People Broadcasting vs DOLE (2012)(Justice Brion)
concur in the result
in affirming with modification
the Court’s Decision of
May 8, 2009. This Decision
originally dismissed respondent Jandeleon Juezan’s money
claims against the petitioner
People’s Broadcasting Service
(Bombo Radyo Phils., Inc.). The present Resolution stillaffirms the ruling in favor of the petitioner, but moreimportantly to me, it recognizes the validity of the
Department of Labor and Employment’s (
) plenary power under Article 128(b) of the Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7730, including its power todetermine the existence of employer-employee relationshipin the exercise of its Article 128(b) powers.
The case arose when the DOLE Regional Office No.
VII conducted an inspection of Bombo Radyo’s premises inresponse to Juezan’s money claims against the broadcasting
company, resulting in an order for Bombo Radyo torectify/restitute the labor standards violations discoveredduring the inspection. Bombo Radyo failed to make anyrectification or restitution, prompting the DOLE to conducta summary investigation. Bombo Radyo reiterated its position, made during the inspection, that Juezan was not itsemployee. Both parties submitted evidence to support their respective positions.DOLE Director Rodolfo M. Sabulao found Juezan to be an employee of Bombo Radyo. Consequently, Director Sabulao ordered Bombo Radyo to pay JuezanP203,726.30representing his demanded money claims. Bombo Radyomoved for reconsideration and submitted additionalevidence, but Director Sabulao denied the motion. BomboRadyo then appealed to the DOLE Secretary, insisting thatJuezan was not its employee as he was a drama talent hiredon a per drama basis. The Acting DOLE Secretarydismissed the appeal for non-perfection due to Bombo
Radyo’s failure to put a cash or surety bond, as required by
Article 128(b) of the Labor Code.Bombo Radyo went to the Court of Appeals (
)through a petition for
under Rule 65 of the Rulesof Court. The CA dismissed the petition for lack of merit.Bombo Radyo then sought relief from this Court, likewisethrough a Rule 65 petition, contending that the CAcommitted grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petition. It justified its recourse to a petitionfor
instead of a Rule 45 appeal by claiming thatthere was no appeal or any plain and adequate remedyavailable to it in the ordinary course of law.On
May 8, 2009, the Court’s Se
cond Divisionrendered a Decision reversing the CA rulings and dismissing
It reviewed the evidence and found thatthere was no employer-employee relationship betweenJuezan and Bombo Radyo.
The Court overruled the CA’s
recognition of t
he DOLE’s power to determine the
existence of employer-employee relationship in a laborstandards case under Article 128(b) of the Labor Code
.It stressed that the power to determine the existence of employer-employee relationship is primarily lodged with the National Labor Relations Commission (
) based on the
clause “in cases where the relationship of employer
employee still exists” in Article 128(b).
The May 8, 2009 Court Decision was not unanimous.I wrote a Dissent and was joined by Justice Conchita Carpio
Morales. I took strong exception to the Court’s Decision for:
1. taking cognizance of Bombo Radyo’s Rule 65
despite the fact that a Rule 45 appeal(petition for review on
) was available to thecompany and would have been the proper recourse sinceerrors of law against the CA were raised;2. allowing a Deed of Assignment of Bank Deposits as a substitute for a cash or surety bond in perfecting an appeal to the Labor Secretary, in violation of Article 128(b) of the Labor Code which requires
a cashor surety bond;3. re-examining the evidence and finding thatthere was no employer-employee relationship betweenJuezan and Bombo Radyo, thereby reversing the DOLE
Regional Director’s fin
dings which had already lapsed intofinality in view of the non-perfection of the appeal;4. holding that while the Regional Director and theDOLE Secretary may preliminarily determine the existenceof an employer-employee relationship in a labor standardscase, they can be divested of jurisdiction over the issue by amere
showing of an absence of an employer-employee relationship.
The Public Attorney’s Office (
) moved, withleave of court, to clarify the Decision on the question of when the visitorial and enforcement power of the DOLE can be considered co-extensive or not co-extensive with the power to determine the existence of an employer-employeerelationship. The DOLE, in its Comment, also sought toclarify the extent of its visitorial and enforcement power under the Labor Code.The Court, treating the Motion for Clarification as aSecond Motion for Reconsideration, granted the motion andreinstated the petition.
The Court’s Ruling
In a reversal of position, the
presentResolution now recognizes that the determination of theexistence of an employer-employee relationship by theDOLE, in the exercise of its visitorial and enforcementpower under Article 128(b) of the Labor Code, is entitledto full respect and must be fully supported.
Itcategorically states: No limitation in the lawwas placed upon the power of the DOLEto determine the existence of anemployer-employee relationship. No procedure was laid down where theDOLE would only make a preliminaryfinding, that the power was primarilyheld by the NLRC. The law did not saythat the DOLE would first seek the
NLRC’s determination of the existence
of an employer-employee relationship,or that should the existence of theemployer-employee relationship bedisputed, the DOLEwould refer the matter to the NLRC.The DOLE must have the power to determine whether or not anemployer-employee relationship exists,and from there todecide whether or not to issue compliance orders in accordance with Art.128(b) of the Labor Code, as amended by RA 7730.