August 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are selected August 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Labor Law

Dismissal; abandonment. Time and again, the Supreme Court has held that abandonment is totally inconsistent with the immediate filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal, more so if the same is accompanied by a prayer for reinstatement. In the present case, however, petitioner filed his complaint more than one year after his alleged termination from employment. Moreover, petitioner did not ask for reinstatement in the complaint form, which he personally filled up and filed with the NLRC. The prayer for reinstatement is made only in the Position Paper that was later prepared by his counsel. This is an indication that petitioner never had the intention or desire to return to his job. Elpidio Calipay vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 166411, August 3, 2010.

Dismissal; burden of proof. In termination cases, the employer has the burden of proving, by substantial evidence that the dismissal is for just cause. If the employer fails to discharge the burden of proof, the dismissal is deemed illegal. In the present case, BCPI failed to discharge its burden when it failed to present any evidence of the alleged fistfight, aside from a single statement, which was refuted by statements made by other witnesses and was found to be incredible by both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Alex Gurango vs. Best Chemicals and Plastic, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 174593, August 25, 2010.

Dismissal; burden of proof. The law mandates that the burden of proving the validity of the termination of employment rests with the employer. Failure to discharge this evidentiary burden would necessarily mean that the dismissal was not justified and, therefore, illegal. Unsubstantiated suspicions, accusations, and conclusions of employers do not provide for legal justification for dismissing employees. In case of doubt, such cases should be resolved in favor of labor, pursuant to the social justice policy of labor laws and the Constitution. Century Canning Corporation, Ricardo T. Po, Jr., et al. vs. Vicente Randy R. Ramil, G.R. No. 171630, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; due process. In termination proceedings of employees, procedural due process consists of the twin requirements of notice and hearing. The employer must furnish the employee with two written notices before the termination of employment can be effected: (1) the first apprises the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought; and (2) the second informs the employee of the employer’s decision to dismiss him. The requirement of a hearing is complied with as long as there was an opportunity to be heard, and not necessarily that an actual hearing was conducted. Pharmacia and Upjohn, Inc., et al. vs. Ricardo P. Albayda, Jr., G.R. No. 172724, August 23, 2010.

Dismissal; due process. The Labor Code recognizes the right to due process of all workers, without distinction as to the cause of their termination, even if the cause was their supposed involvement in strike-related violence. In the present case, PHIMCO sent a letter to the affected union members/officers, directing them to explain within 24 hours why they should not be dismissed for the illegal acts they committed during the strike; three days later, the union members/officers were informed of their dismissal from employment. We do not find this company procedure to be sufficient compliance with due process. It does not appear from the evidence that the union officers were specifically informed of the charges against them. Also, the short interval of time between the first and second notice shows that a mere token recognition of the due process requirements was made, indicating the company’s intent to dismiss the union members involved, without any meaningful resort to the guarantees accorded them by law. PHIMCO Industries, Inc. vs. PHIMCO Industries Labor Association (PILA), et al., G.R. No. 170830, August 11, 2010.

Dismissal; employee’s past infractions. A previous offense may be used as valid justification for dismissal from work only if the past infractions are related to the subsequent offense upon which the basis of termination is decreed. The respondent’s previous incidents of tardiness in reporting for work were entirely separate and distinct from his latest alleged infraction of forgery. Hence, the same could no longer be utilized as an added justification for his dismissal. Besides, respondent had already been sanctioned for his prior infractions. To consider these offenses as justification for his dismissal would be penalizing respondent twice for the same offense. Century Canning Corporation, Ricardo T. Po, Jr., et al. vs. Vicente Randy R. Ramil, G.R. No. 171630, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; feng shui; breach of trust and confidence. The Court finds that the complainant’s allegations are more credible and that she was dismissed from her employment because the Feng Shui master found that complainant’s Chinese Zodiac Sign was a mismatch to that of respondents. This is not a just and valid cause for an employee’s dismissal.

