Case Digest: Polsotin, Jr v. De Guia Enterprises

G.R. No. 172624 : December 5, 2011




Petitioners were bus drivers and conductors of respondent De Guia Enterprises, Inc. (respondent). Alleging that they were dismissed without cause and due process, petitioners filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and payment of backwages and damages against respondent before the NLRC.

During the hearings set before the Labor Arbiter, respondent failed to appear despite due notice.It likewise failed to timely submit its position paper.

Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision Dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of merit.

Without assistance of a counsel, petitioners filed a Memorandum of Appealwith the NLRC. They contended that the Labor Arbiter committed grave abuse of discretion in rendering a decision anchored mainly on respondents evidence. It was their assertion that by failing to appear at the scheduled hearings and to file a position paper on time without any justifiable reason, respondent should have been deemed to have waived its right to submit its own evidence. Thus, they prayed that respondents belatedly filed position paper be considered a mere scrap of paper. They also pointed out that said position paper interposed arguments only as against petitioners Polsotin and Rayala and thus cannot be used against the other petitioners.

NLRC dismissed the appeal for failure of petitioners to append thereto a certificate of non-forum shopping and proof of service upon the other party. The NLRC then affirmed the Decision appealed from. The motion for reconsideration of petitioners was denied by the NLRC.

CA rendered a Decision Denying due course and dismissing petitioners Petition for Certiorari. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration Which was, however, denied by the CA.


Whether or not in spite of technicalities, petitioners are still entitled to due consideration of their petition?

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


Note, however, that in both instances, petitioners were not represented by a lawyer. They had no counsel on record and had been filing and signing all pleadings only through their representative, petitioner Rayala. There was no showing that their case was directly handled or at the very least, that they were assisted by a counsel. Not being lawyers, petitioners lack of thorough understanding of procedural rules as well as the importance of its strict observance is understandable. As held in a case,a non-lawyer litigant cannot be expected to be well-versed on the rules of procedure as even the most experienced lawyers get tangled in the web of procedure.

Aware that petitioners are not represented by counsel, the CA could have been more prudent by giving petitioners time to engage the services of a lawyer or at least by reminding them of the importance of retaining one. It is worthy to mention at this point that the right to counsel, being intertwined with the right to due process, is guaranteed by the Constitution to any person whether the proceeding is administrative, civil or criminal.The CA should have extended some degree of liberality so as to give the party a chance to prove their cause with a lawyer to represent or to assist them.


It bears stressing that "the dismissal of an employees appeal on purely technical ground is inconsistent with the constitutional mandate on protection to labor."The Court has often set aside the strict application of procedural technicalities to serve the broader interest of substantial justice.

Labor tribunals are mandated to use all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily, objectively and without regard to technicalities of law or procedure.However, in every proceeding before it, the fundamental and essential requirements of due process should not to be ignored but must at all times be respected.Besides, petitioners case concerns their job, considered as a property right, of which they could not be deprived of without due process.