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ESPINO vs NLRC and PAL (1995)


Petitioner Leslie W. Espino was the Exec. Vice President-Chief Operating Officer of respondent
Phil Airlines (PAL) when his service was terminated in 1990 as a result of the findings of the panels
created by then President Corazon C. Aquino to investigate the administrative charges filed against
him. It appears that petitioner and other several senior officers of PAL were charged for their
involvement in 4 cases, labeled as Goldair, Robelle, Kabash/Primavera, and Middle East.
The PAL Board of Directors issued separate resolutions wherein Espino was considered resign
from the service effective immediately for loss of confidence
Espino filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against PAL with the NLRC, Arbitration Branch,
PAL argued that board resolutions cannot be reviewed by the NLRC and that the recourse of
the petitioner Espino should have been addressed by way of appeal, to the OP.
Labor Arbiter Cresencio J. Ramos rendered a decision in favor of petitioner Espino
PAL asserted that the Labor Arbiters decision is null and void for lack of jurisdiction over the
subject matter as it is the SEC, and not the NLRC which has jurisdiction over involving dismissal or
removal of corporate officers.
NLRC promulgated a resolution and this time ruled in favor of PAL on the ground of lack of
Petitioner Espino contended that it is the NLRC that has jurisdiction over the case as it involves
the termination of a regular employee and involves claim for backwages and other benefits and

Issue: Whether the NLRC has jurisdiction over the complaint filed by the petitioner for illegal
Under P.D. No. 902-A, it is the Securities and Exchange Commission and not the NLRC that has
original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving the removal from employment of corporate
officers. Under the said decree, the SEC has the exclusive and original jurisdiction to hear and decide
cases involving Controversies in the election or appointments of directors, trustees, officers or
managers of such corporations, partnerships or associations.
It has been ruled that a corporate officers dismissal is always a corporate act and/or an intracorporate controversy and that nature is not altered by the reason or wisdom which the Board of
Directors may have in taking such action. Evidently, this intra-corporate controversy must be place
under the specialized competence and expertise of the SEC.
The fact that petitioner sought payment of his backwages, other benefits, as well as damages and
attorney's fees in his complaint for illegal dismissal will not operate to prevent the SEC from exercising
its jurisdiction under PD 902-A. As to the contention of Espino that PAL is estopped from questioning
the jurisdiction of the NLRC, it is well-settled that jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by
law and the question of lack of jurisdiction may be raised anytime even on appeal.