In contrast, respondent’s pleadings and evidence suffer from several inconsistencies and the affidavits presented by respondents only pertain to petty matters that are not sufficient to support respondent’s alleged loss of trust and confidence. To be a valid cause for termination of employment, the act or acts constituting breach of trust must have been done intentionally, knowingly, and purposely; and they must be founded on clearly established facts. Wensha Spa Center, inc. and/or Xu Zhi Jie ,vs. Loreta T. Yung, G.R. No. 185122, August 16, 2010.

Dismissal; gross negligence and loss of confidence. Gross negligence connotes “want of care in the performance of one’s duties.” Petitioner’s failure on 3 separate occasions to require clients to sign the requisite documents constituted gross negligence. Furthermore, it has been held that if the employees are cashiers, managers, supervisors, salesmen or other personnel occupying positions of responsibility, the employer’s loss of trust and confidence in said employees may justify the termination of their employment. As the Bank’s Personal Banking Manager, petitioner’s failure to comply with basic banking policies and procedures were inimical to the interests of the bank, making his dismissal based on loss of confidence justified. Jesus E. Dycoco, Jr.vs. Equitable PCI Bank (now Banco de Oro), Rene Bunaventura and Siles Samalea, G.R. No. 188271, August 16, 2010.

Dismissal; loss of trust and confidence. Employers are allowed a wider latitude of discretion in terminating the services of employees who perform functions which by their nature require the employers’ full trust and confidence and the mere existence of basis for believing that the employee has breached the trust of the employer is sufficient. However, this does not mean that the said basis may be arbitrary and unfounded. Loss of trust and confidence, to be a valid cause for dismissal, must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on clearly established facts. The basis for the dismissal must be clearly and convincingly established. It must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employer’s arbitrariness, whim, caprice or suspicion; otherwise, the employee would eternally remain at the mercy of the employer. Century Canning Corporation, Ricardo T. Po, Jr., et al. vs. Vicente Randy R. Ramil, G.R. No. 171630, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; probationary employment. Though the acts charged against de Castro took place when he was still under probationary employment, the records show that de Castro was dismissed on the ninth month of his employment with LBNI. By then, he was already a regular employee by operation of law. As a regular employee, de Castro was entitled to security of tenure and his illegal dismissal from LBNI justified the awards of separation pay, backwages, and damages Carlos De Castro vs. Liberty Broadcasting Network, Inc. and Edgardo Quigue, G.R. No. 165153. August 25, 2010.

Dismissal; project employees; damages. Prior or advance notice of termination is not part of procedural due process if the termination of a project employee is brought about by the completion of the contract or phase thereof. This is because completion of the work or project automatically terminates the employment, in which case, the employer is, under the law, only obliged to render a report to the DOLE. Therefore, failing to give project employees advance notice of their termination is not a violation of procedural due process and cannot be the basis for the payment of nominal damages. D.M. Consunji, Inc. vs. Antonio Gobres, et al., G.R. No. 169170, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; separation pay and backwages. The awards of separation pay and backwages are not mutually exclusive and both may be given to the respondent. The normal consequences of a finding that an employee has been illegally dismissed are, firstly, that the employee becomes entitled to reinstatement to his former position without loss of seniority rights and, secondly, the payment of backwages corresponding to the period from his illegal dismissal up to actual reinstatement. These are two separate and distinct remedies granted to the employee and the inappropriateness or non-availability of one does not carry with it the inappropriateness or non-availability of the other. Under the doctrine of strained relations, the payment of separation pay has been considered an acceptable alternative to reinstatement when the latter option is no longer desirable or viable. The grant of separation pay is a proper substitute only for reinstatement; it cannot be an adequate substitute for both reinstatement and backwages. Century Canning Corporation, Ricardo T. Po, Jr., et al. vs. Vicente Randy R. Ramil, G.R. No. 171630, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; serious misconduct. Misconduct is defined as “the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment.” For serious misconduct to justify dismissal under the law, “(a) it must be serious, (b) must relate to the performance of the employee’s duties; and (c) must show that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer.”

