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[G.R. No. 149440.

January 28, 2003]

HACIENDA FATIMA and/or PATRICIO VILLEGAS, ALFONSO VILLEGAS and


CRISTINE
SEGURA, petitioners,
vs. NATIONAL
FEDERATION
OF
SUGARCANE WORKERS-FOOD AND GENERAL TRADE, respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Although the employers have shown that respondents performed work that was
seasonal in nature, they failed to prove that the latter worked only for the duration of one
particular season. In fact, petitioners do not deny that these workers have served them for
several years already. Hence, they are regular -- not seasonal -- employees.
The Case
Before the Court is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking
to set aside the February 20, 2001 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No.
51033. The dispositive part of the Decision reads:
[1]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant special civil action for certiorari is
hereby DENIED.
[2]

On the other hand, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Decision, upheld
by the CA, disposed in this wise:
[3]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Labor Arbiter is


hereby SET ASIDE and VACATED and a new one entered declaring complainants to have been
illegally dismissed. Respondents are hereby ORDERED to reinstate complainants except Luisa
Rombo, Ramona Rombo, Bobong Abriga and Boboy Silva to their previous position and to pay full
backwages from September 1991 until reinstated. Respondents being guilty of unfair labor practice
are further ordered to pay complainant union the sum of P10,000.00 as moral damages
and P5,000.00 as exemplary damages.
[4]

The Facts
The facts are summarized in the NLRC Decision as follows:
Contrary to the findings of the Labor Arbiter that complainants [herein respondents] refused to
work and/or were choosy in the kind of jobs they wanted to perform, the records is replete with
complainants persistence and dogged determination in going back to work.
Indeed, it would appear that respondents did not look with favor workers having organized
themselves into a union. Thus, when complainant union was certified as the collective bargaining
representative in the certification elections, respondents under the pretext that the result was on
appeal, refused to sit down with the union for the purpose of entering into a collective bargaining
agreement. Moreover, the workers including complainants herein were not given work for more
than one month. In protest, complainants staged a strike which was however settled upon the
signing of a Memorandum of Agreement which stipulated among others that:
a) The parties will initially meet for CBA negotiations on the 11th day of January 1991 and will
endeavor to conclude the same within thirty (30) days.

b) The management will give priority to the women workers who are members of the union in case
work relative x x x or amount[ing] to gahit and [dipol] arises.
c) Ariston Eruela Jr. will be given back his normal work load which is six (6) days in a week.
d) The management will provide fifteen (15) wagons for the workers and that existing workforce
prior to the actual strike will be given priority. However, in case the said workforce would not be
enough, the management can hire additional workers to supplement them.
e) The management will not anymore allow the scabs, numbering about eighteen (18) workers[,] to
work in the hacienda; and
f) The union will immediately lift the picket upon signing of this agreement.
However, alleging that complainants failed to load the fifteen wagons, respondents reneged on its
commitment to sit down and bargain collectively. Instead, respondent employed all means
including the use of private armed guards to prevent the organizers from entering the premises.
Moreover, starting September 1991, respondents did not any more give work assignments to the
complainants forcing the union to stage a strike on January 2, 1992. But due to the conciliation
efforts by the DOLE, another Memorandum of Agreement was signed by the complainants and
respondents which provides:
Whereas the union staged a strike against management on January 2, 1992 grounded on the
dismissal of the union officials and members;
Whereas parties to the present dispute agree to settle the case amicably once and for all;
Now therefore, in the interest of both labor and management, parties herein agree as follows:
1. That the list of the names of affected union members hereto attached and made part of this
agreement shall be referred to the Hacienda payroll of 1990 and determine whether or not this
concerned Union members are hacienda workers;
2. That in addition to the payroll of 1990 as reference, herein parties will use as guide the subjects
of a Memorandum of Agreement entered into by and between the parties last January 4, 1990;
3. That herein parties can use other employment references in support of their respective claims
whether or not any or all of the listed 36 union members are employees or hacienda workers or not
as the case may be;
4. That in case conflict or disagreement arises in the determination of the status of the particular
hacienda workers subject of this agreement herein parties further agree to submit the same to
voluntary arbitration;
5. To effect the above, a Committee to be chaired by Rose Mengaling is hereby created to be
composed of three representatives each and is given five working days starting Jan. 23, 1992 to
resolve the status of the subject 36 hacienda workers. (Union representatives: Bernardo Torres,
Martin Alas-as, Ariston Arulea Jr.)
Pursuant thereto, the parties subsequently met and the Minutes of the Conciliation Meeting showed
as follows:
The meeting started at 10:00 A.M. A list of employees was submitted by Atty. Tayko based on who
received their 13th month pay. The following are deemed not considered employees:
1. Luisa Rombo
2. Ramona Rombo
3. Bobong Abrega

4. Boboy Silva
The name Orencio Rombo shall be verified in the 1990 payroll.
The following employees shall be reinstated immediately upon availability of work:
1. Jose Dagle 7. Alejandro Tejares
2. Rico Dagle 8. Gaudioso Rombo
3. Ricardo Dagle 9. Martin Alas-as Jr.
4. Jesus Silva 10. Cresensio Abrega
5. Fernando Silva 11. Ariston Eruela Sr.
6. Ernesto Tejares 12. Ariston Eruela Jr.
When respondents again reneged on its commitment, complainants filed the present complaint.
But for all their persistence, the risk they had to undergo in conducting a strike in the face of
overwhelming odds, complainants in an ironic twist of fate now find themselves being accused of
refusing to work and being choosy in the kind of work they have to perform. (Citations omitted)
[5]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


The CA affirmed that while the work of respondents was seasonal in nature, they were
considered to be merely on leave during the off-season and were therefore still employed
by petitioners. Moreover, the workers enjoyed security of tenure. Any infringement upon this
right was deemed by the CA to be tantamount to illegal dismissal.
The appellate court found neither rhyme nor reason in petitioners argument that it was
the workers themselves who refused to or were choosy in their work. As found by the NLRC,
the record of this case is replete with complainants persistence and dogged determination
in going back to work.
[6]

The CA likewise concurred with the NLRCs finding that petitioners were guilty of unfair
labor practice.
Hence this Petition.

