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13.

Corporal v NLRC SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 129315. October 2, 2000]

OSIAS I. CORPORAL, SR., PEDRO TOLENTINO, MANUEL CAPARAS, ELPIDIO LACAP, SIMPLICIO PEDELOS, PATRICIA NAS, and TERESITA FLORES, petitioners, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, LAO ENTENG COMPANY, INC. and/or TRINIDAD LAO ONG,respondents. DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: This special civil action for certiorari seeks the review of the Resolution dated October 17, 1996 of public respondent National Labor Relations Commission (First Division),[1] in NLRC NCR Case No. 00-04-03163-95, and the Resolution dated March 5, 1997 denying the motion for reconsideration. The aforecited October 17th Resolution affirmed the Decision dated September 28, 1996 of Labor Arbiter Potenciano S. Caizares dismissing the petitioners' complaint for illegal dismissal and declaring that petitioners are not regular employees of private respondent Lao Enteng Company, Inc.. The records of the case show that the five male petitioners, namely, Osias I. Corporal, Sr., Pedro Tolentino, Manuel Caparas, Elpidio Lacap, and Simplicio Pedelos worked as barbers, while the two female petitioners, Teresita Flores and Patricia Nas worked as manicurists in New Look Barber Shop located at 651 P. Paterno Street, Quiapo, Manila owned by private respondent Lao Enteng Co. Inc.. Petitioner Nas alleged that she also worked as watcher and marketer of private respondent. Petitioners claim that at the start of their employment with the New Look Barber Shop, it was a single proprietorship owned and managed by Mr. Vicente Lao. In or about January 1982, the children of Vicente Lao organized a corporation which was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as Lao Enteng Co. Inc. with Trinidad Ong as President of the said corporation. Upon its incorporation, the respondent company took over the assets, equipment, and properties of the New Look Barber Shop and continued the business. All the petitioners were allowed to continue working with the new company until April 15, 1995 when respondent Trinidad Ong informed them that the building wherein the New Look Barber Shop was located had been sold and that their services were no longer needed.[2]
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On April 28, 1995, petitioners filed with the Arbitration Branch of the NLRC, a complaint for illegal dismissal, illegal deduction, separation pay, non-payment of 13th month pay, and salary differentials. Only petitioner Nas asked for payment of salary differentials as she alleged that she was paid a daily wage of P25.00 throughout her period of employment. The petitioners also sought the refund of the P1.00 that the respondent company collected from each of them daily as salary of the sweeper of the barber shop. Private respondent in its position paper averred that the petitioners were joint venture partners and were receiving fifty percent commission of the amount charged to customers. Thus, there was no employer-employee relationship between them and petitioners. And assuming arguendo, that there was an employer-employee relationship, still petitioners are not entitled to separation pay because the cessation of operations of the barber shop was due to serious business losses. Respondent Trinidad Lao Ong, President of respondent Lao Enteng Co. Inc., specifically stated in her affidavit dated September 06, 1995 that Lao Enteng Company, Inc. did not take over the management of the New Look Barber Shop, that after the death Lao Enteng petitioner were verbally informed time and again that the partnership may fold up anytime because nobody in the family had the time to be at the barber shop to look after their interest; that New Look Barber Shop had always been a joint venture partnership and the operation and management of the barber shop was left entirely to petitioners; that her father's contribution to the joint venture included the place of business, payment for utilities including electricity, water, etc. while petitioners as industrial partners, supplied the labor; and that the barber shop was allowed to remain open up to April 1995 by the children because they wanted to give the partners a chance at making it work. Eventually, they were forced to close the barber shop because they continued to lose money while petitioners earned from it. Trinidad also added that private respondents had no control over petitioners who were free to come and go as they wished. Admittedly too by petitioners they received fifty percent to sixty percent of the gross paid by customers. Trinidad explained that some of the petitioners were allowed to register with the Social Security System as employees of Lao Enteng Company, Inc. only as an act of accommodation. All the SSS contributions were made by petitioners.Moreover, Osias Corporal, Elpidio Lacap and Teresita Flores were not among those registered with the Social Security System. Lastly, Trinidad avers that without any employeeemployer relationship petitioners claim for 13th month pay and separation pay have no basis in fact and in law.[3] In a Decision dated September 28, 1995, Labor Arbiter Potenciano S. Caizares, Jr. ordered the dismissal of the complaint on the basis of his findings that the complainants and the respondents were engaged in a joint venture and that there existed no employer-employee relation between them. The Labor Arbiter also found that the barber shop was closed due to serious business losses or financial reverses and consequently declared that the law does not compel the establishment to pay separation pay to whoever were its employees.[4]
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On appeal, NLRC affirmed the said findings of the Labor Arbiter and dismissed the complaint for want of merit, ratiocinating thus: Indeed, complainants failed to show the existence of employer-employee relationship under the fourway test established by the Supreme Court. It is a common practice in the Barber Shop industry that barbers supply their own scissors and razors and they split their earnings with the owner of the barber shop. The only capital of the owner is the place of work whereas the barbers provide the skill and expertise in servicing customers. The only control exercised by the owner of the barber shop is to ascertain the number of customers serviced by the barber in order to determine the sharing of profits. The barbers maybe characterized as independent contractors because they are under the control of the barber shop owner only with respect to the result of the work, but not with respect to the details or manner of performance. The barbers are engaged in an independent calling requiring special skills available to the public at large.[5] Its motion for reconsideration denied in the Resolution[6] dated March 5, 1997, petitioners filed the instant petition assigning that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in: I. ARBITRARILY DISREGARDING SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE PROVING THAT PETITIONERS WERE EMPLOYEES OF RESPONDENT COMPANY IN RULING THAT PETITIONERS WERE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. II. NOT HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS WERE ILLEGALLY DISMISSED AND IN NOT AWARDING THEIR MONEY CLAIMS.[7] Petitioners principally argue that public respondent NLRC gravely erred in declaring that the petitioners were independent contractors. They contend that they were employees of the respondent company and cannot be considered as independent contractors because they did not carry on an independent business. They did not cut hair, manicure, and do their work in their own manner and method. They insist they were not free from the control and direction of private respondents in all matters, and their services were engaged by the respondent company to attend to its customers in its barber shop. Petitioners also stated that, individually or collectively, they do not have substantial capital nor investments in tools, equipments, work premises and other materials necessary in the conduct of the barber shop. What the barbers owned were merely combs, scissors, and razors, while the manicurists owned only nail cutters, nail polishes, nippers and cuticle removers. By no standard can these be considered "substantial capital" necessary to operate a barbers shop. Finally, petitioners fault the NLRC for arbitrarily disregarding substantial evidence on record showing that petitioners Pedro Tolentino, Manuel Caparas, Simplicio Pedelos, and Patricia Nas were registered with the Social Security System as regular employees of the respondent company. The SSS employment records in common show that the employer's ID No. of Vicente Lao/Barber and Pawn Shop was 03-0606200-1 and that of the respondent
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company was 03-8740074-7. All the foregoing entries in the SSS employment records were painstakingly detailed by the petitioners in their position paper and in their memorandum appeal but were arbitrarily ignored first by the Labor Arbiter and then by the respondent NLRC which did not even mention said employment records in its questioned decision. We found petition is impressed with merit. In our view, this case is an exception to the general rule that findings of facts of the NLRC are to be accorded respect and finality on appeal. We have long settled that this Court will not uphold erroneous conclusions unsupported by substantial evidence.[8] We must also stress that where the findings of the NLRC contradict those of the labor arbiter, the Court, in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, may look into the records of the case and reexamine the questioned findings.[9] The issues raised by petitioners boil down to whether or not an employer-employee relationship existed between petitioners and private respondent Lao Enteng Company, Inc. The Labor Arbiter has concluded that the petitioners and respondent company were engaged in a joint venture. The NLRC concluded that the petitioners were independent contractors. The Labor Arbiter's findings that the parties were engaged in a joint venture is unsupported by any documentary evidence. It should be noted that aside from the self-serving affidavit of Trinidad Lao Ong, there were no other evidentiary documents, nor written partnership agreements presented. We have ruled that even the sharing of proceeds for every job of petitioners in the barber shop does not mean they were not employees of the respondent company.[10] Petitioner aver that NLRC was wrong when it concluded that petitioners were independent contractors simply because they supplied their own working implements, shared in the earnings of the barber shop with the owner and chose the manner of performing their work. They stressed that as far as the result of their work was concerned the barber shop owner controlled them. An independent contractor is one who undertakes "job contracting", i.e., a person who (a) carries on an independent business and undertakes the contract work on his own account under his own responsibility according to his own manner and method, free from the control and direction of his employer or principal in all matters connected with the performance of the work except as to the results thereof, and (b) has substantial capital or investment in the form of tools, equipment, machineries, work premises, and other materials which are necessary in the conduct of the business.[11] Juxtaposing this provision vis--vis the facts of this case, we are convinced that petitioners are not "independent contractors". They did not carry on an independent business. Neither did they undertake cutting hair and manicuring nails, on their own as their responsibility, and
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in their own manner and method. The services of the petitioners were engaged by the respondent company to attend to the needs of its customers in its barber shop. More importantly, the petitioners, individually or collectively, did not have a substantial capital or investment in the form of tools, equipment, work premises and other materials which are necessary in the conduct of the business of the respondent company. What the petitioners owned were only combs, scissors, razors, nail cutters, nail polishes, the nippers - nothing else. By no standard can these be considered substantial capital necessary to operate a barber shop. From the records, it can be gleaned that petitioners were not given work assignments in any place other than at the work premises of the New Look Barber Shop owned by the respondent company. Also, petitioners were required to observe rules and regulations of the respondent company pertaining, among other things, observance of daily attendance, job performance, and regularity of job output. The nature of work performed by were clearly directly related to private respondent's business of operating barber shops. Respondent company did not dispute that it owned and operated three (3) barber shops. Hence, petitioners were not independent contractors. Did an employee-employer relationship exist between petitioners and private respondent? The following elements must be present for an employer-employee relationship to exist: (1) the selection and engagement of the workers; (2) power of dismissal; (3) the payment of wages by whatever means; and (4) the power to control the worker's conduct, with the latter assuming primacy in the overall consideration. Records of the case show that the late Vicente Lao engaged the services of the petitioners to work as barbers and manicurists in the New Look Barber Shop, then a single proprietorship owned by him; that in January 1982, his children organized a corporation which they registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as Lao Enteng Company, Inc.; that upon its incorporation, it took over the assets, equipment, and properties of the New Look Barber Shop and continued the business; that the respondent company retained the services of all the petitioners and continuously paid their wages. Clearly, all three elements exist in petitioners' and private respondent's working arrangements. Private respondent claims it had no control over petitioners. The power to control refers to the existence of the power and not necessarily to the actual exercise thereof, nor is it essential for the employer to actually supervise the performance of duties of the employee. It is enough that the employer has the right to wield that power.[12] As to the "control test", the following facts indubitably reveal that respondent company wielded control over the work performance of petitioners, in that: (1) they worked in the barber shop owned and operated by the respondents; (2) they were required to report daily and observe definite hours of work; (3) they were not free to accept other employment elsewhere but devoted their full time working in the New Look Barber Shop for all the fifteen (15) years they have worked until April 15, 1995; (4) that some have worked with respondents as early as in the 1960's; (5) that petitioner Patricia Nas was instructed by the respondents to watch the other six (6) petitioners in their
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daily task. Certainly, respondent company was clothed with the power to dismiss any or all of them for just and valid cause. Petitioners were unarguably performing work necessary and desirable in the business of the respondent company. While it is no longer true that membership to SSS is predicated on the existence of an employee-employer relationship since the policy is now to encourage even the self-employed dressmakers, manicurists and jeepney drivers to become SSS members, we could not agree with private respondents that petitioners were registered with the Social Security System as their employees only as an accommodation. As we have earlier mentioned private respondent showed no proof to their claim that petitioners were the ones who solely paid all SSS contributions. It is unlikely that respondents would report certain persons as their workers, pay their SSS premium as well as their wages if it were not true that they were indeed their employees.[13] Finally, we agree with the labor arbiter that there was sufficient evidence that the barber shop was closed due to serious business losses and respondent company closed its barber shop because the building where the barber shop was located was sold. An employer may adopt policies or changes or adjustments in its operations to insure profit to itself or protect investment of its stockholders. In the exercise of such management prerogative, the employer may merge or consolidate its business with another, or sell or dispose all or substantially all of its assets and properties which may bring about the dismissal or termination of its employees in the process.[14] Prescinding from the above, we hold that the seven petitioners are employees of the private respondent company; as such, they are to be accorded the benefits provided under the Labor Code, specifically Article 283 which mandates the grant of separation pay in case of closure or cessation of employer's business which is equivalent to one (1) month pay for every year of service.[15] Likewise, they are entitled to the protection of minimum wage statutes. Hence, the separation pay due them may be computed on the basis of the minimum wage prevailing at the time their services were terminated by the respondent company. The same is true with respect to the 13th month pay. The Revised Guidelines on the Implementation of the 13th Month Pay Law states that "all rank and file employees are now entitled to a 13th month pay regardless of the amount of basic salary that they receive in a month. Such employees are entitled to the benefit regardless of their designation or employment status, and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid, provided that they have worked for at least one (1) month during a calendar year" and so all the seven (7) petitioners who were not paid their 13th month pay must be paid accordingly.[16] Anent the other claims of the petitioners, such as the P10,000.00 as penalty for noncompliance with procedural process; P10,000.00 as moral damages; refund of P1.00 per day paid to the sweeper; salary differentials for petitioner Nas; attorney's fees), we find them without basis.
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IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The public respondent's Decision dated October 17, 1996 and Resolution dated March 05, 1997 are SET ASIDE. Private respondents are hereby ordered to pay, severally and jointly, the seven (7) petitioners their (1) 13th month pay and (2) separation pay equivalent to one month pay for every year of service, to be computed at the then prevailing minimum wage at the time of their actual termination which was April 15, 1995. Costs against private respondents. SO ORDERED. Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