It is noteworthy that prior to this incident, there had been several cases of theft and vandalism involving both respondent company’s property and personal belongings of other employees. In order to address this issue of losses, respondent company issued two memoranda implementing an intensive inspection procedure and reminding all employees that those who will be caught stealing and performing acts of vandalism will be dealt with in accordance with the company’s Code of Conduct. Despite these reminders, complainant took the packing tape and was caught during the routine inspection. All these circumstances point to the conclusion that it was not just an error of judgment, but a deliberate act of theft of company property. Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Keihin (NLMK-OLALIA-KMU) and Helen Valenzuela vs. Keihin Philippines Corporation, G.R. No. 171115, August 9, 2010.

Dismissal; union security. In terminating the employment of an employee by enforcing the union security clause, the employer needs to determine and prove that: (1) the union security clause is applicable; (2) the union is requesting for the enforcement of the union security provision in the CBA; and (3) there is sufficient evidence to support the decision of the union to expel the employee from the union. These requisites constitute just cause for terminating an employee based on the union security provision of the CBA.

The petitioner failed to satisfy the third requirement since nothing in the records would show that respondents failed to maintain their membership in good standing in the union. Significantly, petitioner’s act of dismissing respondents stemmed from the latter’s act of signing an authorization letter to file a petition for certification election as they signed it outside the freedom period. The mere signing of an authorization letter before the freedom period is not sufficient ground to terminate the employment of respondents inasmuch as the petition itself was actually filed during the freedom period. The court emphasizes anew that the employer is bound to exercise caution in terminating the services of his employees especially so when it is made upon the request of a labor union pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Picop Resources Incorporated (PRI) vs. Anacleto L. Tañeca, et al., G.R. No. 160828, August 9, 2010.

Dimissal; use of illegal drugs. The law is clear that drug tests shall be performed only by authorized drug testing centers. In this case, Sulpicio Lines failed to prove that S.M. Lazo Clinic is an accredited drug testing center nor did it deny the complainant’s allegation that S.M. Lazo Clinic was not accredited. Also, only a screening test was conducted to determine if the complainant was guilty of using illegal drugs. Sulpicio Lines did not confirm the positive result of the screening test with a confirmatory test as required by R.A. 9165. Hence, Sulpicio Lines failed to indubitably prove that Nacague was guilty of using illegal drugs and failed to clearly show that it had a valid and legal cause for terminating Nacague’s employment. When the alleged valid cause for the termination of employment is not clearly proven, as in this case, the law considers the matter a case of illegal dismissal. Jeffrey Nacague vs. Sulpicio Lines, Inc., G.R. No. 172589, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; validity. The company did not adduce any evidence to prove that Siazar’s dismissal had been for a just or authorized cause, as in fact it had been its consistent stand that it did not terminate him and that he quit on his own. But given the findings of the Court that the company had indeed dismissed Siazar and that such dismissal has remained unexplained, there can be no other conclusion but that the dismissal was illegal. Agricultural and Industrial Supplies Corporation, et al. vs. Jueber P. Siazar, et al., G.R. No. 177970, August 25, 2010.

Due process; decision rendered without due process. The violation of a party’s right to due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue that cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will. Where the denial of the fundamental right to due process is apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of jurisdiction. This rule is equally true in quasi-judicial and administrative proceedings, for the constitutional guarantee that no man shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process is unqualified by the type of proceedings (whether judicial or administrative) where he stands to lose the same. Winston F. Garcia vs. Mario I. Molina, et al./Winston F. Garcia Vs. Mario I. Molina, et al., G.R. No. 157383/G.R. No. 174137, August 10, 2010.

