July 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select July 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Dismissal; due process.  Due process requirement is met when there is simply an opportunity to be heard and to explain one’s side even if no hearing is conducted. An employee may be afforded ample opportunity to be heard by means of any method, verbal or written, whether in a hearing, conference or some other fair, just and reasonable way. After receiving the first notice apprising him of the charges against him, the employee may submit a written explanation (which may be in the form of a letter, memorandum, affidavit or position paper) and offer evidence in support thereof, like relevant company records and the sworn statements of his witnesses. For this purpose, he may prepare his explanation personally or with the assistance of a representative or counsel. He may also ask the employer to provide him copy of records material to his defense. His written explanation may also include a request that a formal hearing or conference be held. In such a case, the conduct of a formal hearing or conference becomes mandatory, just as it is where there exist substantial evidentiary disputes or where company rules or practice requires an actual hearing as part of employment pre-termination procedure.

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June 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select June 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippine on labor law and procedure:

Appeal; issue of employer-employee relationship raised for the first time on appeal. It is a fundamental rule of procedure that higher courts are precluded from entertaining matters neither alleged in the pleadings nor raised during the proceedings below, but ventilated for the first time only in a motion for reconsideration or on appeal. The alleged absence of employer-employee relationship cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. The resolution of this issue requires the admission and calibration of evidence and the LA and the NLRC did not pass upon it in their decisions. Petitioner is bound by its submissions that respondent is its employee and it should not be permitted to change its theory. Such change of theory cannot be tolerated on appeal, not on account of the strict application of procedural rules, but as a matter of fairness. Duty Free Philippines Services, Inc. vs. Manolito Q. Tria. G.R. No. 174809. June 27, 2012.

Dismissal; abandonment. Abandonment cannot be inferred from the actuations of respondent. When he discovered that his time card was off the rack, he immediately inquired from his supervisor.  He later sought the assistance of his counsel, who wrote a letter addressed to Polyfoam requesting that he be re-admitted to work.  When said request was not acted upon, he filed the instant illegal dismissal case.  These circumstances clearly negate the intention to abandon his work. Polyfoam-RGC International, Corporation and Precilla A. Gramaje vs. Edgardo Concepcion. G.R. No. 172349, June 13, 2012.

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April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select April 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Dismissal; due process. When the Labor Code speaks of procedural due process, the reference is usually to the two (2)-written notice rule envisaged in Section 2 (III), Rule XXIII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code. MGG Marine Services, Inc. v. NLRC tersely described the mechanics of what may be considered a two-part due process requirement which includes the two-notice rule, “x x x one, of the intention to dismiss, indicating therein his acts or omissions complained against, and two, notice of the decision to dismiss; and an opportunity to answer and rebut the charges against him, in between such notices.”

Here, the first and second notice requirements have not been properly observed. The adverted memo would have had constituted the “charge sheet,” sufficient to answer for the first notice requirement, but for the fact that there is no proof such letter had been sent to and received by him. Neither was there compliance with the imperatives of a hearing or conference. Suffice it to point out that the record is devoid of any showing of a hearing or conference having been conducted. And the written notice of termination itself did not indicate all the circumstances involving the charge to justify severance of employment. For violating petitioner’s right to due process, the Supreme Court ordered the payment to petitioner of the amount of P30,000 as nominal damages. Armando Ailing vs. Jose B. Feliciano, Manuel F. San Mateo III, et al., G.R. No. 185829. April 25, 2012.

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February 2012 Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected February 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

Autonomous Region; plebiscite requirement. Section 18, Article X of the Constitution provides that “the creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose.”  The Supreme Court interpreted this to mean that only amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous regions – i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the Organic Act– require ratification through a plebiscite.   While it agrees with the petitioners’ underlying premise that sovereignty ultimately resides with the people, it disagrees that this legal reality necessitates compliance with the plebiscite requirement for all amendments to RA No. 9054. For if we were to go by the petitioners’ interpretation of Section 18, Article X of the Constitution that all amendments to the Organic Act have to undergo the plebiscite requirement before becoming effective, this would lead to impractical and illogical results – hampering the ARMM’s progress by impeding Congress from enacting laws that timely address problems as they arise in the region, as well as weighing down the ARMM government with the costs that unavoidably follow the holding of a plebiscite. Also, Sec. 3 of R.A. No. 10153 cannot be seen as changing the basic structure of the ARMM regional government. On the contrary, this provision clearly preserves the basic structure of the ARMM regional government when it recognizes the offices of the ARMM regional government and directs the OICs who shall temporarily assume these offices to “perform the functions pertaining to the said offices.” Datu Michael Abas Kida, etc., et al. vs. Senate of the Phil., etc., et al./Basari D. Mapupuno vs. Sixto Brillantes, etc., et al./Rep. Edcel C. Lagman vs. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., etc., et al./Almarin Centi Tillah, et al. vs. The Commission on Elections, etc., et al./Atty. Romulo B. Macalintal vs. Commission on Elections, et al./Luis “Barok” Biraogo, G.R. No. 196271, February 28, 2012.

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July 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected July 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

Court proceedings; denial of due process.  The SC here ruled that the Energy Regulatory Commission did not deprive petitioners of their right to be heard.  Where opportunity to be heard either through oral arguments or through pleadings is granted, there is no denial of due process. In this case, prior to the issuance of the assailed ERC Decision approving Meralco’s application for rate increase, petitioners were given several opportunities to attend the hearings and to present all their pleadings and evidence.  Petitioners voluntarily failed to appear in most of those hearings.  Although the ERC erred in prematurely issuing its Decision (as the same was issued prior to the lapse of the period for petitioners to file their comment on the application), its subsequent act of ordering petitioners to file their comments on another party’s motion for reconsideration cured this defect. Even though petitioners never filed their own motion for reconsideration, the fact that they were still given notice of the other motion and the opportunity to file their comments renders immaterial ERC’s failure to admit their comment on the rate application.  National Association of Electricity Consumers of reforms, Inc. [Nasecore], et al. vs. Energy Regulator Commission (ERC), et al., G.R. No. 190795. July 6, 2011.

