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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 148195 May 16, 2005
LOPEZ SUGAR CORPORATION, petitioner,
vs.
LEONITO G. FRANCO, ROGELIO R. PABALAN, ROMEO T. PERRIN a! E"UAR"O
T. CAN"ELARIO, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CALLE#O, SR., J.$
his is a petition for revie! on certiorari of the Decision
"
of the Court of #ppeals $C#% in
C#&'.R. SP No. ())*(, !hich affir+ed the decision of the National ,abor Relations
Co++ission $N,RC% in N,RC Case No. V&-"./&)0, !hich, in turn, reversed the
decision of the ,abor #rbiter in R#1 Case Nos. -*&-"&"--(0&)*, -*&*(&"-"*(&)* and
-*&-0&"-2)2&)*.
he #ntecedents
Private respondents ,eonito '. 3ranco, Ro4elio R. Pabalan, Ro+eo . Perrin and
Eduardo . Candelario !ere supervisor5 e+plo5ees of the ,ope6 Su4ar Corporation
$the Corporation, for brevit5%. 3ranco !as barel5 2- 5ears old !hen he !as e+plo5ed in
")0( as 3uel&in&Char4e. 7is co&e+plo5ee, Pabalan, !as about 2/ 5ears old !hen he
!as hired b5 the Corporation as Shift Supervisor in the Su4ar Stora4e Depart+ent in
")08.
2
On the other hand, Perrin and Candelario !ere e+plo5ed in ")08 and ")0*,
respectivel5, as Planter Service Representatives $PSRs%, !ho rose fro+ the ran9s and,
b5 "))(, occupied supervisor5 positions in the Corporation:s Cane Mar9etin4 Section.
.
3ranco supervised the fuel tenders, +onitored fuel and lubricant re;uire+ents of the
central, as !ell as those of the planters !ho ordered their re;uire+ents fro+ the central.
7e also ensured the ade;uate suppl5 of oil products. 3or his part, Pabalan supervised
the deliver5 of su4ar and +olasses to and fro+ the stora4e durin4 his shift< he li9e!ise
supervised the re4ular, contractual and casual e+plo5ees !ho !ere en4a4ed in
handlin4 su4ar. Perrin and Candelario, on the other hand, !ere tas9ed to convince
planters to +ill their canes usin4 the services of the Corporation, provide technical
assistance to planters, and attend to their various needs.
(
15 "))(, the supervisor5 e+plo5ees of the Corporation, spearheaded b5 3ranco,
Pabalan, Perrin and Candelario, decided to for+ a labor union called ,ope6 Su4ar
Corporation Supervisor:s #ssociation. On Dece+ber 2), "))(, the Depart+ent of ,abor
and E+plo5+ent $DO,E% in Iloilo Cit5, Re4ional Office No. VI, issued a Certificate of
Re4istration
8
to the union. Durin4 its or4ani6ational +eetin4, 3ranco !as elected
president and Pabalan as treasurer. Perrin and Candelario, on the other hand, !ere
a+on4 its active +e+bers. Out of the "-/ +e+bers, "-8 had a4reed to authori6e the
chec9&off
*
of union dues a4ainst their salaries even before an5 Collective 1ar4ainin4
#4ree+ent $C1#% had been e=ecuted b5 the union and +ana4e+ent.
In >anuar5 "))8, the officers of the union and the +ana4e+ent held a +eetin4, !hich
led to the sub+ission of the union:s proposals for a C1# on >ul5 2(, "))8.
0
Meanti+e, on #u4ust /, "))8, the Corporation:s president issued a Me+orandu+
/
to
the vice&president and depart+ent heads for the adoption of a special retire+ent
pro4ra+ for supervisor5 and +iddle level +ana4ers. 7e e+phasi6ed that the
+ana4e+ent shall have the final sa5 on !ho !ould be covered, and that the pro4ra+
!ould be irrevocable once approved.
In a ,etter
)
dated #u4ust "(, "))8, the Corporation re;uested for +ore ti+e to stud5 the
union:s proposals for a C1#. he union !as +ade to understand that the
+ana4e+ent:s counter&proposals !ould be presented durin4 their conference on
#u4ust .-, "))8.
Perrin and Candelario !ere on leave !hen the5 !ere invited b5 >uan Masa, >r., the
head of the Cane Mar9etin4 Section, to the Northeast 1each Resort in Escalante,
Ne4ros Occidental. he latter infor+ed the+ that the5 !ere all included in the special
retire+ent pro4ra+ and !ould receive their respective notices of dis+issal shortl5.