Employee; evaluation and promotion. The fact that employees were re-classified from Job Grade Level 1 to Job Grade Level 2 as a result of a job evaluation program does not automatically entail a promotion or grant them an increase in salary. Of primordial consideration is not the nomenclature or title given to the employee, but the nature of his functions. What transpired in this case was only a promotion in nomenclature. The employees continued to occupy the same positions they were occupying prior to the job evaluation. Moreover, their job titles remained the same and they were not given additional duties and responsibilities. SCA Hygiene Products Corporation Employees Association-FFW vs. SCA Hygiene Products Corporation, G.R. No. 182877, August 9, 2010.

Employee; security of tenure. A worker’s security of tenure is guaranteed by the Constitution and the Labor Code. Under the security of tenure guarantee, a worker can only be terminated from his employment for cause and after due process. For a valid termination by the employer: (1) the dismissal must be for a valid cause as provided in Article 282, or for any of the authorized causes under Articles 283 and 284 of the Labor Code; and (2) the employee must be afforded an opportunity to be heard and to defend himself. A just and valid cause for an employee’s dismissal must be supported by substantial evidence, and before the employee can be dismissed, he must be given proper notice of such cause/s and an adequate opportunity to be heard. In the process, the employer bears the burden of proving that the dismissal of an employee was for a valid cause. Its failure to discharge this burden renders the dismissal unjustified and, therefore, illegal. Wensha Spa Center, Inc. and/or Xu Zhi Jie vs. Loreta T. Yung, G.R. No. 185122, August 16, 2010.

Employee benefit; time of death. The death should be deemed compensable under the ECC since Henry was on his way back to Manila in order to be on time and be ready for work the next day when his accidental death occurred. He should already be deemed en route to the performance of his duty at the time of the accident. It should be noted that Henry’s superior allowed him to travel to La Union to visit his ailing mother on the condition that that he return the next day. Under these facts, Henry was in the course of complying with his superior’s order when he met his fatal accident. To be sure, he was not in an actual firefighting or accident situation when he died, but returning to work as instructed by his superior is no less equivalent to compensable performance of duty under Section 1, Rule III of the ECC Rules. Government Service Insurance System vs. Felicitas Zarate, as substituted by her heirs, namely Melanie Zarate, et al., G.R. No. 170847, August 3, 2010.

Illegal dismissal; effect of rehabilitation proceedings. The existence of the Stay Order – which would generally authorize the suspension of judicial proceedings – could not have affected the Court’s action on the present case due to the petitioner’s failure to raise the pendency of the rehabilitation proceedings in its memorandum to the Court. At any rate, a stay order simply suspends all actions for claims against a corporation undergoing rehabilitation; it does not work to oust a court of its jurisdiction over a case properly filed before it. Thus, the Court’s ruling on the principal issue of the case stands. Nevertheless, with LBNI’s manifestation that it is still undergoing rehabilitation, the Court resolves to suspend the execution of our Decision until the termination of the rehabilitation proceedings. Carlos De Castro vs. Liberty Broadcasting Network, Inc. and Edgardo Quigue, G.R. No. 165153. August 25, 2010.

Job contracting. In permissible job contracting, the principal agrees to put out or farm out with a contractor or subcontractor the performance or completion of a specific job, work or service within a definite or predetermined period, regardless of whether such job, work or service is to be performed or completed within or outside the premises of the principal. The test is whether the independent contractor has contracted to do the work according to his own methods and without being subject to the principal’s control except only as to the results, he has substantial capital, and he has assured the contractual employees entitlement to all labor and occupational safety and health standards, free exercise of the right to self-organization, security of tenure, and social and welfare benefits. Spic n’ Span Services Corp. vs. Gloria Paje, et al., G.R. No. 174084, August 25, 2010.

