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CASE NO.

1

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. Nos. 121047-57. August 16, 2000]

PONCIANO LAYUG, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

D E C I S I O N

PARDO, J.:
Is petitioner guilty of falsification of public documents for filling up his daily time record as a
teacher which reflected his actual teaching time and also those when he was within the school
facilities?

THE CASE
What is before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision
[1]
of the
Sandiganbayan finding petitioner Ponciano Layag y Medina guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
eleven (11) counts of falsification of public document under Article 171, paragraph 4, of the Revised
Penal Code. For each count of falsification, the Sandiganbayan meted on petitioner the
indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as
minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum and to pay a fine
of P1,000.00 plus costs of suit.
On March 13, 1990, the Special Prosecutor charged petitioner as follows:
Criminal Case No. 14444
That on or about the month of June 1986, in Digos, Davao del Sur, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, accused Ponciano Layug being then a duly appointed Secondary Public School
Teacher of the Davao del Sur National High School, hence, a public school teacher, and as such
assigned to teach Science Class IV with the following schedule, to wit:
MONDAY - WEDNESDAY - FRIDAY
Science IV A 11:15 12:15 am
Science IV 0 1:30 2:30 pm
TUESDAY THURSDAY
Science IV-A 9:30 10:30 am
Science IV-K 3:30 4:00 pm
Science IV-0 4:00 5:00 pm
did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with grave abuse of confidence and by taking
advantage of his official position prepare and submit his daily time record for June, 1986 by making
it appear that he attended aforesaid classes during the said period of June 18 to 30, 1986 when in
truth and in fact he failed to attend said classes to teach and for which he is legally bound to
disclose the truth, to the damage and prejudice of the government.
Contrary to law.
[2]

In Criminal Case No. 14445, the information states thus:
"That on or about the month of July 1986, in Digos, Davao del Sur, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, accused Ponciano Layug, a duly appointed Secondary School Teacher of the Davao
del Sur National High School, hence, a public school teacher and as such was assigned to teach
Youth Development Training I scheduled on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between the hours of
7:15 in the morning to 9:15 in the morning and on Tuesday and Thursday between the hours of
7:30 in the morning to 9:30 in the morning, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
and with grave abuse of confidence and taking advantage of his official position prepare and submit
his daily time record for the month of July 1986 by making it appear that he attended the aforesaid
classes from the 3rd day of July to the 31st day of July, 1986, when in truth and in fact he failed to
attend and teach said subject and for which he is legally bound to disclose the truth, to the damage
and prejudice of the government.
Contrary to law.
[3]

In Criminal Cases Nos. 14446 to 14450, the information filed are similarly worded as that in
Criminal Case No. 14445, except for the particulars as to the month and year
[4]
indicated in each
daily time record.
In Criminal Case No. 14451, the information alleged that petitioner made it appear in his daily
time record for January 1987, that from the 13th to the 29th of that month, he reported to the
Division Office in Digos, Davao del Sur by virtue of a directive of the Assistant Regional Director and
Officer in Charge, although he was in truth absent. The information in Criminal Cases Nos. 14452 to
14454 pertain to the daily time records when petitioner was detailed with the Division Office during
the months of February, March and April, 1987, wherein petitioner allegedly made it appear that he
reported to said Office from the 3rd to the 27th of February, 1987, the 2nd to the 31st of March,
1987, and the 1st to the 3rd day of April, 1987, respectively.
On March 31, 1995, the Sandiganbayan,
[5]
rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
WHEREFORE, after trial on the merits, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Ponciano
Layug y Medina GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal in all eleven (11) counts of
Falsification of Public Documents charged in the above-numbered cases, as defined and penalized
under Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code and there being no modifying
circumstance in attendance, after applying the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, he is
hereby sentenced as follows:
(1) In Criminal Case No. 14444 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS and
ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the costs of
said action.
(2) In Crim. Case No. 14445 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
(3) In Crim. Case No. 14446 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
(4) In Crim. Case No. 14447 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P1,000.00 and to pay the costs
of said action.
(5) In Crim. Case No. 14448 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
(6) In Crim. Case No. 14449 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
(7) In Crim. Case No. 14450 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
(8) In Crim. Case No. 14451 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P1,000.00 an to pay the costs
of said action.
(9) In Crim. Case No. 14452 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
(10) In Crim. Case No. 14453 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
(11) In Crim. Case No. 14454 - to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS,
FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as the minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the maximum; to pay a fine of P 1,000.00 and to pay the
costs of said action.
SO ORDERED.
[6]


THE FACTS
On June 7, 1971, petitioner applied with the Division Office of Davao del Sur for a permanent
teaching position in the Digos Provincial High School. He stated in his application letter
[7]
that he
obtained the degrees of Associate in Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of
Sto. Tomas, in 1960, and the academic aspect of the course in Master of Arts in Psychology from
the Lyceum of the Philippines. A civil service eligible for secondary teachers, petitioner claimed
having taught for seven (7) years English, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Biology, General Science
and History in the high school level, and Education, Philosophy, Psychology, Zoology, Botany,
Statistics and Health in the college level.
At the Davao del Sur National High School (DSNHS), petitioner taught English, Literature and
Social Studies. In school year 1986-1987, he was assigned to teach two loads of English IV and
four loads of Science IV (Physics). Ramon Presto, the principal of DSNHS, authorized the head of
the Science Department to assign any science course to petitioner.
[8]
Thus, on June 17, 1986,
Lourdes E. Magbanua of the Science Department, issued a memorandum addressed to petitioner
detailing his schedule for Science IV classes.
[9]
Jovencio Tablang, the assistant principal in charge of
academic affairs, noted the memorandum. However, because petitioner refused to receive the
memorandum,
[10]
on June 23, 1986, Magbanua informed Presto through a letter that petitioner
refused to teach three (3) Science IV classes assigned to him for the reason that he was
"inexperienced and incompetent to teach the subject."
[11]
Magbanua mentioned in that letter that
petitioner's science load had been unattended to for one week already and thus she referred the
matter to Jovencio Tablang. Nevertheless, Magbanua would see petitioner in campus, talking with
friends or with the security guards in the guardhouse.
[12]