"-
rue enou4h, Masa, Pabalan, 3ranco, Perrin and Candelario received copies of the
Me+orandu+ dated #u4ust 28, "))8 fro+ the Corporation:s Vice&President for
#d+inistration and 3inance, infor+in4 the+ that the5 !ere included in the ?special
retire+ent pro4ra+? for supervisors and +iddle level +ana4ers< hence, their
e+plo5+ent !ith the Corporation !as to be ter+inated effective Septe+ber 2), "))8,
and the5 !ould be paid their salaries until Septe+ber 20, "))8, thus@
In line !ith the +e+orandu+ of the President dated #u4ust /, "))8,
announcin4 the adoption of a special retire+ent pro4ra+ for the supervisors
and the +iddle level +ana4ers, and our earlier discussion !ith 5ou, !e !ish to
for+ali6e our advice that 5ou are one of the e+plo5ees !ho !ill be covered b5
the Pro4ra+. Aour inclusion in the Pro4ra+ is pri+aril5 due to the fact that our
stud5 of our current or4ani6ational set&up reveals that the or4ani6ation is
presentl5 over&staffBedC. here are actuall5 duplication of functions and
1
responsibilities, and so+e duties could actuall5 be perfor+ed b5 Dust one
person. Mana4e+ent therefore had no choice but to reduce the present
nu+ber of e+plo5ees and 5ou !ere selected as a+on4 those !ho !ill be
separated fro+ the service.
#s stated in the +e+orandu+, 5ou !ill be entitled to a separation pac9a4e
e;uivalent to t!o +onths pa5 for ever5 5ear of service, in addition to the
conversion of 5our unusedEearned sic9 leave and vacation leave credits and
pro&rated ".
th
+onth pa5. his 4enerous non&precedent settin4 separation
pac9a4e, !hich is t!ice !hat the la! provides, is bein4 offered in
consideration of 5our acceptance of 5our separation, thereb5 relievin4 the
co+pan5 fro+ the trouble of an5 court liti4ation.
""
he private respondents received their respective separation pa5s and e=ecuted their
respective Release Faiver and Guitclai+
"2
after receivin4 their clearances fro+ the
Corporation.
On #u4ust .", "))8, the +ana4e+ent !rote the union that its proposals for a C1# had
been referred to its counsel.
hereafter, the private respondents filed separate co+plaints a4ainst the corporation
!ith the N,RC for ille4al dis+issal, unfair labor practice, reinstate+ent and da+a4es.
".
In their position paper, the private respondents clai+ed that the5 !ere +ade to
understand that their e+plo5+ent !as ter+inated on the 4round of redundanc5<
ho!ever, the5 !ere not infor+ed of the criteria, 4uidelines or standard in the
i+ple+entation of the special retire+ent pro4ra+. he5 !ere thus led to conclude that
their dis+issal !as capricious. he5 pointed out that Perrin and Candelario, !ho had
been !ith the corporation for alread5 2- 5ears, !ere included in the special pro4ra+,
!hile others !ho had been e+plo5ed !ith the corporation for onl5 one to si= 5ears had
been retained. Moreover, one 5ear before the pro4ra+ !as i+ple+ented, the
Corporation hired t!o +ore PSRs, thus increasin4 their nu+ber< and even after the
ter+ination of Perrin and Candelario:s e+plo5+ent, the Corporation hired t!o +ore on
a contractual basis. Candelario !as then rehired on a contractual basis onl5 until
>anuar5 "))* !hen the co+plaint !as filed a4ainst the Corporation. 3ranco, on the
other hand, had reDected a si+ilar offer to !or9 on a contractual basis.
he private respondents also alle4ed that their inclusion in the said pro4ra+ !as
resorted to in order to inti+idate the union and its +e+bers fro+ pursuin4 their
obDective of institutionali6in4 a collective bar4ainin4 +echanis+ for supervisor5
e+plo5ees in the co+pan5, thus, abortin4 the birth of a labor or4ani6ation capable of
bar4ainin4 !ith the +ana4e+ent on the ter+s and conditions of e+plo5+ent. he
co+plainants averred that for all intents and purposes, ?the collective bar4ainin4
process B!asC over, havin4 failed to pro4ress be5ond the proposal sta4e, a pathetic end
for an enterprise that started !ith such 4reat enthusias+ fro+ "-8 of the "-/
supervisors.?
"(
he5 further averred that the connection bet!een the unti+el5 de+ise of the
ne4otiations and the dis+issal of .2 e+plo5ees, !ho !ere officers and +e+bers of the
union, !as too obvious to be i4nored considerin4 further that the clai+ of redundanc5
!as untenable. he co+plainants also averred that the5 !ere all in their late (-s, and
had served the petitioner for about 2- 5ears< althou4h still in their productive 5ears, their
prospects for other e+plo5+ent !ere ver5 sli+.
"8
In its position paper, the Corporation +aintained that the ter+ination of the e+plo5+ent
of the co+plainants !as in response to the challen4es brou4ht about b5 the 'eneral
#4ree+ent on ariff and rade $'#%, the #3# and other international trade
a4ree+ents, !hich 4reatl5 affected the local su4ar industr5. he respondent
su++ari6ed its position, thus@
"2.- Co+plainants: separation fro+ e+plo5+ent !as +ade pursuant to a
le4iti+ate e=ercise b5 the Co+pan5 of its prero4atives to adopt +easures to
cut cost and to +aintain its profitabilit5 and co+petitiveness.
"..- he inclusion of the co+plainants in the special retire+ent or ri4ht si6in4
pro4ra+ has nothin4 to do !ith their e=ercise of their ri4ht to self&or4ani6ation<
hence, there is no unfair labor practice bein4 co++itted b5 the Co+pan5.
"(.- Co+plainants: separation fro+ service !as done in 4ood faith and in
co+plete co+pliance !ith procedural and substantive le4al re;uire+ents<
hence, le4al and Dustified.
