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Realyn Austria January 23, 2017

Legal Writing and Logic Atty. Delfin

Case Digest: Evelyn Chua-Qua vs. Hon. Jacobo Clave

FACTS:
Evelyn Chua was the class adviser of a Grade 6 class in Tay Tung
National Highschool where Bobby Qua was her student. According to the
policy of the school, it was the teachers responsibility to extend remedial
classes to its student and Bobby was one of the students who took the
extended course. During the course of classes, the two fell in love with each
other and eventually got married in a civil ceremony solemnized by Honorable
Judge in Iloilo. Evelyn, herein petitioner, was then 30 years of age and Bobby
was only 16 years old. While Bobby was only 16 years old, the law governing
marriages during that time allows a man to marry at the age of 16 provided
that he obtained parental consent and advice from his parents. In this case,
his mother gave Bobbys parent consent. The civil ceremony was celebrated
on December 24, 1976 and was ratified according to the rites of their religion
in a church wedding solemnized by Father Melicor in Bacolod on January 10,
1976.

In almost a month after the wedding ceremony, Tay Tung High School
filed an application to terminate the employment of Evelyn on the ground of
abusive and unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher and
that her continued employment is inimical to the best interest and would
downgrade the high moral values of the school. Evelyn was placed under
immediate suspension while the case is ongoing. Both parties were required
to submit their position papers and supporting evidence. However, the
respondent school had the great advantage to bolster its contention that the
Evelyn, defying all standards of decency, recklessly took advantage of her
position as school teacher, lured a Grade VI boy under her advisory section
and 15 years her junior into an amorous relation. Moreover, the school raised
the issues that the petitioner stayed alone with his student Bobby inside the
classroom after school hours when everybody had gone home, with one door
allegedly locked and the other slightly open.

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The labor arbiter, without conducting any formal hearing, ruled in favor
of the respondent school and granted the clearance to terminate the
petitioner. The petitioner then appealed to the NLRC claiming the denial of her
right to due process, for not having been furnished copies of the affidavits
relied upon by the Labor arbiter. Furthermore, she contended that there is
nothing immoral, abusive nor unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified
school teacher for a teacher to enter into a lawful wedlock with the student.
NLRC then reversed the Labor Arbiters decision ruling in favor of the
petitioner and ordered petitioners reinstatement with backwages. One of the
findings was that they did not find any malicious, immoral or scandalous about
a teacher and a student talking inside the classroom after classes with lights
on and doors open.

However, the decision was again reversed when the respondent school
elevated their appeal to the Minister of Labor rendering its decision to
terminate the services of the petitioner but giving her separation pay
equivalent to 6 months salary.

The petitioner then filed her petition for certiorari on the grounds that
the dismissal of the petitioner filed by the respondent school was actually
based on her marriage with the student and that there is no sufficient proofs
adduced that she committed serious misconduct or breached of trust imposed
against her by the respondent school or any of the grounds enumerated in the
Labor code.

ISSUE:
Whether or not there is a substantial evidence to prove that the antecedent
facts, which culminated in the marriage between petitioner and her student,
constitute immorality and/or grave misconduct.

RULING:
No. The respondent school acted in grave abuse of discretion. The records
relied upon by the Acting Secretary of Labor are unbelievable and unworthy of
credit. The affidavits presented summarized a complete absence of the
immoral acts allegedly committed by the Evelyn and her student. Moreover,
the alleged acts complained by the school against the school teacher

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happened from September to December 1975, but the disciplinary action
imposed by school was sought only in February 1976 and the affidavits were
executed only in August 1976. The affidavits heavily relied upon by School
are clearly the product of after-thought. The action pursued by appellee in
dismissing appellant over one month after her marriage, allegedly based on
immoral acts committed even much earlier, is open to basis of the action
sought seriously doubted or on the question. The court were more inclined to
believe that school had certain selfish, ulterior and undisclosed motives
known only to itself.

With the finding that there is no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral
acts, it follows that the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics governing
school teachers would have no basis. Private respondent utterly failed to
show that petitioner took advantage of her position to court her student. If the
two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic
levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its
own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and
universal emotion is not to be so casually equated with immorality. The
deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal
pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.

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