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9/28/2016

G.R. No. 147633

SECONDDIVISION

ALDEGUER&CO.,
INC./LOALDEBOUTIQUE,
Petitioner,

versus

HONEYLINETOMBOC,
Respondent.

G.R.No.147633

Present:

QUISUMBING,J.,Chairperson,
CARPIOMORALES,
TINGA,
VELASCO,JR.,and
BRION,JJ.

Promulgated:
July28,2008

xx

DECISION

CARPIOMORALES,J.:

In1993,AldeguerandCo.,Inc./LoaldeBoutique(petitioner),acorporationengagedinthe
retailandwholesaleofLoaldebrandproducts,hiredHoneylineTomboc(respondent).

Petitioner promoted respondent in 1996 as OfficerinCharge (OIC) of its Loalde Ayala


Boutique(LoaldeAyala)intheAyalaCenter,CebuCity.AsOIC,respondenthadthefollowing
responsibilities:
1.Monitorsdailytheinventorystatusofthestocksperproductlineandperproduct
class
2.Coordinatewiththeareamanagerwiththefollowingmatters

a.stockrequirement
b.maintenanceoftheboutique
c.newdirectivesofthemallmanagement
d.customersproblems
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e.otherboutiqueproblems

3.Supervisesthesalesstaffassignedintherespectiveboutiques
4.Implementsthecompanyrulesandregulations
5.ChecksthePRanddepositslipspreparedbythecashieragainstthesalestally
report
6.Asperinternalcontrol,theOICisnotallowedtohandlecashieringexcept[in]
emergency cases which must have prior approval by the management.
Keyholdingofthecashdraweristheresponsibilityofthecashier.
7. Mustatalltimessubmitawrittenmemoofanyirregularincidentthatmay
occurinsidetheboutiqueoriftheresanydeviation[from]companypolicydue
[1]
tocircumstances.

AfterconductinganauditofsalesinLoaldeAyala,petitionerconcludedthatrespondent
[2]
misappropriatedP28,137.70 whichisajustcauseforterminationunderArt.282oftheLabor
[3]
Code, and accordingly notified her on May 24, 1997 of the termination of her services
effectiveJune24,1997.Petitioneralsonotifiedherasfollows:

Asidefromtheseundepositedcashcollections,therearereportssubmittedbythree(3)
cashiers who were assigned in the Loalde Boutique that you, being the OIC in the boutique
meddles[sic][with]thecashfordeposit,anddelaying[sic]suchformorethanthree(3)days.
[4]
This has prompted the management to believe that you were really using the money.
(Underscoringsupplied)

[5]
RespondentthereuponfiledonJune 25, 1997 a Complaint before the National Labor
RelationsCommission(NLRC)againstpetitionerforillegaldismissal,illegalsalarydeductions,
underpaymentofwages,nonpaymentof13thmonthpay,anddamages.

[6]
InherPositionPaper, respondentgavethefollowingversion:

AfterbeingclearedofheraccountabilitiesonMay19,1997 by Nenita Pamisa (Nenita),


theAccountingManagerofpetitioner,shewentonleavethefollowingday,herapplicationfor
the purpose having been earlier approved. On her report back for work, she received a
[7]
memorandum dated May 24, 1997 informing her that effective May 25, 1997, she was no
longer allowed to enter the premises of Loalde Ayala and that she should instead report to

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petitionersHeadOfficeatMandaueCity.Complying,shereportedtotheHeadOfficewhereshe
wasassignedtofoldandpiledressesinthestockroom.

InthesamePositionPaper,respondentpositedthatshewasterminatedfromemployment
becausesherefusedtosignavoucheracknowledgingreceiptofwagedifferentialswhichshedid
[8]
notinfactreceive.

From the records, it is gathered that at the scheduled conciliation conference before the
[9]
LaborArbiter,petitionersentnorepresentative. Andittwicefailedtosendanyrepresentative
[10]
attheformalhearingofthecase.Further,itfailedtosubmititspositionpaper,
drawingthe
Labor Arbiter to declare on February 5, 1998 the case submitted for decision on the basis of
[11]

respondents position paper.

Petitioner was later to file the following day or on February 6,

[12]
1998 its position paper
cum affidavits of Nenita, Kay Malagar (Kay), Jinky Diongson
[13]
(Jinky),JoanneBernaldez,andJocelynMartinez(Jocelyn),
profferingthefollowingversion:

Itisitspolicytorequireaboutiqueinchargetoconductacashcount...everyendofthe
day or on the first hour of the following day after her day off [and a]ny collection for the day
[14]
mustbedepositedwithoutfailonthesucceedingbankingday.