"8.- Co+plainants are barred b5 the release !aiver and ;uitclai+ that the5
have e=ecuted in favor of the Co+pan5 fro+ further contestin4 the validit5 of
their separation fro+ service.
"*
he Corporation also averred that in >ul5 "))8, it co++issioned S5cip, 'orres, Vela5o
and Co+pan5 $S'V% to conduct a stud5 of the Corporation and its operations to identif5
chan4es that could be i+ple+ented to achieve cost effectiveness and 4lobal
co+petitiveness.
In their Repl5&#ffidavit, the co+plainants averred that the5 si4ned their respective
Release Faiver and Guitclai+ because their e+plo5er had driven the+ to the !all, and
found the+selves in no position to resist, as the5 !ere no lon4er e+plo5ed. he5
2
insisted that it !as ?a case of adherence, not of choice.? he5 averred that the5 did not
relent on their clai+, nor did the5 !aive an5 of their ri4hts.
he5 further e+phasi6ed that no!here in the S'V stud5 !as it reco++ended that the5
be dis+issed fro+ e+plo5+ent, or that their positions be abolished. In the case of the
Su4ar and Molasses Stora4e Depart+ent $SMSD%, for instance, the reco++endation to
save cost !as not i+ple+ented< instead Pabalan and another shift supervisor !ho !as
also a union officer $1itera%, !ere dis+issed, and replace+ents !ere hired on
Dece+ber ", "))*. #s to the Cane Mar9etin4 Depart+ent !here Perrin and Candelario
!ere assi4ned as PSRs, the stud5, in fact, reco++ended the stren4thenin4 of the said
unit< the respondent dis+issed such e+plo5ees !ho had been e+plo5ed fro+ ". to 28
5ears. he private respondents pointed out that this !as an evidence of the
Corporation:s intention to contract out the !or9 of the PSRs, considerin4 further that
those !ho had been e+plo5ed for onl5 one to si= 5ears !ere retained.
"0
On 3ebruar5 2*, "))0, the ,abor #rbiter rendered Dud4+ent in favor of the Corporation
and ordered the dis+issal of the co+plainants. #ccordin4 to the ,abor #rbiter, there !as
a real and factual basis to declare redundanc5, thus@
H 1ased on this stud5, the position and functions of fuel&in&char4e, held b5
co+plainant 3ranco, are basicall5 the sa+e as that of 3uel enders and
therefore his activities could !ell be done b5 e=istin4 3uel enders !ho !ould
be directl5 under the 'eneral Farehouse Supervisor. In the case of
co+plainant Pabalan, !hose position !as Shift&in&Char4eESupervisor, it !as
observed that his tas9s could be +er4ed in the functions of the Propert5
Farehouse Supervisor. Fith respect to co+plainants Perrin and Candelario,
!ho !ere Planters: Service Representatives, it !as observed that the Dob !as
+ore co+ple+entar5 to the +ar9etin4 aspect, !herein the5 are tas9ed to
+aintain 4ood and har+onious relations !ith the co+pan5:s su4ar planters, to
ensure continued patrona4e of the +ill:s services. It !as found that these PSR
functions could !ell be handled b5 a4ents or consultants, !ho !ould be paid
on co++ission basis.
"/
he ,abor #rbiter noted that the co+plainants received their separation pa5 and other
+onetar5 benefits fro+ the Corporation, and thereafter, voluntaril5 e=ecuted their
respective Deeds of Release Faiver and Guitclai+
")
in its favor.
he co+plainants appealed to the N,RC !hich rendered Dud4+ent on Dece+ber ),
"))0 4rantin4 their appeal and reversin4 the decision of the ,abor #rbiter. he N,RC
ruled that there !as no factual and le4al basis for the ter+ination of the e+plo5+ent of
the private respondents based on retrench+ent or redundanc5, and that the Deeds of
Release Faiver and Guitclai+ e=ecuted b5 the co+plainants !ere ineffective. he
Corporation filed a +otion for reconsideration of the decision, !hich !as denied b5 the
N,RC.
Insatisfied, the Corporation filed a petition for certiorari !ith the C#, insistin4 that@
PI1,IC RESPONDEN COMMIED 'R#VE #1ISE O3 DISCREION
F7EN I SE #SIDE #ND OVERRI,ED 7E DECISION O3 7E ,#1OR
#R1IER ON 7E 1#SIS O3 COINCIDENCES #ND 1#SE,ESS
#CCIS#ION O3 1#D 3#I7, COMP,EE,A MIS#PPRECI#IN' 7E
SI1S#NI#, EVIDENCE F7IC7 SIPPORED 7E ,#1OR #R1IER:S
DECISION.
PI1,IC RESPONDEN COMMIED 'R#VE #1ISE O3 DISCREION IN
OVERRIDIN' 7E ,E'IIM#E EJERCISE 1A 7E PEIIONER O3 IS
M#N#'EMEN PRERO'#IVE O3 REDICIN' IS FORK 3ORCE O
#DDRESS CIRREN 1ISINESS #ND ECONOMIC RE#,IIES.
