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DISPOSITIVE:

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE GOVERNMENT URGENTLY NEEDED HELICOPTERS FOR ITS OPERATIONS IN JOLO. PETITIONER, AS MEMBER OF THE NHQ-BAC FAILED TO DETERMINE THE ELIGIBILITY AND CAPABILITY OF SUPPLIER MAPTRA. IT HAS NO FINANCIAL CAPACITY. NO REQUIRED TRACK RECORD. IT HAD A DEAL WORTH P15M AND THE SUBJECT CONTRACT IS FOR P105M. THUS PETITIONER WAS HELD TO HAVE COMMITTED GRAVE MISCONDUCT, PUNISHABLE BY DISMISSAL.

WHAT IS MISCONDUCT? WHEN IS IT GRAVE?

Misconduct is the “transgression of some established and definite rule
of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross neglect of duty by a
public officer.”86 It is considered grave when the elements of corruption,
willful intent to violate the law or disregard established rules are also
present.

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DISPOSITIVE:

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

REYES REFUSED TO CERTIFY THE REPORT ON CRIMES AND LOSSES. BUT THIS WAS NOT ATTENDED BY WRONGFUL ATTITUDE WHICH WARRANTS THE ULTIMATE PENALTY OF DISMISSAL.

THE SUPREME COURT RULED THAT THE PENALTY OF DISMISSAL IMPOSED ON REYES WAS TERRIBLY DISPROPORTIONATE TO HIS INFRACTION.

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DISPOSITIVE:

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

IN RAPE CASES CONVICTION MOST OFTEN RESTS SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF THE TESTIMONY OF THE VICTIM.

WHENEVER THERE IS INCONSISTENCY BETWEEN AFFIDAVIT AND TESTIMONY, THE LATTER IS ACCORDED GREATER WEIGHT.

ASSESSMENT OF CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES IS BEST LEFT TO THE TRIAL COURT JUDGE BECAUSE HE OBSERVES THE DEPORTMENT AND DEMEANOR OF THE WITNESS.

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DISPOSITIVE:

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

JUDGE ATILLO POSTED PICTURES IN HIS FACEBOOK ACCOUNT SHOWING HIS HALF-DRESSED BODY AND TATTOOED TORSO. SUPREME COURT SAID THIS IS IMPROPER FOR A JUDGE.

………………………..

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DISPOSITIVE:

  SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

THIS CASE INVOLVED A SALE OF PORTION OF UNDIVIDED LAND CO-OWNED BY SEVERAL OWNERS. A CO-OWNER SOLD A DEFINITE PORTION TO A BUYER. THE PRINCIPLE IS A SALE OF A PORTION OF UNDIVIDED LAND WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF ALL CO-OWNERS IS VOID. IN THIS CASE THIS PRINCIPLE WAS NOT APPLIED BECAUSE THE OTHER CO-OWNER WAS AWARE OF THE SALE AND DID NOT OBJECT TO IT. THUS WHEN THE SPECIFIC PORTION WAS SEGREGATED AND SOLD IT IS AS IF SAID CO-OWNER AGREED TO THE PARTITION AND SALE OF SUCH PORTION OF LAND.

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DISPOSITIVE:

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE SC RULED THAT BASED ON EVIDENCES TAGUIG HAS A SUPERIOR CLAIM TO THE DISPUTED AREAS.

SINCE LONG TIME AGO, FORT BONIFACIO WAS CONSIDERED PART OF TAGUIG. BUT IN A PROCLAMATION ISSUED BY PRESIDENT MARCOS FORT BONIFACIO WAS ERRONEOUSLY MENTIONED AS PART OF MAKATI CITY. IF INDEED THERE WAS INTENTION TO ALTER THE BOUNDARIES OF TAGUIG AND MAKATI THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A PLEBISCITE. BUT THERE WAS NONE.

………….

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DISPOSITIVE:

SUBJECT/S:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

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DISPOSITIVE:

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE SUPREME COURT SAID THE PLAINTIFF HAS NOT PROVEN DAMAGE OR INJURY. IT WAS NOT PROVEN THAT AN ACCIDENT OCCURRED. THEREFORE, THEY CANNOT CLAIM UNDER THE DOCTRINE OF RES IPSA LOQUITUR.

WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF RES IPSA LOQUITUR?

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR RES IPSA LOQUITUR TO APPLY?

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered the instant petition is GRANTED.  The Decision dated January 29, 2020 and the Resolution dated July 23, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.  CV No. 108313 are SET ASIDE. The tax we conducted on October 2, 2013 hereby declared NULL AND VOID.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE SUBJECT PROPERTY INCURRED DILINQUENCY IN REAL ESTATE TAXES. PUBLIC AUCTION WAS HELD AND RESPONDENT WAS THE HIGHEST BIDDER. BUT IT APPEARS THAT THERE WAS NO VALID NOTICE TO FILINVEST THE REGISTERED OWNER NOR TO THE BUYER OF SUBJECT PROPERTY WHOSE PURCHASE OF THE SAME WAS DULY ANNOTATED IN THE TITLE. THE SUPREME COURT SAID THAT SINCE THERE WAS NO PROPER NOTICE REGARDING THE TAX SALE SAID TAX SALE WAS NOT VALID. THE RESPONDENT CANNOT BE DECLARED THE NEW OWNER.

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DISPOSITIVE:

       WHEREFORE,  the petition in G.R. Nos. 252578, 252579, 252580, 252585, 252613, 252623, 252624, 252646, 252702, 252726, 252733, 252736, 252741, 252747, 252755, 252759, 252765, 252767, 252768, 252802, 252809, 252903, 252904, 252905, 252916, 252921, 252984, 253018, 253100, 253124, 253242, 253252, 253254, 254191, (UDK No. 16714), and 253420 are GIVEN DUE COURSE and PARTIALLY GRANTED.

       The Court declares the following provisions of Republic Act No. 11479 UNCONSTITUTIONAL:

  1. The phrase in the proviso of Section 4 which states “which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create serious risk to public safety”,

2. The second mode of designation found in paragraph 2 of Section 25; and

3. As a necessary consequence, the corresponding reference/provisions in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 11479 relative to the foregoing items.

       Moreover, pursuant to the Court’s rule-making power, the Court of Appeals is DIRECTED to prepare the rules that will govern judicial proscription proceedings under Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 11479 based on the foregoing discussion for submission to the Committee on the Revision of the Rules Courts and eventual approval and promulgation of the Court En Banc.

       The petitions in G.R. 253118 (Balay Rehabilitation Center, Inc. v. Duterte) and UDK No, 16603 (Yerbo v. Officess of the Honorable Senate and the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives) are DISMISSED.

       So ORDERED.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The October 11 , 2016 Decision and December 28, 2016 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA[1]G.R. CV No. 105531 is AFFIRMED.

Petitioner Philippine National Bank is ordered to furnish respondents AIC Construction Corporation and the spouses Rodolfo and Aurora Bacani, within 30 days from finality of this judgment, a written detailed accounting of their outstanding loan obligation, with clear explanation of the computation thereof.

The computation of interest on the principal loan obligation of P65 million shall be at the rate of 12% per annum, computed from effectivity of the pertinent loan agreement up to November 17, 2003, the date of issuance of the certificate of sale by the Ex-Officio Sheriff of Mandaluyong City. Interest rate on the conventional interest shall be at the rate of 12% per annum from January 21, 2002, the date of judicial demand, to November 17, 2003.

 The penalty charge imposed on respondents’ loan obligation shall be excluded from the amount secured by the real estate mortgage.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

RESPONDENTS BORROWED FROM PNB. IN 1998 THE PRINCIPAL WAS P40M. BECAUSE OF INTEREST THIS BALOONED TO P162M. PNB THEN FORCLOSED THE PROPERTIES OF RESPONDENTS. RESPONDENTS FILED A CASE FOR ANNULMENT OF INTEREST AND PENALTY INCREASES, ACCOUNTING, EXEMPTION OF FAMILY HOME AND DAMAGES ALLEGING THAT THE INTERESTS WERE EXORBITANT. RTC RULED AGAINST RESPONDENTS. COURT OF APPEALS FOUND THE INTERESTS AS EXORBITANT AND REDUCED THE INTEREST TO THE LEGAL RATE OF 12% PER ANNUM. THE SUPREME COURT AFFIRMED C.A. JUDGMENT.

In this case, this Court notes that petitioner did not contest respondents’ allegations as to the breakdown of the amounts due to it: (i) that respondents’ obligation of P65 million when the loan matured was composed of their actual loan availment of P40 million and P25 million for interest charges; (ii) that at around May 2000, without any additional availments, the amount due became P92 million; (iii) that by April 30, 2001, respondents’ obligation increased to more than Pl 40 million; (iv) that when the amount due became P 162,553,680.50 and after petitioner foreclosed the mortgaged properties, it still wanted to collect deficiency judgment in the amount of Pl 57 million. 63
This Court also notes that respondents have already argued against the loss of
their family home.

DISCUSSION ON WHY THE INTERESTS OF PNB ARE EXORBITANT:

THE INTEREST RATE WAS IMPOSED BY PNB AND RESPONDENTS WERE LEFT WITH NO CHOICE BUT TO AGREE TO IT. THIS VIOLATES REPUBLIC ACT NO.  3765 OR THE TRUTH IN LENDING ACT, WHICH REQUIRES CREDITORS TO FULLY DISCLOSE TO THE DEBTOR ALL AMOUNTS INCIDENTAL TO THE EXTENSION OF THE CREDIT, INCLUDING INTERESTS, DISCOUNTS OR FEES, TO PROTECT DEBTORS FROM A LACK OF AWARENESS OF THE TRUE COST OF CREDIT.

The facts of this case are similar to the facts in Spouses Silos. The interest rates are yet to be determined through a subjective and one-sided criterion. These rates are no longer subject to the approval of respondents. The parties did not agree on the interest rate. Rather, the interest rate was imposed by petitioner, and respondents were left with no choice but to agree to it. This arrangement violates Republic Act No. 3765 or the Truth in Lending Act, which requires creditors to fully disclose to the debtor all amounts incidental to the extension of the credit, including interests, discounts or fees, to protect debtors from a lack of awareness of the true cost of credit.61

RESPONDENTS ARE NOT BOUND BY THE INTEREST RATES UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES:

It also cannot be argued that respondents are bound by the interest rates. Spouses Silos also discussed the inequality between the parties in loan and credit arrangements:

The fact that petitioners later received several statements of account detailing its outstanding obligations does not cure respondent’s breach. To repeat, the belated discovery of the true cost of credit does not reverse the ill effects of an already consummated business decision. Neither may the statements be considered proposals sent to secure the petitioners’ conformity; they were sent after the imposition and application of the interest rate, and not before. And even if it were to be presumed that these are proposals or offers, there was no acceptance by petitioners. “No one receiving a proposal to modify a loan contract, especially regarding interest, is obliged to answer the proposal.”

BORROWERS SUCCUMED TO WHATEVER CHARGES THE LENDERS IMPOSE BECAUSE THEY DREAD LEGAL COMPLICATIONS AND CANNOT AFFORD LITIGATIONS. BUT BORROWERS SHOULD BE CHARGED RIGHTLY.

Loan and credit arrangements may be made entlcmg by, or “sweetened” with, offers of low initial interest rates, but actually accompanied by provisions written in fine print that allow lenders to later on increase or decrease interest rates unilaterally, without the consent of the borrower, and depending on complex and subjective factors. Because they have been lured into these contracts by initially low interest rates, borrowers get caught and stuck in the web of subsequent steep rates and penalties, surcharges and the like. Being ordinary individuals or entities, they naturally dread legal complications and cannot afford com1 litigation; they succumb to whatever charges the lenders impose. At the very least, borrowers should be charged rightly; but then again this is not possible in a one-sided credit system where the temptation to abuse is strong and the willingness to rectify is made weak by the eternal desire for profit.

………………………

Besides, that petitioners are given the right to question the interest rates imposed is, under the circumstances, irrelevant; we have a situation where the petitioners do not stand on equal footing with the respondent. It is doubtful that any borrower who finds himself in petitioners’ position would dare question respondent’s power to arbitrarily modify interest rates at any time. In the second place, on what basis could any borrower question such power, when the criteria or standards – which are really one-sided, arbitrary and subjective – for the exercise of such power are precisely lost on him?62 (Emphasis in the original, citations omitted).

INTEREST SHOULD BE CONSISTENT WITH THE DEMANDS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.

In a concurring and dissenting opinion in Lara’s G(fts & Decors, Inc. v. Midtown Industrial Sales, Inc. 64 it was discussed how interest should be consistent with the demands of social justice:

As a matter of principle, money itself should not beget money. Money is only generally a store of value. It “has value because people are willing to accept it in exchange for goods and services and in payment for debts.”

Allowing money to produce more money – for instance, lending money at excessive interest rates as a way of increasing money – lays the foundation for a growing wealth disparity, since loans are usually extended by those who are richer (with capital) to those who are poorer (without capital). This does not serve the demands of social justice; that is, “the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may at least be approximated.”

