Case Digest: FPIC v. Calimbas

G.R. No. 179256 : JULY 10, 2013

FIRST PHILIPPINE INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. RAQUEL M. CALIMBAS and LUISA P. MALIHOM, Respondents.

PERALTA, J.:


FACTS:

Private respondent First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) is a domestic corporation primarily engaged in the transportation of petroleum products by pipeline. Petitioners Raquel Calimbas and Luis Mahilom were engaged by De Guzman Manpower Services (DGMS) to perform secretarial and clerical jobs to FPIC. Petitioner Calimbas was assigned as a department secretary at the Technical Services Department, while petitioner Mahilom served as a clerk at the Money Movement Section of the Finance Division.

On June 21, 2001, FPIC, through its Human Resources Manager, Lorna Young, informed Calimbas and Mahilom that their services to the company would no longer be needed by July 30, 2001. On August 3, 2001, Calimbas and Mahilom signed quitclaims, releasing and discharging DGMS from whatever claims that they might have against it.

On August 16, 2001, Calimbas and Mahilom still filed a complaint against FPIC for illegal dismissal. The Labor Arbiter rendered a decision holding that respondents were regular employees of petitioner, and that they were illegally dismissed. The NLRC upheld the decision of the LA. In a resolution, NLRC reversed its decision. The CA reversed the decision of the NLRC.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondents are regular employees?

HELD: Respondents are petitioners employees.

LABOR LAW

First, in Vinoya v. National Labor Relations Commission, categorically stated that the actual paid-in capital of P75,000.00 could not be considered as substantial capital. Thus, DGMSs actual paid-in capital in the amount of P75,000.00 does not constitute substantial capital essential to carry out its business as an independent job contractor. In spite of its bare assertion that the Vinoya case does not apply in the present case, DGMS has not shown any serious and cogent reason to disregard the ruling in the aforementioned case. Records likewise reveal that DGMS has no substantial equipment in the form of tools, equipment and machinery. As a matter of fact, respondents were using office equipment and materials owned by petitioner while they were rendering their services at its offices.

Second, petitioner exercised the power of control and supervision over the respondents. The fact that DGMS did not assign representatives to supervise over respondents work in petitioners company tends to disprove the independence of DGMS. It is axiomatic that the test to determine the existence of independent contractorship is whether one claiming to be an independent contractor has contracted to do the work according to his own methods and without being subjected to the control of the employer, except only to the results of the work. Obviously, on this score alone, petitioner cannot rightly claim that DGMS was an independent job contractor inasmuch as respondents were subjected to the control and supervision of petitioner while they were performing their jobs.

Third, also worth stressing are the points highlighted by respondents: (1) Respondents worked only at petitioners offices for an uninterrupted period of five years, occupying the same position at the same department under the supervision of company officials; (2) Three weeks ahead of the termination letters issued by DGMS, petitioners HR Manager Lorna Young notified respondents, in a closed-door meeting, that their services to the company would be terminated by July 31, 2001; (3) In the termination letters prepared by DGMS, it was even stressed that the said termination letters will formalize the verbal notice given by petitioners HR Administration personnel; (4) The direct superiors of respondents were managerial employees of petitioner, and had direct control over all the work-related activities of the latter. This control included the supervision of respondents performance of their work and their compliance with petitioners company policies and procedures. DGMS, on the other hand, never maintained any representative at the petitioners office to oversee the work of respondents.

An employer-employee relationship exists between petitioner and respondents. And having served for almost five years at petitioners company, respondents had already attained the status of regular employees.

DENIED.

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