PI1,IC RESPONDEN COMMIED 'R#VE #1ISE O3 DISCREION IN
DISRE'#RDIN' 1#SIC PRINCIP,ES O3 ,#F #ND >IRISPRIDENCE ,#ID
DOFN 1A 7E SIPREME COIR O 7E E33EC 7#@
i. he +atter of evaluatin4 the +erits of the issues presented in a
labor case is pri+aril5 addressed to the sound discretion of the ,abor
#rbiter. hus, !hen the decision of the ,abor #rbiter is a+pl5
supported b5 substantial evidence, his findin4s and conclusions
should not be disturbed but +ust be accorded !ith respect b5 the
N,RC and even b5 the Supre+e Court.
ii. he deter+ination that a position is redundant and therefore le4all5
ter+inable, is basicall5 an e=ercise of +ana4e+ent prero4ative, and
for as lon4 as it is done in 4ood faith, the !isdo+ or soundness
thereof is be5ond the revie! po!er of the ,abor #rbiter nor of the
N,RC, !hich b5 la! and Durisprudence are not vested !ith
+ana4erial functions.
iii er+ination on 4round of redundanc5 is anchored on the superfluit5
of a position and not on the fact that actual loss is incurred b5 a
co+pan5.
iv. # !aiver and ;uitclai+, !hen voluntaril5 and intelli4entl5 e=ecuted, is bindin4 upon
the e+plo5ee, +ore so if he is not Dust an ordinar5 e+plo5ee.
2-
3
On #pril 2/, 2---, the C# rendered Dud4+ent dis+issin4 the petition, on the 4round that
the N,RC did not co++it 4rave abuse of discretion in renderin4 Dud4+ent a4ainst the
Corporation. he Corporation:s +otion for reconsideration thereof !as, li9e!ise, denied
b5 the C#.
he Corporation, no! the petitioner, assails the rulin4 of the C#, contendin4 that the
decision of the ,abor #rbiter should prevail, as it is supported b5 substantial evidence
and the la!. he petitioner, thus, +aintains that the ,abor #rbiter correctl5 ruled that L
$"% the separation of the Respondents fro+ e+plo5+ent !as for a valid and
authori6ed cause<
$2% the positions of the Respondents !ere redundant<
$.% there !as a real and factual basis to declare redundanc5<
$(% there is no evidence to sho! that the ri4ht si6in4 pro4ra+ !as deliberatel5
intended to stifle union activities<
$8% the confluence of events !as Dust a coincidence<
$*% there is no evidence of deviousness in the ri4ht si6in4 pro4ra+<
$0% the Respondents received their individual separation benefits, and there is
no evidence that either +oral or ph5sical co+pulsion or both +ade the+
accept the benefits offered< and
$/% Petitioner Co+pan5 has co+plied !ith the le4al re;uisites of ter+inatin4
the e+plo5+ent of the Respondents.
2"
he petitioner further ar4ues that the decision of the N,RC is essentiall5 fla!ed
because the private respondents !ere ter+inated on the 4round of redundanc5, and not
retrench+ent !hich is an entirel5 different concept. here is absolutel5 no evidence on
record, save the bare alle4ations of the private respondents that the5 !ere sin4led out
as victi+s of retrench+ent. he other redundant positions !ere, li9e!ise, eli+inated. It
insists that unli9e retrench+ent, redundanc5 does not re;uire business losses to be an
authori6ed cause for dis+issal. Moreover, the la! does not 4ive an5 criteria, 4uidelines
or standard for the selection of e+plo5ees !ho are to be dis+issed on the 4round of
redundanc5. It insists that #rticle 2/. of the ,abor Code +erel5 re;uires that ?in case of
ter+ination due to the installation of labor&savin4 devices or redundanc5, the !or9er
affected thereb5 shall be entitled to a separation pa5 e;uivalent to at least his one $"%
+onth pa5 or to, at least, one $"% +onth pa5 for ever5 5ear of service, !hichever is
hi4her.?
he petitioner further posits that the la! does not re;uire a corporation to adopt radical
cost&cuttin4 +easures prior to a ter+ination on the 4round of redundanc5. It avers that
the +ere fact that the ter+ination too9 place at a ti+e !hen the private respondents had
Dust or4ani6ed the union does not auto+aticall5 render their ter+ination invalid. It
theori6es that the union could have been or4ani6ed as levera4e to the i+ple+entation
of the redundanc5 pro4ra+ !hich the supervisor5 e+plo5ees 9ne! !as forthco+in4. It
further clai+s that it is clearl5 not !ithin the discretion of the N,RC to sa5 that the
ter+ination !as ?pre+aturel5 resorted to,? as such deter+ination !as clearl5 !ithin the
business discretion of the petitioner corporation. It adds that, as evidenced b5 the
4enerous separation pac9a4es 4iven to the private respondents, their !elfare !as
a+pl5 considered b5 it.
hus, the petitioner concludes, there !as patent partialit5 and bias on the part of the
N,RC !hen it s!eepin4l5 declared that the dis+issal of the private respondents ?!as
ille4al and !ithout valid and authori6ed cause.?
22
T%& R'()* o+ ,%& Co'-,
he petition is denied for lac9 of +erit.
In the +ain, the issues in this case are factual. Inder Rule (8 of the Rules of Court,
onl5 ;uestions of la! +a5 be raised in this Court< such factual issues +a5 be
considered and resolved onl5 !hen the findin4s of facts and the conclusions of the
,abor #rbiter are inconsistent !ith those of the N,RC and the C#.