Money should be put to productive use so that the owner, the society, and the less privileged may all share in the benefits to be derived from it. Passive income “adds no new good or service into the market that would be of use to real persons. Instead, it has the tendency to alter the price of real goods and services to the detriment of those who manufacture, labor, and consume products.” The practice of making money out of money skews the economy in favor of speculation and provides a disincentive for real economies.65 (Citations omitted)

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated March 27, 2014 and Resolution dated July 11, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 122846 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Resolution of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board dated December 16, 2011 which declared Lot No. 554-D-3 EXEMPT from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and consequently ordered the CANCELLATION of the Certificates of Land Ownership Award issued in the name of respondents is hereby REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

IN THIS CASE RESPONDENT AND CA RELIED ON AN ORDER OF THE DAR SECRETARY WHICH PERTAINS TO OTHER LOTS. THE LOT IN QUESTION WAS ALREADY DECLARED AS EXEMPTED FROM DAR COVERAGE AND IN FACT WAS ALREADY EXPROPRIATED AND IS NOW PART OF SCTEX.

To the Court’s mind, the resolution of the DAR Secretary in DARCO Order No. EX-0712-489 was precisely the reason why the DARAB reversed its earlier decision and upheld the exemption granted to SVHFI. As correctly found by the DAR Secretary, respondents could not have derived any vested right over the subject property despite the issuance of CLOAs in their favor because the coverage of the property was erroneous to begin with. SVHFI, as original owner of Lot No. 554-D-3, was never divested of its rights over the same, including the right to apply for exemption. What is more, the results of the ocular inspection revealed that majority of the portions of Lot No. 554-D[1]3 have already been developed into what is now known as the SCTEX. This, in itself, is a clear indication that the land had indeed been reclassified into non-agricultural purposes and no longer feasible for agricultural production. To hold otherwise would not only be a waste of government resources, but also expand the scope of the agrarian reform program which has been limited to lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture.

As pronounced by the CA itself, the findings of the DAR Secretary are accorded great weight and respect. Considering his technical expertise on the matter, courts cannot simply brush aside his pronouncements regarding status of a land, a subject well within his field, absent palpable and overriding error or grave abuse of discretion that would result in manifest injustice and grave misapplication of the law.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated April 16, 2015 and Resolution dated February 4, 2016 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 131302 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The formal charge and order of suspension are hereby declared invalid and without legal effect.

The payment of back salaries owed to Stefani C. Sano shall be either in the form of leave credits, ifhe is still active in government service, OR leave credits monetized at the current rate for the position he formerly occupied, at his option.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

GARCIA ISSUED A FORMAL CHARGE AGAINST SANO FOR GRAVE MISCONDUCT, GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY  ETC WITHOUT CONDUCTING PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION SINCE HE SAID HE PERSONALLY WITNESSED THE ACTS OF PETITIONER. SUPREME COURT SAID THIS IS IN VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS. THERE SHOULD BE A SHOW CAUSE ORDER FIRST AND THEN A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION.

In the present case, Garcia gravely deviated from the procedure outlined in the RRACCS .. Garcia issued a formal charge arid order of preventive suspension charging petitioner with grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, dishonesty and cj:mduct prejudicial to the interest of the · service without undergoing preliminary investigation. Garcia claimed that he need not conduct preliminary investigation since he personallywitnessed the acts of petitioner, hence, there is already a prima facie case to support a formal charge.

To recapitulate, if it is the disciplining authority that initiated the administrative process, there is a need to issue a show-cause order directing the person complained of, to explain the acts complained of. Then there should be a preliminary investigation to determine whether there is a clear-cut case.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE REQUIRED PROCEDURE OF PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION?

TO PROTECT THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF A PERSON CHARGED OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFENSE TO BE HEARD.

After the determination of a prima facie case, a formal charge will be issued, and the person charged will be made to submit an answer. These procedural steps are anchored on protecting the constitutional right of a person charged of an administrative offense, to be heard. This is because a violation of such process raises a serious jurisdictional issue that cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will. The constitutional guarantee that no man shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process is unqualified by the type of proceedings where he/she stands to lose the same.

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF VIOLATING THE DUE PROCESS PROCEDURE?

THE FORMAL CHARGE AND ORDER OF PREVENTIVE SUSPENSION ARE INVALID AND WITHOUT LEGAL EFFECT.

In the present case, the procedural faux pas committed by Garcia consists in committing a shortcut on the administrative process by issuing a formal charge and the order of suspension without issuing a show cause order and subsequently conducting a preliminary investigation. As a result of violating the constitutional right of petitioner to due process, the formal charge and the order of preventive suspension has no legal leg to stand on. Thus, the formal charge and the order of preventive suspension are declared to be invalidly issued and without legal effect.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED. The July 10, 2013 Decision and November 4, 2013 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP. No. 126064 are AFFIR.t’1.ED. Petitioner Evelina E. Belarso’s dismissal is valid. No pronouncement as to cost.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

APPELLANT WAS CAUGHT STEALING BELT BUCKLE, COMPANY PROPERTY. SHE WAS DISMISSED ON THE GROUND OF LOSS OF TRUST.

Further, while Belarso insists that the charge imputed  against her defies logic and common experience, ti.’w records show that she had a propensity to violate company rules and regulations.

APPELLANT ALSO QUESTIONS THE AFFIDAVITS EXECUTED BY THE GUARDS AND HER CO-EMPLOYEES. BUT THESE WERE DEEMED TO CARRY WEIGHT BECAUSE THEY WERE NOTARIZED.

Belarso also assails the affidavits executed by the guards and her co[1]employees for being similarly worded a..nd executed on the same day, and for being dated two months after the incident. However, these do not automatically invalidate the contents of the affidavits. Being duly notarized, they carry with them the presu..’!lption of regularity aJJ.d authenticity which may be rebutted only by “strong, complete and conclusive proof.”57 This, Belarso was unable to present.

BELARSO ARGUES THAT THE PENALTY IS TOO HARSH CONSIDERING HER 34 YEARS OF SERVICE. LENGTH OF SERVICES IS NOT A BARGAINING CHIP.

Belarso finally argues that the penalty is too harsh considering her 34 years of service in the company. However, length of service is not a bargaining chip that can simply be stacked against the employer. 59 Under the present circumstances, length of service only aggravates Belarso’s offense. First, she held a position of trust and confidence, overseeing the custody of the raw materials she tried to steal. As a supervisor, greater trust was placed on her by QHI. Second, her infraction affected the very essence of loyalty and honesty which all employees owe to their employers. It was serious, grave, and reflected adversely on her character.

AN EMPLOYER CANNOT BE COMPELLED TO CONTINUE THE EMPLOYMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE IN WHOM THERE HAS BEEN A LEGITIMATE LOSS OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE.

In fine, vVe find Belarso’s dismissal for loss of trust and confidence valid. Indeed, “[w]hile the State can regulate the right of an employer to select and discharge his or her employees, an. employer cannot be compelled to continue the employment of an employee in whom there has been a legitimate loss of trust and confidence.”60

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Decision dated May 23, 2019 and Resolution dated June 27, 2019 of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PICCIO ALLEGED THAT HRET GRAVELY ABUSES ITS DISCRETION BY COMMITTING MOSAIC PLAGIARISM.

THE COURT SAID THERE WAS NO PLAGIARISM.

Piccio submits that the assailed Decision is an “obnoxious example of simple and mosaic plagiarism. “207 He quotes portions of the assailed Decision and compares them to quoted portions of Vergara’s Verified Answer and Memorandum, and concludes that as they are the same, the BRET had committed “mosaic plagiarism/patchwork plagiarism.”208 He submits that this is “unacceptable, unethical[,] and open[s] [the BRET] to suspicion as to its fairness, impartiality[,] and integrity.” 209 He alleges that “such callous and dishonest conduct endangers the credibility and integrity of the Tribunal,”210 and then cites the case of In the Matter of the Charges of Plagiarism, Etc., Against Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo211 (In re Del Castillo).

The Court rejects these submissions.Foremost, it bears stressing that the charge of plagiarism in the In re Del Castillo case cited by Piccio was dismissed for lack of merit. In essence, the Court found therein that Justice Del Castillo (and his researcher) lacked any motive or reason for omitting attribution for the lifted passages to their authors.212 The Court stressed the element of fraudulent intent in plagiarism which it defined as ‘”to take (ideas, writings, etc.) from (another) and pass them off as one’s own.’ The passing off of the work of another as one’s mvn is thus an indispensable element ofplagiarism.

In the subsequent Resolution of the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration in In re Del Castillo,214 the Court had occasion to clarify and distinguish judges from the academe where the element of malicious intent in plagiarism is disregarded – in the academe, original scholarship is highly valued because the writing is intended to earn for the student an academic degree, honor or distinction. In contrast, court decisions are not written to earn merit as an original piece of work or art. Rather, deciding disputes is a service rendered for the public good.2 15

Moreover, as accuracy of words in law is foremost, the tendency to copy of judges and lawyers is explicable. Hence, the Court recognized the right of judges to use legal materials which belong to the public domain, even without attribution, including liftings from a party’s pleading.

WHAT WAS THE CONTENTION OF PICCIO AGAINST VERGARA?

THAT VERGARA DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF RA 9225 FOR REAQUISITION OF FILIPINO CITIZENSHIP.

SUPREME COURT SAID THE BURDEN OF PROOF LIES WITH PICCIO AND THAT HE UTTERLY PROVED HIS CONTENTION.

In light of the above discussion, petitioners before the HRET clearly and utterly failed to prove their assertion that Vergara did not comply with the requirements of R.A. 9225 for the re-acquisition of her Filipino citizenship. All of the evidence they adduced have been, and are, debunked by contrary evidence presented by Vergara and the relevant laws.

……….

Nevertheless, Vergara, while not carrying any burden of evidence as the burden of proof had not shifted from Piccio, proved, by sufficient and substantial evidence, that she had duly taken her oath and duly executed an affidavit of renunciation in compliance with the requirements ofR.A. 9225.

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED. The assailed August 2, 2012 Decision and the January 30, 2013 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 91686 are hereby AFF’IRMED.

Respondcnts’Motion for Prior Leave of Court (to file [l] Notice of Death of }\;farina S. Valero; [2] Motion to Allow Substitution of Movants as Compulsory Heirs of the Decedent; and [3] Entry of Appearance of Undersigned Counsel for Movants) is NOTED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THIS IS A CASE FOR RECONSTITUTION OF TITLE. APPELLANTS ARGUE THAT THERE WAS NO PUBLICATION OF THE REVISIONS OF THE ORIGINAL PETITION AND THUS RTC DID NOT ACQUIRE JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE. SUPREME COURT SAID THAT THE REVISIONS MERELY REFER TO THE SUBSTITUTION OF THE PARTIES IN VIEW OF THE DEATHS OF SPOUSES MANALO AND THE MENTION OF RA 26 AS THE APPLICABLE LAW. THESE ARE MINOR MATTERS. NEW PUBLICATION IS NOT NECESSARY.

This Court finds, as the CA did, that the foregoing does not affect the nature of the action that necessitates another posting and publication, 25 The revisions merely refer to the substitution of the parties in view of the deaths of the spouses Manalo and the mention of RA 26 as the applicable law. These are minor matters that simply tend to assist and guide the RTC in conducting the proceeding. Hence, the earlier posting and publication of the petition for reconstitution prior to the second amendment w~re sufficient for the RTC to acquire jurisdiction on the subject matter of the case.

WHAT ARE THE REQUISITES TO BE COMPLIED WITH FOR AN ORDER FOR RECONSTITUTION TO BE ISSUED?

In Sebastian v. Spouses Cruz, 19 We pointed out that the following
requisites must be complied with for an order for reconstitution to be
issuE:d: (a) that the certificate of title had been lost or destroyed; (b) that the
documents presented by petitioner are sufficient and proper to
wanant reconstitution of the lost or destroyed certificate of title; (c) that the
petitioner is the regist~red owner of the property or had an interest
therein; ( d) that the certificate of title was in force at the time it was lost and
destroyed; and (e) that the description~ area and boundaries of the property are
substantially the same as those contained in the lost or destroyed
certificate of title. Petitioner claims that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction
over the case because the second amended petition contained substantial
changes and annexes and yet said petition was not posted and published as
required under Sections 12 and 13 of RA 26.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. The October 1, 2013 Decision and June 30, 2014 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR. SP No. 117835 are AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE SUPREME COURT SAID THERE IS PROBABLE CAUSE AGAINST PETITIONER FOR UNFAIR COMPETITION. HIS PRODUCT, A MEDICATED FACIAL CREAM SOLD TO THE PUBLIC IS CONTAINED IN THE SAME OVAL-SHAPED CONTAINER WHICH HAD THE MARK CHIN CHUN SU AS THAT OF RESPONDENT.

BUT PETITIONER INDICATED IN HIS LABEL THE NAME OF THE MANUFACTURER?

EVEN THEN. AN ORDINARY PURCHASER WOULD NOT NORMALLY INQUIRE ABOUT THE MANUFACTURER.

Here, petitioners’ product which is a medicated facial cream sold to the public is contained in the same pink oval-shaped container which had the mark “Chin Chun Su,” as that of respondent. While petitioners indicated in their product the manufacturer’s name, the same does not change the fact that it is confusingly similar to respondent’s product in the eyes of the public. As aptly found by the appellate court, an ordinary purchaser would not normally inquire about the manufacturer of the product. 55 Petitioners’ product and that solely distributed by respondent are similar in the following respects “l. both are medicated facial creams; 2. both are contained in pink, oval-shaped containers; and 3. both contain the trademark “Chin Chun Su” x x x The similarities far outweigh the differences. The general appearance of (petitioners’) product is confusingly similar to (respondent).”56 Verily, the acts complained of against petitioners constituted the offense of Unfair Competition and probable cause exists to hold them for trial, contrary to the findings ofRTC Branch 46.

WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF UNFAIR COMPETITION?

THEY ARE: CONFUSING SIMILARITY IN THE GENERAL APPEARANCE OF THE GOODS AND INTENT TO DECEIVE THE PUBLIC AND DEFRAUD A COMPETITOR.

HOW TO DETERMINE CONFUSING SIMILARITY?

NOT NECESSARILY FROM THE MARKS BUT FROM OTHER FACTORS LIKE IN PACKAGING OR PRESENTATION OF THE GOODS?

HOW TO DETERMINE LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION?

BASED ON PECULIAR CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CASE.

HOW TO DETERMINE INTENT TO DECEIVE AND DEFRAUD?

FROM SIMILARITY OF THE APPEARANCE OF THE GOODS.

The essential elements of an action for unfair competlt10n are: (1) confusing similarity in the general appearance of the goods, and (2) intent to deceive the public and defraud a competitor. 52 The confusing similarity may or may not result from similarity in the marks, but may result from other external factors in the packaging or presentation of the goods. Likelihood of confusion of goods or business is a relative concept, to be determined only according to peculiar circumstances of each case. 53 The element of intent to deceive and to defraud may be inferred from the similarity of the appearance of the goods as offered for sale to the public.54

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the Decision No. 2020-127 dated January 27, 2020 of the Commission on Audit is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner Bernadette Lourdes B. Abejo is ABSOLVED from solidary liability to return the entire disallowed amount, as well as from personal liability to return the excess amount she received under Notice of Disallowance No. 2012-002-101-(1 l) dated February 28, 2012.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PETITIONER APPROVED AND GRANTED COLLECTIVE NEGOTIATIONS AGREEMENT (CNA) INCENTIVES  TO EMPLOYEES FROM AGENCY SAVINGS BEFORE END OF THE YEAR. THE DBM BUDGET CIRCULAR STATES THAT SUCH INCENTIVES SHALL BE GIVEN AT END OF THE YEAR. IS PETITIONER LIABLE FOR INCENTIVES PAID. SUPREME COURT SAID NO BECAUSE PETITIONER ACTED IN GOOD FAITH. THE DBM CIRCULAR ALSO STATES THAT THE GIVING OUT OF  INCENTIVES REQUIRES THAT PLANNED PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED AND THESE PROGRAMS WERE ACCOMPLISHED BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR. PETITIONER THOUGHT THAT SINCE THE PROGRAMS HAVE ALREADY BEEN ACCOMPLISHED THE INCENTIVES CAN ALREADY BE PAID EVEN IF NOT AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

5.7. The CNA Incentive for the year shall be paid as a one-time benefit after the end of the year, provided that the planned programs/activities/projects have been implemented and completed in accordance with the performance targets of the year.

…………………..

To be sure, the present case bears striking similarity, if it is not in all fours with Montejo v. Commission on Audit.30 There, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) paid CNA Incentives in the middle of 2010 and 2011, and again at the end of the same year in 2010. Montejo claimed that there was substantial compliance with the requirements of DBM BC No. 2006-1. For although said issuance provides that the CNA Incentives should be granted after the end of the year, it was qualified by a provision that the grant shall be released only after the planned activities and projects of the concerned agency have been implemented in accordance with the performance targets for the year. As it was, the DOST had been submitting documents proving that they had achieved their targets and corresponding savings were generated. Thus, the grant of CNA Incentives was compliant with the proviso in Section 5.7 of DBM BC No. 2006-1, albeit payments were released twice in the middle of the year.

Though the Court rejected Montejo’s argument and upheld the notice of disallowance, as here, it nevertheless, excused Montejo from paying the disallowed amount, thus:

Petitioner’s erroneous interpretation of the DBM circular aside, the action of petitioner was indicative of good faith because he acted in an honest belief that the grant of the CNA Incentives had legal bases. It is unfair to penalize public officials based on overly stretched and strained interpretations of rules which were not that readily capable of being understood at the time such functionaries acted in good faith. Ifthere is any ambiguity, which is actually clarified years later, then it should only be applied prospectively. A contrary rule would be counterproductive.

Thus, although this Court considers the questioned Notices of Disallowance valid, this Court also considers it to be in the better interest of justice and prudence that petitioner, other officials concerned and the employees who benefited from the CNA Incentives be relieved of any personal liability to refund the disallowed amount. 31

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SC CASE 2021-0040: EDILBERTO “EDDlE” PINEDA, MARIA FRANCISCO, FLORENCIO M. MANARANG, ROLANDO “ROLAN” AQUINO, ERNESTO P. VlLLANUEV A, MERCEDES P. LACSINA, ANDRES A. FRANCISCO, BERNARDO V. GASTON, BASILIO A. ILANO, ADELAIDA VlLLANUEV A, EUl.,OGIO FRANCISCO, CRISANTO Q. AQUINO, EDUARDO P. NAVARRO, WILFR.EDO HJ UNI OR” c. CAPULOY, Jl::t., CHOLlTA P. SANTOS, ALVIN LUGTU, JOSE BALBOA, REYNAI,,DO •’REY” LUGTU, ESTRELITA “ESTER” C. LUG TU, l\1ELQUIADES MANARANG, OFRECINA PINEDA, RICARDO L. BALBOA, FILEMON F. FRANCISCO, PEDRO :F. FRANCISCO, CASTOR I. YUNUN, PEDRO P. UNGOS, LUDOVICO “RlJDY” P. UNGOS, VVILFREUO “\VILLY” BANDOLA, NOI(L ••NONONG” PA.LO, .n~sus rvt ‘FRANCISCO, EDUARDO “EDDH:’1 COLLADO, SONNY LACS!NA, FERNANDO “NANDY” COLLADO, BENJAMIN “AlvHN’~ DELA CRUZ, RJZALINO “RIZAL’~ lViAT]C, CEZAR RAMIREZ, GERHY GASTON, F.’.DUARDO FRANCISCO; ERNESTO TAYAG; NESTOR AQUINO, BER]~ AQUINO, A VELlNO lVfANUCDUC, ARNEL NA VARRO, GREGORIO EivL-\TA, ARTURO ZURBITO, LILIA DA YID, DOMINGO “BOND” CADIANG, ,JR., EDUARDO BALTAZAR, AMMONJO “AMON” DUMLAO, PEPITO Q. LUGTU, EDUARDO “EDDIE” PALO, DOMINGA PUNO, JOSEPH “JOSE” CORTEZ, BIENVENIDO BALBOA, ROSE MANQUJL, RO MEL BALBOA, ARSENIA PALO, WILFREDO “WILLY” FRANCISCO, CELADONIA VILLANUEVA, EMILIO GARCIA, ROLANDO “RO DON” MARCOS, JIMlVIY NAVARRO, JUANITO FRANCISCO, ERNESTO NAVARRO, MARINA JACINTO, ROLANDO LUGTU, JESUS JACINTO, CORNELIO GAMPOY, DAVID DANDAN, ORLANDO TABLANTE, NIDA SOLAMO, ABELARDO YUMUL, LAURO MALIG, ORLANDO DELA CRUZ, EFIFANIO* MAGAT, JR., CONRADO CASTRO, RODEL PA.LO, RODRIGO DELA CRUZ, EFREN DELA CRUZ, EV A CHAVEZ, ILDEFONSO “BOY” RAMOS, JR., MARIO DEQUlNON, NOLITO CARBUNGCO, CRISANTO** LAURONILLA, HENRY SANTOS, RODERICK UNGOS, LEANDO PENAREDONDO, BONIFACIO OJANO, SEVERO JAVIER, ROGER FAJARDO, SIANO COLLADO, ERLINDA TlMPUG, and ROYNALDO “ROY” DELA CRUZ,  VS. ABELARDO C. MIRANDA, ELIAS C. MIRANDA and CARMENCITA D. MIRANDA,  (G.R. No. 204997, AUGUST 4, 2021, HERNANDO, J.)  HERNANDO, J.) (SUBJECT/S: REVIVAL OF JUDGMENT AFTER 7 YEARS; FAILURE TO FILE APPEAL) (BRIEF TITLE: PINEDA ET AL VS MIRANDA ET AL)

DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision dated December 14, 2012 Decision of the Court of Appeals Fifteenth Division in CA-G.R. CV No. 97317 is AFFIRlVIED. The Decision dated May 17, 1999 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 42 of San Fernando, Pampanga in Civil Case No. 11757 which affirmed with modification the December 15, 1998 Decision of the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 3 of San Fernando, Pampanga in Civil Case No. 7463, a case for unlawful detainer, entitled Abelardo C. Miranda, et al. v. Eddie Pineda, et al., is hereby REVIVED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THIS IS A CASE FOR UNLAWFUL DETAINER FILED AGAINST THE PETITIONERS AT MTC WHICH RULED IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENTS. APPEALED TO RTC WHICH AFFIRMED MTC DECISION. PETITIONERS DID NOT APPEAL THE RTC DECISION. 7 YEARS PASSED. RESPONDENTS FILED AT RTC FOR COMPLAINT TO REVIVE JUDMENT. PETITIONERS FILED SEVERAL MOTIONS AND APPEALS. SUPREME COURT SAID PETITIONERS’ REMEDY WAS APPEAL WHEN RTC PROMULGATED ITS DECISION. THEIR SUBSEQUENT MOTIONS AND APPEALS ARE WITHOUT LEGAL BASIS.

In this case, the RTC Branch 42 Decision dated May 17, 1999 became final and executory when no further kgal a,~tion was undertaken by herein petitioners concerning the RTC Branch 42 Decision. Thus, on January 6, 2000 or less than a year after the RTC Branch 42 Decision became final, respondents filed a 1\.1otion for the l,ssuance of a \Vrit of Execution. The Motion was granted on February 14, 2000. However, seven years later, the RTC Branch 42 Decision h~1d not yet been executed. Thus, on .May 9, 2006, the respondents filed a Complaint for Revival of Judgment in accordance with the above legal provisions. On the premise that the RTC Branch 42 Decision was already final and executory, respondents filed a revival suit as a procedural means of securing the execution of the RTC Branch 42 Decision which had become dormant after the passage of several years. The revival suit filed by respondents did not intend to re-open any issue affecting the merits of the case or the propriety or correctness of the first judgment.38, the ordinary remedy of appeal was still readily available as a proper

As for petitioners legal re.rnedy ath~r tlw RTC Bqmch 42 promulgated its Decision on May 17, 1999. l-lov;cver, instead of filing an ordinary appeal, petitioners filed the following motion and petitions throughout the course of the proceedings: (1) Motion to Quash Writ of Execution; (2) Petition for Annulment of Judgment; and (3) Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition.

FirstfJJ, the Motion to Quash the Writ of Execution was filed on the ground that the Writ of Execution cannot be enforced anymore because more than five years had elapsed since its issuance. 39 However, the Court notes that respondents’ Complaint for Revival of h1dgment was filed on May 9, 2006, two months before petitioners filed their ~1otion to Quash the Writ of Execution on July 20, 2006. Neither did petitioners show that there had been a change in the situation of the parties whtch makes tbe execution inequitable; or that the writ of execution was improperly issued, defective in substance, or is issued against the wrong party; or that the judgment debt had been paid or otherwise satisfied; or that the writ was issued without a,.uthority:10 Petitioners’ Motion to Quash the Writ of Execution was therefore groundless.

Secondly, petitioners’ Petition for Annulment of Judgment of both the MTC and R TC Decisions was correctly dismissed by the CA not only because it did not have jurisdiction over the Petition but also because it was not the proper legal remedy.

Rule 47, Sections 1 and 241 of the Rules of Court are clear. The remedy of annulment of judgment can only be availed of when the ordinary remedy of appeal, among others, is no longer available through no fault of the petitioners. Furthermore, the annulment may be based only on grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of j urisdiction which were clearly not present in this case.

Lastly, petitioners’ Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition filed with the CA was to compel the RTC to give due course to petitioners’ Notice of Appeal filed after the RTC granted respondents’ Complaint for Revival of Judgment. A Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition is only available when there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.42 Again, the Court reiterates that the ordinary remedy of appeal was easily available to petitioners when the RTC Branch 42 promulgated its l\1ay 1 7, 1999 Decision.

In the end, the Court finds that the CA correctly ruled that the RTC Branch 42 Decision can still be revived as the respondents properly filed a Complaint for Revival of Judgment in accordance with existing law and jurisprudence. The Court therefore instructs the RTC to execute Civil Case No. 11757 with deliberate dispatch.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The December 22, 2010 Decision and September 26, 2011 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 103349 are AFFIRMED. The case is hereby ordered REMANDED to the labor arbiter for the computation of the amounts due each respondent.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

AS PROOF THAT THE EMPLOYEES WERE PROJECT EMPLOYEES, THE EMPLOYER PRESENTED THE SERVICE CONTRACTS WITH THEIR CLIENT. NO OTHER SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE WAS PRESENTED. FURTHERMORE EMPLOYER FAILED TO PROVE TERMINATION REPORTS AT END OF EACH PROJECT. SUPREME COURT SAID THE EMPLOYEES WERE NOT PROJECT EMPLOYEES. THEREFORE THEY WERE ILLEGALLY DISMISSED.