In the month of June 1986, petitioner filed a daily time record showing that he reported for
work within his daily official working hours of 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. from June
16 to June 30, 1986.
[13]
Petitioner signed the June 1986 daily time record but the principal did not
sign it. Petitioner submitted similarly filled up daily time records from July 1986 to April
1987.
[14]
Notably, the daily time records for those months showed that, except for reasons of court
appearances in certain mornings and afternoons, petitioner regularly reported for work within his
official time of 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
On June 4, 1986, Presto filed with the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) TBP Case No. 86-01001,
[15]
a
complaint for estafa through falsification of public documents against petitioner. Presto alleged that
petitioner made it appear that he had completed the required number of hours of work in his daily
time records (hereinafter DTR) for the months of January to April 1986, notwithstanding that he
only worked for a short period of time.
[16]
After his arraignment, petitioner learned that he was
charged with eleven (11) more counts of falsification of public document pertaining to his daily time
records for June 1986 to April 1987, that were docketed as TBP Case No. 87-02474.
On June 30, 1986, petitioner sent a handwritten letter to Presto reiterating his request for the
subjects that he could handle and apologizing for his inability to handle the Physics subject that
Magbanua was asking him to teach.
[17]
In his reply dated July 2, 1986 to that letter, Presto noted
that as a result of petitioner's refusal to attend to the science subjects assigned to him petitioner
was serving for only six (6) hours a week teaching two loads of English. Hence, he was short of
fifteen (15) hours per week from June 16-30, 1986. Presto stated that since there were no more
subject load that could be assigned to petitioner except science and YDT, petitioner was instructed
to report to Ruperto H. Escarcha of the Youth Development Training (YDT) Department for
assignment effective immediately and to see Presto for further instructions.
[18]

Petitioner did not report to Ruperto H. Escarcha to teach subjects in YDT and CAT-1.
[19]
Hence,
on July 16, 1986, Presto issued a memorandum calling petitioner's attention to his failure to follow
instructions from his superiors. Presto warned him that should he fail to explain his side within five
(5) days, he would be constrained to recommend petitioner's preventive suspension or summary
dismissal to higher authorities.
[20]

On August 6, 1986, Escarcha informed Presto that he had scheduled petitioner's working load
for YDT/CAT-1 but petitioner failed to report to his assigned classes. Escarcha reminded Presto that
with the YDT load, petitioner would have a teacher's total maximum load of twenty-one (21) hours
per week with his two CAE (Communication Arts English) load.
[21]

On December 17, 1986, Presto issued a memorandum to petitioner instructing him to report
immediately to the Guidance Office during his CAE IV periods, MWF, pending instruction from higher
authorities, because the Guidance Coordinator would give him assignment in guidance services in
lieu of his English subject load. Petitioner was also informed that Mrs. Farcolina Badilles would be
assigned temporarily to CAE IV of Section Garcia while CAE IV of Section Luna would be handled by
Mrs. Celestina Hipe until a qualified teacher assumes the two subject load. Petitioner would,
however, remain assigned to the YDT/CAT Department. Presto clarified that the shifting of teachers'
assignment/load was made in the interest and welfare of the students "as requested by them and
their parents, and for the good of the service.
[22]
On that same day, Presto issued a memorandum
to Mrs. Hipe and Mrs. Badilles informing them of their temporary subject load assignment in addition
to their duties in the Guidance Department.
[23]

On May 19, 1986, petitioner filed with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, Region XI
in Davao City complaints for harassment and oppression and for unjustifiable refusal to release
vacation salaries against Presto under Administrative Cases Nos. R-0758-XI-86 and R-0766-XI-
86. The cases were consolidated with the complaint filed by Presto against petitioner for dishonesty
under Administrative Case No. R-0764-XI-86.
Notwithstanding the fact that petitioner was allowed to teach only two (2) English subjects (one
hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon) he accomplished the daily time record for June
1986. After teaching, he would while away time in the library, in the administrative office, and in the
school premises because the school did not have a faculty room and he was not even provided a
table by the principal.
On June 19, 1986, petitioner wrote Presto stating that, for reasons of competency, experience
and readiness, he would like to teach: (1) English and Literature, (2) History, "Business Distributive
Arts (commercial) and Population Education," and (3) Science I and Biology.
[24]
Petitioner submitted
the daily time record to Presto, through the head teacher, at the end of each month. He would
place a particular daily time record in a pigeonhole provided for the purpose and the head teacher
would submit it either to the principal or the assistant principal. However, from June 1986 to April
1987, he was not paid his salary. Only after his case reached the Court of Appeals
[25]
did he receive
compensation in the amount of P6,000.00. Meanwhile, Presto and his companions persisted in
harassing petitioner. He was not only assigned to subjects he was not competent to teach, he was
also removed from teaching the English subjects he was already teaching. Petitioner testified that
some of the administrators even induced students not to attend the classes where he taught and
posted signs along the corridor.
[26]

In its order of January 8, 1987, the DECS regional office detailed petitioner to the Division
Office in Digos, Davao del Sur. On January 12, 1987, petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration. On January 26, 1987, the regional office denied the motion thereby sustaining the
order detailing him to the Division Office.
[27]
However, petitioner did not report to the Division Office
pursuant to those orders. Neither did he file a leave of absence starting January 8, 1987.
[28]

Petitioner, however, presented evidence that on July 13, 1987, DECS Regional Director Teofilo E.
Gomez issued a memorandum to Schools Division Superintendent Benedicto V. Cruz and principal
Presto requesting them to give teaching loads to petitioner at the DSNHS effective upon receipt
thereof. The memorandum modified the one issued by the same office on January 8, 1987,
detailing petitioner to the Division Office. The memorandum indicated that the detail of teaching
personnel in the Regional/Division/District Offices was prohibited.
[29]

On July 27, 1987, as a consequence of the withholding of his salary for the vacation period of
1986, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court of Digos, Davao del Sur, Branch 19, Civil Case No.
2425, an action for mandamus against Presto, the DSNHS cashier and the Schools' Division
Superintendent. Petitioner alleged that on June 19, 1987, the DECS Regional Director had issued an
order to effect the payment of his salary as well as other emoluments but the principal refused to
comply therewith and hence, petitioner claimed damages therefor.
On September 17, 1991, the Regional Trial Court
[30]
rendered a decision ordering the dismissal
of the case and the counterclaim. The trial court directed payment to petitioner of his salary for
work correspondingly rendered from January 5, 1989.
[31]
The latter date had been fixed by this
Court in the Decision of February 7, 1990 in G.R. No. 82272 (Layug vs. Quisumbing),
[32]
arising from
petitioner's preventive suspension by the DECS Regional Director and approved by DECS Secretary
Lourdes Quisumbing.
In that case, the Court held that a teacher may not be compelled to accept and neither may he
demand to be given an assignment not specified in his appointment. However, interruptions in the
administrative investigation caused by petitioner's own fault or upon his own request would not be
counted in computing the 90-day statutory limit of suspension. Hence, for his refusal to accept
assignments given to him by the regional director, petitioner was not entitled to receive salary for
the period of idleness; he may receive salary only from January 5, 1989 when he reported for work.
On March 30, 1990, the prosecutor filed with the Sandiganbayan eleven (11) counts of
falsification of public document
[33]
against petitioner.
Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charges.
[34]
The prosecution thus
presented Ramon Presto, Lourdes Magbanua, Benedicto Cruz, Ruperto Escarcha and Celestina Hipe
as its witnesses.
On March 31, 1995, the Sandiganbayan promulgated its decision finding petitioner guilty of
eleven (11) counts of falsification of public documents.
Hence, this appeal.
[35]

Petitioner asserts that the facts narrated in his daily time records were not absolutely
false. Hence, there was no falsification as there was "some colorable truth" in the daily time
record. Moreover, in filling up his daily time record, petitioner acted in good faith. Proof of this is
that he filed a petition for mandamus to compel the school head to release his salary for school year
1986-87. On the other hand, it was the school principal who was impelled by improper motives in
testifying against petitioner. As this Court noted in its decision of June 16, 1995 in G.R. No.
114138 (Layug vs. Sandiganbayan),
[36]
despite his knowledge of the irregular attendance of
petitioner, he (Presto) did not take extra care to segregate and scrutinize petitioner's DTRs starting
January 1986, so as to give himself (Presto) justification not to sign the same.

