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Right to Counsel Article 277 (b), 1st Sentence – Statutory Due Process Subject to the constitutional right of workers to security of tenure and their right to be protected against dismissal except for a just and authorized cause and without prejudice to the requirement of notice under Article 283 of this Code, the employer shall furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the causes for termination and shall afford the latter ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative if he so desires in accordance with company rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to guidelines set by the Department of Labor and Employment. Overall, Art. 277 (b) enunciates the basic requirements of due process that should be observed in termination of employment for just or authorized causes. SALAW vs. NLRC, 202 SCRA 7 (1991) G.R. No. 90786 (2D) September 27, 1991 ESPERO SANTOS SAIAW vs. NLRC, ASSOCIATED BANK AND/ OR JOSE R. TENGCO, Chairman of the Board, ROLLIE TUAZON, Manager Petitioner, Espero Santos Saiaw, was employed by the private respondents in September 1967 as a credit investigatorappraiser which includes as duties, among others, identifying the company's foreclosed assets and verifying the genuineness and encumbrances of the titles of properties mortgaged to the respondents. Petitioner was terminated from his employment effective for alleged serious misconduct or willful disobedience and fraud or willful breach of the trust reposed on him by the private respondents. A year before his termination which was in 1984, the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) of the Philippine Constabulary, NCR, extracted from the petitioner — without the assistance of counsel — a Sworn Statement which made it appear that the petitioner, in cahoots with a co-employee, Reynaldo Madrigal, a supervisor in charge of the acquired assets of respondent Associated Bank, sold 20 sewing machines and electric generators which had been foreclosed by the respondent bank from Worldwide Garment and L.P. Money Garment, for P60,000.00, and divided the proceeds thereof in equal shares of P30,000.00 between the two of them. Thereafter, petitioner was requested by private respondent Rollie Tuazon, the bank manager, to appear before the bank's Personnel Discipline and Investigation Committee (PDIC) which would be meeting the following day in connection with the Worldwide case. When petitioner signified his readiness to appear before the PDIC, the bank manager sent him a letter stating that his request to appear before the PDIC with regard to the Worldwide Case has been accepted so he must come on the date specified therein without counsel or representative. In Saiaw’s complaint for illegal dismissal, LA ruled in favor of Saiaw ordering his reinstatement and payment of his backwages from the date he was dismissed up to his actual reinstatement. But on respondent’s appeal, NLRC held for private respondents and denied petitioner’s MR. Hence, this recourse. ISSUE WON the dismissal of the petitioner was legally justified. HELD NO. Under the Labor Code, as amended, the requirements for the lawful dismissal of an employee by his employer are twofold: the substantive and the procedural. Not only must the dismissal be for a valid or authorized cause as provided by law (Articles 279, 281, 282-284, New Labor Code), but the rudimentary requirements of due process — notice and hearing — must also be observed before an employee may be dismissed. It is true that administrative and quasi-judicial bodies are not bound by the technical rules of procedure in the adjudication cases. However, the right to counsel, a very basic requirement of substantive due process, has to be observed. Indeed, rights to counsel and to due process of law are two of fundamental rights guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution to person under investigation, be the proceeding administrative, civil, or criminal. Thus, Section 12(1), Article III thereof specifically provides: "Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the service of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing in the presence of counsel." To underscore the inviolability this provision, the third paragraph of the same section explicitly states that, "any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible evidence against him." In the case at bar, the investigation of petitioner Salaw by the respondent Bank [observed in respondents’ initial act in convening their Personnel Discipline and Investigation Committee (PDIC) to investigate complainant (after the CIS experience)]
cannot be admitted in evidence against him. and they had to cut short the trip in order to immediately report the matter to the police. June 29. 1st Sentence The employer shall furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the causes for termination and shall afford the latter ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself… KINGS OF KINGS TRANSPORT vs. the windshield of the bus assigned to them was smashed. in as much as he was not given a chance or ample opportunity to defend himself with the assistance of his representative or counsel as provided in Rule XIV. Subsequently. which was affirmed by the NLRC has no more leg to stand on. In his letter. therefore. Aside from this Statement. 3. o Respondent was required to accomplish a "Conductor’s Trip Report" and submit it to the company after each trip. illegal. Petitioner was terminated without the benefit of due process of law. Even the minutes of proceeding taken during the investigation conducted by respondents were not presented. GR No 166208. the company issues an "Irregularity Report" against the employee. governing the dismissal of employees. MAMAC. Book V of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code. KKTI noted an irregularity where it was discovered that respondent declared several sold tickets as returned tickets causing KKTI to lose an income of Php890. His dismissal was. the company audits the reports. which includes the right of the party interested or affected to present his own case and submit evidence in support thereof. decision of LA reinstated. he got confused in making the trip report. Decision shall be stated on said Irregularity Report and will be furnished to the employee. A decision with absolutely nothing to support it is a nullity. Normal consequences of a finding that an employee has been illegally dismissed: Petitioner Saiaw is entitled to reinstatement to his former position without loss of seniority rights and. has to be paid his backwages from the time he was illegally dismissed up to his actual reinstatement. Background: o o REPORT indicates ticket opening/closing for the particular day of duty After submission. Respondents dismissed the complainant on his supposed admission of the offense imputed to him by the CIS in its interrogation. it does imply a necessity which cannot be disregarded namely. petitioner was elected as president of KKTI’s Kaisahan ng mga Kawani sa King of Kings (KKKK). the finding of guilt of the PDIC.violated his constitutional right to due process. the company then makes a determination of whether to accept the explanation or impose upon the employee a penalty for committing an infraction. 2007 FACTS o Respondent Mamac was hired as bus conductor of Don Mariano Transit Corporation (DMTC) in 1999 and became an employee of KKTI after the latter acquired new buses pending the holding of certification election in DMTC. Concerned employee is asked to explain the incident by making a written statement or counter-affidavit at the back of the same Irregularity Report. other evidence was presented by the respondents to establish the culpability of herein petitioner in the fraudulent sale of respondents' foreclosed properties. indicating the nature and details of the irregularity. . Section 5. Said admission was carried in a 3-page Sworn Statement signed by Saiaw. As a result of the incident. then. A decision with absolutely nothing to support it is a nullity. Twin Notice Requirement – Art 277 (b). Upon audit of the (28Oct2001) Conductor’s Report of respondent. While the duty to deliberate does not impose the obligation to decide right. Cardinal primary rights which must be respected even in proceedings of administrative character as enunciated by the SC: The first of these rights is the right to a hearing. DISPOSITION Appealed decision of NLRC. CONCLUSION Considering further that the admission by the petitioner which was extracted from him by the CIS without the assistance of counsel and which was made the sole basis for his dismissal. Once an irregularity is discovered. respondent said that the erroneous declaration in that particular Trip Report was unintentional explaining that during that day’s trip. Not only must the party be given an opportunity to present his case and to adduce evidence tending to establish the rights which he asserts but the tribunal must consider the evidence presented. that of having something to support its decision. After considering the explanation of the employee.
