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ROLANDO PLACIDO and EDGARDO CARAGAY, Vs.

NATIONAL
LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and PHILIPPINE LONG
DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, INCORPORATED, G.R.
No. 180888, September 18, 2009
D E C I S I O N


CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Petitioners Rolando Placido (Placido) and Edgardo Caragay (Caragay)
had been employed since an!ary 22, 1981 and !ne 1, 198", respecti#ely,
both as cable splicers by respondent Philippine $ong %istance &elephone
Company, 'ncorporated (P$%&)(

't appears that since )!g!st 2000, P$%& had been recei#ing reports o*
the*t and destr!ction o* its cables( +n ,arch 1", 2001, P$%& %!ty 'nspector
Ricardo ,o-ica (,o-ica) and P$%& Sec!rity .!ard/%ri#er ,ar0 )nthony
Cr!to (Cr!to), responding to a report that cables 1ere being stripped and
b!rned in one o* the residences along )lley 2 Street, Pro-ect 2, 3!e4on City,
proceeded to the said area 1here they sa1 petitioners5 ser#ice #ehicle par0ed
in*ront o* the ho!se at 6o( 122( &hey li0e1ise sa1 petitioners stripping and
b!rning cables inside the compo!nd o* the ho!se 1hich t!rned o!t to belong
to Caragay5s mother( 7ith the assistance o* police and barangay o**icials,
P$%& reco#ered the cables bearing the 8P$%&9 mar0ing(

&he incident spa1ned the *iling, on complaint o* P$%&, o* an
'n*ormation *or 3!ali*ied &he*t against petitioners be*ore the Regional &rial
Co!rt (R&C) o* 3!e4on City, doc0eted as Criminal Case 6o( 99:2;(

'n a related mo#e, P$%& re<!ired petitioners to e=plain 1ithin ;2
ho!rs 1hy no se#ere disciplinary action sho!ld be ta0en against them *or
Serio!s ,iscond!ct and %ishonesty( )*ter se#eral re<!ests *or e=tension to
s!bmit their e=planations, petitioners s!bmitted a -oint e=planation on !ne
11, 2001 denying the charges against them( >y their claim, they 1ere on
their 1ay bac0 *rom the ho!se o* one aben4 3!e4ada (3!e4ada) *rom 1hom
they 1ere in<!iring abo!t a #ehicle 1hen they 1ere detained by ,o-ica(

+n petitioners5 re<!est, a *ormal hearing 1as sched!led( &heir re<!est
*or a copy o* the Sec!rity 'n#estigation 1as denied, ho1e#er, on the gro!nd
that they are only entitled to 8be in*ormed o* the charges, and they cannot
demand *or the report as it is still on the con*idential stage(9

%!ring the !ne 2?, 2001 *ormal hearing sched!led by P$%&,
representati#es *rom petitioners5 !nion Manggagawa ng Komunikasyon sa
Pilipinas (,@P) 1ere present( )s petitioners5 co!nsel co!ld not attend the
hearing d!e to a pre#io!sly sched!led hearing at the R&C ,a0ati, petitioners
re<!ested *or another setting b!t it 1as denied( Petitioners 1ere, ho1e#er,
gi#en a nonAe=tendible period o* three days to s!bmit their e#idence(
1

,o-ica testi*ied d!ring the hearing that 1hen petitioners sa1 him as
they 1ere stripping and b!rning the cables, they *led b!t s!r*aced thirty
min!tes later *rom )lley 2 Street 1earing di**erent clothesB and that
according to Rodol*o R( )nor, P$%& 7or0 +rder S!per#isor, the cables
co!ld be dead cables that 1ere not reco#ered by contractors(

Petitioners5 co!nsel later reiterated the re<!est *or a setting o* a
hearing and an a!diotape o* the !ne 2?, 2001 hearing, b!t the same 1as
denied( ) third time re<!est *or another hearing 1as li0e1ise denied(