Value added tax on toll fees; non-impairment clause.  Petitioners argue that since VAT was never factored into the formula for computing toll fees under the Toll Operation Agreements, its imposition would violate the non-impairment of contract clause of the constitution.  The SC held that Petitioner Timbol has no personality to invoke the non-impairment clause on behalf of private investors in the tollway projects.  She will neither be prejudiced nor affected by the alleged diminution in return of investments that may result from the VAT imposition.  She has no interest in the profits to be earned under the TOAs. The interest in and right to recover investments belongs solely to the private tollway investors. Renato V. Diaz and Aurora Ma. F. Timbol vs. The Secretary of Finance and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 193007. July 19, 2011.

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June 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected June 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

Commission on Audit; jurisdiction over Boy Scouts.  The issue was whether or not the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (“BSP”) fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit.  The BSP contends that it is not a government-owned or controlled corporation; neither is it an instrumentality, agency, or subdivision of the government.  The Supreme Court, however, held that not all corporations, which are not government owned or controlled, are ipso facto to be considered private corporations as there exists another distinct class of corporations or chartered institutions which are otherwise known as “public corporations.” These corporations are treated by law as agencies or instrumentalities of the government which are not subject to the tests of ownership or control and economic viability but to a different criteria relating to their public purposes/interests or constitutional policies and objectives and their administrative relationship to the government or any of its departments or offices.  As presently constituted, the BSP is a public corporation created by law for a public purpose, attached to the Department of Education Culture and Sports pursuant to its Charter and the Administrative Code of 1987.  It is not a private corporation which is required to be owned or controlled by the government and be economically viable to justify its existence under a special law.     The economic viability test would only apply if the corporation is engaged in some economic activity or business function for the government, which is not the case for BSP.  Therefore, being a public corporation, the funds of the BSP fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit.  Boy Scouts of the Philippines vs. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 177131. June 7, 2011.

Local governments; principle of local autonomy.  The claim of petitioners in this case that the subject proclamation and administrative orders violate the principle of local autonomy is anchored on the allegation that, through them, the President authorized the DILG Secretary to take over the operations of the ARMM and assume direct governmental powers over the region.  The Supreme Court held that in the first place, the DILG Secretary did not take over control of the powers of the ARMM.  The SC observed that after law enforcement agents took respondent Governor of ARMM into custody for alleged complicity in the Maguindanao massacre, the ARMM Vice-Governor, petitioner Ansaruddin Adiong, assumed the vacated post on December 10, 2009 pursuant to the rule on succession found in Article VII, Section 12, of RA 9054.  In turn, Acting Governor Adiong named the then Speaker of the ARMM Regional Assembly, petitioner Sahali-Generale, Acting ARMM Vice-Governor.  In short, the DILG Secretary did not take over the administration or operations of the ARMM.  Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, et al. v. Hon. Ronaldo Puno, et al., G.R. No. 190259. June 7, 2011.

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May 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected May 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

Declaration of unconstitutionality; doctrine of operative fact.  An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is inoperative as if it has not been passed at all.  The doctrine of operative fact is an exception this rule.  It applies as a matter of equity and fair play, and nullifies the effects of an unconstitutional law by recognizing that the existence of a statute prior to a determination of unconstitutionality is an operative fact and may have consequences that cannot always be ignored. It applies when a declaration of unconstitutionality will impose an undue burden on those who have relied on the invalid law.  The doctrine cannot be applied to this case, as to hold otherwise would be iniquitous to petitioner who was illegally dismissed from employment and would allow his employer to profit from a violation of an unconstitutional provision of law.  Claudio S. Yap v. Thenamaris Ship’s Management and Intermare Maritime Agencies, Inc., G.R. No. 179532. May 30, 2011.

Judicial review; review of executive policy.  Petitioner here seeks judicial review of a question of Executive policy, which the Court ruled is outside its jurisdiction.  Despite the definition of judicial power under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, the determination of where, as between two possible routes, to construct a road extension is not within the province of courts.  Such determination belongs exclusively to the Executive branch.  Barangay Captain Beda Torrecampo v. Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, et al., G.R. No. 188296. May 30, 2011.

Administrative Law; Public Officers

Administrative cases; due process.  Petitioners argue that they were denied due process because their order of dismissal was not accompanied by any justification from the Board of Directors of Philippine Estates Authority, which merely relied on the findings of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission.  The Court dismissed this argument on the basis that petitioners were given the opportunity to be heard in the course of PAGC’s investigation.  The essence of due process in administrative proceedings is the opportunity to explain one’s side or seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of, and to submit any evidence a party may have in support of his defense. The demands of due process are sufficiently met when the parties are given the opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered.  Petitioners here actively participated in the proceedings before PAGC where they were afforded the opportunity to explain their actions through their memoranda.  The essence of due process is the right to be heard and this evidently was afforded to them.  Theron V. Lacson v. The Hon. Executive Secretary, et al./Jaime R. Millan and Bernardo T. Viray v. The Hon. Executive Secretary, et al., G.R. No. 165399 & 165475/G.R. No. 165404 & 165489. May 30, 2011.

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