G.R. No. 190185, August 19, 2019


[ G.R. No. 190185, August 19, 2019 ]



Please take notice that the Court, Second Division, issued a Resolution dated 19 August 2019 which reads as follows:


Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari[1] (Petition) under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision[2] dated July 29, 2009 and Resolution[3] dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 107252, which partially granted petitioners' petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, but nonetheless found respondents to have been illegally dismissed and therefore entitled to reinstatement, backwages, and damages.


The CA summarized the facts as follows:
The present petition stemmed from the consolidated complaint of private respondents Bienvenido Lalisan ("Lalisan"), Jeoffrey Abenojar, Roberto Cardoza, Jr. and Roel Sayno ("Sayno") filed against the petitioners for illegal dismissal, underpayment, monetary claims, illegal rotation and damages. The earlier complaint was followed by a similar consolidated complaint of private respondents Reyman Cardoza, Eric Jumagdao, Glenn Labrague, Herson Domingo and Samuel Gomonit. Private respondent Paulina Mendoza also filed a similar complaint against the petitioners. Private respondent Sayno later on filed an individual, identical complaint which merely prayed for reinstatement and backwages. All the complaints were consolidated and heard by one labor arbiter.

The employment backgrounds of the private respondents are as follows:

Date Employed
Samahan ng mga
Manggagawa sa EDM
Printing Corp.
1. Bienvenido Lalisan
March 2003
P 330.00
2. Jeoffrey P. Abenojar
January 2004
P 343.00
3. Roberto Cardoza, Jr.
Jr. Operator
April 2003
P 325.00
4. Roel Sayno
May 2004
P 175.00
5. Paulina Mendoza
January 2001
P 230.00
6. Reyman Cardoza
Offset Operator
June 1999
P 350.00
7. Herson Domingo
Operator Speed Master
September 2003
P 332.00
8. Glenn Labrague
Jr. Operator
December 2001
P 325.00
9. Eric Jumagdao
March 1999
P 340.00
10. Samuel Gomonit
March 2006
P 175.00
Private respondents alleged that as early as July 31, 2005, a meeting was held among them to form a labor union called the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa EDM Printing Corp. ("SMEDMPC" or the "Union"; which was later on registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Private respondents maintain that it was by this reason that the petitioners started to retaliate against them in the form of illegal acts that they complained of.

Private respondent Lalisan averred that he was even asked by petitioner President Mendoza not to pursue the formation of the Union with the promise that the latter will be responsible for the education of her child. On February 20, 2006, however, President Mendoza learned that the Union was already organized. This prompted her to issue a memorandum reducing the number of working days to three (3) days per week and abolishing the shifting system. On March 24, 2006, petitioner Mendoza further reduced the working days to two (2) days per week and contracted out the job to the other printing firm of the petitioner EDM.

Private respondent Sayno, for his part, alleged that he informed his supervisor that he cannot report for work because he rushed his wife to the hospital as she was then about to give birth. From May 20, 2006 to June 5, 2006, he attended to his wife who was confined in the hospital. When he reported back to work on June 14, 2006, he was no longer allowed to enter the company premises and was later advised not to report for work in the meantime per instruction of the owner. Sayno believed that his constructive dismissal was effected without just cause and due process and was effected in retaliation to his membership in the Union.

Private respondent Paulina Mendoza, who is likewise a member of the said Union, alleged that she was a victim of illegal rotation. She was offered by the petitioners a check worth P10,000.00 and was advised to resign immediately, but she did not accept the offer; thus, she was directed by the petitioners to go home and not to report to work anymore.

The petitioners, on the other hand, alleged that during the pendency of the cases, all of the private respondents, except for Paulina Mendoza and Sayno, voluntarily resigned from their jobs as evidenced by the copies of their respective release and quitclaim. The remaining private respondents were placed on AWOL status.

Petitioners further contended that the work rotation and consequent reduction of working days of the production personnel was part of the cost-cutting program of the company due to the decrease of work orders, slowdown of business and cessation of business of a major client. Prior, however, to the implementation of such a scheme, petitioners submitted a report of the company's status to the DOLE NCR Regional Office.

With regard to private respondent Sayno, petitioners regarded him as either resigned or terminated for abandonment of work effective August 25, 2006 since he had not reported for work since April 25, 2006 without having applied for a leave. When he showed up sometime in June 2006, petitioners ordered him to submit a written explanation for his absence before he could return to work but instead of complying, he accused petitioners of illegal dismissal. On September 20, 2006, however, Sayno voluntarily withdrew himself from the [National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)] case by accepting the financial assistance offered to him as evidenced by his release and quitclaim.

