MSDC v. Rogelio (G.R. No. 161787; July 27, 2011)

CASE DIGEST: MASING AND SONS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and CRISPIN CHAN v. GREGORIO ROGELIO.

FACTS: 
Gregorio Rogelio (Rogelio) was hired by Pan Phil. Copra Dealer, a copra dealer, in 1949. The company was later bought by Masing Chan and renamed Masings and Sons Development Corporation (Masings) and his son, Crispin, later oversaw the business. While Rogelio signed a certification in 1991 to allow him to receive retirement benefits from SSS, he did not officially retire until 1997 upon reaching the compulsory age of retirement.

Rogelio filed a claim in the NLRC for unpaid retirement benefits, 13th month pay, service incentive leave, premium pay for holidays and rest days and COLA against Chan and Masings. Masings protested and alleged that Rogelio was an employee of Wayne Lim, an independent copra buyer.

The Labor Arbiter held that Rogelio was not an employee of Masings and dismissed the claim. The NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter. On appeal, the CA reversed and held that an employer-employee relationship exists between the parties.

ISSUE: Is there an employer-employee relationship between Rogelio and Masings?

HELD: We could conclude that respondents sold their business in Ibajay and assets to Wayne Lim on July 1, 1989; however, as pointed out above, respondent Crispin Amigo Chan himself said that he was a "copra dealer" from Ibajay in August and October of 1991. Whether or not he was registered as a copra buyer is immaterial, given that he declared himself a "copra dealer" and had apparently engaged in the activity of buying copra, as shown precisely by the employment of petitioner and Palomata. If Lim had become the owner of the business, and was no longer the manager, it is telling that respondents failed to simply state that fact for the record and provide the necessary proofs aside from the initial SSS contracts.Further, the records showed that Rogelio continued doing the same job, i.e. as laborer and trusted employee tasked with the responsibility of getting money from the Kalibo office of respondents which was used to buy copra and pay the employeessalaries, from 1977 to 1989 and onwards until his retirement in 1997. He discharged his duties at the same place - the bodega in Ibajay, which his co-worker Palomata believed to belong to the respondent Masing & Sons.

In case of doubt, the doubt is resolved in favor of labor, in favor of the safety and decent living for the laborer as mandated by Article 1702 of the Civil Code. DENIED.

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