Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1976 > June 1976 Decisions > G.R. No. L-24545 June 30, 1976 - NATIONAL BREWERY, ET AL. v. SAN MIGUEL BREWERY, INC.:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. L-24545. June 30, 1976.]

NATIONAL BREWERY and ALLIED INDUSTRIES LABOR UNION OF THE PHILIPPINES (PAFLU) and FERNANDO SAGARBARRIA, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. SAN MIGUEL BREWERY, INC., Defendant-Appellant.

Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Belo for Appellant.

Estacio, Fernandez & Garcia for Appellee.

SYNOPSIS


Plaintiff Sagarbarria, employed as a driver of defendant San Miguel Brewery, Inc., was suspended from work without pay and privileges for 15 days starting March 22, 1961 for alleged violation of company rules and regulations as a result of having gone out of his designated route while making deliveries to take his noonday meal at his sister’s house on March 16, 1961. The court a quo did not find the cause for suspension just and proper and serious enough to warrant the imposition of disciplinary action. It ordered the payment to plaintiff the sum of P213.00 representing his wages for the period he was illegally suspended, his monthly ration of rice equivalent to 33 1/3 lbs. as well as attorney’s fees. Defendant appealed, assigning as lone error the finding of the lower court that the suspension of plaintiff-appellee was not for just and proper cause.

The Supreme Court held that the appeal lacks merit. The lone error assigned carried factual overtones. The facts as found by the trial court must be respected for in direct appeals, only questions of law may be raised.

Decision affirmed.


SYLLABUS


1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; PROTECTION TO LABOR; DETERMINATION OF JUSTIFIABLE CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION OF THE EMPLOYEE CANNOT BE LEFT ENTIRELY TO THE EMPLOYER; STANDARD-VACUUM OIL CO. VS. KATIPUNAN LABOR UNION, CASE IN POINT. — The cause for disciplinary action cannot be left to the sole and uncontrolled will of the employer. To do so would be to encourage arbitrariness. The test should be one of reason. Therefore, an impartial tribunal like a court of justice should have its say. That is the teaching of the applicable case. Standard Vacuum Oil Co. v. Katipunan Labor Union (100 Phil. 804 (1957). As set forth therein: "An employer should not be compelled to continue an employee in the service if a justifiable cause for his discharge exists. But the determination of whether a justifiable cause for removal exists in any given case is a matter that cannot be left entirely to the employer. Consequently, it is held that the Industrial Court, in the settlement of labor disputes, is empowered to reduce excessive punishments meted out to erring employees. The Standard-Vacuum ruling was reiterated in other subsequent cases. No other conclusion is possible in the light of the social justice and protection to labor provisions of the 1935 and the present Constitution.

2. CIVIL PROCEDURE; APPEALS; NO MERIT WHERE LONE ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR IS ESSENTIALLY FACTUAL; INSTANT CASE. — Appellant’s lone assignment of error impugns the finding by the lower court that the suspension of appellee was not for a just and proper cause. Even its phraseology would indicate that it is essentially factual. From the facts as found, it certainly is highly implausible and far-fetched to characterize the suspension as being based on a just and proper cause. Rather, what is apparent is its arbitrary character. The facts cannot bear out of contention of appellant. What cannot be ignored is that the rule in direct appeals is that "only questions of law may be raised."


D E C I S I O N


FERNANDO, J.:


If this appeal from a Court of First Instance decision, taken at a time when such procedure was allowable, 1 were typical of the resolute and determined effort on the part of some corporate entities to resist payment of money claims, irrespective of the amounts involved, then it is easily understandable why the appellate docket remains clogged. As will be seen, the treasury of appellant San Miguel Brewery, Inc., now San Miguel Corporation, would be hardly dented, even if the judgment against it would remain undisturbed. It was merely ordered to pay plaintiff Fernando Sagarbarria, 2 now appellee, the sum of P213.00 representing his wages for the period he was illegally suspended and his monthly ration of rice equivalent to 33-1/3 lbs. as well as the additional sum of P300.00 for attorney’s fees, in view of the fact that the suspension was not, in the language of the well-written decision of the then Judge, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, Conrado M. Vasquez, "for a just and proper cause," the basis for disciplinary action in accordance with the then existing collective bargaining agreement. The lone error assigned, hardly impressed with a legal character, was to the effect that there was a just and proper cause for suspension and therefore its validity should be upheld. If a greater degree of attention were paid to the law on the subject, then perhaps this case would not have been elevated at all to us. For our decisions leave no doubt that on the facts as found, which must be respected, the decision of the then Judge Conrado Vasquez must be upheld.chanrobles law library

