein this Court found that such bank certification did not come close to the cash or surety bond required by law. The bank certification in Cordova merely stated that the employer maintains a depository account with a balance of P23,008.19, and that the certification was issued upon the depositor's request for whatever legal purposes it may serve. There was no indication that the said deposit was made specifically for the pending appeal, as in the instant case. Thus, the Court ruled that the bank certification had not in any way ensured that the award would be paid should the appeal fail. Neither was the appellee in the case prevented from making withdrawals from the savings account. Finally, the amount deposited was measly compared to the total monetary award in the judgment.42

    V.

    Another question of technicality was posed against the instant petition in the hope that it would not be given due course. Respondent asserts that petitioner pursued the wrong mode of appeal and thus the instant petition must be dismissed.ςηαñrοblεš νιr υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

    Once more, the Court is not convinced.

    A petition for certiorari is the proper remedy when any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and there is no appeal, nor any plain speedy, and adequate remedy at law. There is "grave abuse of discretion" when respondent acts in a capricious or whimsical manner in the exercise of its judgment as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.43

    Respondent may have a point in asserting that in this case a Rule 65 petition is a wrong mode of appeal, as indeed the writ of certiorari is an extraordinary remedy, and certiorari jurisdiction is not to be equated with appellate jurisdiction. Nevertheless, it is settled, as a general proposition, that the availability of an appeal does not foreclose recourse to the extraordinary remedies, such as certiorari and prohibition, where appeal is not adequate or equally beneficial, speedy and sufficient, as where the orders of the trial court were issued in excess of or without jurisdiction, or there is need to promptly relieve the aggrieved party from the injurious effects of the acts of an inferior court or tribunal, e.g., the court has authorized execution of the judgment.44 This Court has even recognized that a recourse to certiorari is proper not only where there is a clear deprivation of petitioner's fundamental right to due process, but so also where other special circumstances warrant immediate and more direct action.45

    In one case, it was held that the extraordinary writ of certiorari will lie if it is satisfactorily established that the tribunal acted capriciously and whimsically in total disregard of evidence material to or even decisive of the controversy,46 and if it is shown that the refusal to allow a Rule 65 petition would result in the infliction of an injustice on a party by a judgment that evidently was rendered whimsically and capriciously, ignoring and disregarding uncontroverted facts and familiar legal principles without any valid cause whatsoever.47

    It must be remembered that a wide breadth of discretion is granted a court of justice in certiorari proceedings.48 The Court has not too infrequently given due course to a petition for certiorari, even when the proper remedy would have been an appeal, where valid and compelling considerations would warrant such a recourse.49 Moreover, the Court allowed a Rule 65 petition, despite the availability of plain, speedy or adequate remedy, in view of the importance of the issues raised

    therein.50 The rules were also relaxed by the Court after considering the public interest involved in the case;51 when public welfare and the advancement of public policy dictates; when the broader interest of justice so requires; when the writs issued are null and void; or when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority.52

    "The peculiar circumstances of this case warrant, as we held in Republic v. Court of Appeals, 107 SCRA 504, 524, the 'exercise once more of our exclusive prerogative to suspend our own rules or to exempt a particular case from its operation as in x x Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, et al., (83 SCRA 453, 478-480 [1978]), thus: - x x The Rules have been drafted with the primary objective of enhancing fair trials and expediting justice. As a corollary, if their applications and operation tend to subvert and defeat instead of promote and enhance it, their suspension is justified."53

    The Regional Director fully relied on the self-serving allegations of respondent and misinterpreted the documents presented as evidence by respondent. To make matters worse, DOLE denied petitioner's appeal based solely on petitioner's alleged failure to file a cash or surety bond, without any discussion on the merits of the case. Since the petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals sought the reversal of the two aforesaid orders, the appellate court necessarily had to examine the evidence anew to determine whether the conclusions of the DOLE were supported by the evidence presented. It appears, however, that the Court of Appeals did not even review the assailed orders and focused instead on a general discussion of due process and the jurisdiction of the Regional Director. Had the appellate court truly reviewed the records of the case, it would have seen that there existed valid and sufficient grounds for finding grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOLE Secretary as well the Regional Director. In ruling and acting as it did, the Court finds that the Court of Appeals may be properly subjected to its certiorari jurisdiction. After all, this Court has previously ruled that the extraordinary writ of certiorari will lie if it is satisfactorilyςηαñrοblεš νιr υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

    established that the tribunal had acted capriciously and whimsically in total disregard of evidence material to or even decisive of the controversy.54

    The most important consideration for the allowance of the instant petition is the opportunity for the Court not only to set the demarcation between the NLRC's jurisdiction and the DOLE's prerogative but also the procedure when the case involves the fundamental challenge on the DOLE's prerogative based on lack of employer-employee relationship. As exhaustively discussed here, the DOLE's prerogative hinges on the existence of employer-employee relationship, the issue is which is at the very heart of this case. And the evidence clearly indicates private respondent has never been petitioner's employee. But the DOLE did not address, while the Court of Appeals glossed over, the issue. The peremptory dismissal of the instant petition on a technicality would deprive the Court of the opportunity to resolve the novel controversy.ςηαñrοblεš νιr υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

    WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated 26 October 2006 and the Resolution dated 26 June 2007 of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CEB-SP No. 00855 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Order of the then Acting Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment dated 27 January 2005 denying petitioner's appeal, and the Orders of the Director, DOLE Regional Office No. VII, dated 24 May 2004 and 27 February 2004, respectively, are ANNULLED. The complaint against petitioner is DISMISSED.

    SO ORDERED.

    Endnotes:


    * Acting Chairperson.

    ** Per Special Order No. 619, Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro is hereby designated as additional member of the Second Division in lieu of Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, who is on official leave

    1 People's Broasting Service (Bombo Radyo Phils., Inc) v. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, the Regional Director, DOLE Region VII and Jandeleon Juezan, rollo, pp. 38-43 and 56, respectively. Penned by Associate Justice Pampio A. Abarintos, with Associate Justices Agustin S. Dizon and Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla, concurring.

    2 Complaint dated 18 September 2003, id. at 95.

    3 Id. at 92.

    4 Id. at 94.

    5 Id.

    6 Per Minutes of the 11 November 2003 Summary Proceeding, DOLE records, p. 24.

    7 Rollo, pp. 96-99.

    8 DOLE Records, pp. 151-152.

    9 Id. at 217-219.

    10 Rollo, pp. 38-43.

    11 Resolution dated 26 June 2007, id. at 56.

    12 Petitioner maintains that the instant case is beyond the jurisdiction of the Regional Director because respondent's claim exceeds P 5,000. The argument must be struck down at once, as it is well settled, following the amendment of the Labor Code by R.A. 7730 on 2 June 1994, that the visitorial and enforcement powers of the Regional Director can be exercised even if the individual claim exceeds P 5,000. See Allied Investigation Bureaus, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, G.R. No. 122006, 24 November 1999, 319 SCRA 175, Cirineo Bowling Plaza, Inc. v. Sensing, G.R. No. 146572, 14 January 2005, 448 SCRA 175. Ex-Bataan Veterans Security Agency, Inc. v. Laguesma, G.R. No. 152396, 20 November 2007, 537 SCRA 2007.