[7]

Issues
Petitioners raise the following issues for the Courts consideration:
A. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in holding that respondents, admittedly seasonal workers,
were regular employees, contrary to the clear provisions of Article 280 of the Labor Code, which
categorically state that seasonal employees are not covered by the definition of regular employees
under paragraph 1, nor covered under paragraph 2 which refers exclusively to casual employees
who have served for at least one year.
B. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in rejecting the ruling in Mercado, xxx, and relying instead
on rulings which are not directly applicable to the case at bench, viz, Philippine Tobacco,BacolodMurcia, and Gaco, xxx.
C. Whether or not the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in upholding the NLRCs
conclusion that private respondents were illegally dismissed, that petitioner[s were] guilty of unfair
labor practice, and that the union be awarded moral and exemplary damages.[8]

Consistent with the discussion in petitioners Memorandum, we shall take up Items A


and B as the first issue and Item C as the second.
The Courts Ruling

The Petition has no merit.


First Issue:
Regular Employment
At the outset, we must stress that only errors of law are generally reviewed by this Court
in petitions for review on certiorari of CA decisions. Questions of fact are not
entertained. The Court is not a trier of facts and, in labor cases, this doctrine applies with
greater force. Factual questions are for labor tribunals to resolve. In the present case,
these have already been threshed out by the NLRC. Its findings were affirmed by the
appellate court.
[9]

[10]

[11]

[12]

Contrary to petitioners contention, the CA did not err when it held that respondents were
regular employees.
Article 280 of the Labor Code, as amended, states:
Art. 280. Regular and Casual Employment. - The provisions of written agreement to the contrary
notwithstanding and regardless of the oral agreement of the parties, an employment shall be
deemed to be regular where the employee has been engaged to perform activities which are usually
necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer, except where the employment
has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking the completion or termination of which has
been determined at the time of the engagement of the employee or where the work or services to be
performed is seasonal in natureand the employment is for the duration of the season.
An employment shall be deemed to be casual if it is not covered by the preceding
paragraph: Provided, That, any employee who has rendered at least one year of service, whether
such service is continuous or broken, shall be considered a regular employee with respect to the
activity in which he is employed and his employment shall continue while such activity
exist. (Italics supplied)
For respondents to be excluded from those classified as regular employees, it is not
enough that they perform work or services that are seasonal in nature. They must have also
been employed only for the duration of one season. The evidence proves the existence of
the first, but not of the second, condition. The fact that respondents -- with the exception of
Luisa Rombo, Ramona Rombo, Bobong Abriga and Boboy Silva -- repeatedly worked as
sugarcane workers for petitioners for several years is not denied by the latter. Evidently,
petitioners employed respondents for more than one season. Therefore, the general rule of
regular employment is applicable.
In Abasolo v. National Labor Relations Commission, the Court issued this clarification:
[13]

[T]he test of whether or not an employee is a regular employee has been laid down in De Leon v.
NLRC, in which this Court held:
The primary standard, therefore, of determining regular employment is the reasonable connection
between the particular activity performed by the employee in relation to the usual trade or business
of the employer. The test is whether the former is usually necessary or desirable in the usual trade
or business of the employer. The connection can be determined by considering the nature of the
work performed and its relation to the scheme of the particular business or trade in its entirety. Also
if the employee has been performing the job for at least a year, even if the performance is not
continuous and merely intermittent, the law deems repeated and continuing need for its
performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity if not indispensability of that activity to the
business. Hence, the employment is considered regular, but only with respect to such activity and
while such activity exists.
xxxxxxxxx
x x x [T]he fact that [respondents] do not work continuously for one whole year but only for the
duration of the x x x season does not detract from considering them in regular employment since in
a litany of cases this Court has already settled that seasonal workers who are called to work from

time to time and are temporarily laid off during off-season are not separated from service in said
period, but merely considered on leave until re-employed.
[14]

The CA did not err when it ruled that Mercado v. NLRC was not applicable to the case
at bar. In the earlier case, the workers were required to perform phases of agricultural work
for a definite period of time, after which their services would be available to any other farm
owner. They were not hired regularly and repeatedly for the same phase/s of agricultural
work, but on and off for any single phase thereof. On the other hand, herein respondents,
having performed the same tasks for petitioners every season for several years, are
considered the latters regular employees for their respective tasks. Petitioners eventual
refusal to use their services -- even if they were ready, able and willing to perform their usual
duties whenever these were available -- and hiring of other workers to perform the tasks
originally assigned to respondents amounted to illegal dismissal of the latter.
[15]

