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Dr. Pedrito Reyes vs. CA, Phil. Malay Poultry Breeders, Inc.

and Leong Hup Poultry Farm Sdn., Bhd. G.R. No. 154448, August 15, 2003 FACTS: On August 24, 1989, respondent Leong Hup Poultry Farms of Malaysia thru its managing director Francis Lau appointed petitioner Pedrito Reyes as Technical/Sales Manager with a net salary of USD 4,500/month. In 1992, Leong Hup Farms formed Philippine Malay Poultry Breeders, Inc. (Philmalay) in the Philippines and petitioner was appointed General Manager with a monthly pay of USD 5,500. From 1996-97, respondents suffered losses which caused them to reduce production and retrench employees. On June 30, 1997, petitioner gave verbal notice of resignation effective Jan. 1, 1998. In a letter dated Jan. 12, 1998, petitioner confirmed his verbal notice of resignation and requested the same benefits as those granted to retrenched and resigned employees of the company. In a letter dated Jan. 19, 1998, Philmalay retrenched petitioner effective Jan. 20, 1989 and promised him separation pay according to the Labor Code. However, petitioner was offered separation pay equivalent to four months only. This was rejected by petitioner. Petitioner filed with Labor Arbiter for underpayment of wages and non-payment of separation pay, sick leave, vacation leave and other benefits. Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of petitioner. On appeal by respondents at NLRC, decision was modified to delete USD 3,370 as unpaid salary, USD 28,600 as vacation leave, brand new car or its equivalent life insurance and moral and exemplary damages and reducing separation pay to USD 44,400 by lowering length of service from 9 to 8 years only and finally limiting attorneys fees to 10% of total awards. Motion for reconsideration of petitioner was denied and on appeal with CA was dismissed for failure to attach pertinent papers. On motion for reconsideration with attachment of pertinent papers the same was denied again by the CA. ISSUE: (1) Did the CA err in dismissing the petition for technicalities? (2) Should the Labor Arbiters decision be reinstated? RULING: (1) Yes, rules of procedure should not be applied in a very technical sense, for they are adopted to help secure, not override, substantial justice. In Ramos vs. CA, a dismissal should be reconsidered once petitioner complies with the required attachments. In Jaro vs. CA, substantial compliance of an appellant may call for relaxation of the rules of procedure. The same leniency should be applied in the case at bar since petitioner demonstrated willingness to comply with the requirements set by the rules, otherwise, application of the rules of procedure in a very rigid and technical sense would defeat the ends of justice. (2) No, modifications were needed such as reducing, as the NLRC correctly determined, of the length of employment to 8 years from 9, that petitioner is not entitled to compensation from Jan. 1 to 19, 1998 since he did not prove he rendered services during said period, that car and insurance benefits are only granted during course of employment and should not be part

of the separation package, and demand for rental payment of his house as office of Philmalay from Dec. 1, 1989 to July 1996 is not within the jurisdiction of the NLRC but the regular courts. And being that respondents did not appeal the decision of the NLRC, then said decision is deemed satisfactory to said respondents including the order of the NLRC to provide petitioner with legal services in the illegal recruitment case filed against the former in his stint as head of Philmalay. Petitioner is also entitled to sick leave and vacation leave computed based on 8 years of service, separation pay, 13 th month pay and salary and attorneys fees at 10% of total monetary award. Petition is granted and case is remanded to Labor Arbiter for recomputation of awards due petitioner.