THE RULING
We find the petition meritorious.
At the outset, it must be stressed that in all criminal prosecutions for offenses under the
Revised Penal Code, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had
criminal intent to commit the offense charged. As this Court said in Beradio vs. Court of Appeals:
"Of great weight in Our criminal justice system is the principle that the essence of an offense is the
wrongful intent (dolo), without which it cannot exist. Actus non facit reum, nisi mens set rea, the
act itself does not make a man guilty unless his intentions were so. Article 3 of the Revised Penal
Code clearly indicates that malice or criminal intent (dodo) in some form is an essential requisite of
all crimes and offenses defined in the Code, except in those cases where the element required is
negligence (culpa).
[37]

Petitioner was charged with having committed eleven (11) counts of falsification of public
document under Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code that states:
The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed P5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any
public officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a
document by committing any of the following acts:
x x x x x x x x x
4. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts;
x x x x x x x x x."
To convict an accused of the crime of falsification of public or official document under that
provision of law, the following requisites must be established: (1) the offender makes in a
document untruthful statements in a narration of facts; (2) he has a legal obligation to disclose the
truth of the facts narrated by him; and (3) the facts narrated by him are absolutely false.
[38]

There is authority to the effect that a fourth requisite, i.e., that the act of falsification was
committed to the damage of a third party or with intent to cause such damage, may be dispensed
with as regards falsification of public or official document. The reason for this is that in falsification
of public document, the principal thing punished is the violation of the public faith and the
destruction of the truth as therein solemnly proclaimed.
[39]
However, the daily time record that a
public official or employee must fill up is a public document which has characteristics distinct from
other public documents. It should contain a "true and correct report of hours of work performed,
record of which was made daily at the of arrival at and departure from office."
[40]
As to its nature
and purpose, this Court has said:
x x x. The evident purpose of requiring government employees to keep a time record is to show
their attendance in office to work and to be paid accordingly. Closely adhering to the policy of no
work no pay, a daily time record is primarily, if not solely, intended to prevent damage or loss to the
government as would result in instances where it pays an employee for no work done. The integrity
of the daily time record as an official document, however, remains untarnished if the damage
sought to be prevented has not been produced. X x x (w)hile it is true that a time record is an
official document, it is not criminally falsified if it does not pervert its avowed purpose as when it
does not cause damage to the government. It may be different in the case of a public document
with continuing interest affecting the public welfare which is naturally damaged if that document is
falsified where the truth is necessary for the safeguard and protection of that general interest. x x
x."
[41]
(Italics supplied.)
As such, in the prosecution of cases involving falsification of daily time records, it is imperative
that there be proof of damage to the government. Such damage may take the form of salary paid
to the accused for services not rendered.
[42]

There is no proof that petitioner unduly benefited from his daily time record. On the contrary,
what appears on record is the fact that petitioner was deprived of his salary from June 1986 to April
1987, the period of time material in these cases. In fact, petitioner had to resort to our courts
before he could get the salary that was due him in proportion to the time he actually rendered
services to the government.
The court allowed petitioner to receive the amount of P6,000.00 for services he actually
rendered. It sufficiently proves that his daily time record was not absolutely false. In other words,
there was a color of truth in the entries in petitioner's daily time record as he did report for work at
the DSNHS. The truth that he taught within his official time of work is even buttressed by the
prosecution evidence that two teachers, Hipe and Badilles, had to take over the English subjects
assigned to him.
Upon his replacement by Hipe and Badilles in the English classes he handled, petitioner was
supposed to report to the Division Office in accordance with the January 8, 1987 directive of the
DECS regional office. Petitioner did not report to the Division Office. By his daily time record, he
continued reporting to DSNHS because he protested his detail to that office sometime in February
1987.
[43]
Notably, petitioner received a copy of the report of the DECS Grievance Committee dated
December 15, 1986
[44]
recommending the detail of both petitioner and principal Presto to the Division
Office, only on July 8, 1987.
[45]
Then, he also received the Memorandum of the DECS Regional
Director dated July 13, 1987, lifting the detail order.
[46]

Petitioner cannot therefore be faulted for reporting to the DSNHS. He was not under a
suspension order or any administrative sanction that would legally prevent him from reporting to
work. He sought redress in the proper administrative body and during the time that he had not
received a copy of the memorandum regarding his detail that he had questioned, he reported at the
DSNHS. In the absence of sufficient proof to the contrary, good faith in reporting to work and in
accordingly filling up his daily time record may therefore be attributed to petitioner. As this Court
once said:
x x x there is no falsification of a public document if the acts of the accused are consistent with
good faith. Thus, it has been held that "a conviction for falsification of public document by a private
person will not be sustained when the facts found are consistent with good faith on the part of the
accused." In other words, although the accused altered a public document or made a misstatement
or erroneous assertion therein, he would not be guilty of falsification as long as he acted in good
faith and no one was prejudiced by the alteration or error.
[47]

Moreover, in filling up his daily time records from June 1986 to January 1987, petitioner clearly
acted on the erroneous belief that he had the choice of what subjects to teach. This Court
discussed that mater in Layug vs. Quisumbing
[48]
wherein petitioner's petition to declare respondents
DECS Secretary Quisumbing, Gomez and Presto in contempt and to direct them to reinstate him as a
teacher of English and Biology and to pay his back salaries were denied. From June 1986 to April
1987, he filled up his daily time record on the notion that he should report to the DSNHS pursuant
to Civil Service Rules requirements on the number of hours a teacher should remain in school.
[49]
He
did so even though he was not given a subject to teach and the administrative matter of his detail
to the Division Office had not been resolved. Clearly then, petitioner's actions do not necessarily
reflect criminal intent. If what is proven is mere judgmental error on the part of the person
committing an act, no malice or criminal intent can be rightfully imputed to him.
[50]

There is no proof beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner is guilty of falsification of public
document. From the facts of all the cases that had been filed by either petitioner or Presto could
have been the lack of cordiality between them. Petitioner's recalcitrance might have aggravated the
situation that resulted in his commission of acts that may be grounds of an administrative
cases.
[51]
However, under the facts established by the prosecution in these cases, the acts attributed
to petitioner may not be the foundation of a successful criminal prosecution. The evidence
presented did not provide moral certainty that petitioner committed the eleven (11) counts of
falsification of public document charged.
In view of the foregoing, the presumption is that petitioner Ponciano Layug is innocent. Such
presumption continues until his guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt.
[52]
Verily, although the
evidence for the defense may be weak, criminal conviction must come from the strength of the
prosecution's evidence and not from the weakness of the defense.
[53]
The proofs presented do not
meet the set criterion to justify petitioner's conviction for the offense.
Thus, acquittal of petitioner is proper.

