December 2009 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
G.R. No. 171023 - Arsenio S. Quiambao v. Manila Electric Company
[G.R. NO. 171023 : December 18, 2009]
ARSENIO S. QUIAMBAO, Petitioner, v. MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
The liberality of the law can never be extended to the unworthy and undeserving. In several instances, the policy of social justice has compelled this Court to accord financial assistance in the form of separation pay to a legally terminated employee. This liberality, however, is not without limitations. Thus, when the manner and circumstances by which the employee committed the act constituting the ground for his dismissal show his perversity or depravity, no sympathy or mercy of the law can be invoked.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari 1 assails the Decision2 dated October 28, 2005 and Resolution3 dated January 12, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 85332, which reversed the February 4, 2004 Decision4 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) awarding petitioner Arsenio S. Quiambao separation pay in the amount of
On July 16, 1986, petitioner was employed as branch teller by respondent Manila Electric Company. He was assigned at respondent's Mandaluyong office and was responsible for the handling and processing of payments made by respondent's customers.
It appears from his employment records, however, that petitioner has repeatedly violated the Company Code of Employee Discipline and has exhibited poor performance in the latter part of his employment. Thus:
A. INFRACTIONS -
1. Excessive absences
2. Excessive absences
3. Excessive absences
4. Assaulting others with
bodily harm over work
5. Excessive tardiness
6. Excessive tardiness
7. Simple Absence
8. Excessive tardiness
9. Excessive tardiness
B. PERFORMANCE RATING
His merit ratings from 1995 to 1999 are as follows:
On March 10, 2000, a Notice of Investigation6 was served upon petitioner for his unauthorized and unexcused absences on November 10, 25, 26, 29, 1999; December 1, 2, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 2000; and from February 17, 2000 up to the date of such notification letter. Petitioner was likewise required to appear at the investigation and to present his evidence in support of his defense. However, despite receipt of such notice, petitioner did not participate in the investigation. Consequently, in a Memorandum7 dated March 21, 2000, the legal department recommended petitioner's dismissal from employment due to excessive, unauthorized, and unexcused absences, which constitute (i) abandonment of work under the provisions of the Company Code of Employee Discipline (ii) and gross and habitual neglect of duty under Article 282 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. Through a Notice of Dismissal8 dated March 28, 2000, petitioner's employment was terminated effective March 29, 2000.
Proceedings before the Labor Arbiter
On July 3, 2001, petitioner filed a complaint before the Arbitration Branch of the NLRC against respondent assailing the legality of his dismissal. While petitioner did not dispute his absences, he nonetheless averred that the same were incurred with the corresponding approved application for leave of absence. He also claimed that he was denied due process.
On November 29, 2002, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision9 dismissing petitioner's complaint for lack of merit. The Labor Arbiter ruled that no evidence was presented to prove that the absences of petitioner were authorized; that petitioner was deprived of due process; and that petitioner's habitual absenteeism without leave did not violate the company's rules and regulations which justified his termination on the ground of gross and habitual neglect of duties under Article 282(b) of the Labor Code.
Proceedings before the NLRC
Petitioner appealed to the NLRC which affirmed the legality of his dismissal due to habitual absenteeism. Nonetheless, the NLRC awarded separation pay in favor of petitioner citing the case of Philippine Geothermal, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission.10 The dispositive portion of the NLRC Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby MODIFIED to the extent that the respondent is hereby ordered to pay the complainant separation pay amounting to
P126,875.00 ( P18,125.00 x 14 yrs./2 = P126,875.00).???ñr?bl?š