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G.R. No.

130866

September 16, 1998

ST. MARTIN FUNERAL HOME, petitioner, vs.


NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and BIENVENIDO ARICAYOS, respondents.
FACTS:
Private respondent alleges that he worked as Operations Manager of petitioner St. Martin Funeral Home but that there
was no contract of employment nor was his name included in the payroll. He was dismissed from his employment for
allegedly misappropriating P38K which was intended for payment of tax to the BIR.
Petitioner, on the other hand, claims that private respondent was not its employee but only asked for financial assistance
from the mother of the funeral homes owner. Since then, as an indication of gratitude, private respondent voluntarily
helped the mother of Amelita in overseeing the business. When the mother of Amelita passed away, the latter discovered
that there were arrears in the payment of taxes and other government fees, although the records purported to show that
the same were already paid. Amelita then made some changes in the business operation and private respondent and his
wife were no longer allowed to participate in the management thereof. As a consequence, the latter filed a complaint
charging that petitioner had illegally terminated his employment.
LA rendered a decision in favor of petitioner declaring that no employer-employee relationship existed between the parties
and, therefore, his office had no jurisdiction over the case.
NLRC set aside the questioned decision and remanding the case to the labor arbiter for immediate appropriate
proceedings. Petitioner then filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied. Hence, the present petition alleging that
the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion.
ISSUE: Is this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 before the SC the proper remedy in assailing NLRC decisions?
HELD: Yes but it should be filed with the CA first.
Legal History of NLRC
1. Oct 14, 1972: NLRC was first established by P.D. No. 21, and its decisions were expressly declared to be
appealable to the Secretary of Labor and, ultimately, to the President of the Philippines.
2. May 1, 1974: P.D. No. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines)created and regulated the present NLRC which was
attached to the Department of Labor and Employment for program and policy coordination only. Initially, Article
302 (now, Article 223) thereof also granted an aggrieved party the remedy of appeal from the decision of the
NLRC to the Secretary of Labor, but P.D. No. 1391 subsequently amended said provision and abolished such
appeals. No appellate review has since then been provided for.
When the issue was raised in an early case on the argument that this Court has no jurisdiction to review the decisions of
the NLRC, and formerly of the Secretary of Labor, since there is no legal provision for appellate review thereof, the Court
nevertheless rejected that thesis. It held that there is an underlying power of the courts to scrutinize the acts of such
agencies on questions of law and jurisdiction even though no right of review is given by statute; and that the purpose of
judicial review is to keep the administrative agency within its jurisdiction and protect the substantial rights of the parties.
Therefore, the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a motion for reconsideration, and then seasonably avail of the
special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65, which has now a reglementary period of sixty days from notice of the
decision.
The problem is: paragraph (3), Section 9 of B.P. No. 129 now grants exclusive appellate jurisdiction to the Court of
Appeals over all final adjudications of the Regional Trial Courts and the quasi-judicial agencies generally or specifically
referred to therein except, among others, "those falling within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in
accordance with the Labor Code..." This would necessarily imply that the appeal from the NLRC cannot be brought to the
Court of Appeals, but to this Court only. However, this is illogical and impracticable, and Congress could not have intended
that procedural gaffe.

There may have been an oversight in the course of the deliberations on the said Act or an imprecision in the terminology
used therein. In fine, Congress did intend to provide for judicial review of the adjudications of the NLRC in labor cases by
the Supreme Court, but there was an inaccuracy in the term used for the intended mode of review.
The Court is, therefore, of the considered opinion that ever since appeals from the NLRC to the Supreme Court were
eliminated, the legislative intendment was that the special civil action of certiorari was and still is the proper vehicle for
judicial review of decisions of the NLRC. The use of the word "appeal" in relation thereto and in the instances we have
noted could have been a lapsus plumae because appeals by certiorari and the original action for certiorari are both modes
of judicial review addressed to the appellate courts. The important distinction between them, however, is that the
special civil action of certiorari is within the concurrent original jurisdiction of this Court and the Court of
Appeals.
While we do not wish to intrude into the Congressional sphere on the matter of the wisdom of a law, on this score we add
that there is a growing number of labor cases being elevated to this Court which, not being a trier of fact, has at times
been constrained to remand the case to the NLRC for resolution of unclear or ambiguous factual findings; that the Court
of Appeals is procedurally equipped for that purpose, aside from the increased number of its component divisions; and
that there is undeniably an imperative need for expeditious action on labor cases as a major aspect of constitutional
protection to labor.
Therefore, all references in the amended Section 9 of B.P. No. 129 to supposed appeals from the NLRC to the
Supreme Court are interpreted and hereby declared to mean and refer to petitions for certiorari under Rule 65.
Consequently, all such petitions should hence forth be initially filed in the Court of Appeals in strict observance
of the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts as the appropriate forum for the relief desired.
WHEREFORE, under the foregoing premises, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby REMANDED, and all pertinent
records thereof ordered to be FORWARDED, to the Court of Appeals for appropriate action and disposition consistent with
the views and ruling herein set forth, without pronouncement as to costs.