Archive for January, 2018


CASE 2017-0040: EXPEDITION CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION ET AL VS ALEXANDER M. AFRICA ET AL. (G.R. NO. 228671, 14 DEC 2017, DEL CASTILLO, J.) (SUBJECT/S: FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE EVEN WITHOUT ILLEGAL DISMISSAL) (BRIEF TITLE: EXPEDITION CONSTRUCTION VS AFRICA ET AL)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

 “WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated March 3 l, 2016 and Resolution dated December 9, 2016 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 142007 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the awards of reinstatement, back wages, attorney’s fees and.legal interest are DELETED there being no illegal dismissal. The award of separation pay, as a form of financial assistance, in the National Labor Relations Commission’s Resolution dated April 30, 2015 is REINSTATED.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

 SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

THERE IS NO FINDING OF ILLEGAL DISMISSAL. IS AWARD OF SEPARATION PAY/FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE STILL PROPER?

 

YES AS A MEASURE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE UNDER EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

 

“As a measure of social justice, the award of separation pay/financial assistance has been upheld in some cases 40 even if there is no finding of illegal dismissal. The Court, in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Sedan,41 had this to say:

 

x x x We are not unmindful of the rule that financial assistance is allowed only in instances where the employee is validly dismisse<l for causes other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on his moral character. Neither are we unmindful of this Court’s pronouncements in Arc~Men Food Industries Corporation v. NLRC, and Lemery Savings and Loan Bank v. NLRC, where the Court ruled that when there is no dismissal to spe~1k of, an award of financial assistance is not in order.

 

But we must stress that this Court did allow, in several instances, the grant of financial assistance. In the words of Justice Sabino de Leon, Jr., now deceased, financial assistance may be allowed as a measure of social justice [under] exceptional circumstances, and as an equitable concession. The instant case equally calls for balancing the interests of the employer with those of the worker, if only to approximate what Justice Laurel calls justice in its secular sense.

 

In a Manifestation42 submitted before the CA, Expedition expressed willingness to extend gratuitous assistance to respondents and to pay them the amounts equivalent to the separation pay awarded to each respondent in the April 30, 2015 NLRC Resolution. ln view of this and taking into account respondents’ long years of service ranging from four to 1 5 years, the Court finds that the grant of separation pay at the rate of one-half (Yi) month’s salary for every year of service, as adjudged in the April 30, 2015 Resolution of the NLRC, is proper.”

  

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

 

SCD-2017-0040-EXPEDITION CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION ET AL VS ALEXANDER M. AFRICA ET AL.

 

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CASE 2017-0039: OPHELIA HERNAN, Petitioner, VS. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, RESPONDENT (G.R. NO. 217874, 05 DEC 2017,  PERALTA, J.) (WHEN FINAL JUDGMENT CAN STILL BE MODIFIED) (BRIEF TITLE: HERNAN VS. PEOPLE)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED. The Resolution dated February 2, 2015 and Decision dated November 13, 2009 of the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six ( 6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum term, to three (3) years, six (6) months, and twenty (20) days prision correccional, as maximum term.

 

Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Court Administrator ( OCA) for dissemination to the First and Second Level courts, and also to the Presiding Justices of the appellate courts, the Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General, Public Attorney’s Office, Prosecutor General’s Office, the Directors of the National Penitentiary and Correctional Institution for Women, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for their information, guidance, and appropriate action.

 

Likewise, let the Office of the President, the Senate of the Philippines, and the House of Representatives, be furnished copies of this Decision for their information.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT A JUDGMENT THAT HAS ACQUIRED FINALITY BECOMES IMMUTABLE AND UNALTERABLE, AND MAY NO LONGER BE MODIFIED IN ANY RESPECT EVEN IF THE MODIFICATION IS MEANT TO CORRECT ERRONEOUS CONCLUSIONS OF FACT OR LAW AND WHETHER IT WILL BE MADE BY THE COURT THAT RENDERED IT OR BY THE HIGHEST COURT OF THE LAND.