    13 Rollo, p. 131.

    14 Comment, id. at 125 - 140.

    15 Dated 16 September 1987 issued by then DOLE Secretary Franklin M. Drilon. The same Rules are used up to the present.

    16 G.R. No. 160859, 30 July 2008, 560 SCRA 457.

    17 Id. at 469. The Court made the ruling only as regards respondent Abuan who had made a claim of illegal dismissal but qualified that "the same (the ruling) does not hold for the rest of respondents, who do not claim to have illegally dismissed.

    18 Bunbury v. Fuller 9 Ex. 111, 140 (1853), cited in Cases, Materials and Commentary on Administrative Law by S.H. Bailey, B.L. Jones, A.R. Mowbray, p. 423. This view is more popularly called the "preliminary or collateral question."

    19 Re Ontario Nurses Association v. Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal and Glengarry Memorial Hospital, 10 April 1995, Decision of the Ontario Court of Appeals.

    20 Ropali Trading Corporation v. NLRC, G.R. No. 122409, 25 September 1998, .

    21 Felix v. Enertech Systems Industries, Inc., G.R. No. 142007, 28 March 2001, 355 SCRA 680.

    22 Labor Code, Art. 128 (a).

    23 Respondent's position paper, DOLE Records, pp. 29-37.

    24 Id. at 28.

    25 Id. at 44-49.

    26 Order dated 27 February 2004, id. at 64.

    27 Issued by then Minister of Labor Blas F. Ople on 8 January 1979, it governs the employer-employee relationship, hours of work and disputes settlement in the broast industry.

    28 Sonza v. ABS-CBN Broasting Corporation, G.R. No. 138051, 10 June 2004, 431 SCRA 583,606.

    29 The argument was made in respondent's Comments on Respondent's Motion for Reconsideration, DOLE Records, pp. 135-138, photocopy of the identification card is on p. 134.

    30 Rules of Court, Rule 133, Sec. 5.

    31 Opulencia Ice Plant and Storage v. NLRC, G.R. No. 98368, 15 December 1993, 228 SCRA 473.

    32 Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. Employees Association-Natu, et al. v. Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., et al., G.R. No. L-25291, 10 March 1977, 76 SCRA 51.

    33 Pacific Maritime Services, Inc., et al. v. Nicanor Ranay, et al., G.R. No. 111002, July 21, 1997, 275 SCRA 717.

    34 DOLE Records, p. 209.

    35 Id. at 208.

    36 Id. at 207.

    37 Orozco v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 155207, 29 April 2005, 457 SCRA 700, 709, citations omitted.

    38 Nicol v. Footjoy Industrial Corp., G.R. No. 159372, 27 July 2007, 528 SCRA 300, 318.

    39 The Letter Agreement contains the interest rate for the deposit, the maturity date, the stipulated interest rates in case the principal is withdrawn within a certain period, as well as the 20% withholding tax.

    40 Cordova v. Keysa's Boutique, G.R. No. 156379, 16 September 2005, 470 SCRA 144, 154, citing Your Bus Lines v. NLRC, G.R. No. 93381, 28 September 1990, 190 SCRA 160.

    41 Id.

    42 Id. In this case, the bank certification merely stated that the spouses/ employer have/has a depository account containing a certain amount, and that the certification was issued upon the clients' request for whatever legal purposes it may serve them. There was no indication that the said deposit was made specifically for the pending appeal, as in the instant case.

    43 Condo Suite Club Travel, Inc. v. NLRC, G. R. No. 125671, January 28, 2000, 323 SCRA 679.

    44 Provident International Resources Corp. v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 119328, 26 July 1996, 259 SCRA 510.

    45 Conti v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 134441, 19 May 1999, 307 SCRA 486 citing Detective & Protective Bureau v. Cloribel, L-23428, 29 November 1968, 26 SCRA 255 and Matute v. Court of Appeals, L-26085, 31 January 1969, 26 SCRA 768.

    46 Zarate v. Olegario, G.R. No. 90655, 7 October 1996,263 SCRA 1.

    47 Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc. v. IAC, L-74369, 29 January 1988, 157 SCRA 706,715.

    48 Gutib v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 131209, 13 August 1999, 312 SCRA 365.

    49 Santo Tomas University Hospital v. Surla, G.R. No. 129718, 17 August 1998, 294 SCRA 382.

    50 Filoteo v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 79543, 16 October 1996, 263 SCRA 222.

    51 Osmeña III, et al. v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 116941, 31 May 2001

    52 Chua, et al. v. Santos, G.R. No. 132467, 440 SCRA 365, 374-375, citing MMDA v. JANCON Environmental Corp., G.R. No. 147465, 30 January 2002, 375 SCRA 320.

    53 Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc. v. IAC, L-74369, 29 January 1988, 157 SCRA 706, 716, citing Republic v. Court of Appeals, L-54886, 10 September 1981, 107 SCRA 504 and Republic v. Court of Appeals, L-31303-04, 31 May 1978, 83 SCRA 459..

    54 Supra note 46.




    DISSENTING OPINION

    BRION, J.:

    I dissent and vote for the dismissal of the petition.

    This case originated from a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) inspection conducted pursuant to Article 128 of the Labor Code.1 The DOLE Regional Director (Director), the DOLE Secretary (Secretary), and the Court of Appeals (CA) consistently ruled that an employer-employee relationship existed between petitioner Bombo Radyo and the respondent, and that the petitioner is liable for the payment of the respondent's monetary claims. The ponencia, repetitively bending over backwards, reverses all these rulings and holds that the result should be otherwise.

    I. Grounds for Dissent.

    I vote to dismiss the petition for the following reasons:

    1. The petitioner chose the wrong recourse in seeking the review by this Court of the CA's decision on the petitioner's Rule 65 Petition for Certiorari; the petitioner came to us via another petition for certiorari under Rule 65 when the appropriate mode is a Petition for Review on Certiorariunder Rule 45. The ponencia bends over backwards to accommodate Bombo Radyo's legally erroneous petition to open the way for its review of the administrative (DOLE) decisions and the support the CA gave these decisions.

    2. The Director originally ordered the payment of the respondent's monetary claim in his Order of February 27, 2004.

    A. The petitioner was given all the opportunity to present evidence to oppose the Labor Inspector's findings; hence, it cannot plead lack of due process for lack of opportunity to be heard.

    b. The Director duly considered the evidence on the issue of employer-employee relationship in both his initial decision2 and in his resolution of May 24, 2004.3 The ponencia, nitpicking the Director's decision for not stating how each piece of evidence was ruled upon, charges that the decision disregarded the petitioner's evidence. This stance ignores the legal reality that the Constitution only requires the factual and legal bases for the decision to be stated,4 and that the decision maker is not under any obligation to state in its decision every fact and bit of evidence the parties submitted.5

    c. The nature of the proceedings, level of evidence required, and level of expertise between Labor Arbiters and the Regional Director are not different and one tribunal holds no primacy over the other in the determination of the employment relationship issue. The terms and structure of Article 128(b), as amended by R.A. 7730, are clear and need not give rise to the ponencia's fear of confusion in determining the employment relationship issue.

