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PhilippineAirlines,Inc.vs.NLRC
*

G.R.No.132805.February2,1999.

PHILIPPINEAIRLINES,INC.,petitioner,vs.NATIONALLABOR
RELATIONS COMMISSION, LABOR ARBITER ROMULUS
PROTACIOandDR.HERMINIOA.FABROS,respondents.
Labor Law Dismissal Abandonment Facts do not support
petitioners allegation that private respondent abandoned his post on the
evening of February 17, 1994.As regards the legality of private
respondentssuspension.Thefactsdonotsupportpetitionersallegationthat
privaterespondentabandonedhispostontheeveningofFebruary17,1994.
Private respondent left the clinic that night only to have his dinner at his
house, which was only a few minutes drive away from the clinic. His
whereabouts were known to the nurse on duty so that he could be easily
reached in case of emergency. Upon being informed of Mr. Acostas
condition, private respondent immediately left his home and returned to the
clinic.Thesefactsbeliepetitionersclaimofabandonment.
SameSame Same The eighthour work period does not include the
mealbreakPrivaterespondentsactofgoinghometotakehisdinnerdoes
not constitute abandonment.The eighthour work period does not include
themealbreak.Nowhereinthelawmayitbeinferredthatemployeesmust
taketheirmealswithinthecompanypremises.Employeesarenotprohibited
fromgoingoutofthepremisesaslongastheyreturntotheirpostsontime.
Privaterespondentsact,therefore,ofgoinghometotakehisdinnerdoesnot
constituteabandonment.
SameSameDamagesNot every employee who is illegally dismissed
or suspended is entitled to damages The person claiming moral damages
must prove the existence of bad faith by clear and convincing evidence for
the law always presumes good faith.Not every employee who is illegally
dismissedorsuspendedisentitledtodamages.Asarule,moraldamagesare
recoverable only where the dismissal or suspension of the employee was
attended by bad faith or fraud, or constituted an act oppressive to labor, or
was done in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy.
Badfaith
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*SECONDDIVISION.

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does not simply mean negligence or bad judgment. It involves a state of


minddominatedbyillwillormotive.Itimpliesaconsciousandintentional
designtodoawrongfulactforadishonestpurposeorsomemoralobliquity.
Thepersonclaimingmoraldamagesmustprovetheexistenceofbadfaithby
clearandconvincingevidenceforthelawalwayspresumesgoodfaith.
Same Same Same In the case at bar, there is no showing that the
management of petitioner company was moved by some evil motive in
suspending private respondent Under the circumstances, Court holds that
private respondent is not entitled to moral damages.In the case at bar,
there is no showing that the management of petitioner company was moved
by some evil motive in suspending private respondent. It suspended private
respondentonanhonest,albeiterroneous,beliefthatprivaterespondentsact
of leaving the company premises to take his meal at home constituted
abandonment of post which warrants the penalty of suspension. Also, it is
evident from the facts that petitioner gave private respondent all the
opportunity to refute the charge against him and to defend himself. These
negate the existence of bad faith on the part of petitioner. Under the
circumstances, we hold that private respondent is not entitled to moral
damages.

SPECIALCIVILACTIONintheSupremeCourt.Certiorari.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
PALLaborAffairsDepartmentforpetitioner.
DavidT.ParaderoandLambertoC.FabrosforDr.Fabros.
PUNO,J.:
Petitioner Philippine Airlines, Inc. assails the decision of the
National Labor Relations Commission dismissing its appeal from
the decision of Labor Arbiter Romulus S. Protacio which declared
thesuspensionofprivaterespondentDr.HerminioA.Fabrosillegal
and ordered petitioner to pay private respondent the amount
equivalenttoallthebenefitshe
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PhilippineAirlines,Inc.vs.NLRC

