Case Digest: Ramos v. BPI

G.R. No. 203186 : December 4, 2013




Ramos was employed by BPI Family in 1995 and eventually became its Vice-President for Dealer Network Marketing/Auto Loans Division. During his tenure, a client named Trezita B. Acosta (Acosta) purportedly secured an auto loan from BPI Family in the amount of P3,097,392.00 for the purchase of a Toyota Prado vehicle (subject loan) which had remained unpaid. As it turned out, Acosta did not authorize nor personally apply for the subject loan, rendering the transaction fraudulent.

After investigation, BPI Family found that Ramos released these documents without the prior approval of BPI Family's credit committee; and he was grossly remiss in his duties since his subordinates did not follow the banks safety protocols, particularly those regarding the establishment of the loan applicants identity, and that the promissory note was not even signed by the applicant in the presence of any of the marketing officers.

As a consequence, BPI Family lost P2,294,080.00, which amount was divided between Ramos and his three (3) other subordinates, with Ramos shouldering the proportionate amount ofP 546,000.00.

The foregoing amount was subsequently deducted from Ramos benefits which accrued upon his retirement on May 1, 2006. Claiming that the deductions made by BPI Family were illegal, Ramos filed a complaint for underpayment of retirement benefits and non- payment of overtime and holiday pay and premium pay against BPI Family and/or its President at that time, Alfonso L. Salcedo, Jr., before the NLRC.

The LA dismissed Ramoss complaint, ruling that the deduction made on his retirement benefits was "legal and even reasonable"since Ramos was negligent in running his department.

On appeal, the NLRC reversed the LA decision, holding that the deduction complained of was "illegal and unreasonable"in that (a) the alleged negligence committed by Ramos was not substantially proven as he was not expected to personally examine all loan documents that pass through his hands or to require the client to personally appear before him because he has subordinates to do those details for him; (b) the issuance of the PO and ATD prior to the loans approval is not an irregular procedure, but an ordinary occurrence in BPI Family;and (c) the deduction does not fall under the exceptions prescribed under Article 113of the Labor Code on allowable deductions.

Accordingly, it ordered BPI Family to return/refund to Ramos the amount of 546,000.00, with additional payment of 10% thereof as attorneys fees.

On appeal, the CA affirmed the finding of negligence on the part of Ramos, holding that Ramos was remiss in his duty as head of Dealer Network Marketing/Auto Loans Division in failing to determine the true identity of "Trezita Acosta". However, it also attributed negligence on the part of BPI Family since it sanctioned the practice of issuing the PO and ATD prior to the approval of the credit committee. Such relaxed supervision over its divisions contributed to a large extent to its defraudation. Thus, reducing the deductible amount from his retirement benefits to P200,000.00.

Ramos moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied in a Resolution. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in attributing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC when it found the deduction made from Ramoss retirement benefits to be illegal and unreasonable.

HELD: The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed.

REMEDIAL LAW remedy of certiorari

To justify the grant of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, the petitioner must satisfactorily show that the court or quasi-judicial authority gravely abused the discretion conferred upon them. Grave abuse of discretion connotes judgment exercised in a capricious and whimsical manner that is tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. Global Business Holdings, Inc. v. Surecomp Software, B.V., G.R. No. 173463, October 13, 2010.

In labor disputes, the NLRCs findings are said to be tainted with grave abuse of discretion when its conclusions are not supported by substantial evidence.

As a general rule, in certiorari proceedings under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the appellate court does not assess and weigh the sufficiency of evidence upon which the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC based their conclusion. The query in this proceeding is limited to the determination of whether or not the NLRC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in rendering its decision. However, as an exception, the appellate court may examine and measure the factual findings of the NLRC if the same are not supported by substantial evidence. Protacio v. Laya Mananghaya & Co., G.R. No. 168654, March 25, 2009

LABOR LAW retirement benefits

BPI Family failed to establish that the duty to confirm and validate information in credit applications and determine credit worthiness of prospective loan applicants rests with the Dealer Network Marketing Department, which is the department under the supervision of Ramos. Quite the contrary, records show that these responsibilities lie with the banks Credit Services Department, namely its Credit Evaluation Section and Loans Review and Documentation Section,of which Ramos was not part of.

As similarly observed by the NLRC, Ramos merely followed standing company practice when he issued the PO and ATD without prior approval from the banks Credit Services Department.

The report further noted that the practice has been adopted due in part to the stiff competition with other banks and lending institutions. Resultantly, in 2005 alone, approximately 111 car loan applications were released ahead of the approval of the credit evaluation section. In fact, in all 111 instances, the bank did not attempt to rectify the flaw by calling the respondents attention to the manner by which he disregarded important bank procedure or protocol in accommodating car loan applications.

Any conscientious, well-meaning banking institution would have raised the red flag the moment the violation is first discovered. However, respondent bank did not sound alarm until the discovery of the first defraudation. Without doubt, its uncharacteristically relaxed supervision over its divisions contributed to a large extent to the unfortunate attainment of fraud.

Based on the foregoing, it is readily apparent that Ramoss action of issuing the PO and ATD ahead of the approval of the credit committee was actually conformant to regular company practice which BPI Family itself sanctioned. As such, Ramos cannot be said to have been negligent on his duties. As BPI Family "uncharacteristically relaxed supervision over its divisions," yielding as it did to the demands of industry competition, it is but reasonable that solely bears the loss of its own shortcomings.

Applying the foregoing considerations, the Court finds the CA to have erred in attributing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC in finding that the deduction made from Ramoss retirement benefits was improper.

Hence, the decision of the CA is reversed. The decision of the NLRC is reinstated.