THE FALLO
WHEREFORE, we REVERSE and SET ASIDE the decision of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal
Cases Nos. 14444 to 14454. Petitioner Panciano Layug is hereby ACQUITTED of eleven (11) counts
of falsification of public document for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
________________________________________
[1]
Promulgated on March 31, 1995 in Criminal Cases Nos. 14444 to 14454,
[2]
Sandiganbayan Record in Criminal Case No. 14444, Vol. 1, pp. 1-2.
[3]
Sandiganbayan Record in Criminal Case No. 14445, pp. 1-2.
[4]
August 1986 in Crim. Case No. 14446; September 1986 in Crim. Case No. 14447; October 1986 in Crim. Case No.
14448; November 1986 in Crim. Case No. 14449 and December 1986 in Crim. Case No. 14450.
[5]
Second Division, Justice Romeo M. Escareal, ponente, Justices Minita Chico-Nazario and Roberto M. Lagman, concurring.
[6]
Rollo, pp. 77-78.
[7]
Exh. E.
[8]
TSN, November 19, 1991, p. 7.
[9]
Exh. L.
[10]
Exh. L-1.
[11]
Exh. A.
[12]
TSN, November 19, 1991, pp. 5-12.
[13]
Exh. K.
[14]
Exhs. K-2 to K-10.
[15]
With the then Tanodbayan.
[16]
Record of Crim. Case No. 14444, p. 29.
[17]
Exh. C.
[18]
Exh. D.
[19]
Exh. F.
[20]
Exh. G.
[21]
Exh. T.
[22]
Exh. X.
[23]
Exh. W.
[24]
Exh. 3.
[25]
CA-G.R. No. SP No. 12876 (Layug vs. Presto I Diez). In its decision of promulgated on January 27, 1989 (Exh. 8), the
Court of Appeals (through Associate Justice Pedro A. Ramirez, concurred in by Associate Justices Vicente V. Mendoza and
Asaali S. Isnani) dismissed the petition for mandamus on account of petitioners admission that he had been paid his claim
for the 1985-86 proportional vacation salary. However, the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings
on the question of damages claimed from each other by petitioner and respondents.
[26]
TSN, July 9, 1992, pp. 18-50.
[27]
Exh. I.
[28]
Exh. R, Certification of Benedicto V. Cruz.
[29]
Exh. 11.
[30]
Branch 19, Digos, Davao del Sur, Sp. Civil Case No. 2425, presided over by Judge Dominador F. Carrillo.
[31]
Exh. O.
[32]
182 SCRA 46 [1990].
[33]
Docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 14444-14454.
[34]
Ibid., p. 202.
[35]
Filed on July 31, 1995.
[36]
245 SCRA 123 [1995].
[37]
191 Phil. 153, 163 [1981].
[38]
Syquian vs. People, 171 SCRA 223, 230 [1989], citing Cabigas vs. People, 152 SCRA 18 [1987]; Leyson vs. Office of
the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 134990, April 27, 2000.
[39]
People vs.. Po Giok To, 96 Phil. 913, 918 [1955].
[40]
Suan vs. Resuello, 65 SCRA 301, 303 [1975].
[41]
Beradio vs., Court of Appeals, supra, at p. 168.
[42]
Layug vs. Sandiganbayan, 315 Phil. 93, 106 [1995] where petitioner was charged with four (4) counts of estafa
through falsification of public documents or his daily time records. In that case, the Court said: If petitioner did not
receive his salaries, no damage and prejudice could have been caused the government.
[43]
TSN, July 10, 1992, p. 25.
[44]
Exh. 5.
[45]
TSN, supra, p. 22.
[46]
Exh. 11.
[47]
Amora, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, 200 Phil. 777, 783 [1982].
[48]
182 SCRA 46 [1990]
[49]
TSN, supra, at p. 34.
[50]
Lecaroz vs. Sandiganbayan, 305 SCRA 396, 408 [1999].
[51]
Mirano vs. Saavedra, 225 SCRA 77, 85 [1993] where the Court held that falsification of an official document is
considered a grave offense, which warrants the penalty of dismissal.
[52]
Enriquez vs. People, G.R. Nos. 119239 and 119285, May 9, 2000.
[53]
Ibid., citing Layug vs. Sandiganbayan, 245 SCRA 123 [1995].










CASE NO.2

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 115795. March 6, 1998]

JOSE S. SANTOS, JR., petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
COMMISSION, HAGONOY INSTITUTE INC., ITS DIRECTRESS, MARTA B.
ZUNIGA and PRINCIPAL B. BANAG, respondent.

D E C I S I O N
ROMERO, J.:
It is to state the obvious that schools, next only to the home, wield a weighty influence upon
the students, especially during the latters formative years, for it instills in them the values and
mores which shall prepare them to discharge their rightful responsibilities as mature individuals in
society. At the vanguard in nurturing their growth are the teachers who are directly charged with
rearing and educating them. As such, a teacher serves as a role model for his students. Corollarily,
he must not bring the teaching profession into public disrespect or disgrace.
[1]
For failure to live up
to the exacting moral standards demanded by his profession, petitioner Jose Santos was dismissed
from his employment on the ground of immorality. We uphold his dismissal.
The following facts are hereunder narrated.
Petitioner, a married man, was employed as a teacher by the private respondent Hagonoy
Institute Inc. from June 1980 until his dismissal on June 1, 1991. Likewise working as a teacher for
the private respondent was Mrs. Arlene T. Martin, also married. In the course of their employment,
the couple fell in love. Thereafter, rumors regarding the couples relationship spread, especially
among the faculty members and school officials.
Concerned about the rumors, on November 3, 1990, the private respondent advised Mrs. Martin
to take a leave of absence which she ignored, as she continued to report for work. Consequently,
on November 9, 1990, she was barred from reporting for work and was not allowed to enter the
private respondents premises, effectively dismissing her from her employment.
In view of her termination from the service, on November 13, 1990, Mrs. Martin filed a case for
illegal dismissal before the NLRC Regional Arbitration Branch No. III, San Fernando,
Pampanga
[2]
against the private respondent. After the parties had submitted their respective
evidence and position paper, Labor Arbiter Ariel Santos rendered a decision dismissing the complaint,
the dispositive part of which states:
WHEREFORE, the complaint filed by the complainant Arlene Martin is hereby DISMISSED for utter
lack of merit.
However, considering the length of service of complaint and for humanitarian reason she would be
given financial assistance based on one-month pay on every year of service.
On appeal, the NLRC in a decision dated February 26, 1993, reversed the labor arbiters ruling,
the dispositive portion of the decision
[3]
reads:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby SET ASIDE and VACATED. Another one ENTERED
ordering respondent to pay complainant her backwages and separation pay in the total amount of
P83,392.40. Complainants other claims are hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
The reversal was anchored on the failure by the private respondent, in dismissing Mrs. Martin,
to accord her the necessary procedural due process.
[4]

