G.R. No. 110914 - June 28, 2001
ALFREDO CANUTO, JR. and ROMEO DE LA CORTE, petitioners, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and COLGATE PALMOLIVE PHILIPPINES, INC., respondents.
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 seeking the reversal of the Resolution1 and Order2 of public respondent National Labor Relations Commission dated April 22, 1993 and June 30, 1993, respectively, rendered in NLRC NCR CA No. 003891-92, declaring petitioners to have been lawfully dismissed by private respondent.
Prior to their termination, petitioners Alfredo Canuto, Jr. and Romeo De La Corte were employed by private respondent Colgate Palmolive Philippines, Inc. (Colgate) as statistical quality control supervisor and production foreman, respectively. Canuto was then earning a salary of P9,540.00 per month plus a monthly allowance of P6,770.00, while De La Corte was paid P8,250.00 per month.
On July 5, 1989, Colgate terminated petitioners' services. The notice of termination, signed by respondent's officers, namely Aniceto Y. Dideles, Dexter C. Mendoza, and Ramon F. Alborte, stated that petitioners were being dismissed for loss of confidence. Petitioners, it would appear, were involved in a scheme to defraud respondent company. Basically, the plot consisted of an attempt to induce the company to purchase several drums of perfume used in the manufacture of its toilet soaps and shampoos. The deception was that Colgate already owned the drums of perfume.
The plot was uncovered when Colgate's Manufacturing Director, William Christopher, received two (2) confidential letters detailing the anomaly. An investigation resulted, leading to the entrapment of the malefactors, among whom were petitioners. For purposes of this resolution, we deem it unnecessary to recount at length the complicated behind-the-scene maneuverings which revealed petitioners' complicity in the scheme, for reasons we shall subsequently discuss.
On July 4, 1990, petitioners filed a complaint for illegal termination against Colgate.3 The complaint prayed for the payment of backwages and other benefits, as well as damages.
Hearings ensued. On September 8, 1992, Labor Arbiter Manuel R. Caday issued a Decision4 finding petitioners to have been illegally dismissed. He ordered private respondent to reinstate petitioners and to pay them backwages and other benefits equivalent to P825,492.00 [Canuto] and P404,814.00 [De La Corte]. Colgate appealed the decision to the Commission. As aforesaid, the Commission overruled the labor arbiter's findings and declared petitioners to have been dismissed for cause. However, it ordered Colgate to pay petitioners an indemnity of P1,000.00 in view of the company's alleged failure to accord petitioners due process.
The petitioners then interposed the instant special civil action. As grounds for allowance of their petition, petitioners argue, to wit:
The petition should be dismissed.
It has been revealed that prior to filing the illegal dismissal case before the labor tribunal, petitioners filed an amended complaint for damages dated August 16, 1989 against Dideles, Mendoza and Alborte, the officers whose signatures appeared in the notice of termination given to petitioners, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-3291 before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. Abbreviating the proceedings before the trial court, the defendants therein filed a second motion to dismiss the civil case after petitioners initiated the illegal dismissal case before the labor arbiter on July 4, 1990. The defendants interposed the defense of lack of jurisdiction, averring that the trial court had no jurisdiction over a labor dispute, and accused petitioners of forum shopping. When the trial court denied the motion to dismiss, the defendants elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals via a special civil action for certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 25418. On September 13, 1999, the former Ninth Division of the appellate court rendered judgment dismissing the civil case on the ground of forum shopping. Reconsideration having been denied, petitioners filed a petition for review of certiorari before us, which was docketed as G.R. No. 142851.
On July 10, 2000, the Third Division of this Court issued a Resolution denying the petition for its failure to comply with Section 11, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court. Further, the resolution stated that petitioners failed to show that the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error. Instead of filing a motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file the aforesaid motion. In a Resolution dated October 18, 2000, we denied the motion for extension for being a prohibited pleading. Accordingly, we decreed that no further pleadings would be entertained, and that entry of judgment be made in due course. In a subsequent Resolution dated November 27, 2000, we denied with finality petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
Undeniably, the dismissal of G.R. No. 142851 affects the disposition of the present case, exhibiting as it does petitioners' clear act of forum shopping. Forum shopping is manifest whenever a party "repetitively avail[s] of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely by, some other court."5 It has also been defined as "an act of a party against whom an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum of seeking and possibly getting a favorable opinion in another forum, other than by appeal or the special civil action of certiorari, or the institution of two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition."6 Considered a pernicious evil, it adversely affects the efficient administration of justice since it clogs the court dockets, unduly burdens the financial and human resources of the judiciary, and trifles with and mocks judicial processes.7
There is no doubt that at the time the complaint for illegal dismissal was filed, there was already pending before the regular courts another action involving substantially the same issues. In relation thereto, Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court provides:
We note that both Civil Case No. Q-89-3291 and NLRC NCR-00-07-03622-90 were filed before the issuance of the pertinent circulars guarding against forum shopping. This is not to say, though, that forum shopping was a tolerated practice then. "The rule against forum shopping has long been established and subsequent circulars of the Supreme Court merely formalized the prohibition and provided the appropriate penalties against the transgressors."8 However, at the time material to the case, when the instant petition for certiorari was filed on July 22, 1993, the same was already subject to the provisions of Circular 28-91 which took effect on January 1, 1992.9 In fact, we took pains to emphasize in Maricalum Mining Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission10 that compliance with the circular is mandatory even for labor cases. Hence, petitioners were duty-bound to make the disclosures so required, and this they failed to do.
To this end, we explained in Melo v. Court of Appeals11 that the submission of a certification against forum shopping is a different undertaking from the assurances stated therein. Thus,
We need not belabor the point that petitioners, in failing to state the pendency of Civil Case No. Q-89-3291, or even CA-G.R. SP No. 25418, engaged in a deliberate act of forum shopping. It matters not that the defendant in the civil case differed from the respondent in the labor case inasmuch as literal identity of parties in the two cases is not indispensable.12 It is material that the issues and causes of action involved in both actions revolve around the legality of their dismissal. From the very same act of termination, petitioners seek damages either from herein respondent which they claim unlawfully fired them, or failing that, from respondent's officers whom they claim terminated them without the sanction of the company. Both claims are, quite obviously, contradictory, which only underscores their attempt to canvass for a friendly forum, namely, that if their claim is defeated in the regular court, then they would attempt to prevail in the labor tribunal, or vice versa.
In view of the foregoing, the dismissal of the case at bar is indubitably in order.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED on the ground of forum shopping. Costs against petitioners.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing, Buena, JJ., concur.
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