    3. The Secretary has expanded visitorial and enforcement powers under Article 128 of the Labor Code, as amended by R.A. 7730;6 he or his representative has full authority under the amended Article 128 to determine whether employer-employee relationship exists.

    4. Article 128 of the Labor Code clearly provides that an appeal is perfected "only" by the posting of cash or surety bond; the Deed of Assignment the petitioner submitted to the DOLE is neither a cash nor a surety bond, and the Secretary correctly dismissed the petitioner's appeal because it was not duly perfected. The ponencia bends over beyond the law's breaking point to admit the petitioner's appeal despite its infirmity under the clear terms and intent of the law.

    A. The Secretary fully explained the reasons for the non-perfection of appeal in an original Order dated January 29, 2005 and in her subsequent Order dated May 23, 2005 on the petitioner's motion for reconsideration. The ponencia sees not only legal error but grave abuse of discretion although the Secretary followed the letter and intent of the law, as plainly stated in the law itself and as interpreted by this Court in its rulings.

    b. Petitioners have only themselves to blame for their lost appeal to the Labor Secretary for their failure to post the required bond for the perfection of their appeal.

    c. The Director's Order lapsed to finality when the petitioner failed to perfect its appeal to the DOLE Secretary. The ponencia digs deep into this Court's review power, effectively bending established rules and jurisprudence, to reach and nullify the effects of this first level decision.

    5. The Court of Appeals correctly dismissed the petitioner's petition for certiorari for lack of merit.

    A. The CA cannot be wrong when it refused to recognize that no grave abuse of discretion attended the Secretary's dismissal of an appeal that was never perfected based on the letter and intent of the law;

    b. The CA cannot be wrong in its conclusion that no violation of due process attended the Director's ruling, as stated above;

    c. The CA could not have ruled on other issues after it recognized that no appeal was perfected and no abuse of discretion attended the assailed decisions; likewise, it could not have recognized any legal error on the part of the Secretary for not discussing other issues after recognizing that the petitioner did not perfect its appeal.

    6. The petitioner's evidence, at the most, established a doubt on the employer-employee relationship issue, which doubt should be resolved in favor of the respondent-worker.7

    II. Background

    DOLE Regional Office No. VII conducted an inspection of the premises of the petitioner resulting in an inspection report/recommendation ordering Bombo Radyo to rectify/restitute, within five (5) days from notice, the violation discovered during the inspection. Radyo Bombo failed to undertake any rectification so that a summary investigation ensued where the parties were required to submit their respective position papers. Radyo Bombo reiterated its position, made during inspection, that the respondent was not an employee; he was a drama talent hired on a per drama "participation basis." Both parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions.

    DOLE Director Rodolfo M. Sabulao, in an order dated February 27, 2004, required Bombo Radyo to pay the respondent P203,726.30 in satisfaction of his money claims. To directly cite the Director's ruling to avoid the ponencia's selectively chosen presentation, we quote:

    A careful perusal of the records of this case showed that complainant Jandeleon Juezan was hired by the respondent as a radio talent/spinner and work six (6) days a week from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday thru Saturday. It was the respondent who paid complainant's salary every quincena and was required by the former to sign payrolls. Notwithstanding the employment contract stipulating herein complainant as a program employee, his actual duty pertains to that of a station employee. Moreover, respondent failed to register said employment contract with the Broast Media Counsel as required. He is required to observe normal working hours that deductions are made for tardiness. Therefore, it is crystal clear that complainant is a station employee rather than a program employee hence entitled to all benefits appurtenant thereto.

    In doing so, the Director upheld the existence of employer-employee relationship between the broasting station and the respondent. Bombo Radyo moved for reconsideration, attaching additional evidence to his motion, but the Director denied the motion.

    Bombo Radyo appealed to the DOLE Secretary, mainly contending that the respondent was not its employee, pursuant to Rule X-A of the Implementing Rules of the Labor Code8 in relation with the Rules on Disposition of Labor Standards Cases in the Regional Office.9 The appeal was dismissed in an order dated January 27, 2005 by the Acting DOLE Secretary due to Bombo Radyo's failure to post a cash or surety bond as required by Article 128 of the Labor Code. The petitioner's next recourse was to go to the Court of Appeals (CA).

    The petitioner filed with the CA a Petition for Certiorariunder Rule 65 of the Rules of Court alleging grave abuse of discretion. The petition cited the following grounds, which I quote for purposes of certainty '

    1. The public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it denied due course to the petition;

    2. The public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it assumed jurisdiction over the claim of the private respondent even as under R.A. 6715 jurisdiction lies with the NLRC, hence, clearly, the Honorable Secretary of Labor and Employment, with due respect, committed errors of law;

    3. The public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it dismissed the appeal by the respondent without delving on the issues raised by the petitioner;

    4. There is no appeal or any claim, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to the petitioner.

    The CA duly considered the points raised, but ultimately dismissed the petition for lack of merit. Petitioner now comes to the Court, again under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court alleging the following grounds:

    1. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it rules that the Secretary of Labor and Employment has jurisdiction over the claim of the private respondent even as under R.A. 6715 jurisdiction over it lies with the NLRC, hence, clearly, the Honorable Court Appeals committed errors of law.

    2. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it upheld the Order of the Secretary of Labor and Employment despite the patent lack of due process.

    3. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it dismissed the appeal without delving on the issues raised by the petitioner. Its decision dated October 26, 2006 did not even rule on the issue raised by the petition that there is no employer-employee relationship between it and respondent Juezan.

    4. There is no appeal or any plain and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to the petition.

    III. Discussion

    These discussions address the above grounds for dissent, not necessarily in the order posed above in light of the inter-relationships of these grounds with one another.

    Propriety of a Rule 65 Petition for Certiorari

    The ponencia justifies the grant of extraordinary treatment to the petitioner's Rule 65 petition for certiorari : (1) by general statements, supported by cited jurisprudence, on when a Rule 65 petition for certiorari may be admitted in lieu of the Rule 45 Petition for Review on Certiorari that is the required mode of review from a ruling of the Court of Appeals; and (2) by urging a relaxation of the rules in view of the attendant legal and factual circumstances of the present case.10 It thereafter urges the suspension of the applicable rule on mode of review, as follows:

    The peculiar circumstances of this case warrant, as we held in Republic v. Court of Appeals, 107 SCRA 504, 524, the exercise once more of our exclusive prerogative to suspend our own rules or to exempt a particular case from its operation as in x x x Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, et. al., (83 SCRA 453, 478-480 [1978]), thus: x x x the rules have been drafted with the primary objective of enhancing fair trials and expediting justice. As corollary, if their application and operation tend to subvert and defeat instead of promote and enhance it, their suspension is justified.

    With these general statements, as premises, the ponencia generally adverts to the Regional Director's alleged irregular handling of the case and misinterpretation of the respondent's documents; the DOLE Secretary's failure to discuss the merits of the case after she found the appeal to have failed for failure to post the required bond; and the alleged failure of the CA to examine the records and its focus on the discussion of due process and the jurisdiction of the Regional Director.