On May 19, 1997, Nenita audited the sales of Loalde Ayala and discovered undeposited
[15]
cashsalescoveredbysixreceiptsdetailedasfollows:

OfficialReceiptNumber

6565
6582
6586
6801
6802
6803

Date
April27,1997
May6,1997
May7,1997
May11,1997
May12,1997
May13,1997

Amount
P8,338.00
5,542.50
10,035.40
12,090.00
9,203.40
6,844.30

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When asked to explain, respondent claimed that the amounts were all depositsintransit,
meaning, the bank had already picked up the amounts but had not yet returned the validated
[16]
depositslips.

RespondenthavingbeenscheduledtogoonvacationleavestartingMay20,1997,shewas
askedtoanddidreportforworkonevendateduringwhichsheconferredwithNenitaandthe
General Boutique and Sales Manager Cora Anzano. At the conference, respondent maintained
that the questioned amounts were already deposited in the bank. Petitioners bank passbook did
[17]
not,however,reflecttheamountscoveredbythelastthreeaboveindicatedofficialreceipts.

InvestigationshowedthatdepositsonMay13,1997(comprisingtheproceedsofsalesfor
May9,11,and12,1997whichwereFriday,Sunday,andelectionday,respectively)andMay14,
1997wereallcheckdeposits,andthattherewerenocashdepositseveniftherewerecashsales
intheamountofP28,137.70coveringthesaidperiod.
OnherscheduledreturntoworkonMay24,1997,respondentdidnotshowuphence,the
[18]
issuanceofthenoticeofherdismissalwhichwasmailedtoheronMay29,1997.

Respondent committed other irregularities in the past. Thus, on February 24, 1997, she
incurredacashshortageofP46,491.35 and when made to account therefor, she claimed that a
representativeofSolidbankMandauepickeduptheamountonthemorningofthesameday.The
bankdeniedherclaim,however.

VerificationwiththebankrevealedthatthecashsalesforFebruary15and16,1997were
depositedonlyonFebruary25,1997,andthecashsalesforFebruary2023,1997weredeposited
[19]
only on February 26, 1997.
Respondent later explained that her deviation from petitioners
policy of requiring the deposit of the days sale on the following banking day arose from the
[20]
suddenchangeinthepickupsystemofthebank.

OnanotheroccasionoronApril24,1997,respondentinstructedanemployee,Jocelyn,to
issue an official receipt for P4,307.25 antedated April 3, 1997, and another for P6,030.30
antedated April 18, 1997, to cover amounts which Loalde Ayala received on those dates and
whichwerebeingtracedbytheheadoffice.
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Still on another occasion, respondent falsified the signature of the bank teller on deposit
slipsdatedApril3,1997andApril18,1997.
[21]
By Decision
of March 16, 1998, Labor Arbiter Ernesto F. Carreon dismissed
respondentscomplaint.

[22]
The NLRC upheld
the Labor Arbiters Decision and denied respondents Motion for
[23]
[24]
Reconsideration,
prompting her to file a Petition for Certiorari
before the Court of
Appeals.

[25]
ByDecision
ofFebruary27,2001, the Court of Appeals, concluding that respondent
was illegally dismissed, reversed the NLRC decision and ordered her reinstatement with full
[26]
paymentofbackwagesandwithoutlossofseniorityrights.

In reversing the NLRC decision, the Court of Appeals found the Labor Arbiter to have
committedgraveabuseofdiscretionwhenitadmitted[hereinpetitioners]PositionPaperevenif
submitted almost two (2) months late, aggravated by the fact that said Position Paper was
[27]
unverified and no copy thereof furnished [herein respondent]
(Underscoring partly in the
[28]
original,partlysupplied).Anditfoundrespondenttohavebeenillegallydismissed.
Itfurther
found that respondent was denied due process as she was not afforded a chance to refute the
charge of misappropriation against her. Finally, it found the charge to be a product of
[29]
[respondents]refusal...tosignafictitiousvoucher.

[30]
Hence,thepresentpetition
faultingtheCourtofAppealstohaveerred:

I.xxxINHOLDINGTHATTHELABORARBITERCOMMITTEDGRAVEABUSE
OF DISCRETION WHEN IT ADMITTED HEREIN PETITIONERS POSITION
PAPER ONE DAY AFTER THE CASE WAS DEEMED SUBMITTED FOR
DECISION.