grounds have been established to justify his termination. consult a union official or lawyer. the employers should schedule and conduct a hearing or conference wherein the employees will be given the opportunity to: (1) explain and clarify their defenses to the charge against them. requirements of notice. A verbal appraisal of the charges against an employee does not comply with the first notice requirement. present his evidence. the employers shall serve the employees a written notice of termination indicating that: (1) all circumstances involving the charge against the employees have been considered. the employer shall furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the causes for termination and shall afford the latter ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative if he so desires in accordance with company rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to guidelines set by the DOLE. . ISSUE Whether petitioner KKTI complied with the due process requirements in terminating respondent’s employment as what only accords respondent Mamac was verbal appraisal of the charges against him. this conference or hearing could be used by the parties as an opportunity to come to an amicable settlement. if any. this petition. 282 is being charged against the employees. and giving said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain (written explanation subject to directives) his side. Reasonable opportunity means every kind of assistance that management must accord to the employees to enable them to prepare adequately for their defense. with the assistance of a representative or counsel of their choice. NLRC and the CA ruled that petitioners failed to comply with the required procedural due process prior to respondent’s termination. respondent was terminated. (2) present evidence in support of their defenses. the implementing rule of the aforesaid provision states: SEC. the employees are given the chance to defend themselves personally. During the hearing or conference. and decide on the defenses they will raise against the complaint." CONCLUSION KKTI failed to comply with the due process requirements in terminating the employment of respondent. (b) A hearing or conference during which the employee concerned. HELD: NO Art. After determining that termination of employment is justified. 2. Moreover. For termination of employment based on just causes as defined in Article 282 of the Code: (a) A (first) written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for termination. 277 of the Labor Code provides the manner of termination of employment. The notice should contain a detailed narration of the facts and circumstances that will serve as basis for the charge against the employees. or rebut the evidence presented against him. This should be construed as a period of at least five (5) calendar days from receipt of the notice to give the employees an opportunity to study the accusation against them.o o Subsequently. respondent was not issued a written notice charging him of committing an infraction. First. with the assistance of counsel if he so desires is given opportunity to respond to the charge. stated in the dismissal letter that the Oct2001 irregularity was an act of fraud against the company and included as one of the bases for said dismissal was the other offenses respondent allegedly committed since 1999. and (2) grounds have been established to justify the severance of their employment. gather data and evidence. Hence. After serving the first notice." but maintains that it had substantially complied with the rules. In the instant case. Standards of due process. are violated and/or which among the grounds under Art. the following standards of due process shall be substantially observed: I.––In all cases of termination of employment. indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances. Accordingly. Notice should specifically mention which company rules. claiming that "respondent would not have issued a written explanation had he not been informed of the charges against him. (c) A written notice of termination served on the employee. KKTI admits that it had failed to provide respondent with a "charge sheet. thus: Subject to the constitutional right of workers to security of tenure and their right to be protected against dismissal except for a just and authorized cause without prejudice to the requirement of notice under Article 283 of this Code. and (3) rebut the evidence presented against them by the management.
Second. The reports did not even state a company rule or policy that the employee had allegedly violated. He was unaware that a dismissal proceeding was already being effected. petitioner KKTI is sanctioned to indemnify respondent with nominal damages. Thus. a hearing was still necessary in order for him to clarify and present evidence in support of his defense. not only the latest infraction. Moreover. respondent made the letter merely to explain the circumstances relating to the irregularity in his October 28. DISPOSITION Petition is partially granted. . such would not comply with the requirements of the law as the irregularity reports against respondent for his other offenses contained merely a general description of the charges against him. Likewise. Thus. there is no mention of any of the grounds for termination of employment under Art. he was surprised to receive the termination letter indicating as grounds. KKTI’s "standard" charge sheet is not sufficient notice to the employee. Third. 2001 Conductor’s Trip Report. even assuming that petitioner KKTI was able to furnish respondent an Irregularity Report notifying him of his offense. Thus. 282 of the Labor Code. for non-compliance with the due process requirements in the termination of respondent’s employment. Regardless of respondent’s written explanation. but also his previous ones. no hearing was conducted.
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