Clearly, the presentation of service contracts between the employer and their client (even if it shows the duration of the project), in lieu of the employees’ individual employment contracts, does not establish that the latter are project employees. There was no other substantial evidence offered to prove that respondents were informed at the time of their hiring, that they were project employees. Moreover, petitioner’s failure to file termination reports at the end of each project was an indication that respondents were regular employees.46

In view of all the foregoing, pet1t1oner failed to prove through substantial evidence that respondents are project employees. It is evident that respondents were illegally dismissed due to petitioner’s failure to comply with the substantive and procedural due process tenets under the Labor Code.

WHAT IS THE TEST IN DETERMINING WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE IS A PROJECT EMPLOYEE?

The case of Olongapo Maintenance Services, Inc. v. Chantengco44 is more applicable:

The principal test in determining whether an employee is a project employee is whether he/she is assigned to carry out a “specific project or undertaking,” the duration and scope of which are specified at the time the employee is engaged in the project, or where the work or service to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the season. A true project employee should be assigned to a project which begins and ends at determined or determinable times, and be informed thereof at the time of hiring.

In the instant case, the record is bereft of proof that the respondents’ engagement as project employees has been predetermined, as required by law. We agree with the Court of Appeals that OMSI did not provide convincing evidence that respondents were informed that they were to be assigned to a “specific project or undertaking” when OMSI hired them. Notably, the employment contracts for the specific project signed by the respondents were never presented. All that OMSI submitted in the proceedings a quo are the service contracts between OMSI and the MIAA. Clearly, OMSI utterly failed to establish by substantial evidence that, indeed, respondents were project employees and their employment was coterminous with the MIAA contract.45 (Citations omitted; Emphasis ours)

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The July 30, 2013 Decision and the February 26, 2014 Resolution of the Court of Appeals i.n CA-G.R. CV No. 01415-MIN are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

A LAND COVERED BY FREE PATENT TITLE WAS SOLD WITHIN THE PROHIBITORY PERIOD. SUPREME COURT SAID THAT THE SALE WAS VOID. PETITIONERS CLAIM THAT THE CASE IS BARRED BY LACHES. THAT THEY SHOULD BE REIMBURSED FOR THE PURCHASE AND FOR IMPROVEMENTS. SUPREME COURT SAID LACHES DOES NOT APPLY IN CASE OF CONTRACTS VOID AB INITIO. BUT RESPONDENTS ARE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR PRICE OF THE LAND. BUT NO REIMBURSEMENT FOR IMPROVEMENTS BECAUSE SUCH ARE COMPENSATED FROM FRUITS ARISING FROM POSSESSION.

The CA likewise correctly ordered respondents to reimburse petitioners the purchase price of the sale since the Deed of Sale is void ab initio. As to the improvements made on the land and the interests on the purchase price, these are compensated by the fruits petitioners had received from their long possession of the homestead pursuant to the ruling of the Court in the case of Sps. Maltos v. Heirs of Eusebio Borromeo. . .

………………..

Likewise without merit is petitioners’ defense of laches. In the Heirs of A lido v. Campano,73 the Court made it clear that !aches do not apply to void ab initio contracts. It explained –

Laches, however, do not apply if the assailed contract is void ah initio. In Heirs oflng/ug-Tiro v. Spouses Casals, the Court expounded that laches cannot prevail over the law that actions to assail a void contract are imprescriptible it being based on equity, to wit:

In actions for reconveyance of property predicated on the fact that the conveyance complained of was null and void ah initio, a claim of prescription of action would be unavailing. “The action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe.” Neither could !aches be invoked in the case at bar. Laches is a doctrine in equity and our courts are basically courts of law and not courts of equity. Equity, which has been aptly described as “justice outside legality,” should be applied only in the absence of, and never against, statutory law. Aequetas [nunquam] contravenit legis. The positive mandate of Art. 1410 of the New Civil Code conferring imprescriptibility to actions for declaration of the incxistence of a contract should pre-empt and prevail over all abstract arguments based only on equity. Certainly, !aches cannot set up to resist the enforcement of an imprescriptible legal right, and petitioners can validly vindicate their inheritance despite the lapse qf time.

………………………..

As above-mentioned, a sale of a parcel of land is in violation of the five[1]year prohibition on the alienation of land acquired via free patent application is void and produces no legal effect. As successors-in-interest of Alido, petitioners’ right to challenge the sale between Alido and respondent cannot be barred by I aches as it was in violation of the restriction on the sale of land acquired through free patent. 74

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The September 19, 2014 Decision, and January 20, 2015 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in C.A. – G.R. CV No. 02878 are hereby AFF’IRMED in toto. Costs on petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

RESPONDENT JESUS INHERITED A PROPERTY FROM HIS FATHER IN 1973. HE HAS BEEN PAYING TAXES ON SAID PROPERTY AND THE TAX DECLARATION WAS IN HIS NAME. IN 1996 OR AFTER 23 YEARS HE DISCOVERED THAT THE PONCE SPOUSES WERE OCCUPYING THE PROPERTY. THE PONCE SPOUSES ALSO PRODUCED A TAX DECLARATION WHICH THE COURT FOUND TO REFER TO ANOTHER PROPERTY. THE PONCE SPOUSES ALSO ARGUED THAT THEY POSSESSED THE PROPERTY FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS AND THEREFORE THEY ARE THE OWNERS BY POSSESSION. COURT RULED THAT THE FACT THAT JESUS WAS PAYING THE TAXES INDICATES THAT HE POSSESSES IT IN THE CONCEPT OF AN OWNER FOR NOBODY IN HIS OR HER RIGHT MIND WOULD BE PAYING TAXES FOR A PROPERTY THE1T IS NOT IN HIS OR HER ACT UAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION.

.

In 1973, respondent Jesus Aldanese (Jesus) inherited Lot No. 6890 from his father, Teodoro Aldanese, Sr. He diligently paid its real property taxes from that time on under Tax Declaration No. (TD) 13003 which is in his name. 5 TD 13003 was subsequently cancelled and TD 13163-A6 was issued by the Municipal Assessor of Sibonga, still in Jesus’ name . . . .

………………..

Indeed, while the tax declaration is not conclusive proof of ownership of Jesus over the subj ect land, it is an indication however that he possesses the property in the concept of an owner for nobody in his or her right mind would be paying taxes for a property the1t is not in his or her act ual or constructive possession.40

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the instint Petition is DENIED. The August 13, 2014 Decision and February 11, 2015 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA[1]G.R. SP No. 04133-MIN holding that Duma.ran failed to meet the requirements of the law regarding fraud to sµstain the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

DUMARAN WAS OPERATING GAS STATIONS. HE SUPPLIED LLAMEDO ET AL WITH GASOLINE AND DIESEL. THE LATTER OWNED DUMARAN P7M PLUS. THEIR CHECK BOUNCED. DUMARAN WAS ABLE TO SECURE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY ATTACHMENT FROM RTC. BUT CA QUASHED THE WRIT. SUPREME COURT SAID QUASHAL IS PROPER BECAUSE DUMARAN FAILED TO ALLEGED SPECIFICS SHOWING THAT AT THE BEGINNING HE WAS DEFRAUDED INTO SUPPLYING THEM WITH GASONLINE AND DIESEL.

The CA rightfully held that Dumaran’s allegations in both his Complaint and Affidavit failed to show that Dumaran was defrauded into accepting the offer of Llamedo, Magallanes and Cubeta; and that Llamedo, Magallanes and Cubeta intended from the beginning to not pay their obligations. The Complaint and Affidavit did not specifically show wrongful acts or willful omissions that Llamedo, Magallanes and Cubeta knowingly committed to deceive Dumaran to enter into the contract or to perform the obligation. The pleadings filed lacked the particulars of time, persons and places to support the serious assertions that Llamedo, Magallanes and Cubeta were disposing of their properties to defraud Dumaran.

………………………………

The Court, though not a trier of facts, perused through the records of the case and agrees with the findings of the CA that the allegations ofDumaran do not meet the requirements of the law regarding fraud. The case of Republic v. Mega Pacific eSolutions, Inc. 28 explained the term “fraud” as related to the above-mentioned legal provision in this wise:

Fraud may be characterized as the voluntary execution of a wrongful act or a willful omission, while knowing and intending the effects that naturally and necessarily arise from that act or omission. In its general sense, fraud is deemed to comprise anything calculated to deceive – including all acts and omission and concealment involving a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed – resulting in damage to or in undue advantage over another. Fraud is also described as embracing all multifarious means that human ingenuity can device, and is resorted to for the purpose of securing an advantage over another by false suggestions or by suppression of truth; and it includes all surprise, trick, cunning, dissembling, and any other unfair way by which another is cheated.

While fraud cannot be presumed, it need not be proved by direct evidence and can well be inferred from attendant circumstances. Fraud by its nature is not a thing susceptible of ocular observation or readily demonstrable physically; it must of necessity be proved in many cases by inferences from circumstances shown to have been involved in the transaction in question.29 (Emphasis supplied)

DUMARAN SAID THAT THE WRIT CANNOT BE QUASHED BECAUSE RESPONDENTS DID NOT FILE COUNTER-BOND. SUPREME COURT SAID COUNTER-BOND IS NOT NECESSARY. THE CA HAD ALREADY RULED THAT DUMARAN FAILED TO PROVE THAT FRAUD EXISTED, THUS, THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY ATTACHMENT ISSUED BY THE RTC WAS A ”TOO HARSH” PROVISIONAL REMEDY THAT MUST BE DENIED.

On the other hand, Llamedo, Magallanes and Cubeta averred that the cited FCY Construction case is not applicable to their case because the parties in FCY Construction had not yet proven the falsity of the factual averments in the applicant’s application for a writ of preliminary attachment and supporting affidavits. Thus, a regular full-blown trial to prove the falsity of the factual averments and subsequently, the irregularity of the writ of preliminary attachment in accordance with Rule 57, Section 13 was still necessary to allow the discharge of the writ of preliminary attachment. Otherwise, absent a regular full-blown trial, the only way a writ of preliminary attachment can be dissolved is by filing a counter-bond or cash deposit u11der Rule 57, Section 12.

However, in the case at bar, Llarnedo, Magallanes a.’ld Cubeta alleged that the CA had aln;;ady found and ruled that the writ of preliminary attachment was improperly issued. The CA had already ruled that Dumaran failed to prove that fraud existed, thus, the writ of preliminary attachment issued by the RTC was a ”too harsh” provisional remedy that must be denied.

The Court agrees with the contention of Llamedo, Magalhmes and Cubeta. . . .

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Resolution dated September 3, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 136807 is SET ASIDE. Respondents Senator Crewing (MANILA), Inc., et al. are ORDERED to pay petitioner Dino S. Palo:

1) US$60,000.00 representing permanent and total disability benefits under the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration-Standard Employment Contract;

2) Sickness allowance, if none had been paid; and 3) Attorney’s fees at ten percent (10%) of the monetary award. All amounts shall earn six percent ( 6%) interest per annum from finality of this Decision until full satisfaction. 63 64 65

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THIS INVOLVES A CLAIM BY A SEAMAN FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS. HE DID NOT RECEIVE A COPY OF THE MEDICAL CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE COMPANY DESIGNATED PHYSICIAN. FOR LACK OF SUCH NOTICE HE WAS DECLARED ENTITLED TO SAID BENEFITS.

WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT  REQUIREMENTS TO CLAIM FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?

AS A RULE, AWARD OF DISABILITY BENEFITS SHALL BE BASED FROM THE COMPANY-DESGINATED PHYSICIAN’S FINAL ASSESSMENT. AND THE COMPANY[1]DESIGNATED PHYSICIAN IS MANDATED TO ISSUE A MEDICAL CERTIFICATE, WHICH SHOULD BE PERSONALLY RECEIVED BY THE SEAFARER.

On that note, We now determine whether or not Palo is entitled to payment of full disability benefits. As a rule, award of disability benefits shall be based from the company-desginated physician’s final assessment. Section 20(B)49 of the POEA-SEC provides that, to constitute a final assessment, a company designated physician’s assessment should declare a seafarer fit to work or the degree of his disability. Further defined, a final, conclusive and definite assessment must clearly state whether the seafarer is fit to work or the exact disability rating, or whether such illness is work-related, and without any further condition or treatment.50 It should no longer require any further action on the part of the company-designated physician and it is issued by the company-designated physician after he or she has exhausted all possible treatment options within the periods mandated by law. 51 Relatedly, this final assessment shall be issued within 120 days from the date of the seafarer’s medical repatriation or within 240 days, if supported with justification for extension of medical treatment. 52 Failure to issue a final assessment within the foregoing periods renders a seafarer’s illness or injury permanent and total regardless of justification. 53

Moreover, this Court cannot emphasize enough that the company[1]designated physician is mandated to issue a medical certificate, which should be personally received by the seafarer, or, if not practicable, sent to him/her by any other means sanctioned by present rules.54 The seafarer must be fully and properly informed of his medical condition.55 The results of his/her medical exmninations, the treatments extended to him/her, the diagnosis and prognosis, if needed, and, of course, his/her disability grading must be fully explained to him/her by no less than the company-designated physician.56 The seafarer must be accorded proper notice and due process especially where his/her well-being is at stake.57 The effect of failure of the company to furnish the seafarer a copy of his medical certificate militates gravely against the company’s cause.58

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. The September 30, 2013 Decision and June 2, 2014 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 98861 are AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

A DEED OF DONATION OVER A PARCEL OF LAND APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN EXECUTED. BUT ONE OF THE SIGNATORIES WAS DEAD 36 YEARS EALIER. THE DEED OF DONATION WAS THEREFORE VOID.