14. Villamaria v CA FIRST DIVISION

OSCAR VILLAMARIA, JR. Petitioner,

G.R. No. 165881 Present: PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairperson, YNARES-SANTIAGO, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ. CALLEJO, SR., and CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ. Promulgated: April 19, 2006

- versus -

COURT OF APPEALS and JERRY V. BUSTAMANTE, Respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court assailing the Decision[1] and Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 78720 which set aside the Resolution[3] of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NCR-30-08-03247-00, which in turn affirmed the Decision[4]of the Labor Arbiter dismissing the complaint filed by respondent Jerry V. Bustamante.

Petitioner Oscar Villamaria, Jr. was the owner of Villamaria Motors, a sole proprietorship engaged in assembling passenger jeepneys with a public utility franchise to operate along the Baclaran-Sucat route. By 1995, Villamaria stopped assembling jeepneys and retained only nine, four of which he operated by employing drivers on a boundary basis. One of those drivers was respondent Bustamante who drove the jeepney with Plate No. PVU-660. Bustamante remitted P450.00 a day to Villamaria as boundary and kept the residue of his daily
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earnings as compensation for driving the vehicle. In August 1997, Villamaria verbally agreed to sell the jeepney to Bustamante under the boundary-hulogscheme, where Bustamante would remit to Villarama P550.00 a day for a period of four years; Bustamante would then become the owner of the vehicle and continue to drive the same under Villamarias franchise. It was also agreed that Bustamante would make a downpayment of P10,000.00. On August 7, 1997, Villamaria executed a contract entitled Kasunduan ng Bilihan ng Sasakyan sa Pamamagitan ng Boundary-Hulog[5] over the passenger jeepney with Plate No. PVU-660, Chassis No. EVER95-38168-C and Motor No. SL-26647. The parties agreed that if Bustamante failed to pay the boundary-hulog for three days, Villamaria Motors would hold on to the vehicle until Bustamante paid his arrears, including a penalty of P50.00 a day; in case Bustamante failed to remit the daily boundary-hulogfor a period of one week, the Kasunduan would cease to have legal effect and Bustamante would have to return the vehicle to Villamaria Motors. Under the Kasunduan, Bustamante was prohibited from driving the vehicle without prior authority from Villamaria Motors. Thus, Bustamante was authorized to operate the vehicle to transport passengers only and not for other purposes. He was also required to display an identification card in front of the windshield of the vehicle; in case of failure to do so, any fine that may be imposed by government authorities would be charged against his account. Bustamante further obliged himself to pay for the cost of replacing any parts of the vehicle that would be lost or damaged due to his negligence. In case the vehicle sustained serious damage, Bustamante was obliged to notify Villamaria Motors before commencing repairs. Bustamante was not allowed to wear slippers, short pants or undershirts while driving. He was required to be polite and respectful towards the passengers. He was also obliged to notify Villamaria Motors in case the vehicle was leased for two or more days and was required to attend any meetings which may be called from time to time. Aside from the boundary-hulog, Bustamante was also obliged to pay for the annual registration fees of the vehicle and the premium for the vehicles comprehensive insurance. Bustamante promised to strictly comply with the rules and regulations imposed by Villamaria for the upkeep and maintenance of the jeepney. Bustamante continued driving the jeepney under the supervision and control of Villamaria. As agreed upon, he made daily remittances of P550.00 in payment of the purchase price of the vehicle. Bustamante failed to pay for the annual registration fees of the vehicle, but Villamaria allowed him to continue driving the jeepney. In 1999, Bustamante and other drivers who also had the same arrangement with Villamaria Motors failed to pay their respective boundary-hulog. This prompted Villamaria to serve a Paalala,[6] reminding them that under the Kasunduan, failure to pay the daily
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boundary-hulog for one week, would mean their respective jeepneys would be returned to him without any complaints. He warned the drivers that the Kasunduan would henceforth be strictly enforced and urged them to comply with their obligation to avoid litigation. On July 24, 2000, Villamaria took back the jeepney driven by Bustamante and barred the latter from driving the vehicle. On August 15, 2000, Bustamante filed a Complaint[7] for Illegal Dismissal against Villamaria and his wife Teresita. In his Position Paper,[8] Bustamante alleged that he was employed by Villamaria in July 1996 under the boundary system, where he was required to remit P450.00 a day. After one year of continuously working for them, the spouses Villamaria presented the Kasunduan for his signature, with the assurance that he (Bustamante) would own the jeepney by March 2001 after paying P550.00 in daily installments and that he would thereafter continue driving the vehicle along the same route under the same franchise. He further narrated that in July 2000, he informed the Villamaria spouses that the surplus engine of the jeepney needed to be replaced, and was assured that it would be done. However, he was later arrested and his drivers license was confiscated because apparently, the replacement engine that was installed was taken from a stolen vehicle. Due to negotiations with the apprehending authorities, the jeepney was not impounded. The Villamaria spouses took the jeepney from him on July 24, 2000, and he was no longer allowed to drive the vehicle since then unless he paid them P70,000.00. Bustamante prayed that judgment be rendered in his favor, thus: WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, it is most respectfully prayed that judgment be rendered ordering the respondents, jointly and severally, the following: 1. Reinstate complainant to his former position without loss of seniority rights and execute a Deed of Sale in favor of the complainant relative to the PUJ with Plate No. PVU-660; 2. Ordering the respondents to pay backwages in the amount of P400.00 a day and other benefits computed from July 24, 2000 up to the time of his actual reinstatement; 3. Ordering respondents to return the amount of P10,000.00 and P180,000.00 for the expenses incurred by the complainant in the repair and maintenance of the subject jeep;
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4. Ordering the respondents to refund the amount of One Hundred (P100.00) Pesos per day counted from August 7, 1997 up to June 2000 or a total of P91,200.00; 5. To pay moral and exemplary damages of not less than P200,000.00; 6. Attorneys fee*s+ of not less than 10% of the monetary award. Other just and equitable reliefs under the premises are also being prayed for.
[9]