The Court finds no reason to disturb the CAs dismissal of what petitioners claim was
their valid exercise of a management prerogative. The sudden changes in work
assignments reeked of bad faith. These changes were implemented immediately after
respondents had organized themselves into a union and started demanding collective
bargaining. Those who were union members were effectively deprived of their
jobs. Petitioners move actually amounted to unjustified dismissal of respondents, in violation
of the Labor Code.
Where there is no showing of clear, valid and legal cause for the termination of
employment, the law considers the matter a case of illegal dismissal and the burden is on
the employer to prove that the termination was for a valid and authorized cause. In the
case at bar, petitioners failed to prove any such cause for the dismissal of respondents who,
as discussed above, are regular employees.
[16]

Second Issue:
Unfair Labor Practice
The NLRC also found herein petitioners guilty of unfair labor practice. It ruled as follows:
Indeed, from respondents refusal to bargain, to their acts of economic inducements resulting in the
promotion of those who withdrew from the union, the use of armed guards to prevent the
organizers to come in, and the dismissal of union officials and members, one cannot but conclude
that respondents did not want a union in their haciendaa clear interference in the right of the
workers to self-organization.
[17]

We uphold the CAs affirmation of the above findings. Indeed, factual findings of labor
officials, who are deemed to have acquired expertise in matters within their respective
jurisdictions, are generally accorded not only respect but even finality. Their findings are
binding on the Supreme Court. Verily, their conclusions are accorded great weight upon
appeal, especially when supported by substantial evidence. Consequently, the Court is
not duty-bound to delve into the accuracy of their factual findings, in the absence of a clear
showing that these were arbitrary and bereft of any rational basis.
[18]

[19]

[20]

The finding of unfair labor practice done in bad faith carries with it the sanction of moral
and exemplary damages.
[21]

WHEREFORE,
the
Petition
is
hereby DENIED and
Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED

the

assailed

PRINCE TRANSPORT,
RENATO CLAROS,
Petitioners,

- versus -

INC. and MR.

G.R. No. 167291


Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
NACHURA,
PERALTA,
ABAD, and
_____________,** JJ.

DIOSDADO
GARCIA,
LUISITO
GARCIA, RODANTE ROMERO, REX
Promulgated:
BARTOLOME, FELICIANO GASCO,
JR.,
DANILO
ROJO,
EDGAR
SANFUEGO,
AMADO
GALANTO,
EUTIQUIO
LUGTU,
JOEL
January 12, 2011
GRAMATICA, MIEL CERVANTES,
TERESITA CABANES, ROE DELA
CRUZ, RICHELO BALIDOY, VILMA
PORRAS,
MIGUELITO
SALCEDO,
CRISTINA
GARCIA,
MARIO
NAZARENO, DINDO TORRES, ESMAEL
RAMBOYONG,
ROBETO*MANO,
ROGELIO
BAGAWISAN,
ARIEL
SNACHEZ, ESTAQULO VILLAREAL,
NELSON
MONTERO,
GLORIA
ORANTE, HARRY TOCA, PABLITO
MACASAET and RONALD GARCITA
Respondents.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court praying
for the annulment of the Decision[1] and Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA)
dated December 20, 2004 and February 24, 2005, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 80953. The
assailed Decision reversed and set aside the Resolutions dated May 30, 2003[3] and September
26, 2003[4] of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in CA No. 029059-01, while the
disputed Resolution denied petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration.
The present petition arose from various complaints filed by herein respondents charging
petitioners with illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice and illegal deductions and praying for the
award of premium pay for holiday and rest day, holiday pay, service leave pay, 13 th month pay,
moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees.
Respondents alleged in their respective position papers and other related pleadings that they were
employees of Prince Transport, Inc. (PTI), a company engaged in the business of transporting
passengers by land; respondents were hired either as drivers, conductors, mechanics or inspectors,
except for respondent Diosdado Garcia (Garcia), who was assigned as Operations Manager; in
addition to their regular monthly income, respondents also received commissions equivalent to 8
to 10% of their wages; sometime in October 1997, the said commissions were reduced to 7 to

9%; this led respondents and other employees of PTI to hold a series of meetings to discuss the
protection of their interests as employees; these meetings led petitioner Renato Claros, who is the
president of PTI, to suspect that respondents are about to form a union; he made known to Garcia
his objection to the formation of a union; in December 1997, PTI employees requested for a cash
advance, but the same was denied by management which resulted in demoralization on the
employees' ranks; later, PTI acceded to the request of some, but not all, of the employees; the
foregoing circumstances led respondents to form a union for their mutual aid and protection; in
order to block the continued formation of the union, PTI caused the transfer of all union members
and sympathizers to one of its sub-companies, Lubas Transport (Lubas); despite such transfer,
the schedule of drivers and conductors, as well as their company identification cards, were issued
by PTI; the daily time records, tickets and reports of the respondents were also filed at the PTI
office; and, all claims for salaries were transacted at the same office; later, the business of Lubas
deteriorated because of the refusal of PTI to maintain and repair the units being used therein,
which resulted in the virtual stoppage of its operations and respondents' loss of employment.
Petitioners, on the other hand, denied the material allegations of the complaints contending that
herein respondents were no longer their employees, since they all transferred to Lubas at their
own request; petitioners have nothing to do with the management and operations of Lubas as well
as the control and supervision of the latter's employees;petitioners were not aware of the existence
of any union in their company and came to know of the same only in June 1998 when they were
served a copy of the summons in the petition for certification election filed by the union; that
before the union was registered on April 15, 1998, the complaint subject of the present petition
was already filed; that the real motive in the filing of the complaints was because PTI asked
respondents to vacate the bunkhouse where they (respondents) and their respective families were
staying because PTI wanted to renovate the same.
Subsequently, the complaints filed by respondents were consolidated.
On October 25, 2000, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision,[5] the dispositive portion of which
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Dismissing the complaints for Unfair Labor Practice, non-payment of
holiday pay and holiday premium, service incentive leave pay and 13 th month pay;
Dismissing the complaint of Edgardo Belda for refund of boundary-hulog;
2. Dismissing the complaint for illegal dismissal against the respondents Prince
Transport, Inc. and/or Prince Transport Phils. Corporation, Roberto Buenaventura,
Rory Bayona, Ailee Avenue, Nerissa Uy, Mario Feranil and Peter Buentiempo;
3. Declaring that the complainants named below are illegally dismissed by
Lubas Transport; ordering said Lubas Transport to pay backwages and separation pay
in lieu of reinstatement in the following amount:
Complainants Backwages Separation Pay
(1) Diosdado Garcia P222,348.70 P79,456.00
(2) Feliciano Gasco, Jr. 203,350.00 54,600.00
(3) Pablito Macasaet 145,250.00 13,000.00
(4) Esmael Ramboyong 221,500.00 30,000.00
(5) Joel Gramatica 221,500.00 60,000.00
(6) Amado Galanto 130,725.00 29,250.00
(7) Miel Cervantes 265,800.00 60,000.00
(8) Roberto Mano 221,500.00 50,000.00
(9) Roe dela Cruz 265,800.00 60,000.00
(10) Richelo Balidoy 130,725.00 29,250.00

