FIVE J TAXI and/or JUAN S. ARMAMENTO vs.

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION Facts: Private respondents Domingo Maldigan and Gilberto Sabsalon were hired by the petitioners as taxi drivers. In less than 4 months after Maldigan was hired as an extra driver by the petitioners, he already failed to report for work for unknown reasons. Later, petitioners learned that he was working for "Mine of Gold" Taxi Company. With respect to Sabsalon, while driving a taxicab of petitioners on September 6, 1983, he was held up by his armed passenger who took all his money and thereafter stabbed him. He was hospitalized and after his discharge, he went to his home province to recuperate. In January, 1987, Sabsalon was re-admitted by petitioners as a taxi driver under the same terms and conditions as when he was first employed, but his working schedule was made on an "alternative basis," that is, he drove only every other day. However, on several occasions, he failed to report for work during his schedule. On September 22, 1991, Sabsalon failed to remit his "boundary" of P700.00 for the previous day. Also, he abandoned his taxicab in Makati without fuel refill worth P300.00. Despite repeated requests of petitioners for him to report for work, he adamantly refused. Afterwards it was revealed that he was driving a taxi for "Bulaklak Company." Sometime in 1989, Maldigan requested petitioners for the reimbursement of his daily cash deposits for 2 years, but herein petitioners told him that not a single centavo was left of his deposits as these were not even enough to cover the amount spent for the repairs of the taxi he was driving. This was allegedly the practice adopted by petitioners to recoup the expenses incurred in the repair of their taxicab units. When Maldigan insisted on the refund of his deposit, petitioners terminated his services. Sabsalon, on his part, claimed that his termination from employment was effected when he refused to pay for the washing of his taxi seat covers. On November 27, 1991, private respondents filed a complaint with the Manila Arbitration Office of the National Labor Relations Commission charging petitioners with illegal dismissal and illegal deductions, and asking for paying the private respondent’s authorized representative’s attorney’s fees. RULING: On the issue of attorney's fees or service fees for private respondents' authorized representative, Article 222 of the Labor Code, as amended by Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 1691, states that non-lawyers may appear before the NLRC or any labor arbiter only (1) if they represent themselves, or (2) if they represent their organization or the members thereof. While it may be

true that Guillermo H. Pulia was the authorized representative of private respondents, he was a nonlawyer who did not fall in either of the foregoing categories. Hence, by clear mandate of the law, he is not entitled to attorney's fees. Furthermore, the statutory rule that an attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client a reasonable compensation for his services 7 necessarily imports the existence of an attorney-client relationship as a condition for the recovery of attorney's fees, and such relationship cannot exist unless the client's representative is a lawyer.8 WHEREFORE, the questioned judgment of respondent National Labor Relations Commission is hereby MODIFIED by deleting the awards for reimbursement of car wash expenses and attorney's fees and directing said public respondent to order and effect the computation and payment by petitioners of the refund for private respondent Domingo Maldigan's deposits, plus legal interest thereon from the date of finality of this resolution up to the date of actual payment thereof.

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