In their Position Paper,[10] the spouses Villamaria admitted the existence of the Kasunduan, but alleged that Bustamante failed to pay the P10,000.00 downpayment and the vehicles annual registration fees. They further alleged that Bustamante eventually failed to remit the requisite boundary-hulog of P550.00 a day, which prompted them to issue thePaalaala. Instead of complying with his obligations, Bustamante stopped making his remittances despite his daily trips and even brought the jeepney to the province without permission. Worse, the jeepney figured in an accident and its license plate was confiscated; Bustamante even abandoned the vehicle in a gasoline station in Sucat, Paraaque Cityfor two weeks. When the security guard at the gasoline station requested that the vehicle be retrieved and Teresita Villamaria asked Bustamante for the keys, Bustamante told her: Di kunin ninyo. When the vehicle was finally retrieved, the tires were worn, the alternator was gone, and the battery was no longer working. Citing the cases of Cathedral School of Technology v. NLRC[11] and Canlubang Security Agency Corporation v. NLRC,[12] the spouses Villamaria argued that Bustamante was not illegally dismissed since the Kasunduan executed on August 7, 1997 transformed the employer-employee relationship into that of vendor-vendee. Hence, the spouses concluded, there was no legal basis to hold them liable for illegal dismissal. They prayed that the case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and patent lack of merit. In his Reply,[13] Bustamante claimed that Villamaria exercised control and supervision over the conduct of his employment. He maintained that the rulings of the Court inNational Labor Union v. Dinglasan,[14] Magboo v. Bernardo,[15] and Citizen's League of Free Workers v. Abbas[16] are germane to the issue as they define the nature of the owner/operator-driver relationship under the boundary system. He further reiterated that it was the Villamaria spouses who presented the Kasunduan to him and that he conformed thereto only upon their representation that he would own the vehicle after four years. Moreover, it appeared that the Paalala was duly received by him, as he, together with other drivers, was made to affix his signature on a blank piece of paper purporting to be an attendance sheet.
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On March 15, 2002, the Labor Arbiter rendered judgment[17] in favor of the spouses Villamaria and ordered the complaint dismissed on the following ratiocination: Respondents presented the contract of Boundary-Hulog, as well as the PAALALA, to prove their claim that complainant violated the terms of their contract and afterwards abandoned the vehicle assigned to him. As against the foregoing, *the+ complaints (sic) mere allegations to the contrary cannot prevail. Not having been illegally dismissed, complainant is not entitled to damages and attorney's fees.[18] Bustamante appealed the decision to the NLRC,[19] insisting that the Kasunduan did not extinguish the employer-employee relationship between him and Villamaria. While he did not receive fixed wages, he kept only the excess of the boundary-hulog which he was required to remit daily to Villamaria under the agreement. Bustamante maintained that he remained an employee because he was engaged to perform activities which were necessary or desirable to Villamarias trade or business. The NLRC rendered judgment[20] dismissing the appeal for lack of merit, thus: WHEREFORE, premises considered, complainant's appeal is hereby DISMISSED for reasons not stated in the Labor Arbiter's decision but mainly on a jurisdictional issue, there being none over the subject matter of the controversy.[21] The NLRC ruled that under the Kasunduan, the juridical relationship between Bustamante and Villamaria was that of vendor and vendee, hence, the Labor Arbiter had no jurisdiction over the complaint. Bustamante filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the NLRC resolved to deny on May 30, 2003.[22] Bustamante elevated the matter to the CA via Petition for Certiorari, alleging that the NLRC erred I IN DISMISSING PETITIONERS APPEAL FOR REASON NOT STATED IN THE LABOR ARBITERS DECISION, BUT MAINLY ON JURISDICTIONAL ISSUE; II IN DISREGARDING THE LAW AND PREVAILING JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT DECLARED THAT THE RELATIONSHIP WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED BETWEEN
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PETITIONER AND THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS DEFINITELY A MATTER WHICH IS BEYOND THE PROTECTIVE MANTLE OF OUR LABOR LAWS.[23] Bustamante insisted that despite the Kasunduan, the relationship between him and Villamaria continued to be that of employer-employee and as such, the Labor Arbiter had jurisdiction over his complaint. He further alleged that it is common knowledge that operators of passenger jeepneys (including taxis) pay their drivers not on a regular monthly basis but on commission or boundary basis, or even the boundary-hulog system. Bustamante asserted that he was dismissed from employment without any lawful or just cause and without due notice. For his part, Villamaria averred that Bustamante failed to adduce proof of their employer-employee relationship. He further pointed out that the Dinglasan case pertains to the boundary system and not the boundary-hulog system, hence inapplicable in the instant case. He argued that upon the execution of the Kasunduan, the juridical tie between him and Bustamante was transformed into a vendor-vendee relationship. Noting that he was engaged in the manufacture and sale of jeepneys and not in the business of transporting passengers for consideration, Villamaria contended that the daily fees which Bustmante paid were actually periodic installments for the the vehicle and were not the same fees as understood in the boundary system. He added that the boundary-hulog plan was basically a scheme to help the driver-buyer earn money and eventually pay for the unit in full, and for the owner to profit not from the daily earnings of the driver-buyer but from the purchase price of the unit sold. Villamaria further asserted that the apparently restrictive conditions in the Kasunduan did not mean that the means and method of driver-buyers conduct was controlled, but were mere ways to preserve the vehicle for the benefit of both parties: Villamaria would be able to collect the agreed purchase price, while Bustamante would be assured that the vehicle would still be in good running condition even after four years. Moreover, the right of vendor to impose certain conditions on the buyer should be respected until full ownership of the property is vested on the latter. Villamaria insisted that the parallel circumstances obtaining in Singer Sewing Machine Company v. Drilon[24] has analogous application to the instant issue. In its Decision[25] dated August 30, 2004, the CA reversed and set aside the NLRC decision. The fallo of the decision reads: UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE IN THIS CASE, THUS, the impugned resolutions of the NLRC must be, as they are hereby are, REVERSED AND SET ASIDE, and judgment entered in favor of petitioner: 1. Sentencing private respondent Oscar Villamaria, Jr. to pay petitioner Jerry Bustamante separation pay computed from the time
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of his employment up to the time of termination based on the prevailing minimum wage at the time of termination; and, 2. Condemning private respondent Oscar Villamaria, Jr. to pay petitioner Jerry Bustamante back wages computed from the time of his dismissal up to March 2001 based on the prevailing minimum wage at the time of his dismissal. Without Costs. SO ORDERED.[26] The appellate court ruled that the Labor Arbiter had jurisdiction over Bustamantes complaint. Under the Kasunduan, the relationship between him and Villamaria was dual: that of vendor-vendee and employer-employee. The CA ratiocinated that Villamarias exercise of control over Bustamantes conduct in operating the jeepney is inconsistent with the formers claim that he was not engaged in the transportation business. There was no evidence that petitioner was allowed to let some other person drive the jeepney. The CA further held that, while the power to dismiss was not mentioned in the Kasunduan, it did not mean that Villamaria could not exercise it. It explained that the existence of an employment relationship did not depend on how the worker was paid but on the presence or absence of control over the means and method of the employees work. In this case, Villamarias directives (to drive carefully, wear an identification card, don decent attire, park the vehicle in his garage, and to inform him about provincial trips, etc.) was a means to control the way in which Bustamante was to go about his work. In view of Villamarias supervision and control as employer, the fact that the boundary represented installment payments of the purchase price on the jeepney did not remove the parties employer-employee relationship. While the appellate court recognized that a weeks default in paying the boundaryhulog constituted an additional cause for terminating Bustamantes employment, it held that the latter was illegally dismissed. According to the CA, assuming that Bustamante failed to make the required payments as claimed by Villamaria, the latter nevertheless failed to take steps to recover the unit and waited for Bustamante to abandon it. It also pointed out that Villamaria neither submitted any police report to support his claim that the vehicle figured in a mishap nor presented the affidavit of the gas station guard to substantiate the claim that Bustamante abandoned the unit.

