G.R. No. 91344 September 14, 1990
FRANCISCO P. CANDO, Petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and PILIPINAS BANK, Respondents.
Balgos & Perez for petitioner.chanrobles virtual law library
Pastor M. Reyes, Jr. for private respondent.chanrobles virtual law library
Pablo R. Cruz collaborating counsel for private respondent.
The propriety of the dismissal of an employee is put in issue in this special civil action for certiorari.
The record of the case discloses that the herein petitioner Francisco P. Cando had been employed with the herein private respondent Pilipinas Bank since August 1974. Immediately prior to his dismissal from the bank, the petitioner was the senior distributing clerk at the head office of the respondent bank. During the period of his employment, he was a ranking officer of the Pilipinas Bank Employees Union.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
In September 1984, the union declared a strike against the respondent bank which lasted around a month. Thereafter, then Minister of Labor Blas Ople issued an order enjoining the strike and directing the striking workers to return to work. Inasmuch as the union refused to comply with the said order, the Ministry of Labor and Employment issued another order dated October 29, 1984 instructing the workers to return to work under the same terms and conditions obtaining before the strike. While the striking employees followed the return-to-work order, the petitioner still failed to report for work. His absence was to last for quite some time.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The petitioner managed to file an application to go on official leave from November 5 to 21, 1984. In fine, however, he did not report for work from October 29, 1984 to the end of February 1985-a period of more than four months. His time cards for the months of December 1984 and January 1985 recited entries like "union matter" and "hearing." His time card for February 1985, however, was devoid of any entry. All in all, his absences from October 29, 1984 up to the end of February 1985 were unauthorized, save for the brief period covering his application to go on official leave.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
On March 4, 1985, the respondent bank instructed the petitioner to explain in writ, within forty-eight (48) hours, why appropriate discipline measures should not be taken against him in view of his numerous absences. Inasmuch as the petitioner failed to submit the written explanation sought from him within the prescribed period, the matter was referred to the bank president. It was only on March 7, 1985 when the petitioner submitted his written explanation. He contended that his numerous absences were prompted by various matters affecting the union which needed immediate attention.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
An ad hoc investigating committee was created for the purpose of looking into these infractions committed by the petitioner. After an administrative charge for gross and habitual neglect in the performance of official duties had been filed against the petitioner, the said committee informed him about the nature and the possible consequences thereof. The committee also informed him that he must submit his reply to the said charges within seventy-two (72) hours and that he had the option of requesting a formal hearing where he may present evidence and avail of the assistance of counsel.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
On April 10, 1985, the petitioner submitted his written reply but did not expressly request a formal hearing.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
On April 24, 1985, the committee submitted its observations and recommendations to the bank president. Accordingly, a memorandum dated May 2, 1985 was issued to the petitioner informing him that he was terminated from his employment effective May 7, 1985 and that his termination was for gross and habitual neglect in the performance of duties through absences without official leave.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against the respondent bank before the National Labor Relations Commission. The parties submitted their corresponding position papers and formal hearings were conducted wherein the said parties presented witnesses. In due time, the labor arbiter assigned to the case rendered a decision sustaining the dismissal of the petitioner and dismissing the complaint.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Finding the decision of the labor arbiter unsatisfactory, the petitioner elevated his case to the First Division of the Commission. In a decision promulgated on November 17, 1989, the Commission noted that there was sufficient basis for terminating the services of the petitioner. 1 Nonetheless, the Commission ordered the respondent bank to pay the petitioner separation pay equivalent to one month salary for every year of service. 2chanrobles virtual law library
On January 22, 1990, the petitioner elevated the case to this Court. The petitioner contends that the decision of the Commission has no legal basis.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
As instructed by the Court, the Office of the Solicitor General filed its comment on the petition seeking therein the dismissal of the same. Some time thereafter, the case was deemed submitted.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
It should be noted that labor cases are reviewed by the Supreme Court through a special civil action for certiorari and not by way of appeal. 3 The instant petition, however, is erroneously designated as a "petition for review." This error notwithstanding, and in the interest of justice, the Court resolved to treat the instant petition as a special civil action for certiorari. 4 Thus, the only issue to be resolved in this petition is whether or not the respondent National Labor Relations Commission committed a grave abuse of discretion in sustaining the dismissal of the petitioner.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
After a careful evaluation of the entire record of the case, the Court finds the petition devoid of merit.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It appears that the dismissal of the petitioner is based on his unjustified absences for a number of months. As an employee, the petitioner is expected to be aware of the rules and regulations of the bank regarding leaves of absences. As observed by the Commission, the absences of the petitioner were not authorized. On this score, his dismissal appears to be warranted.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The petitioner contends that his dismissal is not justified inasmuch as his absences were authorized and/or condoned by his superiors. The contention is untenable.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
In the labor arbiter's decision dated May 25,1988, which was reproduced in the decision of the Commission dated November 12, 1989, it is stated:
While the petitioner easily asserts that his absences were brought about by his having to attend to union matters, his testimony before the labor arbiter betrays otherwise. We quote, with approval the following portion of the decision of the labor arbiter:
His argument that his absences were nonetheless condoned by his superiors has no legal basis. The respondent bank took steps to look into his alleged violation/s of bank rules and regulations governing leaves of absences. An investigation ensued where he was given the opportunity to defend himself. In due time, disciplinary measures were taken against him. Besides, the petitioner did not show any proof of the alleged condonation on the part of his superiors.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
All in all, the Court is convinced that there is substantial evidence to support the questioned decision of the respondent Commission. His violation of the rules and regulations of the bank governing absences of employees was demonstrated in the course of an investigation on the matter. He was given a chance to defend himself in the investigation. His testimony before the labor arbiter was, at the least, hardly in accord with his explanation as to his absences. Inasmuch as the findings of facts made by the respondent Commission are supported by substantial evidence, the same will be accorded respect and finality. 7chanrobles virtual law library
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Court makes no pronouncement as to costs.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Narvasa (Chairman), Cruz, Griño-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
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