should have received during his period of suspension plus


P500,000.00moraldamages.
Thefactsareasfollows:
Private respondent was employed as flight surgeon at petitioner
company.HewasassignedatthePALMedicalClinicatNicholsand
wasondutyfrom4:00intheafternoonuntil12:00midnight.
On February 17, 1994, at around 7:00 in the evening, private
respondentlefttheclinictohavehisdinnerathisresidence,which
was about fiveminute drive away. A few minutes later, the clinic
receivedanemergencycallfromthePALCargoServices.Oneofits
employees, Mr. Manuel Acosta, had suffered a heart attack. The
nurse on duty, Mr. Merlino Eusebio, called private respondent at
home to inform him of the emergency. The patient arrived at the
clinic at 7:50 in the evening and Mr. Eusebio immediately rushed
him to the hospital. When private respondent reached the clinic at
around 7:51 in the evening, Mr. Eusebio had already left with the
patient.Mr.Acostadiedthefollowingday.
Upon learning about the incident, PAL Medical Director Dr.
GodofredoB.BanzonorderedtheChiefFlightSurgeontoconduct
aninvestigation.TheChiefFlightSurgeon,inturn,requiredprivate
respondenttoexplainwhynodisciplinarysanctionshouldbetaken
againsthim.
In his explanation, private respondent asserted that he was
entitled to a thirtyminute meal break that he immediately left his
residenceuponbeinginformedbyMr.Eusebioabouttheemergency
and he arrived at the clinic a few minutes later that Mr. Eusebio
panickedandbroughtthepatienttothehospitalwithoutwaitingfor
him.
Finding private respondents explanation unacceptable, the
management charged private respondent with abandonment of post
whileonduty.Hewasgiventendaystosubmitawrittenanswerto
theadministrativecharge.
In his answer, private respondent reiterated the assertions in his
previousexplanation.Hefurtherdeniedthatheabandonedhispost
onFebruary17,1994.Hesaidthatheonlyleft
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PhilippineAirlines,Inc.vs.NLRC

theclinictohavehisdinnerathome.Infact,hereturnedtotheclinic
at7:51intheeveninguponbeinginformedoftheemergency.
After evaluating the charge as well as the answer of private
respondent, petitioner company decided to suspend private
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respondentforthreemonthseffectiveDecember16,1994.
Private respondent filed a complaint for illegal suspension
againstpetitioner.
OnJuly16,1996,LaborArbiterRomulusA.Protaciorendereda
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decision declaring the suspension of private respondent illegal. It
also ordered petitioner to pay private respondent the amount
equivalent to all the benefits he should have received during his
period of suspension plus P500,000.00 moral damages. The
dispositiveportionofthedecisionreads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered
declaring the suspension of complainant as illegal, and ordering the
respondents the restitution to the complainant of all employment benefits
equivalent to his period of suspension, and
the payment to the complainant
2
ofP500,000.00bywayofmoraldamages.

Petitioner appealed to the NLRC. The NLRC, however, dismissed


the appeal after finding that the decision of the Labor Arbiter
is
3
supported by the facts on record and the law on the matter.4 The
NLRClikewisedeniedpetitionersmotionforreconsideration.
Hence,thispetitionraisingthefollowingarguments:
1. The public respondents acted without or in excess of their
jurisdictionandwithgraveabuseofdiscretioninnullifying
the 3month suspension of private respondent despite the
factthatthe
_________________
1Rollo,pp.1932.
2Rollo,p.32.
3Rollo,p.43.
4Rollo,p.46.

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PhilippineAirlines,Inc.vs.NLRC

privaterespondenthascommittedanoffensethatwarranted
theimpositionofdisciplinaryaction.
2. The public respondents acted without or in excess of their
jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion in holding
thepetitionerliableformoraldamages:
(a) Despite the fact that no formal hearing whatsoever was
conductedforcomplainanttosubstantiatehisclaim
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(b) Despitetheabsenceofproofthatthepetitioneractedinbad
faithinimposingthe3monthsuspensionand
(c) Despite the fact that the Labor Arbiters award of moral
damages is highly irregular, considering that
it was more
5
thanwhattheprivaterespondentprayedfor.
We find that public respondents did not err in nullifying the three
month suspension of private respondent. They, however, erred in
awardingmoraldamagestoprivaterespondent.
First, as regards the legality of private respondents suspension.
The facts do not support petitioners allegation that private
respondentabandonedhispostontheeveningofFebruary17,1994.
Privaterespondentlefttheclinicthatnightonlytohavehisdinnerat
his house, which was only a few minutes drive away from the
clinic.Hiswhereaboutswereknowntothenurseondutysothathe
couldbeeasilyreachedincaseofemergency.Uponbeinginformed
of Mr. Acostas condition, private respondent immediately left his
homeandreturnedtotheclinic.Thesefactsbeliepetitionersclaim
ofabandonment.
Petitioner argues that being a fulltime employee, private
respondent is obliged to stay in the company premises for not less
thaneight(8)hours.Hence,hemaynotleavethecompanypremises
duringsuchtime,eventotakehismeals.
Wearenotimpressed.
Articles83and85oftheLaborCoderead:
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5Rollo,p.8.