    Under these terms, the ponencia hopes to open the door for the admission of the petition, thereby giving its imprimatur to the petitioner's claim that it resorted to a Rule 65 petition because it had no appeal, or any plain and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

    I submit that the petitioner's wrong mode of appeal in coming to this Court cannot be glossed over and simply hidden behind general statements made by this Court in the context of the unique and appropriate factual settings of the cited cases, generally applied to the ponencia's distorted view of the circumstances of this case.

    The CA decision under review simply and plainly holds that the Secretary committed no grave abuse of discretion when she dismissed an appeal that was supported by neither a cash nor a surety bond that the law requires, and that the DOLE Director did not violate the petitioner's right to due after it was given full and ample hearing opportunities and its submitted evidence were considered and found wanting. In fact, on its face, the petition for certiorari before the CA does not deserve any merit as it simply hid behind the magic formula - grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction - to justify a review of a decision that has lapsed to finality for the petitioner's failure to perfect its appeal. Fully examined, what the petition cites are really inconsequential grounds dismissible on their face or perceived errors of law (as in fact the petition so states in its cited 2nd ground).11

    A comparison of the grounds cited in the present petition and the petition before the CA shows that in coming to this Court, the petitioner simply repeated the same issues it submitted to the Court of Appeals. The only difference is that it now cites the CA as the tribunal committing the grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. In coming to this Court, on the same grounds cited before and ruled upon by the CA, the petitioner is merely asking this Court to review the CA ruling on the "grave abuse of discretion" issues the petitioner raised before the CA. Such a review is an appeal that, under our Rules, should fall under Rule 45 - a Petition for Review on Certiorari . It is not accurate therefore for the petitioner to say that there is no remedy available to it in the ordinary course of law. Neither is it correct to characterize this situation as an extraordinary one that merits the suspension of the Rules. The appropriate remedy is a Rule 45 Petition for Review on Certiorari which is envisioned to correct errors of law,12 precisely the errors cited by the petitioner as having been committed by the CA.

    Much harder to accept is the ponencia's cavalier attitude towards the petitioner's statement that there is no appeal, or any plain and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to the petitioner, when a Rule 45 appeal is readily available to it and would have been the proper course since it cited errors of law against the CA. By accepting the present Rule 65 petition in place of a Rule 45 Petition for Review on Certiorari without any sufficiently demonstrated meritorious ground for exceptional treatment, we are effectively negating our ruling in the recent Cecilia B. Estinozo v. Court of Appeals, et al.13 that a Petition for Review oncertiorari under Rule 45 and a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 are mutually exclusive.

    The legal and factual circumstances the ponencia cites as justificatory reasons are in fact the issues discussed in this case; for this reason, there need not be discussed here for purposes of an orderly presentation, and will be fully discussed in their proper places below - suffice it to say for now that the proceedings below were conducted properly as the CA found. If there is anything extraordinary about this case at this point, it is the lengths the ponencia has gone to bend over backwards and justify the grant of the petition. It thus glosses over the wrong mode of appeal to this Court and the petitioner's failure to perfect its appeal to the DOLE Secretary, and even minutely analyzes the facts before the Regional Director to show that the Regional Director's ruling is legally incorrect. Finally, it grossly misinterprets Section 128(b) of the Labor Code, even citing an implementing rule that had been overtaken by the amendment of the cited section of the Code, and, for the purpose, even cited the common law.

    I cite all these to stress that we should examine the ponencia carefully, particularly its justifications for the grant of extraordinary treatment to the petitioner, before joining the ponencia.

    The Secretary's Visitorial Powers

    A major issue for the ponencia is the Director's determination that employer-employee relationship existed between the petitioner and the respondent at the time of the inspection. Citing mainly Section 3, Rule 11 of the Rules on the Disposition of Labor Standards Cases,14 the ponencia rationalizes:

    The clause "in cases where the relationship of employer-employee still exists" signifies that the employer-employee relationship must have existed even before the emergence of the controversy. Necessarily, the DOLE's power does not apply in two instances, namely: (a) where the employer-employee relationship has ceased; and (b) where no such relationship has ever existed.

    The first situation is categorically covered by Sec. 3, Rule 11 of the Rules on the Disposition of Labor Standards Cases issued by the DOLE Secretary. It reads:

    Sec. 3. Complaints where no employer-employee relationship actually exists. Where employer-employee relationship no longer exists by reason of the fact that it has already been severed, claims for payment of monetary benefits fall within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the labor arbiters. Accordingly, if on the face of the complaint, it can be ascertained that employer-employee relationship no longer exists, the case, whether accompanied by an allegation of illegal dismissal, shall immediately be endorsed by the Regional Director to the appropriate branch of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

    x x x

    In the first situation, the claim has to be referred to the NLRC because it is the NLRC which has jurisdiction in view of the termination of the employer-employee relationship. The same procedure has to be followed in the second situation since it is the NLRC that has jurisdiction in view of the absence of employer-employee relationship between the evidentiary parties from the start.

    Clearly the law accords a prerogative to the NLRC over the claim when the employer-employee relationship has terminated or such relationship has not arisen at all. The reason is obvious. In the second situation especially, the existence of an employer-employee relationship is a matter which is not easily determinable from an ordinary inspection, necessarily so, because the elements of such a relationship are not verifiable from a mere ocular examination. The intricacies and implications of an employer-employee relationship demand that the level of scrutiny should be far above the cursory and the mechanical. While documents, particularly documents found in the employer's office are the primary source materials, what may prove decisive are factors related to the history of the employer's business operations, its current state as well as accepted contemporary practices in the industry. More often than not, the question of employer-employee relationship becomes a battle of evidence, the determination of which should be comprehensive and intensive and therefore best left to the specialized quasi-judicial body that is the NLRC.

    It can be assumed that the DOLE in the exercise of its visitorial and enforcement power somehow has to make a determination of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Such prerogatival determination, however, cannot be coextensive with the visitorial and enforcement power itself. Indeed, such determination of the existence of employer-employee relationship is still primarily lodged with the NLRC. This is the meaning of the clause "in cases where the relationship of employer-employee still exists" in Art. 128 (b).

    This approach is a legally incorrect due mainly to the ponencia's lack of appreciation of the extent of the DOLE Secretary's visitorial and enforcement powers under the Labor Code, as amended, and a mis-reading of the current law and the applicable implementing rules. The present law gives the Secretary or his representative the authority to fully determine whether employer-employee relationship exists; only upon a showing that it does not, is the DOLE divested of jurisdiction over the case.

    In the first place, the ponencia is fixated on the application of the Rules on the Disposition of Labor Standards Cases in the Regional Offices which cannot now be cited and used in their totality in light of the amendment of the Article 128(b) by Republic Act No. 7730.15 Prior to the amendment, Section 128(b) stated that -

    Art. 128(b). The provisions of Article 217 of this Code to the contrary notwithstanding and in cases where the relationship of employer-employee still exist, the Minister of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives shall have the power to order and administer, after due notice and hearing, compliance with the labor standards provisions of this Code and other labor legislation based on the findings of labor relation officers or industrial safety engineers made in the course of inspection, and to issue writs of execution to the appropriate authority for the enforcement of their orders, except in cases where the employer contests the findings of the labor regulation officer and raises issues which cannot be resolved without considering evidentiary matters that are not verifiable in the normal course of inspection.

