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9/28/2016

G.R. No. 75955

TodayisWednesday,September28,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
THIRDDIVISION
G.R.No.75955October28,1988
MARIALINDAFUENTES,petitioner,
vs.
NATIONALLABORRELATIONSCOMMISSION(NLRC),PHILIPPINEBANKINGCORPORATIONandJOSE
LAURELIV,asitsPresident,respondents.
PedroS.Raveloforpetitioner.
TheSolicitorGeneralforpublicrespondent.
LaurelLawOfficesforprivaterespondents.

FERNAN,C.J.:
Petitioner Maria Linda Fuentes seeks to set aside the resolution dated November 28, 1985 of the National Labor
RelationsCommission(NLRCforbrevity)affirmingtheLaborArbiter'sdismissalofhercomplaintforillegaldismissal
againstprivaterespondentPhilippineBankingCorporation(Philbankingforbrevity).
PetitionerwasemployedasatelleratthePhilbanking'sofficeatAyalaAvenue,Makati,MetroManila.OnMay28,
1982,atabout10:30a.m.,petitioner,whowasactingasanovernightteller,receivedacashdepositofP200,000.00.
Shecountedthemoneywiththeassistanceofacoteller,finishingthetaskat10:40a.m.orten(10)minutesafter
her closing time. Before she could start balancing her transactions, the Chief Teller handed her several payroll
checks for validation. Finding the checks to be incomplete, petitioner left her cage to get other checks, without,
however,botheringtoputtheP200,000.00cashonhercounterinsideherdrawer.Whenshereturnedtohercubicle
afterthree(3)tofive(5)minutes,shefoundthatthechecksforvalidationwerestilllacking,soshewentoutofher
cubicleagaintogettherestofthechecks.Onherwaytoacoteller'scubicle,shenoticedthattheP200,000.00pile
onhercounterhadbeenrearranged.Shethusreturnedtohercage,countedthemoneyanddiscoveredthatone
(1)bigbundleworthP50,000.00wasmissingtherefrom.Sheimmediatelyaskedhercotelleraboutitandgettinga
negativereply,shereportedthemattertotheChiefTeller.AsearchfortheP50,000.00havingprovedunavailing,
petitioner was asked to explain why she should not be held liable for the loss. She submitted her explanation on
June24,1982.
Subsequently, on June 3, 1983, petitioner was dismissed for gross negligence. On June 21, 1983, she filed a
complaintforillegaldismissalwithreinstatementandbackwages.
Private respondent bank seasonably filed an answer with counterclaim that petitioner be ordered to restitute the
amountofP50,000.
OnJanuary31,1984,LaborArbiterBienvenidoHermogenesrenderedadecisiondismissingthecomplaintaswell
asthecounterclaimbutwithoutprejudiceastothelatter. 1Petitioner's appeal totheNLRC wasdismissedforlackof
merit2andhermotionforreconsiderationwasdenied.3Hence,thispetition.

Theissueinthiscaseiswhetherpetitioner'sdismissalonthegroundofgrossnegligencewasjustifiedunderArt.
282oftheLaborCode.
Upon a thorough consideration of the facts of this case, the Court finds no cogent reason for reversing the
conclusionoftheLaborArbiterandtheNLRCthatpetitionerwasgrosslynegligentintheperformanceofherduties
asateller,whichnegligenceresultedinthelossofP50,000.00.

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Applyingthetestofnegligence,weask:didthepetitionerindoingtheallegednegligentactusereasonablecareand
cautionwhichanordinarilyprudentpersonwouldhaveusedinthesamesituation?Ifnot,sheisguiltyofnegligence.
Thecircumstancessurroundingthelossinquestionlendusnosympathyforthepetitioner.Itwasestablishedthat
petitioner simply left the pile of money within the easy reach of the crowd milling in front of her cage, instead of
putting it in her drawer as required under the private respondent bank's General Memorandum No. 211 (Teller's
Manual of Operations) which she was expected to know by heart. 4 Moreover, she left the P200,000.00 on two
occasions.5