+n ,ay 1;, 2002, P$%& sent notices o* termination to petitioners,
prompting them to *ile on ,ay 2:, 2002 a complaint *or illegal dismissal
be*ore the $abor )rbiter(

>y %ecision o* an!ary 12, 200:, $abor )rbiter Catalino R( $aderas
held that petitioners 1ere illegally dismissed, there being no pro#ision in
P$%&5s r!les and reg!lations that stripping and b!rning o* P$%& cables and
1ires constit!te Serio!s ,iscond!ct and %ishonestyB that P$%&5s seeming
lac0 o* !rgency in ta0ing any disciplinary action against petitioners negates
the chargesB and that dismissal is too harsh, gi#en petitioners5 years o*
ser#ice and lac0 o* pre#io!s derogatory record(

+n appeal, the 6ational $abor Relations Commission (6$RC), by
%ecision dated Cebr!ary 28, 200?, reversed the $abor )rbiter5s %ecision and
dismissed petitioners5 complaint *or lac0 o* merit, it holding that they 1ere
#alidly dismissed *or -!st ca!se D 8the*t o* company property(9

'n br!shing aside petitioners5 disclaimer o* the acts attrib!ted to them,
the 6$RC noted that, inter alia, they *ailed to present any a**ida#it o*
3!e4ada to pro#e that they 1ere indeed at his ho!se in<!iring abo!t a
#ehicle(

Petitioners appealed to the Co!rt o* )ppeals(

'n the meantime or on Cebr!ary 1?, 200;, >ranch 10: o* the 3!e4on
City R&C ac<!itted petitioners in Criminal Case 6o( 99:2; on the gro!nd o*
reasonable do!bt, it holding that the prosec!tion *ailed to pro#e that the
cables 1ere in *act stolen *rom P$%&(

>y %ecision o* September 28, 200;, the appellate co!rt a**irmed the
6$RC %ecision, it holding that since the cables bore the 8P$%&9 mar0ing,
they 1ere pres!med to be o1ned by P$%&, hence, the b!rden o* e#idence
shi*ted on petitioners to pro#e that they 1ere no longer o1ned by P$%&, b!t
they *ailed(

R!ling o!t petitioners5 claim that they 1ere denied d!e process, the
appellate co!rt held that they 1ere gi#en ample opport!nity to de*end
themsel#es d!ring the administrati#e hearing d!ring 1hich they 1ere
*!rnished 1ith 1ritten in#itations *or their appearance be*ore the
in#estigating !nit on se#eral dates, b!t they re*!sed to s!bmit themsel#es to
2
the in#estigation( Petitioners5 motion *or reconsideration ha#ing been denied
by Resol!tion o* %ecember 1;, 200;, the present petition 1as *iled(

Petitioners insist that the presence o* the 8P$%&9 mar0ing on the
cables does not pro#e that P$%& o1ned them at the time( &hey a#er that
P$%& disposes o* !sed and !nser#iceable materials, incl!ding cables and
telephone 1ires 1hich had been declared -!n0ed and classi*ied as scrap AAA a
s!bstantial amo!nt o* 1hich remains ins!lated AAA, and once disposed o*,
these cables, altho!gh still bearing the 8P$%&9 mar0ing, are no longer its
property (

'n *ine, petitioners contend that P$%&5s o1nership o* cables or 1ires
bearing the 8P$%&9 mar0ing on the ins!lation cannot be pres!med, hence, a
person5s possession thereo* does not gi#e rise to the pres!mption that he
obtained or stole them *rom P$%&(

)dditionally, petitioners a#er that they 1ere denied d!e process 1hen
P$%& re*!sed to *!rnish them a copy o* the 'n#estigation Report and grant
them a *ormal hearing in 1hich they co!ld be represented by co!nsel o* their
choice(