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PhilippineAirlines,Inc.vs.NLRC
Art. 83. Normal hours of work.The normal hours of work of any
employeeshallnotexceedeight(8)hoursaday.
Healthpersonnelincitiesandmunicipalitieswithapopulationofatleast
onemillion(1,000,000)orinhospitalsandclinicswithabedcapacityofat
leastonehundred(100)shallholdregularofficehoursforeight(8)hoursa
day,forfive(5)daysaweek,exclusiveoftimeformeals,exceptwherethe
exigenciesoftheservicerequirethatsuchpersonnelworkforsix(6)daysor
fortyeight (48) hours, in which case they shall be entitled to an additional
compensationofatleastthirtypercent(30%)oftheirregularwageforwork
on the sixth day. For purposes of this Article, health personnel shall
include: resident physicians, nurses, nutritionists, dieticians, pharmacists,
social workers, laboratory technicians, paramedical technicians,
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psychologists, midwives, attendants and all other hospital or clinic


personnel.(emphasissupplied)
Art. 85. Mealperiods.Subject to such regulations as the Secretary of
Labor may prescribe, it shall be the duty of every employer to give his
employeesnotlessthansixty(60)minutestimeofffortheirregularmeals.

Section7,RuleI,BookIIIoftheOmnibusRulesImplementingthe
LaborCodefurtherstates:
Sec.7.MealandRestPeriods.Everyemployershallgivehisemployees,
regardless of sex, not less than one (1) hour timeoff for regular meals,
exceptinthefollowingcaseswhenamealperiodofnotlessthantwenty(20)
minutes may be given by the employer provided that such shorter meal
periodiscreditedascompensablehoursworkedoftheemployee:
(a) Where the work is nonmanual work in nature or does not involve
strenuousphysicalexertion
(b) Where the establishment regularly operates not less than sixteen
hoursaday
(c) Incasesofactualorimpendingemergenciesorthereisurgentwork
tobeperformedonmachineries,equipmentorinstallationstoavoid
seriouslosswhichtheemployerwouldotherwisesufferand
(d) Where the work is necessary to prevent serious loss of perishable
goods.
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PhilippineAirlines,Inc.vs.NLRC

Rest periods or coffee breaks running from five (5) to twenty (20) minutes
shallbeconsideredascompensableworkingtime.

Thus, the eighthour work period does not include the meal break.
Nowhere in the law may it be inferred that employees must take
their meals within the company premises. Employees are not
prohibitedfromgoingoutofthepremisesaslongastheyreturnto
their posts on time. Private respondents act, therefore, of going
hometotakehisdinnerdoesnotconstituteabandonment.
Wenowgototheawardofmoraldamagestoprivaterespondent.
Not every employee who is illegally dismissed or suspended is
entitledtodamages.Asarule,moraldamagesarerecoverableonly
wherethedismissalorsuspensionoftheemployeewasattendedby
badfaithorfraud,orconstitutedanactoppressivetolabor,orwas6
doneinamannercontrarytomorals,goodcustomsorpublicpolicy.
Bad faith does not simply mean negligence or bad judgment. It
involvesastateofminddominatedbyillwillormotive.Itimpliesa
consciousandintentionaldesigntodoawrongfulactforadishonest
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purpose or some moral obliquity. The person


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claiming moral

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purpose or some moral obliquity. The person claiming moral


damages must prove the existence of bad faith by clear
and
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convincingevidenceforthelawalwayspresumesgoodfaith.
In the case at bar, there is no showing that the management of
petitionercompanywasmovedbysomeevilmotiveinsuspending
private respondent. It suspended private respondent on an honest,
albeit erroneous, belief that private respondents act of leaving the
company premises to take his meal at home constituted
abandonment of post which warrants the penalty of suspension.
Also,itisevidentfromthe
_________________
6 Ford Philippines, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 267 SCRA 320 (1997) Equitable

Banking Corporation vs. NLRC, 273 SCRA 352 (1997) Tumbiga vs. NLRC, 274
SCRA338(1997).
7Ibid.citingFar East Bank and Trust Co. vs. Court of Appeals,241 SCRA 671

(1996).
8Ibid.

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Ramosvs.CourtofAppeals

facts that petitioner gave private respondent all the opportunity to


refute the charge against him and to defend himself. These negate
the existence of bad faith on the part of petitioner. Under the
circumstances, we hold that private respondent is not entitled to
moraldamages.
INVIEWWHEREOF,thepetitionisPARTIALLYGRANTED.
The portion of the assailed decision awarding moral damages to
private respondent is DELETED. All other aspects of the decision
areAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.
Bellosillo (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing and Buena,
JJ.,concur.
Petitionpartiallygranted.
Note.Whether or not an employee has abandoned his job is
essentially a factual issue. (Pure Blue Industries, Inc. vs. National
LaborRelationsCommission,271SCRA259[1997])
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