According to the decision of the lower court: "Plaintiff Fernando Sagarbarria is an employee of defendant San Miguel Brewery, Inc. at its glass factory located at Binondo, Manila. He is employed as a driver, with a basic salary of P7.60 for eight (8) hours of work, and with right to a monthly ration of rice equivalent to 33-1/3 lbs. For an alleged violation of company rules and regulations, Sagarbarria was suspended by the defendant for fifteen (15) days starting March 22, 1961, and deprived of his wages and rice ration for the said period." 3 Then came this portion: "It appears that on March 16, 1961, Sagarbarria made a delivery of knocked-down cartons to a cigarette factory located at Dolores Street, Pasay City. Upon completing the delivery, he left the cigarette factory compound shortly before 12:00 o’clock noon. Instead of proceeding directly to the company plant in Binondo, he passed by the house of his sister on Estrada Street, Singalong, near Sta. Escolastica College, and took his lunch thereat. A representative of the defendant company discovered the truck parked at the said place, and upon confronting Sagarbarria about it, the latter explained that he took his lunch in the house of his sister, which was in the vicinity where the truck was parked, inasmuch as it was already lunchtime and he wanted to save the cost of his lunch. Further verification showed that his trip ticket did not indicate the time that he consumed in taking his lunch, thereby making it appear that he took his lunch on company time." 4 This was the legal question raised, according to the decision: "In the Collective Bargaining Agreement entered into between the plaintiff labor union of which Sagarbarria is a member and the defendant company, it is provided that the company has the right to transfer, discharge, lay-off or discipline its workers ‘for just and proper cause.’ The question, therefore, boils down to whether or not the acts committed by Sagarbarria constituted just and proper cause for disciplining him by means of suspension for fifteen (15) days, without pay and privileges." 5 Further on this point: "Neither party presented evidence, nor has there been any stipulation as to any regulation as to where drivers may take their noonday meals. In Exhibit 1 of the defendant, the company expressed its disapproval of the practice of drivers of ‘going out of their routes while making deliveries in order to eat their dinner, thereby delaying their trips.’ Although it is required that the drivers should return to the defendant’s plant without delay after making deliveries, it is not prescribed therein that the drivers must take their lunch either in the defendant’s compound, or at any other designated place. What appears to be prohibited is for the drivers to go out of their route in order to eat their meals. Indeed, as defendant has stated in its memorandum, Sagarbarria was not disciplined because he ate his lunch in his sister’s house, but due to his having gone out of his designated route." 6 Why the case went against appellant San Miguel Brewery, Inc. was explained in the decision thus: "The Court does not question the wisdom or propriety of the aforesaid regulation of defendant company prohibiting drivers to go out of their designated route. It is believed, however, that the deviation from his route committed by Sagarbarria was not serious enough to be considered as a violation of said company regulation as would justify taking disciplinary action against him. Liberally considered, it may even be said that there was no deviation at all. In coming from the compound of the company where he made deliveries, the natural route to be taken in going back to defendant’s plant in Binondo would be Taft Avenue. The plaintiff parked the truck near said route, less than a block away from the corner of Taft Avenue. In short, Sagarbarria was shown not to have gone out of his way as would have caused prejudice to the defendant’s interests. There could have been no extra expenditure for gasoline, or any appreciable wear and tear of the truck occasioned by the said act, or delay due to such minor deviation." 7

As noted at the outset, the effort to overturn this decision cannot be rewarded with success. It speaks for itself, and certainly it is quite persuasive.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. The difficulty faced by appellant San Miguel Brewery, Inc. is obvious from the lone assignment of error, which would impugn the finding by the lower court that the suspension of appellee Sagarbarria was not for a just and proper cause. Even its phraseology would indicate that it is essentially factual. From the facts as found, it certainly is highly implausible and farfetched to characterize the suspension as being based on a just and proper cause. Rather, what is apparent is its arbitrary character. The facts simply cannot hear out the contention of appellant. What cannot be ignored is that the rule in direct appeals, as was reiterated in the recent case of City of Zamboanga v. Alvarez, 8 is that "only questions of law may be raised." 9 The opinion goes on further to state: "That was made clear in Perez v. Araneta. It cited thirty decisions to that effect. Then came Flores v. Flores which referred to twelve additional cases. A reaffirmance of such a doctrine last appeared in Encinares v. Catighod." 10 To the extent, therefore, that the lone assignment of error carries factual overtones, it need not be considered further by this Court.

