Case Digest: Prudential Bank (BPI) v. Mauricio

G.R. No. 183350 : January 18, 2012




Respondent Mauricio was hired by petitioner Prudential Bank.

Spouses Marcelo and Corazon Cruz (Spouses Cruz) opened a dollar savings account, FXSD No. 221-6, with an initial cash deposit of US$500.00, in the Bank's Magallanes Branch. At that time, Mauricio was already its Branch Manager.

Spouses Cruz executed in favor of the Bank a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage over their property. Later, the Spouses Cruz executed another Deed of Real Estate Mortgage over the same property in favor of the Bank.

An audit investigation was conducted in the Magallanes Branch. The salient portions of the reportsof the audit team showed that despite the fact that Spouses Cruz were not the payees of said instruments and neither of them endorsed the same, Mauricio allowed immediate withdrawals against them.

Mauricio was directed to report for work at the Head Office immediately. Prudential Bank President Jose L. Santos issued a Memorandumto Mauricio furnishing him with a copy of the audit team's report and directing him to report in writing within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of the memorandum why the bank should not institute an action against him.

As requested by Mauricio, a Hearing Committee was constituted and several hearings were held. While the investigation against Mauricio was ongoing, the property subject of the deeds of real estate mortgage executed by the Spouses Cruz was extrajudicially foreclosed by the Bank. Spouses Cruz, however, sought the annulment and/or declaration of nullity of foreclosure in a complaint with RTC.

Subsequently, the Bank's investigation on Mauricio was terminated. The Hearing Committee found that there was sufficient evidence to hold Mauricio guilty of the charges against him. In a Memorandum addressed to the bank's Board of Directors, it recommended that Mauricio be dismissed on the ground of loss of trust and confidence. Board of Directors issued Resolution adopting the Hearing Committee's recommendation.

Mauricio filed with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) a complaint for illegal dismissal.

While the illegal dismissal complaint was awaiting resolution by the Labor Arbiter, the Makati RTC rendered a Decisionin favor of the Spouses Cruz and Mauricio. Said decision was affirmedin totoon appeal by the CA. The Bank filed a petition for review on certiorari before this Court appealing the CA decision, but its petition was denied on the ground that no reversible error was committed by the CA.

Labor arbiter rendered a Decisionholding that the Bank was justified in terminating Mauricio's employment. Mauricio filed a partial appeal of the labor arbiter's decision with the NLRC, which, however, affirmed the labor arbiter's decision.

Upon recourse to the CA, the CA set aside the NLRC decision and ruled in favor of Mauricio. The CA ruled that the NLRC should have taken into consideration the evidence presented in the civil case particularly as to the interpretation of Office Order No. 1516-A. The CA held that as correctly pointed out by Mauricio, the rule does not exactly prohibit an approving authority from encashing dubious checks as the rule is more permissive in nature, allowing any such approving authority to exercise discretion on whether to allow or not the encashment of such checks.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent was illegally dismissed?
HELD: Court of Appeals decision is sustained.


The Court need not be reminded of the fact that civil and labor cases require different quanta of proof - the former requiring preponderance of evidence while the latter only calls for substantial evidence. Despite the dissimilarity, however, this does not spell closing our eyes to facts conclusively determined in one proceeding when the determination of the very same facts are crucial in resolving the issues in another proceeding pursuant to the doctrine ofres judicata.

Undeniably, the acts and omissions alleged by the Bank in the civil case as basis of its counterclaim against Mauricio, are the very same acts and omissions which were used as grounds to terminate his employment. The Bank, however, now wants this Court to disregard altogether the factual findings in the civil case concerning the very same acts and omissions and re-evaluate the same pieces of evidence and make new factual findings in the hopes that the same will, this time, be in its favor. This would definitely run contrary to the foundation principle upon which the doctrine ofres judicatarests - the parties ought not to be permitted to litigate the same issue more than once; that, when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, or an opportunity for such trial has been given, the judgment of the court, so long as it remains unreversed, should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privity with them in law or estate.

The Bank should be reminded that for a dismissal based on loss of trust and confidence to be valid, the breach of trust must be willful, meaning it must be done intentionally, knowingly, and purposely, without justifiable excuse.Loss of trust and confidence stems from a breach of trust founded on dishonest, deceitful or fraudulent act. This is obviously not the case here.