II. xxxINBRUSHINGASIDETHEFINDINGSOFFACTSOFBOTHTHENLRC
AND THE LABOR ARBITER WHICH HELD THE TERMINATION OF
RESPONDENTVALIDBASEDONSUBSTANTIALEVIDENCEONRECORD.
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III. xxxINORDERINGTHEREINSTATEMENTOFRESPONDENTTOMBOCAS
SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE HAS ESTABLISHED THE JUST CAUSE FOR
RESPONDENTSDISMISSAL.

IV. x x x IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER FAILED TO COMPLY WITH


[31]
PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS IN DISMISSING THE RESPONDENT.
(Underscoringsupplied)

Thepetitionisimpressedwithmerit.
ALaborArbiterismandatedbylawtouseeveryreasonablemeanstoascertainthefactsof
eachcasespeedilyandobjectively,withouttechnicalitiesoflaworprocedure,allintheinterest
[32]
ofdueprocess.
Failuretosubmitapositionpaperontimeisnota

[33]
groundforstrikingitfromtherecords.
Andlackofverificationofpetitionerspositionpaper
[34]
isonlyaformal,notajurisdictional,defect.

In finding the admission of the belatedly filed position paper of petitioner to have been
attendedwithgraveabuseofdiscretion,theCourtofAppealsreliedon,interalia,thefollowing
[35]
pronouncementinMaebov.NationalLaborRelationsCommission:

xxxFirstly,whileitistruethattheRulesoftheNLRCmustbeliberallyconstruedand
thattheNLRCisnotboundbythetechnicalitiesoflawandprocedure,theLaborArbitersand
theNLRCitselfmustnotbethefirsttoarbitrarilydisregardspecificprovisionsoftheRules
whicharepreciselyintendedtoassistthepartiesinobtainingjust,expeditious,andinexpensive
settlement of labor disputes. One such provision is Section 3, Rule V of the New Rules of
Procedure of the NLRC which requires the submission of verified position papers within
fifteendaysfrom the date of the last conference, with proof of service thereof on the other
parties.The position papers shall cover only those claims and causes of action raised in the
complaintexcludingthosethatmayhavebeenamicablysettled,andshallbeaccompaniedby
allsupportingdocumentsincludingtheaffidavitsoftheirrespectivewitnesseswhichshalltake
theplaceofthelatterstestimony.Afterthesubmissionthereof,thepartiesshall...not be
allowedtoallegefacts,orpresentevidencetoprovefacts,notreferredtoandanycauseor
causes of action not included in the complaint or position papers, affidavits, and other
[36]
documents.
(Emphasisandunderscoringsupplied)

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InfindingMaebotohavebeendenieddueprocess,thisCourtheld:

[T]heLaborArbitergravelyabusedhisdiscretionindisregardingtherulegoverningpositionpapers
by admitting the Supplemental Position Paper and Memorandum, which was not even
accompanied by proof of service to the petitioner or his counsel, and by taking into
consideration, as basis for his decision, the alleged facts adduced therein and the
[37]
documentsattachedthereto.
(Emphasisandunderscoringsupplied)

AspartlyreflectedintheabovequotedportionsofthedecisioninMaebo,theCourtnoted
that the labor arbiter principally based its decision on the facts alleged in, and documents
attachedtothethereinrespondentemployersSupplementalPositionPaperandMemorandum,no
copyofwhichwasevenfurnishedthepetitioneremployeeMaebotothusdenyhimdueprocess.

Inthecaseatbar,petitionersubmitteditsPositionPaperonFebruary6,1998oradayafterthe
laborarbiterconsideredthecasesubmittedfordecision.Unlike Maebo, herein respondent was
[38]
furnished a copy of petitioners Position Paper on February 6, 1998.
Between February 6,
1998andMarch16,1998whenthelaborarbiterpromulgateditsdecision,respondentdoesnot
evenappeartohaverebuttedpetitionersPositionPaper.
Fromtherecitalofthefactsofthecaseatbarthen,respondentwasnotdeprivedofdue
process.

ON THE MERITS, petitioner has shown just cause for the termination of respondents
employmentunderArt.282oftheLaborCodeonthegroundoffraudorwillfulbreachbythe
[39]
employeeofthetrustreposedinhimbyhisemployerordulyauthorizedrepresentative.

Nenitas affidavit and audit report are corroborated by petitioners Solidbank passbook
showing that the P12,090.00 cash sales for May 11, 1997, P9,203.40 cash sales for May 12,
[40]
1997,andP6,844.30cashsalesforMay13,1997all duly receipted
were not deposited in
[41]
petitionersaccountwithSolidbank.

