You are on page 1of 15

Today is Sunday, June

search

Republic of the Philippi


S
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-48494 Febr
BRENT SCHOOL, INC
petitioners,
vs.
RONALDO ZAMORA,
Affairs, Office of the P
ALEGRE, respondents
Quasha, Asperilla, Anc
Mauricio G. Domogon

NARVASA, J.:
The question presente
or not the provisions o
anathematized "fixed p
term.
The root of the controv
virtue of which Dorote
director by Brent Sch
P20,000.00. 4 The contr
five (5) years, i.e., from
the agreement, to Ju
agreements dated Ma
September 14, 1974 re
including the expiry da
contract of July 18, 197
Some three months b
period, or more precise
copy of the report filed
Labor advising of the
July 16, 1976. The s
"completion of contrac
employment." And a mo
accepted the amount
therefor containing the
the period May 16, to J
However, at the investi
of said report of termina
announced termination
although his contract
terminate on July 17, 1
and desirable in the u
employment had laste
status of a regular emp
for valid cause. 6 Th
School's report as an
employment (not a re
recommendation of the
clearance and instead
a "permanent employe
seniority rights and
pronounced "the groun
in terminating the servi
not sanctioned by P.D.
Circular No. 8, series o
7

Brent School filed a m


Director denied the m
Secretary of Labor fo
Regional Director. 9
President. Again it wa
appeal for lack of me
decision, ruling that A
could not be dismissed
the employment contr
provided in the Labor C
The School is now b
vindication. That it will g
The employment cont
was executed on July 1
of the Philippines (P.D
Indeed, the Code did
1974, some three year
contract, and rights an
been mutually observe
At that time, i.e., before
no doubt whatever abo
impliedly but nonethele
Pay Law, R.A. 1052, 11
this statute provided th
In cases of employm
commercial, industria
enterprise, the employe
time the employment w
the case of an emplo
employer at least one
employer, by serving s
month in advance or on
the employee, whiche
months being consider
The employer, upon w
of termination of emplo
employee liable for dam
The employee, upon w
of termination of emp
entitled to compensati
employment in an amo
corresponding to the re
There was, to repeat,
licitness of term employ
considered to be just
without a definite per
employee without incur
Prior, thereto, it was th
employment without
acknowledged the prop
Its Article 302 provided
In cases in which the c
fixed period, any of the
other thereof one mont
The factor or shop cler
salary corresponding to
The salary for the mont
302 of the Code of Com
known as the mesada
Article 302 (together w
Commerce) was repea
Republic Act No. 1052
purpose of reinstating t
Now, the Civil Code of
June 18, 1949 and bec
deals with obligations w
I, Book IV; and with co
in Sections 2 and 3, Ch
IV. No prohibition aga
contained in any of
therefrom.
It is plain then that whe
between Brent School
perfectly legitimate for
the duration thereof S
recognized as valid by
Victorias Milling Co., In
and J. Walter Thompso
December 29, 1983.
executive who had bee
years. Biboso involved
whom, the following pro
What is decisive is tha
an the time that their te
termination, both partie
free to renew it or to let
Under American law 1
contract specifies the p
expiration of such peri
definite period termina
period." 17
The status of legitimacy
employment contracts
Decree No. 442), which
The Code contained
employment, or emplo
Nevertheless, obscura
employment began to t
Article 320, entitled
employment," origina
employment of probat
WITH A FIXED PERIO
the Secretary of Labor
to was "prevent the cir
to be secured in their
Code)."
Article 321 prescribed
could terminate "an em
And Article 319 underto
period" in the following
An employment shall b
for purposes of this C
engaged to perform ac
desirable in the usual b
where the employment
undertaking the compl
determined at the time
where the work or servi
and the employment is
The question immediat
is whether or not a vo
period would be valid w
to perform activities wh
the usual business or
seems a non sequitur. F
employee entail "activ
desirable in the usual b
conclusion does not n
employee should be for
the performance of tho
contradictory between
contract and the natur
that contract as being
usual business or trad
employee's duties as b
the usual business or tr
with or identical to emp
decisive determinant i
activities that the empl
day certain agreed upo
and termination of their
being understood to b
although it may not be
and employment for a
employment in which a
necessarily implied.
Of course, the term
signification. It means,
time marking a termina
a limit, a bound; conc
months or days in wh
definite length. . . . the
fixed date . . ." 20 It co
influence on an obligati
suspends its demandab
21 It should be apparent

