Archive for April, 2016


CASE 2016-0013:  UNIVERSAL ROBINA SUGAR MILLING CORP VS. ELMER ABLAY ET AL. (G.R. 218172, 16 MARCH 2016, PERLAS-BERNABE, J.) (SUBJECT/S: INSTANCE WHEN BACKPAY WAS NOT ALLOWED IN ILLEGAL DISMISSAL) (BRIEF TITLE: UNIVERSAL ROBINA VS. ABLAY ET AL.)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated June 28, 2013 and the Amended Decision dated April 30, 2015 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 02078 are hereby MODIFIED, directing the DELETION of the award of backwages in favor of respondents Elmer Ablay, Ildefonso Clavecillas, Stanley Blaza, Vincent Villavicencio, Roberto Cacas, and Eleazar Cadayuna. The rest of the decision STANDS.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

“An illegally dismissed employee is entitled to either reinstatement, if viable, or separation pay if reinstatement is no longer viable, and backwages. In certain cases, however, the Court has ordered the reinstatement of the employee without backwages considering the fact that (1) the dismissal of the employee would be too harsh a penalty; and (2) the employer was in good faith in terminating the employee. For instance, in the case of Cruz v. Minister of Labor and Employment the Court ruled as follows:

 

The Court is convinced that petitioner’s guilt was substantially established. Nevertheless, we agree with respondent Minister’s order of reinstating petitioner without backwages instead of dismissal which may be too drastic. Denial of backwages would sufficiently penalize her for her infractions. The bank officials acted in good faith. They should be exempt from the burden of paying backwages. The good faith of the employer, when clear under the circumstances, may preclude or diminish recovery of backwages. Only employees discriminately dismissed are entitled to backpay. x x x

 

Likewise, in the case of Jtogon-Suyoc Mines, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, the Court pronounced that “[t)he ends of social and compassionate justice would therefore be served if private respondent is reinstated but without backwages in view of petitioner’s good faith.” 46 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

To reiterate, respondents were indeed guilty of some form of misconduct and, as such, petitioner was justified in exercising disciplinary action against them. Absent any evidence to the contrary, petitioner’s resort to disciplinary proceedings should be presumed to have been done in good faith. 47 Thus, perceiving that petitioner had ample ground to proceed with its disciplinary action against respondents, and that the disciplinary proceedings appear to have been conducted in good faith, the Court finds it proper to apply the exception to the rule on backwages, and consequently, direct the deletion ofbackwages in favor of respondents.48

 

Finally, the CA correctly observed that Ablay’s conviction as an accomplice to the murder of petitioner’s former assistant manager had strained the relationship between Ablay and petitioner. Hence, Ablay should not be reinstated in the company and, instead, be paid separation pay, as reinstatement would only create an atmosphere of antipathy and antagonism would be generated as to adversely affect his efficiency and productivity.49 In this relation, it should be clarified that said strained relation should not affect the grant of benefits in his favor prior to his conviction, as the latter pertains to an offense entirely separate and distinct from the acts constituting petitioner’s charges against him in the case at bar, i.e., taking of the company equipment without authority. Petitioner’s payment of separation pay to Ab lay in lieu of his reinstatement is therefore warranted.

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2016-0013-UNIVERSAL ROBINA 

 

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CASE 2016-0012: SPOUSES CESAR and THELMA SUSTENTO VS.  JUDGE FRISCO T. LILAGAN, (A.M. No. RTJ-11-2275, 08 MARCH 2016, BERSAMIN, J. (SUBJECT/S: JUDICIAL ETHICS; DELAY IN RESOLVING CASES) (BRIEF TITLE: SUSTENTO VS. JUDGE LILAGAN)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS and DECLARES respondent Judge Frisco T. Lilagan, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 34, in Tacloban City GUILTY of gross inefficiency for his undue delay in resolving the pending motion for reconsideration; and, ACCORDINGLY, FINES him in the amount of P45,000.00, with a warning that a similar infraction in the future will be more severely sanctioned.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

SUPPOSE A JUDGE HAS VOLUMINOUS CASELOAD, WHAT SHALL HE DO IN ORDER TO JUSTIFY DELAY IN DISPOSITION OF CASES WITHIN THE REGLEMENTARY PERIOD?