TheclaimofJinky,acashier,inheraffidavitthatitwasrespondentwhoturnedoverthe
depositstothebankrepresentativeonMay13,1997wascorroboratedbyKay,thebranchhead
oftheSolidbankGorordoBranchwhopersonallypickedupthedepositsfromLoaldeAyalaon
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May 13 and 14, 1997. Petitioner in fact presented deposit slips showing that, contrary to its
policy,cashsalesforthedaywereonseveraloccasionsnotdepositedonthenextbankingday.
[42]

RespondentscontentionthattheLaborArbiterandtheNLRCignoredtheMemorandum
issuedbypetitioneronFebruary29,1997indicatingherdutiesandresponsibilitieswhichdonot
[43]
includehandlingcashcollectionofsalesandmakingdepositswiththebank
doesnotlie. It
hasbeenestablishedthatwhilea

boutiqueinchargeisordinarilynotallowedtohandlecashiering,shemaydoso,however,
[44]
iftheneedarises.
Atanyrate,Jinkyandsomeoftheaffiantsstatedintheiraffidavitsthat
respondentinterferedwithcashieringtasks,inviolationofcompanypolicy.

Onrespondentsclaimthatpetitionerframedherupinretaliationforherrefusaltosigna
[45]
voucher showing receipt of payment of wage differentials which she never received,
the
samefails.ThecopyofthevoucherdatedApril1996whichrespondentpresentedshowsthatshe
[46]
did,infact,signit.

INFINE,theCourtfindsthatrespondentsemploymentwasterminatedforjustcause. It
finds,however,thatpetitionerfailedtoobservetherequirementsofproceduraldueprocess.

The rules implementing Book VI of the Labor Code require the following in the
terminationofemploymentbasedonjustcausesasdefinedinArticle282oftheLaborCode:

xxxx
(i)Awrittennoticeontheemployeespecifyingthegroundorgroundsfortermination,and
givingsaidemployeereasonableopportunitytowhichtoexplainhisside.

(ii) Ahearingorconferenceduringwhichtheemployeeconcerned,withtheassistanceof
counsel if he so desires is given opportunity to respond to the charge, present his
evidence,orrebuttheevidencepresentedagainsthim.

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(iii) A written notice of termination served on the employee, indicating that upon due
consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his
termination.

[47]

xxxx

TheCourtofAppealscorrectlyfound,however,thatxxx[i]nsteadofcomplyingwiththe
two (2) written notice requirement[s], [herein petitioner] in one, single notice, ordered [herein
[48]
respondents]dismissalxxx.
Thus,itsMay24,1997memorandumtorespondentreads:

Effective May 25, 1997, you are not allowed to enter the Ayala Boutique. You have
beengivenaletterofNoticeofTermination,and[it]hasbeenadvisedthatyoushalldirectly
report to the Head Office at M.L. Quezon St., Cabancalan, Mandaue City upon your return
after your vacation leave. Since May 25, 1997 is a Sunday, you are required to report to
MandaueOfficeonMonday,May26,1997.

Shouldyouwanttogetyourpersonalbelongingsintheboutique,youhavetocourse
everything through the General Boutique & Sales Manager, Ms. Cora G.Anzano. The latter
will handle the withdrawal of your personal things in the boutique, and shall turnover
everything to you personally.Ms. Anzano will be at the Ayala Boutique tomorrow morning,
May25,1997.

[49]
Youhavetotakeheedofthisdirectivetoavoidamoredrasticaction.

[50]
Suchsinglenoticedoesnotcomplywiththerequirementsofthelaw.
Petitioner argues, however, that respondent was terminated not only for the offenses
shecommitted[in]May1997butalsofortheotheroffensesparticularlythosecommitted[in]
[51]
February1997forwhichshewasalreadyrequiredtoexplaininwritingxxx.
(Emphasis
intheoriginal,underscoringsupplied).Theargumentfails.For,forthefirstnoticerequirement
tobesatisfied,thefollowingconditionsmustbemet:

[T]hefirstnoticemustinformoutrighttheemployeethataninvestigationwillbeconductedon
the charges particularized therein which, if proven, will result to his dismissal. Such notice
mustnotonlycontainaplainstatementofthechargesofmalfeasanceormisfeasancebutmust
categoricallystatetheeffectonhisemploymentifthechargesareproventobetrue.