(11) Vilma Porras 221,500.00 70,000.00


(12) Miguelito Salcedo 265,800.00 60,000.00
(13) Cristina Garcia 130,725.00 35,100.00
(14) Luisito Garcia 145,250.00 19,500.00
(15) Rogelio Bagawisan 265,800.00 60,000.00
(16) Rodante H. Romero 221,500.00 60,000.00
(17) Dindo Torres 265,800.00 50,000.00
(18) Edgar Sanfuego 221,500.00 40,000.00
(19) Ronald Gacita 221,500.00 40,000.00
(20) Harry Toca 174,300.00 23,400.00
(21) Amado Galanto 130,725.00 17,550.00
(22) Teresita Cabaes 130,725.00 17,550.00
(23) Rex Bartolome 301,500.00 30,000.00
(24) Mario Nazareno 221,500.00 30,000.00
(25) Eustaquio Villareal 145,250.00 19,500.00
(26) Ariel Sanchez 265,800.00 60,000.00
(27) Gloria Orante 263,100.00 60,000.00
(28) Nelson Montero 264,600.00 60,000.00
(29) Rizal Beato 295,000.00 40,000.00
(30) Eutiquio Lugtu 354,000.00 48,000.00
(31) Warlito Dickensomn 295,000.00 40,000.00
(32) Edgardo Belda 354,000.00 84,000.00
(33) Tita Go 295,000.00 70,000.00
(34) Alex Lodor 295,000.00 50,000.00
(35) Glenda Arguilles 295,000.00 40,000.00
(36) Erwin Luces 354,000.00 48,000.00
(37) Jesse Celle 354,000.00 48,000.00
(38) Roy Adorable 295,000.00 40,000.00
(39) Marlon Bangcoro 295,000.00 40,000.00
(40)Edgardo Bangcoro 354,000.00 36,000.00
4. Ordering Lubas Transport to pay attorney's fees equivalent to ten (10%) of
the total monetary award; and
6. Ordering the dismissal of the claim for moral and exemplary damages for lack
merit.
SO ORDERED.[6]

The Labor Arbiter ruled that petitioners are not guilty of unfair labor practice in the absence of
evidence to show that they violated respondents right to self-organization. The Labor Arbiter also
held that Lubas is the respondents employer and that it (Lubas) is an entity which is separate,
distinct and independent from PTI. Nonetheless, the Labor Arbiter found that Lubas is guilty of
illegally dismissing respondents from their employment.
Respondents filed a Partial Appeal with the NLRC praying, among others, that PTI should also
be held equally liable as Lubas.
In a Resolution dated May 30, 2003, the NLRC modified the Decision of the Labor Arbiter and
disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby PARTIALLY GRANTED.
Accordingly, the Decision appealed from is SUSTAINED subject to the modification
that Complainant-Appellant Edgardo Belda deserves refund of his boundary-hulog in
the amount of P446,862.00; and that Complainants-Appellants Danilo Rojo and Danilo
Laurel should be included in the computation of Complainants-Appellants claim as
follows:

Complainants Backwages Separation Pay


41. Danilo Rojo P355,560.00 P48,000.00
42. Danilo Laurel P357,960.00 P72,000.00
As regards all other aspects, the Decision appealed from is SUSTAINED.
SO ORDERED.[7]

Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the NLRC denied it in its
Resolution[8] dated September 26, 2003.
Respondents then filed a special civil action for certiorari with the CA assailing the Decision and
Resolution of the NLRC.
On December 20, 2004, the CA rendered the herein assailed Decision which granted respondents'
petition. The CA ruled that petitioners are guilty of unfair labor practice; that Lubas is a mere
instrumentality, agent conduit or adjunct of PTI; and that petitioners act of transferring
respondents employment to Lubas is indicative of their intent to frustrate the efforts of
respondents to organize themselves into a union. Accordingly, the CA disposed of the case as
follows:
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the
subject decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and another one ENTERED
finding the respondents guilty of unfair labor practice and ordering them to reinstate the
petitioners to their former positions without loss of seniority rights and with full
backwages.
With respect to the portion ordering the inclusion of Danilo Rojo and Danilo Laurel in
the computation of petitioner's claim for backwages and with respect to the portion
ordering the refund of Edgardo Belda's boundary-hulog in the amount of P446,862.00,
the NLRC decision is affirmed and maintained.
SO ORDERED.[9]