    As amended, Section 128(b) now states:

    Art. 128. Visitorial and Enforcement Power.'

    (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Articles 129 and 217 of this Code to the contrary, and in cases where the relationship of employer-employee still exists, the Secretary of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives shall have the power to issue compliance orders to give effect to the labor standards provisions of this Code and other labor legislation based on the findings of labor employment and enforcement officers or industrial safety engineers made in the course of inspection. The Secretary or his duly authorized representatives shall issue writs of execution to the appropriate authority for the enforcement of their orders, except in cases where the employer contests the findings of the labor employment and enforcement officer and raises issues supported by documentary proofs which were not considered in the course of inspection.

    An order issued by the duly authorized representative of the Secretary of Labor and Employment under this article may be appealed to the latter. In case said order involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the order appealed from.

    This amendment is critical in viewing the Secretary's visitorial and enforcement powers as they introduced new features that expanded these powers, thereby affecting the cited Rules as well as the process of referring an inspection case to the NLRC.

    A first distinction between the original and the amended Article 128(b) is the reference to Article 217 of the Labor Code in the "notwithstanding" clause. As amended, Article 129 is also referred to. Read in relation with Article 217, the effect is the removal of the P5,000.00 ceiling in the Secretary's visitorial powers - a conclusion that the ponencia fully supports.

    Another distinction relates to the present clause "except in cases where the employer contests the findings of the labor employment and enforcement officer and raises issues supported by documentary proofs which were not considered in the course of inspection" (the "excepting clause"). In the original version of Article 128(b), this clause states - "except in cases where the employer contests the findings of the labor regulation officer and raises issues which cannot be resolved without considering evidentiary matters that are not verifiable in the normal course of inspection." Thus, previously, the law referred to matters that the labor regulation officer could not have ruled upon because they are not verifiable in the normal course of inspection. Under the present formulation, reference is only to "documentary proofs which were not considered in the course of inspection" used in a different context explained below. Textually, the present formulation refers only to documentary evidence that might or might not have been available during inspection but were not considered.

    The difference can be explained by the new and unique formulation of the whole Article 128(b). In the original provision, the visitorial and enforcement power of the Minister of Labor and Employment generally prevailed over the jurisdiction over arbitration cases granted to Labor Arbiters and the Commission under Article 217. Excepted from this rule is what the original and unamended excepting clause, quoted above, provides ' i.e., when inspection would not suffice because of evidentiary matters that have to be threshed out at an arbitration hearing.

    The new and amended Article 128(b) did not retain the formulation of the original as it broke up the original version into two sentences. In the first sentence, it recognized the primacy of the visitorial and enforcement powers of the Secretary of Labor over the terms of Articles 129 and 217. In other words, the Secretary or his delegate can inspect without being fettered by the limitations under these provisions. The second sentence is devoted wholly to the issuance of writs of execution to enforce the issued orders. It exists as an independent statement from what the first sentence states and is limited only by the exception - when the employer cites a documentary proof that was not considered during the inspection.

    Thus, under the amended Article 128(b), as written, the power of the Secretary of Labor or his representative to enforce the labor standards provisions of the Labor Code and other labor legislations has been vastly expanded, being unlimited by Articles 129 and 217 of the Labor Code, provided only that employer-employee relationship still exists. The existence of the relationship, however, is still a matter for the Secretary or the appropriate regional office to determine, unfettered by Articles 129 and 217 of the Labor Code. The mere allegation - whether prima facie or not - that employer-employee relationship exists, does not, by itself, divests the Regional Director of jurisdiction to rule on the case;16 the Director can at least fully determine whether or not employer-employee relationship exists.

    The present "excepting clause" (which refers only to the issuance of a writ of execution) suggests that after the labor employment officer has issued its inspection ruling, the Secretary may issue a writ to execute the ruling, unless the employer "contests the findings of the labor employment officer and raises issues supported by documentary evidence which were not considered in the course of inspection." Stated otherwise, there is now a window in the law for immediate execution pending appeal when the employer's objection does not relate to documentary evidence that has not been raised in the course of inspection.

    What happens to the inspection ruling itself is governed by the next paragraph of Article 128(b) which expressly provides for an appeal to the Secretary of Labor, with the requirement for the filing of a cash or surety bond to perfect the appeal. This requirement, stated without distinctions or qualifications, should apply to all issues, whether on the employer-employee issue or on the inspection findings.

    A necessary question that arises is the status of the current rule implementing Article 128(b) as amended, which is an exact copy of the law except for the addition of a new sentence - ". . In such cases the Regional Director shall endorse the dispute to the appropriate regional branch of the National Labor Relations Commission for proper action." This rule antedates the R.A. 7730 amendment but is not necessarily negated by the Secretary's expanded powers because of the limitation that the Secretary or his representation has jurisdiction only where an employment relationship exists. Properly understood, it should now be read as a confirmation of the Secretary's expanded power that includes the full authority to rule on whether employer-employee relationship exists. It is only upon a ruling that no such relationship exists that the Secretary and the Director are divested of jurisdiction to rule on the monetary claim. The Secretary or the Director must then endorse the monetary claim to the NLRC instead of dismissing it for lack of jurisdiction. However, whatever action the Director takes is a matter that can be appealed to the Secretary of Labor pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 128(b). In the present case, the petitioner did appeal as allowed by Article 128(b), but unfortunately blew its chance to secure a review on appeal before the Secretary of Labor as it failed to post the cash or surety bond that the present law expressly requires.

    This reading of the law totally invalidates the ponencia's position in the present case that the Regional Director and the Secretary of Labor have no jurisdiction to issue an enforcement order and the case should have been turned over to the NLRC for compulsory arbitration after the petitioner claimed or has shown prima facie that no employer-employee relationship existed.

    The ponencia makes a final desperate effort to circumvent the plain import of Section 128(b) and its history by appealing to and urging the use of the common law in reading the DOLE Secretary's visitorial and enforcement powers under the cited Section. The ponencia suggests a "functional or pragmatic analysis" to ascertain the jurisdictional boundaries of administrative agencies. Why the common law approach is to be used in the Philippines' statutory regime is puzzling. Why there is a need for such an analysis to understand the terms of Section 128(b) and the Labor Code, is more so. The suggested common law approach is simply irrelevant and deserves no further discussion.

    Petitioner Failed to Validly Appeal to the Secretary

    The parties do not dispute that the remedy from the Regional Director's ruling is an appeal to the Secretary, as the petitioner did indeed appeal to the Office of the Secretary of Labor. The ponencia, however, rules that the DOLE erred in declaring that the appeal was not perfected; the ponencia holds that the Deed of Assignment of Bank Deposits that the petitioner submitted in lieu of a cash or surety bond substantially satisfied the requirements of Section 128 (b) of the Labor Code. This provision states:

    x x x

    An order issued by the duly authorized representative of the Secretary of Labor and Employment under this article may be appealed to the latter. In case said order involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the order appealed from.

