Aboc v. Metrobank (G.R. Nos. 170542-43; December 13, 2010)


FACTS: Aboc, the Regional Operations Coordinator of Metrobank in Cebu City alleged that on August 29, 1988, he started working as a loans clerk. For nine years, he maintained an unblemished employment record until he received an inter-office letter, requiring him to explain in writing the charges that he had actively participated in the lending activities of his immediate supervisor, Wynster Y. Chua (Chua), the Branch Manager of Metrobank where he was assigned.

Aboc wrote a letter to Metrobank explaining that he had no interest whatsoever in the lending business of Chua because it was solely owned by the latter. He admitted, however, that he did some acts for Chua in connection with his lending activity. He did so because he could not say "no" to Chua because of the latters influence and ascendancy over him and because of his "utang naloob."

His participation in the lending activity was limited to ministerial acts such as the preparation of deposit and withdrawal slips and the typing of statement of accounts for some clients of Chua. In fact, Chua wrote a letter to Metrobank absolving him of any responsibility and participation in his lending activities. Despite the same, Metrobank still dismissed him.

The LA ruled that Aboc was illegally dismissed. The NLRC reversed that LAs decision holding that Aboc was guilty of serious misconduct and breach of trust and loss of confidence. CA then later affirmed the NLRCs decision.

ISSUE: Did the Court of Appeals err in ruling that Antonio A. Aboc was validly dismissed by the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company?

HELD: In termination cases, the burden of proof rests on the employer to show that the dismissal was for a just cause or authorized cause. An employee's dismissal due to serious misconduct and loss of trust and confidence must be supported by substantial evidence. Substantial evidence is that amount of relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, even if other minds, equally reasonable, might conceivably opine otherwise.In the case at bench, Metrobanks evidence clearly shows that the acts of Aboc in helping Chua organize the CNRI and FFA credit unions and in the operations thereof constituted serious misconduct or breach of trust and confidence.

Indeed, Abocs participation in the lending and investment activities of CNRI and FFA was highly irregular and clearly in conflict withMetrobanks business. The irregularity of his act was evident from the fact that he deliberately failed to inform Metrobank about the existence of CNRI and FFA. Though he expressed apprehension and was not pleased with the way Chua was running the lending business, he never informed or, at least, sought advice from his employer. Instead of doing so, he actively participated in the business of Chua which competed against that of Metrobank.

Moreover, Aboc knew about the subject credit unions non-registration with the Central Bank or any proper government institution. Being an experienced banker, he should have known that the lending activities of the subject credit unions were questionable, if not, illegal, due to its non-registration. Again, Aboc chose not to inform his employer about this and, instead, participated in the operations of the subject credit unions.

Under the above circumstances, the Court cannot subscribe to the assertion that he was just an "unwilling participant" doing a "ministerial" job for the subject credit unions. Certainly, the acts of 1) opening an account under fictitious names; 2) solicitation of Metrobank clients to invest in their credit union; 3) co-signing of trust receipts; and 4) inducement of an investor to withdraw her account and transfer it to the subject credit unions, were certainly not "ministerial" tasks of an "unwilling participant." He was just not a runner doing errands for Chua; he was the auditor for CNRI and FFA and actively participated in their lending activities.