 

HE SHOULD NOTIFY THE SUPREME COURT THE REASONS FOR THE DELAY AND REQUEST A REASONABLE EXTENTION OF TIME.

 

“The respondent judge sought to justify his delay by citing the voluminous caseload he had as the presiding judge. The justification does not persuade. Although we are not insensitive to the heavy caseloads of the trial judges, we have allowed reasonable extensions of the periods for the trial judges to resolve their cases. If the heavy caseload of any judge should preclude his disposition of cases within the reglementary period, he should notify the Court, through the Court Administrator, of the reasons or causes for the delay, and request in writing a reasonable extension of the time to dispose of the affected cases. No judge should arrogate unto himself the prerogative to extend the period for deciding cases beyond the mandatory 90-day period.”

 

THE RESPONDENT’S EXCUSE WAS THAT NO LEGAL RESEARCHER WAS ASSIGNED TO HIM AND HIS CLERK OF COURT WAS JUST RECENTLY APPOINTED. IS THIS  A VALID EXCUSE?

 

THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR PROMPT ACTION ON THE CASE BELONGED FOREMOST TO THE JUDGE AND COULD NOT BE SHIFTED TO OTHERS.

 

“We are also not swayed by his other excuses of not having then a legal researcher assigned to him; and of his branch clerk of court being recently appointed. The court’s business did not stop because of such events; hence, he could not use such excuses to delay his actions on the pending matters before his court. Verily, the responsibility for the prompt and expeditious action on the case, which belonged first and foremost to him as the presiding judge, could not be shifted to others like the legal researcher or the recently appointed branch clerk of court.”

 

RESPONDENT ALSO USED AS JUSTIFICATIONS THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS AND THE FACT THAT HE WAS ALSO THEN UNDER SUSPENSION BECAUSE OF ANOTHER CASE. ARE THESE EXCUSES  VALID?

 

NO BECAUSE  THEY DO NOT PLACE THE TIMELY RESOLUTION OF THE CASE BEYOND HIS CONTROL.

 

“The respondent judge gave other justifications, like the time when the motion for reconsideration was submitted for resolution on December 10, 2009 being already in “the period of euphoria for the Christmas holidays;”23 and that he was serving his three-month suspension from office relative to another administrative case of undue delay in rendering an order when the case was filed, but resolved the complainants’ motion for reconsideration as soon as he reported back to work. We reject these justifications as unworthy explanations of the failure to resolve the motion for reconsideration in an expeditious and seasonal manner simply because they did not place the timely resolution beyond the control of the respondent judge.”

 

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THE FAILURE TO RENDER A DECISION WITHIN THE 90 DAY PERIOD FROM SUBMISSION OF THE CASE FOR DECISION?

 

IT IS DETRIMENTAL TO THE HONOR AND INTEGRITY OF THE JUDICIAL OFFICE AND CONSTITUTES A DEROGATION OF THE SPEEDY ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.

 

“The respondent cannot be spared from the consequences of his undue delays in the case of the complainants. He did not show that he ever requested the Court for the additional time within which to dispose of the matters therein. It then becomes inescapable for him to face the consequences of his inexplicable inaction. He was guilty of gross inefficiency and neglect of duty. Failure to render a decision within the 90day period from the submission of a case for decision is detrimental to the honor and integrity of. the judicial office, and constitutes a derogation of the speedy administration of justice.”

 

WHAT IS THE SANCTION AGAINST UNDUE DELAY IN RENDERING A DECISION OR ORDER?

 

“Under Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, undue delay in rendering a decision or order falls within the category of a less serious charge, and is penalized as follows:

 

SEC. 11. Sanctions. -x x x

 

  1. If the respondent is guilty of a less serious charge. any of the following sanctions shall be imposed:
  2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor more than three (3) months; or
  3. A fine of more than Pl 0,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00.

xx xx”


TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2016-0012-SUSTENTO 

 

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CASE 2016-0011: MILAGROSA JOCSON VS. NELSON SAN MIGUEL (G.R. No. 206941, 09 MARCH 2016, REYES J.) (SUBJECT/S: FRESH PERIOD RULE; APPEALS IN DARAB CASES; RIGHT TO APPEAL) (BRIEF TITLE: JOCSON VS. SAN MIGUEL)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated October 29, 2012 and Resolution dated April 16, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 122007 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders dated July 27, 2011 and October 18, 2011 of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator are hereby REINSTATED.