Here, respondents successfully refuted said presumption of regularity. Rodriguez, the notary public, testified that all the parties personally appeared before him when the Deed of Donation was notarized. Interestingly, Eufrosina, the wife of Valentin and one of the signatories in the Deed, died in 1958, or 36 years before the Deed of Donation was executed. It is worthy to note that Isidro, one of the petitioners, admitted his mother’s demise during the trial.

Thus, Eufrosina could not have personally appeared before the notary public unless by some miracle she had risen from her grave to sign the Deed of Donation. The only plausible conclusion is that another person stood in her place, and that the notary public did not duly ascertain if the person who signed the Deed of Donation was actually Eufrosina.

WHAT HAPPENED NOW TO THE VOID DEED OF DONATION?

IT IS SUBJECT TO ATTACK AT ANY TIME. AN ACTION TO DECLARE THE EXISTENCE OF A VOID CONTRACT DOES NOT PRESCRIBE.

The Deed of Donation is an absolute nullity hence it is subject to attack at any time. Its defect, i. e., the absence of consent of respondents, is permanent and incurable by ratification or prescription.67 In other words, the action is imprescriptible. This is in accord with Article 1410 of the Civil Code which states that an action to declare the inexistence of a void contract does not prescribe.68

WHAT HAPPENED NOW TO THE LAND, SUBJECT OF THE DEED OF DONATION.

THE LAND IS HELD BY PETITIONERS IN TRUST FOR RESPONDENTS WHO ARE THE REAL OWNERS. RESPONDENTS CAN INSTITUTE A CASE AGAINST PETITIONERS FOR RECONVEYANCE OF THE PROPERTY ANYTIME.

Since the Deed of Donation is void ab initio due to the illegality in its execution, the disputed land is deemed to be simply held by petitioners in trust for respondents who are the real owners.69 Respondents therefore have the right to institute a case against petitioners for the reconveyance of the property at any time. 70 The well-settled rule is that “[a]s long as the land wrongfully registered under the Torrens system is still in the name of the person who caused such registration, an action in p ersonam will lie to compel him to reconvey the property to the real owner. ” 71

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED IN PART. The July 12, 2012 Decision and the October 10, 2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 93939 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the award for attorney’s fees in favor of respondents-spouses Ernesto and Flora Sotelo is DELETED..

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

A PROPERTY WAS MADE COLLATERAL TO SECURE A LOAN OF P140,000.00. THE MARKET VALUE OF THE PROPERTY WAS P1,750,000.00. THE DOCUMENT EXECUTED WAS A DEED OF SALE. THE CREDITOR THEN CAUSED THE ISSUANCE OF NEW TITLE IN HIS NAME.  THE SUPREME COURT DECLARED THE TRANSACTION AS EQUITABLE MORTGAGE. THE NEW TITLE IS VOID.

As the transaction between the parties herein was demonstrated to be one of equitable mortgage, petitioner did not become owner of the subject property but a mere mortgagee thereof. As such, petitioner was bound by the prohibition against pactum commissorium as embodied in Article 2088 of the Civil Code:

Art. 2088. The creditor cannot appropriate the things given by way of pledge or mortgage, or dispose of them. Any stipulation to the contrary is null and void.

The mortgagee’s consolidation of ownership over the mortgaged property upon the mortgagor’s mere failure to pay the obligation is the essence of pactum commissorium. 36 The mortgagor’s default does not operate to automatically vest on the mortgagee the ownership  of the encumbered property. This Court has repeatedly declared such arrangements as contrary to morals and public policy and thus void.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated February 14, 2019 and Resolution dated July 10, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 158220, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner RODRIGO A. UPOD is declared ILLEGALLY DISMISSED and respondent ONON TRUCKING AND MARKETING CORPORATION is ORDERED to PAY him:

1) BACKWAGES reckoned from February 2017 until finality of this Decision;

2) SEPARATION PAY equivalent to one (1) month salary for every year of service reckoned from 2014 until finality of this Decision;

3) 13th MONTH PAY limited to three (3) years prior to the filing of the complaint; and

4) Ten percent (10%) ATTORNEY’S FEES. These monetary awards shall earn six percent (6%) legal interest per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

THE PETITIONER WAS PAID 16% OF GROSS REVENUES PER TRIP AND NOT PER DAY OR PER TIME BASIS. IS HE A REGULAR EMPLOYEE.

YES. SALARY ON A PER TRIP BASIS IS SIMPLY A METHOD OF COMPUTING COMPENSATION.

Two. Respondent cornp,i ny paid petitioner 16% of gross revenues per trip. The fact that petitioner ‘Nas paiJ on per trip basis does not negate the existence of an employer-employee re lationship; for the same is simply a method for computing compensalinn. One may be paid on the basis of results or time expended on the work, and may or may not acquire an employment.

PETITIONER’S SERVICES WERE SOUGHT ONLY IF THERE ARE TRIPS TO BE MADE. HE HAS BEEN WITH THE COMPANY FOR 8 YEARS. IS HE A REGULAR EMPLOYEE?

YES. BECAUSE HE HAS RENDERED AT LEAST ONE YEAR OF SERVICE WHICH MAY BE CONTINUOUS OR BROKEN.

A regular employee, therefore, is one who is either ( i) engaged to perform activities which are necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer; or (2) a casual employee who has rendered at least one ( l ) year of service, whether continuous or broken, with respect to the activity in which he or she is employed. 27

As an entjt.y engaged in the wholesale and retail of various products, respondent company must neci-~•;s.1rily engage the servic0s of delivery drivers, such as heri::.in peti6oner, for the p .!n:iose ,”}f getting its products delivered to its clients. To be S!,lre, since pi::!itioqer had perfon11ed nets necessary and desirable to respondent compa:1~/ s b usiness and trade for more than a year, his status had alre~dy ripened tG a regular employment.

THE EMPLOYER MERELY STOPPED GIVING WORK ASSIGNMENT TO PETITIONER. WILL THIS CONSTITUTE ILLEGAL DISMISSAL.

YES. SINCE THE EMPLOYER ADMITTED THAT IT STOPPED GIVING WORK ASSIGNMENT TO PETITIONER, THE LATTER NEED NOT PROVE HIS ILLEGAL DISMISSAL.

To be valid, petitioner’s dismissal should have been for just or authorized causes and only upon compliance with procedural due process. As it was, respondent company complied with neither conditions in effecting petitioner’s dismissal. It just abruptly stopped giving delivery assigmnent to petitioner in February 2017. Petitioner need not even prove the fact of his dismissal in view of respondent company’s admission that it stopped giving assignment to petitioner because allegedly, his contract already expired.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated January 28, 2019 and September 17, 2019 in CA-G.R. SP. No. 158342 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The Judgment dated September 12, 2018 and the concomitant orders of the Regional Trial Court-Branch 24, Naga City in Criminal Case No. 2016- 0935 are VOID for having been issued in grave abuse of discretion. The trial court is ORDERED to proceed with the criminal case against respondent Noel Sabater y Ulan with utmost dispatch.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE ACCUSED WANTED TO PLEA TO A LESSER OFFENSE (SECTION 12 IN LIEU OF SECTION 5 OF THE PROHIBITED DRUG LAW). PROSECUTOR OBJECTED. BUT COURT APPROVED THE PLEA. SUPREME COURT SAID THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. IT MUST NOT APPROVE PLEA BARGAINING IF ALL PARTIES DO NOT AGREE.

Where the prosecution withholds its consent, the trial court cannot proceed to approve a plea bargain. There is no meeting of the minds, hence, there can be no plea bargaining “agreement” to speak of. Should the trial court nevertheless approve the plea bargain over the prosecution’s objection, it would be doing so in grave abuse of discretion. Justice Zalameda further explained:

In choosing to respect the prosecution’s discretion to give or withhold consent, the Court is not surrende1ing any of its powers. Instead, it is an exercise of sound judicial restraint. Courts cannot forcefully insist upon any of the parties to plead in accordance with the Plea Bargaining Framework. To emphasize, when there is no unanimity between the prosecution and the defense, there is also no plea bargaining agreement to speak of. If a party refuses to enter a plea in conformity with the Plea Bargaining Framework, a court commits grave abuse of discretion should it unduly impose its will on the parties by approving a plea bargain and issuing a conviction based on the framework.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The August 11, 2015 Decision and January 19, 2016 Resolution of the Court of Tax Appeals En Banc in CTA EB No. 1139 are hereby AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

BIR ASSESSED YUMEX PHILIPPINES FOR IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED EARNINGS TAX (IAET). SUPREME COURT SAID THIS IS WRONG BECAUSE BIR DID NOT FIRST ESTABLISH PRIMA FACIE WHY IT DEEMED SUCH EARNINGS AS IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED. BIR SHOULD EXPRESSLY DESCRIBE ANY OF THE PRIMA FACIE INSTANCES OF IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED EARNINGS.

The BIR simply assessed respondent for IAET by imposing the ten percent (10%) IAET tax rate on all of the latter’s income from registered activities enjoying ITH without first establishing prima facie why it deemed such income as improperly accumulated. Respondent is clearly not a holding or investment company; and nowhere in the PAN, Details of Discrepancies, or the FLD/F AN did the BIR expressly describe any of the prima facie instances of improperly accumulated earnings and profits.

For its part, respondent was able to prove that it had accumulated its earnings from previous years for a reasonable business purpose. Respondent needed funds for a new project, i.e., the manufacture of Heat Run Oven[1]Controlled Rack, which started commercial operations in June 2007 and was also duly registered with the PEZA. Respondent had to acquire new machinery and equipment as well as a separate exclusive building space for the project. Petitioner did not cross-examine respondent’s witness on this matter or present evidence to refute that respondent’s accumulated income was actually for a reasonable need in its business operations.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated 01 June 2018 rendered by the Court of Appeals, Division of Five, and Resolution dated 26 February 2019 rendered by the Court of Appeals, Special Division of Five, Special Former Third Division, in CA-G.R. SP No. 150941 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the Decision dated 21 October 2016 of Branch 95, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, as well as all issuances rendered pursuant thereto, are declared NULL and VOID.

The case is hereby REMANDED to Branch 95, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for further proceedings. The presiding judge of the said court is mandated to issue anew the required summons to petitioner corporation and proceed with the trial of the case with dispatch.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT IS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION?

Grave abuse of discretion means such capnc10us or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave, as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and the abuse must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all, in contemplation of law, as to be equivalent to having acted without jurisdiction. 105

WHY WAS THERE GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN THIS CASE?

THE CASE WAS ONLY FOR SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE FOR PAYMENT OF CGT AND DST AND TURN OVER OF POSSESSION OF SUBJECT PROPERTY. YET THE WRIT OF EXECUTION DIRECTED THE CANCELLATION OF DERIVATIVE TITLES EMANATING FROM TCT NO 185260 AND ISSUANCE OF NEW TITLE IN NAME OF RESPONDENT. ALSO SUMMONS WAS ALLOWED BY PUBLICATION LEADING TO DEFAULT OF PETITIONER.

If only to emphasize the gravity of the abuse of discretion committed, petitioner corporation was stripped of, not only the possession of the subject property, but likewise, title thereto. To reiterate, the writ of execution included the cancellation of its derivative titles emanating from TCT No. 185260 and the issuance of a new title in the name of respondent. This, despite the fact that the case is simply one for specific performance for the payment of CGT and DST and the turn over of possession of the subject property.

……………………….

The manifest abuse of discretion exhibited by Judge Bellosillo in allowing the service of summons through publication,. which led to the issuance of judgment of default against petitioner corporation and in expanding the dispositive portion of the Decision dated 16 October 2016 by issuing a writ of execution containing terms neither appearing in said decision nor in the complaint for specific performance, must not be countenanced. Moreso, the wanton disregard of basic procedural requirements led to the deprivation of due process of law on the part of petitioner corporation.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated August 16, 2019 and the Resolution dated August 24, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 41782 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, petitioner Joel David y Mangio is ACQUITTED of the crime charged. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to: (a) cause the immediate release of petitioner, unless heis being lawfully held in custody for any other reason; and (b) inform the Court of the action taken within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision.

 Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

IN CASE THERE IS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY PROCEDURE THE PROSECUTOR MUST PROVE THAT THE APPREHENDING OFFICERS EXERTED GENUINE AND SUFFICIENT EFFORTS TO SECURE THE PRESENCE OF THE REQUIRED WITNESSES.

As a general rule, compliance with the chain of custody procedure is strictly enjoined as the same has been regarded “not merely as a procedural technicality but as a matter of substantive law.”28 Nonetheless, anent the witness requirement, non-compliance may be permitted if the prosecution proves that the apprehending officers exerted genuine and sufficient efforts to secure the presence of such witnesses, albeit they eventually failed to appear. While the earnestness of these efforts must be examined on a case-to-case basis, the overarching objective is for the Court to be convinced that the failure to comply was reasonable under the given· circumstances.29 Thus, mere statements of unavailability, absent actual serious attempts to contact the required witnesses, are unacceptable as justified grounds for non[1]compliance. 30 These considerations arise from the fact that police officers are ordinarily given sufficient time – beginning from the moment they have received the information about the activities of the accused until the time of his arrest – to prepare for a buy-bust operation, and consequently, make the necessary arrangements beforehand, knowing fully well that they would have to strictly comply with the chain of custody rule. 31

……………………………

IN THIS CASE PO3 FLORES DID NOT OFFER ANY JUSTIFICATION FOR THE EVENTUAL ABSENCE OF A DOJ REPRESENTATIVE.

