Case Digest: PNB v. Padao

G.R. Nos. 180849 and 187143




On August 21, 1981, Padao was hired by PNB as a clerk at its Dipolog City Branch. He was later designated as a credit investigator in an acting capacity on November 9, 1993. He was ultimately promoted to the position of Loan and Credit Officer IV.

In 1994, PNB became embroiled in a scandal involving "behest loans" as anomalous loans were being granted by its officers. In line with this, Padao was administratively charged with Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, Gross Neglect of Duty, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, and violation of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). The case against Padao was grounded on his having allegedly presented a deceptively positive status of the business, credit standing/rating and financial capability of 13 loan applicants. After due investigation, PNB found Padao guilty of gross and habitual neglect of duty and ordered him dismissed from the bank. Padao appealed to the banks Board of Directors. Velasco, Padaos colleague, was also held guilty of the offenses charged, and was similarly meted the penalty of dismissal. Her motion for reconsideration, however, was later granted by the bank, and she was reinstated.


I. Whether the position of a credit investigator is one imbued with the trust and confidence of the employer

II. Whether the act of falsifying the credit and appraisal reports and that of affixing ones signature in a false report by another is one and the same degree of misconduct which warrants the same penalty


While it is an employers basic right to freely select or discharge its employees, if only as a measure of self-protection against acts inimical to its interest, the law sets the valid grounds for termination as well as the proper procedure to be followed when terminating the services of an employee.

Thus, in cases of regular employment, the employer is prohibited from terminating the services of an employee except for a just or authorized cause. Such just causes for which an employer may terminate an employee are enumerated in Article 282 of the Labor Code: (a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work; (b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties; (c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative; (d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate family member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and (e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing. Further, due process requires that employers follow the procedure set by the Labor Code. Under Art. 277, workers may be dismissed only for a just cause and enjoy the right of due process which includes notice and the ample opportunity to be heard and to defend his or her side.

In this case, Padao was dismissed by PNB for gross and habitual neglect of duties under Article 282 (b) of the Labor Code. Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of ones duties, while habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform ones duties for a period of time, depending on the circumstances. Padao was accused of having presented a fraudulently positive evaluation of the business, credit standing/rating and financial capability 13 loan applicants.

The role that a credit investigator plays in the conduct of a banks business cannot be overestimated. The amount of loans to be extended by a bank depends upon the report of the credit investigator on the collateral being offered. If a loan is not fairly secured, the bank is at the mercy of the borrower who may just opt to have the collateral foreclosed. If the scheme is repeated a hundredfold, it may lead to the collapse of the bank.

Padao's repeated failure to discharge his duties as a credit investigator of the bank amounted to gross and habitual neglect of duties under Article 282 (b) of the Labor Code. He not only failed to perform what he was employed to do, but also did so repetitively and habitually, causing millions of pesos in damage to PNB. Thus, PNB acted within the bounds of the law by meting out the penalty of dismissal, which it deemed appropriate given the circumstances.

The CA was correct in stating that when the violation of company policy or breach of company rules and regulations is tolerated by management, it cannot serve as a basis for termination. Such ruling, however, does not apply here. The principle only applies when the breach or violation is one which neither amounts to nor involves fraud or illegal activities. In such a case, one cannot evade liability or culpability based on obedience to the corporate chain of command.

Padao, in affixing his signature on the fraudulent reports, attested to the falsehoods contained therein. Moreover, by doing so, he repeatedly failed to perform his duties as a credit investigator.