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#28 Samar II Electric Coop. Inc. vs.

NLRC
Facts:
Private respondent Froilan V. Raquiza was employed by petitioner Samar II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SAMELCO
II) as probationary power plant operator on January 1, 1976, and became a regular employee on July 1, 1976. On
February 9, 1980, he was appointed as switchboard operator and sometimes alternated as acting plant superintendent.
Raquiza's problems began when a major breakdown of the pielstick engine causing electric failure to the whole
franchise area for a period of four months occurred during his shift on January 21, 1988. On January 22, 1988, he was
immediately asked to explain the incident, which he did the following day. After investigation, however, SAMELCO II
General Manager Ponciano Rosales found Raquiza and his two companions in the shift, Manuel Balasbas and Pascual
Martinez, guilty of gross negligence in the performance of their duty. The three were placed under preventive suspension
from January 27, 1988, until their termination on February 29, 1988. Nine months later, or on December 5, 1988,
Raquiza filed a complaint against petitioner for illegal dismissal, praying for reinstatement and payment of unpaid wages,
unpaid overtime pay, attorney's fees, moral and exemplary damages, and the cost of suit.
Labor Arbiter Gabino A. Velasquez, Jr. rendered a decision on September 25, 1992, finding Raquiza's dismissal to
be based on a just cause. On appeal, however, the NLRC reversed and set aside his ruling.
Its motion for reconsideration having likewise failed, petitioner filed the instant petition.
Issue:
Whether or not the dismissal of Raquiza is proper.
Held:
NO.
Petitioner as employer is duty-bound to establish the existence of a clear, valid and just ground for dismissing
Raquiza. It cannot merely allege that its employee was grossly negligent in the performance of his duty thereby causing
great damage to its property and resulting in great pecuniary loss.
Raquiza's dismissal was based on three factors, namely, (a) leaving his work assignment while on duty; (b) not
properly checking the engine before starting it; and (c) authorizing the continued running of pielstick (engine) no. 2 in
spite of the discovery that there was an oil leakage.
In the case of Citibank, N.A. v. Gatchalian,[4] we ruled that "(g)ross negligence implies a want or absence of or
failure to exercise slight care or diligence, or the entire absence of care. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of
consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them."
While it is true that Raquiza left his place of work to go to the administration building to get the proceeds of his loan
during the testing period of the engine, such act cannot be perceived to be so serious as would amount to gross
negligence. As to the claim that he did not check the engine, the NLRC found that he actually made several inspections
of the engine before actually starting it. We find no reason to disturb this finding in view of the respect and finality which
this Court has constantly accorded to factual findings ofquasi-judicial agencies such as the NLRC.
Finally, the fact that Raquiza failed to prevent the occurrence of the incident does not sufficiently show nor can it be
inferred that he was grossly negligent. At most, it can be considered an error of judgment on his part when he continued
to operate the engine.
The investigation conducted by petitioner revealed that "the breakdown was due to the serious error committed by
Froilan V. Raquiza, Manuel Balasbas, and Pascual Martinez, although complainant's command responsibility, liability and

negligence, x x x, was most serious and the gravest." Yet, despite this collective error, only Raquiza was dismissed; the
other two were merely suspended. Such discrimination cannot be sanctioned by this Court.
Petitioner claimed below that Raquiza's dismissal was not solely attributable to the January 21, 1988, incident but
was, in fact, a result of a "long string of neglect and violations of company R & R (rules and regulations)." But this is
beside the point. What is significant is that the employer bears the burden of proving that the dismissal of an employee is
for a just cause, failing which the dismissal cannot be deemed justified thus entitling the latter to reinstatement. The
decision to dismiss must be in accord with the law and the evidence and not merely the whim or caprice of the employer.
Petition is DISMISSED for failure to show that respondent National Labor Relations Commission committed grave
abuse of discretion in arriving at its assailed decision.