As to the alleged remaining sole, private respondent Paulina Mendoza, petitioners averred that they offered her, as compromise, the amount of P10,000.00 which was later increased to P25,000.00 in exchange for her resignation and withdrawal of her complaint. She, however, rejected the offer and took it as a sign that she was no longer wanted in the company. Thus, she opted not to return to work and charged the petitioners with illegal dismissal.

During the mandatory conciliation and mediation conferences, petitioners allegedly were able to enter into separate compromise agreements with some of the private respondents for the withdrawal of their complaints.

After the filing of the parties' respective position papers, the Labor Arbiter [(LA)] rendered a decision [dated November 12, 2007] in favor of the private respondents. The decretal portion of which states:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondents are hereby declared guilty of unfair labor practice for which a criminal complaint may be filed by complainants. Further, respondents are hereby ordered to reinstate all the complainants to their former position with full backwages from date of dismissal until actual reinstatement.

Finally, respondents are ordered to pay complainants all the monetary claims, moral and exemplary damages as contained in the attached approved computation, Annex "A" which is part and parcel of this decision.

Unsatisfied by the above-quoted decision, the petitioners appealed to the respondent commission asserting that: (1) there was no Unfair Labor Practice in the form of union-busting based on the complaints mid evidence submitted; (2) there were no illegal dismissals; (3) except for Paulina Mendoza (who turned down the offered settlement and opted not to report anymore) and Gomonit (who had not participated in the proceedings from the start), all of the private respondents had compromised and withdrawn their complaints. The NLRC, however, merely affirmed with modification the Labor Arbiter's ruling.[4]
The dispositive portion of the Decision[5] dated September 11, 2008 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) states:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED and the assailed Decision is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. In lieu of reinstatement, and in addition to the payments directed by the Labor Arbiter below, a separation pay of one (1) month pay for every year of service is hereby awarded in favor of complainants-appellees as a consequence of their illegal dismissal. This decision is without prejudice to the prosecution of a criminal case against respondents-appellants for unfair labor practices.

The NLRC ruled that petitioners failed to prove the losses they suffered to justify the job rotation and the continuing work reduction. It also ruled that petitioners failed to present audited financial statements or any relevant documentary evidence to prove the lack of job orders and the consequent losses to justify the work rotation and the reduction of working days. The NLRC therefore ruled that the work rotation and the reduction of working days were without basis and an arbitrary exercise of management prerogative, and that these actions were incidents of union busting.[7]

The NLRC also ruled that the quitclaims cannot bar a complaint for unfair labor practice especially when the quitclaims were procured under circumstances where respondents were forced to sign due to the loss of their jobs as a result of the constructive dismissal due to the continuing reduction of working days.[8]

Both parties moved for reconsideration and the NLRC in a Resolution[9] dated December 9, 2008 granted the motion of respondents that they be reinstated instead of being given separation pay, thus:
ACCORDINGLY, the Motion for Reconsideration of complainants-appellees is hereby GRANTED. Respondents-appellants are directed to reinstate complainants-appellees to their former position. The portion of the decision anent the payment of separation pay is deleted.
However, the Motion for Reconsideration of respondents-appellants is DENIED for lack of merit.
No further motion of similar nature shall be entertained.

CA Decision

Petitioners filed a Rule 65 petition with the CA, which partially granted the petition. The dispositive portion of the Decision states:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the instant petition is only PARTIALLY GRANTED. The challenged decision and resolution are consequently AFFIRMED with the only modification that the utterance: "This decision is without prejudice to the prosecution of a criminal case against respondents-appellants for unfair labor practices," is deemed DELETED.

The CA ruled that there was no allegation of unfair labor practice in all the complaints filed before the LA or even in the position papers of respondents.[12] The CA further ruled that given that unfair labor practices are criminal acts in nature, caution must be exercised in ascertaining their existence.[13]

The CA also ruled that the failure of some of the respondents to attend the conciliation and mediation conference and to file their respective position papers did not warrant the outright dismissal of the cases.[14] Further, the compromise agreements were not notarized and were not done in the presence and with the approval of the LA.[15] The CA ruled that as a rule, the law looks with disfavor on quitclaims and releases especially in this case where petitioners failed to prove the validity of the quitclaims.[16]

The CA also ruled that petitioners were liable for illegal dismissal when they failed to comply with substantive and procedural due process when they terminated the employment of respondents.[17] The CA affirmed the NLRC and ruled that petitioners failed to show by substantial evidence that the termination of the employment of respondents was validly made.[18]

Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but this was denied. Hence, this Petition. In a Resolution[19] dated December 14, 2009, the Court directed respondents to file their comment. Thereafter, in a Resolution[20] dated August 22, 2011, the Court directed the CA to elevate the records.