However, as earlier stated, it is incumbent upon the prosecution to account for these witnesses’ absence by presenting a justifiable reason therefor or, at the very least, by showing thaf genuine and sufficient efforts were exerted by the apprehending officers to secure their presence. Here, while PO3 Flores did attempt to secure all three witnesses, he did not offer any justification for the eventual absence of the DOJ representative, much less any explanation or detail as to the exact efforts exerted to secure their presence. In view of this unjustified deviatio1:1 from the chain of custody rule, the Court is therefore constrained to conclude that the integrity and evidentiary value of the item purportedly seized from David were compromised, which consequently warrants his acquittal.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is GRANTED. The March 22, 2017 Decision and the August 16, 201 7 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CR No. 02397, which affirmed the July 23, 2012 Joint-Decision of the Regional Trial Court, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Virgilio Evardo y Lopena is ACQUITTED of the charges of violating Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

For their information, copies of this Decision shall be furnished to the Police General of the Philippine National Police and the Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Regional Trial Court is directed to tum over the seized sachets of shabu to the Dangerous Drugs Board for destruction in accordance with law.

Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

IN THIS CASE THE ARRESTING OFFICERS’ SEARCH AND SUBSEQUENT SEIZURE WERE HELD INVALID. THUS, THE CONFISCATED DRUGS CANNOT BE USED AS EVIDENCE. WITHOUT EVIDENCE THE CASE HAS TO BE DISMISSED.

In cases involving drugs, the confiscated article constitutes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. Under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, the essence of the crime is the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of prohibited drugs, and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals. The act of transporting the drugs, as in this case, must be duly proven by the prosecution, along with how a particular person is the perpetrator of that act. The seized drug, then, becomes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. The entire case of the prosecution revolves around that material.

In drugs cases where the allegedly confiscated drug is excluded from admissible evidence – as when it was acquired through an invalid warrantless search – the prosecution is left without proof of corpus delicti. Any discussion on whether a crime has been committed becomes an exercise in futility. Acquittal is then inexorable.

Thus, here, the arresting officers’ search and subsequent seizure are invalid. As such, the two (2) sacks of marijuana supposedly being transported in the pickup cannot be admitted in evidence.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the pet1t10n is GRANTED. The Decision dated September 27, 2018 and the Resolution dated January 14, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 09323 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The charge against Noel T. Jaspe, Ma. Negenia V. Araneta and Sanny Apuang for Grave Misconduct in OMB-V-A-13-0170 is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

HOW WILL COLLUSION BE PROVEN?

BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE. 

On this score, Desierto v. Ocampo28 pronounced that the complainant charging collusion must prove it by clear-and convincing evidence, thus:

Collusion implies 2 secret understanding whereby one party plays into another’s hands for fraudulent purposes. It may take place between anci every contractor resulting in no competition, in which case, the government may declare a failure of bidding. Collusion may also ensue between contractors and the chairman and members of the PBAC to simulate or rig the bid.ding process, thus insuring the award to a favored bidder, to the-prejudice of the government agency anc! public ser•;ice. for such acts of the chairman and the members of the PBAC, they may be held administratively liable for conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the government service. Collusion by and among the members of the PBAC and/or contractors submitting their bids may be determined from their collective acts or omissions before, during and after the bidding process. The complainants are burdened to prove such coll us-ion by clear and convincing evidence because if so proved, the responsible officials may be dismissed from the government service or meted severe administrative sanctions for dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the government service.29 (Emphasis ours)

………………………………….

WHAT IS GRAVE MISCONDUCT?

Grave misconduct is defined as the “wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premedi.tated, obstinate or intentional purpose.” It is not mere failure to comply with the law. Failure to comply must be deliberate and must be done in order to secure benefits for the offender •-r for some other person. 31

…………………………….

WHAT EVIDENCE IS NEEDED TO PROVE MISCONDUCT?

COMPETENT EVIDENCE DERIVED FROM DIRECT KNOWLEDGE. NOT MERE ALLEGATIONS.

For a ~harge of grave _miscpnduct or any grave offense to prosper, therefore, the evidence against the respondent should be competent and must be derived from direct knowledge. Reliance on mere allegations, conjectures and suppositions, as in this case, vvarrants the dismissal of the charge.32 So must it be.

…………………………..

SOME ACCUSED DID NOT APPEAL. WILL RESULT OF APPEAL EXONERATE THEM ALSO?

YES.

Notably, only petitioners Jaspe and Araneta actively · sought the reversal of the finding of grave misconduct in connection with the discharge of their function as BAC members. Nonetheless, the dismissal of the charge against petitioners should benefit Apuang, another BAC member, even if he did not join Jaspe and Araneta here, nor appealed on his own.

In Tropical Homes, Inc. v. Fortun,33 the Court held that the reversal of the judgment on appeal is binding only on the paiiies to the appealed case and does not affect or inure to the benefit of those who did not join or were not parties to the appeal except when there is a communality of interests where the rights and liabilities of the parties appealing are so interwoven and dependent on each other as to be inseparable, in which case 3. reversal as to one operates as a reversal to all. To be sure, there is communality of interests among J aspe, et al. as their alleged liabilities arose out of their collegial decision in the same proceeding of which they serve as BAC members. Hence, the reversal of petitioners’ liability also operates as a reversal.of Apuang’s liability although he did not appeal therefrom.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals’ February 25, 2010 Decision and April 6, 201] Resolution in CA-G.R. CV No. 90303 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The May 9, 2007 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Parafiaque City, Branch 260, in Civil Cases 01-0228 and 03-0384 is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

NOTE: “MARRIED TO” ONLY REFERS TO THE CIVIL STATUS OF THE PROPERTY’S REGISTERED OWNER. THE HUSBAND  CANNOT BE DEEMED TO HAVE CONTRIBUTED JOINTLY IN ACQUIRING THE FUNDS SINCE HE DID NOT CARE FOR AND MAINTAIN THE FAMILY AND THE HOUSEHOLD.

In this case, there is proof that the Parafiaque lot was not obtained by Mario and Rosanna’s joint efforts, work, or industry. Rita M. Tan, Rosanna’s aunt, donated the 315-square meter lot to Rosanna and her father, Rodolfo M. Tan. The Deed ofDonation331 dated August 25, 1998 provides that Rita M. Tan donated 157.50 square meters to “Rodolfo M. Tan, married to Josefina G. Leafio”332 and to “Rosanna L. Tan-Anda!, married to Mario Andal”333 each. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 139811 covering 157.50 square meters of the Parafiaque lot is under the name of “Rosanna L. Tan[1]Andal, of legal age, Filipino, married to Mario Andal.”334 In Salas, Jr. v. Aguila,335 this Court held that “married to” only refers to the civil status of the property’s registered owner.336 Thus, Rosanna exclusively owns half of the 315-square meter Parafiaque lot. Mario has no share in this property because he did not care for and maintain the family and the household.

As for the half of the duplex house that served as the parties’ family f home, there is evidence that the funds used to construct the house were obtained solely through Rosanna and her father’s efforts. In a promissory note337 dated July 13, 1998, Rosanna and her father jointly loaned P2,400,000.00 from the Elena P. Tan Foundation for the construction of a house on the Parafiaque lot. Although Mario signed the promissory note to give “marital consent” to Rosanna, he has no proof that he participated in acquiring the funds. He cannot be deemed to have contributed jointly in acquiring the funds since he did not care for and maintain the family and the household.

………………………………….

IN DECIDING CASES INVOLVING CUSTODY OF A MINOR WHAT MUST THE COURT CONSIDER?

AMONG OTHERS, “THE PREVIOUS CARE AND DEVOTION SHOWN BY EACH OF THE PARENTS; THEIR RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND, MORAL UPRIGHTNESS, HOME ENVIRONMENT AND TIME AVAILABILITY.

In Pablo-Gualberto v. Gualberto,339 this Court held that the “separation of parents” contemplated in Article 213 may either be legal separation or separation in fact. 340 In deciding cases involving custody of a minor, the courts must consider, among others, “the previous care and devotion shown by each of the parents; their religious background, moral uprightness, home environment and time availability; [ and] the [child’s] emotional and educational needs.”341 Here, Mario and Rosanna have been separated in fact since 2000. Between them, Rosanna showed greater care and devotion to Ma. Samantha. Even when they still lived together, Rosanna had been more available to her child. She raised Ma. Samantha on her own since she and Mario separated. Mario has not supported both mother and child since he separated from 0 Rosanna, even after he had claimed that he has been living “drug-free.”

……………………………

NOTE: MARRIAGE REMAINS AN INSTITUTION DESIGNED TO PROVIDE LEGAL AND PUBLIC RECOGNITION.

Marriage is not compulsory when in love; neither does it create love. Nonetheless, it remains an institution designed to provide legal and public recognition that may be well deserved not only for the couple, but also for their families existing or yet to come.

To be clear, our collective hope is that one who chooses marriage realizes that the other deserves more caring, more compassion, more kindness in the daily and banal grind of their relationship. It is in these same values of sacrifice and empathy that we will have the chance to evolve into a society that is more humane and, eventually, more just.

Yet, we are not blind to the reality that a person may be truly psychologically incapable for the other from the beginning. Should there be grave need to part for the reasons we have stated, courts can lead the way to make parting less bitter, minimize animosity, and make lives more forward- / looking for those most affected.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby PARTIALLY GRANTED. Accordingly, the Decision dated October 28, 2016 of the Court of Appeals, Sixth Division, in CA-G.R. SP No. 145753 is PARTIALLY REVERSED with respect to Ross Systems International, Inc.’ s entitlement to the amount of Pl,088,214.83. The Construction Industry Arbitration Commission’s Final Award dated May 10, 2016 is hereby REINSTATED with MODIFICATION, in that Global Medical Center of Laguna, Inc. is further ORDERED to furnish Ross Systems International, Inc. with the pertinent BIR Form 2307, in compliance with Section 2.57.3, Revenue Regulation No. 2-98.

Furthermore, the new ruling of the Court with respect to the modes of judicial review of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission arbitral awards is accorded PROSPECTIVE application and does not apply to appeals therefrom that are currently pending before the Court of Appeals.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE SUPREME COURT OBSERVES THAT CA MISAPPLIED ITS APPELLATE FUNCTION WHEN IT DELVED INTO SETTLING THE FACTUAL MATTERS AND MODIFIED THE MATHEMATICAL COMPUTATION OF THE CIAC.

Further, even without applying to the instant case the foregoing considerations on the history of judicial review vis-a-vis CIAC awards, the Court nevertheless chiefly observes that the CA misapplied its appellate function when it delved into settling the factual matters and modified the mathematical computation of the CIAC with respect to the presence or absence of an outstanding balance payable to RSII. This mathematical re[1]computation is an error not because the new ruling on judicial review of CIAC awards is applicable to this case (as it applies prospectively) but because the amounts reimbursable to RSII were not specifically raised by the RSII as an issue in its Rule 43 petition before the CA, since the issues raised before it were confined to the release of the amount deducted by GMCLI from its Progress Billing No. 15 to cover the CWT of 2% on payments for the first 14 Progress Billings. 177

WHAT IS THE RATIONALE BEHIND ARBITRATION MODES?

ARBITRATION ALLOW PARTIES SPACE TO EXERCISE VOLUNTARY AUTONOMY UNDER THE PRINCIPLE OF EXPEDITED CONFLICT RESOLUTION WHICH MEANS QUICKEST AND MOST CONCLUSIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION. COURTS MUST STAY THEIR OWN HANDS.

WHY IS THIS PRINCIPLE MOST RELEVANT TO CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?

BECAUSE OF THE INDUSTRY’S  INHERENTLY COMPLEX DYNAMICS AND WITH STAKES THAT INVOLVE NATIONAL INTERESTS LIKE PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE AND SAFETY.

It has been said that earlier forms of arbitration predated laws and organized courts, 185 and that contrary to the notion that arbitration modes are novel and untested, they are actually the courts’ “next-of-kin”, 186 perhaps even their progenitors. Along the same vein, the ability of a society to empower alternative modes of dispute resolution is a hallmark of a democracy, 187 with courts exercising their ability to stay their own hands, thereby allowing space for the parties to a dispute to exercise their voluntary autonomy in the name and under the principle of expedited conflict resolutions. This need to enable the quickest and most conclusive conflict resolution possible finds exacting relevance in the case of the construction industry, with its inherently complex dynamics, and with the stakes that involve national interests, not in the least of which are public infrastructure and safety.

HOW DOES SUPREME COURT LOOK NOW AT CIAC?

CIAC IS A QUASI-JUDICIAL AGENCY AT PAR WITH OTHER COMMERCIAL TRIBUNALS WITH THEIR CHARACTERISTIC SPEED, SUBJECT MATTER AUTHORITATIVENESS AND OVERALL AUTONOMY. COURTS THEREFORE MUST ASCERTAIN THEIR PARAMETERS SET BY LAW. COURTS MUST HARMONIZE VARYING MATERIAL RULES. CIAC THEREFORE MUST BE EMPOWERED AND ENABLED TO EXERCISE ITS FUNCTIONS AND COURTS MUST OBSERVE NON-PARTICIPATION EXCEPT ON NARROWEST OF GROUNDS.