#29 Chua vs. NLRC


Facts:
On June 1, 1995, petitioner Dennis Chua was hired as a Professional Medical Representative by Schering-Plough
Corporation (SPC). He was tasked to promote SPC and its products to physicians, hospitals, paramedics, including trade
and government outlets in his assigned territory.
To facilitate his duties as a medical representative, the petitioner was given a Kia Pride vehicle. One of the
petitioners duties was to submit a Daily Coverage Report (DCR) every Monday, or at least to mail the same to the Field
Operations Manager. Furthermore, he was required to have call cards signed by any of the eighty (80) doctors under
his coverage to show that he indeed visited them and handed out promotional items.
Meanwhile, respondent Roberto Z. Tada, Field Operations Manager of the corporation for the Bicol Region, noticed
that the petitioner filed his DCRs late on two occasions. Respondent Tada also found some discrepancies in the DCRs
submitted by the petitioner.
Tada asked the petitioner to explain the discrepancies, but the latter merely replied, Pagbigyan mo na lang
ako, boss. Tulungan mo na lang ako, boss. On April 8, 1997, Tada went to the petitioners residence and confiscated all
the paraphernalia used by the latter for his fieldwork, including the call cards and medicine samples. The car assigned to
the respondent was likewise confiscated.
On April 15, 1997, the petitioner had already filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) seeking the payment of backwages, moral damages, attorneys fees and other monetary benefits.
The petitioner alleged that he was dismissed from employment as early as April 8, 1997 without any just or authorized
cause, and without due process. He likewise prayed to be allowed to acquire the car assigned to him under the
company car plan.
While the case for illegal dismissal was pending resolution before the arbitration branch of the NLRC, the SPC sent
a letter to the petitioner, informing him that his employment was terminated effective at the close of business hours of
May 6, 1997. The SPC emphasized that the petitioner had been given an opportunity to explain his side, and that he had
failed to do so. He was required to immediately turn over to respondent Tada all accounts, property and money in his
possession.
During the proceedings before the Labor Arbiter, the petitioner asserted that he was not given an opportunity to
know the nature of the charges against him, nor a chance to explain his side.
The SPC alleged that the petitioner was dismissed on the ground of gross and habitual neglect of duties.
On September 30, 1998, Labor Arbiter Ramon Valentin C. Reyes rendered a Decision declaring the petitioners
dismissal from employment as illegal.
The Labor Arbiter ruled that the SPC failed to prove any just or authorized cause for the petitioners dismissal. He
also declared that the petitioner was not able to comply with respondent Tadas memorandum requiring an explanation
as to the alleged discrepancies, since the SPC had already dismissed the petitioner before he could do so.
Upon motion of the petitioner, a Writ of Execution was issued ordering the SPC to reinstate the petitioner to his
former position without loss of seniority rights. Pursuant thereto, the petitioner was reinstated in the corporations payroll.
Meanwhile, the SPC appealed the decision of the Labor Arbiter to the NLRC.
NLRC issued a Resolution declaring that while the petitioner was dismissed on valid grounds, he was not afforded
due process. The NLRC ratiocinated that the petitioner was effectively dismissed on April 8, 1997, the date when the car
and the other paraphernalia used by him as a medical representative were confiscated; he then no longer had the means
to act as such employee of the SPC. It was only several days later when the petitioner was given an opportunity to
explain his side.
On appeal, the CA rendered a decision affirming, in toto, the resolution of the NLRC. The petitioner filed a motion
for reconsideration which the appellate court denied.
Hence, this petition.
The petitioner contends that considering the respondents failure to comply with the two-notice statutory
requirement, he is entitled to backwages, conformably to the ruling of this Court in Serrano v. NLRC. He asserts that
although he was dismissed on April 8, 1997, the ruling of the Court in the said case is still applicable

Issue:
1.
2.

Whether or not CA erred in upholding the decision of NLRC.


Whether or not the petitioner is entitled to backwages.

Held:
1.

No. The petitioners termination from employment was anchored on the following: (a) gross and habitual neglect; (b)
serious misconduct; and (c) willful disobedience to the lawful orders of the employer. Thus, it all boils down to the filing of
the requisite DCRs due every Monday.
The petitioner himself did not dispute the delayed filing of the DCRs.The petitioner himself admitted that he was not
able to submit the required DCRs because of his busy schedule, in his Reply Position Paper filed with the Labor Arbiter.
The petitioner even postulated that he could have completed and submitted the said DCRs, had he not been terminated
from employment.
Gross negligence under Article 282 of the Labor Code, as amended, connotes want of care in the performance of
ones duties, while habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform ones duties for a period of time, depending upon
the circumstances. Clearly, the petitioners repeated failure to submit the DCRs on time, as well as the failure to submit
the doctors call cards constitute habitual neglect of duties. Needless to state, the foregoing clearly indicate that the
employer had a just cause in terminating the petitioners employment.

