Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 2004 > May 2004 Decisions > R Transport Corp v. Ejandra : 148508 : May 20, 2004 : J. Corona : Third Division : Decision:




R Transport Corp v. Ejandra : 148508 : May 20, 2004 : J. Corona : Third Division : Decision

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 148508 : May 20, 2004]

R TRANSPORT CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. ROGELIO EJANDRA, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

CORONA, J.:

Before us is a Petition for Review of the decision1 of the Court of Appeals2 dated December 22, 2000 dismissing the Petition for Certiorari of the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission3 (NLRC) dated May 30, 1997. The latter affirmed the decision4 of the labor arbiter dated February 27, 1997 holding petitioner liable for illegal dismissal and directing private respondents reinstatement.

Private respondent Rogelio Ejandra alleged that, for almost six years, from July 15, 1990 to January 31, 1996, he worked as a bus driver of petitioner R Transport Corporation. He plied the route Muntilupa-Alabang-Malanday-Monumento-UE-Letre-Sangandaan from 5:00 a.m. up to 2:00 a.m. the next day and was paid 10% of his daily earnings.

On January 31, 1996, an officer of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Guadalupe Branch, Makati City, apprehended him for obstruction of traffic for which his license was confiscated. Upon his arrival at petitioners garage, he immediately reported the incident to his manager, Mr. Oscar Pasquin, who gave him P500 to redeem his license. The following day, he went to LTO, Guadalupe Branch, to claim it but he was told that it had not yet been turned over by the officer who apprehended him. He was able to retrieve his license only after a week.

On February 8, 1996, private respondent informed Mr. Pasquin that he was ready to report for work. However, he was told that the company was still studying whether to allow him to drive again. Private respondent was likewise accused of causing damage to the bus he used to drive. Denying the charge, private respondent blamed the person who drove the said bus during his absence, considering that the damage was sustained during the week that he did not drive the bus. Mr. Pacquin nonetheless told him Magpahinga ka muna at tatawagin ka na lang namin kung kailangan ka na para magmaneho. Magbakasyon ka muna, bata. When respondent asked how long he had to rest, the manager did not give a definite time.

Petitioner denied private respondents allegations and claimed that private respondent, a habitual absentee, abandoned his job. To belie private respondents allegation that his license had been confiscated, petitioner asserted that, had it been true, he should have presented an apprehension report and informed petitioner of his problems with the LTO. But he did not. Petitioner further argued that private respondent was not an employee because theirs was a contract of lease and not of employment, with petitioner being paid on commission basis.

On February 23, 1997, labor arbiter Rogelio Yulo rendered his decision in favor of private respondent. The dispositive portion of the decision read:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary

PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby rendered finding the dismissal of Rogelio Ejandra to be without just cause and, therefore, illegal and ORDERING R-Transport to REINSTATE him to his former position without loss of seniority and other benefits and to pay him backwages from the time of his dismissal until actual reinstatement.

SO ORDERED.5 cralawred

Labor arbiter Yulo gave no weight to petitioners claim that private respondent abandoned his work. His one-week absence did not constitute abandonment of work considering that it took him the whole week to reclaim his license. Private respondent could not retrieve it unless and until the apprehending officer first transmitted it to their office. His inability to drive for petitioner that whole week was therefore not his fault and petitioner could be held liable for illegal dismissal. Due process was not accorded to private respondent who was never given the opportunity to contest the charge of abandonment.Moreover, assuming actual abandonment, petitioner should have reported such fact to the nearest employment office of the Department of Labor and Employment. But no such report was ever made.

On May 30, 1997, the NLRC rendered a decision affirming the decision of the labor arbiter:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED and the appealed decision AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.6 cralawred

In disputing petitioners claim that private respondent was not its employee and was not therefore entitled to notice and hearing before termination, the NLRC held that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary

It is very clear that (sic) from no less than appellants admission, that complainant was not afforded his right to due process prior to the severance of his employment with respondents. (First par. p.3, respondents Appeal Memorandum, p. 45, Rollo)

Appellants defense of denying the existence of employer-employee relationship with the complainant based on the manner by which complainant was being paid his salary, cannot hold water.

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