Case Digest: Apo Cement Corp v. Baptisma

G.R. No. 176671 : June 20, 2012

APO CEMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. ZALDY E. BAPTISMA, Respondent.

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

FACTS:


Petitioner received information from one of its employees, Armando Moralda (Moralda), that some of its personnel, including respondent who was then the manager of petitioners Power Plant Department, were receiving commissions or "kickbacks" from suppliers. Having been implicated in the irregularities, respondent received a Show Cause Letter with Notice of Preventive Suspension. Respondent submitted his written explanationdenying the accusations hurled against him.

To further afford respondent ample opportunity to defend himself, petitioner conducted a series of administrative investigation hearings during which respondent was able to face his accusers.

Respondent received the Notice of Termination informing him of his dismissal from employment effective immediately on the ground of loss of trust and confidence.

Respondent filed with the Regional Arbitration Branch VII of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in Cebu City a complaint for illegal dismissal with monetary claims.

Labor Arbiter Jose G. Gutierrez rendered judgment in favor of respondent. Aggrieved, petitioner filed an appeal with the NLRC. Respondent, on the other hand, filed a Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Execution.

NLRC reversed the ruling of the Labor Arbiter. It ruled that respondents "personal and direct involvement in the irregularities complained of renders him unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded [of] his position."

Respondent moved for reconsideration but his motion was denied by the NLRC. Thus, respondent elevated the matter to the CA.

CA reinstated the Decision of the Labor Arbiter. It ruled that petitioner failed to prove the existence of a just cause to warrant the termination of respondent as the alleged loss of trust and confidence was not based on established facts.

ISSUE: Whether or not there was just cause for the dismissal of respondent?

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is reversed and set aside.

LABOR LAW


To validly dismiss an employee on the ground of loss of trust and confidence under Article 282 (c) of the Labor Code of the Philippines, the following guidelines must be observed:
1) loss of confidence should not be simulated;
2) it should not be used as subterfuge for causes which are improper, illegal or unjustified;
3) it may not be arbitrarily asserted in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary; and
4) it must be genuine, not a mere afterthought to justify earlier action taken in bad faith."
More importantly, it "must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on clearly established facts."

As between the positive testimony of Lobita that he gave respondent commissions and/or "kickbacks" on two separate occasions, and the negative testimony of respondents witnesses Cede and Banzon that no such meeting took place, we are more inclined to give credence to the former. It bears stressing that a positive testimony prevails over a negative one, more especially in this case where respondents witnesses did not even execute affidavits to attest to the truthfulness of their statements. Thus, it was error on the part of the Labor Arbiter and the CA to disregard the testimony of Lobita.

GRANTED

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