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration,


Resolution[10] dated February 24, 2005.

but

the

CA

denied

it via its

Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari based on the following grounds:
A
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN
GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE RESPONDENTS' PETITION FOR CERTIORARI
1. THE COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RESPECTED THE
FINDINGS OF THE LABOR ARBITER AND AFFIRMED BY THE NLRC
2. ONLY ONE PETITIONER EXECUTED AND VERIFIED THE PETITION
3. THE COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD NOT HAVE GIVEN DUE COURSE
TO THE PETITION WITH RESPECT TO RESPONDENTS REX
BARTOLOME, FELICIANO GASCO, DANILO ROJO, EUTIQUIO LUGTU,
AND NELSON MONTERO AS THEY FAILED TO FILE AN APPEAL TO
THE NLRC

B
THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN DECLARING THAT
PETITIONERS PRINCE TRANSPORT, INC. AND MR. RENATO CLAROS AND
LUBAS TRANSPORT ARE ONE AND THE SAME CORPORATION AND THUS,
LIABLE IN SOLIDUM TO RESPONDENTS.

C
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN
ORDERING THE REINSTATEMENT OF RESPONDENTS TO THEIR PREVIOUS
POSITION WHEN IT IS NOT ONE OF THE ISSUES RAISED IN RESPONDENTS'
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI.[11]

Petitioners assert that factual findings of agencies exercising quasi-judicial functions like the
NLRC are accorded not only respect but even finality; that the CA should have outrightly
dismissed the petition filed before it because in certiorari proceedings under Rule 65 of the Rules
of Court it is not within the province of the CA to evaluate the sufficiency of evidence upon which
the NLRC based its determination, the inquiry being limited essentially to whether or not said
tribunal has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion. Petitioners assert that the CA can only pass upon the factual findings of the NLRC if
they are not supported by evidence on record, or if the impugned judgment is based on
misapprehension of facts which circumstances are not present in this case. Petitioners also
emphasize that the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter concurred in their factual findings which were
based on substantial evidence and, therefore, should have been accorded great weight and respect
by the CA.
Respondents, on the other hand, aver that the CA neither exceeded its jurisdiction nor committed
error in re-evaluating the NLRCs factual findings since such findings are not in accord with the
evidence on record and the applicable law or jurisprudence.
The Court agrees with respondents.
The power of the CA to review NLRC decisions via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court has been settled as early as this Courts decision in St. Martin Funeral Homes
v. NLRC.[12] In said case, the Court held that the proper vehicle for such review is a special civil
action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the said Rules, and that the case should be filed with the
CA in strict observance of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. Moreover, it is already settled that
under Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7902, the CA
pursuant to the exercise of its original jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari is specifically
given the power to pass upon the evidence, if and when necessary, to resolve factual
issues.[13] Section 9 clearly states:
xxxx
The Court of Appeals shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive
evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases
falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and
conduct new trials or further proceedings. x x x

However, equally settled is the rule that factual findings of labor officials, who are deemed to
have acquired expertise in matters within their jurisdiction, are generally accorded not

only respect but even finality by the courts when supported by substantial evidence, i.e., the
amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a
conclusion.[14] But these findings are not infallible. When there is a showing that they were arrived
at arbitrarily or in disregard of the evidence on record, they may be examined by the
courts.[15] The CA can grant the petition for certiorari if it finds that the NLRC, in its assailed
decision or resolution, made a factual finding not supported by substantial evidence.[16] It is within
the jurisdiction of the CA, whose jurisdiction over labor cases has been expanded to review the
findings of the NLRC.[17]
In this case, the NLRC sustained the factual findings of the Labor Arbiter. Thus, these findings
are generally binding on the appellate court, unless there was a showing that they were arrived at
arbitrarily or in disregard of the evidence on record. In respondents' petition for certiorari with
the CA, these factual findings were reexamined and reversed by the appellate court on the ground
that they were not in accord with credible evidence presented in this case. To determine if the
CA's reexamination of factual findings and reversal of the NLRC decision are proper and with
sufficient basis, it is incumbent upon this Court to make its own evaluation of the evidence on
record.[18]
After a thorough review of the records at hand, the Court finds that the CA did not commit error
in arriving at its own findings and conclusions for reasons to be discussed hereunder.
Firstly, petitioners posit that the petition filed with the CA is fatally defective, because the
attached verification and certificate against forum shopping was signed only by respondent
Garcia.
The Court does not agree.
While the general rule is that the certificate of non-forum shopping must be signed by all the
plaintiffs in a case and the signature of only one of them is insufficient, the Court has stressed
that the rules on forum shopping, which were designed to promote and facilitate the orderly
administration of justice, should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its
own ultimate and legitimate objective.[19] Strict compliance with the provision regarding the
certificate of non-forum shopping underscores its mandatory nature in that the certification cannot
be altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded.[20] It does not, however,
prohibit substantial compliance therewith under justifiable circumstances, considering especially
that although it is obligatory, it is not jurisdictional.[21]
In a number of cases, the Court has consistently held that when all the petitioners share a common
interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense, the signature of only one of them in the
certification against forum shopping substantially complies with the rules.[22] In the present case,
there is no question that respondents share a common interest and invoke a common cause of
action. Hence, the signature of respondent Garcia is a sufficient compliance with the rule
governing certificates of non-forum shopping. In the first place, some of the respondents actually
executed a Special Power of Attorney authorizing Garcia as their attorney-in-fact in filing a
petition for certiorari with the CA.[23]
The Court, likewise, does not agree with petitioners' argument that the CA should not have given
due course to the petition filed before it with respect to some of the respondents, considering that
these respondents did not sign the verification attached to the Memorandum of Partial Appeal
earlier filed with the NLRC. Petitioners assert that the decision of the Labor Arbiter has become
final and executory with respect to these respondents and, as a consequence, they are barred from
filing a petition for certiorari with the CA.

