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Continental Steel Manufacturing Corp. v. Montao, 182836, 13 October 2009.

[CHICO-NAZARIO, J.]

FACTS:

Hortillano, an employee of Continental Steel, filed a claim for Paternity Leave, Bereavement Leave and Death and Accident Insurance for dependent pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) concluded between Continental and the Union. The claim was based on the death of Hortillano’s unborn child. Hortillanos wife, had a premature delivery while she was in the 38th week of pregnancy. According to the Certificate of Fetal Death, the female fetus died during labor due to fetal Anoxia secondary to uteroplacental insufficiency. Continental Steel immediately granted Hortillanos claim for paternity leave but denied his claims for bereavement leave and other death benefits, consisting of the death and accident insurance. Continental Steel posited that the express provision of the CBA did not contemplate the death of an unborn child, a fetus, without legal personality. Continental Steel, relying on Articles 40, 41 and 42 of the Civil Code, contended that only one with civil personality could die. Hence, the unborn child never died because it never acquired juridical personality. Proceeding from the same line of thought, Continental Steel reasoned that a fetus that was dead from the moment of delivery was not a person at all.

 

ISSUE: Whether death can only happen to one with civil/juridical personality.

 

HELD: NO.

The reliance of Continental Steel on Articles 40, 41 and 42 of the Civil Code for the legal definition of death is misplaced. Article 40 provides that a conceived child acquires personality only when it is born, and Article 41 defines when a child is considered born. Article 42 plainly states that civil personality is extinguished by death.

First, the issue of civil personality is not relevant herein. Articles 40, 41 and 42 of the Civil Code on natural persons, must be applied in relation to Article 37 of the same Code, the very first of the general provisions on civil personality.

We need not establish civil personality of the unborn child herein since his/her juridical capacity and capacity to act as a person are not in issue. It is not a question before us whether the unborn child acquired any rights or incurred any obligations prior to his/her death that were passed on to or assumed by the child’s parents. The rights to bereavement leave and other death benefits in the instant case pertain directly to the parents of the unborn child upon the latters death.

Second, Sections 40, 41 and 42 of the Civil Code do not provide at all a definition of death. Moreover, while the Civil Code expressly provides that civil personality may be extinguished by death, it does not explicitly state that only those who have acquired juridical personality could die.

And third, death has been defined as the cessation of life. Life is not synonymous with civil personality. One need not acquire civil personality first before he/she could die. Even a child inside the womb already has life. No less than the Constitution recognizes the life of the unborn from conception, that the State must protect equally with the life of the mother. If the unborn already has life, then the cessation thereof even prior to the child being delivered, qualifies as death.

 

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12;13;14;15;16

12th month of every year;

13 years of marriage since

14 December 2003;

15 December 2000 when she first said YES and it has been

16 years  since then.

Happy Anniversary Rhea!

It isn’t about the numbers. Who said that 13 is a bad number? We’re 13 years as husband and wife, 16 years as sweethearts, yet nothing changed, except our physical attributes. God is always the heart, and love is always the blood, of our relationship.

May we continue to be ourselves – longing for each other;

May we remain indefatigable – understanding each’s strength and weaknesses;

May we continue to be the best of friends – with benefits  ;

Lüving ü always.

Mwäh!

Jhez

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2016 in Love and Relationships, Personal

 

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Professional Services Inc. (PSI) v. Agana, G.R. No. 126297, 31 January 2007.

[SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.]

FACTS:

Natividad Agana was rushed to the Medical City General Hospital (Medical City Hospital) because of difficulty of bowel movement and bloody anal discharge. After a series of medical examinations, Dr. Miguel Ampil diagnosed her to be suffering from “cancer of the sigmoid.” Dr. Ampil, assisted by the medical staff of the Medical City Hospital, performed an anterior resection surgery on Natividad. He found that the malignancy in her sigmoid area had spread on her left ovary, necessitating the removal of certain portions of it. Thus, Dr. Ampil obtained the consent of Natividad’s husband, Enrique Agana, to permit Dr. Juan Fuentes, respondent in G.R. No. 126467, to perform hysterectomy on her. Thereafter, Dr. Ampil took over, completed the operation and closed the incision. However, based on the record of the hospital, the attending nurses indicated nota bene that 2 sponges were missing. The same was reported to Dr. Ampil but were not found after “diligent seach”.