2.

No. As to the issue of whether or not the petitioner is entitled to backwages, we agree with the ruling of the NLRC and the
appellate court that the petitioner is not entitled to backwages. The petitioners contention that the ruling of the Court
in Serrano v. NLRC[ should apply even if he was dismissed even before said ruling of the Court has no merit. When the
petitioner was dismissed, the ruling of the Court in Wenphil Corporation v. NLRC, that an employee who was not
accorded his statutory right to two-notice before his dismissal by his employer was entitled only to indemnity, was the
prevailing doctrine.
It can be recalled that in both Wenphil and Serrano, the respective employers therein failed to comply with the
statutory two-notice requirement. The employer was ordered to pay indemnity to the employee in the Wenphil case;
in Serrano, the employer was ordered to pay backwages from the time the employment was terminated until it was
determined that the termination was for a just cause, due to the employers failure to comply with the statutory
requirement which rendered the employees dismissal without legal effect.
The matter has been laid to rest in the recent case of Agabon v. NLRC where the Court held that a violation of an
employees statutory right to two notices prior to the termination of his employment for a just cause entitles him to
nominal damages absent sufficient evidence to support an award for actual or moral damages.
The Court ruled in the Agabon case that it was abandoning the doctrine laid down in Serrano in this wise:
After carefully analyzing the consequences of the divergent doctrines in the law on employment
termination, we believe that in cases involving dismissal for cause but without observance of the twin
requirements of notice and hearing, the better rule is to abandon the Serrano doctrine and to
follow Wenphil by holding that the dismissal was for just cause but imposing sanctions on the employer.
Such sanctions, however, must be stiffer than that imposed in Wenphil. By doing so, this Court would be
able to achieve a fair result by dispensing justice not just to employees, but to employers as well.
=The Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The respondents are ORDERED to pay,
jointly and severally, indemnity to the petitioner in the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00). .

#30 JON DE YSASI III, petitioner, vs.


NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (FOURTH DIVISION), CEBU CITY, and JON DE YSASI, respondents.

Facts:
Petitioner Ysasi III was employed by his father, herein private respondent, as farm administrator of Hacienda
Manucao in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental sometime in April, 1980. Prior thereto, he was successively employed as sales
manager of Triumph International (Phil.), Inc. and later as operations manager of Top Form Manufacturing (Phil.), Inc. His
employment as farm administrator was on a fixed salary, with other allowances covering housing, food, light, power,
telephone, gasoline, medical and dental expenses.
As farm administrator, petitioner was responsible for the supervision of daily activities and operations of the
sugarcane farm. For this purpose, he lived on the farm, occupying the upper floor of the house there.
Following
his marriage on June 6, 1982, petitioner moved to Bacolod City with his wife and commuted to work daily. He suffered
various ailments and was hospitalized on two separate occasions. During his recuperation which lasted over four
months, he was under the care of Dr. Patricio Tan. In June, 1983, he was confined for acute gastroenteritis and,
thereafter, for infectious hepatitis from December, 1983 to January, 1984.
During the entire periods of petitioner's illnesses, private respondent took care of his medical expenses and
petitioner continued to receive compensation. However, in April, 1984, without due notice, private respondent ceased to
pay the latter's salary. Petitioner made oral and written demands for an explanation for the sudden withholding of his
salary from Atty. Apolonio Sumbingco, private respondent's auditor and legal adviser, as well as for the remittance of his
salary. Both demands, however, were not acted upon.
Petitioner then filed an action with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)against private respondent
for illegal dismissal with prayer for reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and payment of full back wages.
On July 31, 1991, said complaint for illegal dismissal was dismissed by the NLRC, holding that petitioner
abandoned his work and that the termination of his employment was for a valid cause, but ordering private respondent to
pay petitioner the amount of P5,000.00 as penalty for his failure to serve notice of said termination of employment to the
Department of Labor and Employment as required by Batas Pambansa Blg. 130.
On appeal to the Fourth Division of the NLRC, Cebu City, said decision was affirmed in toto.
His motion for reconsideration of said decision having been denied for lack of merit, petitioner filed this petition.
Petitioner maintains that his dismissal from employment was illegal because of want of just cause therefor and
non-observance of the requirements of due process. He also charges the NLRC with grave abuse of discretion in relying
upon the findings of the executive labor arbiter who decided the case but did not conduct the hearings thereof.
Private respondent, in refutation, avers that there was abandonment by petitioner of his functions as farm
administrator, thereby arming private respondent with a ground to terminate his employment at Hacienda Manucao.