 

IS THERE AN EXCEPTION?


YES, THERE IS AN EXCEPTION:  WHEN, HOWEVER, CIRCUMSTANCES TRANSPIRE AFTER THE FINALITY OF THE DECISION RENDERING ITS EXECUTION UNJUST AND INEQUITABLE, THE COURT MAY SIT EN BANE AND GIVE DUE REGARD TO SUCH EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCE WARRANTING THE RELAXATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF IMMUTABILITY.

 

“The foregoing notwithstanding, the Court finds that it is still necessary to reopen the instant case and recall the Entry of Judgment dated June 26, 2013 of the Sandiganbayan, not for further reception of evidence, however, as petitioner prays for, but in order to modify the penalty imposed by said court. The general rule is that a judgment that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. 54 When, however, circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision rendering its execution unjust and inequitable, the Court may sit en bane and give due regard to such exceptional circumstance warranting the relaxation of the doctrine of immutability. The same is in line with Section 3(c),55 Rule II of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Comi, which provides that cases raising novel questions of law are acted upon by the Court en bane. To the Court, the recent passage of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10951 entitled An Act Adjusting the Amount or the Value of Property and Damage on which a Penalty is Based and the Fines Imposed Under the Revised Penal Code Amending for the Purpose Act No. 3815 Otherwise Known as the “Revised Penal Code” as Amended which accordingly reduced the penalty applicable to the crime charged herein is an example of such exceptional circumstance. . .”

 

R.A. NO. 10951, THEN NEWLY PASSED, ENTITLED AN ACT ADJUSTED THE AMOUNT OR THE VALUE OF PROPERTY AND DAMAGE ON WHICH A PENALTY IS BASED AND THE FINES IMPOSED. WILL THIS APPLY TO PETITIONER?

 

YES. THUS FINAL JUDGMENT MUST BE MODIFIED.

 

 

“Thus, in order to effectively avoid any injustice that petitioner may suffer as well as a possible multiplicity of suits arising therefrom, the Court deems it proper to reopen the instant case and recall the Entry of Judgment dated June 26, 2013 of the Sandiganbayan, which imposed the penalty of six ( 6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to eleven (11) years, six (6) months, and twenty-one (21) days of prision mayor, as maximum. Instead, since the amount involved herein is Pl 1,300.00, which does not exceed !!40,000.00, the new penalty that should be imposed is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, which has a prison term of two (2) years, four (4) months, and one (1) day, to six (6) years. The Court, however, takes note of the presence of the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender appreciated by the Sandiganbayan in favor of petitioner.60 Hence, taking into consideration the absence of any aggravating circumstance and the presence of one ( 1) mitigating circumstance, the range of the penalty that must be imposed as the maximum term should be prision correccional medium to prision correccional maximum in its minimum period, or from two (2) years, four ( 4) months, and one (1) day, to three (3) years, six (6) months, and twenty (20) days, in accordance with Article 6461 of the RPC. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the range of the minimum term that should be imposed upon petitioners is anywhere within the period of arresto mayor, maximum to prision correccional minimum with a range of four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months. Accordingly, petitioner is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six ( 6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to three (3) years, six (6) months, and twenty (20) days prision correccional, as maximum.”

 

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

 

SCD-2017-0039-PHELIA HERNAN VS. SANDIGANBAYAN – G.R. NO. 217874. DECEMBER 5, 2017

 

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CASE 2017-0038: REPR. EDCEL C. LAGMAN ET AL. VS. HON. SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA ET AL. (G.R. NO. 231658)-  EUFEMIA CAMPOS CULLAMAT, ET AL. VS. HON. SALVADOR MEDIALDEA, ET AL (G.R. NO. 231771) –  NORKAYA S. MOHAMAD, ET AL. VS. HON. SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA, ET AL (G.R. NO. 231774) (05 DEC 2017, DEL CASTILLO J.) (DENIAL OF MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION OF DECISION AFFIRMING MARTIAL LAW DECLARATION) (BRIEF TITLE: LAGMAN ET AL VS. MEDIALDIA ET AL.)