    The Deed of Assignment17 was accompanied by a Letter Agreement between Queen City Development Bank and the petitioner covering Platinum Savings Deposit (PSD) No. 010-8-00038-4,18 and a Cash Voucher19 issued by the petitioner indicating the amount of P203,726.30 deposited at the bank. The Deed of Assignment reads:

    DEED OF ASSIGNMENT OF BANK DEPOSIT
    WITH SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY

    KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

    That, I, GREMAN B. SOLANTE in my capacity as Station Manager of DYMF Cebu City, PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC., a corporation duly authorized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippines, for and in consideration of the sum of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SIX PESOS & 30/100 (Php203,726.30), Phil. Currency, CASH BOND GUARANTEE for the monetary award in favor to the Plaintiff in the Labor Case docketed as LSED Case No. RO700-2003-09-CI-091, now pending appeal.

    That Respondent-Appellant do hereby undertake to guarantee available and sufficient funds covered by Platinum Savings Deposit (PSD) No. 010-8-00038-4 of PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC., in the amount of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY PESOS & 30/100 ONLY (Php203,726.30) payable to Plaintiff-Appellee/Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office VII at Queen City Development Bank, Cebu Branch, Sanciangko St., Cebu City.

    It is understood that the bank has the full control of Platinum Savings Deposit (PSD) No. 010-8-00038-4 from and after this date and that said sum cannot be withdrawn by the Plaintiff-Appellee/Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office VII until such time that a Writ of Execution shall be ordered by the Appellate Office.

    FURTHER, this Deed of Assignment is limited to the principal amount of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SIX PESOS & 30/100 from the said Deposit will be for the account holder.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereto affixed my signature this 18th day of June, 2004, in the City of Cebu, Philippines.

    PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING SERVICES, INC.

    By:

    (Sgd.)
    GREMAN B. SOLANTE
    Station Manager

    The ponencia's position is legally incorrect as it conveniently fails to consider both the wording of the law and the spirit that led to this wording. The law expressly states that an appeal is perfected "only" upon the posting of a cash or surety bond;20 no other document or instrument is allowed. What aggravates the ponencia's disregard of the express wording of the law is the petitioner's knowledge, on record, that a cash or surety bond is required. This knowledge is clearly demonstrated by the petitioner's motion for extension of time to file appeal, filed on June 17, 2004, on the ground of fortuitous event.21 The fortuitous event referred to was the South Sea Surety and Insurance Co.'s alleged lack of the required legal forms for the bond; to support the motion, the surety company committed to issue the bond the following day, June 18, 2004. Further, in a submission entitled "Appeal" filed with the DOLE Regional Office on June 18, 2004, the petitioner made the following statement:

    Accompanying this APPEAL are '

    1. APPEAL MEMORANDUM;

    2. Cash bond pursuant to the specifications in RESOLUTION;

    3. Proof of payment of required filing fee.

    No cash bond was however submitted, showing that the petitioner was less than candid when it made its claim. It was under these circumstances - i.e., the petitioner's knowledge that a cash or surety bond is required; the absence of a cash bond; and misrepresentation that a cash bond was attached when there was none - that the DOLE Secretary dismissed the appeal. The CA correctly supported the Secretary's action and ruled that the Secretary did not act with grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the appeal.

    Separately from these factual incidents are reasons proceeding from established jurisprudence as the indispensability of a bond to perfect an appeal is not a new issue for the Court. In Borja Estate, et al. v. Spouses R. Ballad and R. Ballad,22 we ruled that -

    The intention of the lawmakers to make the bond an indispensable requisite for the perfection of an appeal by the employer is underscored by the provision that an appeal may be perfected "only upon the posting of a cash bond". The word "only" makes it perfectly clear that the LAWMAKERS intended the posting of a cash or surety bond by the employer to be the exclusive means by which an employer's appeal may be considered complete.

    x x x

    Evidently, the posting of a cash or surety bond is mandatory. And the perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period prescribed by law is not only mandatory but jurisdictional. [emphasis supplied].

    Interestingly, the same adverb - "only" - that this Court construed in Borja, is the very same adverb that Article 128(b) of the Labor Code contains. Thus, this Article states in part - an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Secretary of Labor and Employment. All these safeguards would be for naught if the ponencia's understanding of the requirements for the perfection of an appeal will prevail. To reiterate, the bond must be in cash or a surety issued by a reputable bonding company, not by any bonding company. The reputation alone of the bonding company will not suffice to satisfy the law; the bonding company must be accredited by the Secretary. "Cash," on the other hand, whether in lay or its legal signification, means a sum of money; cash bail (the sense in which a cash bond is used) is a sum of money posted by a criminal defendant to ensure his presence in court, used in place of a surety bond and real estate.23

    How the aforequoted Deed of Assignment can satisfy the above legal requirements requires an act of bending that goes beyond the intent of the law. What the Deed extends is a guarantee using a sum of money placed with a bank, not with the DOLE. The guarantee is made by a certain Greman B. Solante, described in the Deed as Station Manager signing for and in behalf of the petitioner, a corporation. There is no indication anywhere, however, that Mr. Solante was authorized by the Board of the corporation to commit the corporate funds as a guarantee.24 This lack of clear authority is replete with legal implications that render the Deed of Assignment less than the cash bond that it purports to be; among others, these implications impose on the DOLE added burdens that a cash bond is designed to avoid. Under Article 1878 of the Civil Code, a special power of attorney is required to bind a principal as guarantor or surety. Under Section 23 and 35 of the Corporation Code of the Philippines, authority over corporate funds is exercised by the Board of Directors who, in the absence of an appropriate delegation of authority, are the only ones who can act for and in behalf of the corporation. Under Article 1403 of the Civil Code, a contract entered into without any legal authority or legal representation is unenforceable. To state the obvious, all these are stumbling blocks for the DOLE when enforcement against the Deed of Assignment comes.

    It is noteworthy, too, that the guarantee is under the condition that "said sum cannot be withdrawn by the Plaintiff-Appellee/Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office VII until such time that a Writ of Execution shall be ordered by the Appellate Office." What this limitation means is not at all certain. But on its face, it means that the bond is in favor of the DOLE Regional Office, not to the Office to the DOLE Secretary where the appeal has been filed. Thus, the DOLE Secretary herself has no authority to call on the guarantee. Even Regional Office VII cannot, until a writ of execution is ordered by the Appellate Office. What this Appellate Office is, is again not certain and can mean the highest appellate levels all the way up to this Court. Another uncertainty is the bank's commitment to the guarantee as the Deed only contains a "CONFORME" signed by the Officer-in-Charge of the Queen City Development Bank, not the exact terms of the bank's own commitment to the DOLE in whose favor any bond should be made. What is certain about the Deed is provided in its penultimate paragraph" "any interest to be earned from said Deposit will be for the account holder."

