[G.R. No. 149332.October 10, 2001]
RAM SYSTEM SERVICES, INC. et al. vs. VILLAFLORES et al.
hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated OCT 10 2001.
G.R. No. 149332 (Ram System Services, Inc. and Rogelio Yap vs. Mario Danilo Villaflores
and Avelita B. Villaflores.)
Petitioners assail the decision of the
Court of Appeals declaring thusly:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decisions of
Labor Arbiter Melquiades Sol Del Rosario dated October 14, 1998 and the
National Labor Relations Commission (First Division) dated October 29, 1999 are
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The termination of petitioners Mario Danilo Villaflores
and Avelita Villaflores is hereby declared ILLEGAL. Accordingly, private
respondents RAM System Services, Inc. (RSSI) and Rogelio Yap are hereby ORDERED
to reinstate herein petitioners to their former positions without loss of
seniority and any other benefits, or to pay them their respective separation
pay should reinstatement be no longer feasible. Private respondents are
likewise ordered to pay petitioner full backwages from June 9, 1997 until the
date of their actual reinstatement.
The present controversy
stemmed from an action for illegal dismissal filed by private respondent
Spouses Mario and Avelita Villaflores against petitioners alleging that Mario
was employed by petitioner RAM Systems Services, Inc. (RSSI) as a permanent
regular employee, holding the position of computer coordinator; while Avelita
was employed as a computer instructress on June 1, 1994. Both held their
respective jobs until June 9, 1997 when petitioner RSSI terminated their
services without valid and just cause and in violation of due process.
On the other hand,
petitioners alleged that private respondent Mario Villaflores is one of the incorporators
of RSSI and it is reflected in the Securities and Exchange Commission's
Certificate of Registration that petitioner Rogelio Yap was the president while
private respondent Mario Villaflores was the treasurer. In the "loose
partnership", private respondent Mario Villaflores was tasked to maintain
records from the instructor files to financial books, and to handle the
administrative requirements in the engagement of instructors.
RSSI was originally put up
for the purpose of offering computer education and services, including that of
providing instructors to schools and educational institutions pursuant to the
latter's computer education curricula. In this connection, RSSI entered into an
agreement with the Our Lady of Perpetual Succor School (OLOPSS) later the Our
Lady of Perpetual Succor College (OLOPSC), to provide the latter with computer
educational services for its third year and fourth year high school levels for
school year 1992-1993, subject to renewal on a per school year basis depending
on the performance evaluation which OLOPSS conducted periodically.
As to the termination of
private respondent Avelita's services, petitioners alleged that OLOPSC and
private respondent Yap have a policy of periodically evaluating the instructors
provided by Yap in order to achieve a certain level of competence. Under this
policy, the instructors, including private respondent Avelita Villaflores, were
to submit themselves to periodic evaluation by the OLOPSC, and from such
evaluation, petitioner Yap was to recommend instructors for engagement.
Petitioner Avelita Villaflores failed to undergo said evaluation conducted by
OLOPSC. Thus, there was no basis for private respondent Yap to recommend her.
The labor arbiter, finding
the case of Mario to be within the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange
Commission and Avelita to be a contractual employee, dismissed their complaint.
Upon appeal, the NLRC affirmed. However, upon petition for certiorari, the
Court of Appeals reversed.
Thus, the instant petition
which we find to be unavailing.
In the case of Mario
Villaflores, the fact that he was also a partner in RSSI did not divest the
labor arbiter of his jurisdiction to decide the alleged dismissal from his
position as a computer coordinator.
Verily, in the instant
case, private respondent Mario Villaflores was not removed as a partner or as a
treasurer of RSSI but was dismissed from his employment hence it is of no
moment that he admits to being a partner in RSSI when evidence is sufficient to
prove that he likewise worked and was paid as a computer coordinator.
Anent the dismissal of
Avelita Villaflores, petitioners admitted that she was not rehired because she
refused to undergo an alleged competence evaluation. However, petitioners
failed to present any proof in support of said allegation. On the other hand,
private respondent was able to present sufficient evidence to prove the
permanent status of her employment.
When there is no showing
of a clear, valid and legal cause for the termination of employment, the law
considers the matter a case of illegal dismissal and the burden is on the
employer to prove that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause.
This burden of proof appropriately lies on the shoulders of the employer and
not on the employee because a worker's job has some of the characteristics of
property rights and is, therefore, within the constitutional mantle of
protection, that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property
without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection
of the laws (Quebec, Sr. vs. NLRC, 301
SCRA 627 ).
WHEREFORE, petition is denied due course.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) JULIETA Y. CARREON
Clerk of Court