With respect to the absence of some of the workers signatures in the verification, the verification
requirement is deemed substantially complied with when some of the parties who undoubtedly
have sufficient knowledge and belief to swear to the truth of the allegations in the petition had
signed the same. Such verification is deemed a sufficient assurance that the matters alleged in the
petition have been made in good faith or are true and correct, and not merely speculative.
Moreover, respondents' Partial Appeal shows that the appeal stipulated as complainantsappellants Rizal Beato, et al., meaning that there were more than one appellant who were all
workers of petitioners.
In any case, the settled rule is that a pleading which is required by the Rules of Court to be
verified, may be given due course even without a verification if the circumstances warrant the
suspension of the rules in the interest of justice.[24] Indeed, the absence of a verification is not
jurisdictional, but only a formal defect, which does not of itself justify a court in refusing to allow
and act on a case.[25] Hence, the failure of some of the respondents to sign the verification attached
to their Memorandum of Appeal filed with the NLRC is not fatal to their cause of action.
Petitioners also contend that the CA erred in applying the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil
with respect to Lubas, because the said doctrine is applicable only to corporations and Lubas is
not a corporation but a single proprietorship; that Lubas had been found by the Labor Arbiter and
the NLRC to have a personality which is separate and distinct from that of PTI; that PTI had no
hand in the management and operation as well as control and supervision of the employees of
Lubas.
The Court is not persuaded.
On the contrary, the Court agrees with the CA that Lubas is a mere agent, conduit or adjunct of
PTI. A settled formulation of the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil is that when two business
enterprises are owned, conducted and controlled by the same parties, both law and equity will,
when necessary to protect the rights of third parties, disregard the legal fiction that these two
entities are distinct and treat them as identical or as one and the same. [26] In the present case, it
may be true that Lubas is a single proprietorship and not a corporation. However, petitioners
attempt to isolate themselves from and hide behind the supposed separate and distinct personality
of Lubas so as to evade their liabilities is precisely what the classical doctrine of piercing the veil
of corporate entity seeks to prevent and remedy.
Thus, the Court agrees with the observations of the CA, to wit:
As correctly pointed out by petitioners, if Lubas were truly a separate entity, how come
that it was Prince Transport who made the decision to transfer its employees to the
former? Besides, Prince Transport never regarded Lubas Transport as a separate entity.
In the aforesaid letter, it referred to said entity as Lubas operations. Moreover, in said
letter, it did not transfer the employees; it assigned them. Lastly, the existing funds and
201 file of the employees were turned over not to a new company but a new
management.[27]

The Court also agrees with respondents that if Lubas is indeed an entity separate and independent
from PTI why is it that the latter decides which employees shall work in the former?
What is telling is the fact that in a memorandum issued by PTI, dated January 22, 1998, petitioner
company admitted that Lubas is one of its sub-companies.[28] In addition, PTI, in its letters to its
employees who were transferred to Lubas, referred to the latter as its New City Operations Bus.[29]

Moreover, petitioners failed to refute the contention of respondents that despite the latters transfer
to Lubas of their daily time records, reports, daily income remittances of conductors, schedule of
drivers and conductors were all made, performed, filed and kept at the office of PTI. In fact,
respondents identification cards bear the name of PTI.
It may not be amiss to point out at this juncture that in two separate illegal dismissal cases
involving different groups of employees transferred by PTI to other companies, the Labor Arbiter
handling the cases found that these companies and PTI are one and the same entity; thus, making
them solidarily liable for the payment of backwages and other money claims awarded to the
complainants therein.[30]
Petitioners likewise aver that the CA erred and committed grave abuse of discretion when it
ordered petitioners to reinstate respondents to their former positions, considering that the issue of
reinstatement was never brought up before it and respondents never questioned the award of
separation pay to them.
The Court is not persuaded.
It is clear from the complaints filed by respondents that they are seeking reinstatement. [31]
In any case, Section 2 (c), Rule 7 of the Rules of Court provides that a pleading shall specify the
relief sought, but may add a general prayer for such further or other reliefs as may be deemed just
and equitable. Under this rule, a court can grant the relief warranted by the allegation and the
proof even if it is not specifically sought by the injured party; the inclusion of a general prayer
may justify the grant of a remedy different from or together with the specific remedy sought, if
the facts alleged in the complaint and the evidence introduced so warrant.[32]
Moreover, in BPI Family Bank v. Buenaventura,[33] this Court ruled that the general prayer is
broad enough to justify extension of a remedy different from or together with the specific remedy
sought. Even without the prayer for a specific remedy, proper relief may be granted by the court
if the facts alleged in the complaint and the evidence introduced so warrant. The court shall grant
relief warranted by the allegations and the proof even if no such relief is prayed for. The prayer
in the complaint for other reliefs equitable and just in the premises justifies the grant of a relief
not otherwise specifically prayed for.[34] In the instant case, aside from their specific prayer for
reinstatement, respondents, in their separate complaints, prayed for such reliefs which are deemed
just and equitable.
As to whether petitioners are guilty of unfair labor practice, the Court finds no cogent reason to
depart from the findings of the CA that respondents transfer of work assignments to Lubas was
designed by petitioners as a subterfuge to foil the formers right to organize themselves into a
union. Under Article 248 (a) and (e) of the Labor Code, an employer is guilty of unfair labor
practice if it interferes with, restrains or coerces its employees in the exercise of their right to selforganization or if it discriminates in regard to wages, hours of work and other terms and
conditions of employment in order to encourage or discourage membership in any labor
organization.
Indeed, evidence of petitioners' unfair labor practice is shown by the established fact that, after
respondents' transfer to Lubas, petitioners left them high and dry insofar as the operations of
Lubas was concerned. The Court finds no error in the findings and conclusion of the CA that
petitioners withheld the necessary financial and logistic support such as spare parts, and repair