 

SO ORDERED.”                                                                          

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

WHAT IS THE FRESH PERIOD RULE?

 

“The “fresh period rule” is a procedural law as it prescribes a fresh period of 15 days within which an appeal may be made in the event that the motion for reconsideration is denied by the lower cour” according to the Decision of the CA.

 

SAN MIGUEL FILED ITS APPEAL UNDER THE FRESH PERIOD RULE. DARAB RULED THAT SUCH RULE DOES NOT APPLY BECAUSE THE CASE WAS FILED PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVITY OF THE 2009 DARAB RULES WHICH ADOPTED THE FRESH PERIOD RULE. IS CA CORRECT?

 

NO.  THE 2009 DARAB RULES PROVIDES THAT THE FRESH PERIOD RULE IS NOT RETROACTIVE.

 

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE FRESH PERIOD RULE?

 

ACCORDING TO THE CA DECISION, THE PURPOSE IS to standardize the appeal period provided in the Rules of Court and do away with the confusion as to when the 15-day appeal period should be counted. Thus, the 15-day period to appeal is no longer interrupted by the filing of a motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. Litigants today need not concern themselves with counting the balance of the 15-day period to appeal since the 15-day period is now counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration or any final order or resolution.

 

THE FRESH PERIOD RULE WAS ENUNCIATED IN THE NEYPES CASE. WHAT DOES THIS CASE SAYS:

 

The “fresh period rule” in Neypes declares:

 

To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it practical to allow a fresh period of 15 days within which to file the notice of appeal in the Regional Trial Court, counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a new trial or motion for reconsideration.

 

Henceforth, this “fresh period rule” shall also apply to Rule 40 governing appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional Trial Courts; Rule 42 on petitions for review from the Regional Trial Courts to the [CA]; Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-judicial agencies to the [CA]; and Rule 45 governing appeals by certiorari to the Supreme Court. The new rule aims to regiment or make the appeal period uniform, to be counted from receipt of the order denying the motion for new trial, motion for reconsideration (whether full or partial) or any final order or resolution.

 

DOES THE NEYPES RULING APPLY TO THIS CASE?

 

NO. THE PRESENT CASE IS ADMINISTRATIVE. THE NEYPES RULING APPLIES ONLY TO JUDICIAL APPEALS AND NOT TO ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS.

 

“Petitioner’s present case is administrative in nature involving an appeal from the decision or order of the DENR regional office to the DENR Secretary. Such appeal is indeed governed by Section 1 of Administrative Order No. 87, Series of 1990. As earlier quoted, Section 1 clearly provides that if the motion for reconsideration is denied, the movant shall perfect his appeal “during the remainder of the period of appeal, reckoned from receipt of the resolution of denial;” whereas if the decision is reversed, the adverse party has a fresh 15-day period to perfect his appeal.34 (Citation omitted and emphasis ours)”

 

“The same principle was applied in the recent case of San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Group, Inc. and Oscar Violago v. Ma. Cristina F. Bayang,35 wherein this Court reiterated that the “fresh period rule” in Neypes applies only to judicial appeals and not to administrative appeals.”

 

WHAT IS THE RIGHT TO APPEAL?

 

THE RIGHT TO APPEAL IS NOT A NATURAL RIGHT OR PART OF DUE PROCESS BUT IS MERELY A STATUTORY PRIVILEGE.

 

“As a final note, it is worthy to emphasize that the right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due process, but is merely a statutory privilege that may be exercised only in the manner prescribed by law. The right is unavoidably forfeited by the litigant who does not comply with the manner thus prescribed. In addition, the liberal application of rules of procedure for perfecting appeals is still the exception, and not the rule; and it is only allowed in exceptional circumstances to better serve the interest of justice.36 This exceptional situation, however, does not obtain in this case.”

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2016-0011-JOCSON 

 

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