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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 75704 July 19, 1989
RUBBERWORLD (P!LS.", !NC. #$% ELP!D!O !D&LGO, petitioners,
vs.
TE N&T!ON&L L&BOR REL&T!ONS COMM!SS!ON (T!RD D!'!S!ON" #$% NESTOR M&L&B&N&N, respondents.

MED!&LDE&, J.(
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule ! of the Rules of "ourt see#in$ the annul%ent of the decision of the respondent National
&abor Relations "o%%ission dated 'une (), (*+ ,p. -., Rollo/ in N&R" N"R "ase No. 0-(!+0+1 entitled 2Nestor Malabanan and
'onathan Trans%il, "o%plainants, versus Rubber3orld ,Phils./, Inc. and 4lpidio 5idal$o, Respondents,2 reversin$ the decision of the
&abor 6rbiter 3hich dis%issed the co%plaint for ille$al dis%issal for lac# of %erit.
The antecedent facts are as follo3s7
Respondent Malabanan 3as e%plo8ed b8 petitioner Rubber3orld ,Phils./, Inc. on Septe%ber -!,(*)+ as an ordinar8 cler#. In Ma8,
(*+9, he 3as pro%oted to the position of production scheduler 3ith a correspondin$ salar8 increase. 5e 3as a$ain transferred to the
Inventor8 "ontrol Section as stoc# cler# on Septe%ber (, (*+..
On 6pril ,(*+1, 4lpidio 5idal$o, the Plant I :eneral Mana$er of petitioner co%pan8, received a cop8 of the Financial 6udit Report fro%
the Internal 6udit Depart%ent of the co%pan8 sho3in$ a si$nificant %aterial variance bet3een the 8ear0end actual inventor8 and that of
the "ards ,S"/;4DP "ontrol Records. 6s a result thereof, Noel Santia$o, Section 5ead of the Inventor8 "ontrol Section, 3here
respondent Malabanan 3as assi$ned, conducted an investi$ation of the reported discrepancies in the stoc# cards upon the re<uest of
the Plant :eneral Mana$er. Santia$o then sub%itted his report to the $eneral %ana$er reco%%endin$ the dis%issal of respondent
Malabanan.
"onse<uentl8, Malabanan=s case 3as endorsed to the 5u%an Resources Division of petitioner co%pan8, 3hich conducted a
reinvesti$ation on the %atter and 3hich affir%ed the reco%%endation of the Inventor8 "ontrol Section 5ead for the ter%ination of
e%plo8%ent of respondent Malabanan.
On 'une , (*+1, respondent Malabanan 3as dis%issed b8 petitioner co%pan8.
On 'une (, (*+1, respondent Malabanan, alon$ 3ith another co%plainant na%ed 'onathan Trans%it, filed a co%plaint for unfair labor
practice and ille$al dis%issal a$ainst petitioner co%pan8 alle$in$ that the8 ,respondent Malabanan and co%plainant Trans%il/ 3ere
%e%bers of the %onthl8 salaried e%plo8ees= union affiliated 3ith T>P6S? that petitioner co%pan8 forced the% to disaffiliate fro% the
union? and that due to their refusal to resi$n fro% the union, the8 3ere ulti%atel8 dis%issed fro% e%plo8%ent b8 petitioner co%pan8.
Petitioner co%pan8 on the other hand, denied co%plainants= alle$ations and averred that respondent Malabanan=s dis%issal 3as due to
$ross and habitual ne$lect of his dut8 and not due to his union affiliation.
Durin$ the hearin$ of the case, the other co%plainant, 'onathan Trans%il 3ithdre3 fro% the case since he alread8 found another
e%plo8%ent abroad.
On 'anuar8 .9, (*+!, the &abor 6rbiter rendered a decision ,pp. ()0 --, Rollo/, the dispositive portion of 3hich reads7
@54R4FOR4, pre%ises considered, this case should be, as it is hereb8, DISMISS4D, for lac# of %erit.
SO ORD4R4D.
Respondent Malabanan appealed fro% the adverse decision to the respondent "o%%ission. On 'une (), (*+, respondent
"o%%ission reversed the appealed decision of the &abor 6rbiter and stated, inter alia7
"onfronted 3ith this factual bac#$rounds, 3e find ourselves inclined to the vie3 that the appealed decision %erits a
reversal.
A A A
@54R4FOR4, pre%ises considered, the appealed decision should be, as it is hereb8 R4V4RS4D. "onse<uentl8,
the respondents are directed to reinstate co%plainant Nestor Malabanan to his for%er position as production
scheduler, 3ith full bac#3a$es fro% the ti%e he 3as ille$all8 ter%inated up to actual reinstate%ent, 3ithout loss of
seniorit8 ri$hts and benefits appurtenant thereto.
SO ORD4R4D. ,pp. -.0-), Rollo/
The petitioner co%pan8 %oved for a reconsideration on the $round that the respondent "o%%ission=s decision is not in accordance
3ith facts and evidence on record. On 'ul8 -., (*+, the said %otion for reconsideration 3as denied.