Management prerogative; transfer of employees. Jurisprudence recognizes the exercise of management prerogative to transfer or assign employees from one office or area of operation to another, provided there is no demotion in rank or diminution of salary, benefits, and other privileges, and the action is not motivated by discrimination, made in bad faith, or effected as a form of punishment or demotion without sufficient cause. To determine the validity of the transfer of employees, the employer must show that the transfer is not unreasonable, inconvenient, or prejudicial to the employee; nor does it involve a demotion in rank or a diminution of his salaries, privileges and other benefits. Should the employer fail to overcome this burden of proof, the employee’s transfer shall be tantamount to constructive dismissal. Pharmacia and Upjohn, Inc., et al. vs. Ricardo P. Albayda, Jr., G.R. No. 172724, August 23, 2010.

Merger; employee terms and conditions. That BPI is the same entity as FEBTC after the merger is but a legal fiction intended as a tool to adjudicate rights and obligations between and among the merged corporations and the persons that deal with them. Although in a merger it is as if there is no change in the personality of the employer, there is in reality a change in the situation of the employee. Once an FEBTC employee is absorbed, there are presumably changes in his condition of employment even if his previous tenure and salary rate is recognized by BPI. It is reasonable to assume that BPI would have different rules and regulations and company practices than FEBTC and it is incumbent upon the former FEBTC employees to obey these new. Not the least of these changes is the fact that prior to the merger FEBTC employees were employees of an unorganized establishment and after the merger they became employees of a unionized company that had an existing CBA with the certified union. Thus, although in a sense BPI is continuing FEBTC’s employment of these absorbed employees, BPI’s employment of these absorbed employees will not be under exactly the same terms and conditions as stated in the latter’s employment contracts with FEBTC. Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. BPI Employees Union-Davao Chapter-Federation of Unions in BPI Unibank, G.R. No. 164301, August 10, 2010.

Reinstatement of employee; doctrine of strained relations. Under the doctrine of strained relations, the payment of separation pay has been considered an acceptable alternative to reinstatement when the latter option is no longer desirable or viable.  On the one hand, such payment liberates the employee from what could be a highly oppressive work environment.  On the other, the payment releases the employer from the grossly unpalatable obligation of maintaining in its employ a worker it could no longer trust. Wensha Spa Center, Inc. and/or Xu Zhi Jie vs. Loreta T. Yung, G.R. No. 185122, August 16, 2010.

Retirement pay; applicability to employees on commission basis. Even if the petitioner as bus conductor was paid on commission basis, he falls within the coverage of R.A. 7641 and its implementing rules. Thus, his retirement pay should include the cash equivalent of 5-days SIL and 1/12 of 13th month pay. The NLRC’s reliance on the case of R & E Transport, Inc. as a basis for ruling that bus conductors are not covered by the law on SIL and 13th month pay is erroneous since that involved a taxi driver who was paid according to the “boundary system.” There is a difference between drivers paid under the “boundary system” and conductors who are paid on commission basis. In practice, taxi drivers do not receive fixed wages and retain only those sums in excess of the “boundary” or fee they pay to the owners or operators of the vehicles. Conductors, on the other hand, are paid a certain percentage of the bus’ earnings for the day. Rodolfo J. Serrano vs. Severino Santos Transit and/or Severino Santos, G.R. No. 187698, August 9, 2010.

Separation pay. In those instances where an employee has been validly dismissed for causes other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on his moral character, separation pay may still be granted after giving considerable weight to his long years of employment. In this case, equity considerations dictate that respondent’s tenure be computed from 1978, the year when respondent started working for Upjohn, and not only from 1996, when the merger of Pharmacia and Upjohn took place. Pharmacia and Upjohn, Inc., et al. vs. Ricardo p. Albayda, Jr., G.R. No. 172724, August 23, 2010.

Strike; validity of strike. Despite the validity of the purpose of a strike and the union’s compliance with the procedural requirements, a strike may still be held illegal where the means employed are illegal. While the strike had not been marred by actual violence and patent intimidation, the picketing that respondent PILA officers and members undertook as part of their strike activities effectively blocked the free ingress to and egress from PHIMCO’s premises, thus preventing non-striking employees and company vehicles from entering the PHIMCO compound. In this manner, the picketers violated Article 264(e) of the Labor Code and tainted the strike with illegality. PHIMCO Industries, Inc. vs. PHIMCO Industries Labor Association (PILA), et al., G.R. No. 170830, August 11, 2010.

