[G.R. No. 157534. June
UNIVAN vs. CA
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this
Court dated JUN 18 2003.
G.R. No. 157534 (Univan
Management Services Philippines, Inc. vs. Honorable Court of Appeals, National
Labor Relations Commission and Renato Marcelo.)
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking
the reversal of the decisioncralaw
of the Court of Appeals dated September
20, 2002 and its resolution dated February
18, 2003 in CA-G.R. SP No. 68402.
The generative facts of the case are as follows:
Respondent Renato Marcelo was hired by petitioner on April
1, 1997 as chief cook of the vessel MV Eurasian Chariot for a period of 12 months at a monthly salary
of US$430. On April 4, 1997,
Renato boarded said vessel. On July 11, 1997, he received a notice of dismissal
from Capt. Beethoven Real; the ship master, on the ground that he allegedly
committed acts of misbehavior towards other crew members and failed to perform
his assigned duties He was thus required to submit his explanation within 24
hours. Instead of submitting his written explanation, he went to see Capt. Real
and personally explained that the charges were fabricated by the chief mate and
chief engineer who had an axe to grind against him for complaining about their
refusal to pay him for overtime work. Notwithstanding his explanation, Renato
was terminated, from work and repatriated to the Philippines
on July 15, 1997. He was
also made to sign a memorandum stating that he was no longer interested in his
work and that he was waiving his salaries corresponding to the unexpired
portion of his employment contract. Upon his return, Renato filed a complaint
for illegal dismissal and payment of wages and other monetary claims.
For its part, petitioner denied dismissing respondent from
employment. Petitioner maintained that it received a letter from the officers
and crew members enumerating the various infractions committed by respondent,
ranging from disrespect to gross misbehavior and incompetence. Petitioner
issued a memorandum dated July 11, 1997
requiring Renato to explain but he refused and instead submitted a
certification dated July 12, 1997
requesting petitioner to repatriate him and waiving his salaries for the
remaining portion of his contract provided petitioner will shoulder his plane
fare to the Philippines.
On October 20, 1998,
labor arbiter Renell Joseph R. de la Cruz dismissed the complaint for illegal
dismissal. Respondent appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission
which, on March 26, 2001,
set aside the decision of the labor arbiter. It directed petitioner to pay
complainant his wages corresponding to the unexpired portion of his contract.
Aggrieved by the decision of the NLRC, petitioner filed a
petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals. On September
20, 2002, the appellate court affirmed the decision of the NLRC but
ordered petitioner to pay respondent an amount equivalent to his salary for
three, months only, not for the unexpired portion of his employment contract.
Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the decision but the
same was denied by the Court of Appeals in its resolution dated February
Hence, this petition.
It is axiomatic that, in illegal dismissal cases, the employer
always has the burden of proof and his failure to discharge this duty results
in a finding that the dismissal is unjustified.cralaw
In the present case, petitioner failed to substantiate its claim that
respondent had been legally dismissed. Petitioner mainly relies on the
certification dated July 12, 1997
signed by respondent, arguing that the latter impliedly admitted the
allegations against him by asking to be repatriated to the Philippines.
However, the said certification is in the nature of a quitclaim or waiver of
rights and, in labor jurisdiction, it is well established that quitclaims and
complete releases executed by employees do not always stop them from pursuing
their claims arising from the unfair labor practice of the employer. The basic
reason for this is that such quitclaims are generally against public policy
and, therefore, null and void.cralaw
Petitioner's allegation that respondent voluntarily resigned from
work does not deserve any consideration. Resignation is defined as the
voluntary act of an employee who finds himself in a situation where he believes
that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor of the exigency of the
service and that he has no other choice but to disassociate himself from his
employment. Respondent's acts as found by the appellate court clearly indicated
that he had no intention of relinquishing his position as chief cook of MV Eurasian Chariot.
Petitioner utterly failed to discharge its burden by the
requisite quantum of evidence. Therefore, it being clearly established that
respondent was illegally dismissed, the decision of the appellate court is
correct. Respondent is entitled to his salary for three months pursuant to
Section 10 (5) of RA 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995)
which provides that a worker dismissed from overseas employment without just,
valid or authorized cause is entitled to his salary for the unexpired portion
of his employment contract or three months for every year of the unexpired
term, whichever is less. In the
instant case, the unexpired portion of respondent's contract was nine months.
Hence, he is entitled to receive only an amount equivalent to three months of
his basic salary.
petition is hereby DENIED.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.)JULIETA V. CARREON
Clerk of Court