Petitioners raise the following issues for the Court's resolution:


There were no dismissals at all in this case. Nor was illegal dismissal an issue raised in the individual complaints.[21]


There was evident failure to prosecute on the part of the respondents after they resigned and withdrew from the cases.[22]


The Labor Arbiter did not preside over the proceedings, but would invalidate all the quitclaims, resignations and withdrawals reached by the parties in his absence.[23]


The quitclaims, resignations and withdrawals, being individual compromises as they are, cannot be set aside on mere conjecture.[24]


The order to reinstate is arbitrary and whimsical.[25]

The Court's Ruling

The Petition is denied.

A review of the records reveals that the NLRC failed to see that petitioners filed a fake appeal bond when they appealed the Decision of the LA to the NLRC.

The Rule 65 petition was filed before the CA on February 6, 2009[26] and the CA rendered the assailed Decision on July 29, 2009. In the meantime, the NLRC issued an Entry of Judgment[27] on February 16, 2009 and the LA issued a Writ of Execution[28] on July 21, 2009. Thus, while the case was still pending before the CA, the LA had correctly directed the execution of the judgment since no temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction was issued by the CA.

It was only during the execution proceedings that the sheriff of the NLRC found out that the appeal bond of petitioners is fake. In a letter[29] dated August 17, 2009, in response to the Notice of Garnishment dated July 15, 2009, the bonding company, Travellers Insurance Surety Corporation (Travellers Insurance), informed the sheriff that TRISCO Bond No. 19025,[30] which was attached to petitioners' Memorandum of Appeal, is fake. According to Travellers Insurance, the authority of the agent who issued the surety bond had been revoked as early as May 15, 2006 and his name was even submitted to the Insurance Commission as part of Travellers Insurance's Negative List of Agents.[31] Travellers Insurance also stated that its accreditation with the Court as an issuer of judicial bonds expired on July 31, 2007, while the surety bond was issued on December 5, 2007.[32]

In fact, a review of the records confirms the foregoing. Trisco Bond No. 19025 was issued on December 5, 2007[33] and Travellers Insurance's Certification of Accreditation and Authority issued by the Office of the Court Administrator on March 1,2007 specifically stated that such authority is valid only until July 31, 2007.[34] Thus, at the time the bond was issued, Travellers Insurance was no longer authorized to issue surety bonds.

The fact that the surety bond is fake was also reported by the sheriff in his progress report dated September 2, 2009.[35]

Article 223[36] of the Labor Code provides that an appeal to the NLRC from the LA, when the LA decision involves a monetary award, may be perfected only if cash or a surety bond is posted, thus:

Since petitioners' appeal bond is fake, the Court is constrained to reinstate the LA's Decision since petitioners failed to perfect their appeal to the NLRC.
ART. 223. Appeal. — Decisions, awards, or orders of the Labor Arbiter are final and executory unless appealed to the Commission by any or both parties within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of such decisions, awards, or orders, x x x

x x x x

In case of a judgment involving a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from.
This requirement is echoed in the 2005 Revised Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, Rule VI, Section 6 of which states:
SECTION 6. BOND. - In case the decision of the Labor Arbiter or the Regional Director involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a bond, which shall either be in the form of cash deposit or surety bond equivalent in amount to the monetary award, exclusive of damages and attorney's fees.

In case of surety bond, the same shall be issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission or the Supreme Court, and shall be accompanied by original or certified true cop|es of the following:

x x x x

A cash or surety bond shall be valid and effective from the date of deposit or posting, until the case is finally decided, resolved or terminated, or the award satisfied. This condition shall be deemed incorporated in the terms and conditions of the surety bond, and shall be binding on the appellants and the bonding company.

x x x x

Upon verification by the Commission that the bond is irregular or not genuine, the Commission shall cause the immediate dismissal of the appeal, and censure or cite in contempt the responsible parties and their counsels, or subject them to reasonable fine or penalty.

x x x x
In Navarro v. National Labor Relations Commission,[37] where the employer likewise filed a bogus surety bond, the Court ruled that the LA's decision therein became final and executory after the expiration of the reglementary period to file an appeal in light of the employer's failure to perfect the appeal. The Court ruled:
Perfection of an appeal includes the filing, within the prescribed period, of the memorandum of appeal containing, among others, the assignment of error/s, arguments in support thereof, the relief sought and, in appropriate cases, posting of the appeal bond. In case where the judgment involves a monetary award, as in this case, the appeal may be perfected only upon posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the NLRC. The amount of the bond must be equivalent to the monetary award, exclusive of moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees.

