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Orozco vs.

Fifth Division of the CA


G.R. 155207
Nachura, J.

Aug. 13, 2008

Facts:
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March 1990: the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) engaged the services of petitioner Wilhelmina
Orozco (Orozco) to write a weekly column for its Lifestyle Section
o Her column was entitled Feminist Reflection which was a weekly publication that
earned her around P250later P300per column.
November 7, 1992: petitioners column appeared for the last time
o PDI Editor-in-chief and Lifestyle section editor wanted to cut down the number of
columnists they have for the section. Because petitioners column failed to improve,
continued to be superficially and poorly written, and failed to meet the high standards of
the newspaper, they terminated her column.
October 9, 1993: Petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal. Labor Arbiter granted the
petition.
o Reinstatement + backwages
o Ruled that PDI exercised full and complete control over the means and method by which
Orozcos work had to be accomplished.
Aug. 23, 1994: NLRC affirmed.
o NLRC noted both the procedural defect of PDIs appeal (failure to secure requisite bond)
and its substantial inadequacy.
June 11, 2002: CA reversed. Hence, this petition for review.

Issues/Held:
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Even if PDI failed to secure the requisite bond, technicality should not be allowed to stand in the
way of equitably and completely resolving the rights and obligations of the parties.
Four-Fold test to determine whether there exists an employer-employee relationship between
parties:
o Selection and engagement of the employee;
o The payment of wages
o The power of dismissal
o The employers power to control the employees conduct.
Of these four elements, the power to control is the most crucial that the other elements may even
be disregarded.
Power to control, in turn, is determined as follows: (Control test)
Whether the employer controls or has reserved the right to control the employee, not
only as to the work done, but also as to the means and methods by which the same is
accomplished.
In short, the control test considers the element of control over how the work itself is done,
not just the end result thereof.
Petitioners evidence that she is being controlled by PDI:
o Contents of her column has to be hewed closely to the objectives of the Lifestyle Section;
o Petitioner has to observe deadlines;
o She has to limit her work to only two or three pages in order to fit the column space

Petitioner was disciplined to submit her articles on highly relevant issues (to be discussed
with the Lifestyle editor)
SC: Not all rules imposed by the hiring party indicate that the latter is an employee of the former.
Rules which serve as general guidelines towards the achievement of the mutually desired result
are not indicative of the power of control. The one that creates the employer-employee
relationship is the one that fixes the methodology and binds the other party to follow it.
o Main determinant: whether the rules set by the employer are meant to control not just the
results of the work but also the means and method to be used by the hired party in order
to achieve such result.
The factors enumerated by the petitioner are inherent conditions in running a newspaper. In other
words, the so-called control as to time, space and discipline are dictated by the very nature of the
newspaper business itself.
o PDI has no control over petitioner as to the means used by her in the preparation of her
articles. There are no restraints on her creativity; she was free to write her column in any
manner and style she was accustomed to.
o Her being restricted to write only on subjects falling under the Lifestyle sectionsimply
a logical consequence of the fact that her column appears on that section!
o The only control PDI exercised over petitioner was only as to the finished product of her
effortsthe column itself (by shortening it or otherwise). PDIs power to approve or
reject petitioners article is analogous to one who commissions another to do a piece of
work and who has the right to accept or reject the product.
o In short, what the PDI imposed is only the general guideline!
(Economic Reality Test): the economic dependence of the worker on his employee.
o Court also uses this test to see the true relationship between the two parties, taking into
consideration the totality of circumstances.
o SC: Petitioners main occupation is not as a columnist for respondent but as womens
rights advocate working in various womens organizations (she contributes articles to
other publications as well.) It cannot be said that she was dependent on PDI for her
continued employment in PDIs line of business.
Petitioner is an independent contractor.
o One who carries on a distinct and independent business and undertakes to perform the
job, work, or service on ones own account and under ones own responsibility according
to ones own manner and method, free from the control and direction of the principal in
all matters connected with the performance of the work except as to the results thereof.
o Petitioner was engaged as a columnist for her talent, skill, experience and unique
viewpoint (as a feminist advocate). How she utilized all these in writing her column is not
subject to dictation by PDI. PDI is not involved in the actual performance that produced
the finished product.
Petitioner then is not an employee of PDI. Hence, there is no illegal dismissal involved.
o

Petition Dismissed.