Union; eligibility of confidential employees to join. Confidential employees are defined as those who (1) assist or act in a confidential capacity, (2) to persons who formulate, determine, and effectuate management policies in the field of labor relations. The two criteria are cumulative, and both must be met if an employee is to be considered a confidential employee – that is, the confidential relationship must exist between the employee and his supervisor, and the supervisor must handle the prescribed responsibilities relating to labor relations. In the present case, there is no showing that the secretaries/clerks and checkers assisted or acted in a confidential capacity to managerial employees and obtained confidential information relating to labor relations policies. And even assuming that they had exposure to internal business operations of the company, as respondent claims, this is not per se ground for their exclusion in the bargaining unit of the rank-and-file employees. Tunay na Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Asia Brewery vs. Asia Brewery, Inc., G.R. No. 162025, August 3, 2010.

Union; liability for invalid strike. The effects of illegal strikes, outlined in Article 264 of the Labor Code, make a distinction between participating workers and union officers. The services of an ordinary striking worker cannot be terminated for mere participation in an illegal strike; proof must be adduced showing that he or she committed illegal acts during the strike. The services of a participating union officer, on the other hand, may be terminated, not only when he actually commits an illegal act during a strike, but also if he knowingly participates in an illegal strike. PHIMCO Industries, Inc. vs. PHIMCO Industries Labor Association (PILA), et al., G.R. No. 170830, August 11, 2010.

Union shop; effect of merger. All employees in the bargaining unit covered by a Union Shop Clause in their CBA with management are subject to its terms. However, under law and jurisprudence, the following kinds of employees are exempted from its coverage, namely, (1) employees who at the time the union shop agreement takes effect are bona fide members of a religious organization which prohibits its members from joining labor unions on religious grounds; (2) employees already in the service and already members of a union other than the majority at the time the union shop agreement took effect; (3) confidential employees who are excluded from the rank and file bargaining unit; and (4) employees excluded from the union shop by express terms of the agreement. In the absence of any of these recognized exceptions, there is no basis to conclude that the terms and conditions of employment under a valid CBA in force in the surviving corporation should not be made to apply to the absorbed employees. Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. BPI Employees Union-Davao Chapter-Federation of Unions in BPI Unibank, G.R. No. 164301, August 10, 2010.

Labor Procedure

CSC; rules for dismissal. The filing of formal charges against the respondents without complying with the mandated preliminary investigation or at least giving the respondents the opportunity to comment violated the latter’s right to due process. These rules on due process apply even in cases where the complainant is the disciplining officer himself, as in this case. The fact that the charges against the respondents are serious or that the evidence of their guilt is strong cannot compensate for the procedural shortcut undertaken by petitioner. Winston F. Garcia vs. Mario I. Molina, et al./Winston F. Garcia Vs. Mario I. Molina, et al., G.R. No. 157383/G.R. No. 174137, August 10, 2010.

Labor case; due process; reevaluation. A reevaluation is a process by which a person or office (in this case the DOLE secretary) revisits its own initial pronouncement and makes another assessment of its findings. In simple terms, to reevaluate is to take another look at a previous matter in issue. From a procedural standpoint, a reevaluation is a continuation of the original case and not a new proceeding. The evidence, financial reports and other documents submitted by the parties in the course of the original proceeding are to be visited and reviewed again. A reevaluation does not necessitate the introduction of new materials for review nor does it require a full hearing for new arguments. Hence, failure to order the presentation of new evidence in the reevaluation of an Order is not a violation of due process. NASECO Guards Association – PEMA vs. National Service Corporation, G.R. No. 165442, August 25, 2010.