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Villamaria received a copy of the decision on September 8, 2004, and filed, on September 17, 2004, a motion for reconsideration thereof. The CA denied the motion in a Resolution[27] dated November 2, 2004, and Villamaria received a copy thereof on November 8, 2004. Villamaria, now petitioner, seeks relief from this Court via petition for review on certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, alleging that the CA committed grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in reversing the decision of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. He claims that the CA erred in ruling that the juridical relationship between him and respondent under the Kasunduan was a combination of employer-employee and vendor-vendee relationships. The terms and conditions of theKasunduan clearly state that he and respondent Bustamante had entered into a conditional deed of sale over the jeepney; as such, their employer-employee relationship had been transformed into that of vendor-vendee. Petitioner insists that he had the right to reserve his title on the jeepney until after the purchase price thereof had been paid in full. In his Comment on the petition, respondent avers that the appropriate remedy of petitioner was an appeal via a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and not a special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65. He argues that petitioner failed to establish that the CA committed grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in its decision, as the said ruling is in accord with law and the evidence on record. Respondent further asserts that the Kasunduan presented to him by petitioner which provides for a boundary-hulog scheme was a devious circumvention of the Labor Code of the Philippines. Respondent insists that his juridical relationship with petitioner is that of employer-employee because he was engaged to perform activities which were necessary or desirable in the usual business of petitioner, his employer. In his Reply, petitioner avers that the Rules of Procedure should be liberally construed in his favor; hence, it behooves the Court to resolve the merits of his petition. We agree with respondents contention that the remedy of petitioner from the CA decision was to file a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and not the independent action of certiorari under Rule 65. Petitioner had 15 days from receipt of the CA resolution denying his motion for the reconsideration within which to file the petition under Rule 45.[28] But instead of doing so, he filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 on November 22, 2004, which did not, however, suspend the running of the 15-day reglementary period; consequently, the CA decision became final and executory upon the lapse of the reglementary period for appeal. Thus, on this procedural lapse, the instant petition stands to be dismissed.[29]
15

It must be stressed that the recourse to a special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is proscribed by the remedy of appeal under Rule 45. As the Court elaborated in Tomas Claudio Memorial College, Inc. v. Court of Appeals:[30] We agree that the remedy of the aggrieved party from a decision or final resolution of the CA is to file a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended, on questions of facts or issues of law within fifteen days from notice of the said resolution. Otherwise, the decision of the CA shall become final and executory. The remedy under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is a mode of appeal to this Court from the decision of the CA. It is a continuation of the appellate process over the original case. A review is not a matter of right but is a matter of judicial discretion. The aggrieved party may, however, assail the decision of the CA via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court within sixty days from notice of the decision of the CA or its resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of the same. This is based on the premise that in issuing the assailed decision and resolution, the CA acted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction and there is no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. A remedy is considered plain, speedy and adequate if it will promptly relieve the petitioner from the injurious effect of the judgment and the acts of the lower court. The aggrieved party is proscribed from filing a petition for certiorari if appeal is available, for the remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive. The aggrieved party is, likewise, barred from filing a petition for certiorari if the remedy of appeal is lost through his negligence. A petition for certiorari is an original action and does not interrupt the course of the principal case unless a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction has been issued against the public respondent from further proceeding. A petition for certiorari must be based on jurisdictional grounds because, as long as the respondent court acted within its jurisdiction, any error committed by it will amount to nothing more than an error of judgment which may be corrected or reviewed only by appeal.[31] However, we have also ruled that a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 may be considered as filed under Rule 45, conformably with the principle that rules of procedure are to be construed liberally, provided that the petition is filed within the reglementary period under Section 2, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, and where valid and compelling circumstances warrant that the petition be resolved on its merits.[32] In this case, the petition was filed within the reglementary period and petitioner has raised an issue of substance: whether the
16

existence of a boundary-hulog agreement negates the employer-employee relationship between the vendor and vendee, and, as a corollary, whether the Labor Arbiter has jurisdiction over a complaint for illegal dismissal in such case. We resolve these issues in the affirmative. The rule is that, the nature of an action and the subject matter thereof, as well as, which court or agency of the government has jurisdiction over the same, are determined by the material allegations of the complaint in relation to the law involved and the character of the reliefs prayed for, whether or not the complainant/plaintiff is entitled to any or all of such reliefs.[33] A prayer or demand for relief is not part of the petition of the cause of action; nor does it enlarge the cause of action stated or change the legal effect of what is alleged.[34] In determining which body has jurisdiction over a case, the better policy is to consider not only the status or relationship of the parties but also the nature of the action that is the subject of their controversy.[35] Article 217 of the Labor Code, as amended, vests on the Labor Arbiter exclusive original jurisdiction only over the following: x x x (a) Except as otherwise provided under this Code, the Labor Arbiters shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide, within thirty (30) calendar days after the submission of the case by the parties for decision without extension, even in the absence of stenographic notes, the following cases involving all workers, whether agricultural or non-agricultural: 1. Unfair labor practice cases; 2. Termination disputes; 3. If accompanied with a claim for reinstatement, those cases that workers may file involving wage, rates of pay, hours of work, and other terms and conditions of employment; 4. Claims for actual, moral, exemplary and other forms of damages arising from the employer-employee relations; 5. Cases arising from violation of Article 264 of this Code, including questions involving the legality of strikes and lockouts; and 6. Except claims for Employees Compensation, Social Security, Medicare and maternity benefits, all other claims, arising from employer-employee relationship, including those of persons in domestic or household service, involving an amount exceeding five
17

thousand pesos (P5,000.00) regardless of whether accompanied with a claim for reinstatement. (b) The Commission shall have exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided by Labor Arbiters. (c) Cases arising from the interpretation or implementation of collective bargaining agreements, and those arising from the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies shall be disposed of by the Labor Arbiter by referring the same to the grievance machinery and voluntary arbitration as may be provided in said agreements. In the foregoing cases, an employer-employee relationship is an indispensable jurisdictional requisite.[36] The jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters and the NLRC under Article 217 of the Labor Code is limited to disputes arising from an employer-employee relationship which can only be resolved by reference to the Labor Code, other labor statutes or their collective bargaining agreement.[37] Not every dispute between an employer and employee involves matters that only the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC can resolve in the exercise of their adjudicatory or quasi-judicial powers. Actions between employers and employees where the employer-employee relationship is merely incidental is within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the regular courts.[38] When the principal relief is to be granted under labor legislation or a collective bargaining agreement, the case falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC even though a claim for damages might be asserted as an incident to such claim.[39] We agree with the ruling of the CA that, under the boundary-hulog scheme incorporated in the Kasunduan, a dual juridical relationship was created between petitioner and respondent: that of employer-employee and vendor-vendee. The Kasunduan did not extinguish the employer-employee relationship of the parties extant before the execution of said deed. As early as 1956, the Court ruled in National Labor Union v. Dinglasan[40] that the jeepney owner/operator-driver relationship under the boundary system is that of employeremployee and not lessor-lessee. This doctrine was affirmed, under similar factual settings, in Magboo v. Bernardo[41] and Lantaco, Sr. v. Llamas,[42] and was analogously applied to govern the relationships between auto-calesa owner/operator and driver,[43] bus owner/operator and conductor,[44] and taxi owner/operator and driver.[45] The boundary system is a scheme by an owner/operator engaged in transporting passengers as a common carrier to primarily govern the compensation of the driver, that is, the latters daily earnings are remitted to the owner/operator less the excess of the boundary
18

which represents the drivers compensation. Under this system, the owner/operator exercises control and supervision over the driver. It is unlike in lease of chattels where the lessor loses complete control over the chattel leased but the lessee is still ultimately responsible for the consequences of its use. The management of the business is still in the hands of the owner/operator, who, being the holder of the certificate of public convenience, must see to it that the driver follows the route prescribed by the franchising and regulatory authority, and the rules promulgated with regard to the business operations. The fact that the driver does not receive fixed wages but only the excess of the boundary given to the owner/operator is not sufficient to change the relationship between them. Indubitably, the driver performs activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the owner/operator.[46] Under the Kasunduan, respondent was required to remit P550.00 daily to petitioner, an amount which represented the boundary of petitioner as well as respondents partial payment (hulog) of the purchase price of the jeepney. Respondent was entitled to keep the excess of his daily earnings as his daily wage. Thus, the daily remittances also had a dual purpose: that of petitioners boundary and respondents partial payment (hulog) for the vehicle. This dual purpose was expressly stated in the Kasunduan. The well-settled rule is that an obligation is not novated by an instrument that expressly recognizes the old one, changes only the terms of payment, and adds other obligations not incompatible with the old provisions or where the new contract merely supplements the previous one. [47] The two obligations of the respondent to remit to petitioner the boundary-hulog can stand together. In resolving an issue based on contract, this Court must first examine the contract itself, keeping in mind that when the terms of the agreement are clear and leave no doubt as to the intention of the contracting parties, the literal meaning of its stipulations shall prevail.[48] The intention of the contracting parties should be ascertained by looking at the words used to project their intention, that is, all the words, not just a particular word or two or more words standing alone. The various stipulations of a contract shall be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of them taken jointly.[49] The parts and clauses must be interpreted in relation to one another to give effect to the whole. The legal effect of a contract is to be determined from the whole read together.[50] Under the Kasunduan, petitioner retained supervision and control over the conduct of the respondent as driver of the jeepney, thus: Ang mga patakaran, kaugnay ng bilihang ito sa pamamagitan ng boundary hulog ay ang mga sumusunod:
19