Issue:
(1) Whether or not the petitioner was illegally dismissed;
(2) Whether or not he is entitled to reinstatement, payment of back wages, thirteenth month pay and other
benefits; and (3) whether or not he is entitled to payment of moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees because
of illegal dismissal.

Held:
1.

Yes. The fundamental guarantees of security of tenure and due process dictate that no worker shall be dismissed except
for just and authorized cause provided by law and after due process. Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerates the
causes for which an employer may validly terminate an employment, to wit:
(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 willful 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
authorized representative; and (e) other causes analogous to the foregoing.
The employer may also terminate the services of any employee due to the 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 pertinent provisions of the Labor Code, by serving a written
notice on the workers and the Department of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date
thereof, with due entitlement to the corresponding separation pay rates provided by law. Suffering from a disease by
reason whereof the continued employment of the employee is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his and his coemployee's health, is also a ground for termination of his services provided he receives the prescribed separation
pay. On the other hand, it is well-settled that abandonment by an employee of his work authorizes the employer to effect
the former's dismissal from employment.
After a careful review of the records of this case, we find that public respondent gravely erred in affirming the
decision of the executive labor arbiter holding that petitioner abandoned his employment and was not illegally dismissed
from such employment.
The following perceptive disquisitions of the Solicitor General on this point deserve acceptance:
xxx xxx xxx
After evaluating the evidence within the context of the special circumstances involved and basic human
experience, petitioner's illness and strained family relation with respondent Jon de Ysasi II may be considered
as justifiable reason for petitioner Jon de Ysasi III's absence from work during the period of October 1982 to
December 1982. In any event, such absence does not warrant outright dismissal without notice and hearing.
xxx xxx xxx
The elements of abandonment as a ground for dismissal of an employee are as follows:
(1) failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason; and (2) clear intention to sever the
employer-employee tie (Samson Alcantara, Reviewer in Labor and Social Legislation, 1989 edition, p. 133).
The Court rules that for abandonment to arise, there must be a concurrence of the intention to abandon and some overt
act from which it may be inferred that the employee has no more interest to work. Mere absence is not sufficient; it must
be accompanied by overt acts unerringly pointing to the fact that the employee simply does not want to work anymore.
The records show that the parties herein do not dispute the fact of petitioner's confinement in the hospital for his
various afflictions which required medical treatment. Neither can it be denied that private respondent was well aware of
petitioner's state of health as the former admittedly shouldered part of the medical and hospital bills and even advised the
latter to stay in Bacolod City until he was fit to work again.

2.

An employee is entitled to reinstatement with full back wages in the absence of just cause for dismissal. The Court,
however, on numerous occasions has tempered the rigid application of said provision of the Labor Code, recognizing that
in some cases certain events may have transpired as would militate against the practicability of granting the relief

thereunder provided, and declares that where there are strained relations between the employer and the employee,
payment of back wages and severance pay may be awarded instead of reinstatement, and more particularly when
managerial employees are concerned. Thus, where reinstatement is no longer possible, it is therefore appropriate that
the dismissed employee be given his fair and just share of what the law accords him.
As a general rule, an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of
seniority rights and to his backwages computed from the time his compensation was withheld up to the time of his
reinstatement.
In the present case, it is submitted that petitioner should not be reinstated as farm administrator of Hacienda
Manucao. The present relationship of petitioner and private respondent (is) so strained that a harmonious and peaceful
employee-employer relationship is hardly possible.
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent National Labor Relations Commission is hereby SET ASIDE. Private
respondent is ORDERED to pay petitioner back wages.