Nevertheless, !e have +eticulousl5 revie!ed the records in this case and find that the
N,RC did not co++it an5 4rave abuse of its discretion a+ountin4 to lac9 or e=cess of
Durisdiction in renderin4 its decision in favor of the private respondents. he C# acted in
accord !ith the evidence on record and case la! !hen it dis+issed the petitioner:s
petition for certiorari and affir+ed the assailed decision and resolution of the N,RC.
Fe reiterate that it is the burden of the petitioner, as e+plo5er, to prove the factual and
le4al basis for the dis+issal of its e+plo5ees on the 4round of redundanc5.
In Asian Alcohol Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission,
2.
the Court ruled
that redundanc5 e=ists !hen the service capabilit5 of the !or9 force is in e=cess of !hat
is reasonabl5 needed to +eet the de+ands on the enterprise. he Court proceeded to
e=pound, as follo!s@
4
# redundant position is one rendered superfluous b5 an5 nu+ber of factors,
such as over&hirin4 of !or9ers, decreased volu+e of business, droppin4 of a
particular product line previousl5 +anufactured b5 the co+pan5 or phasin4 out
of a service activit5 priorl5 underta9en b5 the business. Inder these
conditions, the e+plo5er has no le4al obli4ation to 9eep in its pa5roll +ore
e+plo5ees than are necessar5 for the operation of its business.
2(
Contrar5 to the petitioner:s clai+, the e+plo5er +ust co+pl5 !ith the follo!in4
re;uisites to ensure the validit5 of the i+ple+entation of a redundanc5 pro4ra+@ $"% a
!ritten notice served on both the e+plo5ees and the Depart+ent of ,abor and
E+plo5+ent at least one +onth prior to the intended date of retrench+ent< $2% pa5+ent
of separation pa5 e;uivalent to at least one +onth pa5 or at least one +onth pa5 for
ever5 5ear of service, !hichever is hi4her< $.% 4ood faith in abolishin4 the redundant
positions< and $(% fair and reasonable criteria in ascertainin4 !hat positions are to be
declared redundant and accordin4l5 abolished.
28
he Court e+phasi6ed in the earlier case of Panlilio v. National Labor Relations
Commission
2*
that it is i+perative for the e+plo5er to have fair and reasonable criteria
in i+ple+entin4 its redundanc5 pro4ra+, such as but not li+ited to $a% preferred status<
$b% efficienc5< and $c% seniorit5.
20
he 4eneral rule is that the characteri6ation b5 an e+plo5er of an e+plo5ee:s services
as no lon4er necessar5 or sustainable is an e=ercise of business Dud4+ent on the part
of the e+plo5er. he !isdo+ or soundness of such characteri6ation or decision is not,
as a 4eneral rule, subDect to discretionar5 revie! on the part of the ,abor #rbiter, the
N,RC and the C#.
2/
Such characteri6ation +a5, ho!ever, be reDected if the sa+e is
found to be in violation of the la! or is arbitrar5 or +alicious.
2)
In Dangan v. National Labor Relations Commission,
.-
the Court ruled that the hirin4,
firin4 or de+otion of e+plo5ees is a +ana4e+ent prero4ative, but is subDect to
li+itations stated in the collective bar4ainin4 a4ree+ent, if an5, or 4eneral principles of
fair pla5 and Dustice. Indeed, the Court !ill not hesitate to stri9e do!n a redundanc5
pro4ra+ structured b5 a corporation to do!nsi6e its personnel, solel5 for the purpose of
!ea9enin4 the union leadership, thereb5 preventin4 it fro+ securin4 reasonable ter+s
and conditions of e+plo5+ent in their C1# !ith the e+plo5er.
In this case, !e a4ree !ith the rulin4 of the C# that the petitioner ille4all5 dis+issed the
private respondents fro+ their e+plo5+ent b5 includin4 the+ in its special retire+ent
pro4ra+, thus, debilitatin4 the union, renderin4 it pliant b5 decapacitatin4 its leadership.
#s such, the so&called ?do!nsi6in4? of the Cane Mar9etin4 Depart+ent and SMSD
based on the S'V Stud5 Report !as a farce L capricious and arbitrar5.
he Court a4rees !ith the private respondents: aver+ents in their position paper, as
follo!s@
Co+plainants are not in a position to anticipate ho! respondent !ill present its
case for redundanc5 particularBl5C because no standard, criteria or 4uidelines
for the selection of dis+issed e+plo5ees !as +ade 9no!n to the+, and all
that the5 !ere told !as that ?5ou !ere selected as a+on4 those !ho !ill be
separated fro+ the service<? nonetheless, this earl5, it is possible to point out
certain facts !hich thro! li4ht on the plausibilit5 or !ant of it, of the 4round
relied upon.