 

 DISPOSITIVE:

 

WHEREFORE, petitioners’ l\1otions for Reconsideration are hereby DENIED WITH FINALITY for mootness and lack of merit.

 

No further pleadings shall be entertained.

 

Let entry of judgment be made immediately.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

MUST THE PRESIDENT FIRST VALIDATE ALL INFORMATION HE RECEIVES BEFORE DECLARING MARTIAL LAW?

 

NO.

 

This is consistent with our ruling that “the President only needs to convince himself that there is probable cause or evidence showing that more likely than not a rebellion was committed or is being committed.”7 The standard of proof of probable cause does not require absolute truth. Since “martial law is a matter of urgency xx x the President xx x is not expected to completely validate all the information he received before declaring martial law or suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”8

 

Notably, out of the several facts advanced by the President as basis for Proclamation No. 216, only five of them were being questioned by the petitioners. However, they were not even successful in their refutation since their “counterevidence were derived solely from unverified news articles on the internet, with neither the authors nor the sources shown to have affirmed the contents thereof. It was not even shown that efforts were made to secure such affirmation albeit the circumstances proved futile.”9 Even granting that the petitioners were successful in their attempt to refute the aforesaid five incidents, there are other facts sufficient to serve as factual basis for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

 

DID THE COURT ABDICATE ITS POWER TO REVIEW WHEN IT UPHOLD THE PRESIDENT’S PROCLAMATION OF MARTIAL LAW?

  

There is absolutely no basis to petitioners’ claim that the Court abdicated its power to review. To be sure, our findings that there was sufficient factual basis for the issuance of Proclamation No. 216 and that there was probable cause, that is, that more likely than not, rebellion exists and that public safety requires the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, were reached after due consideration of the facts, events, and information enumerated in the proclamation and report to Congress. The Court did not content itself with the examination only of the pleadings/documents submitted by the parties. In addition, it conducted a closed-door session where it tried to ferret additional information, confirmation  and clarification from the resource persons particularly Secretary ofNational Defense Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Afio. At this juncture, it must be stated that the Court is not even obliged to summon witnesses as long as it satisfies itself with the sufficiency of the factual basis; it is purely discretionary on its part whether to call additional witnesses. In any event,_ rel~ance on so-called intelligence reports, even without presentation of its author, is proper and allowed by law.

 

The Court’s acknowledgment of the President’s superior data gathering apparatus, and the fact that it has given the Executive much leeway and flexibility, should never be understood as a prelude to surrendering the judicial power to review. The Court never intended to concede its power to verify the sufficiency of factual basis for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The leeway and flexibility accorded to the Executive must be construed in the context of the present set up wherein the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus are grounded on actual invasion or rebellion, not on imminent threat or danger thereof; as such, time is of the essence for the President to act quickly to protect the country. It is also a recognition of the unassailable fact that as Commander-inChief, the President has access to confidential information. In fact, Fr. Joaquin Bernas even opined that the Court might have to rely on the fact-finding capabilities of the Executive; in tum, the Executive should share its findings with the Court if it wants to convince the latter of the propriety of its action.10 Moreover, it is based on the understanding that martial law is a flexible concept; that “the precise extent or range of the rebellion [cannot] be measured by exact metes and bounds;”11 that public safety requirement cannot be quantified or measured by metes and bounds; that the Constitution does not provide that the territorial scope or coverage of martial law should be confined only to those areas where the armed public uprising actually transpired; that it will be impractical to expand the territorial application of martial law each time the coverage of actual rebellion expands and in direct proportion therewith; and, that there is always a possibility that the rebellion and other accompanying hostilities will spill over.

 

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

 

SCD-2017-0038-REPR. EDCEL C. LAGMAN ET AL. VS. HON. SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA ET AL. – EUFEMIA CAMPOS CULLAMAT, ET AL. VS. HON. SALVADOR MEDIALDEA, ET AL. – NORKA 

 

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