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Category Archives: Labor Law

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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Labao v. Flores [G.R. No. 187894. November 15, 2010]

FRANCISCO A. LABAOpetitioner,
vs.
LOLITA N. FLORES et al., respondents.

[G.R. No. 187894. November 15, 2010]

FACTS:

Petitioner is the proprietor and general manager of a licensed security-service contractor.  Respondents were security guards assigned to the National Power Corporation (NPC-Mindanao). Petitioner issued a memorandum requiring all security guards to submit their updated personal data files, security guard professional license, and other pertinent documents.  When respondents failed to comply with the petitioner’s directive, despite several notices to do so, the petitioner relieved them. Respondents filed individual complaints with Labor Arbiter (LA) for illegal dismissal and money claims, claiming they were constructively dismissed when they were not given new assignments for a period of over 6 months, despite their repeated requests. Petitioner countered that the respondents’ relief from duty was a valid exercise of its management prerogative. Furthermore, petitioner issued a notice directing the respondents to report to SMPSA’s main office for new assignments, but the latter failed or refused to comply without any valid reasons. The LA ruled in favor of the petitioner. On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the LA decision. Counsel for the respondents appealed with the Court of Appeals (CA) outside the reglementary period, yet the ruling was in favor of respondents. The petitioner and SMPSA moved for reconsideration, arguing that the CA should have dismissed the petition outright for late filing, and that there was no compelling reason for the reversal of the LA and the NLRC’s factual findings. CA considered the respondents’ petition as timely filed and also opined that disregarding any procedural lapses best served substantial justice.

ISSUES:

Labor Law

(1)  Whether or not the ruling of the Labor Arbiter is proper in the sense that petitioner was validly exercising a management prerogative.

Remedial Law

(1)  Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in acting on the respondents’ petition despite of its late filing.

(2)  Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the LA and NLRC decisions.

Legal Ethics

(1)  Whether or not the negligence of counsel binds the respondents.

RULINGS:

Labor Law

(1)  Yes. The LA dismissed the consolidated complaints for lack of merit.  He held that the respondents’ relief from NPC-MRC duty was due to their failure to comply with SMSPA’s requirement for its employees to submit updated documents to meet NPC-MRC contract renewal requirements.  According to the LA, this was a legitimate exercise of NPC-MRC’s management prerogative, in light of the information it received that some security guards carried falsified documents.

Remedial Law

(1)  Yes. Late filing should not be allowed. Under Section 4 of Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, certiorari should be instituted within a period of 60 days from notice of the judgment, order, or resolution sought to be assailed. The 60-day period is inextendible to avoid any unreasonable delay that would violate the constitutional rights of parties to a speedy disposition of their case. Procedural rules do not exist for the convenience of the litigants; the rules were established primarily to provide order to, and enhance the efficiency of, our judicial system. While procedural rules are liberally construed, the provisions on reglementary periods are strictly applied, indispensable as they are to the prevention of needless delays, and are necessary to the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business. The timeliness of filing a pleading is a jurisdictional caveat that even this Court cannot trifle with.

(2)  Yes. The NLRC’s resolution became final ten (10) days after counsel’s receipt, and the respondents’ failure to file the petition within the required (60)-day period rendered it impervious to any attack through a Rule 65 petition for certiorari.  Thus, no court can exercise jurisdiction to review the resolution. A decision 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. All the issues between the parties are deemed resolved and laid to rest once a judgment becomes final and executory; execution of the decision proceeds as a matter of right as vested rights are acquired by the winning party.  Just as a losing party has the right to appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the decision on the case. After all, a denial of a petition for being time-barred is tantamount to a decision on the merits. Otherwise, there will be no end to litigation, and this will set to naught the main role of courts of justice to assist in the enforcement of the rule of law and the maintenance of peace and order by settling justiciable controversies with finality. Petition was granted and the decision of Labor Arbiter is reinstated.

Legal Ethics

(1)  Yes. The Court cannot sustain the respondents’ argument that they cannot be bound by their counsel’s negligence since this would set a dangerous precedent. It would enable every party-litigant to render inoperative any adverse order or decision of the courts or tribunals, through the simple expedient of alleging his/her counsel’s gross negligence. The general rule is that a client is bound by the acts, even mistakes, of his counsel in the realm of procedural technique. The exception to this rule is when the negligence of counsel is so gross, reckless and inexcusable that the client is deprived of his day in court. The failure of a party’s counsel to notify him on time of the adverse judgment, to enable him to appeal therefrom, is negligence that is not excusable.  [Court had] repeatedly held that notice sent to counsel of record is binding upon the client, and the neglect or failure of counsel to inform him of an adverse judgment resulting in the loss of his right to appeal is not a ground for setting aside a judgment valid and regular on its face.

 

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Electromat Manufacturing and Recording Corporation v. Lagunzad [G.R. No. 172699. July 27, 2011]

FACTS:

Private respondent applied for the registration with the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) with its supporting documents. BLR issued Certification of Creation of Local Chapter (equivalent to the certificate of registration of an independent union), pursuant to Department Order No. (D.O.) 40-03. The union has submitted: (1) copies of the ratified CBL; (2) the minutes of the CBL’s adoption and ratification; (3) the minutes of the organizational meetings; (4) the names and addresses of the union officers; (5) the list of union members; (6) the list of rank-and-file employees in the company; (7) a certification of non-existence of a CBA in the company; (8) the resolution of affiliation with WASTO and the latter’s acceptance; and (9) their Charter Certificate. These submissions were properly verified as required by the rules. In sum, the petitioner has no factual basis for questioning the union’s registration, as even the requirements for registration as an independent local have been substantially complied with. Petitioner filed a petition to cancel the union’s registration certificate for the union’s failure to comply with Article 234 of the Labor Code. DOLE-NCR dismissed the petition. In the appeal, the BLR affirmed the dismissed petition. Petitioner sought relief from the Court of Appeals through a petition for certiorari contending that BLR committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming the union’s registration. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition as well as its motion for reconsideration.