The records indicate that private respondents received the copy of labor arbiter's decision on April 3, 1992, hence, they had only until April 13, 1992 to perfect their appeal. While private respondents filed their memorandum of appeal on time, they posted surety bond only on April 30, 1992, which is beyond the ten-day reglementary period, a procedural lapse admitted by private respondents. Private respondents' failure to post the required appeal bond within the prescribed period is inexcusable. Worse, the appeal bond was bogus having been issued by an officer no longer connected for a long time with the bonding company. Unfortunately, this irregularity was not sufficiently explained by private respondents. For sure, they cannot avoid responsibility by disavowing any knowledge of its fictitiousness for they were required to secure bond only from reputable companies. Corollary, they should have ensured that the bond is genuine, otherwise, the purpose of requiring the posting of bond, that is, to guarantee the payment of valid and legal claims against the employer, would not be served.

We are mindful of the fact that this Court, in a number of cases, has relaxed this requirement on grounds of substantial justice and special circumstances of the case. However, we find no cogent reason to apply this same liberal interpretation herein when the bond posted was not genuine. In this case, there is really no bond posted since a fake or expired bond is in legal contemplation merely a scrap of paper. It should be stressed that the intention of lawmakers to make the bond an indispensable requisite for the perfection of an appeal by the employer is underscored by the provision that an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond. The word 'only' makes it perfectly clear that the lawmakers intended the posting of a cash or surety bond by the employer to be the exclusive means by which an employer's appeal may be perfected.

As the appeal filed by private respondents was not perfected within the reglementary period, the running of the prescriptive period for perfecting an appeal was not tolled. Consequently, the decision of the labor arbiter became final and executory upon the lapse often calendar days from receipt of the decision. Hence, the decision became immutable and it can no longer be amended nor altered by the labor tribunal. Accordingly, inasmuch as the timely posting of appeal bond is an indispensable and jurisdictional requisite and not a mere technicality of law, the NLRC has no authority to entertain the appeal, much less to set aside the decision of the labor arbiter in this case. Any amendment or alteration made which substantially affects the final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that purpose.[38]
The same rationale applies here. The surety bond that petitioners submitted is just a mere scrap of paper. As the surety bond it filed was bogus, then petitioners failed to comply with an indispensable and jurisdictional requirement to perfect the appeal. Ergo, the NLRC had no authority to entertain the appeal. As well, the CA also failed to acquire any authority to entertain the petition filed before it. The Decisions of the NLRC and the CA are therefore vacated having been issued without jurisdiction and the LA's Decision is reinstated and is deemed final and executory after the expiration of the reglementary period for petitioners to file their appeal with the NLRC.

Given that the LA Decision has become final and executory and therefore immutable, the Court no longer needs to discuss the issues raised in the Petition.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision dated July 29, 2009 and Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 107252 and the Decision dated September 11, 2008 and Resolution dated December 9, 2008 of the National Labor Relations Commission in NLRC LAC No. 01-000018-08 are VACATED. The Decision of the Labor Arbiter in NLRC-NCR Nos. 00-05-04207-06, 00-06-04978-06, 00-05-04387-06 and 00-07-05959-06 dated November 12, 2007 is REINSTATED with MODIFICATION. All monetary awards in the Decision of the Labor Arbiter shall earn interest at 6% per annum from finality of the Labor Arbiter's Decision until full payment.


Very truly yours,

Division Clerk of Court


Deputy Division Clerk of Court

* Also stated as "Joeffrey" and "Joefrey" in some parts of the records.

** Also stated as "Cardosa" in some parts of the records.

[1] Rollo, pp. 3-32, excluding Annexes.

[2] Id. at 33 to 49-A. Penned by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices Andres B. Reyes, Jr. (now a Member of the Court) and Fernanda Lampas-Peralta.

[3] Id. at 69-70.

[4] Id. at 34-39.

[5] Records, pp. 204-213. Penned by Presiding Commissioner Benedicto R. Palacol and concurred in by Commissioners Isabel G. Panganiban-Ortiguerra and Nieves Vivar-De Castro.

[6] Id. at2L2.

[7] Id. at 211.

[8] Id. at 210-211.

[9] Id. at 230-233.

[10] Id. at 232.

[11] Rollo, p. 49.

[12] Id. at 42.

[13] Id. at 43.

[14] Id. at 44-45.

[15] Id. at 46.

[16] Id. at 46-47.

[17] Id. at 47-48.

[18] Id. at 48.

[19] Id. at 257-258.

[20] Id. at 361-362.

[21] Id. at 14.

[22] Id. at 20.

[23] Id. at 21.

[24] Id. at 22.

[25] Id. at 25.

[26] Id. at 12.

[27] Records, p. 243.

[28] Id. at 284-286.

[29] Id. at 301-302.

[30] Also referred to as TRISCO Bond No. 19025 G (16) No. 13525 in some parts of the records.

[31] Records, p. 301.

[32] Id. at 302.

[33] Id. at 149.

[34] Id. at 156.

[35] Id. at 308.

[36] Now Article 229 of the Labor Code.

[37] 383 Phil. 765 (2000).

[38] Id. at 773-775.