and maintenance of the transferred buses until only two units remained in running condition. This
left respondents virtually jobless.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the
Court of Appeals, dated December 20, 2004 and February 24, 2005, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP
No. 80953, are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 112661. May 30, 2001]

SIMEON DE LEON, ET. AL., petioners, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS


COMMISSION (NLRC), and FORTUNE TOBACCO CORPORATION and/or
MAGNUM INTEGRATED SERVICES, INC. (formerly FORTUNE INTEGRATED
SERVICES, INC.), respondents.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:

This case stemmed from a complaint for illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice and refund of
cash bond filed by petitioners against respondents before the Arbitration Branch of the National
Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The petition at bar seeks the annulment of the resolution of
the NLRC dated July 5, 1993 reversing the decision of the Labor Arbiter finding respondents liable
for the charges, and its resolution dated August 10, 1993 denying petitioners' motion for
reconsideration.
The undisputed facts are as follows:
On August 23, 1980, Fortune Tobacco Corporation (FTC) and Fortune Integrated Services, Inc.
(FISI) entered into a contract for security services where the latter undertook to provide security
guards for the protection and security of the former. The petitioners were among those engaged as
security guards pursuant to the contract.
On February 1, 1991, the incorporators and stockholders of FISI sold out lock, stock and barrel
to a group of new stockholders by executing for the purpose a "Deed of Sale of Shares of Stock". On
the same date, the Articles of Incorporation of FISI was amended changing its corporate name to
Magnum Integrated Services, Inc. (MISI). A new by-laws was likewise adopted and approved by the
Securities and Exchange Commission on June 4, 1993.
On October 15, 1991, FTC terminated the contract for security services which resulted in the
displacement of some five hundred eighty two (582) security guards assigned by FISI/MISI to FTC,
including the petitioners in this case. FTC engaged the services of two (2) other security agencies,
Asian Security Agency and Ligalig Security Services, whose security guards were posted on October
15, 1991 to replace FISI's security guards.
Sometime in October 1991, the Fortune Tobacco Labor Union, an affiliate of the National
Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), and claiming to be the bargaining agent of the security guards,
sent a Notice of Strike to FISI/MISI. On November 14, 1991, the members of the union which include
petitioners picketed the premises of FTC. The Regional Trial Court of Pasig, however, issued a writ
of injunction to enjoin the picket.
On November 29, 1991, Simeon de Leon, together with sixteen (16) other complainants instituted
the instant case before the Arbitration Branch of the NLRC. The complaint was later amended to
allow the inclusion of other complainants.
The parties submitted the following issues for resolution:
(1) Whether petitioners were illegally dismissed;
(2) Whether respondents are guilty of unfair labor practice; and
(3) Whether petitioners are entitled to the refund of their cash bond deposited with respondent FISI.

Petitioners alleged that they were regular employees of FTC which was also using the corporate
names Fortune Integrated Services, Inc. and Magnum Integrated Services, Inc. They were assigned
to work as security guards at the company's main factory plant, its tobacco redrying plant and
warehouse. They averred that they performed their duties under the control and supervision of FTC's
security supervisors. Their services, however, were severed in October 1991 without valid cause and

