Case Digest: De Jesus v. Aquino

G .R. No. 164662 : February 18, 2013


G.R. No. 165787 : February 18, 2013




On February 20, 2002, petitioner Ma. Lourdes De Jesus (De Jesus) filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal dismissal against private respondents Supersonic Services Inc., (Supersonic), et al., praying for the payment of separation pay, full backwages, moral and exemplary damages, etc., alleging among others that after 25 years of employment, she was illegally dismissed by Supersonic while holding the position of Sales Promotion Officer where she solicited clients for Supersonic and sold plane tickets to various travel agencies on credit. She further alleged that there was no notice and hearing nor any opportunity given her to explain her side prior to the termination of her employment; Supersonic even filed a case for Estafa against her for her alleged failure to remit collections despite the fact that she had completely remitted all her collections; and the termination was done in bad faith and in violation of due process.

Supersonic countered, among others, that on January 24, 2001, the companys general manager sent a memorandum to De Jesus informing her of the official endorsement of collectibles from clients under her account; in March 2001, another memorandum was issued to De Jesus reminding her to collect payments of accounts guaranteed by her and which had been past due since the year 2000 and after verifications with its clients, it discovered that the amount of U.S.$36, 168.39 were already paid to De Jesus but this was not turned over and duly accounted for by her. Hence, another memorandum was issued to De Jesus directing her to explain in writing why she should not be dismissed for cause for failure to account for the total amount of U.S.$36, 168.39. De Jesus was likewise verbally notified of the companys intention to dismiss her for cause.

On October 30, 2002, the Labor Arbiter ruled against De Jesus, declaring her dismissal to be for just cause and finding that she had been accorded due process of law.

De Jesus appealed to the NLRC, insisting that she had not been afforded the opportunity to explain her side. However, the NLRC affirmed the LAs decision and dismissed De Jesus appeal for lack of merit. The NLRC subsequently denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by De Jesus.

De Jesus filed a petition for certiorari to the CA, On July 23, 2004, the CA promulgated its assailed decision that the petition is partly meritorious.

Hence, these consolidated appeal.


Whether or not Supersonic was justified in terminating De Jesus employment?

Whether or not Supersonic complied with the two-written notice rule?


The petition for review of Supersonic in G.R. No. 165787 is partially granted.


Supersonic substantially proved that De Jesus had failed to remit and had misappropriated the amounts she had collected in behalf of Supersonic. In that regard, the factual findings of the Labor Arbiter and NLRC on the presence of the just cause for terminating her employment, being already affirmed by the CA, are binding if not conclusive upon this Court. There being no cogent reason to disturb such findings, the dismissal of De Jesus was valid.

Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerate the causes by which the employer may validly terminate the employment of the employee, one of which is (c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative.

The CA observed that De Jesus had not disputed her failure to remit and account for some of her collections, for, in fact, she herself had expressly admitted her failure to do so through her letters dated April 5, 2001 and May 15, 2001 sent to Supersonics general manager. Thereby, the CA concluded, she defrauded her employer or wilfully violated the trust reposed in her by Supersonic. In that regard, the CA rightly observed that proof beyond reasonable doubt of her violation of the trust was not required, for it was sufficient that the employer had reasonable grounds to believe that the employee concerned is responsible for the misconduct as to be unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by her position.


There is no dispute that the betrayal of the trust the employer reposed in De Jesus was the essence of the offense for which she was to be validly penalized with the supreme penalty of dismissal.

Nevertheless, she was still entitled to due process in order to effectively safeguard her security of tenure. The law affording to her due process as an employee imposed on Supersonic as the employer the obligation to send to her two written notices before finally dismissing her.

This requirement of two written notices is enunciated in Article 277 of the Labor Code, as amended.

The first written notice would inform her of the particular acts or omissions for which her dismissal was being sought. The second written notice would notify her of the employer’s decision to dismiss her. But the second written notice must not be made until after she was given a reasonable period after receiving the first written notice within which to answer the charge, and after she was given the ample opportunity to be heard and to defend herself with the assistance of her representative, if she so desired. The requirement was mandatory.

In the case at bar, however, Supersonic failed to satisfy the requirement for the two written notices required by Art. 277 of the Labor Code on the ground that the various memoranda given to De Jesus were not the same notices required by the law as they were mere internal correspondences intended to remind her of the outstanding accountabilities to the company.


The CA did not err in relying in the case of Serrano v NLRC (380 Phil. 416) when it ruled that the violation of Supersonic of the two-written notice requirement rendered ineffectual the dismissal of De Jesus for just cause under Article 282 of the Labor Code, and entitled her to full backwages fom the time of her dismissal until the finality of its decision.

The Court cannot ignore that the applicable case law when the CA promulgated its decision on July 23, 2004, and when it denied Supersonics motion for reconsideration on October 21, 2004 was still Serrano.


As a rule, a judicial interpretation becomes a part of the law as of the date that the law was originally passed, subject only to the qualification that when a doctrine of the Court is overruled and the Court adopts a different view, and more so when there is a reversal of the doctrine, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively and should not apply to parties who relied on the old doctrine and acted in good faith. To hold otherwise would be to deprive the law of its quality of fairness and justice, for, then, there is no recognition of what had transpired prior to such adjudication.

The dismissal of Maria Lourdes C. De Jesus for just or authorized cause is valid and effectual. Supersonic Services is ordered to pay Maria Lourdes C. De Jesus P50, 000.00 as nominal damages to indemnify her for the violation of her right to due process.