After couple of days, Natividad complained of excruciating pain in her anal region. She consulted both Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes about it. They told her that the pain was the natural consequence of the surgery. Dr. Ampil then recommended that she consult an oncologist to examine the cancerous nodes which were not removed during the operation. Natividad went to the United States for four months but she was only declared free of cancer. In Natividad’s return to the Philippines, her daughter found a piece of gauze protruding from her vagina. Upon being informed about it, Dr. Ampil proceeded to her house where he managed to extract by hand a piece of gauze measuring 1.5 inches in width. He then assured her that the pains would soon vanish. But instead the pains intensified, prompting Natividad to seek treatment at the Polymedic General Hospital. While confined there, Dr. Ramon Gutierrez detected the presence of another foreign object in her vagina — a foul-smelling gauze measuring 1.5 inches in width which badly infected her vaginal vault. A recto-vaginal fistula had formed in her reproductive organs which forced stool to excrete through the vagina. Natividad underwent another surgical operation to remedy the damage. Civil and administrative complaints, for damages and gross negligence respectively, were filed against Professional Services Inc., owner of Medical City Hospital, Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes.

ISSUE(S):

Are the following liable?

(1) Professional Services Inc., based on

(a) “employer-employee relationship”;

(b) “doctrine of apparent authority”;

(c) “corporate negligence”;

(2) Dr. Ampil,

(a) for medical negligence;

(b) under the “captain of the ship doctrine”;

(3) Dr.Fuentes, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor;

HELD:

(1)

(a) YES.

[P]rivate hospitals, hire, fire and exercise real control over their attending and visiting ‘consultant’ staff. While ‘consultants’ are not, technically employees, x x x, the control exercised, the hiring, and the right to terminate consultants all fulfill the important hallmarks of an employer-employee relationship, with the exception of the payment of wages. In assessing whether such a relationship in fact exists, the control test is determining. Accordingly, on the basis of the foregoing, we rule that for the purpose of allocating responsibility in medical negligence cases, an employer-employee relationship in effect exists between hospitals and their attending and visiting physicians.

(b) YES.

Apparent authority, or what is sometimes referred to as the “holding out” theory, or doctrine of ostensible agency or agency by estoppel, has its origin from the law of agency. It imposes liability, not as the result of the reality of a contractual relationship, but rather because of the actions of a principal or an employer in somehow misleading the public into believing that the relationship or the authority exists. xxx In this case, PSI publicly displays in the lobby of the Medical City Hospital the names and specializations of the physicians associated or accredited by it, including those of Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes. We concur with the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that it “is now estopped from passing all the blame to the physicians whose names it proudly paraded in the public directory leading the public to believe that it vouched for their skill and competence.” Indeed, PSI’s act is tantamount to holding out to the public that Medical City Hospital, through its accredited physicians, offers quality health care services. By accrediting Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes and publicly advertising their qualifications, the hospital created the impression that they were its agents, authorized to perform medical or surgical services for its patients. As expected, these patients, Natividad being one of them, accepted the services on the reasonable belief that such were being rendered by the hospital or its employees, agents, or servants.

(c) YES.

Hospital’s corporate negligence extends to permitting a physician known to be incompetent to practice at the hospital. xxx [A] patient who enters a hospital does so with the reasonable expectation that it will attempt to cure him. The hospital accordingly has the duty to make a reasonable effort to monitor and oversee the treatment prescribed and administered by the physicians practicing in its premises. In the present case, it was duly established that PSI operates the Medical City Hospital for the purpose and under the concept of providing comprehensive medical services to the public. Accordingly, it has the duty to exercise reasonable care to protect from harm all patients admitted into its facility for medical treatment. Unfortunately, PSI failed to perform such duty.

(2)

(a) YES.

