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THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 124100. April 1, 1998]
PHILTRANCO SERVICE ENTERPRISES, INC., petitioner,
vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COISSION !"# R.
ROBERTO NIEVA,respondents.
$ E C I S I O N
ROERO, J.%
Petitioner seeks, in this petition for certiorari under Rule 65, the reversal of the
resolution of the National Laor Relations !o""ission dated Nove"er #$, %$$5,
orderin& petitioner to pa' private respondent Roerto Nieva a(k )a&es and
separation pa'*
The fa(ts of the (ase are as follo)s+
Roberto Nieva who was employed as a driver by petitioner Philtranco Services
Enterprises, Inc. (hereafter Philtranco) on April !, "##, was assi$ned to the
%e$aspi &ity'Pasay &ity ro(te. )n *ay +, ",", Nieva sideswiped an owner'
type -eep, dama$in$ the latter.s par/ li$ht. 0nfort(nately, the vehicle.s owner
t(rned o(t to be a P& colonel who arrested Nieva and bro($ht him to &amp &rame
where the correspondin$ criminal complaint was filed a$ainst him.
Nieva obtained his release from detention by virt(e of a bail bond sec(red by
Philtranco. 1e was s(spended by the latter for thirty days effective 2(ne ,, ",".
Nieva reported bac/ to wor/ after servin$ his s(spension. A few days after
res(min$ his drivin$ d(ties, however, he was re'arrested on the $ro(nd that his bail
bond was fa/e. Nieva reported the incident to the mana$ement of Philtranco. )n
)ctober +, ",", Nieva was advised by Philtranco.s administrative officer,
Epifanio %lado, that to avoid re'arrest, he wo(ld have to refrain from drivin$ (ntil
a settlement co(ld be reached with the -eep owner. 3rom then on, Nieva wo(ld
report for wor/ only to be told to wait (ntil his case was settled. 4he case was
finally settled on 2(ly 56, "", with Philtranco payin$ for the dama$es to the
-eep. 4hree days thereafter, Nieva reported for wor/, b(t he was re7(ested to file a
new application as he was no lon$er considered an employee of Philtranco,
alle$edly for bein$ absent witho(t leave from )ctober " to November 56, ",".
,&&rieved ' this turn of events, Nieva filed a (o"plaint for ille&al dis"issal and
%-
th
"onth pa' )ith the NLR!.s National !apital Re&ion ,ritration /ran(h in 0anila,
)hi(h do(keted the sa"e as NLR! N!R !ase No* 1-21%3$%2$#* The (ase )as
suse4uentl' assi&ned to Laor ,riter !ornelio L* Linsan&an*
Philtran(o did not appear at the first four (onferen(es s(heduled ' the ariter,
pro"ptin& the latter to )arn Philtran(o that it )ould e de(lared in default if it failed
to appear at the ne5t hearin&* Threatened )ith su(h an eventualit', Philtran(o.s
representative finall' appeared* On ,u&ust #3, %$$#, it filed a position paper )ith
"otion to dis"iss, statin&, a"on& other thin&s, that the (o"plaint should have een
lod&ed )ith the NLR!.s Re&ional ,ritration /ran(h in Le&aspi !it', not onl'
e(ause Nieva )as a resident thereof, ut also e(ause the latter )as hired,
assi&ned, and ased in Le&aspi !it'*
6%7
The "otion to dis"iss )as denied ' the laor ariter in an order dated 8anuar'
#6, %$$-* Nieva then presented his eviden(e* On ,u&ust -1, %$$-, Philtran(o filed a
se(ond "otion to dis"iss, )hi(h )as like)ise denied ' the ariter on the &round
that the sa"e did not raise an' ne) ar&u"ents* Thereafter, Philtran(o presented its
eviden(e to prove that Nieva had aandoned his )ork, havin& een asent )ithout
leave fro" O(toer %$ to Nove"er #1, %$3$*
,fter (onsiderin& the eviden(e of the parties, the laor ariter &ave "ore
(reden(e to Nieva.s version of fa(ts, findin& that the latter.s asen(es )ere in(urred
)ith Philtran(o.s per"ission, sin(e he )as instru(ted not to drive until his (ase )as
settled* The ariter dis"issed Philtran(o.s alle&ation that Nieva had aandoned his
)ork, statin& that+
8Persistence in p(rs(in$ his claim before the %abor Arbiter ne$ates alle$ation of
abandonment (Antonio Evan$elista vs. N%R& and Art(ro *endo9a, "+ S&RA
:6!). In the instant case, even before complainant filed his present complaint he
had already shown his determination (and) persistence to ret(rn to his wor/ as he
(ntirin$ly /ept on reportin$ for d(ty. In fact, as ordered by his s(pervisor in
%e$aspi &ity, he even went to respondent.s main office in Pasay &ity to tal/ to the
operations mana$er re$ardin$ his ret(rn to wor/. 4here co(ld be no better
manifestation of one.s interest to his wor/ than what complainant had done.