&he petition is bere*t o* merit(

)s did the 6$RC and the Co!rt o* )ppeals, the Co!rt *inds that as the
cables bore the 8P$%&9 mar0ing, the pres!mption is that P$%& o1ned them(
&he b!rden o* e#idence th!s lay on petitioners to pro#e that they ac<!ired
the cables la1*!lly( &his they *ailed to discharge(

)nd as also did the 6$RC and the Co!rt o* )ppeals, the Co!rt *inds
that petitioners 1ere not denied d!e process(

)rticle 2;; o* the $abor Code pro#idesE


= = = =

(b) S!b-ect to the constit!tional right o* 1or0ers to sec!rity o* ten!re and
their right to be protected against dismissal e=cept *or a -!st or a!thori4ed
ca!se and 1itho!t pre-!dice to the re<!irement o* notice !nder )rticle 28"
o* this Code, t! !"#$o%!& sa$$ '(&n)s t! *o&+!&s *os!
!"#$o%"!nt )s so(,t to -! t!&")nat!d a *&)tt!n not).! .onta)n)n, a
stat!"!nt o' t! .a(s!s 'o& t!&")nat)on and sa$$ a''o&d t! $att!&
a"#$! o##o&t(n)t% to -! !a&d and d!'!nd )"s!$' *)t t! ass)stan.!
o' )s &!#&!s!ntat)/! )' ! so d!s)&!s in accordance 1ith company r!les
and reg!lations prom!lgated p!rs!ant to the g!idelines set by the
%epartment o* $abor and Employment( )ny decision ta0en by the
employer shall be 1itho!t pre-!dice to the right o* the 1or0er to contest
the #alidity or legality o* his dismissal by *iling a complaint 1ith the
regional branch o* the 6ational $abor Relations Commission( &he b!rden
o* pro#ing that the termination 1as *or a #alid or a!thori4ed ca!se shall
rest on the employer( (Emphasis s!pplied)


"
)nd the +mnib!s R!les 'mplementing the $abor Code require a hearing
and conference d!ring 1hich the employee concerned is gi#en the
opport!nity to respond to the charge, and present his e#idence or reb!t the
e#idence presented against him( &h!s R!le ', Section 2(d), pro#idesE

Section 2( Security of Tenure( F

= = = =

(d) 'n all cases o* termination o* employment, the *ollo1ing
standards o* d!e process shall be s!bstantially obser#edE

Cor termination o* employment based on -!st ca!ses as de*ined in
)rticle 282 o* the $abor CodeE

(i) ) 1ritten notice ser#ed on the employee speci*ying the gro!nd
or gro!nds *or termination, and gi#ing said employee reasonable
opport!nity 1ithin 1hich to e=plain his side(




(ii) A !a&)n, o& .on'!&!n.! d(&)n, *). t! !"#$o%!!
.on.!&n!d, *)t t! ass)stan.! o' .o(ns!$ )' ! so d!s)&!s, )s ,)/!n
o##o&t(n)t% to &!s#ond to t! .a&,!, #&!s!nt )s !/)d!n.! o& &!-(t
t! !/)d!n.! #&!s!nt!d a,a)nst )".

(iii) ) 1ritten notice o* termination ser#ed on the employee,
indicating that !pon d!e consideration o* all the circ!mstances, gro!nds
ha#e been established to -!sti*y his termination( (Emphasis and
!nderscoring s!pplied)

&he abo#e<!oted pro#ision o* Section 2(d) sho!ld not be ta0en to mean,
ho1e#er, that holding an act!al hearing or con*erence is a condition sine qua
non *or compliance 1ith the d!e process re<!irement in case o* termination o*
employment( Cor the test *or the *air proced!re g!aranteed !nder the abo#eA
<!oted )rticle 2;;(b) o* the $abor Code is not 1hether there has been a *ormal
pretermination con*rontation bet1een the employer and the employee( &he
ample opportunity to be heard standard is neither synonymo!s nor similar to
a *ormal hearing( &o con*ine the employee5s right to be heard to a solitary *orm
narro1s do1n that right(