This is a clear case of medical malpractice or more appropriately, medical negligence. To successfully pursue this kind of case, a patient must only prove that a health care provider either failed to do something which a reasonably prudent health care provider would have done, or that he did something that a reasonably prudent provider would not have done; and that failure or action caused injury to the patient. Simply put, the elements are duty, breach, injury and proximate causation. Dr, Ampil, as the lead surgeon, had the duty to remove all foreign objects, such as gauzes, from Natividad’s body before closure of the incision. When he failed to do so, it was his duty to inform Natividad about it. Dr. Ampil breached both duties. Such breach caused injury to Natividad, necessitating her further examination by American doctors and another surgery. That Dr. Ampil’s negligence is the proximate cause of Natividad’s injury could be traced from his act of closing the incision despite the information given by the attending nurses that two pieces of gauze were still missing. That they were later on extracted from Natividad’s vagina established the causal link between Dr. Ampil’s negligence and the injury. And what further aggravated such injury was his deliberate concealment of the missing gauzes from the knowledge of Natividad and her family.

(b) YES.

Under the “Captain of the Ship” rule, the operating surgeon is the person in complete charge of the surgery room and all personnel connected with the operation. Their duty is to obey his orders. As stated before, Dr. Ampil was the lead surgeon. In other words, he was the “Captain of the Ship.” That he discharged such role is evident from his following conduct: (1) calling Dr. Fuentes to perform a hysterectomy; (2) examining the work of Dr. Fuentes and finding it in order; (3) granting Dr. Fuentes’ permission to leave; and (4) ordering the closure of the incision. To our mind, it was this act of ordering the closure of the incision notwithstanding that two pieces of gauze remained unaccounted for, that caused injury to Natividad’s body. Clearly, the control and management of the thing which caused the injury was in the hands of Dr. Ampil, not Dr. Fuentes.

(3) NO.

The requisites for the applicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur are: (1) the occurrence of an injury; (2) the thing which caused the injury was under the control and management of the defendant; (3) the occurrence was such that in the ordinary course of things, would not have happened if those who had control or management used proper care; and (4) the absence of explanation by the defendant. Of the foregoing requisites, the most instrumental is the “control and management of the thing which caused the injury.”

We find the element of “control and management of the thing which caused the injury” to be wanting. Hence, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur will not lie.

It was duly established that Dr. Ampil was the lead surgeon during the operation of Natividad. He requested the assistance of Dr. Fuentes only to perform hysterectomy when he (Dr. Ampil) found that the malignancy in her sigmoid area had spread to her left ovary. Dr. Fuentes performed the surgery and thereafter reported and showed his work to Dr. Ampil. The latter examined it and finding everything to be in order, allowed Dr. Fuentes to leave the operating room. Dr. Ampil then resumed operating on Natividad. He was about to finish the procedure when the attending nurses informed him that two pieces of gauze were missing. A “diligent search” was conducted, but the misplaced gauzes were not found. Dr. Ampil then directed that the incision be closed. During this entire period, Dr. Fuentes was no longer in the operating room and had, in fact, left the hospital.

 

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Enrile and Enrile v. Judge Manalastas, et al., G.R. No. 166414, 22 October 2014.

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS:

The mauling incident involving neighbors end up with filing of criminal case in the MTC for frustrated homicide and less serious physical injuries. Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the joint resolution, arguing that the complainants had not presented proof of their having been given medical attention lasting 10 days or longer, thereby rendering their charges of less serious physical injuries dismissible; and that the two cases for less serious physical injuries, being necessarily related to the case of frustrated homicide still pending in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, should not be governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure. The MTC denied the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration because the grounds of the motion had already been discussed and passed upon in the resolution sought to be reconsidered; and because the cases were governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure, which prohibited the motion for reconsideration. Thereafter, the petitioners presented a manifestation with motion to quash and a motion for the deferment of the arraignment. The MTC denied the motion to quash, and ruled that the cases for less serious physical injuries were covered by the rules on ordinary procedure; and reiterated the arraignment previously scheduled.

