G.R. No. 96969 March 2, 1993
ROMEO P. FLORES, Petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, Respondents.
Apolinario N. Lomabao, Jr. for petitioner.chanrobles virtual law library
Benjamin R. Reonal for private respondent.
This is a special civil action under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court to annul and set aside the September 11, 1990 Resolution of the public respondent National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) 1affirming the decision of the Labor Arbiter Adolfo V. Creencia in dismissing the complaint filed by petitioner Romeo P. Flores for illegal dismissal.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
It appears on record that petitioner was employed by private respondent Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) on May 16, 1967 until his dismissal on July 18, 1988.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
At the time of his dismissal, petitioner was a teller of private respondent's San Marcelino (now Malate) branch office whose duty was to collect and receive payments from the customers of private respondent as well as to issue the corresponding official Receipts to said clients.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Prior thereto, petitioner was a lineman of private respondent responsible for the inspection and installation of electric services to private respondent's customers as well as in disconnecting the same for customers with delinquent accounts or found with tampered electric meters.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Sometime in October 1987, private respondent's senior meter reader, Tommy P. Celi, Jr., found that petitioner and his neighbor, Maria Zapanta, were using electric meters different from the official electric meters issued to them and reported the matter to the Inspection Division Head, Manuel B. de Jesus, who in turn relayed the discovery to the Special Presidential Committee of private respondent.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
On October 26, 1987, private respondent's Special Presidential Committee, in coordination with its Inspection Division, conducted an ocular inspection of the premises referred to and discovered the illegal installation of Meter No. 33SLN74263 at the premises of petitioner who was officially issued Meter No. 33SGN30400. The Committee also found that petitioner was using a two line-jumper to defraud private respondent by substituting the official and registered electric meter with the illegal electric meter which was installed in between reading dates in order not to reflect the actual electrical consumption of petitioner's household. The substitution of the official electric meter with an illegal one enabled petitioner to consume electric current without the same passing through the official electric meter as reflected in the Meter Socket Inspection Report No. 129388. 2chanrobles virtual law library
Further investigation revealed that petitioner removed, took and used, without the knowledge and consent of private respondent, Meter No. 33SLN74263 from the demolished house of Mrs. Nemecia C. Rosal.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Thereafter, the illegal electric meters of petitioner and his neighbor were removed and subjected to a laboratory test in the presence of a representative from the Board of Energy and found said meters to be tampered.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
On December 14, 1987, private respondent sent a Violation of Contract (VOC) letter to petitioner charging the latter the amount of P2,060.59 which was paid on December 23, 1987 with a 30% discount in the amount of P1,442.41 as evidenced by Receipt No. 43356. 3chanrobles virtual law library
On February 12, 1988, petitioner was served a letter requesting for his appearance at a formal administrative investigation on February 18, 1988 4 which was postponed to February 26, 1988 upon the request of the petitioner. 5chanrobles virtual law library
On February 26, 1988, petitioner assisted by his counsel, Atty. Manuel B. Lorenzo, gave a sworn statement to private respondent's Special Presidential Committee, unqualifiedly admitting all the charges imputed against him and appealing for the imposition of a lesser penalty. 6chanrobles virtual law library
On March 7, 1988, private respondent's Special Presidential Committee rendered a report finding petitioner guilty of violating Section 7 paragraphs 3 and 4 of private respondent's Company Code on Employee Discipline, the pertinent portion of which reads:
On July 18, 1988, petitioner was dismissed from the service and employ of private respondent. 8chanrobles virtual law library
On September 8, 1988, petitioner filed a complaint against private respondent and its officers for unfair labor practice and illegal dismissal with the National Labor Relations Commission in Manila in NLRC-NCR Case No.
On November 24, 1989, petitioner appealed said decision with the public respondent NLRC which appeal, however, was dismissed in a Resolution promulgated on September 11, 1989. 10The Motion for Reconsideration was also denied on December 17, 1990 for lack of merit. 11chanrobles virtual law library
Hence, petitioner filed this petition alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the public respondent NLRC in dismissing him for loss of trust and confidence considering that he had already paid the differential billings brought about by his alleged tampering with the electric meter and that the penalty of dismissal is too harsh considering that this is only his first offense during his 21 years of service with private respondent.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Article 282 of the Labor Code provides that an employer may legally terminate an employee for "serious misconduct or willful disobedience" and "fraud or willful breach of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative." In the case at bar, petitioner in his sworn statement admitted the charges filed against him by the private respondent and submitted himself to whatever decision the latter would come up to with only an appeal for leniency in the imposition of the corresponding penalty. This admission together with the other documentary evidences on record constitute gross misconduct and breach of trust on the part of the petitioner which would justify his dismissal since private respondent cannot be compelled to retain an employee who is clearly guilty of malfeasance as his continued employment will be prejudicial to the best interest of private respondent.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Inasmuch as petitioner's dismissal was for a valid cause, he is not therefore entitled to any separation pay as embodied in Section 7, Rule 1, Book VI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code, which provides that separation from work of an employee for a just cause does not entitled him to termination or separation pay.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The fact that petitioner had worked for private respondent for twenty-one (21) years, if it is to be considered at all, should be taken against him. The infraction that he committed, vis-a-vis his long years of service with the company, reflects a regrettable lack of loyalty. Loyalty that he should have strengthened instead of betrayed. If an employee's length of service is to be regarded as a justifying circumstance in moderating the penalty of dismissal, it will actually become a prize for disloyalty, perverting the meaning of social justice and undermining the efforts of labor to cleanse its ranks of all undesirables. 12 As held by this Court in PLDT vs. NLRC, 13on when separation pay may be allowed:
WHEREFORE, the assailed resolution of the National Labor Relations Commission is hereby AFFIRMED and the petition DISMISSED for lack of merit.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado and Campos, Jr., JJ., concur.
Search for www.chanrobles.com
|Copyright © ChanRoblesPublishing Company| Disclaimer | E-mailRestrictions|
ChanRobles™Virtual Law Library ™ | chanrobles.com™