&he essence o* d!e process is simply an opport!nity to be heard or, as
applied to administrati#e proceedings, an opport!nity to e=plain oneGs side or an
opport!nity to see0 a reconsideration o* the action or r!ling complained o*(
7hat the la1 prohibits is absolute absence o* the opport!nity to be heard, hence,
a party cannot *eign denial o* d!e process 1here he had been a**orded the
opport!nity to present his side( ) *ormal or trial type hearing is not at all times
and in all instances essential to d!e process, the re<!irements o* 1hich are
satis*ied 1here the parties are a**orded *air and reasonable opport!nity to
e=plain their side o* the contro#ersy(

'n the present case, petitioners 1ere, among other things, gi#en se#eral
1ritten in#itations to s!bmit themsel#es to P$%&5s 'n#estigation Hnit to e=plain
their side, b!t they *ailed to heed them( ) hearing, 1hich petitioners attended
:
along 1ith their !nion ,@P representati#es, 1as cond!cted on !ne 2?, 2001
d!ring 1hich the principal 1itnesses to the incident 1ere presented( Petitioners
1ere th!s a**orded the opport!nity to con*ront those 1itnesses and present
e#idence in their behal*, b!t they *ailed to do so(

0HERE1ORE, the petition is DENIED( &he %ecision o* the Co!rt o*
)ppeals dated September 28, 200; is A11IRMED.

SO ORDERED(

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
)ssociate !stice


7E C+6CHRE







CONS2ELO YNARES3SANTIAGO
!ssociate "ustice






ART2RO D. BRION
!ssociate "ustice



MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
!ssociate "ustice
ROBERTO A. ABAD
!ssociate "ustice









ATTESTATION


' attest that the concl!sions in the abo#e %ecision had been reached in
cons!ltation be*ore the case 1as assigned to the 1riter o* the opinion o* the
Co!rt5s %i#ision(



CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
!ssociate "ustice
?
!cting #hairperson





CERTI1ICATION


P!rs!ant to Section 1", )rticle I''' o* the Constit!tion, and the
%i#ision )cting Chairperson5s )ttestation, ' certi*y that the concl!sions in
the abo#e decision had been reached in cons!ltation be*ore the case 1as
assigned to the 1riter o* the opinion o* the Co!rt5s %i#ision(



REYNATO S. P2NO
#hief "ustice

J )dditional member per Special +rder 6o( 291(
JJ Per Special +rder 6o( 290 in lie! o* the sabbatical lea#e o* Senior )ssociate
!stice $eonardo )( 3!is!mbing(
6$RC records, pp( 120A12"(
'd( at 18A19(
'd( at 2"(
'd( at 22(
'd( at 2"(
$ollo, p( 99(
6$RC records, pp( 2;A28(
'd( at 29A;0(
'd( at 2(
'd( at 180A189(
'd( at 2?2A229(
'd( at "81A"98(
'd( at "9?(
$ollo, pp( "20A"":(
%ecision o* September 28, 200;, penned by Co!rt o* )ppeals )ssociate !stice
Cernanda $ampas Peralta, 1ith the conc!rrence o* )ssociate !stices 6ormandie
>( Pi4arro and Edgardo P( Cr!4( C) rollo, pp( 2;1A281(
Penned by Co!rt o* )ppeals )ssociate !stice Cernanda $ampas Peralta, 1ith the
conc!rrence o* )ssociate !stices 6ormandie >( Pi4arro and Edgardo P( Cr!4(
$ollo, p( ::(
'd( at 8A"0(
'd( at 20(
C) rollo, p( "8B vide 6$RC records, pp( :?1A:?2(
Pere% v& PT'T, .(R( 6o( 1?20:8, )pril ;, 2009(
#ada v& Time Saver (aundry, .(R( 6o( 181:80, an!ary "0, 2009(
2

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