". No contin4enc5 has occurred, of the 9ind +entioned b5 the Supre+e Court
in the Filtshire case, $over&hirin4 of !or9ers, decreased volu+e of business or
droppin4 of a particular service line% !hich !ould e=plain the dis+issal on the
4round of redundanc5< over&hirin4 of !or9ers cannot conceivabl5 occur in the
level of the supervisors< on the other hand, it !ould have re;uired an event of
catacl5s+ic proportion to Dustif5 the dis+issal for redundanc5 of a full one&third
of the supervisors in an establish+ent, and if such an event !ere to occur it
!ould have resulted in tre+endous losses !hich is not true here because the
dis+issal is not on account of or to prevent losses<
2. In no other cate4or5 of e+plo5ees did positions suddenl5 beco+e redundant
e=cept a+on4 the supervisors !ho have Dust or4ani6ed the+selves into a labor
union and !ere !or9in4 for their first&ever C1# in the establish+ent<
.. he dis+issal ca+e at the precise ti+e !hen the ,ope6 Su4ar Central
Supervisors #ssociation $,SC#% had presented its C1# proposals and !as
e=pectin4 the co+pan5:s repl5 as +andated b5 la!< in fact, the repl5 !as
overdue, bein4 re;uired to be sub+itted b5 +ana4e+ent !ithin ten $"-% da5s
fro+ receipt of the union proposal< there is no better proof that the dis+issals
have served their hidden purpose than that the C1# ne4otiation has ended to
all intents and purpose, before +ana4e+ent could even present its
counterproposal. Certainl5, it !ould be farfetched to sa5 that the re+ainin4
union officers and +e+bers have abandoned its obDective of havin4 a C1# for
reasons other than the fear of sufferin4 the fate of those !ho had been
dis+issed.
he absence of criteria, 4uidelines, or standard for selection of dis+issed
e+plo5ees renders the dis+issals !hi+sical, capricious and vindictive< in the
case of the co+plainants 3ranco and Pabalan, !ho are the Inion President
and reasurer, respectivel5, the reason for their inclusion is obvious.
#dditionall5, it +ust be +entioned that in the case of Pabalan, there !ere three
shift supervisors, one for each /&hour shift before the ?pro4ra+? !as
5
i+ple+ented, na+el5, Pabalan, 1itera and ,ope6< Pabalan and 1itera $a union
director% !ere ter+inated, leavin4 ,ope6 alone, !ho !or9ed on "2&hour shift
dut5 !ith 7enr5 Villa, depart+ent head !ho !as forced to perfor+ the !or9 of
shift supervisor< Pabalan !as offered to be rehired as an e+plo5ee of
1I',#S, a labor&onl5 contractor but he refused< an e+plo5ee, Eu4enio
1olanos !as assi4ned fro+ another depart+ent to do the !or9 of shift
supervisor and three of the+ $,ope6, Villa and 1olanos% no! divide shift duties
a+on4 the+selves. here is no e=planation !h5 a+on4 the shift supervisors it
!as Pabalan and 1itera !ho !ere included in the pro4ra+.
In the case of co+plainants BPCerrin and Candelario, both Planter Service
Representatives, the +anipulation is even +ore apparent< one 5ear before the
?pro4ra+? !as instituted, t!o ne! PSRs !ere hired $,abrador and Ca+bate%
brin4in4 to si= the total nu+ber of PSRs< after the ter+ination of BPCerrin and
Candelario, !ho have served for nearl5 2- 5ears, t!o ne! PSRs !ere hired
$Oropel and >eres% on contractual basis and !hose co+pensation is based on
pakiao< additionall5, Candelario !as hired after his dis+issal under the sa+e
arran4e+ent as Oropel and >eres, !hich lasted onl5 up to >anuar5 "))* !hen
+ana4e+ent learned of the filin4 of the first of these cases< BPCerrin, on his
part, !as offered the sa+e arran4e+ent but he refused.
(. he rehirin4 of dis+issed e+plo5ees throu4h a labor&onl5 contractor
e=poses the ?pro4ra+? as a circu+vention of the la!. his is true in the case of
the follo!in4 supervisors !ho !ere ter+inated !ith co+plainant but !ere
subse;uentl5 e+plo5ed to do e=actl5 the sa+e !or9, but as e+plo5ees of
1I',#S, a labor&onl5 contractor !hich supplies laborers to respondent ,SC@
#. >uanito ,anos, Supervisor, Electrical Depart+ent.
1. Ra5+undo ,lenos, Co++unit5 Develop+ent Officer.
C. >oseph Nicolas, Supervisor, Refri4eration and #ir Conditionin4.
he above re&hirin4 in addition to other circu+stances earlier +entioned, such
as the hirin4 of 2 +en PSRs after Candelario and BPCerrin !ere ter+inated< the
short&lived rehirin4 of the for+er and the offer to hire the latter !hich he
refused, all indicate that there !as no redundanc5.
None of the !or9 has been phased out or rendered obsolete b5 an5 event that
too9 place. #s to duplication of functions, it +ust be +entioned that the
positions of co+plainants have e=isted for a lon4 ti+e Dud4in4 fro+ their 5ears
of service !ith respondent< the observation of the Supre+e Court in the
Filtshire case to the effect that in a !ell&or4ani6ed establish+ent, duplication
of functions is hardl5 to be e=pected is pertinent.
."
