Category: LATEST SUPREME COURT CASES


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. . .

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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.

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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.

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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 . . . .

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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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