Case Digest: Bordomeo v. CA

G.R. No. 161596 : February 20, 2013




In 1989, the IPI Employees Union-Associated Labor Union (Union), representing the workers, had a bargaining deadlock with the IPI management. This deadlock resulted in the Union staging a strike and IPI ordering a lockout.

On December 26, 1990, after assuming jurisdiction over the dispute, DOLE Secretary Ruben D. Torres found the IPI Employees Union-ALU as the exclusive bargaining agent of all rank and file employees of ALU including sales personnel; dismissed the complaints for ULP against the company; dismissed the Company petition to declare the strike illegal; ordering the reinstatement with full backwages of 45 employees and ordering the reinstatement of another 5 employees.

IPI assailed the issuances of Secretary Torres directly in this Court through a petition for certiorari but the Court dismissed its petition on October 14, 1992 on the ground that no grave abuse of discretion had attended the issuance of the assailed decisions. Considering that IPI did not seek the reconsideration of the dismissal of its petition, the entry of judgment issued in due course on January 19, 1994.

With the finality of the December 26, 1990 and December 5, 1991 orders of the DOLE Secretary, the Union, represented by the Seno, Mendoza and Associates Law Office, moved in the National Conciliation and Mediation Board in DOLE, Region VII on June 8, 1994 for their execution. On November 21, 1994, one Atty. Audie C. Arnado, who had meanwhile entered his appearance on October 4, 1994 as the counsel of 15 out of the 50 employees named likewise filed a so-called Urgent Motion for Execution. Both motions were granted.

On July 11, 1995, IPI challenged the May 24, 1995 writ of execution issued in favor of the 15 employees by filing its Appeal and Prohibition with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order in the Office of then DOLE Undersecretary Cresenciano Trajano.

On December 22, 1995,Acting DOLE Secretary Jose Brillantes, acting on IPI appeal, recalled and quashed the May 24, 1995 writ of execution, and declared and considered the case closed and terminated.

Aggrieved, the 15 employees sought the reconsideration of the December 22, 1995 Order of Acting DOLE Secretary Brillantes.

On August 27, 1996, DOLE Secretary Leonardo A. Quisumbing granted the Motion for Reconsideration, and reinstated the May 24, 1995 writ of execution, subject to the deduction of the sum of P745,959.39 already paid pursuant to quitclaims from the award of P4,162,361.50. Secretary Quisumbing declared the quitclaims executed by the employees on December 2, 3, and 17, 1993 without the assistance of the proper office of the DOLE unconscionable for having been entered into under circumstances showing vitiation of consent; and ruled that the execution of the quitclaims should not prevent the employees from recovering their monetary claims under the final and executory decisions dated December 26, 1990 and December 5, 1991, less the amounts received under the quitclaims.

On September 3, 1996, and pending resolution of IPI motion for reconsideration, Regional Director Macarayaissued a writ of execution in favor of the 15 employees represented by Atty. Arnado to recover P3,416,402.10pursuant to the order dated August 27, 1996 of Secretary Quisumbing. Thereafter, the sheriff garnished the amount of P3,416,402.10 out of the funds of IPI with China Banking Corporation, which released the amount. Hence, on September 11, 1996, the 15 employees represented by Atty. Arnado executed a Satisfaction of Judgment and Quitclaim/Release upon receipt of their respective portions of the award, subject to the reservation of their right to claim "unsatisfied amounts of separation pay as well as backwages reckoned from the date after 15 March 1995 and up to the present, or until separation pay is fully paid."

Notwithstanding the execution of the satisfaction of judgment and quitclaim/release, Atty. Arnado still filed an omnibus motion not only in behalf of the 15 employees but also in behalf of other employees named in the notice of computation/execution, with the exception of the second group, seeking another writ of execution to recover the further sum of P58,546,767.83.

On December 24, 1997, Secretary Quisumbing, affirming his August 27, 1996 order, denied IPI Motion for Reconsideration for being rendered moot and academic by the full satisfaction of the May 24, 1995 writ of execution. He also denied Atty. Arnado omnibus motion for lack of merit; and dealt with the issue involving the June 5, 1995 writ of execution issued in favor of the second group of employees, which the Court eventually resolved in the decision promulgated in G.R. No. 164633.

Ultimately, on July 4, 2001, DOLE Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas declaring that the full execution of the case "completely CLOSED and TERMINATED."

Only herein petitioners Roberto Bordomeo, Anecito Cupta, Jaime Sarmiento and Virgilio Saragena assailed the July 4, 2001 order of Secretary Sto. Tomas by petition for certiorari in the CA. The CA denied the petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in denying the petition for certiorari.



An appeal by petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, to be taken to the Supreme Court within 15 days from notice of the judgment or final order raising only questions of law, was the proper remedy available to the petitioners. Hence, their filing of the petition for certiorari on January 9, 2004 to assail the CA May 30, 2003 decision and October 30, 2003 resolution in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 65970 upon their allegation of grave abuse of discretion committed by the CA was improper. The averment therein that the CA gravely abused its discretion did not warrant the filing of the petition for certiorari, unless the petition further showed how an appeal in due course under Rule 45 was not an adequate remedy for them. By virtue of its being an extraordinary remedy, certiorari cannot replace or substitute an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, like an appeal in due course.

An appeal may also avail to review and correct any grave abuse of discretion committed by an inferior court, provided it will be adequate for that purpose.