3ore+ost, the petitioner failed to for+ulate fair and reasonable criteria in ascertainin4
!hat positions !ere declared redundant and accordin4l5 obsolete, such as preferred
status, efficienc5 or seniorit5. It, li9e!ise, failed to for+ulate fair and reasonable
para+eters to deter+ine !ho a+on4 the supervisors and +iddle&level +ana4ers should
be ?retired? for redundanc5. Isin4 the S'V report as anchor, the petitioner ca+e out
!ith a special retire+ent pro4ra+ for its "-/ supervisors and +iddle&level +ana4ers,
+a9in4 it clear that its decision to eli+inate the+ !as final and irrevocable. Moreover,
the private respondents !ere not properl5 apprised of the e=istence of the special
retire+ent pro4ra+, as !ell as the criteria for the selection of the supervisors to be
?retired,? and those to be retained or transferred or de+oted.
Contrar5 to its sub+issions, the petitioner do!nsi6ed the Cane Mar9etin4 Depart+ent
b5 eli+inatin4 private respondents Perrin and Candelario< and 3ranco and Candelario
fro+ the Su4ar and Molasses Stora4e Depart+ent, respectivel5, !ithout due re4ard to
the S'V report. he follo!in4 reco++endations relatin4 to the Su4ar and Molasses
Stora4e Depart+ent !ere +ade@
RECOMMEND#IONS
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
2.( Su4ar and Molasses Stora4e
2.(." Renovate old bul9 !arehouse to i+prove ventilation, li4htin4 and ra! su4ar handlin4
2.(.2 Install a conve5orEscale before ba4 se!in4 of refined su4ar to chec9 !ei4ht confor+it5
2.(.. Renovate ba44in4 roo+ of refined su4ar to enforce strict h54ieneEsanitation
2.(.( Install a +ar9in4 +echanis+ that !ould indicate production date on ba44ed refined su4ar
2.(.8 Conduct !ee9l5 chec9s and adDust+ent on the ba4 se!in4 and conve5or e;uip+ent
he do!nsi6in4 of personnel !as not a+on4 the fore4oin4 reco++endations, and 5et
this !as !hat the petitioner did, throu4h its special retire+ent pro4ra+, b5 includin4
private respondents 3ranco and Pabalan, thereb5 ter+inatin4 their e+plo5+ent. It is too
+uch of a coincidence that the t!o private respondents !ere active +e+bers of the
union.
On the other hand, the follo!in4 reco++endations !ere +ade relatin4 to the Cane
Mar9etin4 Depart+ent@
C#NE M#RKEIN' #ND R#NSPOR
6
".- Cane Mar9etin4
"."." E=pand SC:s far+ leasin4 operations $b5 *,2)2 hectares%
".".2 Establish cane suppl5 plannin4 s5ste+
".".. 1eef up SC:s cane +ar9etin4 efforts b5 hirin4 +ore effective PSRs to
replace ineffective PSRs
".".( #c;uire * +otorc5cles instead of second&hand Deeps
".".8 #ppl5 +ar9etin4 techni;ues used b5 other co+paniesEindustries.
..
#s can be 4leaned fro+ the above, the report reco++ended the beefin4 up of the
petitioner:s planter service representative force, !hile eli+inatin4 those !ho !ere
ineffective. here is no sho!in4 in the record that respondents Perrin and Candelario
!ere eli+inated solel5 because the5 !ere inefficient. Neither is there an5 substantial
evidence on record that the private respondents: perfor+ance had been deterioratin4<
on the contrar5, the5 had been so far so efficient that the5 had been 4iven pro+otions
fro+ ti+e to ti+e durin4 their e+plo5+ent. Aet, the petitioner eli+inated private
respondents Perrin and Candelario and retained three PSRs, na+el5, Danilo
Villanueva, Roberto Co+bate and Danilo ,abrador, !ho !ere e+plo5ed !ith the
petitioner fro+ one to three 5ears and transferred Ra5+undo de la Rosa, !ho had been
!or9in4 there for onl5 si= 5ears.
.(
#4ain, it is too +uch of a coincidence that 3ranco and
Pabalan, the President and reasurer, respectivel5, of the union, !ere included in the
special retire+ent pro4ra+.
Fe a4ree !ith the findin4s of the C# that the private respondents !ere unilaterall5
included in the said pro4ra+ for the follo!in4 reasons@
#s evidenced b5 various docu+ents attached to the affidavit of ,eonito 3ranco
and Ro4elio Pabalan, as !ell as supportin4 affidavits of co+plainants, the
supervisor5 e+plo5ees of ,SC or4ani6ed a labor union called ,ope6 Su4ar
Corporation Supervisor:s #ssociations !hich !as issued a certificate of
re4istration b5 the DO,E Re4ional Office No. VI, Iloilo Cit5 on Dece+ber 2),
"))(. Co+plainant 3ranco !as elected President and co+plainant, Pabalan,
reasurer, durin4 the or4ani6ational +eetin4. Co+plainants BPCerrin and
Candelario are active union +e+bers. Mana4e+ent !as dul5 infor+ed about
this fact and in >anuar5 "))8 a conference !as conducted bet!een the union
and +ana4e+ent !here the status of the union !as clarified and so+e
proble+s in the !or9place !ere discussed. he +ana4e+ent !as also
infor+ed subse;uentl5 that "-8 out of "-/ supervisor5 e+plo5ees have Doined
the union and authori6ed chec9&off of the union dues startin4 March "))8. he
chec9&off !as effected.
