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Torillo v.

Leogardo  By virtue of a motion to quash filed by Aberdeen Court, a restraining

May 27, 1991 | Fernan, CJ. order was issued by the Ministry of Labor-NCR enjoining the sheriff from
By: Kiko proceeding with the auction sale. The restraining order was eventually
(No discussion on employer-employee relationship. Baka nagkamali si Sir ng citation.)  Upon appeal to the Office of the Minister of Labor, the restraining order
SUMMARY: Torillo invited his co-employees for a night out to celebrate his birthday.
was reinstated with the clarification that the order does not include
Aberdeen court requested its employees to refrain from going as the following day was a
working day, Despite such orders, Torillo pushed through with the activity inspite of
warnings from Aberdeen Court. When Torillo reported for work the next day, he was  Torillo filed a motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this
informed that he is dismissed from his employment for having defied Aberdeen Court’s recourse by Torillo.
request. The dismissal was found illegal and Torillo was awarded separation pay and
backwages. A clarificatory order was issued stating that the award should not include ISSUES/HELD:
backwages. WON backwages should be awarded? Yes, an illegally dismissed employee should
be awarded both backwages and separation pay.
DOCTRINE: The clarification that the affirmative relief of backwages is available
only where reinstatement is ordered is erroneous. Article 279 of the Labor Code RATIO:
provides that "an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be Preliminarily, it must be stressed that the illegality of petitioner's dismissal is a
entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges matter long settled. The finding of illegality of dismissal having
and to his full backwages." thus attained finality, petitioner now questions the scope and extent of the
reliefs granted to him by public respondent.

FACTS: The clarification that the affirmative relief of backwages is available only where
 Valentino Torillo alias “Lady Valerie” was employed as an organist by reinstatement is ordered is erroneous.
Aberdeen Court with a daily compensation of P115.00 for a five hour
work a day. He invited his co-employees for a night out. Aberdeen Court, Article 279 of the Labor Code provides that "an employee who
through its floor manager, objected to such activity, requesting its is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss
employees to refrain from attending the affair because the following day of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages."
was a working day. Nonetheless, Torillo pushed through with his Backwages in general are granted on grounds of equity for earnings which a
birthday celebration. worker or employee has lost due to his illegal dismissal. Reinstatement, on
 Torillo reported for work the next day. Aberdeen Court informed the other hand, means restoration to a state of condition from which one had
petitioner that he was being dismissed from his employment effective been removed or separated.
that the same day for having defied Aberdeen Court’s order.
 Torillo filed with the Ministry of Labor and Employment a complaint Backwages and reinstatement are two reliefs given to an illegally dismissed
against Aberdeen Court for illegal dismissal with prayer for employee. They are separate and distinct from each other. However, in the
reinstatement with backwages, including payment of his unpaid wages, event that reinstatement is no longer possible, separation pay is awarded to
holiday pay and premium pay. Aberdeen Court justified Torillo’s the employee. Thus, the award of separation pay is in lieu of reinstatement
dismissal claiming that he abandoned his work in failing to report after and not of backwages. In other words, an illegally dismissed employee is
his birthday celebration. entitled to (1) either reinstatement, if viable, or separation pay if reinstatement
 Director Estrella of the Ministry of Labor ruled that the theory of is no longer viable and (2) backwages.
abandonment of work was without legal and factual basis and found that
the dismissal was illegal. Seven years later, the appeal of Aberdeen Court In the light of the above rulings of this Court, petitioner, by reason of his illegal
was dismissed. dismissal is entitled to both separation pay and backwages. However, the
 An urgent motion for execution was filed by Torillo. This was granted amount of backwages shall be based on the Mercury Drug Rule which limits
and Aberdeen court was ordered to pay the total amount of P280K, backwages of illegally dismissed employees to an amount equivalent to their
representing backwages, legal holiday pay, separation pay, and unpaid wages for three (3) years, without qualification and deduction. The Court has
wages. adopted the practice of fixing the amount of backwages at a reasonable level
without qualification and deduction so as to relieve the employees from proving
their earnings during their layoffs and the employer from submitting counter
proofs and thus obviate the twin evils of idleness on the part of the employees
and attrition and undue delay in satisfying the award on the part of the
employer. This practice has been hailed as a realistic, reasonable and mutually
beneficial solution. An award of backwages equivalent to three years (where
the case is not terminated sooner) serves as the base figure for such awards
without deduction.

With regards to petitioner's separation pay which was awarded to him in lieu of
reinstatement, he shall receive the amount equivalent to one month
wage/salary for every year of service, including the three-year period in which
backwages are awarded.

Petitioner Valentino Torillo was illegally dismissed in 1978. This case has been
pending for almost thirteen (13) years. In the interest of justice and equity as
well as to avoid any further ambiguities, this Court shall fix the exact amount
due petitioner. Thus, based on the records of the case, [30] we hold that the
total amount due to petitioner is P146,255.37.