Unsatisfied, the petitioners commenced a special civil action for certiorari assailing the order of the MTC in the RTC. RTC Judge Manalastas dismissed the petition for certiorari. The petitioners moved for the reconsideration, but the RTC denied their motion.

The petitioners next went to the CA via a petition for certiorari and prohibition to nullify the orders issued by the RTC, averring grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. They urged the dismissal of the criminal cases on the same grounds they advanced in the RTC. The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition for being the wrong remedy.

ISSUE#1: Whether a petition for certiorari and prohibition is proper in assailing the decision of RTC dismissing an original action for certiorari.

HELD#1: NO.

The proper recourse for the petitioners should be an appeal by notice of appeal, taken within 15 days from notice of the denial of the motion for reconsideration. Yet, the petitioners chose to assail the dismissal by the RTC through petitions for certiorari and prohibition in the CA, instead of appealing by notice of appeal. Such choice was patently erroneous and impermissible, because certiorari and prohibition, being extra ordinary reliefs to address jurisdictional errors of a lower court, were not available to them. Worthy to stress is that the RTC dismissed the petition for certiorari upon its finding that the MTC did not gravely abuse its discretion in denying the petitioners’ motion to quash. In its view, the RTC considered the denial of the motion to quash correct, for it would be premature and unfounded for the MTC to dismiss the criminal cases against the petitioners upon the supposed failure by the complainants to prove the period of their incapacity or of the medical attendance for them. Indeed, the time and the occasion to establish the duration of the incapacity or medical attendance would only be at the trial on the merits.

ISSUE#2: Is it proper to invoke a motion to quash the information filed in the MTC in this case?

HELD#2: NO.

[T]he motion to quash is the mode by which an accused, before entering his plea, challenges the complaint or information for insufficiency on its face in point of law, or for defects apparent on its face. Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court enumerates the grounds for the quashal of the complaint or information, as follows: (a) the facts charged do not constitute an offense; (b) the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged; (c) the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the person of the accused; (d) the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so; (e) the complaint or information does not conform substantially to the prescribed form; (f) more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law; (g) the criminal action or liability has been extinguished; (h) the complaint or information contains averments which, if true, would constitute a legal excuse or justification; and (i) the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.

In the context of Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, the complaints sufficiently charged the petitioners with less serious physical injuries. Indeed, the complaints only needed to aver the ultimate facts constituting the offense, not the details of why and how the illegal acts allegedly amounted to undue injury or damage, for such matters, being evidentiary, were appropriate for the trial. Hence, the complaints were not quashable.

ISSUE#3: Is the presentation of medical certificates that will show the number of days rendered for medication essential during filing of complaint, considering the complaints were filed two (2) months after the alleged incident?

HELD#3: NO.

[T]he presentation of the medical certificates to prove the duration of the victims’ need for medical attendance or of their incapacity should take place only at the trial, not before or during the preliminary investigation. According to Cinco v. Sandiganbayan, the preliminary investigation, which is the occasion for the submission of the parties’ respective affidavits, counter-affidavits and evidence to buttress their separate allegations, is merely inquisitorial, and is often the only means of discovering whether a person may be reasonably charged with a crime, to enable the prosecutor to prepare the information. It is not yet a trial on the merits, for its only purpose is to determine whether a crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused is guilty thereof. The scope of the investigation does not approximate that of a trial before the court; hence, what is required is only that the evidence be sufficient to establish probable cause that the accused committed the crime charged, not that all reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused be removed.

 

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People v. Adil and Fama Jr., G.R. No. L-41863, 22 April 1977.

[BARREDO, J.]

FACTS:

On April 12, 1975, Fama Jr., attacked Viajar by throwing a piece of stone upon his right cheek, inflicting physical injuries which would require medical attendance for a period from 5 to 9 days barring complication as per medical certificate of the physician. A criminal complaint for slight physical injuries was filed against Fama Jr. on April 15, 1975, docketed as Case No. 3335. Meanwhile, Viajar filed another complaint on July 28, 1975, docketed as Case No. 5241, for the same instance of throwing a stone but this time for serious physical injuries because it left permanent scar and deformation on his right face. The first case proceeded and Fama Jr. pleaded not guilty during arraignment. After several postponements by the prosecution, Fama Jr.successfully sought dismissal of the first criminal case invoking the constitutional right to speedy trial. Fama Jr. now moves for the dismissal of the second case on the ground of double jeopardy.

