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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
OWEN MARCELO CAGALINGAN AND BEATRIZ B. CAGALINGAN, Accused-Appellants.
G.R. No. 198664, November 23, 2016
(FIRST DIVISION)

FACTS: Accused-appellants Owen Marcelo Cagalingan and Beatriz B. Cagalingan were charged with
Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale before the Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City in a complaint
initiated by private complainants Reynalyn B. Cagalingan, Roselle Q. Cagalingan, Laarni E. Sanchez,
Norma R. Cagalingan; and Arcele J. Bacorro. The Information which charged the accused spouses with
illegal recruitment in states that on or about and during the period from the months of October up to
November, 2002, in the City of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, the above-named accused, representing
themselves to have the capacity to contract, enlist, hire and transport Filipino workers for employment in
Macau, China, conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping one another, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement to the private
complainants without first having secured or obtained the required license or authority from the
government agency. The RTC rendered judgment convicting the accused-appellants. On appeal, the CA
affirmed the convictions of the accused-appellants by the RTC.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the RTC decision finding the accused-
appellants guilty of the crime charged.

HELD: NO

The Court ruled that there is no reason to disturb the factual findings and legal conclusions by the CA
affirming the factual findings of the RTC. In the case at bench, all three (3) elements for Illegal
Recruitment in large scale were established during trial. First, it was proved by private complaints that
accused spouses were not licensed or authorized to engage in recruitment activities. This fact was
substantiated by POEA's Certifications and as testified to by the Officer-in-Charge of the POEA who
issued the same. Second, private complainants testified and proved that indeed accused spouses
undertook acts constituting recruitment and placement as defined under Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code.
They testified that they were induced, offered and promised by accused spouses employment in Macau,
China for two (2) years for a fee. They were made to believe that accused spouses were authorized to
hire them and capable of sending them to Macau for work with higher pays. They paid accused spouses
for documentation and processing fees, yet, they were unable to go abroad. These testimonies, as well
as the documentary evidence they submitted consisting of the receipts issued to them by accused
spouses, all proved that the latter were engaged in recruitment and placement activities. And third, there
are five (5) complainants against whom accused spouses are alleged to have recruited.
CENTRO PROJECT MANPOWER SERVICES CORPORATION, Petitioner,
vs.
AGUINALDO NALUIS AND THE COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents.
G.R. No. 160123, June 17, 2015
(FIRST DIVISION)

FACTS: Petitioner Centro Project Manpower Services Corporation, a local recruitment agency, engaged
Naluis to work abroad as a plumber under Pacific Micronesia Corporation in Garapan, Saipan, in the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The work was covered by the primary Employment
Contract dated March 11, 1997 whereby his employment would last for 12 months, and would commence
upon his arrival in Northern Marianas. The Department of Labor and Immigration of Northern Mariana
Islands issued an Authorization for Entry in his favor. Centro Project and Naluis executed an addendum
to the primary Employment Contract to make the start of his employment effective from his departure at
the point of origin instead of his arrival in Northern Marianas. Naluis left for Northern Mariana on
September 13, 1997, the date of his actual deployment, and his employment continued until his
repatriation to the Philippines on June 3, 1998 allegedly due to the expiration of the employment contract.
Not having completed 12 months of work, he filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against Centro Project.
The Labor Arbiter found that Centro Project had been justified in repatriating Naluis, and accordingly
dismissed the complaint finding the repatriation of complainant to the Philippines is not a dismissal but as
a result of the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana islands as provided for in
the authorization for entry. Naluis appealed to the NLRC, which found that Centro Project had no choice
but to terminate the employment contract because the AE issued by the Department of Labor and
Immigration of Northern Mariana Islands had limited his stay in Northern Marianas, and that his
employment had expired on May 13, 1998 as explicitly provided in the employment contract executed
between him and Centro Project. Naluis assailed the decision of the NLRC in the CA to which it ruled that
CA promulgated its judgment setting aside the decision of the NLRC, holding that the AE did not have
any effect on Naluis employment status; that the AE did not limit his stay in Northern Marianas; and that,
consequently, Centro Project had breached the contract by ordering his repatriation.

ISSUE: Whether or not the expiration date contained in the AE issued by the Department of Labor and
Immigration of Northern Mariana Islands validly cut short Naluis stay and thus justified the pre-
termination of his work?

HELD: NO.

There is no dispute that Naluis did not complete the 12-month period stipulated in the primary
Employment Contract. However, the NLRC concluded that Centro Project had been justified in
repatriating him because the AE had stipulated a limit of stay for him. The burden of proof to show that
the employment contract had been validly terminated pertained to the employer. To discharge its burden,
the employer must rely on the strength of its own evidence. However, Centro Projects reliance on the AE
limiting Naluis stay was unwarranted, and, worse, it did not discharge its burden of proof as the employer
to show that Naluis repatriation had been justified.