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This notice will afford the employee an opportunity to avail [of] all defenses and
exhaustallremediestorefutetheallegationshurledagainsthimforwhatisatstakeishisvery
lifeandlimb[,]hisemployment.Otherwise, the employee may just disregard the notice as a
warningwithoutanydisastrousconsequencetobeanticipated.Absentsuchstatement,thefirst
[52]
noticefallsshortoftherequirementofdueprocess.xxx

Petitioner having failed to comply with the first notice requirement, respondent is, following
[53]
Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission,
entitled to indemnity in the form of
nominaldamagesintheamountofP30,000.

WHEREFORE,theFebruary27,2001DecisionoftheCourtofAppealsisREVERSED
andSETASIDE.TheJanuary12,1999DecisionoftheNationalLaborRelationsCommission
is REINSTATED with the MODIFICATION that petitioner, Aldeguer &. Co., Inc./Loalde
Boutique,isORDEREDtopayrespondent,HoneylineTomboc,nominaldamagesintheamount
ofP30,000.00.

SOORDERED.

CONCHITACARPIOMORALES
AssociateJustice

WECONCUR:

LEONARDOA.QUISUMBING
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

DANTEO.TINGA
AssociateJustice

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PRESBITEROJ.VELASCO,JR.
AssociateJustice

ARTUROD.BRION
AssociateJustice

ATTESTATION

IattestthattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultationbeforethe
casewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

LEONARDOA.QUISUMBING
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons
Attestation,Icertifythattheconclusionsintheabovedecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultation
beforethecasewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

REYNATOS.PUNO
ChiefJustice

[1]
NLRCrecords,p.22.
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[2]
Id.at27.
[3]
Art.282.Terminationbyemployer.Anemployermayterminateanemploymentforanyofthefollowingcauses:
(a) Seriousmisconductorwillfuldisobediencebytheemployeeofthelawfulordersofhisemployerorrepresentativein
connectionwithhiswork
(b)Grossandhabitualneglectbytheemployeeofhisduties
(c)Fraudorwillfulbreachbytheemployeeofthetrustreposedinhimbyhisemployerordulyauthorizedrepresentative
(d)Commissionofacrimeoroffensebytheemployeeagainstthepersonofhisemployeroranyimmediatememberofhis
familyorhisdulyauthorizedrepresentativeand
(e)Othercausesanalogoustotheforegoing.(Underscoringsupplied)
[4]
Id.at27.
[5]
Id.at1.
[6]
Id.at1321.
[7]
Id.at26.
[8]
Id.at1415,18.
[9]
Id.at113.
[10]
Id.at4042.
[11]
Id.at42.
[12]
Id.at4452.
[13]
Id.at6264,7377,8384.
[14]
Id.at301.
[15]
Id.at45,60,62.
[16]
Id.at45
[17]
Id.at46,5960,6768,7072.
[18]
Id.at87.Videid.at29.
[19]
Id.at80.
[20]
Id.at47,8082.
[21]
Id.at118121.
[22]
Id.at161168.
[23]
Id.at169175,195.
[24]
CArollo,pp.226.
[25]
PennedbyCourtofAppealsAssociateJusticeJoseL.Sabio,Jr.withtheconcurrenceofAssociateJusticesHilarionL.Aquinoand
MercedesGozoDadole.Id.at335345.
[26]
Id.at344.
[27]
Id.at339340.
[28]
Id.at342344.
[29]
Id.at343.
[30]
Rollo,pp.1044.
[31]
Id.at24.
[32]
ABSCBNBroadcastingNetworkv.Nazareno,G.R.No.164156,September26,2006,503SCRA204,222.
[33]
Ibid.
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[34]
VideRuralBankofAlaminosEmployeesUnionv.NLRC,376Phil.18,31(1999)(citationomitted).
[35]
G.R.No.107721,January10,1994,229SCRA240.
[36]
Id.at248.
[37]
Id.at249.
[38]
VideNLRCrecords,p.52.
[39]
LABORCODE,Article282(c).
[40]
NLRCrecords,pp.7072.
[41]
Id.at6669.
[42]
Id.at9192.
[43]
Rollo,p.128.Viderecords,p.22.
[44]
Recordsat90.
[45]
Id.at112.
[46]
Id.at25.
[47]
RULESIMPLEMENTINGBOOKVI,RuleI,Section2.
[48]
CArollo,p.343.
[49]
NLRCrecords,p.26.
[50]
VidePerpetualHelpCreditCooperative,Inc.v.Faburada,419Phil.147,157(2001).
[51]
Rollo,p.173.
[52]
Maquilingv.PhilippineTuberculosisSociety,Inc.,G.R.No.143384,February4,2005,450SCRA465,477(citationomitted).
[53]
G.R.No.158693,November17,2004,442SCRA573.

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