period, in the context


account at all of the na
absolutely no relevanc
"usually necessary or
employer," or not.
Subsequently, the foreg
"a definite period" and
Presidential Decree No
Article 320, dealing
employment," was alt
persons "employed wit
(becoming Article 271)
. . . Probationary emplo
not exceed six month
working, unless it is co
stipulating a longer pe
has been engaged in a
for a just cause or when
in accordance with rea
employer to the emplo
employee who is allow
shall be considered a r
Also amended by PD 85
with a fixed period,"
employment with a fixe
exclusion clause declar
"to the contrary," and (
of "regular" and "casua
renumbered 270, 23 now
. . . Regular and Ca
written agreement to
regardless of the oral a
shall be deemed to be
engaged to perform ac
desirable in the usual b
where the employment
undertaking the compl
determined at the time
where the work or serv
and the employment is
An employment shall be
by the preceding parag
has rendered at least o
is continuous or broken
with respect to the ac
employment shall conti
The first paragraph is id
mentioned, a clause ha
written agreement to
regardless of the oral a
would appear to be add
definite period for em
indication of the inten
definite period. Indeed
employment not essen
fixed term, as above po
as amended by said P
propriety of term emp
which "an employer
definite period," thus
employment be with a
cause for termination
expiration of the term
duration of such emplo
Still later, however, sai
further amended by Ba
altogether reference to
As lastly amended, the
283), now pertinently
employment for any of
thus completed the elim
Code, express or implie
period or term.
It is in the light of the fo
of the provisions of the
period employment th
paragraph of this opini
the legislative intention
contracts laying down
stipulations in essence
on this account be acco
On the one hand, th
elimination of reference
the Labor Code, and th
. . . Regular and Cas
written agreement to
regardless of the oral a
shall be deemed to be
engaged to perform ac
desirable in the usual b
where the employment
undertaking the compl
determined at the time
where the work or serv
and the employment is
An employment shall be
by the preceding parag
has rendered at least o
is continuous or broken
with respect to the ac
employment shall conti
There is, on the other
recognized, and cont
propriety of contracts
period, and imposes no
to fix the duration of a c
goods or services, e
stipulations contrary to
or public policy. 26 Und
general proposition, fix
limited, as they are und
nature seasonal or fo
dates of completion; the
by free choice have as
Some familiar example
which may be neither fo
but to which a fixe
appurtenance: overse
which, whatever the na
regular employment wi
to have been applied
withstanding; also ap
assistant dean, colle
administrative offices i
practice or tradition ro
where fixed terms are a
rotation would be poss
Article 280, Policy, Inst
implicitly recognize th
elected for what would
of which they would ha
officials," . . . may lose
president or vice-presi
the board of directors fo
them."
There can of course b
where from the circum
been imposed to preclu
employee, they shoul
contrary to public polic
to circumvent the law is
reason for the law doe
employee himself who
of the engagement is s
specific project, a defin
would an agreement fix
therefore anathema? W
the scope of Article 2
prevent the circumven
secured in . . . (his) em
As it is evident from eve
that Article 280 of the
interpretation, not only f
contracts to which the
anomaly, but would als
distinctions, the right of
employer the duration o
such a literal interpretat
law must be given a
absurdity in its applicati
employment and subve
contract to remedy the
prevent their employee
cutting off the nose to s
a headache by lopping
It is a salutary principle
a valid presumption tha
intended by a legislati
which the statute is fair
all objecionable mischi
injurious consequences
Nothing is better settled
meaning which woul
consequences. That s
decided oil October 27
interpretation is to be
absurd results. That is
The words of Justice La
that the construction pl
would lead to an absur
. ." 29
. . . We have, here, the
is clear that calls for
statutory construction t
the letter thereof, for w
within the statute, since
absurdity, injustice an
plain and vital purpose
Accordingly, and sin
development of legislat
of the Labor Code cle
observed, to prevent c
be secure in his tenure,
and completely ruling
conflicting with the con
therein should be cons
the Code itself has
precisely to circumven
application to instance
was agreed upon kno
without any force, dures
bear upon the employe
vitiating his consent, o
employer and employe
equal terms with no mo
by the former over the
the law would be made
explicitly stated by its
arbitrary, unjust in its
unintended consequen
Such interpretation put
the expiry of an agree
rule—a rule reaffirmed
of the President (G.R.
fairly analogous case o
notice of termination fo
successive fixed-term e
Reyes (the teacher's) a
of the fact that her emp
nature, and one with a
period stipulated in the
terminated and the lette
contract is not a condit
deemed to have cease
notice is a mere remin
was due to expire and
renewed. It is not a lett
the notice is only a remi
in Labajo supra. ...32
Paraphrasing Escudero
terminated upon the e
School on July 16, 1976
advance written advice
to said petitioner was
expiration of his contr
application for cleara
approval of the Departm
his services effective.
properly have been giv
WHEREFORE, the pub
is REVERSED and SE
of employment with B
with and by reason of th
thereof, he is declared
other relief awarded
proceedings below. No
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Gu
Gancayco, Padilla, Bid
Regalado, JJ., concur.
Fernan, C.J., took no p