;efinitely, therefore, complainant did not abandon his -ob.<
=5>
Thus, on 8une %9, %$$9, the laor ariter rendered a de(ision a)ardin& a(k
)a&es and separation pa' to Nieva* Said de(ision )as seasonal' appealed to the
NLR! ' Philtran(o* In a resolution issued on Septe"er %5, %$$5, the NLR!
affir"ed the de(ision of the laor ariter, &rantin& a(k )a&es and separation
enefits as follo)s+
8PRE*ISES &)NSI;ERE;, ?1ERE3)RE, respondent is directed to pay
individ(al complainant Roberto Nieva both his bac/wa$es in the amo(nt
of P:#,!"5.66 PES)S and separation benefits in the amo(nt of P!!,:":.66
PES)S.
S) )R;ERE;.<
=!>
Philtran(o.s "otion for re(onsideration of said resolution havin& een like)ise
denied ' the NLR! in its resolution of Nove"er #$, %$$5, Philtran(o elevated its
(ase to this !ourt, raisin& the follo)in& issues+
%* The NLR! (o""itted &rave ause of dis(retion a"ountin& to la(k of :urisdi(tion
)hen it denied the "otion of Philtran(o to dis"iss (o"plaint ased on i"proper
venue;
#* The !o""ission &ravel' aused its dis(retion a"ountin& to la(k or in e5(ess of
:urisdi(tion in rulin& that Philtran(o should e i"posed a(k)a&es and
separation pa';
-* Respondent !o""ission a(ted )ith &rave ause of dis(retion a"ountin& to la(k
of :urisdi(tion as to its findin&s of fa(ts and )hen it (onfir"ed the laor ariter.s
de(ision that there )as no aandon"ent of )ork ' the private respondent and
that the latter sho)ed his persisten(e to return to )ork*
The petition la(ks "erit*
,s re&ards the first issue, this !ourt has previousl' de(lared that the 4uestion of
venue essentiall' pertains to the trial and relates "ore to the (onvenien(e of the
parties rather than upon the sustan(e and "erits of the (ase*
697
Provisions on venue
are intended to assure (onvenien(e for the plaintiff and his )itnesses and to pro"ote
the ends of :usti(e* In fa(t, Se(tion %<a=, Rule IV of the Ne) Rules of Pro(edure of
the NLR!, (ited ' Philtran(o in support of its (ontention that venue of the ille&al
dis"issal (ase filed ' Nieva is i"properl' laid, speaks of the
(o"plainant>petitioner.s )orkpla(e, evidentl' sho)in& that the rule is intended for the
e5(lusive enefit of the )orker* This ein& the (ase, the )orker "a' )aive said
enefit*
657
?urther"ore, the aforesaid Se(tion has een de(lared ' this !ourt to e "erel'
per"issive* In Da'a& vs* NLR!,
667
this !ourt held that+
84his provision is obvio(sly permissive, for the said section (ses the word @may,.
allowin$ a different ven(e when the interests of s(bstantial -(stice demand a
different one. In any case, as stated earlier, the &onstit(tional protection accorded
to labor is a paramo(nt and compellin$ factor, provided the ven(e chosen is not
alto$ether oppressive to the employer.<
0oreover, Nieva, as a driver of Philtran(o, )as assi&ned to the Le&aspi !it'2
Pasa' !it' route* Sulpi(io Lines, In(* vs* NLR!
6@7
is e5a(tl' in point* In said (ase, )e
held that+
8Section , R(le IA of the ""6 N%R& R(les additionally provides that, @for
p(rposes of ven(e, wor/place shall be (nderstood as the place or locality where the
employee is re$(larly assi$ned when the ca(se of action arose.. Since the private
respondent.s re$(lar place of assi$nment is the vessel *A &otabato Princess which
plies the *anila'Estancia'Iloilo'Bamboan$a'&otabato ro(te, we are of the opinion
that %abor Arbiter Arth(r %. Amansec was correct in concl(din$ that *anila co(ld
be considered part of the complainant.s territorial wor/place.<
?ro" the fore&oin&, it is ovious that the filin& of the (o"plaint )ith the National
!apital Re&ion ,ritration /ran(h )as proper, 0anila ein& (onsidered as part of
Nieva.s )orkpla(e ' reason of his pl'in& the Le&aspi !it'2Pasa' !it' route*
,s re&ards the se(ond and third issues, Philtran(o (ontends that the NLR!