On Septe%ber ., (*+, petitioner filed the instant petition contendin$ that the respondent "o%%ission co%%itted $rave abuse of
discretion a%ountin$ to lac# of Burisdiction in reversin$ the &abor 6rbiter=s decision.
The t3o issues to be resolved in the instant case are7 ,(/ 3hether or not the dis%issal of respondent Malabanan is tainted 3ith unfair
labor practice? and ,-/ 3hether or not a Bust and valid cause eAists for the dis%issal of private respondent Malabanan.
Petitioner alle$es that the National &abor Relations "o%%ission $ravel8 erred in concludin$ that the de%otion of Malabanan fro%
production scheduler to a stoc# cler# at the Stoc# and Inventor8 Section 3as intended to discoura$e Malabanan fro% union
%e%bership. It ar$ued that the &abor 6rbiter 3as correct in findin$ that the private respondent had not sho3n a%ple proof to the effect
that he 3as a %e%ber of a labor or$aniCation prior to his transfer to another position.
@e believe that the fore$oin$ contentions are i%pressed 3ith %erit. 6rt. -1+ of the &abor "ode, PD No. 11-, as a%ended, provides7
6rt. -1+. Unfair labor practices of employers. It shall be unla3ful for an e%plo8er to co%%it an8 of the follo3in$
unfair labor practices7
,a/ To interfere 3ith, restrain or coerce e%plo8ees in the eAercise of their ri$ht to self0or$aniCation?
A A A
The <uestion of 3hether an e%plo8ee 3as dis%issed because of his union activities is essentiall8 a <uestion of fact as to 3hich the
findin$s of the ad%inistrative a$enc8 concerned are conclusive and bindin$ if supported b8 substantial evidence. Substantial evidence
has been defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable %ind %i$ht accept as ade<uate to support a conclusion. It %eans such
evidence 3hich affords a substantial basis fro% 3hich the fact in issue can be reasonabl8 inferred ,Philippine Metal Foundries, Inc. v.
"ourt of Industrial Relations, et. al., No. &0 .1*1+01*, Ma8 (!, (*)*, *9 S"R6 (.!/. The findin$s of the &abor 6rbiter on the non0
eAistence of unfair labor practice on the part of the co%pan8 are %ore in accord and supported b8 the evidence sub%itted b8 the
parties in the instant case, to 3it7
"o%plainant had stated that he 3as a %e%ber of the %onthl8 salaried e%plo8ees union affiliated 3ith T>P6S. 5e,
ho3ever, offered no proof to support his alle$ation. In fact, no evidence 3as presented to prove the eAistence of such
union. @e ,noteD fro% the records that, as the usual practice, in cases li#e this one, co%plainant is usuall8 supported
b8 the union of 3hich he is a %e%ber. 6nd ordinaril8, the union itself is i%pleaded as a co0 co%plainant. Such
circu%stances, surprisin$l8, EareD not present in this case. In fact, co%plainant cate$oricall8 alle$ed that he had
solicited the services of the P6F&> &abor >nion in filin$ this case. It is, indeed, surprisin$ that co%plainant had to
solicit the help of a labor union ,P6F&>/ of 3hich he 3as not a %e%ber instead of solicitin$ the aid of the labor union
,T>P6S/ of 3hich he 3as alle$edl8 a %e%ber. These circu%stances alone Edestro8D the credibilit8 of co%plainant=s
alle$ations. ,p. -(, Rollo/.
No3here in the records can @e find that the co%pan8 actuall8 perfor%ed positive acts to restrain the union participation of private
respondent. For one, it is doubtful 3hether Malabanan 3as reall8 en$a$ed in the or$aniCation of a labor union affiliated 3ith the
federation T>P6S. The onl8 evidence presented b8 hi% to prove this contention is his affidavit and that of his father. It is therefore, not
in accordance 3ith ordinar8 eAperience and co%%on practice that the private respondent pursued his battle alone, 3ithout the aid and
support of his co0%e%bers in the union and his federation especiall8 in a case of serious nature as this one involvin$ co%pan8
intervention 3ith union activit8.
6s a rule, it is the prero$ative of the co%pan8 to pro%ote, transfer or even de%ote its e%plo8ees to other positions 3hen the interests
of the co%pan8 reasonabl8 de%and it. >nless there are instances 3hich directl8 point to interference b8 the co%pan8 3ith the
e%plo8ees= ri$ht to self0or$aniCation, the transfer of private respondent should be considered as 3ithin the bounds allo3ed b8 la3.
Further%ore, althou$h private respondent 3as transferred to a lo3er position, his ori$inal ran# and salar8 re%ained undi%inished,
3hich fact 3as not refuted or <uestioned b8 private respondent.
In vie3 of the fore$oin$ conclusions of the &abor 6rbiter, @e are co%pelled to a$ree 3ith the latter that the petitioner co%pan8 did not
co%%it an8 unfair labor practice in transferrin$ and thereafter dis%issin$ private respondent.
The re%ainin$ issue to be resolved on this point is 3hether the dis%issal of respondent Malabanan 3as for a Bust and la3ful cause.