    The Platinum Savings Deposit mentioned in the Deed is itself very interesting as it carries the heading "Deposit Insured by PDIC Maximum Amount of Php 100,000.00. Yet, the amount of deposit is stated to be Php 203,726.30, with interest rate of 4.25%, and maturity date of July 19, 2004 (31 days). Thus, if anything happened to the depositary bank, in the way that banks under the Legacy group of banks currently has problems, the DOLE Regional Office VII would be holding an empty guarantee and would still have to file a claim with the PDIC for the maximum amount covered.

    To be sure, these are not the terms the framers of the law intended when they required that perfection of appeal requires the filing "only" of a cash or surety bond. Effectively, what the Deed of Assignment and its allied documents have committed to support the perfection of the petitioner's appeal, with the intent to pass it off as a cash bond, is an amount whose control is not clearly with the DOLE and which may require a lot of clarifications and prior actions before it can be used to pay the monetary claim secured by the bond. This is what the ponencia wishes to recognize as a substitute for the cash bond requirement of the law. To say the least, a ruling from this Court of this tenor would severely and adversely affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the DOLE's handling of appeals before it; it would be a precedent that effectively negates the certainties the law wishes to foster, and would be a welcome development to those who would wish to submit guarantees other than the cash or surety bonds the law demands.

    I submit that the determination of what satisfies the bonding requirement in labor appeals is a matter for the Secretary of Labor and Employment to determine in the first instance, and should be free from judicial interference, provided that the Secretary does not substantially depart from the letter and intent of the law. Once the Secretary - the entity with primary jurisdiction over labor appeals - has ruled that a guarantee other than the strict cash and surety bonds that the law requires is not sufficient, then this Court should be bound by the determination in the absence of any attendant grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Secretary. Otherwise stated, this Court cannot and should not second guess or in hindsight control an administrative tribunal in the exercise of its powers, even "in the interest of justice," where there is no attendant grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Only in this manner can this Court accord due respect to the constitutional separation of powers that it is duty-bound to enforce.

    Failure of the CA to review the evidence

    In light of the above discussions, the CA could not have been wrong in concluding that no grave abuse of discretion attended the CA's conclusion that the petitioner indeed failed to perfect its appeal before the Secretary. Over and above this objection, however, the ponencia, faults the CA for not examining the evidence to determine whether the conclusions of the DOLE in the assailed orders were supported by the evidence presented. It finds that the CA focused instead on a general discussion of due process and the jurisdiction of the Regional Director.

    Let it be clarified that the Secretary did not need to go into a full discussion of the merits of the appeal because no appeal was ever perfected. The CA understandably focused on this aspect of the case as it renders moot all other issues. To the CA's credit it made sure that there was no denial of due process that tainted the DOLE decisions and it found that there was none. In this light, the CA complied with what the Constitution requires as a decision maker is only duty-bound to state the facts and the law on which its decision is based.25

    In this respect, it should be considered that the petitioner was given every opportunity to be heard at the DOLE Regional Office. The plant inspection was conducted at the petitioner's own establishment where its officials were present. No complaint exists regarding this aspect of the case. A notice of inspection results was duly sent to the petitioner, which it contested. Thus, the Regional Director directed the parties to file their position papers on the inspection results. The parties duly complied, with parties both focusing on the employer-employee relationship issue. In the Order dated February 27, 2004, the Director fully considered the parties' positions in light of the inspection results and ruled that there was employer-employee relationship. The petitioner reacted by filing a motion for reconsideration and a supplemental motion for reconsideration, to which additional supporting exhibits were attached. These submissions were taken into account but still failed to convince the Director.

    Unfortunately, the petitioner equated the Regional Director's failure to rule in its favor to be denial of due process for the alleged failure to consider the evidence it submitted. The CA, of course, noting the above-described developments in the case saw the fallacy of the petitioner's submission and dismissed the petition, thus affirming the DOLE level decisions.

    The Director's ruling that the ponencia now sees as objectionable states in its material portion:

    Under the said Policy Instructions, there are two (2) types of employees in the broast industry, namely: 1) "Station employees - are those whose services are engaged to discharge functions which are usually necessary and desirable to the operation of the station and whose usefulness is not affected by changes of programs, ratings or formats and who observe normal working hours. These shall include employees whose talents, skills or services are engaged as such by the station without particular reference to any specific program or undertaking, and are not allowed by the station to be engaged or hired by other stations or persons even if such employees do not observe normal working hours. 2) Program employees - are those whose skills, talents or services are engaged by the station for a particular or specific program or undertaking and who are not required to observe normal working hours such that on some days they work for less than eight (8) hours and on other days beyond the normal work hours observed by the station employees and are allowed to enter into employment contracts with other persons, stations, advertising agencies or sponsoring companies. The engagement of program employees, including those hired by advertising agencies or sponsoring companies, shall be under a written contract specifying, among other things, the nature of the work to be performed, rates to pay, and the programs in which they will work. The contract shall be duly registered by the station with the Broast Media Council within three (3) days from its consummation."

    A careful perusal of the records of this case showed that complainant Jandeleon Juezan was hired by the respondent as a radio talent/spinner and work six (6) days a week from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday thru Saturday. It was the respondent who paid complainant's salary every quincena and was required by the former to sign payrolls. Notwithstanding the employment contract stipulating herein complainant as a program employee, his actual duty pertains to that of a station employee. Moreover, respondent failed to register said employment contract with the Broast Media Counsel as required. He is required to observe normal working hours that deductions are made for tardiness. Therefore, it is crystal clear that complainant is a station employee rather than a program employee hence entitled to all benefits appurtenant thereto.

    In the motion for reconsideration that followed, the Director ruled as follows:

    For resolution is the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the respondent on March 15, 2004 to the Order of this Office dated February 27, 2004 on the ground that due process is not observed.

    The motion was set for clarificatory hearing on April 2, 2004 wherein the parties through their respective counsel appeared. Counsel for complaint asked for 15 days from April 2, 2004 to file its comment to the Motion for Reconsideration after which the case is submitted for resolution.

    Respondent in its Motion for Reconsideration alleged to have been denied due process because it was not given the opportunity to examine the identification card which was not presented for scrutiny and verification.

    The contention sought by the respondent is without merit.

    The identification card presented by complainant that he was an authorized Media Representative is not material to this case nor fatal to respondent's case. Presentation of employment records is the burden of employer and not of complaint worker.

    Respondent's passing the buck of employer-employee relationship to its drama Directors and Producers is of no moment. Granting without admitting that herein complainant is indeed under the employ of respondents' drama directors. Such partakes of a sub-contracting relationship which will not absolve herein respondent from its solidary liability to complainant's claims pursuant to Art. 106 to Art. 109 of the Labor Code.

    Correctly understood, these rulings do not indicate in any way that the petitioner's evidence were not considered. To be sure, the parties' various pieces of evidence the parties submitted were not all mentioned in these rulings. What it does mention are its findings from the parties' conflicting factual assertions. Interestingly, it implies that, at least nominally, the respondent was a program employee. This is the ruling's concession to the petitioner's evidence. However, it also asserts that despite this seeming status, the respondent was in fact a station employee for the reasons the ruling outlined, namely: (1) the respondent initially hired the respondent as a radio talent/spinner; (2) his work was six [6] days a week from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday thru Saturday; (3) he is required to observe normal working hours and deductions are made for tardiness; (4) the respondent paid the complainant's salary every quincena; (5) the petitioner required the respondent to sign payrolls; (6) notwithstanding the employment contract stipulating herein complainant as a program employee, his actual duty pertains to that of a station employee; and (7) the petitioner failed to register the respondent's employment contract with the Broast Media Counsel as required.