ISSUES:

Political Law (Constitutional Law)

Whether or not D.O. 40-03 is unconstitutional for being violative of public policy on trade unionism.

Political Law (Administrative Law)

Whether or not D.O. 40-03 expanded or amended the Labor Code resulting in an invalid exercise of its delegated rule-making power.

Labor Law

Whether or not the respondents were validly registered in accordance with the Labor Code.

 

 

RULINGS:

Political Law (Constitutional Law)

No. D.O. 40-03 represents an expression of the government’s implementing policy on trade unionism. It builds upon the old rules by further simplifying the requirements for the establishment of locals or chapters. There is nothing contrary to the law or the Constitution in the adoption by the Secretary of Labor and Employment of D.O. 40-03 as this department order is consistent with the intent of the government to encourage the affiliation of a local union with a federation or national union to enhance the local’s bargaining power. The sole function of the courts is to apply or interpret the laws.  It does not formulate public policy, which is the province of the legislative and executive branches of government.  It is not for the courts to question change in policy, it being a well-established principle beyond question that it is not within its province to pass judgment upon the policy of legislative or executive action.  Notwithstanding the expanded judicial power under Sec. 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, an inquiry on the above-stated policy would delve into matters of wisdom not within the powers of this Court.

Political Law (Administrative Law)

Yes. The issuance of D.O. 40-03 is a valid exercise of delegated powers as it merely implemented the intent of the law – that in imposing lesser requirements in the case of a branch or local of a registered federation or national union is to encourage the affiliation of a local union with a federation or national union in order to increase the local union’s bargaining powers respecting terms and conditions of labor. D.O. 40-03 was made to recognize the distinctions made in the law itself between federations and their local chapters, and independent unions; local chapters seemingly have lesser requirements because they and their members are deemed to be direct members of the federation to which they are affiliated, which federations are the ones subject to the strict registration requirements of the law.

Labor Law

Yes. The local or chapter of a labor federation or national union becomes a legitimate labor organization upon compliance with Section 3, Rule II, Book V of the Rules Implementing the Labor Code, the only requirement being the submission of the charter certificate to the BLR. The local union in the present case has more than satisfied the requirements the petitioner complains about.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Case Digests, Labor Law, Political Law

 

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Vicente vs. ECC (G.R. No. 85024. January 23, 1991)

DOMINGO VICENTE, petitioner,
vs.
EMPLOYEES’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION, respondent.

Olandesca Law Offices for petitioner.

Ponente: SARMIENTO

FACTS:

[P]etitioner was formerly employed as a nursing attendant at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. At the age of forty-five, and after having rendered more than twenty-five years of government service, he applied for optional retirement under the provisions of Section 12(c) of Republic Act No. 1616, giving as reason therefor his inability to continue working as a result of his physical disability. The petitioner likewise filed with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) an application for “income benefits claim for payment” under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 626, as amended. Both applications were accompanied by the necessary supporting papers, among them being a “Physician’s Certification” issued by the petitioner’s attending doctor. The petitioner’s application for income benefits claim payment was granted but only for permanent partial disability (PPD) compensation or for a period of nineteen months

ISSUE:

Whether or not the petitioner suffers from permanent total disability.

HELD:

YES. The decision of the respondent Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) was set aside.

RATIO:

[T]he petitioner’s permanent total disability is established beyond doubt by several factors and circumstances. Noteworthy is the fact that from all available indications, it appears that the petitioner’s application for optional retirement on the basis of his ailments had been approved. Considering that the petitioner was only 45 years old when he retired and still entitled, under good behavior, to 20 more years in service, the approval of his optional retirement application proves that he was no longer fit to continue in his employment. For optional retirement is allowed only upon proof that the employee-applicant is already physically incapacitated to render sound and efficient service.

The sympathy of law on social security is towards its beneficiaries and the law by its own terms, requires a construction of utmost liberality in its favor.

 

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Corporal vs. ECC and GSIS (G.R. No. 86020. August 05, 1994)

RAMON CORPORAL, petitioner,
vs.
EMPLOYEES’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION and GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM,respondents.

Public Attorney’s Office for petitioner.

Ponente: QUIASON

FACTS:

Petitioner’s wife was employed as a public school teacher. She gave birth to a baby boy with the help of a “hilot.” An hour later, she was rushed to the hospital due to profuse vaginal bleeding. She underwent a hysterectomy but unfortunately, she died on the same day due to “shock, severe hemorrhage” resulting from a “prolapse(d) uterus post partum.” She was 40 years old when she died. Petitioner herein, filed a claim for compensation benefit with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The GSIS denied petitioner’s claim. Petitioner filed several motions for the reconsideration of the denial of his claim to no avail.

ISSUE:

Whether or not petitioner’s claim for death benefits of her wife under Presidential Decree No. 626 is valid.

HELD:

NO. Petition was denied. But under the legal milieu of the case, SC can only suggest, not mandate, that respondents grant ex gratia some form of relief to their members similarly situated as petitioner’s wife.

RATIO:

With the evidence presented in support of the claim, petitioner’s prayer cannot be granted. While as a rule labor and social welfare legislation should be liberally construed in favor of the applicant, (citation omitted), there is also the rule that such liberal construction and interpretation of labor laws may not be applied where the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code and P.D. No. 626, as amended, are clear and leave no room for interpretation.

[L]iberal construction and interpretation of labor laws may not be applied where the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code and P.D. No. 626, as amended, are clear and leave no room for interpretation.

 

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