No. 143753.June 27, 2001]
MONICA AGRO-AQUA CORP., et al. vs. BAŅES, et al.
hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN
G.R. No. 143753(Sta. Monica
Agro-Aqua Corp. Phase II/Sta. Ana Agro-Aqua Corp. vs. Juanita Baņes, et al.)
This is a petition for review of the Decision dated December 17, 1999 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 523911 Sta Monica Agro-Aqua Corporation, Phase II
and Sta. Ana Agro-Aqua Corporation, petitioners, vs. National Labor Relations
Commission (Fourth Division, Cebu City), and Juanita Baņes, et al.,
Respondents. affirming the
decision of the National Labor Relations Commission, and the Resolution dated
May 17, 2000, denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
The facts of the case are
Private respondents Dennis
Hinayan, Jonathan Pielago and Joel Millanes were employed by petitioner
corporations as pond aides. They claimed that during the time of their
employment as such, they worked on twelve-hour shifts without being paid
overtime pay. Private respondent Juanita Baņes, on the other hand, worked as
timekeeper and warehouse woman. She claimed that she had been employed by
petitioners since February 18, 1991, that she was receiving a daily wage of
Seventy Pesos (
P70.00), and that in January 1992, petitioner reduced her
daily wage to Sixty Pesos ( P60.00).
On March 15, 1993, private
respondents were dismissed from their employment, allegedly due to serious
respondents filed against petitioners a complaint for illegal dismissal with
prayer for immediate reinstatement and payment of full backwages, wage
differentials, harvest bonus, overtime pay, premium pay for holiday, holiday
pay, service incentive leave pay, night shift differential,. cost of living
allowance, moral damages and attorney's fees.
On August 3, 1994, the
Labor Arbiter rendered its Decision ordering Sta. Clara Estate, Inc. and
petitioner corporations, jointly and severally to pay Private respondents their
respective wage differentials and cost of living allowances, service incentive
leave, backwages and separation pay. The Labor Arbiter however dismissed
private respondents' claims for harvest bonus, overtime pay, premium pay for
holiday, night shift differential and damages.2 Rollo, pp. 64-82.
appealed the Labor Arbiter's Decision to the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC). The NLRC affirmed said decision in toto. However, on motion for reconsideration by petitioners, the
NLRC issued a resolution dated November 29, 1995, modifying its decision. It
absolved Sta. Clara Estate, Inc. from any liability and allowed the deduction
of the earnings derived elsewhere by private respondents from the award of
Not satisfied with the
resolution of the NLRC, petitioners filed with this Court a petition for certiorari
assailing the NLRC's ruling. The case was then referred to the Court of Appeals
in accordance with the ruling in St. Martin
Funeral Homes vs. National Labor Relations Commission.3 295 SCRA 494 (1998).
On December 17, 1999, the
Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision dismissing the petition for certiorari.4
RoIlo, pp. 138-151.
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by the appellate
court in a Resolution dated May 17, 2000.5 Id., at 160-161.
Hence, the present
petition. Petitioners argue that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the
Labor Arbiter's and the NLRC's computation of private respondents' backwages
and separation pay based on rates for industrial and commercial establishments,
since their business of prawn production is clearly agricultural in character.6
Petition, Rollo, pp. 19-21.
Petitioners further maintain that there was valid cause for private respondents'
retrenchment.7 Id., at
The Court does not agree.
It finds no reason to disturb the ruling of the Court of Appeals, there being
no reversible error on its part in rendering the assailed Decision.
court affirmed the ruling of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC that since
petitioners failed to prove by substantial evidence their allegations that they
were suffering from business reverses, the retrenchment of private respondents
was unjustified. The Court of Appeals, likewise, found that petitioners failed
to comply with the requirement that, in cases of retrenchment, notice must be
given to both the employees concerned and the Department of Labor and
Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date of retrenchment, as
required under Article 2838 Article
283 of the Labor Code reads:
Art. 283. Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel. - The
employer may also terminate the employment of any employee due to installation
of labor saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the
closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless
the closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title,
by serving a written notice on the workers and the Ministry [now Department] of
Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof.
In case of termination due to the installation of labor saving devices or
redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay
equivalent to at least his one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay
for every year of service, whichever is higher. in case of retrenchment to
prevent losses and in cases of closures or cessation of operations of
establishment or undertaking not due to serious business losses or financial
reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay or at
least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher.
A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be considered one (1) whole year. of
the Labor Code.
The rule is that findings
of fact of the Court of Appeals are binding and conclusive upon this Court
absent any showing that the same is not supported by the evidence on record.9
Security Bank and Trust Company vs.
Triumph Lumber and Construction Corporation, 301 SCRA 537 (1999); Development
Bank of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, 302 SCRA 362 (1999). The
Court finds no reason to depart from this rule especially considering that the
appellate court merely affirmed the factual findings of the NLRC. It is
well-settled that the findings of administrative agencies such as the NLRC are
accorded not only great weight and respect but even finality when these are
supported by substantial evidence and devoid of any unfairness or arbitrariness.10
Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc.
vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 315 SCRA 587 (1999).
Moreover, there is no
basis for petitioners' contention that the amount of backwages and separation
pay imposed by the Court of Appeals is excessive for being based on the
prescribed rates for industrial and commercial establishments. It must be noted
that the appellate court affirmed in toto
the Decision of the NLRC dated September 6, 1995, as modified by its
Resolution dated November 29, 1995. In the aforesaid Resolution, the NLRC
clearly stated that "[t]he computation of the backwages should be based on the
rates for agricultural plantation."11 Resolution of the NLRC dated November 29, l
995, Rollo, p. 61.
WHEREFORE, the petition is
hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) VIRGINIA ANCHETA-SORIANO
Clerk of Court