1. Pangangalagaan at pag-iingatan ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang sasakyan ipinagkatiwala sa kanya ng TAUHAN NG UNANG PANIG. 2. Na ang sasakyan nabanggit ay gagamitin lamang ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG sa paghahanapbuhay bilang pampasada o pangangalakal sa malinis at maayos na pamamaraan. 3. Na ang sasakyan nabanggit ay hindi gagamitin ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG sa mga bagay na makapagdudulot ng kahihiyan, kasiraan o pananagutan sa TAUHAN NG UNANG PANIG. 4. Na hindi ito mamanehohin ng hindi awtorisado ng opisina ng UNANG PANIG. 5. Na ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay kinakailangang maglagay ng ID Card sa harap ng windshield upang sa pamamagitan nito ay madaliang malaman kung ang nagmamaneho ay awtorisado ng VILLAMARIA MOTORS o hindi. 6. Na sasagutin ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang [halaga ng] multa kung sakaling mahuli ang sasakyang ito na hindi nakakabit ang ID card sa wastong lugar o anuman kasalanan o kapabayaan. 7. Na sasagutin din ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang materyales o piyesa na papalitan ng nasira o nawala ito dahil sa kanyang kapabayaan. 8. Kailangan sa VILLAMARIA MOTORS pa rin ang garahe habang hinuhulugan pa rin ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang nasabing sasakyan. 9. Na kung magkaroon ng mabigat na kasiraan ang sasakyang ipinagkaloob ng TAUHAN NG UNANG PANIG, ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay obligadong itawag ito muna sa VILLAMARIA MOTORS bago ipagawa sa alin mang Motor Shop na awtorisado ng VILLAMARIA MOTORS. 10. Na hindi pahihintulutan ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG sa panahon ng pamamasada na ang nagmamaneho ay naka-tsinelas, naka short pants at nakasando lamang. Dapat ang nagmamaneho ay laging nasa maayos ang kasuotan upang igalang ng mga pasahero.

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11. Na ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG o ang awtorisado niyang driver ay magpapakita ng magandang asal sa mga pasaheros at hindi dapat magsasalita ng masama kung sakali man may pasaherong pilosopo upang maiwasan ang anumang kaguluhan na maaaring kasangkutan. 12. Na kung sakaling hindi makapagbigay ng BOUNDARY HULOG ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG sa loob ng tatlong (3) araw ay ang opisina ng VILLAMARIA MOTORS ang may karapatang mangasiwa ng nasabing sasakyan hanggang matugunan ang lahat ng responsibilidad. Ang halagang dapat bayaran sa opisina ay may karagdagang multa ng P50.00 sa araw-araw na ito ay nasa pangangasiwa ng VILLAMARIA MOTORS. 13. Na kung ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay hindi makapagbigay ng BOUNDARY HULOG sa loob ng isang linggo ay nangangahulugan na ang kasunduang ito ay wala ng bisa at kusang ibabalik ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang nasabing sasakyan sa TAUHAN NG UNANG PANIG. 14. Sasagutin ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang bayad sa rehistro, comprehensive insurance taon-taon at kahit anong uri ng aksidente habang ito ay hinuhulugan pa sa TAUHAN NG UNANG PANIG. 15. Na ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay obligadong dumalo sa pangkalahatang pagpupulong ng VILLAMARIA MOTORS sa tuwing tatawag ang mga tagapangasiwa nito upang maipaabot ang anumang mungkahi sa ikasusulong ng samahan. 16. Na ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay makikiisa sa lahat ng mga patakaran na magkakaroon ng pagbabago o karagdagan sa mga darating na panahon at hindi magiging hadlang sa lahat ng mga balakin ng VILLAMARIA MOTORS sa lalo pang ipagtatagumpay at ikakatibay ng Samahan. 17. Na ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay hindi magiging buwaya sa pasahero upang hindi kainisan ng kapwa driver at maiwasan ang pagkakasangkot sa anumang gulo. 18. Ang nasabing sasakyan ay hindi kalilimutang siyasatin ang kalagayan lalo na sa umaga bago pumasada, at sa hapon o gabi naman ay sisikapin mapanatili ang kalinisan nito.

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19. Na kung sakaling ang nasabing sasakyan ay maaarkila at aabutin ng dalawa o higit pang araw sa lalawigan ay dapat lamang na ipagbigay alam muna ito sa VILLAMARIA MOTORS upang maiwasan ang mga anumang suliranin. 20. Na ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay iiwasan ang pakikipagunahan sa kaninumang sasakyan upang maiwasan ang aksidente. 21. Na kung ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay mayroon sasabihin sa VILLAMARIA MOTORS mabuti man or masama ay iparating agad ito sa kinauukulan at iwasan na iparating ito kung [kani-kanino] lamang upang maiwasan ang anumang usapin. Magsadya agad sa opisina ng VILLAMARIA MOTORS. 22. Ang mga nasasaad sa KASUNDUAN ito ay buong galang at puso kong sinasang-ayunan at buong sikap na pangangalagaan ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang nasabing sasakyan at gagamitin lamang ito sa paghahanapbuhay at wala nang iba pa.[51] The parties expressly agreed that petitioner, as vendor, and respondent, as vendee, entered into a contract to sell the jeepney on a daily installment basis of P550.00 payable in four years and that petitioner would thereafter become its owner. A contract is one of conditional sale, oftentimes referred to as contract to sell, if the ownership or title over the property sold is retained by the vendor, and is not passed to the vendee unless and until there is full payment of the purchase price and/or upon faithful compliance with the other terms and conditions that may lawfully be stipulated.[52] Such payment or satisfaction of other preconditions, as the case may be, is a positive suspensive condition, the failure of which is not a breach of contract, casual or serious, but simply an event that would prevent the obligation of the vendor to convey title from acquiring binding force.[53] Stated differently, the efficacy or obligatory force of the vendor's obligation to transfer title is subordinated to the happening of a future and uncertain event so that if the suspensive condition does not take place, the parties would stand as if the conditional obligation had never existed.[54] The vendor may extrajudicially terminate the operation of the contract, refuse conveyance, and retain the sums or installments already received, where such rights are expressly provided for.[55] Under the boundary-hulog scheme, petitioner retained ownership of the jeepney although its material possession was vested in respondent as its driver. In case respondent failed to make his P550.00 daily installment payment for a week, the agreement would be of no force and effect and respondent would have to return the jeepney to petitioner; the employer-employee relationship would likewise be terminated unless petitioner would allow
22

respondent to continue driving the jeepney on a boundary basis of P550.00 daily despite the termination of their vendor-vendee relationship. The juridical relationship of employer-employee between petitioner and respondent was not negated by the foregoing stipulation in the Kasunduan, considering that petitioner retained control of respondents conduct as driver of the vehicle. As correctly ruled by the CA: The exercise of control by private respondent over petitioners conduct in operating the jeepney he was driving is inconsistent with private respondents claim that he is, or was, not engaged in the transportation business; that, even if petitioner was allowed to let some other person drive the unit, it was not shown that he did so; that the existence of an employment relation is not dependent on how the worker is paid but on the presence or absence of control over the means and method of the work; that the amount earned in excess of the boundary hulog is equivalent to wages; and that the fact that the power of dismissal was not mentioned in the Kasunduan did not mean that private respondent never exercised such power, or could not exercise such power. Moreover, requiring petitioner to drive the unit for commercial use, or to wear an identification card, or to don a decent attire, or to park the vehicle in Villamaria Motors garage, or to inform Villamaria Motors about the fact that the unit would be going out to the province for two days of more, or to drive the unit carefully, etc. necessarily related to control over the means by which the petitioner was to go about his work; that the ruling applicable here is not Singer Sewing Machine but National Labor Union since the latter case involved jeepney owners/operators and jeepney drivers, and that the fact that the boundary here represented installment payment of the purchase price on the jeepney did not withdraw the relationship from that of employer-employee, in view of the overt presence of supervision and control by the employer.[56] Neither is such juridical relationship negated by petitioners claim that the terms and conditions in the Kasunduan relative to respondents behavior and deportment as driver was for his and respondents benefit: to insure that respondent would be able to pay the requisite daily installment of P550.00, and that the vehicle would still be in good condition despite the lapse of four years. What is primordial is that petitioner retained control over the conduct of the respondent as driver of the jeepney. Indeed, petitioner, as the owner of the vehicle and the holder of the franchise, is entitled to exercise supervision and control over the respondent, by seeing to it that the route provided in his franchise, and the rules and regulations of the Land Transportation Regulatory
23

