Court of Appeals Affirms One VA Case Decision


Court of Appeals affirmed with modification and promulgated a Decision on January 30, 2018 the appealed VA case decision of Voluntary Arbitrator Art O. Tan dated 12 January 2017 in VA Case No. AC-354-RCMB-XI-LVA-10-02-09-2016 on the issue of “Whether the Dismissal of Mr. Orlando Villamor is Legal based on CBA Provision on Management Prerogative and Interpretation and Implementation of Company Personnel Policy”, declaring the dismissal from service of Orlando Villamor as illegal and ordering Sumifru (Philippines) Corp. to pay him separation pay.

On July 25, 2016, UBC Sumifru Salaysay Workers Union- Associated Labor Union (ALU)-Trade Union Congress of the Phil. (TUCP) filed a Preventive Mediation case at NCMB-RBXI against Sumifru (Philippines) Corp. docketed as RCMB-XI-DDS-PM-07-012-2016 on the issue of Interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policy, damages, Attorney’s fee and illegal dismissal.

On August 24, 2016, both parties agreed to submit the issues to Voluntary Arbitration.

Hence, both parties submitted a Submission Agreement dated September 26, 2016 for the filing of VA case which was then docketed as VA Case No. AC-354-RCMB-XI-LVA-10-02-09-2016.

On January 12, 2017, VA Tan issued a decision declaring the dismissal of Orlando Villamor illegal and ordered the management to pay him separation pay.

Sumifru (Phils.) Corp., however, filed before CA a Petition for Review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court with docket no. as CA-G.R. SP No. 07931-MIN, for the assailed decision of VA Tan.

Sumifru, terminated his employment based on two grounds under their Disciplinary Penalty Chart, namely DPC No. 30 which states that wilful abandonment of workstation without intent of returning and due permission for any purpose not called for by the nature of his employment/assignment whether resulting or not in damages or loss of company and other one is DPC No. 39 which states, drinking any alcoholic beverage without authority within the premises of the company, or coming to work, while drunk or under the influence of liquor.

The Court, however, found no grave abuse of discretion in the Voluntary Arbitrator’s, Atty. Tan, evaluation of the evidence.

CA agreed with VA Tan that the incident does not constitute gross misconduct.

Villamor did not commit violation of DPC Nos. 30 and 39.

CA stated, Article 282 (now Article 296) of the Labor Code provides for the just causes for dismissing an employee.  Under Article 282 (a), serious misconduct by the employee justifies the employer in terminating his or her employment.

To summarize, for misconduct or improper behavior to be a just cause for dismissal, the following elements must concur:  (a) the misconduct must be serious; (b) it must relate to the performance of the employee’s duties showing that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer; and (c) it must have been performed with wrongful intent.

CA specified, under Article 279 of the Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 6715, an employee who is unjustly dismissed shall be entitled to (1) reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges; and (2) full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed form the time his compensation was withheld up to the time of actual reinstatement.  If reinstatement is no longer viable, separation pay is granted.  Separation pay is intended to provide the employee money during the period in which he will be looking for another employment.  Backwages, on the other hand, are granted on grounds of equity for earnings lost by an employee due to his illegal dismissal.

In this case, the Court, therefore, decided that Villamor has been illegally dismissed by Sumifru and is entitled to separation pay since reinstatement is no longer viable, and backwages.   Sheila A. Rivera