Security of tenure = a right of paramount value

Section 3, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution provides that an employee "shall be entitled to security of tenure." Thus, the right to security of tenure is a constitutional right of an employee.

The Supreme Court has explained that "[s]ecurity of tenure is a right of paramount value. Precisely, it is given specific recognition and guarantee by the Constitution no less. The State shall afford protection to labor and shall assure the rights of workers to xxx security of tenure." The Court has explained further: "It stands to reason that a right so highly ranked as security of tenure should not lightly be denied on so nebulous a basis as mere speculation."

The well-recognized rule is that any waiver of a constitutional right must be clear, categorical, knowing, and intelligent. Thus, in a long line of cases, the High Court has ruled: "The relinquishment of a constitutional right has to be laid out convincingly. Such waiver must be clear, categorical, knowing, and intelligent."

Under Article 287 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, the "compulsory retirement age" is 65 years, "in the absence of a retirement plan or agreement providing for retirement benefits of employees."

In the 2018 case of Laya v. Philippine Veterans Bank (G.R. No. 205813), Justice Antonio Carpio explained while Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) has a retirement plan making 60 years the compulsory retirement age, this specific fact was not made known to petitioner at the time PVB handed him his appointment letter on 1 June 2001. The appointment letter mentioned in one line a retirement plan but the retirement plan itself was not attached to the appointment letter or given to petitioner. Nothing in the appointment letter indicated, expressly or impliedly, that the compulsory retirement age was 60 years. Anyone who received and read the appointment letter would not have known that the compulsory retirement age was 60 years. In short, petitioning employee could not have waived knowingly the compulsory retirement age of 65 years because this fact was not made known to him at the time of his appointment. Any such waiver was not made knowingly.The fact that petitioning employee is a lawyer cannot give rise to the presumption that he impliedly waived his constitutional right to security of tenure when he accepted the appointment letter. This Court has ruled:
But a waiver by implication cannot be presumed. There must be clear and convincing evidence of an actual intention to relinquish the right to constitute a waiver of a constitutional right. There must be proof of the following: (a) that the right exists; (b) that the person involved had knowledge, either actual or constructive, of the existence of such right; and, (c) that the said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right. The waiver must be made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. The Court indulges every reasonable presumption against any waiver of fundamental constitutional rights.
There is no showing in Laya v. PVB that the petitioning employee (who happens to be a lawyer) has an actual intention to waive his constitutional right to security of tenure. Such intention to waive a fundamental constitutional right cannot be presumed but must be actually shown and established. The bar against any implied waiver is very high because the Supreme Court "indulges in every reasonable presumption against any waiver of fundamental constitutional rights."

PVB failed to surmount that high bar.

Even in determining whether the appointment of an employee is permanent or probationary, actual disclosure of the performance standards at the time of the employment is required and cannot be presumed.

The Supreme Court has explained that a probationary employee shall be deemed a regular employee where no standards are made known to him at the time of his engagement, unless the job is self-descriptive, like maid, cook, driver, or messenger. Thus, to comply with the constitutional mandate that the "State shall afford full protection to labor," disclosure to the employee at the time of appointment is necessary to bind the employee. "Full protection" means implied waivers in derogation of an employee's constitutional or statutory right cannot be presumed.

Antonio Tirol Carpio was an Associate Justice and, for four instances, acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. He was sworn in as member of the High Court by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on October 26, 2001 until his retirement on October 26, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Carpio.

ADDITIONAL READINGS:

[1] City Service Corp. Workers Union v. City Service Corporation, 220 Phil. 239, 242 (1985).
[2] People v. Espinosa, 456 Phil. 507, 518 (2003).
[3] People v. Nicandro, 225 Phil. 248 (1986).
[4] People v. Caguioa, 184 Phil. 1 (1980)
[5] Chavez v. CA, 133 Phil. 661 (1968).
[6] Abriol v. Homeres, 84 Phil. 525 (1949).
[7] Lui v. Spouses Matillano, 413 Phil. 483, 512-513 (2004).
[8] Pasion Vda. de Garcia v. Locsin, 65 Phil. 689 (1938).
[9] People v. Compacion, 414 Phil. 68 (2001).
[10] Abbott Laboratories, Philippines v. Alcaraz, 714 Phil. 510, 532-533, 534 (2013).
[11] Robinsons Galleria/Robinsons Supermarket Corporation v. Ranchez, 655 Phil. 133, 142 (2011).

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