2. On the assumption that appellant was able to raise a legal question worthy of further inquiry, still the same conclusion is called for. This appeal lacks merit. Sole reliance is placed on Royal Interocean Lines v Court of Industrial Relations. 11 Such reliance is misplaced. The question in that case was whether or not the dismissal of the employee involved constituted an unfair labor practice. It is from that standpoint that the cited excerpt, with reference to the inherent right of management to discipline employees. should be viewed. That is not the case before the Court now. No unfair labor practice was alleged. Why Royal Interocean Lines had to be decided thus became even more obvious with this portion of the opinion in the paragraph cited by appellant. Thus: "Even from a literal and grammatical point of view, the provision in dispute has to be interpreted in the sense that the charges, the filing of which is the cause of the dismissal of the employee, must be related to his right to self-organization, in order to give rise to unfair labor practice on the part of the employer." 12 The same thought was once again given expression in the opinion in these words: "As the respondent’s dismissal has no relation to union activities and the charges filed by her against the petitioner had nothing to do with or did not arise from her union activities, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and the directive for the respondent’s reinstatement with backpay revoked." 13

That is not the situation here. What the then Judge Vasquez emphasized so ably and so clearly is that the cause for disciplinary action cannot be left to the sole and uncontrolled will of the employer. To do so would be to encourage arbitrariness. The test should be one of reason. Therefore, an impartial tribunal like a court of justice should have its say. That is the teaching of the applicable case, Standard-Vacuum Oil Co. v. Katipunan Labor Union. 14 As set forth in the opinion of Justice Alex Reyes: "An employer should not be compelled to continue an employee in the service if a justifiable cause for his discharge exists. But the determination of whether a justifiable cause for removal exists in any given case is a matter that cannot be left entirely to the employer. Consequently, it is held that the Industrial Court, in the settlement of labor disputes, is empowered to reduce excessive punishments meted out to erring employees." 15 The Standard-Vacuum ruling was reiterated in Ormoc Sugar Co., Inc. v. Osco Workers Fraternity Labor Union. 16 No other conclusion is possible in the light of the social justice 17 and protection to labor 18 provisions of the 1935 Constitution. With the greater rights accorded to labor under the present Constitution, 19 there would be no justification for a decision other than that reached by the lower court to be rendered. So we rule.chanrobles virtualawlibrary chanrobles.com:chanrobles.com.ph

WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court of April 10, 1965 is affirmed. This decision is immediately executory. Costs against Appellant.

Barredo, Antonio Aquino and Martin, JJ., concur.

Concepcion, Jr., J., is on leave.

Endnotes:



1. Prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 5440 conferring certiorari jurisdiction to this Court where only errors or questions of law are involved.

2. He was joined by his labor union, the National Brewery and Allied Industries Labor Union of the Philippines (PAFLU).

3. Record on Appeal, 54-55.

4. Ibid, 55-56.

5. Ibid, 56-57.

6. Ibid, 58.

7. Ibid, 58-59.

8. L-20400, November 28, 1975, 68 SCRA 143.

9. Ibid, 147.

10. Ibid. Perez, L-18414, is reported in 24 SCRA 43 (1968); Flores, L-28930, in 52 SCRA 293 (1973); and Encinares, L-29764, in 54 SCRA 140 (1973).

11. 109 Phil. 900 (1960).

12. Ibid, 903.

13. Ibid, 903-904.

14. 100 Phil. 804 (1957).

15. Ibid, 809. Tidewater Association Oil Co. v. Victory Employees and Laborers’ Association, 85 Phil. 166, was cited.

16. 110 Phil. 627 (1961).

17. According to Art II, Sec. 5 of the 1935 Constitution: "The promotion of social justice to ensure the well-being and economic security of all the people should be the concern of the State."cralaw virtua1aw library

18. According to Art. XIV, Sec. 6 of the 1935 Constitution: "The State shall afford protection to labor, especially to working women and minors, and shall regulate the relations between landowner and tenant, and between labor and capital in industry and in agriculture. The State may provide for compulsory arbitration."cralaw virtua1aw library

19. In the present Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 6, there is this provision: "The State shall promote social justice to ensure the dignity, welfare, and security of all the people. Towards this end, the State shall regulate the acquisition, ownership, use, enjoyment, and disposition of private property, and equitably diffuse property ownership and profits." Art. II, Sec. 9 of the present Constitution reads: "The State shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment and equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race, or creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employers. The State shall assure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of work. The state may provide for compulsory arbitration."




Back to Home | Back to Main


chanrobles.com



ChanRobles Professional Review, Inc.

