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GR No 147125; 419 SCRA 354; Jan 14 2004; J. Callejo, Sr.
assigned for
, 2011
NATURE: Petition for review RULE 45 assailing CA Decision and Resolution
FACTS: Shoppes Manila, Inc. (SMI) is a domestic corporation engaged in garments manufacturing
using the brand name KAMISETA.
On May 6, 1994, SMI employed Lorie Torno (respondent) as trimmer with a salary of P80/day.
In Sept 1995, Tornos salary was increased to P110/day.
A year later (1996) it was increased to P165/day.
In April 1997 her salary was increased to P185/day.
Torno and a co-employee, Maricar Buan, were tasked to handle the inventory of finished products.
Upon receiving information from the head of its production department that Buan and Torno had been
stealing KAMISETA items from the factory, SMI conducted an investigation involving Torno for being
under suspicion of theft.
Witnesses gave testimonies:
1.) Susan Paligamba that Torno encouraged her to steal a belt;
2.) Loly Dela Cruz that she saw KAMISETA items in Tornos house.
Tornos house was inspected, her supervisor Ms. Myrasol O. Silva submitted a report that she found:
1.) KAMISETA fabrics 1 & yards;
2.) 2 pcs of KAMISETA shirts made out of KAMISETA excess cuttings/ wrong cut materials, with fabric
3.) KAMISETA wallpapers used and new: NAUTICAL SHOP
SMI charged Torno for violation of Company Rules and Regulations in their employees handbook,
Category 4, Article 12, which is punishable by termination.
ARTICLE 12 states:
Ang pagnanakaw sa kumpanya o pagnanakaw sa iba. Kasama nito:
1.) Ang pagkuha ng anumang pag-aari mula sa kapwa empleyado ng walang pahintulot;
2.) Ang paglabas/ paggamit ng pera ng kumpanya ng walang pahintulot.

July 31, 1997, SMI issued a disciplinary action form suspending Torno indefinitely without pay.
On Aug. 25, 1997, SMI addressed a notice of dismissal to Torno, calling her to the Head Office on
August 26, 1997 to give her an opportunity to explain herself further.
Torno failed to appear.
SMI dismissed Torno from employment.
Torno filed a Complaint for illegal dismissal with prayer for reinstatement, payment of backwages,
non-payment of service incentive leave pay, and 13 th month pay against SMI in the NLRC NCR
Arbitration Branch.
The case was raffled to LA Tumanong.
The parties did not reach an amicable settlement.
SMI filed a Motion for the LA to conduct a Formal Investigation on its claim that a Full Blown Hearing
during which the witness can be cross-examined by the opposing counsel was necessary to ascertain
the truth.
LA Tumanong granted the motion and set the case for hearing.
The hearing failed to materialize because of the absences of either private respondent Torno or her
In the meantime, LA Tumanong was replaced by LA Cuyuca, who issued an order declaring the case
submitted for decision.
LA Cuyuca ruled in favor of private respondent deprived of due process and was illegally dismissed.
- SMI did not comply with the 2 notice requirement:
(a.) Torno was not notified of the charges against her; and
(b.) the notice of dismissal was not sent to her.
- reinstatement was no longer possible because the relationship has been strained and ruptured
- Claims for non-payment of service incentive leave and 13 th month pay were denied for failure to
specify the period covered
- Claim for underpayment of wages (wage differential) was denied, for not being included in original
- LA directed SMI to pay P62,530 as backwages and P19,240 as separation pay to Torno.
NLRC affirmed LA Cuyuca.
- Formal hearing of cases is not mandatory in labor cases but is dependent on the discretion of the LA
who has the sole power to determine WON there is a need for hearing.
CA affirmed the NLRC.

Cited: New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, RULE V,


by the parties of their position papers/ memorandum, the LA shall motu propio determine whether
there is a need for a formal trial or hearing.
At this stage, he may, at his discretion and for the purpose of making such determination, ask
clarificatory questions to further elicit facts or information, including but not limited to the subpoena of
relevant documentary evidence, if any from any party or witness.

In a petition for certiorari under RULE 65, CA cannot evaluate findings of fact of the LA and NLRC.

Its inquiry is limited to the determination of WON the public respondent acted with GAD.

ISSUE/S: WON SMI had a vested right to a formal hearing because LA Tumanong granted its motion
and set the case for hearing
RATIO: The order of LA Tumanong granting the petitioners motion for a hearing of the case was not
conclusive and binding on LA Cuyuca who had the discretion either to hear the case before deciding it,
or to forego with the hearing if under her view, there was no longer a need therefor as the case could
be resolved on the merits based on the records.
Pursuant to the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, RULE V, SECTION 4, the labor arbiter has the
authority to determine WON there is a necessity to conduct a formal hearing in cases brought before
him for adjudication.
The holding of a formal hearing or tiral is discretionary with the LA and is something that the parties
cannot demand as a matter of right.
It is entirely within his authority to decide a labor case before him, based on position papers and
supporting documents of the parties, without a trial or formal hearing. 1
The requirements of due process are satisfied when the parties are given the opportunity to submit
position papers wherein they are supposed to attach all the documents that would prove their claim in
case it be decided that no hearing should be conducted or was necessary.2
- Finding of illegal dismissal affirmed
- requisites for valid dismissal:
(a.) there be a just and valid cause, provided under LABOR CODE
ARTICLE 282: TERMINATION BY EMPLOYER An employer may terminate an employee for any of
the following causes:


Columbus Philippines Bus Corporation V NLRC 364 SCRA 606, 2001

Mark Roche International V NLRC 313 SCRA 356, 1999

1.) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful order of his employer or
representative in connection with his work;
2.) Gross and Habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
3.) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly
authorized representative;
4.) Commission of a crime or offense against the person of his employer or any immediate member of
his family or his duly authorized representative;
5.) other causes analogous to the foregoing

(b.) the employee must be afforded an opportunity to be heard and to defend himself.3

- SC & CA are not triers of facts
- Findings of Quasi-Judicial bodies like NLRC are accorded with great respect, even finality, if
supported by substantial evidence.
Particularly when passed upon and upheld by the CA, they are binding and conclusive upon SC, and
will not normally be disturbed.4
DISPOSITION: Petition is DENIED for lack of merit. CA AFFIRMED.

Teodorico Rosario V. Victory Ricemill, G.R. No 147572, Feb 19 2003

San Miguel Corporation V MAERC Integrated Services, Inc. GR No 144672, July 10 2003