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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 78711 June 27, 1990
ABOITIZ SHIPPING EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, LAZARO ABAIGAR, VICTORIANO ANIBAN,
FELIPE BATERZAL, RUFINO YAGUIT, JONNIE YAGUIT and EUGENIO BALBUENA, petitioners,
vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and ABOITIZ SHIPPING
CORPORATION, respondents.
Rogelio B. De Guzman for petitioners.
Bienvenido A. Salinas, Jr. for private respondent.

PARAS, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari to set aside the Resolutions of the public respondent National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC) dated April 30, 1987 and May 29, 1987 affirming the Decision of
August 23, 1985 rendered by Labor Arbiter Julio P. Andres, Jr. holding that:
... respondent Aboitiz Shipping Corporation could not be guilty of said charge (unfair
labor practice through dismissal) for lack of employer-employee relationship between
them and the individual complainants at the time said act was allegedly committed in
April 1985. (p. 165, Rollo)
and consequently dismissing the case for lack of merit. Hence, this petition anchored on two
grounds:
1. GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION COMMITTED BY THE NATIONAL LABOR
RELATIONS COMMISSION WHICH AMOUNTS TO LACK OF JURISDICTION.
2. THE RESOLUTIONS SOUGHT TO BE REVIEWED ARE NOT IN ACCORD WITH
LAW AND APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE COURT. (p. 2
Comment, p. 166, Rollo)
The real issue however which surfaces from the allegations and arguments of the parties is whether
or not an employer-employee relationship existed between respondent Aboitiz Shipping Corporation
(ABOITIZ, for short) and the petitioners-workers at the time of the latter's alleged dismissal on April
26, 1985.

The six (6) petitioners herein claimed that they were employed as carpenters by respondent
corporation until their illegal dismissal on April 26, 1985. They alleged that they were all allegedly
dismissed by Ben Baguio and his spouse on April 26, 1985 just a day after the inspection made by
Efren Bautista of the National Capital Region of the Ministry of Labor and Employment on
respondent ABOITIZ in connection with LSED-4-408-85, a labor case which same complainants filed
with the Ministry of Labor and Employment. According to the complainants, said act of the Baguios
constitute unfair labor practice defined under par. (f) of Article 249 of the Labor Code, as amended,
and the resultant dismissal of the individual complainants is illegal as there was allegedly no just
cause nor were they duly afforded due process of law. They thus, pray that the respondent
corporation be held liable for unfair labor practice through dismissal, damages and attorney's fees.
Respondent ABOITIZ denies that the petitioners were their employees at the time of their dismissal
but are employees of respondent Ben Baguio by virtue of a Service Contract dated June 16, 1984. A
pertinent portion of which reads as follows:
8. That it is understood and agreed that there is no employer-employee relationship
between the FIRST PARTY (Aboitiz Shipping Corporation) and SECOND PARTY
(Narben's Service Contractor) much less any of the latter's carpenters. The SECOND
PARTY shall have the right to hire and fire such employees, exercise general control
as to the time, manner and method of performance of work; that the sole interest of
the FIRST PARTY is that all its properties, cargoes, equipments and other
appurtenances be safe and protected from destruction, pilferage, damage and other
losses as envisioned in paragraph 9. The SECOND PARTY shall hold free from any
liability the FIRST PARTY from any claim of whatsoever nature which the carpenters
of the SECOND PARTY may institute either against the FIRST PARTY and SECOND
PARTY. (pp. 3-4, NLRC Resolution; pp. 3-4, Rollo)
On their part, spouses Ben and Leonarda Baguio aver that they are the proprietors of Narben's
Service Contractor engaged in contracting carpentry jobs and has a service contract with respondent
Aboitiz Shipping Corporation. Spouses Baguio admit that the petitioners were indeed their
employees whose duties were to do carpentry work, subject to the condition that the moment their
works were finished, their employment would end, and that they would be re-hired once respondent
ABOITIZ would enter into another contract. Petitioners submit the following pieces of evidence in
support of the presence of employer-employee relationship with respondent Aboitiz, viz:
(1) Social Security Numbers:
03-173171-0 Lazaro Abaigar;
06-112277-9 Felipe Baterzal;
03-634457-0 Rufino Yaguit;
03-77089084 Jonnie Yaguit;
07-4915-8 Eugenio Balbuena; and
03-78050193 Victoriano Aniban
(2) Deduction for Social Security Premitims from their salaries;

(3) Company Identification Cards issued to petitioners, examples of which are


Annexes "B", "B-1" and "B-2", of Petition;
(4) Withholding of taxes as evidenced by BIR Form W-2 Annexes "C" to "C-5", of
Petition; and
(5) Time Cards and normal conduct of employer-employee relations enumerated in
the above Statement of Facts. (Memorandum of Petitioners, p. 212, Rollo)
They therefore pray that the resolutions of public respondent be set aside; that this Court declare the
illegality of dismissal of individual petitioners; and that their reinstatement with full backwages to
private respondent as regular employees thereof be granted.
In the resolution of April 18, 1988, this Court gave due course to the petition and required the parties
to file their simultaneous memoranda within thirty (30) days from notice.
Records reveal that petitioners are not regular employees of the private respondent at the time of
their alleged illegal dismissal. For one, petitioners, on June 20, 1984, filed individual application for
employment with Narben's Service Contractor. They were eventually issued payslips, deducted SSS
premiums, Pag-ibig fund and withholding tax from their salaries by this Contractor.
As held in Mafinco Trading Corporation vs. Ople, 70 SCRA 139 (1976), the existence of employeremployee relationship is determined by four (4) elements, namely: (1) the selection and engagement
of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; and (4) the power to control
employees' conduct. From a reading of the provisions of the aforesaid service contract, the
concurrence of these four elements on NARBEN's will easily be noted. For NARBEN's had the right
to hire the necessary number of carpenters to accomplish the carpentry requirements of respondent
corporation and to fire them. It had charge of the payment of wages of its laborers and the power of
administrative supervision and general control as to the time, manner and method of performance of
work.
All the above evidences constitute positive proofs that the petitioners-workers were, at the time in
question, in the employ of NARBEN's and not anymore of respondent Corporation. Respondent
NLRC, therefore, did not err in refusing to give weight to petitioners' uncorroborated claim that they
were continuously employees of Aboitiz Shipping Corporation.
With regard to the issuance of Id's to petitioners by private respondent, it appears that these Id's
were special Id's and is different from those issued to its regular employees. On these special
Identification cards, the following words are written: THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE BEARER
WHOSE PICTURE APPEAR ON THIS CARD IS AUTHORIZED TO HAUL, OPERATE, AND
TRANSACT BUSINESS WITH ABOITIZ SHIPPING CORPORATION. On the other hand, appearing
on the regular or probationary employee's Id cards are the following words: "THIS IS TO CERTIFY
THAT THE BEARER WHOSE PICTURE AND PERSONAL DATA APPEAR ON THIS CARD IS AN
EMPLOYEE OF ABOITIZ SHIPPING CORPORATION." (pp. 109-110, Rollo)

Besides, the issue of the existence of employer-employee relationship between the parties in the
case at bar is a question of fact which has already been resolved by the labor arbiter and upheld by
the National Labor Relations Commission. Review of labor cases are confined to questions of
jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion. We find that no grave abuse of discretion W-as committed
by public respondent NLRC in affirming the non-existence of employer-employee relationship
between petitioners and private respondent.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.