Herirresponsibilityisnowheremadeapparentthaninherresponsetothefollowingquestion:
Q Noong lumabas ka sa iyong cage para pumunta sa iyong Chief Teller, hindi ba
ipinagbilinitongperasaiyongkasamahan?
AHindi ko na ho ipinagbilin kasi masyadong maraming tao noon, at iyong aking teller's
counteraynilagyankongsignnanakasulatng'nexttellerplease'naangibigsabihinay
kung meron mang mga cliente doon sa akin ay doon muna sila makipagtransact ng
negosyosakabilangtellerokungsinomanangbakantekasibusyako.6
Asateller,petitionermustrealizethattheamountofcaredemandedbyreasonableconductisthatproportionateto
the apparent risk. Since it was payday and depositors were milling around, petitioner should have been extra
cautious.Atnotimethantheoccasionunderconsiderationwastheneedtobeextracarefulmoreobvious.Itwas
certainly not the time to breach the standard operating procedure of keeping one's cash in the drawer as a
precautionaryandsecuritymeasure.
"Ateller'srelationshipwiththebankisnecessarilyoneoftrustandconfidence.Thetellerasatrusteeisexpectedto
possess a high degree of fidelity to trust and must exercise utmost diligence and care in handling cash. A teller
cannotaffordtorelaxvigilanceintheperformanceofhisduties."7
Petitioner argues that there was contributor negligence on the part of private respondent bank consisting in its
failure to conduct an investigation minutes after the loss. We do not agree with petitioner. The failure of private
respondentbanktoconductaninvestigationminutesafterthelosswastotallydistinctandindependentof,aswell
asremotelyrelatedtothefactoflossitself.
PetitionerFuentescannotinvokeprivaterespondent'sallegedcontributorynegligenceastherewasnodirectcausal
connectionbetweenthenegligenceofthebankinnotconductingtheinvestigationandthelosscomplainedof.Ina
legalsense,negligenceiscontributoryonlywhenitcontributesproximatelytotheinjury,andnotsimplyacondition
foritsoccurrence.
Inthecaseatbar,thebank'sinactionmerelycreatedaconditionunderwhichthelosswassustained.Regardlessof
whether there was a failure to investigate, the fact is that the money was lost in the first place due to petitioner's
grossnegligence.Suchgrossnegligencewastheimmediateanddeterminingfactorintheloss.
Besides, the petitioner's position is anathema to banking operations. By conducting an instant search on its
depositors for every loss that occurs, management holds suspect each depositor within its premises. Considering
thatcurrencyintheformofmoneybillsbearsnodistinctearmarkswhichwoulddistinguishitfromothersimilarbills
of similar denominations except as to its serial numbers, any innocent depositor with P50,000 in his possession
would be a likely suspect. Such act would do violence to the fiduciary relationship between a bank and its
depositors.Ultimatelyitwillresultinthelossofvalueddepositors.
Petitioner argues further that the NLRC failed to consider that petitioner left her cage at the instance of the Chief
Teller. Again we are not persuaded. The findings of the NLRC are clear. Petitioner left at her own volition to
approachherChiefTellertoaskfortheremainingcheckstoascertaintheirauthenticityandcompleteness.Besides,
irrespectiveofwhosummonedher,herresponsibilityoverthecashentrustedtoherremained.
Althoughpetitioner'sinfractionwasnothabitual,wetookintoaccountthesubstantialamountlost.Sincethedeposit
slipforP200,000.00hadalreadybeenvalidatedpriortotheloss,theactofdepositinghadalreadybeencomplete
andfromthereon,thebankhadalreadyassumedthedepositasaliabilitytoitsdepositors.Cashdepositsarenot
assetstobanksbutarerecognizedascurrentliabilitiesinitsbalancesheet.
It would be most unfair to compel the bank to continue employing petitioner. In Galsim v. PNB, 8 we upheld the
dismissalofabanktellerwhowasfoundtohavegivenmoneytoacoemployeeinviolationofbankrulesandregulations.
Saidact,whichcausedprejudicetothebank,wasajustifiablebasisforthebanktoloseconfidenceintheemployee.

Similarly,inthecaseatbar,petitioner,asaforesaid,violatedprivaterespondentbank'sGeneralMemorandum,No.
211(Teller'sManualofOperations)whichstrictlysays:
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Cashshouldneverbeleftexposed.Thecoinsandcurrenciesshouldbekeptindrawerswheretheyare
notaccessibletosomeonethroughthewindowswiththeaidofastickorotherdevices.9
An employer cannot legally be compelled to continue with the employment of a person admittedly guilty of gross
negligenceintheperformanceofhisdutiesandwhosecontinuanceinhisofficeispatentlyinimicaltotheemployer's
interest. "For the law in protecting the rights of the employee/laborer authorizes neither oppression nor self
destructionoftheemployer.10
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. The assailed decision dated November 28,1985 of the
NationalLaborRelationsCommissionisaffirmedintoto.
Gutierrez,Jr.,Feliciano,BidinandCortes,JJ.,concur.

Footnotes
1Annex"B,"Petition,pp.4752,Rollo.
2Annex"F,"Petition,pp.7681,Rollo.
3Annex"H,"P.85,Rollo.
4P.51,Rollo.
5P.50and79,Ibid.
6P.62,Rollo.
7Galsimv.PNB,G.R.No.23921,August24,1969,29SCRA293AlliedBankingCorporationv.Castro,
etal.,G.R.No.70608,December22,1987.
8Supra.
9P.97,Rollo.
10ManilaTradingSupplyv.Zulueta,69Phil.435.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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