The attributes and functions of the CIAC also operatively place it in a hybrid classification, in that it is categorized as a quasi-judicial agency, but its very nature as an arbitral tribunal effectively places it at par with other commercial arbitral tribunals, with their characteristic speed, subject matter authoritativeness and overall autonomy. This amalgamation of its design and utilities created a whole new legal animal, which, like all things novel, poses for the Court a challenge of ascertaining its parameters and remedial routes set by law. Perhaps, unless the legislature deems it fit to create a new and independent set of rules that apply to the CIAC more responsively, the Court must continue to contend with harmonizing varying material rules, all in a manner that is as just as it is tenable under existing laws.

It is central, therefore, that the CIAC be empowered and enabled to fulfill its function as the professionally authoritative venue for settlement of construction disputes, and not straitjacketed to fit into the mold of the court system which it was meant to be an alternative of. To this end, and perhaps somewhat ironically, the courts can contribute best through non[1]participation, save on the narrowest of grounds. The courts are, after all, ultimately dealers of justice, more so in industries that are of greater consequence, and must remain true to this highest mandate, even if it means relinquishing review powers that, in the sum of things, it was demonstrably not meant to bear.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED and the Decision dated July 12, 2019 and Resolution dated November 22, 2019, REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Christopher C. Calera is declared TOTALLY AND PERMANENTLY DISABLED for sea duties. Respondent Hoegh Fleet Services Philippines, Inc. is ORDERED to PAY petitioner:

1) Total and Permanent Disability Benefits ofUSD60,000.00; and

2) Attorney’s Fees of ten percent ( 10%) of the total monetary award.

The total monetary award shall earn six percent ( 6%) legal interest per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

As worded, the medical report was far from final. For one, the company-designated physicians made no mention of any ~isability rating nor any declaration as to petitioner’s fitness or unfitness for further sea duty. For another, the alleged finality of the medical report was negated by the fact that petitioner needed further medical treatment, i.e., he was referred for four (4) sets of physical therapy with six (6) sessions each. That he was not re[1]deployed after the incident at the Holiday Inn lends credence to the fact that he still needed further medical attention and far from healed.

The Court, therefore, finds the June 13, 201 7 medical report to have fallen short of the parameters for a final and definite medical report. Even if the company-designated physicians were justified in extending petitioner’s medical treatment to more than 120 days, yet, as earlier stated, the alleged final medical report is far from final.

Sans a valid final and definite assessment from the company-designated physicians within the 120/240-day period, the law already steps in to consider petitioner’s disability as total and permanent.59 By operation oflaw, therefore, petitioner is deemed totally and permanently disabled.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision dated April 26, 2019 and Resolution dated October 9, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 08244 are AFFIRMED. Appellant SPOl ALEXANDER ESTABILLO y P ALARA is found GUILTY of violation of Sections 5 and 11 of Republic Act No. 9165 and sentenced to LIFE IMPRISONMENT and a FINE of Pl0,000,000.00 for each offense.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PDEA FAILED TO DESTROY THE BRICKS OF COCAINE IN VIOLATION OF WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES. BUT THE COURT SAID THIS WOULD NOT AFFECT THE INTEGRITY AND EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE SEIZED DRUGS. AT MOST THE VIOLATION COULD BE GROUND FOR POSSIBLE DISCIPLINARY ACTION.

The Court recognizes though that the PDEA’s failure to destroy the (4) bricks of cocaine beforehand nevertheless constituted a breach of Section 21(4), RA 9165. To repeat, however, this would not affect the integrity and evidentiary value of the entirety of the seized items but could, at most, be ground for possible disciplinary action.

All told, the prosecution has successfully established the chain of custody of the seized items. Consequently, the integrity and evidentiary value of these seized items are deemed preserved. The corpus delicti of the crimes charged against appellant were therefore established. As such, there is no reason to depart from the assailed verdicts of conviction.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition for review is GRANTED. The Decision dated July 12, 2018 and Resolution dated July 15, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 139311 a re REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint in NLRC NCR Case No. 07-10180-13 is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PNCC STOPPED GIVING MID-YEAR BONUS TO ITS EMPLOYEES. THE LABOR ARBITER, NLRC AND C.A. RULED THAT PNCC SHOULD CONTINUE GIVING MID-YEAR BONUS ON THE BASIS OF NON-DIMINUTION OF BENEFITS. SUPREME COURT SAID UNDER R.A. 10149 GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS, WHETHER CHARTERED OR NON-CHARTERED SHOULD NO LONGER GRANT ANY ADDITIONAL BENEFITS TO ITS EMPLOYEES WITHOUT THE REQUISITE AUTHORITY FROM THE PRESIDENT. GRANTING OF THESE BENEFITS MUST CONFORM TO THE COMPENSATION AND CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS UNDER BY APPLICABLE LAWS.

In that case, employees of GSIS Family Bank demanded for the payment of their Christmas bonus which had been annually given them pursuant to their CBA with GSIS Family Bank, a non-chartered GOCC. GSIS Family Bank was advised by the Governance Commission that in view of the enactment of RA l O 149, GSIS Family Bank should no longer grant any additional benefits to its employees without the requisite authority from the President. Thenceforth, GSIS Family Bank stopped granting Christmas bonus to its employees. The Court ruled that while GOCCs without original chatiers are covered by the Labor Code, employees of GOCCs are bereft of any right to negotiate the economic terms of their employment, i. e. salaries, emoluments, incentives and other benefits, with their employers since these matters are covered by compensation and position standards issued by the Department of Budget and Management and applicable laws. GSJS clarified that RA IO 149 applies to both chartered and non-chartered GOCCs.

More, citing PCSO vs. Pulido-Tan, 46 GSIS reiterated that the power of a government-owned or controlled corporation to fix salaries or _ allowances of its employees is subject to and must conform to the compensation and classification standards laid down by applicable laws. For RA 10149 does not differentiate between chartered and non-chartered government-owned or controlled corporations; hence, the provisions of this law equally apply to all GOCCs.

Consequently, therefore, PNCC did not v iolate the non-diminution rule when it desisted from granting mid-year bonus to its employees starting 2013. True, between 1992 and 2011 , PNCC invariably granted this benefit to its employees and never before revoked this grant in strict adherence to the non-diminution rule under Artic le 100 of the Labor Code. Nonetheless, with the subsequent enactment of RA l 0 l 49 in 2011, PNCC may no longer grant this benefit without first securing the requisite authority from the President. As borne by the records, PNCC failed to obtain this authority in v iew of the position taken by the GCG not to forward the request to the President. GCG cited as reasons the infirmity of the grant and the extraneous application of the non-diminution rule thereto.

All told, the labor arbiter, the NLRC, and the Cou1i of Appeals each gravely e rred when they peremptorily compelled PNCC to release the questioned mid-year bonus to the employees.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed September 16, 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 114964 is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Respondent Cathay Pacific Airways Limited is ORDERED to PAY petitioner Salvacion A. Lamadrid full backwages and separation pay based on her salary rate at the time of her termination. Let this case be remanded to the Labor Arbiter for this purpose. The benefits and bonuses she received during her separation amounting to HK.$622,077.54 should be deducted from the final monetary award that would be given to her.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PETITIONER WAS DISMISSED FROM EMPLOYMENT FOR ALLEGEDLY STEALING MINERAL WATER. SUPREME COURT SAID SINCE THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT PETITIONER COMMITTED INFRACTION, DISMISSAL IS HARSH PENALTY. THE COURT APPLIED THE PRINCIPLE OF TOTALITY OF INFRACTIONS.

However, while the weight of evidence points to Lamadrid’s infraction of company policy, We should also consider that this is Lamadrid’s first infraction in her 17 years of service in the airline which involved a mere bottle of water. Concededly, the company laid down the penalties for violation of its policies; however, the evaluation of an employee’s infraction should be dealt with fairness and reason. Simply put, all surrounding circumstances must be considered and the penalty must be commensurate to the violation committed by an employee. Termination of the services of an employee should be the employer’s last resort especially when other disciplinary actions may be imposed, considering the employee’s long years of service in the company, devoting time, effort and invaluable service in line with the employer’s goals and mission, as in Lamadrid’s case. Thus, We emphasize the principle of totality of infractions, viz.:

x x x . It is here that totality of infractions may be considered to determine the imposable sanction for her current infraction. In Merin v. National Labor Relations Commission, the Court explained the principle of “totality of infractions” in this wise:

The totality of infractions or the number of violations committed during the period of employment shall be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed upon an erring employee.Xx x.65 (Citation Omitted).

During Lamadrid’s span of employment, she did not commit any infraction or was ever sanctioned except in the incident subject of the present controversy. To impose a penalty as grave as dismissal for a first offense and considering the value of the property allegedly taken would be too harsh under the circumstances. Therefore, Lamadrid was illegally dismissed from service.

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DISPOSITIVE:

“ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated November 29, 2019 and Resolution dated March 3, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 154289 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondents Dohle Seafront Crewing Manila, Inc., and Dohle (IOM) Limited are held jointly and severally liable to petitioner Jolly R. Carandan for the following amounts:

1. US$60,000.00 or its Philippine Peso equivalent at the time of payment as total and permanent disability rating in accordance with the 20 IO Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract;

2. Ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award as attorney’s fees; and

3. Six percent (6%) interest per annum of the total monetary award from the :finality of this Decision until fully paid.53

SO ORDERED.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PETITIONER WAS CLAIMING FOR TOTAL AND PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS DUE TO CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE. RESPONDENT ARGUED THAT UNDER THEIR CBA HE CAN ONLY CLAIM TOTAL AND PERMANENT DISAPLITY BENEFITS IF THE CAUSE IS AN ACCIDENT AND THERE WAS NO ACCIDENT. SUPREME COURT SAID PETITIONER CAN CLAIM NOT UNDER CBA BUT UNDER THE POEA-STANDARD EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT (POEA-SEC).

As in Illescas, petitioner’s cardiovascular disease cannot be said to have been an event which under the circumstances is unusual and unexpected by the person to whom it happens. Heart ailment may be expected from someone who is often exposed in hard manual labor like petitioner.

In any event, although the provisions of the CBA are not applicable here, petitioner is still entitled to total and permanent disability benefits under the 2010 POEA-SEC. In Julleza v. Orient Line Philippines, Inc. , 52 the Court held that Julleza’s lumbar spondylosis did not result from an accident, he cannot claim total and permanent disability benefits under the CBA provisions, but under the POEA-SEC. As discussed, cardiovascular disease is specifically listed as a compensable disease under Section 32-A of the 2010 POEA-SEC. Hence, petitioner is entitled to the benefits granted under the 2010 POEA-SEC.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition for certiorari is GRANTED. The Orders dated August 13, 2019, October 1, 2019 and October 7, 2019 of the Regional Trial Court – Branch 58, Makati City in People v. Emerito P. Manalo, et al. (Criminal Case Nos. 19-00774, 19-00775, 19-00778, 19- 00780, 19-00781, 19-00782, 19-00784, 19-00787, 19-00789, 19-00796, 19- 00797, 19-00798, 19-00799, 19-00801, 19-00803, 19-00804, 19-00806, 19- 00807, and 19-00810.), People v. Vicente J. Campa, Jr. et al., (Criminal Case Nos. 19-00773, 19-00777, 19-00783, 19-00786, 19-00793, I 9-00801, 19- 00802, 19–00805, 19-00807, 19-00808, and 19-00809), and People v. Perfecto M. Pascua, et al. (Criminal Case Nos. 19-00790, 19-00794, and 19- 00808.) are NULLIFIED. The charges against VICENTE J. CAMPA, JR. and PERFECTO M. PASCUA are DISMISSED on ground of inordinate delay.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

In Magante v. Sandiganbayan,46 the CoUii noted that prejudice from delay is most serious when a defendant is rendered unable to adequately prepare his case, as here. There is also prejudice when defense witnesses could no longer accurately recall events in the distant past.

In fine, the Court agrees with petitioners that the DOJ was guilty of inordinate delay in issuing its Resolution dated February 8, 2019 only about ten (10) years and five (5) months from the filing of the complaint.

.. . . . .

 Grave abuse of discretion is the capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.

Here, petitioners sufficiently established that the trial court acted in grave abuse of discretion in denying their motions to dismiss and/or quash. Indeed, procedural rules are clear on the periods for resolving cases and jurisprudence is rich with analogous situations on which the trial court could have based its rulings. As it was, however, the trial court denied petitioners’ motions without properly determining whether there·was inordinate delay in accordance with Cagang. Had the trial court applied the balancing test and guidelines in Cagang, it would have discovered for itself that inordinate delay had indeed attended the DOJ investigation and that petitioners’ right to speedy disposition of their cases had been violated by reason thereof. Thus, a reversal of the assailed rulings is in order.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated April 24, 2019 and Resolution dated August 9, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 158565 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated December 1, 2017 and Resolution dated November 19, 2018 of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board – Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators in MVA-090-RCMB-NCR-081-13-03-2017 are REINSTATED.

