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Case Digest

G.R. 150658
Petitioners: Noelito Fabela, Marcelo Dela Cruz III, Rogelio Lasat, Henry Maliwanag,
Manuel de los Santos, Rommel Quines
Respondents: San Miguel Corporation, Arman Hicarte (Human Resources Manager)
Present: Conchita Carpio Morales, Associate Justice
Promulgated: February 9, 2007

FACTS:

The Petitioners prayed for a review of the decision promulgated by the Court
of Appeals on July 30, 2001 in favour of Respondents which reversed the
decision of the NLRC on April 28, 2000 and the Labor Arbiter on September
23, 1998 in favour of Petitioners
The Petitioner was employed by San Miguel Corporation as Relief Salesman
for the Greater Manila Area (GMA) under fixed term employment contract,
and were engaged by the Respondents in successive contracts. Once their
contracts have been terminated, SMC no longer forged another contract with
them. This compelled Petitioners to claim illegal dismissal on the part of the
Respondent.
Respondents argue that they engaged the Petitioners to fill in the vacuum
during the transition of the company operations from “Route System” to “PreSelling System” in 1993, since employees have to undergo training and
assessment in order to occupy the new positions to be instated after the
transition.

ISSUE:
1.) Were the petitioners illegally dismissed?
HELD:
Yes.

Fixed term contracts are valid under certain conditions, such that these
should be (1) a natural and essential undertaking (b) should not circumvent
security of tenure (c) insisted upon by the employee

While the Respondent alleges that the Petitioners were hired only to fill
in for vacancies caused by employees undergoing training in
anticipation of the transition to the new system to be implemented in
1993, and as such the alleged fixed term contract was executed from
1994-1996, the fact remains that the Petitioners have been engaged
by the Respondents on successive employment contracts beginning a
year before the alleged transition to the system was about to take
place.
o Although the contract was indeed executed voluntarily and knowingly
by both parties, such that the termination date has been predetermined, it cannot be valid grounds for claiming that the Petitioners
were simply fixed term employees since they have been on successive
fixed term contracts of the same nature, therefore making it a means
to circumvent security of tenure. Respondents cannot substantiate the
claim of the nature of their employment to only fill in for the gaps while
employees were on training for the new system since they have
already been on board before such transition was about to take place.
Respondents should reinstate the Petitioners with full backwages from the
time of their dismissal to actual reinstatement (except Jun Alovera and
Joselito De Lara, dismissed for lack of merit)
o