 

ISSUE: Whether or not the additional allegation of deformity in the information in Case No. 5241 constitutes a supervening element which should take this case out of the rule of identity resulting in double jeopardy.

HELD: YES.

This rule of identity does not apply… when the second offense was not in existence at the time of the first prosecution, for the simple reason that in such case there is no possibility for the accused during the first prosecution, to be convicted for an offense that was then inexistent Thus, where the accused was charged with physical injuries and after conviction the injured dies, the charge of homicide against the same accused does not put him twice in jeopardy.

[Here], when the complaint was filed on April 15, 1975, only three days had passed since the incident in which the injuries were sustained took place, and there were yet no indications of a graver injury or consequence to be suffered by said offended party. Evidently, it was only later, after Case No. 3335 had already been filed and the wound on the face of Viajar had already healed, that the alleged deformity became apparent. In other words, in the peculiar circumstances of this case, the plea of double jeopardy of private respondent Fama Jr., cannot hold.

 
 

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Manulat, Jr. v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No.190892, August 17, 2015.

[PERALTA, J.]

FACTS:

Vicente, herein petitioner, is the husband of the deceased Genebe. They have two children, Vince Earl and Leslie Kate, aged three and two years old, respectively. One evening, Vicente, with his two children left their home and went to the house of his mother-in-law, Carmen. Vicente left after dinner.The following morning, Carmen bathed the two children and asked them what happened to their parents. Leslie Kate answered, “Father threw the cellphone, mother’s mouth bled,” while Vince Earl said, “Father choked mama” and “Mama was left home dead.” Carmen did not mind what the children told her and instead told them that their mother was on duty at Gold City. That same day, Genebe was found dead appearing to have committed suicide by hanging herself using nylon rope. However, medical findings apparently show that the hanging was done post mortem. A case for parricide was filed against Vicente.

One of the prosecution witness was Carmen, testifying on the statements made by her grandchildren Vince Earl and Leslie Kate. In order to discredit the evidence of the prosecution, Vicente claims that the testimony of Carmen was purely hearsay and not reliable since the prosecution never presented the children as witnesses to testify as what was told by them to Carmen, their own grandmother. Hence, inadmissible in evidence being hearsay and not statements as part of the res gestae.

ISSUE: Whether the testimony of Carmen as to the statements of her grandchildren qualify as part of res gestae.

HELD: YES.

The res gestae exception to the hearsay rule provides that the declarations must have been “voluntarily and spontaneously made so nearly contemporaneous as to be in the presence of the transaction which they illustrate and explain, and were made under such circumstances as necessarily to exclude the idea of design or deliberation.“There are three essential requisites to admit evidence as part of the res gestae, namely: (1) that the principal act, the res gestae be a startling occurrence; (2) the statements were made before the declarant had the time to contrive or devise a falsehood; and (3) that the statements must concern the occurrence in question and its immediate attending circumstances.In People v. Salafranca, the Court cited two tests in applying the res gestae rule: (a) the act, declaration or exclamation is so intimately interwoven or connected with the principal fact or event that it characterizes as to be regarded as a part of the transaction itself; and (b) the said evidence clearly negatives any premeditation or purpose to manufacture testimony.

There is no hard and fast rule by which spontaneity may be determined although a number of factors have been considered, including, but not always confined to, (1) the time that has lapsed between the occurrence of the act or transaction and the making of the statement, (2) the place where the statement is made, (3) the condition of the declarant when the utterance is given, (4) the presence or absence of intervening events between the occurrence and the statement relative thereto, and (5) the nature and the circumstances of the statement itself.