Meanwhile, private respondent set up a committee to investigate the veracity
of the rumors. After two weeks of inquiry, the committee rendered its report confirming the illicit
relationship between the petitioner and Mrs. Martin.
[5]

In view of the committees finding, on December 19, 1990, petitioner was charged
administratively for immorality and was required to present his side on the controversy. Five
months later or in May 1991, petitioner was informed by the private respondents Board of Directors
of his dismissal effective June 1, 1991.
[6]
Unable to accept such verdict, petitioner filed a complaint
for illegal dismissal on August 12, 1991 before the NLRC Regional Arbitration Branch No. III, San
Fernando, Pampanga. After a full blown trial was conducted, Labor Arbiter Quintin C. Mendoza
rendered a decision dated January 12, 1993, dismissing petitioners complaint but at the same time
awarding monetary sums as financial assistance, the dispositive portion of which reads, thus:
WHEREFORE, judgement is hereby issued dismissing the complaint, but ordering respondent
Hagonoy Institute Inc. and/or Mrs. Elisea B. Banag (respondent Principal) or Mrs. Marta B. Zuniga
(respondent Directress) to pay complainant (petitioner) the sum of thirteen thousand and seven
hundred fifty (P13,750.00) pesos (as financial assistance), the rest of the complaint being hereby
dismissed for lack of basis or merit.
SO ORDERED.
In an effort to seek the reversal of the labor arbiters decision, petitioner filed an appeal before
the NLRC, which, however, did not find any substantial reason to overturn the labor arbiters
ruling. Thus, in a decision
[7]
dated November 29, 1993, the NLRC dismissed the appeal, to wit:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal should be, as it is hereby, dismissed for lack
of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioners motion for reconsideration suffered the same fate.
[8]
Thus, this petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
We hereby uphold the NLRCs finding dismissing petitioner from his employment.
The crux of the controversy is whether the illicit relationship between the petitioner and Mrs.
Martin could be considered immoral as to constitute just cause to terminate an employee under
Article 282 of the Labor Code.
We have consistently held that in order to constitute a valid dismissal, two requisites must
concur: (a) the dismissal must be for any of the causes expressed in Art. 282 of the Labor Code,
and (b) the employee must be accorded due process, basic of which are the opportunity to be heard
and defend himself.
[9]

Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, as amended, the following are deemed just causes to
terminate an employee:
(a) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his
employer or representative in connection with his work;
(b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties:
(c) Fraud or willfull breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or
duly authorized representative;
(d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or
any immediate member of his family or his duly authorize representative; and
(e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing.
Moreover, it is provided inter alia under Section 94
[10]
of the Manual of Regulations for Private
Schools:
Section 94. Causes of Terminating Employment. In addition to the just cases enumerated in the
Labor Code, the employment of school personnels, including faculty, may be terminated for any of
the following causes:
xxx xxx xxx
E. Disgraceful or immoral conduct.
Private respondent, in justifying the termination of the petitioner, contends that being a teacher,
he must live up to the high moral standards required of his position. In other words, it asserts
that its purpose in dismissing the petitioner was to preserve the respect of the community towards
the teachers and to strengthen the educational system.
[11]

On the other hand, petitioner merely argues that the alleged illicit relationship was not
substantially proven by convincing evidence by the private respondent as to justify his dismissal.
On the outset, it must be stressed that to constitute immorality, the circumstances of each
particular case must be holistically considered and evaluated in light of the prevailing norms of
conduct and applicable laws.
[12]
American jurisprudence has defined immorality as a course of
conduct which offends the morals of the community and is a bad example to the youth whose ideals
a teacher is supposed to foster and to elevate,
[13]
the same including sexual misconduct.
[14]
Thus, in
petitioners case, the gravity and seriousness of the charges against him stem from his being a
married man and at the same time a teacher.
We cannot overemphasize that having an extra-marital affair is an afront to the sanctity of
marriage, which is a basic institution of society. Even our Family Code provides that husband and
wife must live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity.
[15]
This is rooted in the fact that
both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family.
[16]
Our
laws, in implementing this constitutional edict on marriage and the family underscore their
permanence, inviolability and solidarity.
[17]

As a teacher, petitioner serves as an example to his pupils, especially during their formative
years
[18]
and stands in loco parentis to them.
[19]
To stress their importance in our society, teachers
are given substitute and special parental authority under our laws.
[20]

Consequently, it is but stating the obvious to assert that teachers must adhere to the exacting
standards of morality and decency. There is no dichotomy of morality. A teacher, both in his
official and personal conduct, must display exemplary behavior. He must freely and willingly accept
restrictions on his conduct that might be viewed irksome by ordinary citizens. In other words, the
personal behavior of teachers, in and outside the classroom, must be beyond reproach.
Accordingly, teachers must abide by a standard of personal conduct which not only proscribes
the commission of immoral acts, but also prohibits behavior creating a suspicion of immorality
because of the harmful impression it might have on the students.
[21]
Likewise, they must observe a
high standard of integrity and honesty.
[22]

From the foregoing, it seems obvious that when a teacher engages in extra-marital relationship,
especially when the parties are both married, such behavior amounts to immorality, justifying his
termination from employment.
[23]

Having concluded that immorality is a just cause for dismissing petitioner, it is imperative that
the private respondent prove the same. Since the burden of proof rests upon the employer to show
that the dismissal was for a just and valid cause,
[24]
the same must be supported by substantial
evidence.
[25]

Undoubtedly, the question of immorality by the petitioner is factual in nature. Thus, we
reiterate the well-settled rule that factual findings by the NLRC, particularly when it coincides with
those by the Labor Arbiter, are accorded respect, even finality, and will not be disturbed for as long
as such findings are supported by substantial evidence.
[26]
A scrutiny of the records of the instant
petition leads us to concur with the NLRCs finding that petitioner indeed entered into an illicit
relationship with his co-teacher. This fact was attested to by the testimonies of nine witnesses (a
fourth year student, a security guard, a janitor and six co-teachers) which petitioner failed to rebut.
In fact, the petitioners only recourse was to deny the accusation and insinuate that these
witnesses were coerced by the private respondent to give their testimonies. However, under such
circumstances, it is not enough for petitioner to simply cast doubt on the motives of the witnesses;
he must present countervailing evidence to prove that no such affair took place.
In short, we cannot just ignore the witnesses affidavits and their subsequent testimonies
during the investigation as to the culpability of the petitioner on the sole basis of the latters
denial. In any event, we have held that denial, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence,
is a negative and self-serving evidence which has no weight in law and cannot be given greater
evidentiary value over the testimony of credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters.
[27]