Board are duly complied with. Moreover, in a business establishment, an identification card is usually provided not just as a security measure but to mainly identify the holder thereof as a bona fide employee of the firm who issues it.[57] As respondents employer, it was the burden of petitioner to prove that respondents termination from employment was for a lawful or just cause, or, at the very least, that respondent failed to make his daily remittances of P550.00 as boundary. However, petitioner failed to do so. As correctly ruled by the appellate court: It is basic of course that termination of employment must be effected in accordance with law. The just and authorized causes for termination of employment are enumerated under Articles 282, 283 and 284 of the Labor Code. Parenthetically, given the peculiarity of the situation of the parties here, the default in the remittance of the boundary hulog for one week or longer may be considered an additional cause for termination of employment. The reason is because the Kasunduan would be of no force and effect in the event that the purchaser failed to remit the boundary hulog for one week. The Kasunduan in this case pertinently stipulates: 13. Na kung ang TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ay hindi makapagbigay ng BOUNDARY HULOG sa loob ng isang linggo ay NANGANGAHULUGAN na ang kasunduang ito ay wala ng bisa at kusang ibabalik ng TAUHAN NG IKALAWANG PANIG ang nasabing sasakyan sa TAUHAN NG UNANG PANIG na wala ng paghahabol pa. Moreover, well-settled is the rule that, the employer has the burden of proving that the dismissal of an employee is for a just cause. The failure of the employer to discharge this burden means that the dismissal is not justified and that the employee is entitled to reinstatement and back wages. In the case at bench, private respondent in his position paper before the Labor Arbiter, alleged that petitioner failed to pay the miscellaneous fee of P10,000.00 and the yearly registration of the unit; that petitioner also stopped remitting the boundary hulog, prompting him (private respondent) to issue a Paalala, which petitioner however ignored; that petitioner even brought the unit to his (petitioners) province without informing him (private respondent) about it; and that petitioner eventually abandoned the vehicle at a gasoline station after figuring in an accident. But private respondent failed to substantiate these allegations with solid, sufficient proof. Notably, private respondents
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allegation viz, that he retrieved the vehicle from the gas station, where petitioner abandoned it, contradicted his statement in the Paalala that he would enforce the provision (in the Kasunduan) to the effect that default in the remittance of the boundary hulog for one week would result in the forfeiture of the unit. ThePaalala reads as follows: Sa lahat ng mga kumukuha ng sasakyan Sa pamamagitan ng BOUNDARY HULOG Nais ko pong ipaalala sa inyo ang Kasunduan na inyong pinirmahan particular na ang paragrapo 13 na nagsasaad na kung hindi kayo makapagbigay ng Boundary Hulog sa loob ng isang linggo ay kusa ninyong ibabalik and nasabing sasakyan na inyong hinuhulugan ng wala ng paghahabol pa. Mula po sa araw ng inyong pagkatanggap ng Paalala na ito ay akin na pong ipatutupad ang nasabing Kasunduan kayat aking pinaaalala sa inyong lahat na tuparin natin ang nakalagay sa kasunduan upang maiwasan natin ito. Hinihiling ko na sumunod kayo sa hinihingi ng paalalang ito upang hindi na tayo makaabot pa sa korte kung sakaling hindi ninyo isasauli ang inyong sasakyan na hinuhulugan na ang mga magagastos ay kayo pa ang magbabayad sapagkat ang hindi ninyo pagtupad sa kasunduan ang naging dahilan ng pagsampa ng kaso. Sumasainyo

Attendance: 8/27/99 (The Signatures appearing herein include (sic) that of petitioners) (Sgd.) OSCAR VILLAMARIA, JR.

If it were true that petitioner did not remit the boundary hulog for one week or more, why did private respondent not forthwith take steps to recover the unit, and why did he have to wait for petitioner to abandon it? On another point, private respondent did not submit any police report to support his claim that petitioner really figured in a vehicular mishap. Neither did
25

he present the affidavit of the guard from the gas station to substantiate his claim that petitioner abandoned the unit there.[58]

Petitioners claim that he opted not to terminate the employment of respondent because of magnanimity is negated by his (petitioners) own evidence that he took the jeepney from the respondent only on July 24, 2000. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 78720 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.

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15. Martinez v NLRC FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 117495. May 29, 1997]

NELLY ACTA MARTINEZ, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, DOMINADOR CORRO, PASTOR CORRO, CELESTINO CORRO, LUIS CORRO, EREBERTO CORRO, JAIME CRUZ, WENCESLAO DELVO, GREGORIO DELVO, HERMEJIAS COLIBAO, JOSE OGANA and ALONSO ALBAO, respondents. DECISION BELLOSILLO, J.: RAUL MARTINEZ was operator of two (2) taxicab units under the business name PAMA TX and two (2) additional units under the name P. J. TIGER TX. Private respondents Dominador Corro, Pastor Corro, Celestino Corro, Luis Corro, Ereberto Corro, Jaime Cruz, Wenceslao Delvo, Gregorio Delvo, Hermejias Colibao, Jose Ogana and Alonso Albao worked for him as drivers. On 18 March 1992 Raul Martinez died leaving behind his mother, petitioner Nelly Acta Martinez, as his sole heir. On 14 July 1992 private respondents lodged a complaint against Raul Martinez and petitioner Nelly Acta Martinez before the Labor Arbiter for violation of P. D. 851[1] and illegal dismissal. They alleged that they have been regular drivers of Raul Martinez since 20 October 1989 earning no less than P400.00 per day driving twenty-four (24) hours every other day. For the duration of employment, not once did they receive a 13th month pay. After the death of Raul Martinez, petitioner took over the management and operation of the business. On or about 22 June 1992 she informed them that because of difficulty in maintaining the business, she was selling the units together with the corresponding franchises. However, petitioner did not proceed with her plan; instead, she assigned the units to other drivers. Petitioner traversed the claim for 13th month pay by contending that it was personal and therefore did not survive the death of her son. Besides, private respondents were not entitled thereto as Sec. 3, par. (e), of the Rules and Regulations Implementing P. D. 851 is explicit that employers of those who are paid on purely boundary basis are not covered therein. The relationship between her son and private respondents was not that of employer-employee but of lessor-lessee. The operation of the business ceased upon the death of her son and that she did not continue the business because she did not know how to run it.
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On 30 August 1993 the Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint on the following grounds: (a) private respondents' claims being personal were extinguished upon the death of Raul Martinez; (b) petitioner was a mere housewife who did not possess the required competence to manage the business; and, (c) private respondents were not entitled to 13th month pay because the existence of employer-employee relationship was doubtful on account of the boundary system adopted by the parties.[2] However, respondent National Labor Relations Commission viewed the case differently. According to NLRC, (a) private respondents were regular drivers because payment of wages, which is one of the essential requisites for the existence of employment relation, may either be fixed, on commission, boundary, piece-rate or task basis; (b) the management of the business passed on to petitioner who even replaced private respondents with a new set of drivers; and, (c) the claims of private respondents survived the death of Raul Martinez considering that the business did not cease operation outright but continued presumably, in the absence of proof of sale, up to the moment. As regards the claim for 13th month pay, NLRC upheld the stand of petitioner based on the express provision of P. D. 851 as reiterated in the revised guidelines on the implementation thereof. On 28 January 1994 respondent NLRC thus set aside the appealed decision, and as alternative to reinstatement, ordered petitioner to grant respondents separation pay equivalent to one (1) month salary for every year of service a fraction of six (6) months being considered as one (1) whole year. [3] On 30 September 1994 the motion for reconsideration was denied.[4] Hence, this recourse of petitioner. On 11 October 1995 the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the execution of the assailed decision of respondent NLRC. Petitioner imputes grave abuse of discretion on respondent NLRC in reversing the decision of the Labor Arbiter. Petitioner argues that respondent NLRC acted as a probate court when it assumed jurisdiction over the estate of a deceased person, pronounced her legally entitled to succeed the deceased and ordered her to pay the money claim of private respondents. Moreover, petitioner argues that the claims of private respondents were personal to her son and thus were abated by his death. Petitioner's arguments are well-taken. The claim for 13th month pay pertains to the personal obligation of Raul Martinez which did not survive his death. The rule is settled that unless expressly assumed, labor contracts are not enforceable against the transferee of an enterprise. In the present case, petitioner does not only disavow that she continued the operation of the business of her son but also disputes the existence of labor contracts between her son and private respondents. The reason for the rule is that labor contracts are in personam,[5] and that claimsfor backwages earned from the former employer cannot be filed against the new owners of an enterprise.[6] Nor is the new operator of a business liable for claims for retirement pay of employees.[7] Thus the claim of private respondents should
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have been filed instead in the intestate proceedings involving the estate of Raul Martinez in accordance with Sec. 5, Rule 86, of the Rules of Court which provides in part Sec. 5. Claims which must be filed under the notice. If not filed, barred; exceptions. - All claims for money against the decedent, arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be due, not due, or contingent, all claims for funeral expenses and expenses for the last sickness of the decedent, and judgment for money against the decedent, must be filed within the time limited in the notice; otherwise they are barred forever, except that they may be set forth as counterclaims in any action that the executor or administrator may bring against the claimants x x x x Under this rule, upon the death of the defendant, a testate or intestate proceeding shall be instituted in the proper court wherein all his creditors must appear and file their claims which shall be paid proportionately out of the property left by the deceased. The objective is to avoid duplicity of procedures. Hence, the ordinary actions must be taken out from the ordinary courts. Conformably with Art. 110 of the Labor Code, money claims of laborers enjoy preference over claims of other creditors in case of bankruptcy or liquidation of the employer's business.[8] Petitioner also insists on the absence of employer-employee relationship between her son and private respondents because there is no evidence that her son paid a single centavo by way of wages to private respondents; rather, they were governed by the boundary system. Neither is there such relationship between her and private respondents because she did not continue the operation of the business which ceased upon the death of her son. As early as 3 March 1956, in National Labor Union v. Dinglasan,[9] this Court ruled that the relationship between jeepney owners/operators on one hand and jeepney drivers on the other under the boundary system is that of employer-employee and not of lessorlessee. Therein we explained that in the lease of chattels the lessor loses complete control over the chattel leased although the lessee cannot be reckless in the use thereof, otherwise he would be responsible for the damages to the lessor. In the case of jeepney owners/operators and jeepney drivers, the former exercise supervision and control over the latter. The fact that the drivers do not receive fixed wages but get only that in excess of the so-called "boundary" they pay to the owner/operator is not sufficient to withdraw the relationship between them from that of employer and employee. The doctrine is applicable by analogy to the present case. Thus, private respondents were employees of Raul Martinez because they had been engaged to perform activities which were usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer.[10] The records show that private respondents had been employed since 20 October 1989 except for Ogana, the Delvos, Albao and Colibao who were employed on later dates.[11]