without due process. Petitioners claimed that their dismissal was part of respondents' design to bust
their newly-organized union which sought to enforce their rights under the Labor Standards law.[1]
Respondent FTC, on the other hand, maintained that there was no employer-employee
relationship between FTC and petitioners. It said that at the time of the termination of their services,
petitioners were the employees of MISI which was a separate and distinct corporation from
FTC. Hence, petitioners had no cause of action against FTC.[2]
Respondent FISI, meanwhile, denied the charge of illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice. It
argued that petitioners were not dismissed from service but were merely placed on floating status
pending re-assignment to other posts. It alleged that the temporary displacement of petitioners was
not due to its fault but was the result of the pretermination by FTC of the contract for security
services.[3]
The Labor Arbiter found respondents liable for the charges. Rejecting FTC's argument that there
was no employer-employee relationship between FTC and petitioners, he ruled that FISI and FTC
should be considered as a single employer. He observed that the two corporations have common
stockholders and they share the same business address. In addition, FISI had no client other than FTC
and other corporations belonging to the group of companies owned by Lucio Tan. The Labor Arbiter
thus found respondents guilty of union busting and illegal dismissal. He observed that not long after
the stockholders of FISI sold all their stocks to a new set of stockholders, FTC terminated the contract
of security services and engaged the services of two other security agencies. FTC did not give any
reason for the termination of the contract. The Labor Arbiter gave credence to petitioners' theory that
respondents' precipitate termination of their employment was intended to bust their
union. Consequently, the Labor Arbiter ordered respondents to pay petitioners their backwages and
separation pay, to refund their cash bond deposit, and to pay attorney's fees. [4]
On appeal, the NLRC reversed and set aside the decision of the Labor Arbiter. First, it held that
the Labor Arbiter erred in applying the "single employer" principle and concluding that there was an
employer-employee relationship between FTC and FISI on one hand, and petitioners on the other
hand. It found that at the time of the termination of the contract of security services on October 15,
1991, FISI which, at that time, had been renamed Magnum Integrated Services, Inc. had a different
set of stockholders and officers from that of FTC. They also had separate offices. The NLRC held
that the principle of "single employer" and the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil could not apply
under the circumstances. It further ruled that the proximate cause for the displacement of petitioners
was the termination of the contract for security services by FTC on October 15, 1991. FISI could not
be faulted for the severance of petitioners' assignment at the premises of FTC. Consequently, the
NLRC held that the charge of illegal dismissal had no basis. As regards the charge of unfair labor
practice, the NLRC found that petitioners who had the burden of proof failed to adduce any evidence
to support their charge of unfair labor practice against respondents. Hence, it ordered the dismissal
of petitioners' complaint.[5]
The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution of the NLRC but the same
was denied.[6] Hence, this petition.
We gave due course to the petition on May 15, 1995. Thus, the ruling in St. Martin Funeral Home
vs. NLRC[7] remanding all petitions for certiorari from the decision of the NLRC to the Court of
Appeals does not apply to the case at bar.
The petition is impressed with merit.
An examination of the facts of this case reveals that there is sufficient ground to conclude that
respondents were guilty of interfering with the right of petitioners to self-organization which
constitutes unfair labor practice under Article 248 of the Labor Code. [8] Petitioners have been
employed with FISI since the 1980s and have since been posted at the premises of FTC -- its main
factory plant, its tobacco redrying plant and warehouse. It appears from the records that FISI, while
having its own corporate identity, was a mere instrumentality of FTC, tasked to provide protection
and security in the company premises. The records show that the two corporations had identical
stockholders and the same business address. FISI also had no other clients except FTC and other
companies belonging to the Lucio Tan group of companies. Moreover, the early payslips of
petitioners show that their salaries were initially paid by FTC. [9] To enforce their rightful benefits
under the laws on Labor Standards, petitioners formed a union which was later certified as bargaining
agent of all the security guards. On February 1, 1991, the stockholders of FISI sold all their
participations in the corporation to a new set of stockholders which renamed the corporation Magnum

Integrated Services, Inc. On October 15, 1991, FTC, without any reason, preterminated its contract
of security services with MISI and contracted two other agencies to provide security services for its
premises. This resulted in the displacement of petitioners. As MISI had no other clients, it failed to
give new assignments to petitioners. Petitioners have remained unemployed since then. All these
facts indicate a concerted effort on the part of respondents to remove petitioners from the company
and thus abate the growth of the union and block its actions to enforce their demands in accordance
with the Labor Standards laws. The Court held in Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Employees
Association-NATU vs. Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd.:[10]
The test of whether an employer has interfered with and coerced employees within the meaning of
section (a) (1) is whether the employer has engaged in conduct which it may reasonably be said
tends to interfere with the free exercise of employees' rights under section 3 of the Act, and it is not
necessary that there be direct evidence that any employee was in fact intimidated or coerced by
statements of threats of the employer if there is a reasonable inference that anti-union conduct of
the employer does have an adverse effect on self-organization and collective bargaining.[11]
We are not persuaded by the argument of respondent FTC denying the presence of an employeremployee relationship. We find that the Labor Arbiter correctly applied the doctrine of piercing the
corporate veil to hold all respondents liable for unfair labor practice and illegal termination of
petitioners' employment. It is a fundamental principle in corporation law that a corporation is an
entity separate and distinct from its stockholders and from other corporations to which it is
connected. However, when the concept of separate legal entity is used to defeat public convenience,
justify wrong, protect fraud or defend crime, the law will regard the corporation as an association of
persons, or in case of two corporations, merge them into one. The separate juridical personality of a
corporation may also be disregarded when such corporation is a mere alter ego or business conduit
of another person.[12] In the case at bar, it was shown that FISI was a mere adjunct of FTC. FISI, by
virtue of a contract for security services, provided FTC with security guards to safeguard its
premises. However, records show that FISI and FTC have the same owners and business address,
and FISI provided security services only to FTC and other companies belonging to the Lucio Tan
group of companies. The purported sale of the shares of the former stockholders to a new set of
stockholders who changed the name of the corporation to Magnum Integrated Services, Inc. appears
to be part of a scheme to terminate the services of FISI's security guards posted at the premises of
FTC and bust their newly-organized union which was then beginning to become active in demanding
the company's compliance with Labor Standards laws. Under these circumstances, the Court cannot
allow FTC to use its separate corporate personality to shield itself from liability for illegal acts
committed against its employees.
Thus, we find that the termination of petitioners' services was without basis and therefore
illegal. Under Article 279 of the Labor Code, an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work is
entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges, and to his full
backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed
from the time his compensation was witheld from him up to the time of his actual
reinstatement. However, if reinstatement is no longer possible, the employer has the alternative of
paying the employee his separation pay in lieu of reinstatement.[13]
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed resolutions of the NLRC are
SET ASIDE. Respondents are hereby ordered to pay petitioners their full backwages, and to reinstate
them to their former position without loss of seniority rights and privileges, or to award them
separation pay in case reinstatement is no longer feasible.
SO ORDERED.