Further bolstering the witnesses testimonies is the the absence of any motive on their part to
falsely testify against the petitioner. Thus, since there is nothing to indicate that the witnesses were
moved by dubious or improper motives to testify falsely against the petitioner, their testimonies are
hereby accorded full faith and credit.
Likewise, petitioner cannot take comfort from the letter dated November 7, 1990 signed by 28
of his co-teachers, expressing their unequivocal support for Mrs. Arlene Martin.
[28]
It must be noted
that the said letter did not in any way absolve Mrs. Martin from any wrongdoing. It merely affirmed
the fact that when she was forcibly asked to take a leave of absence on November 3, 1990 the
same was done in a precipitous manner, without the benefit of due process. Moreover, it must be
stressed that the expression of support was personal to Mrs. Martin, and the same should not
redound to the benefit of the petitioner. Indeed, if petitioner really had the support of his peers,
then it should have been easy for him to obtain a similar letter from them in the course of his
administrative investigation. However, not only did he not get such support, but six of his co-
teachers even testified against him during the inquiry.
Finally, petitioner cannot invoke in his favor the ruling in the Arlene Martin case, wherein the
NLRC ruled that her dismissal was illegal. It must be noted that the reason for declaring Martins
dismissal as illegal was the failure by the private respondent to accord her the required due
process.
[29]

As aptly observed by the NLRC in its decision:
[30]

In the case at bar, the complainant was amply afforded the due process requirements of law. He
was dismissed only on June 1, 1991 after an exhaustive investigation. A committee was formed to
conduct an inquiry. (Rollo, pp. 43-44) An administrative charge for immorality was filed against him.
(Rollo, p. 45) He was even required to testify in said case. (Rollo, p. 46) He was given the
opportunity to answer said accusation. (Rollo, p. 47) He was in fact present during the hearing on
January 17, 1991 and gave his side. x x x In fine, herein complainant (petitioner) cannot
successfully seek refuge in the cited case of Martin. (Rollo, pp. 48-49)
In view of our finding that petitioners dismissal was for a just and valid cause, the grant of
financial assistance by the NLRC is without any factual and legal basis. In PLDT v. NLRC,
[31]
we held
that:
We hold henceforth separation pay shall be as a measure of social justice only in these instances
where the employee is validly dismissed for cause other than serious misconduct or those reflecting
his moral character. Where the reason for the valid dismissal is, for example, habitual intoxication
or an offense involving moral turpitude, like theft or illicit sexual relationship with a fellow worker,
the employer may not be required to give the dismissed employee separation pay, or financial
assistance, or whatever other name it is called, on the ground of social justice.
The above ruling has consistently been applied in terminating an employee when it involves his
moral character.
[32]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. The questioned
Resolution dated March 8, 1994 and the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission dated
November 29, 1993, are AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION deleting the financial assistance
granted to petitioner in the amount of P13,750.00. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J. (Chairman), Kapunan and Purisima, JJ., concur.


[1]
Watts v. Seward School Board, 381 US 126.
[2]
Rollo, p. 61.
[3]
Ibid., pp. 67-112.
[4]
Id. p. 86.
[5]
Id., pp. 150-151.
[6]
Id., p. 66.
[7]
Id., pp. 103-112.
[8]
Id., pp. 118-119.
[9]
Ala Mode Garments v. NLRC, 268 SCRA 497 (1997); Ranises v. NLRC, 262 SCRA 371 (1996); Midas Touch
Food Corporation v. NLRC, 259 SCRA 652 (1996); Labor v. NLRC, 248 SCRA 183 (1995).
[10]
DECS Order No. 92, Series of 1992.
[11]
Rollo, pp. 136-138.
[12]
Chua-Qua v. Clave, 189 SCRA 117 (1990).
[13]
Horosko v. School District of Mount Pleasant, 308 US 553.
[14]
Sarac v. State Board of Education, 370 US 720.
[15]
Art. 68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and
render mutual help and support.
[16]
1987 Constitution, Article XV, Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the
family and shall be protected by the State.
[17]
Art. 1, Family Code. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of
the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequence, and incidents are governed by law
and not subject to stipulations, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the
marriage within the limits provided by this Code.
[18]
Chiang Kai Shek School v. Court of Appeals, 172 SCRA 389 (1989).
[19]
Bagayo v. Marave, 86 SCRA 389 (1978).
[20]
Family Code, Art. 218. The schools, its administrators and teachers, or the individual, entity or institutions
engaged in child care shall have special parental authority over the minor child while under their supervision,
instruction or custody. Authority and responsibility shall apply to all authorized activities whether inside or
outside the premises of the school, entity or instruction.
[21]
Board of Trustees v. Hartman, 246 al App 2d 756.
[22]
Pettiford v. South Carolina State Board of Education, 341 US 920.
[23]
Freeman v. Bourne, 170 Mass 289.
[24]
Agay v. NLRC, 252 SCRA 588 (1996); Salonga v. NLRC, 254 SCRA 111 (1996).
[25]
DI Security and General Service Inc. v. NLRC, 264 SCRA 458 (1996); Magnolia Corporation v. NLRC, 250
SCRA 332 (1995).
[26]
Coconut Development Corporation v. NLRC, 259 SCRA 51 (1996); Belaunzaran v. NLRC, 263 SCRA 800
(1996).
[27]
Abadilla v. Tabilaran, Jr., 249 SCRA 447 (1995).
[28]
Rollo, p. 62.
[29]
Rollo, p. 111.
[30]
Ibid., pp. 111-112.
[31]
164 SCRA 671 (1988).
[32]
CJC Trading Inc. v. NLRC, 246 SCRA 724 (1995); Cathedral School of Technology v. NLRC, 214 SCRA 551
(1992); Pepsico v. NLRC, 177 SCRA 308 (1989); Osias Academy v. Department of Labor and Employment, 172
SCRA 468 (1989).









CASE NO.3

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 113597. February 13, 1996]

HEIDI M. GESLANI, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
COMMISSION and AGNO VALLEY COLLEGE and/or FLORENTINO F.
FRIAS, respondents.