In this case, this Court finds that the statements of the petitioner and victim’s three-year-old son and two-year-old daughter were spontaneously made. They had no opportunity or chance to invent a story although they made the statements the morning after the occurrence while being bathed by their grandmother Carmen. Their statements were unreflected and instinctive since a three-year-old and a two-year-old children, given their age, do not have the capability, sophistication or malice to fabricate such an incredible story of a violent altercation between their parents and to impute their own father to the killing of their mother.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in Case Digests, Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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MERALCO, et al. v. Lim, G.R. No. 184769, 05 October 2010.

EN BANC

[CARPIO-MORALES, J.]

FACTS:

Rosario G. Lim (respondent), also known as Cherry Lim, an administrative clerk at the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), learned of an anonymous letter that was posted at the door of the Metering Office of the Administration building of MERALCO Plaridel, Bulacan Sector, at which respondent is assigned, denouncing respondent. The letter reads: 

“Cherry Lim:

MATAPOS MONG LAMUNIN LAHAT NG BIYAYA NG MERALCO, NGAYON NAMAN AY GUSTO MONG PALAMON ANG BUONG KUMPANYA SA MGA BUWAYA NG GOBYERNO. KAPAL NG MUKHA MO, LUMAYAS KA RITO, WALANG UTANG NA LOOB…”

By Memorandum, petitioner Alexander Deyto, Head of MERALCO’s Human Resource Staffing, directed the transfer of respondent to MERALCO’s Alabang Sector in Muntinlupa as “A/F OTMS Clerk,” in light of the receipt of “… reports that there were accusations and threats directed against [her] from unknown individuals and which could possibly compromise [her] safety and security.”

Respondent questions the propriety of MERALCO’s action in a letter as “highly suspicious…” and being “punitive”, but the latter never responded. Respondent filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against petitioners before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan. Additionally, respondent prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining petitioners from effecting her transfer to the MERALCO Alabang Sector.

The trial court granted the prayers of respondent including the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction directing petitioners to desist from implementing respondent’s transfer until such time that petitioners comply with the disclosures required.

ISSUES:

[1] Whether the RTC lacked jurisdiction to over the case and cannot restrain MERALCO’s prerogative as employer to transfer the place of work of its employees.

[2] Is the issuance of the writ outside the parameters expressly set forth in the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data? 

 

HELD:

[1] YES.

The habeas data rule, in general, is designed to protect by means of judicial complaint the image, privacy, honor, information, and freedom of information of an individual. It is meant to provide a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy, thus safeguarding the constitutional guarantees of a person’s right to life, liberty and security against abuse in this age of information technology. It bears reiteration that like the writ of amparo, habeas data was conceived as a response, given the lack of effective and available remedies, to address the extraordinary rise in the number of killings and enforced disappearances. Its intent is to address violations of or threats to the rights to life, liberty or security as a remedy independently from those provided under prevailing Rules.

[W]rits of …habeas data will NOT issue to protect purely property or commercial concerns nor when the grounds invoked in support of the petitions therefor are vague or doubtful. Employment constitutes a property right under the context of the due process clause of the Constitution. It is evident that respondent’s reservations on the real reasons for her transfer – a legitimate concern respecting the terms and conditions of one’s employment – are what prompted her to adopt the extraordinary remedy of habeas data. Jurisdiction over such concerns is inarguably lodged by law with the NLRC and the Labor Arbiters.

[2] YES. 

There is no showing from the facts presented that petitioners committed any unjustifiable or unlawful violation of respondent’s right to privacy vis-a-vis the right to life, liberty or security. To argue that petitioners’ refusal to disclose the contents of reports allegedly received on the threats to respondent’s safety amounts to a violation of her right to privacy is at best speculative. Respondent in fact trivializes these threats and accusations from unknown individuals in her earlier-quoted portion of her letter as “highly suspicious, doubtful or are just mere jokes if they existed at all.” And she even suspects that her transfer to another place of work “betray[s] the real intent of management]” and could be a “punitive move.” Her posture unwittingly concedes that the issue is labor-related.

 

 
 

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