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Hence, these questions arise: Do private respondents, being then employees of Raul Martinez, necessarily continue to be employees of the petitioner as the new operator of the business? In the affirmative, were they illegally dismissed? The factual findings of quasi-judicial agencies such as respondent NLRC, which have acquired expertise in the matters entrusted to their jurisdiction, are accorded by this Court not only respect but also finality if they are supported by substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.[12] As respondent NLRC found The facts of the case will readily show that before respondent taxi owner Raul Martinez died, he became bedridden and the management of his taxi business passed on to his mother who was his only surviving heir. It will also be noted that despite the information given by the mother that she will sell the business and extend separation benefits to complainants, no such thing occurred. Instead, she replaced complainants with a new set of drivers (See Complainants' Position paper, p. 25, Record). [13] The above findings, however, were culled from mere allegations in private respondents' position paper. But mere allegation is not evidence.[14] It is a basic rule in evidence that each party must prove his affirmative allegation.[15] In Opulencia Ice Plant and Storage v. NLRC[16] we ruled that no particular form of evidence is required to prove the existence of an employeremployee relationship. Any competent and relevant evidence to prove the relationship may be admitted. In that case, the relationship was sufficiently proved by testimonial evidence. In the present case, however, private respondents simply assumed the continuance of an employer-employee relationship between them and petitioner, when she took over the operation of the business after the death of her son Raul Martinez, without any supporting evidence. Consequently, we cannot sustain for lack of basis the factual finding of respondent NLRC on the existence of employer-employee relationship between petitioner and private respondents. Clearly, such finding emanates from grave abuse of discretion. With this conclusion, consideration of the issue on illegal dismissal becomes futile and irrelevant. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of respondent National Labor Relations Commission dated 28 January 1994 ordering petitioner Nelly Acta Martinez to grant respondents separation pay as well as its Order of 30 September 1994 denying reconsideration is SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Labor Arbiter dated 30 August 1993 dismissing the complaint is REINSTATED. The temporary restraining order issued on 11 October 1995 is made PERMANENT. SO ORDERED. Vitug, Kapunan, and Hermosisima, Jr., concur. Padilla, (Chairman), on leave
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16. Jardin v NLRC Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 119268 February 23, 2000

