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MANUEL v N.C.

Construction Supply
282 SCRA 326
FACTS: In June 1995, the security guards of N.C. Construction Supply caught an employee
stealing from the company premises. The said employee then admitted that the incident
was part of a series of theft involving four other employees, namely, Eddie Manuel, Romeo
Bana, Rogelio Pagtama, Jr., and Joel Rea. The four were then invited to the police station for
questioning. The owner of N.C. Construction sent his lawyer, Atty. Ramon Reyes to
interrogate the four employees.
Manuel et al admitted the crime imputed against them before Atty. Reyes. They agreed that
in exchange for N.C. Construction not filing a case, they will resign as employees instead.
But after resigning, the four former employees sued N.C. Construction for illegal dismissal.
They now claim that their admission made in the police station before Atty. Reyes was
coerced by the lawyer and that they were without the assistance of counsel which is
violative of their constitutional rights.
ISSUE: Whether or not Manuel et al were dismissed without valid cause.
HELD: No. Manuel et al were positively identified by witnesses as part of the series of theft.
This was not sufficiently controverted by them. Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, such
act authorizes the employer to terminate the services of an employee for loss of trust and
confidence, provided that the loss of confidence arises from particular proven facts.
Substantial evidence or such relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to justify a conclusion and not proof beyond reasonable doubt as in criminal case.
Anent the issue of threat and intimidation, there was no sufficient proof presented by Manuel
et al to prove that the lawyer coerced them to make the admission.
Anent the issue that Atty. Reyess interrogation of them without the presence of counsel if
violative of their constitutional rights, such argument is misplaced. The right to counsel
accorded by the Constitution only applies to criminal cases and only on custodial
investigations. In this case, this is not a criminal case and Manuel et al were not
under custodial investigation when they were interrogated by Atty. Reyes. It is also
of no moment that Atty. Reyess interrogation happened in a police station. What Atty. Reyes
did was a private administrative investigation for the interest of his employer, the N.C.
Construction.
However, Manuel et al are entitled to damages (P1,000.00 each) because it appears that
although they were dismissed for a just cause, their dismissal was without the proper
procedure (twin-notice rule not observed by NC Construction). The two-notice rule provides:

The employer must furnish the worker with two written notices before termination of
employment can be legally effected:
(1) notice which apprises the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his
dismissal is sought, and
(2) the subsequent notice which informs the employee of the employers decision to dismiss
him.