Case Digest: Ymbong v. ABS-CBN

G.R. No. 184885 : March 7, 2012




Petitioner Ernesto G. Ymbong started working for ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation (ABS-CBN) in 1993 at its regional station in Cebu as a television talent. On January 1, 1996, the ABS-CBN Head Office in Manila issued Policy No. HR-ER-016 or the Policy on Employees Seeking Public Office which requires any employee who intends to run for any public office to file his/her resignation letter at least thirty (30) days prior to the official filing of the certificate of candidacy either for national or local election.

Because of the impending May 1998 elections and based on his immediate recollection of the policy at that time, Dante Luzon, Assistant Station Manager of DYAB issued a memorandum dated March 25,1998 which required any employee/talent who wants to run for any position in the coming election will have to file a leave of absence the moment he/she files his/her certificate of candidacy. Luzon, however, admitted that upon double-checking of the exact text of the policy and subsequent confirmation with the ABS-CBN Head Office, he saw that the policy actually required suspension for those who intend to campaign for a political party or candidate and resignation for those who will actually run in the elections.

Ymbong ran as councilor of Lapu-Lapu City but Ymbong lost in the May 1998 elections. Later, Ymbong and Patalinghug both tried to come back to ABS-CBN Cebu. According to Luzon, he informed them that they cannot work there anymore because of company policy. This was stressed even in subsequent meetings and they were told that the company was not allowing any exceptions. ABS-CBN, however, agreed out of pure liberality to give them a chance to wind up their participation in the radio drama, Nagbabagang Langit, since it was rating well and to avoid an abrupt ending.

Ymbong in contrast contended that after the expiration of his leave of absence, he reported back to work as a regular talent and in fact continued to receive his salary. On September 14, 1998, he received a memorandum stating that his services are being terminated immediately, much to his surprise. Thus, he filed an illegal dismissal complaint against ABS-CBN, Luzon and DYAB Station Manager Veneranda Sy. The Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, upon appeal, rendered a decision finding the dismissal of Ymbong illegal. ABS-CBN filed a petition for certiorari before the CA and the latter reversed the NLRC decision.

ISSUE: Whether or not Ymbong was illegally dismissed.

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is affirmed.


So long as a company's management prerogatives are exercised in good faith for the advancement of the employer's interest and not for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the rights of the employees under special laws or under valid agreements, this Court will uphold them. In the instant case, ABS-CBN validly justified the implementation of Policy No. HR-ER-016. It is well within its rights to ensure that it maintains its objectivity and credibility and freeing itself from any appearance of impartiality so that the confidence of the viewing and listening public in it will not be in any way eroded. Even as the law is solicitous of the welfare of the employees, it must also protect the right of an employer to exercise what are clearly management prerogatives. The free will of management to conduct its own business affairs to achieve its purpose cannot be denied.

The CA correctly ruled that though Luzon, as Assistant Station Manager for Radio of ABS-CBN, has policy-making powers in relation to his principal task of administering the networks radio station in the Cebu region, the exercise of such power should be in accord with the general rules and regulations imposed by the ABS-CBN Head Office to its employees. Clearly, the March 25, 1998 Memorandum issued by Luzon which only requires employees to go on leave if they intend to run for any elective position is in absolute contradiction with Policy No. HR-ER-016 issued by the ABS-CBN Head Office in Manila which requires the resignation, not only the filing of a leave of absence, of any employee who intends to run for public office. Having been issued beyond the scope of his authority, the March 25, 1998 Memorandum is therefore void and did not supersede Policy No. HR-ER-016. Also worth noting is that Luzon in his Sworn Statement admitted the inaccuracy of his recollection of the company policy when he issued the March 25, 1998 Memorandum and stated therein that upon double-checking of the exact text of the policy statement and subsequent confirmation with the ABS-CBN Head Office in Manila, he learned that the policy required resignation for those who will actually run in elections because the company wanted to maintain its independence. Since the officer who himself issued the subject memorandum acknowledged that it is not in harmony with the Policy issued by the upper management, there is no reason for it to be a source of right for Ymbong.

As Policy No. HR-ER-016 is the subsisting company policy and not Luzon's March 25, 1998 Memorandum, Ymbong is deemed resigned when he ran for councilor.