Labor case; non-lawyer as representative. The respondents in this case were represented by a non-lawyer who never showed any proof of his authority to represent the respondents. Petitioner argued that the respondents’ representative had no personality to appear before the Labor Arbiter or the NLRC, and his representation for the respondents should produce no legal effect. The Court affirmed the ruling of the CA that the cited technical infirmity cannot defeat the respondents’ preferred right to security of tenure, without prejudice to whatever action may be taken against the representative, if he had indeed been engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Spic n’ Span Services Corp. vs. Gloria Paje, et al., G.R. No. 174084, August 25, 2010.

NLRC; factual findings. Findings of fact of the NLRC, affirming those of the LA, are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed if they are supported by substantial evidence. The CA had overstepped its legal mandate by reversing the findings of fact of the LA and the NLRC as it appears that both decisions were based on substantial evidence. There is no proof of arbitrariness or abuse of discretion in the process by which each body arrived at its own conclusions. Thus, the CA should have deferred to such specialized agencies that are considered experts in matters within their jurisdictions. Pharmacia and Upjohn, Inc., et al. vs. Ricardo P. Albayda, Jr., G.R. No. 172724, August 23, 2010.

NLRC; review of decisions. The power of the Court of Appeals to review NLRC decisions via Rule 65 or Petition for Certiorari has been settled as early as in our decision in St. Martin Funeral Home v. National Labor Relations Commission. This Court held that the proper vehicle for such review was a Special Civil Action for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and that this action should be filed in the Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine of the hierarchy of courts. Moreover, it is already settled that under Sec. 9 of B.P. 129, as amended, the Court of Appeals – 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. Picop Resources Incorporated (PRI) vs. Anacleto L. Tañeca, et al., G.R. No. 160828, August 9, 2010.

Pleading verification. The lack of a verification in a pleading is only a formal defect, not a jurisdictional defect, and is not necessarily fatal to a case. The primary reason for requiring a verification is simply to ensure that the allegations in the pleading are done in good faith, are true and correct, and are not mere speculations. As previously explained in Torres v. Specialized Packaging Development Corporation, where only two of the 25 real parties-in-interest signed the verification, the verification by the two could be sufficient assurance that the allegations in the petition were made in good faith, are true and correct, and are not speculative. Spic n’ Span Services Corp. vs. Gloria Paje, et al., G.R. No. 174084, August 25, 2010.

Procedural rules; strict application. Procedural rules setting the period for perfecting an appeal or filing a petition for review are generally inviolable. It is doctrinally entrenched that an appeal is not a constitutional right, but a mere statutory privilege. Hence, parties who seek to avail themselves of such privilege must comply with the statutes or rules allowing it. Furthermore, the perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory, but also jurisdictional. Failure to perfect the appeal renders the judgment of the court final and executory. Just as a losing party has the privilege to file an appeal within the prescribed period, so does the winner also have the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the decision. Elpidio Calipay vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 166411, August 3, 2010.

Real party in interest; dismissed employee. It is clear that the petitioners failed to include the name of the dismissed employee in the caption and body of its petition for certiorari and, instead, only indicated the name of the labor union as the party acting on behalf of such dismissed employee. Hence, the Court of Appeals rightly dismissed the petition for not having been filed by an indispensable party in interest. (The Court still proceeded to discuss the substantive issues and merits of the case despite affirming the dismissal of the case based on procedural grounds.) Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Keihin (NLMK-OLALIA-KMU) and Helen Valenzuela vs. Keihin Philippines Corporation, G.R. No. 171115, August 9, 2010.

Rule 45; review of factual findings. As a general rule, only questions of law may be raised in petitions for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. However, there are recognized exceptions to the rule. Among the exceptions are when the findings of fact are conflicting and when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based. In the present case, the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals conflict with the findings of fact of the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter. Also, the finding of the Court of Appeals that Gurango engaged in a fistfight is a conclusion without citation of specific evidence on which it is based. Alex Gurango vs. Best Chemicals and Plastic, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 174593, August 25, 2010.

(Leslie thanks Benjamin C. Yan for assisting in the preparation of this post.)

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