The NLRC thereby relied on a loose interpretation of the AE and the primary Employment Contract. The
AE thereby clearly indicated that the date of May 13, 1998 appearing thereon referred only to the
expiration of the document itself. Centro Project stretched its interpretation to bolster its contention that
May 13, 1998 was the limit of stay for Naluis in Northern Marianas. The interpretation is unacceptable, for
item number 3 of the AE even recognized any employment period if the AE was issued for the purpose of
employment. This meant that contrary to the position of Centro Project there was no clear and categorical
entry in the AE to the effect that the AE limited his stay in Northern Marianas. It is fundamental that in the
interpretation of contracts of employment, doubts are generally resolved in favor of the worker. It is
imperative to uphold this rule herein. Hence, any doubt or vagueness in the provisions of the contract of
employment should have been interpreted and resolved in favor of Naluis.
ROGELIO BARONDA, Petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, AND HIDECO SUGAR MILLING CO., INC., Respondents.
G.R. No. 161006, October 14, 2015
(FIRST DIVISION)

FACTS: Respondent Hideco Sugar Milling Co., Inc. employed the petitioner as a mud press truck driver.
He hit HIDECO's transmission lines while operating a dump truck, causing a total factory blackout. Power
was eventually restored but the restoration cost HIDECO. Following the incident, HIDECO served a notice
of offense requiring him to explain the incident within three days from notice. He complied. Thereafter, the
management conducted its investigation, and, finding him guilty of negligence, recommended his
dismissal. The resident manager served a termination letter and informed him of the decision to terminate
his employment effective at the close of office hours of that day. Hence, HIDECO no longer allowed him
to report to work on the next day. The petitioner, along with another employee also dismissed by
HIDECO, filed in the Office of the Voluntary Arbitrator of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board in
Tacloban City a complaint for illegal dismissal against HIDECO.

Voluntary Arbitrator Antonio C. Lopez, Jr. handled the case and eventually rendered his decision by
finding the petitioner's dismissal illegal, and ordering his reinstatement. Voluntary Arbitrator Lopez, Jr.
deemed the petitioner's separation from the service from June 16, 1998 to January 15, 1999 as a
suspension from work without pay, and commanded him to pay on installment basis the damages
sustained by HIDECO from the May 1, 1998 incident he had caused. HIDECO filed a motion for
reconsideration but the Voluntary Arbitrator denied the motion. Accepting the outcome, HIDECO
reinstated the petitioner on September 29, 2000. The petitioner filed his manifestation with motion for the
issuance of the writ of execution in the Office of the Voluntary Arbitrator praying for the execution of the
decision, and insisting on being entitled to backwages and other benefits. HIDECO opposed the
petitioner's motion for execution and simultaneously presented its own motion for execution to enforce the
decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator directing the petitioner to pay the actual damages. The Voluntary
Arbitrator denied the petitioner's motion for execution on the ground that the decision did not award any
backwages and granted HIDECO's motion for execution.

ISSUE: Whether or not the reinstatement aspect of the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision was executory
pending appeal.

HELD: YES

The timely filing of a motion for reconsideration or of an appeal forestalls the finality of the decision or
award of the Voluntary Arbitrator the reinstatement aspect of the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision or award
remains executory regardless of the filing of such motion for reconsideration or appeal. The immediate
reinstatement of the employee pending the appeal has been introduced by Section 12 of Republic Act No.
6715, which amended Article 223 of the Labor Code. The duties and responsibilities of the State are
imposed not so much to express sympathy for the workingman as to forcefully and meaningfully
underscore labor as a primary social and economic force, which the Constitution also expressly affirms
with equal intensity. Labor is an indispensable partner for the nation's progress and stability.

We see no reason to obstruct the reinstatement decreed by the Voluntary Arbitrator, or to treat it any less
than the reinstatement that is ordered by the Labor Arbiter. Voluntary arbitration really takes precedence
over other dispute settlement devices. Such primacy of voluntary arbitration is mandated by no less than
the Philippine Constitution and is ingrained as a policy objective of our labor relations law. The
reinstatement order by the Voluntary Arbitrator should have the same authority, force and effect as that of
the reinstatement order by the Labor Arbiter not only to encourage parties to settle their disputes through
this mode, but also, and more importantly, to enforce the constitutional mandate to protect labor, to
provide security of tenure, and to enhance social justice.