Separate Opinions
SARMIENTO, J., conc
I am agreed that the La
employments", held va
Company, Inc. (No. L-4
That notwithstanding, I
ordinary civil contracts
by stipulations agreed
Art. 1700. The relations
merely contractual. The
that labor contracts are
unions, collective barga
shop, wages, working c
subjects.
xxx xxx x
Art. 1702. In case of do
contracts shall be cons
living for the laborer.
The courts (or labor off
as to whether or not the
contract is done by rea
cheat the employee ou
circumvention of the la

Separate Opinions
SARMIENTO, J., conc
I am agreed that the
employments", held
Company, Inc. (No. L-4
That notwithstanding, I
ordinary civil contracts
by stipulations agreed
Art. 1700. The relatio
merely contractual. The
that labor contracts ar
unions, collective barga
wages, working conditi
xxx xxx x
Art. 1702. In case of d
contracts shall be cons
living for the laborer.
The courts (or labor off
to whether or not the te
done by reason of ex
employee out of office.
the law.
Footnotes
1 Commenced by petit
Court since, as petition
442, as amended, and
(in force at the time) do
decision of the Preside
2 PD 442, eff. Nov. 1, 1
3 By inter alia PD 850,
Aug. 21, 1981.
4 Rollo, p. 38, Annex A
5 Petition for Review, A
6 Rollo, pp. 40-41, Re-
for Clearance No. 2137
7 Id., p. 41. The circula
Schools" and entitled "S
Stabilizations of Positio
8 Id., p. 44, Annex F, P
9 Id., p. 45, Annex G, P
10 Id., pp. 6-10, Decisi
Legal Affairs, O.P. Cas
1978.
11 Eff. June 12, 1954.
12 Eff. June 21, 1957.
13 76 SCRA 250.
14 126 SCRA 458.
15 American law is the
legislation. R.A. No. 87
Peace Act, the bulk of
incorporated in the Lab
the National Labor Rela
etc.
16 17 Am Jur 2d 411, f
17 56 C.J.S., 74-75, fo
18 Emphasis supplied.
19 Article 1193 (third p
20 Capiral v. Manila El
Law Dictionary, Moreno
21 Op. cit., citing Lirag
SCRA 382.
22 Subsequently renum
Aug 21, 1981.
23 And still later renum
supra; emphasis suppl
24 Eff. Aug 21, 1981.
25 Article 280 (formerly
Code; emphasis suppli
26 ART. l306, Civil Cod
27 Promulgated April 2
the issuance of P.D. 85
28 People vs. Purisima
29 Automotive Parts &
SCRA 248, 255, citing
30 Hidalgo vs. Hidalgo
31 Supra, p. 4
32 Referring to Labajo
September 26, 1988, p
The Lawphil Project - Arellano L