On >ul5 2(, "))8, the union for+all5 sub+itted its C1# proposal to respondent
!ith re;uest for a repl5 in ten $"-% da5s pursuant to the ,abor Code. he
+ana4e+ent in a letter e=pressed !illin4ness to +eet the union panel on
#u4ust .-, "))8, !hich the latter understood to +ean that the +ana4e+ent
!ould present its counter&proposal durin4 the said conference.
o the surprise of the co+plainants, the5 received instead on #u4ust 2*, "))8
a letter of ter+ination statin4 that, in accordance !ith the ?special retire+ent
pro4ra+? of respondent, their services !ill be ter+inated effective Septe+ber
20, "))8. he letter also stated that accordin4 to a stud5 conducted b5 the
respondent of its or4ani6ational set&up, it is over&staffed and there are
duplications of functions !hich left it no choice but to reduce personnel.
#s to the C1# counter&proposal, the +ana4e+ent !rote the union on #u4ust
.", "))8 that the +atter !as referred to its e=ternal counsel for appropriate
disposition ?in the li4ht of the recent develop+ent in this co+pan5.?
he special retire+ent pro4ra+ affected .2 e+plo5ees or rou4hl5 one&third of
the supervisor5 personnel. he5 included the union President and reasurer
and +aDorit5 of the 1oard of Directors and active union +e+bers. No
clarification !as +ade as to ho! the ter+inated e+plo5ees !ere chosen, and
no 4uidelines, criteria or standard !as sho!n to lend coherence to the
pro4ra+.
#s +a5 be e=pected, the dis+issals 4enerated a 4eneral perception that
+ana4e+ent !as sendin4 a stron4 +essa4e that all e+plo5ees hold their
position at its pleasure, and that it !as !ithin its po!er to dis+iss an5one
an5ti+e. Fith the dis+issal of the union officers and !ith the +e+bership no!
effectivel5 threatened, the union virtuall5 collapsed as an or4ani6ation. Out of
fear, no one !ould even assu+e the position of union President. #n indication
of this sad state of affairs into !hich the union has fallen is that nothin4 ca+e
out of its C1# proposal. It has been a 5ear and three +onths as of this !ritin4
since the respondent infor+ed the union that its proposal had been referred to
the co+pan5:s e=ternal counsel, but no counter&proposal has been sub+itted
and no sin4le conference has been held since then.
.8
Fhile it +a5 be true that the private respondents si4ned separate Deeds of Release
Faiver and Guitclai+ and received separation pa5, nonetheless, !e find and so hold
that the N,RC did not err in nullif5in4 the decision of the ,abor #rbiter, thus@
7
he Release Faiver and Guitclai+ !ere not verified b5 the co+plainants.
?Inder prevailin4 Durisprudence, the fact that an e+plo5ee has si4ned a
satisfaction receipt of his clai+s does not necessaril5 result in the !aiver
thereof. he la! does not consider as valid an5 a4ree+ent !hereb5 a !or9er
a4rees to receive less co+pensation than !hat he is entitled to recover. #
deed of release or ;uitclai+ cannot bar an e+plo5ee fro+ de+andin4 benefits
to !hich he is le4all5 entitled. Fe have herefore $sic) e=plained that the reason
!h5 ;uitclai+s are co++onl5 fro!ned upon as contrar5 to public polic5 and
!h5 the5 are held to be ineffective to bar clai+s for the full +easures of the
!or9ers: le4al ri4hts is the fact the e+plo5er and the e+plo5ee obviousl5 do
not stand on the sa+e footin4. he e+plo5er drove the e+plo5ees to the !all.
he latter +ust have to 4et hold of the +one5. 1ecause out of Dob, the5 had to
face the harsh necessities of life. = = =? $Marcos vs. N,RC, '.R. No. """0((,
Septe+ber /, "))8%
.*
Private respondents 3ranco and Pabalan protested the ter+ination of their e+plo5+ent.
Private respondents Candelario and Perrin !ere shoc9ed !hen, althou4h the5 !ere on
leave, the5 !ere invited to the Northeast 1each Resort b5 >uan Masa, >r., the head of
the Cane Mar9etin4 Depart+ent, on #u4ust 28, "))*, onl5 to be told that, after
spendin4 a considerable nu+ber of 5ears under the petitioner:s e+plo5, the5 !ere
suddenl5 out of Dobs. he private respondents had no other recourse but to e=ecute the
said Release Faiver and Guitclai+ because the petitioner +ade it clear in its
Me+orandu+ dated #u4ust /, "))8 that it had the final sa5 on !ho !ould be included
in its special retire+ent pro4ra+. heir dis+issal fro+ the petitioner corporation !as a
fait accompli, solel5 because the5 or4ani6ed a union that !ould bar4ain for reasonable
ter+s and conditions of e+plo5+ent sou4ht to be included in a C1#. In fine, the private
respondents !ere left to fend for the+selves, !ith no source of inco+e fro+ then on<
prospects for ne! Dobs !ere di+. heir bac9s a4ainst the !all, the private respondents
!ere forced to si4n the said docu+ents and receive their separation pa5.
IN LIG.T OF ALL T.E FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lac9 of +erit.
SO OR"ERE".
8