ANGEL JARDIN, DEMETRIO CALAGOS, URBANO MARCOS, ROSENDO MARCOS, LUIS DE LOS ANGELES, JOEL ORDENIZA and AMADO CENTENO, petitioners, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (NLRC) and GOODMAN TAXI (PHILJAMA INTERNATIONAL, INC.) respondents. QUISUMBING, J.: This special civil action for certiorari seeks to annul the decision1 of public respondent promulgated on October 28, 1994, in NLRC NCR CA No. 003883-92, and its resolution2 dated December 13, 1994 which denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Petitioners were drivers of private respondent, Philjama International Inc., a domestic corporation engaged in the operation of "Goodman Taxi." Petitioners used to drive private respondent's taxicabs every other day on a 24-hour work schedule under the boundary system. Under this arrangement, the petitioners earned an average of P400.00 daily. Nevertheless, private respondent admittedly regularly deducts from petitioners, daily earnings the amount of P30.00 supposedly for the washing of the taxi units. Believing that the deduction is illegal, petitioners decided to form a labor union to protect their rights and interests. Upon learning about the plan of petitioners, private respondent refused to let petitioners drive their taxicabs when they reported for work on August 6, 1991, and on succeeding days. Petitioners suspected that they were singled out because they were the leaders and active members of the proposed union. Aggrieved, petitioners filed with the labor arbiter a complaint against private respondent for unfair labor practice, illegal dismissal and illegal deduction of washing fees. In a decision3 dated August 31, 1992, the labor arbiter dismissed said complaint for lack of merit. On appeal, the NLRC (public respondent herein), in a decision dated April 28, 1994, reversed and set aside the judgment of the labor arbiter. The labor tribunal declared that petitioners
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are employees of private respondent, and, as such, their dismissal must be for just cause and after due process. It disposed of the case as follows: WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the decision of the Labor Arbiter appealed from is hereby SET ASIDE and another one entered: 1. Declaring the respondent company guilty of illegal dismissal and accordingly it is directed to reinstate the complainants, namely, Alberto A. Gonzales, Joel T. Morato, Gavino Panahon, Demetrio L. Calagos, Sonny M. Lustado, Romeo Q. Clariza, Luis de los Angeles, Amado Centino, Angel Jardin, Rosendo Marcos, Urbano Marcos, Jr., and Joel Ordeniza, to their former positions without loss of seniority and other privileges appertaining thereto; to pay the complainants full backwages and other benefits, less earnings elsewhere, and to reimburse the drivers the amount paid as washing charges; and 2. Dismissing the charge of unfair [labor] practice for insufficiency of evidence. SO ORDERED.4 Private respondent's first motion for reconsideration was denied. Remaining hopeful, private respondent filed another motion for reconsideration. This time, public respondent, in its decision5 dated October 28, 1994, granted aforesaid second motion for reconsideration. It ruled that it lacks jurisdiction over the case as petitioners and private respondent have no employer-employee relationship. It held that the relationship of the parties is leasehold which is covered by the Civil Code rather than the Labor Code, and disposed of the case as follows: VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Motion under reconsideration is hereby given due course. Accordingly, the Resolution of August 10, 1994, and the Decision of April 28, 1994 are hereby SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Labor Arbiter subject of the appeal is likewise SET ASIDE and a NEW ONE ENTERED dismissing the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. No costs. SO ORDERED.6 Expectedly, petitioners sought reconsideration of the labor tribunal's latest decision which was denied. Hence, the instant petition. In this recourse, petitioners allege that public respondent acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion in rendering the assailed decision, arguing that:
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I. THE NLRC HAS NO JURISDICTION TO ENTERTAIN RESPONDENT'S SECOND MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION WHICH IS ADMITTEDLY A PLEADING PROHIBITED UNDER THE NLRC RULES, AND TO GRANT THE SAME ON GROUNDS NOT EVEN INVOKED THEREIN. II. THE EXISTENCE OF AN EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PARTIES IS ALREADY A SETTLED ISSUE CONSTITUTING RES JUDICATA, WHICH THE NLRC HAS NO MORE JURISDICTION TO REVERSE, ALTER OR MODIFY. III. IN ANY CASE, EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE ON THE MATTER SUPPORTS THE VIEW THAT PETITIONERS-TAXI DRIVERS ARE EMPLOYEES OF RESPONDENT TAXI COMPANY.7 The petition is impressed with merit. The phrase "grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" has settled meaning in the jurisprudence of procedure. It means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment by the tribunal exercising judicial or quasi-judicial power as to amount to lack of power.8 In labor cases, this Court has declared in several instances that disregarding rules it is bound to observe constitutes grave abuse of discretion on the part of labor tribunal. In Garcia vs. NLRC,9 private respondent therein, after receiving a copy of the labor arbiter's decision, wrote the labor arbiter who rendered the decision and expressed dismay over the judgment. Neither notice of appeal was filed nor cash or surety bond was posted by private respondent. Nevertheless, the labor tribunal took cognizance of the letter from private respondent and treated said letter as private respondent's appeal. In a certiorari action before this Court, we ruled that the labor tribunal acted with grave abuse of discretion in treating a mere letter from private respondent as private respondent's appeal in clear violation of the rules on appeal prescribed under Section 3(a), Rule VI of the New Rules of Procedure of NLRC. In Philippine Airlines Inc. vs. NLRC,10 we held that the labor arbiter committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to resolve immediately by written order a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction and the supplemental motion to dismiss as mandated by Section 15 of Rule V of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC. In Unicane Workers Union-CLUP vs. NLRC,11 we held that the NLRC gravely abused its discretion by allowing and deciding an appeal without an appeal bond having been filed as required under Article 223 of the Labor Code. In Maebo vs. NLRC,12 we declared that the labor arbiter gravely abused its discretion in disregarding the rule governing position papers. In this case, the parties have already filed their position papers and even agreed to consider the case submitted for decision, yet the labor arbiter still admitted a supplemental position paper and memorandum, and by taking
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into consideration, as basis for his decision, the alleged facts adduced therein and the documents attached thereto. In Gesulgon vs. NLRC,13 we held that public respondent gravely abused its discretion in treating the motion to set aside judgment and writ of execution as a petition for relief of judgment. In doing so, public respondent had, without sufficient basis, extended the reglementary period for filing petition for relief from judgment contrary to prevailing rule and case law. In this case before us, private respondent exhausted administrative remedy available to it by seeking reconsideration of public respondent's decision dated April 28, 1994, which public respondent denied. With this motion for reconsideration, the labor tribunal had ample opportunity to rectify errors or mistakes it may have committed before resort to courts of justice can be had.14 Thus, when private respondent filed a second motion for reconsideration, public respondent should have forthwith denied it in accordance with Rule 7, Section 14 of its New Rules of Procedure which allows only one motion for reconsideration from the same party, thus: Sec. 14. Motions for Reconsideration. Motions for reconsideration of any order, resolution or decision of the Commission shall not be entertained except when based on palpable or patent errors, provided that the motion is under oath and filed within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the order, resolution or decision with proof of service that a copy of the same has been furnished within the reglementary period the adverse party and provided further, that only one such motion from the same party shall be entertained. [Emphasis supplied] The rationale for allowing only one motion for reconsideration from the same party is to assist the parties in obtaining an expeditious and inexpensive settlement of labor cases. For obvious reasons, delays cannot be countenanced in the resolution of labor disputes. The dispute may involve no less than the livelihood of an employee and that of his loved ones who are dependent upon him for food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and education. It may as well involve the survival of a business or an industry.15 As correctly pointed out by petitioner, the second motion for reconsideration filed by private respondent is indubitably a prohibited pleading16 which should have not been entertained at all. Public respondent cannot just disregard its own rules on the pretext of "satisfying the ends of justice",17 especially when its disposition of a legal controversy ran afoul with a clear and long standing jurisprudence in this jurisdiction as elucidated in the subsequent discussion. Clearly, disregarding a settled legal doctrine enunciated by this Court is not a way of rectifying an error or mistake. In our view, public respondent gravely abused its discretion in taking cognizance and granting private respondent's second motion for reconsideration as it wrecks the orderly procedure in seeking reliefs in labor cases.
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But, there is another compelling reason why we cannot leave untouched the flip-flopping decisions of the public respondent. As mentioned earlier, its October 28, 1994 judgment is not in accord with the applicable decisions of this Court. The labor tribunal reasoned out as follows: On the issue of whether or not employer-employee relationship exists, admitted is the fact that complainants are taxi drivers purely on the "boundary system". Under this system the driver takes out his unit and pays the owner/operator a fee commonly called "boundary" for the use of the unit. Now, in the determination the existence of employer-employee relationship, the Supreme Court in the case of Sara, et al., vs. Agarrado, et al. (G.R. No. 73199, 26 October 1988) has applied the following four-fold test: "(1) the selection and engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; and (4) the power of control the employees conduct." "Among the four (4) requisites", the Supreme Court stresses that "control is deemed the most important that the other requisites may even be disregarded". Under the control test, an employer-employee relationship exists if the "employer" has reserved the right to control the "employee" not only as to the result of the work done but also as to the means and methods by which the same is to be accomplished. Otherwise, no such relationship exists. (Ibid.) Applying the foregoing parameters to the case herein obtaining, it is clear that the respondent does not pay the drivers, the complainants herein, their wages. Instead, the drivers pay a certain fee for the use of the vehicle. On the matter of control, the drivers, once they are out plying their trade, are free to choose whatever manner they conduct their trade and are beyond the physical control of the owner/operator; they themselves determine the amount of revenue they would want to earn in a day's driving; and, more significantly aside from the fact that they pay for the gasoline they consume, they likewise shoulder the cost of repairs on damages sustained by the vehicles they are driving. Verily, all the foregoing attributes signify that the relationship of the parties is more of a leasehold or one that is covered by a charter agreement under the Civil Code rather than the Labor Code.18 The foregoing ratiocination goes against prevailing jurisprudence. In a number of cases decided by this Court,19 we ruled that the relationship between jeepney owners/operators on one hand and jeepney drivers on the other under the boundary system is that of employer-employee and not of lessor-lessee. We explained that in the lease of chattels, the lessor loses complete control over the chattel leased although the lessee cannot
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be reckless in the use thereof, otherwise he would be responsible for the damages to the lessor. In the case of jeepney owners/operators and jeepney drivers, the former exercise supervision and control over the latter. The management of the business is in the owner's hands. The owner as holder of the certificate of public convenience must see to it that the driver follows the route prescribed by the franchising authority and the rules promulgated as regards its operation. Now, the fact that the drivers do not receive fixed wages but get only that in excess of the so-called "boundary" they pay to the owner/operator is not sufficient to withdraw the relationship between them from that of employer and employee. We have applied by analogy the abovestated doctrine to the relationships between bus owner/operator and bus conductor,20 auto-calesa owner/operator and driver,21 and recently between taxi owners/operators and taxi drivers.22 Hence, petitioners are undoubtedly employees of private respondent because as taxi drivers they perform activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of their employer. As consistently held by this Court, termination of employment must be effected in accordance with law. The just and authorized causes for termination of employment are enumerated under Articles 282, 283 and 284 of the Labor Code. The requirement of notice and hearing is set-out in Article 277 (b) of the said Code. Hence, petitioners, being employees of private respondent, can be dismissed only for just and authorized cause, and after affording them notice and hearing prior to termination. In the instant case, private respondent had no valid cause to terminate the employment of petitioners. Neither were there two (2) written notices sent by private respondent informing each of the petitioners that they had been dismissed from work. These lack of valid cause and failure on the part of private respondent to comply with the twin-notice requirement underscored the illegality surrounding petitioners' dismissal. Under the law, an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.23 It must be emphasized, though, that recent judicial 24 pronouncements distinguish between employees illegally dismissed prior to the effectivity of Republic Act No. 6715 on March 21, 1989, and those whose illegal dismissals were effected after such date. Thus, employees illegally dismissed prior to March 21, 1989, are entitled to backwages up to three (3) years without deduction or qualification, while those illegally dismissed after that date are granted full backwages inclusive of allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent from the time their actual compensation was withheld from them up to the time of their actual reinstatement. The legislative policy behind Republic Act No. 6715 points to "full backwages" as meaning exactly that, i.e., without deducting from backwages the earnings derived elsewhere by the concerned employee during the period of

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his illegal dismissal. Considering that petitioners were terminated from work on August 1, 1991, they are entitled to full backwages on the basis of their last daily earnings. With regard to the amount deducted daily by private respondent from petitioners for washing of the taxi units, we view the same as not illegal in the context of the law. We note that after a tour of duty, it is incumbent upon the driver to restore the unit he has driven to the same clean condition when he took it out. Car washing after a tour of duty is indeed a practice in the taxi industry and is in fact dictated by fair play.25 Hence, the drivers are not entitled to reimbursement of washing charges.1wphi1.nt WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed DECISION of public respondent dated October 28, 1994, is hereby SET ASIDE. The DECISION of public respondent dated April 28, 1994, and its RESOLUTION dated December 13, 1994, are hereby REINSTATED subject to MODIFICATION. Private respondent is directed to reinstate petitioners to their positions held at the time of the complained dismissal. Private respondent is likewise ordered to pay petitioners their full backwages, to be computed from the date of dismissal until their actual reinstatement. However, the order of public respondent that petitioners be reimbursed the amount paid as washing charges is deleted. Costs against private respondents. SO ORDERED. Bellosillo, Mendoza Buena, on official leave. and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

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