    Thus viewed, the ponencia's conclusion that the Director did not consider the petitioner's evidence is misplaced. In fact, the factors the Director pointed out decisively show that an employer-employee relationship existed between the petitioner and the respondent.

    Confusion between the DOLE and
    the NLRC in resolving employment
    relationship issues.

    As last point that is hard to leave alone is the ponencia's interpretation that the standard laid down in the last sentence of Article 128 (b) of the Labor Code that the documentary proofs be "considered in the course of inspection" applies only to issues other than the fundamental issue of the existence of employer-employee relationship. A contrary rule according to the ponencia would lead to controversies on the part of labor officials in resolving the issue of employer-employee relationship.

    What the ponencia apparently refers to is that portion of Article 128(b) that was amended by R.A. 7730, heretofore discussed. To reiterate what has been stated above, the "documentary proofs which were not considered in the course of inspection" refers to the objection that a party may raise in relation with the issuance of a writ of execution, and does not relate to the extent of the visitorial and enforcement power of the Secretary defined in the first sentence of the Article. Thus, no writ may immediately issue if such objection exists. Rather, a full hearing shall ensue as in this case where the Director allowed the petitioner to submit evidence as late as the motion for reconsideration stage. After the Director shall have ruled on all the submitted issues, then a writ of execution shall issue if no appeal is taken; otherwise, an appeal may be taken to the Secretary. Under the Rules, the perfection of an appeal holds in abeyance the issuance of a writ of execution or suspends one already issued.26 R.A. 7730 effectively changes this rule by giving the authority to issue a writ of execution unless the "excepting clause" mentioned above applies.

    That the employment relationship issue is for the Secretary or his representative to rule upon is clear from the wording of the 1st paragraph of Article 128(b) when it defines the extent of the Secretary's power. In this definition of authority, the issue cannot be anywhere else but with the Secretary who has been granted visitorial and enforcement power when an employment relationship exists. This grant must be read with the 2nd paragraph of the same Article that identifies an appeal as the remedy to take from an inspection decision made under the 1st paragraph.

    For the ponencia to imply that the NLRC is more fitted to rule on the employment relationship issue misunderstands the power that Article 128 grants the Secretary. It is a full fact-finding power that includes whatever is necessary for the enforcement of the grant, including the authority to determine when the limits of the power apply and to call the parties and hear and decide their submissions. For this reason, Sections 5(a) and 6 of Department Order No. 7-A, Series of 1995 states:

    Sec 5. Field investigation and hearing. - (a) In case of complaint inspection where no proof of compliance is submitted by the employer after seven (7) calendar days from receipt of the inspection results, the Regional Director shall summon the employer and the employees/complainants to a summary hearing at the regional office.

    x x x

    Sec. 6. Nature of Proceedings. The proceedings shall be summary and non-litigious in character. Subject to the requirements of due process, the technicalities of law and procedure and the rules governing admissibility and sufficiency of evidence obtaining in the courts of law shall not strictly apply. The regional director or his designated representative may, however, avail of all reasonable means to ascertain the facts of the controversy speedily and objectively, including the conduct of ocular inspection and examination of well-informed persons. Substantial evidence shall be sufficient to support a decision.

    Significantly, the nature of the proceedings before the Regional Director is not different from the proceedings before the Labor Arbiter. Section 2, Rule V of the Revised Rules of Procedure of the National Labor Relations Commission (2005) provides that:

    Section 2. Nature of Proceedings. The proceedings before the Labor Arbiter shall be non-litigious in nature. Subject to the requirements of due process, the technicalities of law and procedure and the rules obtaining in courts of law shall not strictly apply thereto. The Labor Arbiter may avail himself of all reasonable means to ascertain the facts of the controversy speedily, including the ocular inspection and examination of well-informed persons.

    Thus, the view that one tribunal has primacy over another because of the nature of their proceedings, the quantum of evidence required, or their level of expertise, is misplaced. Properly understood, the structure that Article 128(b) provides in relation with monetary claims within and employment relationship, as well as the delineation of powers between the Secretary of Labor and Employment and the NLRC are not at all complicated nor confusing, and need not lead to controversies on the part of labor officials in resolving the issue of employer-employee relationship, as the ponencia fears.

    ARTURO D. BRION

    Endnotes:


    1 The Visitorial and Enforcement Powers of the DOLE Secretary.

    2 Order dated February 27, 2004, p. 3, last paragraph.

    3 DOLE records, p. 152.

    4 Chan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 159922, April 28, 2005, 457 SCRA 502.

    5 People v. Maguikay, G.R. NOS. 103226-28, October 14, 1994, 237 SCRA 587.

    6 Approved on June 2, 1994; published on June 20, 1994.

    7 Prangan v. NLRC, G.R. No. 126529, April 15, 1998, 289 SCRA 142; see Nicario v. NLRC, Mancao Supermarket, et al., G.R. No. 125340, September 17, 1998.

    8 Incorporated in the Implementing Rules under Department Order No. 7-A, Series of 1995.

    9 Rule 3, Section 1 (a) and (b).

    10 See: ponencia, pp. 6-7.

    11 Its 1st ground is a generic allegation of grave abuse of discretion for denial of due course to the petition; the 2nd ground, using the "grave abuse" magic formula, at the same time states that the Secretary committed an error of law; the 3rd ground alleges grave abuse for not "delving on the issues raised by the petitioner;" the 4th in the list is not a cited ground at all but a statement that there is no adequate remedy in the course of law other than a Petition for Certiorari.

    12 RULES OF COURT, Section 1, Rule 45.

    13 Estino v. CA, G.R. No. 150276, February 12, 2008, 544 SCRA 422.

    14 Dated September 16, 1987, issued by then DOLE Secretary Franklin M. Drilon.

    15 Approved on June 2, 1994; published on June 20, 1994.

    16 Bay Haven, Inc., et al. v. Abuan, et al., G.R. No. 160859, July 30, 2008.

    17 DOLE Records, p. 207.

    18 Id., p. 209.

    19 Id., p. 208.

    20 Art. 128 (b), last par., Labor Code.

    21 DOLE Records, pp. 153 and 154.

    22 G.R. No. 152550, June 8, 2005, 459 SCRA 657.

    23 Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Ed. P. 216.

    24 Under Article 1878 of the Civil Code, a special power of attorney is necessary to bind the principal as a guarantor or surety.

    25 Section 14, Article VIII, Constitution.

    26 Section 10, Department Order No. 7-A, Series of 1995.

    G.R. No. 179652 - PEOPLE'S BROADCASTING v. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, ET AL.


    Back to Home | Back to Main

     

    QUICK SEARCH

    cralaw

       

    cralaw



     
      Copyright © ChanRobles Publishing Company Disclaimer | E-mail Restrictions
    ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™
     
    RED