D E C I S I O N
PADILLA, J.:
Petitioner Heidi M. Geslani filed this special civil action for certiorari to set aside the
decision
[1]
of public respondent National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), dated 3 August 1993,
which modified the decision
[2]
of the Labor Arbiter, dated 11 May 1993 and the
Resolution
[3]
dated 20 December 1993 of public respondent denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration. The decision of the Labor Arbiter ordered, among other things, private
respondents to reinstate petitioner as Head of the Pre-Elementary and Elementary Department of
private respondent college without loss of seniority rights.
Petitioner was initially appointed in July 1958 as substitute teacher at the Agno Valley College,
herein private respondent, and thereafter, she was designated full-time teacher with regular
loads. Effective 1 June 1991, petitioner was appointed Head of the Pre-Elementary and Elementary
Department, holding the said position until she was informed by the Board of Directors of
respondent college on 21 September 1992 of the termination of her employment. The minutes of
the Board meeting during which the status of petitioners employment was discussed, indicated that
her lack of administrative skills and lack of qualification as department head were the grounds for
the decision to terminate her employment.
On 12 October 1992, petitioner filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal dismissal,
praying for reinstatement, payment of backwages, underpaid and unpaid wages, moral damages,
and attorneys fees.
In the decision of the Labor Arbiter, the respective positions of the parties are summarized as
follows:
In her position paper, Heidi Geslani assailed the dismissal as null and void for lack of due process;
that her appointment (Rollo, p. 40) clearly stipulated that unless terminated for valid cause(s), it
would be in full force and subsisting; that the termination letter (Rollo, p. 41 ) did not state any
valid cause for termination; that complainant is qualified at the time of appointment as provided by
the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, Seventh Edition 1970 as supported by Annex D, E,
E-1 and F; that complainants employment is regular under Art. 280 of the Labor Code; and that
complainant was best suited for the position of Department Head since she was a primary co-
founder of the pre-elementary and elementary department.
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent filed its position paper on March 5, 1993 where it emphasized that complainant lacks
qualification as the records do not show that she was graduated with the Bachelors Degree in
Elementary Education; that she was offered to go on study leave, all expenses paid, to earn the
needed qualification but she declined; that complainants position is temporary and that, therefore,
complainant can be terminated for lack of qualifications which is lack of confidence.
Respondent also maintains that Gil Geslani (petitioners husband) must be made answerable to all
the claims of his wife, absolving the respondent corporation because of his unlawful act of
appointing his wife as Department Head, despite his knowledge that she was not qualified.
[4]

At a pre-execution conference held on 24 June 1993, private respondent Florentino Frias, on
behalf of the school, agreed to reinstate petitioner. Petitioner, on the other hand, expressed her
willingness to report for work on or before 1 July 1993. However, respondent Frias later informed
petitioner that she was being reinstated but only in the payroll.
Private respondents appealed the labor arbiters decision to the National Labor Relations
Commission. On 3 August 1993 public respondent NLRC promulgated its now assailed decision,
modifying the Labor Arbiters decision, thus:
We sustain respondents prerogative to dismiss complainant due to her failure to meet with
qualification standard set forth by the 1992 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools. Admittedly,
complainant is not a Masters Degree holder as required by the 1992 Manual of Regulations for
Private Schools. While it is true that when complainant was appointed in 1991, the 1970 Manual
was still in effect, this was superseded by the 1992 Manual which required said standard/-
qualification.
However, complainant was not accorded due process before termination. x x x
xxx xxx xxx
Hence, under the circumstances, complainant is entitled to one month salary or two thousand
pesos for lack of due process. (Wenphil vs. NLRC, 170 SCRA 79). And considering further
complainants length of service to respondent which is more than thirty (30) years, 34 to be exact
complainant is entitled to separation pay equivalent to one half month per year of service or the
total amount of thirty four thousand pesos (P34,000.00).
[5]

Both parties moved for reconsideration of the aforestated NLRC decision.
In their motion for reconsideration, private respondents questioned the award of separation pay
which credited Heidi Geslani with thirty-four (34) years of service. According to private respondents,
complainant Geslani served respondent college from July 1958 to December 1964 and from June
1991 to June 1992. These were two (2) different periods of service, separated by a long period of
time. Complainant did not dispute this allegation of respondents in her reply to their motion for
reconsideration.
Hence, public respondent corrected its award of separation pay limiting it to one (1) month pay
for services rendered from June 1991 to September 1992, or in the amount of two thousand pesos
(P2,000.00) to which she is entitled applying pertinent law. Thus, on 20 December 1993, public
respondent issued a Resolution, to wit:
[6]

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Decision of August 3, 1993 is hereby Amended. Respondents are
directed to pay complainant the total amount of eight thousand pesos (P8,000.00) representing
separation pay, unpaid wages and indemnity. Complainants Motion for Reconsideration is hereby
DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Not satisfied with the resolution of public respondent, petitioner Heidi M. Geslani comes to us,
by way of a petition for review on certiorari, on the following grounds or questions of law:
(a) May respondent Agno Valley College terminate the employment of petitioner due to lack of
qualifications set forth in the 1992 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools which was not yet
effective both at the time of petitioners appointment and at the time of her removal or termination?;
(b) May the respondent Agno Valley College after agreeing to reinstate back [sic] the petitioner to
work subsequently change its stand and reinstate the petitioner only in the payroll?;
(c) May the respondent Agno Valley College after reinstating the petitioner in the payroll
subsequently refuse to deliver the latters salaries and wages on the ground that the case is still
pending on appeal?;
(d) May respondent Agno Valley College terminate the employment of the petitioner for alleged lack
of qualification yet hire another for the job who had qualifications less than the removed petitioner?;
(e) Considering that the 1992 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools has taken effect during the
pendency of respondents appeal in the NLRC, how will the back wages and salaries which were
undelivered to the petitioner inspite [sic] of her being reinstated in the payroll be computed?;
(f) Did the private respondents legally raise any issue or justification for their dismissing the
Petitioner?
[7]