Respondents United Philippine Lines, Inc. and/or Shell International Trading and Shipping Co. are ORDERED to jointly and severally pay petitioner Kennedy R. Quines the following amounts:

1) total and permanent disability benefits of US$98,848.00 or its peso equivalent at the time of payment, in accordance with the IBFAMOSUP/IMEC TCCC Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2015-2017, less whatever amount that had already been paid to petitioner by way of financial assistance;

2) ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award as attorney’s fees; and

3) six percent ( 6%) legal interest per annum of the total monetary amount from finality of this Decision until full payment.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“Surely, the fact that petitioner is taking five (5) maintenance medications for his hypertension alone, already permanently incapacitates him from securing gainful employment as a seafarer. Too, there is no showing that he had been re-employed by respondents or engaged as a seaman by any other company ever since he got repatriated in 2016. Verily, his continuous unemployment until this very day indicates his total and permanent disability.

Further, without a valid final and definitive assessments from the company-designated doctors within the 120/240-day period, as in this case, the law already steps in to consider a seafarer’s disability as total and permanent. By operation of law, therefore, petitioner is already deemed to be totally and permanently disabled.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The decision dated February 13, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA- G.R. CR HC No. 01366-MIN is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.  Accordingly, accused-appellant RANILO S. SUAREZ is AQUITTED of Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to cause his immediate release, unless he is being lawfully held in custody for any other reason.

Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is one imbued with trust and confidence. And as true as any natural tendency goes, this “trust and confidence” is prone to abuse. The rule against borrowing of money by a lawyer from his client is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking advantage of his influence over his client. The rule presumes that the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation. 16 In the present case, it is clear that Agustin had violated Rule 16.04 of the CPR.

……………………………

Furthermore, the Court cannot order or require Agustin to return the money he loaned from Dalumay under these same proceedings. In disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. Thus, the Court is not concerned with the erring lawyer’s civil liability for money received from his client in a transaction separate, distinct, and not intrinsically linked to his professional engagement. 20 Thus, the directive to return the amounts of P300,000.00 and US$9,000.00 under the IBP recommendation cannot be sustained.

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 14, 2016 Decision and the February 8, 2017 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CV No. 03786 are AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“All told, Article 434 of the Civil Code requires that in an action to recover, the property must be identified, and the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his title and not on the weakness of the defendant’s claim. 44 Identity of the land is the foremost relevant fact or issue to be determined in any action involving real properties. Unfortunately, petitioner failed to properly and sufficiently identify the subject property Lot No. 758, which she claims to have been possessed and owned by her and her predecessors-in-interest. Accordingly, all other remaining issues become futile.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The September 30, 2016 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 07288, is hereby AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“We sustain the findings of the trial court and the appellalc court that treachery attended the commission of the crlme. Treachery is present when the following elements are present: (a) the employment of means, methods or manner of execution to ensure the safoly of the offender from defensive or retaliatory ads of the victim and (b) the deliberate adoption by the offender of such means, methods or manner of execution. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor on an unsuspecting victim who gave no provocation,25 without affording the latter any real chance to defend hlmself and thereby ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor.26”

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, Decision No. 2018-010 dated January 17, 2018 and Resolution No. 2020-180 dated January 29, 2020 of the Commission on Audit – En Banc are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The approving, certifying, and authorizing officers of the Securities and Exchange Commission are absolved from refunding the disallowed amount solidarily and individually under Notice of Disallowance No. 11-003-101-(10) dated December 10, 2011.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

SEC INCREASED ITS COUNTERPART CONTRIBUTION TO THEIR PROVIDENT FUND BY 15% ACROSS THE BOARD. THEY SOURCED THE INCREASE FROM THEIR RETAINED INCOME. COA DISALLOWED THE INCREASE BECAUSE UNDER THE GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT OF SAID YEAR (2010) RETAINED INCOME MUST ONLY BE USED FOR CAPITAL OUTLAY AND MAINTENANCE AND OTHER OPERATING EXPENSES. FURTHER COA REQUIRED THE SEC OFFICERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INCREASE TO RETURN SUCH DISALLOWED 15% INCREASE AS WELL AS WHAT THEY PERSONALLY RECEIVED AS A RESULT OF THE INCREASE. OTHER EMPLOYEES WERE NOT ORDERED TO REFUND WHAT THEY RECEIVED. SUPREME COURT SAID THE OFFICERS CANNOT BE COMPELLED TO RETURN THE DISALLOWED INCREASE BECAUSE THEY ACTED IN GOOD FAITH. THEY ARE NOT ALSO BE COMPELLED TO RETURN WHAT THEY PERSONALLY RECEIVED BECAUSE IT WILL RESULT TO UNDUE PREJUDICE AND BY REASON OF EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW. IF OTHER EMPLOYEES ARE NOT ORDERED TO REFUND WHAT THEY RECEIVE, THE OFFICERS MUST NOT ALSO BE ORDERED TO REFUND.

Finally, undue prejudice would also occur if the payees-recipients, including the concerned SEC officers, are made to foot an additional 15% contribution which ought to have been shouldered by the SEC itself. To repeat, payees-recipients contribute an equivalent of 3% of their monthly salary. To order them to answer for the 15% counterpart contribution of the SEC would, in effect, make their total contribution equivalent to 18% of their monthly salary. Under Section 4342 of the General Provisions of GAA 2010, salary deductions for provident funds, among others, is allowed so long as an employee’s total take home pay will not fall below P3,000.00. By ordering payees-recipients to return the amounts in effect increasing their provident fund contributions to 18%, low-ranked employees may already have a take home pay of less than P3,000.00.

All told, the SEC officers would suffer undue prejudice should they be compelled to return the amounts paid under their names in the provident fund using SEC’s retained earnings. At any rate,.it could also disrupt the provident fund system and cause unforeseen damage and complications to its finances.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated February 10, 2020 and Resolution dated October 2, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 155268 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondents Next Wave Maritime Management, Inc., MTM Ship Management Pte. Ltd., and Arnold Marquez, are ordered to jointly and severally PAY petitioner Resty S. Caampued the following:

1. US$60,000.00 or its Philippine Peso equivalent at the time of payment for total and permanent disability rating in accordance with the 2010 PO EA-SEC;

2. Ten percent (10%) of the monetary award as attorney’s fees; and

3. Six percent (6%) legal interest per annum on the total monetary award from finality of this decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

INTER-ALIA, THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME IMPORTANT POINTS IN THE CASE: PETITIONER WAS CLAIMING FOR TOTAL DISABILITY BENEFITS DUE TO MEDICAL CONDITION ARISING FROM HIS WORK IN A VESSEL.  RESPONDENTS ARGUE THAT HIS MEDICAL CONDITION EXISTED PRIOR TO HIS EMPLOYMENT ON BOARD THE VESSEL WHICH HE ALLEGEDLY FAILED TO DISCLOSE AND SUCH FAILURE BARS HIS CLAIM. COURT OF APPEALS DENIED HIS CLAIM. SUPREME COURT REVERSED C.A. AND GRANTED HIS CLAIM. SC SAID EVEN IF PETITIONER HAS PRE-EXISTING DISEASE, STILL HIS CLAIM IS COMPENSABLE IF HIS WORK AGGRAVATED HIS PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION. ALSO HIS ALLEGED FAILURE TO DISCLOSE PRE-EXISTING CONDITION MUST BE ATTENDED WITH MALICE. HERE, THERE WAS NO PROOF OF MALICE. FURTHER, THE COMPANY DESIGNATED PHYSICIAN MUST ISSUE A FINAL MEDICAL ASSESSMENT AND THIS MUST BE COMMUNICATED TO PETITIONER. HERE, THERE WAS NO FINAL MEDICAL ASSESSMENT BUT ONLY A REPORT BY THE PHYSICIAN TO RESPONDENT COMPANY AND THERE IS NO PROOF THAT SUCH REPORT WAS FURNISHED TO PETITIONER.

“In Gere v. Anglo-Eastern Crew Management Phils., Inc. 62 the Court decreed that the company-designated physician must not only “issue” a final medical assessment of the seafarer’s medical condition. He must also – and the Court cannot emphasize this enough – “give” his assessment to the seafarer concerned. That is to say that the seafarer must be fully and properly informed of his medical condition. The results of his/her medical examinations, the treatments extended to the seafarer, the diagnosis and prognosis, if needed, and, of course, the seafarer’s disability grading must be fully explained to him/her by no less than the company-designated physician.

Here, Dr. Alegre only issued a medical report addressed to Crew Operations Manager Captain Arnold Marquez. As in Gere, this medical report cannot be regarded as anything more than an internal communication between the company-designated physician and respondent Next Wave. Further, petitioner was not even furnished a copy of said medical report. Respondents did not deny this. They simply posited that the assessment was explained to petitioner.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Partial Reconsideration· filed by respondent Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr. of Branch 61; Regional Trial Court, Naga City, Camarines Sur is PARTLY GRANTED.

The Court’s Decision dated February 4, 2020 is hereby MODIFIED. The administrative liability of respondent Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr. for giving the oppositor the option of submitting his pretrial brief in contravention of its mandatory nature is reduced from gross ignorance of the law to violation of Supreme Co11rt rules, directives and circulars. Thus, the Court imposes upon him the penalty of a fine of Pl0,000.00 each for: (1) violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars committed by respondent through various acts; and (2) Simple Misconduct committed by respondent through various acts, or a total of P20,000.00. The penalty of Pl0,000.00 for Simple Misconduct is understood to include the penalty for respondent’s Undue Delay in terminating the preliminary conference in Special Proceedings No. 1870.

He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall definitely be dealt with more severely. He is reminded to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties which should be discharged in accordance with the rules, directives, and circulars duly issued by the Court.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal record of respondent Judge Soliman ·M. Santos, Jr.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

JUDGE SANTOS WANTED THE PARTIES TO SETTLE. HE UNDULY DELAYED THE TERMINATION OF THE PRELIMINARY CONFERECE; EVEN AFTER COMPLAINANT WITHDRAW HIS PETITION HE CASTIGATED HIM IN AN EXTENDED ORDER WHICH WAS NOT ACTUALLY NECESSARY. HE ALLOWED OPPOSITOR THE OPTION NOT TO FILE PRE-TRIAL BRIEF WHICH IS MANDATORY. BUT BECAUSE JUDGE SANTOS ACTED IN GOOD FAITH THE SUPREME COURT GRANTED PARTIALLY HIS MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. GOOD FAITH WAS CONSIDERED MITIGATING.

“In other cases involving the administrative liability of judges, the Court took into consideration lack of showing of malice, corrupt motives, or improper considerations on the part of the judge to mitigate the penalty.

In the present case, the Court finds that while respondent committed the above-stated offenses, the infractions were not attended by bad faith. In trui.h, respondent’s actuations all arose from a single petition filed by complainant; and that the respondent’s action were driven by his genuine intention of making the parties arrive at an amicable settlement. \1/hile respondent’s good faith does not absolve him from administrative liability, the Court considers the absence of malice and corrupt motive on his part as a circumstance mitigating his liability.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated February 11, 2020 and Resolution dated September 24, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 161534 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Convergys Philippines, Inc. is hereby ORDERED to PAY petitioner Vincent Michael Banta Moll the following:

I) BACKWAGES reckoned from March 25, 2018 until finality of this  Decision;

2) SEPARATION PAY of one (1) month salary for every year of service;

3) PRO-RATED 13th MONTH PAY for the year 2018;

4) UNPAID SALARY for March 2018; and

5) ATTORNEY’S FEES of ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award.

These monetary awards shall earn six percent ( 6%) interest per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“Lastly, we find that Convergys shall be solely liable to the above monetary awards. A corporation is a juridical entity with legal personality separate and distinct from those acting for and in its behalf and, in general, from the people comprising it. Thus, as a general rule, an officer may not be held liable for the corporation’s labor obligations unless he or she acted with evident malice and/or bad faith in dismissing an employee.

Labor Arbiter Makasiar properly exonerated respondents Ayers, Valentine, Pontius, Twomey, Gonzales, Sangcal, and Cabugao from all liabilities for lack of showing that they acted with malice or bad faith nor assented to petitioner’s illegal dismissal. In fact, as early as the proceedings before the NLRC, they should have already been dropped as respondents in this case as petitioner did not assail their exoneration from liability by the labor arbiter. As to them, the labor arbiter’s decision had already lapsed into finality.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated December 2, 2016 and the Resolution dated April 10, 2017 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 143770 are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS, awarding to petitioner Remegio E. Burnea attorney’s fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the monetary awards due to him, and imposing on all monetary awards legal interest at the rate of six percent ( 6%) per annum from finality of the Decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

In cases of illegal dismissal, the employer bears the burden of proof to prove that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause. However, it is well to clarify that before the employer bears such burden, it is imperative for the employee to first establish by substantial evidence that he/she was indeed dismissed from employment. Absent such dismissal, there could be no question as to its legality or illegality.36

…………………………..

Nonetheless, since petitioner was awarded salary differentials, holiday pay, and service incentive leave pay, subject to the three (3)-year prescriptive period, to be reckoned from November 3, 2011 up to the date of his dismissal on November 17, 2013 as alleged in the complaint, he is also entitled to attorney’s fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award in accordance with Article 11139 of the Labor Code and Article 220840 of the Civil Code, as the latter was clearly compelled to litigate to protect his rights and interests thereto. Finally, in line with prevailing jurisprudence, all monetary awards due to petitioner shall earn legal interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.41

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