ChanRobles Professional Review, Inc. : www.chanroblesprofessionalreview.com
ChanRobles On-Line Bar Review

ChanRobles Internet Bar Review : www.chanroblesbar.com
ChanRobles CPA Review Online

ChanRobles CPALE Review Online : www.chanroblescpareviewonline.com
ChanRobles Special Lecture Series

ChanRobles Special Lecture Series - Memory Man : www.chanroblesbar.com/memoryman





June-1976 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. L-27037 June 3, 1976 - EUSEBIO MERCADER v. URBANO GABAS

  • G.R. No. L-39326 June 3, 1976 - ANTONIO K. GO v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

  • A.C. No. 598-MJ June 10, 1976 - MELCHOR TABANGIN v. EUFROCINO T. TAGAYUNA

  • A.C. No. 1085 June 10, 1976 - DALTON WOODROW WORTHINGTON v. FELIPE FERNANDEZ

  • G.R. Nos. L-23587-88 June 10, 1976 - LUCAS RAMIREZ v. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. Nos. L-34397-99 June 10, 1976 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ANTONIO LIM

  • G.R. No. L-42257 June 14, 1976 - ILDEFONSO LACHENAL v. EMILIO V. SALAS

  • G.R. No. L-41750 June 16, 1976 - FRANCISCO R. SOTTO, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-28397 June 17, 1976 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JAIME JOSE, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-26651 June 18, 1976 - COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE v. LINO GUTIERREZ

  • G.R. No. L-31095 June 18, 1976 - JOSE M. HERNANDEZ v. DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-33007 June 18, 1976 - VICENTE MIRANDA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-34038 June 18, 1976 - COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS v. ONOFRE A. VILLALUZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-35545 June 18, 1976 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL., ET AL. v. AMADO B. REYES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-35767 June 18, 1976 - RAYMUNDO A. CRYSTAL v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-36610 June 18, 1976 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL., ET AL. v. AMADO B. REYES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-36929 June 18, 1976 - CHINESE YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOC. OF THE PHIL., ET AL. v. VICTOR CHING, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-38482 June 18, 1976 - BATANGAS LAGUNA TAYABAS BUS COMPANY v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-41334 June 18, 1976 - LUCIANO M. DAVID v. BIENVENIDO EJERCITO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-41715 June 18, 1976 - ROSALIO BONILLA, ET AL. v. LEON BARCENA, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. 343-MJ June 22, 1976 - CORAZON NEGRE v. FELIX A. RIVERA

  • G.R. No. L-28383 June 22, 1976 - C.M. HOSKINS & CO., INC. v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE

  • A.M. No. 69-MJ June 29, 1976 - HUSING LAO v. ESTEBAN T. BUMANGLAG

  • G.R. No. L-40948 June 29, 1976 - GREGORIO ESTRADA v. FRANCISCO CONSOLACION, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. 672-CJ June 30, 1976 - MAXIMA ROSALES v. FRANCISCO R. LLAMAS

  • A.M. No. 1150-MJ June 30, 1976 - AMPARO REDONDO v. RODOLFO B. DIMAANO

  • G.R. No. L-24545 June 30, 1976 - NATIONAL BREWERY, ET AL. v. SAN MIGUEL BREWERY, INC.

  • G.R. No. L-28357 June 30, 1976 - ELECTION REGISTRATION BOARD OF AGOO, LA UNION, ET AL. v. SANTIAGO RANADA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-30336 June 30, 1976 - FORTUNATO BANAYOS, ET AL. v. SUSANA REALTY, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-30340 June 30, 1976 - CONSUELO AMUNATEGUE VDA. DE GENTUGAO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-34100 June 30, 1976 - IN RE: CHAN YEN v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

  • G.R. Nos. L-34828-31 June 30, 1976 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. WILFREDO TESORERO

  • G.R. No. L-37148 June 30, 1976 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MAURICIO SARILE

  • G.R. No. L-40527 June 30, 1976 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. HERMOGENES MARIANO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-40658 June 30, 1976 - CRISOSTOMO ARANZANSO v. EUGENIO I. SAGNIT

  • G.R. No. L-40999 June 30, 1976 - BERNARDINA CANOY PONGASI, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-41518 June 30, 1976 - GUERRERO’S TRANSPORT SERVICES, INC. v. BLAYLOCK TRANS. SERVICES EMP. ASSO.-KILUSAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-41612 June 30, 1976 - ROLANDO FLORES v. WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION COMMISSION, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-42510 June 30, 1976 - LILIA D. SIMON v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-43108 June 30, 1976 - PRAXEDES R. REYNALDO v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. L-43469 June 30, 1976 - LUZON STEVEDORING CORP. v. JOSE REYES