As a rule, the original and exclusive jurisdiction of this Court to review a decision or resolution
of respondent National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) does not include a correction of its
evaluation of the evidence but is confined to issues of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion.
Thus, the only issue to be resolved in this petition is whether or not public respondent National
Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) committed grave abuse of discretion in modifying the Labor
Arbiters decision which ordered the reinstatement of petitioner Heidi M. Geslani with award of back
wages and attorneys fees.
Petitioner contends that the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) committed grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it ruled that petitioners
dismissal was justified on the basis of the provisions of the 1992 Manual of Regulations for Private
Schools, which superseded the 1970 Manual. The pertinent provision in the 1992 Manual states as
follows:
Section 42. Qualifications and functions of the Principal. The Principal in the elementary and
secondary levels shall have a masters degree and have at least five years of relevant teaching or
administrative experience.
According to petitioner, at the time of her appointment on 1 June 1991 as head of the pre-
elementary and elementary department of private respondent Agno Valley College, she was
qualified under the 1970 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, Seventh Edition, 1970, which
provides that
69. Administrative and supervisory officials should have the minimum qualification duly supported
by credentials on file with the school.
a. For Principal of primary and/or intermediate school a holder of Bachelors Degree in
Elementary Education or equivalent with three years of successful teaching experience in the
elementary grades.
At the time of her dismissal, the 1992 Manual of Regulations was also not yet in force. It was to
take effect only in the summer session of 1993. Petitioner was dismissed in September 1992. As
observed by the Labor Arbiter, the 1992 Manual of Regulations cannot be relied upon as a valid
cause of dismissal since it is a new regulation and cannot be given retroactive effect.
The records show that petitioner was one of the organizers and recruiters of pupils for
the Agno Valley College Montessori Learning Center for Pre-elementary and Elementary
Department. At the opening of the said department in June 1991, her husband, Mr. Gil. L. Geslani,
who was then the President and a director of Agno Valley College, appointed petitioner head of the
department without prior consultation with and approval of the schools Board of Directors. The
Board was verbally notified of said appointment.
Presumably, in deference to her husbands position at the time, petitioner was allowed to
assume her position as department head. However, at the Board meeting on 30 August 1992,
where her husband was present as a director, the Board took up the matter of her employment
status and qualifications. After an extensive deliberation and discussion, a majority vote was arrived
at to terminate petitioners employment as she was found not qualified for the position. Her
husband cast the lone vote against her removal. Hence, petitioner was informed of her termination
from employment in a letter dated 21 September 1992.
After petitioner filed the initial complaint before the labor arbiter, private respondents countered
by filing a third-party complaint impleading as party-defendant petitioners husband, Mr. Gil L.
Geslani, accusing him of orchestrating the employment of his wife to head the pre-elementary and
elementary department despite his knowledge that she was not qualified for the position, and
because of this indiscretion he should be made answerable officially and personally for his wifes
claims for damages.
Even if it were conceded that petitioners qualification was to be tested under the 1970 Manual
of Regulations, we do not find any categorical statement that she is a holder of a bachelors degree
in Elementary Education required therein, except the declaration of the Labor Arbiter that she is
qualified for the position in view of her attendance in various training seminars and her long years of
teaching which suffice to meet the equivalent requirement in the 1970 Manual The 1992 Manual,
however, requires a masters degree for her position. Before she can obtain a masters degree, she
must hold a bachelors degree in elementary education. In their position paper, private respondents
emphasized that she was not qualified as the records do not show that she was graduated with a
Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education. This allegation was not refuted by petitioner.
And then if she had wanted to pursue a career advancement, the school would not have
prevented her from so doing.
11 .4. Teachers shall be accorded the opportunity to choose alternative career lines either in school
administration, in classroom teaching, or others, for purposes of career advancement. (Section 11.4,
Education Act of 1982).
But petitioner did not opt for such a career advancement course.
The minutes of the Board meeting held on 30 August 1992 reveal that petitioner was given an
option to go on leave or to accept the position of assistant in the Montessori project which offers
she declined. Petitioner insists on staying as principal in the Pre-Elementary Department in a
permanent status. And yet,
x x x, unlike teachers (assistant instructors, instructors, assistant professors, associate professors,
full professors) who aspire for and expect to acquire permanency, or security of tenure, in their
employment, as faculty members, teachers who are appointed as department heads or
administrative official (e.g., college or department secretaries, principals, directors, assistant deans,
deans) do not normally, and should not expect to,. acquire a second status of permanency, or an
additional or second security of tenure as such officer. The acquisition of such an additional tenure,
to repeat, is not consistent with normal practice, constitutes the exception rather than the rule, and
may take place only where categorically and explicitly provided by law or agreement of the
parties. (La Sallette of Santiago, Inc. vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 195 SCRA 80).
Petitioners claim that under the 1970 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, she is qualified
should not be used by her in adamantly clinging to the position of department head. No amount of
attendance in seminars would qualify one to earn a masters degree if he does not possess a
bachelors degree. In the present case, petitioner has not presented any document to prove that
she graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education.
The Labor Arbiter may be correct in stating that petitioners attendance in various training
seminars and long years of teaching suffice to meet the equivalent of a Bachelors degree in
elementary education under the 1970 Manual. But in the field of education, particularly in early
child development, teachers should always aspire for advancement as their special mission is to
educate.
That is why the Department of Education has raised the qualifications of teachers who would be
appointed as department heads or principals. The 1992 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools
superseded the 1970 Manual.
The appointment extended to petitioner by her husband was only temporary. As we have ruled
in several cases
x x x it is the practice and policy of educational institutions that appointment to the positions of
department heads and other high administrative offices are held by faculty members only on a
temporary or non-permanent basis either within a specified term or at the pleasure of the school
head or board of regents. There is nothing whatever amiss in said practice of having teachers serve
as administrative officials for a fixed term or in a non-permanent capacity in order to accord to as
many of the teaching staff as possible the opportunity to serve as dean, principal, or administrative
officer of one type or another.
[8]

Moreover, reinstatement of petitioner as department head would not serve any useful purpose
as the 1992 Manual of Regulations is already in effect. And, as admitted by the Labor Arbiter and
the petitioner herself, she does not qualify as department head under the said 1992 Manual.
We also add that strained relationship between petitioner and the private respondents cannot
be disregarded in this case. It is plain that petitioners appointment was extended to her by her
husband without consultation with or approval of the school board. Although the appointment was
tolerated to accommodate her husband who was then president of the College, the private
respondents nevertheless considered it as a private arrangement between husband and wife. In fact,
when petitioner filed the present complaint, private respondents impleaded her husband as a third-
party defendant. Under these circumstances, her continued stay in the College would remain a
nettlesome issue. Resentment and antipathy towards her and her husband would ensue and would
not contribute to a harmonious employer-employee relationship and ultimately to the welfare of the
school.
We agree with public respondent that it is the private respondents prerogative (through its
board of directors which exercises corporate powers and conducts its business affairs) to decide on
the qualifications of petitioner and dismiss her if she does not meet the requirements laid down by
the rules and regulations.
However, due process was clearly not fully observed in petitioners dismissal. It is settled that
the twin requirements of due process, i.e., notice and hearing are mandatory
[9]
and constitute a sine
qua non for the valid dismissal of an employee. In the present case, while there was notice to
petitioner, no hearing was conducted. However, petitioners lack of qualification to be Head of the
Pre-Elementary and Elementary Department for want of a masters degree in Education is quite
clear thereby warranting her termination as Department Head.
On the foregoing premises, we hold that the public respondent did not commit grave abuse of
discretion in promulgating the assailed decision and resolution.
WHEREFORE, the decision dated 3 August 1993 of respondent NLRC (as amended by its
resolution of 20 December 1993) is hereby AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Vitug, Kapunan, and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.



[1]
Annex B of Petition, Rollo, pp. 44-61.
[2]
Annex A, Id., pp. 27-42.
[3]
Annex C, Id., pp. 55-58.
[4]
Annex A, p. 4; pp. 6-7.
[5]
Annex B, pp. 8-9.
[6]
Annex C, Id., p. 3, Rollo, pp. 56-57.
[7]
Loadstar Shipping Co., Inc. vs. Gallo, 229 SCRA 654; Sta. Fe Construction Co. vs. National Labor Relations
Commission, 230 SCRA 593.
[8]
Blancaflor v. NLRC, 218 SCRA 366, La Sallette of Santiago. Inc. vs. NLRC, 195 SCRA 80.
[9]
Radio Communication of the Philippines, Inc. v. NLRC, No. 102958,25 June 1993,223 SCRA 656.