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Negros Slashers vs Alvin Teng GR No 187122 February 22, 2012 Ponente: Villarama Facts

Alvin Teng, a former player of the PBA, entered into a contract with the Laguna Lakers of the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA). The contract was for 3 years, entered into on Feb. 4, 1999 and ending on Dec. 31, 2001 Before the contract expired, the Lakers traded Teng to Negros Slashers. Negros assumed all the obligations of Lakers under the contract. Subsequently, on March 2000, Teng executed the Players Con tract of Employment with Negros During Game 4 of the Championship Round in the MBA Season 4 playoffs, Teng had a below-average performance. When he was pulled out of the game, he sat on the bench, untied his shoe laces and put on his practice jersey shirt During Game 5, he called in sick. This was seen by the management as unprofessional, serious misconduct. They sent a letter to Teng demanding for an explanation for his behavior and set up a formal investigation hearing. He did not appear. Upon the rescheduled date, Tengs representatives appeared for him. Another meeting was conducted where the team members and coaching staff unanimously expressed their sentiments against Teng. On March 2001 (before contract expired) Teng was sent another letter, this time of termination from the team as a result of the decision from the investigation On July 2001, Teng filed a complaint before the Commissioner of the MBA pursuant to the voluntary arbitration provision in the contract. Four months after (Nov. 6) [According to Teng, the VA failed to yield any result for three months until the MBA itself was dissolved), he also filed an illegal dismissal case with the Regional Arbitration branch of the NLRC On July 16, 2002, LA of NLRC declared the dismissal illegal as the reasons cited did not constitute serious misconduct or willful disobedience or insubordination that would call for the extreme penalty of dismissal. Negros was ordered to pay P2,530,000 On appeal, the NLRC (Sept. 10, 2004; received on Oct. 15) reversed the decision of the LA and dismissed the complaint for being premature as the arbitration proceedings before the MBA were still pending when the case for illegal dismissal was filed Teng filed an MR (Oct. 26), which was dismissed on March 21, 2005 for having been filed beyond the 10-day reglementary period (one day late). Teng filed a petition for certiorari before the CA assailing the NLRC decision and the denial of his MR The CA reinstated the LA decision. It held that the grounds relied upon by the petitioners in dismissing Teng were not enough to merit his dismissal. It also held that the LA had jurisdiction of the case despite voluntary arbitration proceedings with the Commissioner of the MBA

ISSUES 1. Whether the CA erred in giving due course to the petition despite the late filing; 2. Whether Teng violated the rule on forum shoping (2 complaints: VA in CMBA and ID in NLRC); 3. Whether the dismissal of Negros was indeed unjustified and not commensurate with his alleged misconduct. RULING: Petition was denied; CA upheld 1. No. As ruled in Ong Lim Sing, Jr. v. FEB Leasing and Finance Corp., the Courts have the prerogative to relax the rules of procedure when doing so would serve substantial justice and equity. Further, there was no intent to delay administration of justice on the part of Teng, having filed his MR only one day after the deadline for filing. 2. No. The elements of forum shopping are: a) Identity of parties that or such parties that represent the same interests in the action; b) Identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for, based on an identity of facts; c) Identity of the two preceding elements, such that the judgment rendered in one will amount to res judicata on the other action. Here, the third element is missing as a ruling of the CMBA will not amount to res judicata. The elements of res judicata are: a) The judgment (sought to prevent the new action) must be final; b) The court that rendered the judgment must have competent jurisdiction over the subject matter and parties; c) The judgment must have been on the merits; d) There must be identity of parties, subject matter and causes of action between the two actions. There was no res judicata in this case as the CVMBA is not a court of competent jurisdiction within the contemplation of the law. It is a private mediator chosen by both parties in the Contract of Employment. Hence, the filing with the NLRC will not result to forum shopping as the judgment by CMBA will not bar redress in other legal venues. 3. Yes. The penalty of dismissal was incommensurate to the misconduct of Teng. While missing a team game and untying shoe laces while the game is ongoing is both unprofessional and is a punishable offense, it does not justify the extreme penalty of dismissal. It is elementary doctrine that the penalty must be commensurate with the act or omission imputed to the employee and must be imposed in connection with the disciplinary authority of the employer. A severe reprimand, fine or suspension could have been imposed. Further, there was no warning or admonition for Tengs violation, only outright termination of his services WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED for lack of merit and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 17, 2008 and Resolution dated February 11, 2009, in CA-G.R. SP No. 00817 are hereby AFFIRMED.