It is the adequacy of a remedy in the ordinary course of law that determines whether a special civil action forcertiorari can be a proper alternative remedy. In Heirs of Spouses Teofilo M. Reterta and Elisa Reterta v. Spouses Lorenzo Mores and Virginia Lopez, the Court held:

Specifically, the Court has held that the availability of appeal as a remedy does not constitute sufficient ground to prevent or preclude a party from making use of certiorari if appeal is not an adequate remedy, or an equally beneficial, or speedy remedy. It is inadequacy, not the mere absence of all other legal remedies and the danger of failure of justice without the writ, that must usually determine the propriety of certiorari. A remedy is plain, speedy and adequate if it will promptly relieve the petitioner from the injurious effects of the judgment, order, or resolution of the lower court or agency. It is understood, then, that a litigant need not mark time by resorting to the less speedy remedy of appeal in order to have an order annulled and set aside for being patently void for failure of the trial court to comply with the Rules of Court.

Nor should the petitioner be denied the recourse despite certiorari not being available as a proper remedy against an assailed order, because it is better on balance to look beyond procedural requirements and to overcome the ordinary disinclination to exercise supervisory powers in order that a void order of a lower court may be controlled to make it conformable to law and justice. Verily, the instances in which certiorari will issue cannot be defined, because to do so is to destroy the comprehensiveness and usefulness of the extraordinary writ. The wide breadth and range of the discretion of the court are such that authority is not wanting to show that certiorari is more discretionary than either prohibition or mandamus, and that in the exercise of superintending control over inferior courts, a superior court is to be guided by all the circumstances of each particular case "as the ends of justice may require." Thus, the writ will be granted whenever necessary to prevent a substantial wrong or to do substantial justice.

Even so, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court still requires the petition for certiorari to comply with the following requisites, namely: (1) the writ of certiorari is directed against a tribunal, a board, or an officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (2) such tribunal, board, or officer has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

Jurisprudence recognizes certain situations when the extraordinary remedy of certiorari may be deemed proper, such as: (a) when it is necessary to prevent irreparable damages and injury to a party; (b) where the trial judge capriciously and whimsically exercised his judgment; (c) where there may be danger of a failure of justice; (d) where an appeal would be slow, inadequate, and insufficient; (e) where the issue raised is one purely of law; (f) where public interest is involved; and (g) in case of urgency.Yet, a reading of the petition for certiorari and its annexes reveals that the petition does not come under any of the situations. Specifically, the petitioners have not shown that the grant of the writ of certiorari will be necessary to prevent a substantial wrong or to do substantial justice to them.

In dismissing the petitionerspetition for certiorari, the CA in effect upheld the Secretary of Labor declaration in her assailed July 4, 2001 decision that the full satisfaction of the writs of execution had completely closed and terminated the labor dispute.

Yet, the petitioners have ascribed grave abuse of discretion to the CA for doing so.There is no just cause to now issue the writ of certiorari in order to set aside the CA assailed May 30, 2003 decision. There is nothing on the records to support the allegation of petitioners that the Secretary of Labor and Employment abused her discretion.


The records contradict the petitionersinsistence that the two writs of execution to enforce the December 26, 1990 and December 5, 1991 orders of the DOLE Secretary were only partially satisfied. To recall, the two writs of execution issued were the one for P4,162,361.50, later reduced to P3,416,402.10, in favor of the 15 employees represented by Atty. Arnado, and that for P1,200,378.92 in favor of the second group of employees led by Banquerigo.

There is no question that the 15 employees represented by Atty. Arnado, inclusive of the petitioners, received their portion of the award covered by the September 3, 1996 writ of execution for the amount ofP3,416,402.10 through the release of the garnished deposit of IPI at China Banking Corporation. That was why they then executed the satisfaction of judgment and quitclaim/release, the basis for the DOLE Secretary to expressly declare in her July 4, 2001 decision that the full satisfaction of the writ of execution "completely CLOSED and TERMINATED this case."

Still, the 15 employees demand payment of their separation pay and backwages from March 16, 1995 onwards pursuant to their reservation reflected in the satisfaction of judgment and quitclaim/release they executed on September 11, 1996.

The demand lacked legal basis. Although the decision of the DOLE Secretary had required IPI to reinstate the affected workers to their former positions with full backwages reckoned from December 8, 1989 until actually reinstated without loss of seniority rights and other benefits, the reinstatement thus decreed was no longer possible. Hence, separation pay was instead paid to them. This alternative was sustained in law and jurisprudence, for "separation pay may avail in lieu of reinstatement if reinstatement is no longer practical or in the best interest of the parties. Separation pay in lieu of reinstatement may likewise be awarded if the employee decides not to be reinstated."

Under the circumstances, the employment of the 15 employees or the possibility of their reinstatement terminated by March 15, 1995. Thereafter, their claim for separation pay and backwages beyond March 15, 1995 would be unwarranted. The computation of separation pay and backwages due to illegally dismissed employees should not go beyond the date when they were deemed to have been actually separated from their employment, or beyond the date when their reinstatement was rendered impossible. Anent this, the Court has observed in Golden Ace Builders v. Talde:

The basis for the payment of backwages is different from that for the award of separation pay. Separation pay is granted where reinstatement is no longer advisable because of strained relations between the employee and the employer. Backwages represent compensation that should have been earned but were not collected because of the unjust dismissal. The basis for computing backwages is usually the length of the employee service while that for separation pay is the actual period when the employee was unlawfully prevented from working.

Clearly then, respondent is entitled to backwages and separation pay as his reinstatement has been rendered impossible due to strained relations. As correctly held by the appellate court, the backwages due respondent must be computed from the time he was unjustly dismissed until his actual reinstatement, or from February 1999 until June 30, 2005 when his reinstatement was rendered impossible without fault on his part.