6rticle -+- of the &abor "ode, as a%ended, provides7
6rticle -+-. Termination by employer. F 6n e%plo8er %a8 ter%inate an e%plo8%ent for an8 of the follo3in$ Bust
causes7
A A A
b/ :ross and habitual ne$lect b8 the e%plo8ee of his duties?
A A A.
Petitioner contends that private respondent Malabanan 3as $uilt8 of $ross ne$li$ence 3hen he caused the postin$ of incorrect entries
in the stoc# card 3ithout counter chec#in$ the actual %ove%ent status of the ite%s at the 3arehouse, thereb8 resultin$ into
un%ana$eable inaccuracies in the data posted in the stoc# cards. The respondent "o%%ission correctl8 ruled7
Penulti%atel8, even assu%in$ for the sa#e of ar$u%ent that herein co%plainant =posted entries in the stoc# card
3ithout counter chec#in$ the actual %ove%ent status of the ite%s at the 3arehouse, thereb8 resultin$ in an
inaccurate postin$ of data on the stoc# cards,2 to our i%pression does not constitute as a Bust cause for dis%issal.
Records sho3 that he 3as onl8 transferred to the Inventor8 "ontrol Section on Septe%ber (, (*+. and 3as not so
fa%iliar and eAperienced as a stoc# cler#, and prior to his transfer, the record sho3s no dero$ator8 records in ter%s
of his perfor%ance. 5is failure to carr8 out efficientl8 his duties as a stoc# cler# is not so $ross and habitual. In other
3ords he 3as not notoriousl8 ne$li$ent to 3arrant his severance fro% the service. "onsiderin$ that there is nothin$
on record that sho3s that he 3ilfull8 defied instructions of his superior 3ith re$ards to his duties and that he $ained
personal benefit of the discrepanc8, his dis%issal is un3arranted. ,p. -, Rollo/.
It does not appear that private respondent Malabanan is an incorri$ible offender or that 3hat he did inflicted serious da%a$e to the
co%pan8 so %uch so that his continuance in the service 3ould be patentl8 ini%ical to the e%plo8er=s interest. 6ssu%in$, in gratia
argumenti that the private respondent had indeed co%%itted the said %ista#es in the postin$ of accurate data, this 3as onl8 his first
infraction 3ith re$ard to his duties. It 3ould thus be cruel and unBust to %ete out the drastic penalt8 of dis%issal, for it is not
proportionate to the $ravit8 of the %isdeed.
In fact, the pro%otion of the private respondent fro% the position of ordinar8 cler# to production scheduler establishes the presu%ption
that his perfor%ance of his 3or# is acceptable to the co%pan8. The petitioner even ad%itted that it 3as due to heav8 financial and
business reverses that the co%pan8 assi$ned the private respondent to the position of Stoc# "ler# and not because of his
unsatisfactor8 perfor%ance as production scheduler ,p. , Rollo/. It has been held that there %ust be fair and reasonable criteria to be
used in selectin$ e%plo8ees to be dis%issed ,6sia3orld Publishin$ 5ouse, Inc. v. Ople, No. &0!.*+, 'ul8 -., (*+), (!- S"R6 -(*/.
It is 3orth8 to note that the prero$ative of %ana$e%ent to dis%iss or la80off an e%plo8ee %ust be done 3ithout abuse of discretion, for
3hat is at sta#e is not onl8 petitioner=s position, but also his %eans of livelihood. This is so because the preservation of the lives of the
citiCens is a basic dut8 of the State, %ore vital than the peservation of corporate profits ,4uro0&inea, Phils., Inc. v. N&R", &0)!)+-,
Dece%ber (, (*+),(! S"R6 )*/.
The la3 re$ards the 3or#er 3ith co%passion. Our societ8 is a co%passionate one. @here a penalt8 less punitive 3ould suffice,
3hatever %issteps %a8 be co%%itted b8 the 3or#er should not be visited b8 the supre%e penalt8 of dis%issal. This is not onl8 because
of the la3=s concern for the 3or#in$ %an. There is in addition, his fa%il8 to consider. 6fter all, labor deter%inations should not onl8 be
secundu% ratione% but also secundu% caritate% ,6l%ira, et al., v. GF :oodrich Philippines, Inc., et al., :.R. No. &0.1*)1, 'ul8 -!,
(*)1, !+ S"R6 (-9/.
6""ORDIN:&H, the petition is DISMISS4D for lac# of %erit. 5o3ever, the decision of the public respondent is hereb8 MODIFI4D to
the effect that petitioner co%pan8 is ordered to reinstate private respondent Nestor Malabanan to the position of stoc# cler# or
substantiall8 e<uivalent position, 3ith the sa%e ran# and salar8 he is enBo8in$ at the ti%e of his ter%ination, 3ith three 8ears
bac#3a$es and 3ithout loss of seniorit8 ri$hts and benefits appurtenant thereto.
Should the reinstate%ent of the private respondent as herein ordered be rendered i%possible b8 the supervention of circu%stances
3hich prevent the sa%e, the petitioner is further ordered to pa8 private respondent separation pa8 e<uivalent to one ,(/ %onth=s salar8
for ever8 8ear of service rendered, co%puted at his last rate of salar8.
SO ORD4R4D.