(o""itted &rave ause of dis(retion )hen it affir"ed the laor ariter.s findin& of
non2aandon"ent ' Nieva of his )ork* It harps on the alle&ed pau(it' of Nieva.s
eviden(e, )hile (itin& the nu"erous e5hiits "arshaled on its ehalf* Philtran(o
(ites, as proof of Nieva.s aandon"ent of his )ork, t)o irre&ularit' reports to the
effe(t that Nieva )as asent )ithout leave fro" O(toer %$2-% and Nove"er %2
#1, %$3$; a letter fro" Philtran(o.s assistant "ana&er to Nieva re4uirin& the latter to
report )ithin five da's fro" re(eipt thereof, on pain of ein& dropped fro" the
roll; and a ter"ination letter fro" Philtran(o.s (o"pan' la)'er to Nieva, for his
failure to report for )ork as dire(ted*
Suffi(e it to sa' that these issues raised ' Philtran(o relate to the vera(it' of the
findin&s of fa(t of the NLR! and the laor ariter* It should e noted that a petition
for certiorariunder Rule 65 of the Rules of !ourt )ill prosper onl' if there is a
sho)in& of &rave ause of dis(retion or an a(t )ithout or in e5(ess of :urisdi(tion on
the part of the National Laor Relations !o""ission* It does not in(lude an in4uir'
as to the (orre(tness of the evaluation of eviden(e )hi(h )as the asis of the laor
offi(ial or offi(er in deter"inin& his (on(lusion* It is not for this !ourt to re2e5a"ine
(onfli(tin& eviden(e, re2evaluate the (rediilit' of )itnesses, nor sustitute the
findin&s of fa(t of an ad"inistrative triunal )hi(h has &ained e5pertise in its spe(ial
field*
637
Parentheti(all', the laor ariter, in findin& that Nieva did not aandon his :o,
held that+
8&omplainant cate$orically stated in his position paper and Sinumpaang
Salaysay that on + )ctober "," he was instr(cted by Epifanio %lado, respondent
company.s administrative officer, not to drive his vehicle (ntil the case filed by the
P& &olonel arisin$ from the vehic(lar accident is settled. 4his assertion repeatedly
made by complainant was never ref(ted by respondent. S(ch bein$ the case, the
respondent cannot conveniently contend that the absence of complainant was
witho(t permission.<
=">
!onsiderin& that the findin&s of fa(t of the Laor ,riter and the NLR! are
supported ' eviden(e on re(ord, the sa"e "ust e a((orded due respe(t and
finalit'*
6%17
Like)ise, the laor ariter (onsidered Nieva.s asen(e fro" )ork as not
e4uivalent to aandon"ent* Ae a&ree* Ti"e and a&ain, )e have held that the
i""ediate filin& of a (o"plaint for ille&al dis"issal ' an e"plo'ee, as in this (ase,
is in(onsistent )ith aandon"ent*
6%%7
?ro" the fore&oin&, )e hold that the NLR! did not (o""it ause of dis(retion,
"u(h less &rave ause, )hen it denied Philtran(o.s "otion to dis"iss Nieva.s
(o"plaint on the &round of i"proper venue and affir"ed the laor ariter.s a)ard of
a(k )a&es and separation pa' to the latter*
&HERE'ORE, findin& no &rave ause of dis(retion (o""itted ' puli(
respondent NLR!, the assailed Resolution of Nove"er #$, %$$5 is ,??IR0BD and
this petition is here' DIS0ISSBD for la(k of "erit* !osts a&ainst petitioner*
SO OR$ERE$.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, and Purisima, JJ., (on(ur.
6%7
Philtran(o ases its position on Se(tion %<a=, Rule IV of the Ne) Rules of Pro(edure of the National
Laor Relations !o""ission, )hi(h provides+
CSe(tion %* Venue* D a= ,ll (ases )hi(h Laor ,riters have authorit' to hear and de(ide "a' e filed
in the Re&ional ,ritration /ran(h havin& :urisdi(tion over the )orkpla(e of the (o"plainant>petitioner*
?or purposes of venue, )orkpla(e shall e understood as the pla(e or lo(alit' )here the e"plo'ee is
re&ularl' assi&ned )hen the (ause of a(tion arose* It shall in(lude the pla(e )here the e"plo'ee is
supposed to report a(k after a te"porar' detail, assi&n"ent or travel* In the (ase of field e"plo'ees,
as )ell as a"ulant or itinerant )orkers, their )orkpla(e is )here the' are re&ularl' assi&ned, or
)here the' are supposed to re&ularl' re(eive their salaries>)a&es or )ork instru(tions fro", and
report the results of their assi&n"ent to, their e"plo'ers*
555 555 555*E
6#7
Rollo, p* %#%*
6-7
Ibid, p* %99*
697
Da'a& vs* NLR!, F*R* No* %#9%$-, 0ar(h 6, %$$3*
657
NestlG Philippines, In(* vs* NLR!, #1$ S!R, 3-9 <%$$#=*
667
Supra, Note 9*
6@7
#59 S!R, 51@ <%$$6=*
637
N?L vs* NLR!, F*R* No* %%-966, De(e"er %5, %$$@, (itin& !o"Savin&s /ank vs* NLR!, #5@
S!R, -1@ <%$$6=*
6$7
Rollo, p* %#1*
6%17
!o"Savin&s /ank v. NLR!, supra*
6%%7
P,SHDB!O vs* NLR!, F*R* No* %%#651, 0a' #$, %$$@; 8a(kson /uildin& !ondo"iniu"
!orporation vs* NLR!, #96 S!R, -#$ <%$$5=; Ranara vs* NLR!, #%# S!R, 6-% <%$$#=*

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