Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 164681 April 24, 2009
BERNARDINO V. NAVARRO, Petitioner,
P.V. PAJARILLO LINER, INC., Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul the Decision1 dated November 28, 2003 and the Resolution2 dated July 19, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA- G.R. SP No. 67666.
P.V. Pajarillo Liner Inc. (respondent), a corporation engaged in the business of land transportation, employed Bernardino V. Navarro (petitioner) as a bus driver on April 20, 1995. Sometime in March 1996, petitioner, while on duty, was apprehended for picking up passengers in a non-loading zone (illegal terminal) along Ayala Avenue, Makati. His driver's license was confiscated by a Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforcer and a corresponding traffic violation receipt (TVR) was issued to him, which was valid as a temporary driver's license for seven days from date of apprehension. Before the expiration of the TVR, petitioner allegedly gave the same to respondent's Operations Manager Arnel Hegina3 (Hegina) and requested the latter to redeem his license from the MMDA. Respondent was not able to redeem the license from the MMDA but merely secured a two-month extension for the validity of the TVR. Sometime in May 1996, petitioner was again apprehended along Shoemart, Makati by highway patrol operatives who demanded petitioner's driver's license. The record does not specify the violation. When petitioner presented his TVR, the operatives ordered him to drive the bus directly to the garage. After the incident, petitioner was not able to work for respondent again.4
On March 14, 1997, petitioner filed with the Labor Arbiter (LA), a complaint for illegal dismissal with damages against respondent, alleging that he was dismissed from the service on May 19, 1996; that as a bus driver, he worked for five days a week and from six in the morning up to eleven in the evening with a gross fare receipts average of
P6,500.00; that from the amount of P6,500.00, he was entitled to a 9% commission and P50.00 incentive; that in cases of apprehension of respondent's driver due to violations involving illegal terminal or being "out of line," respondent was in charge of getting the driver's license from the MMDA; that when he was apprehended in March 1996 for illegal terminal, he gave the TVR to Hegina and requested the latter to redeem the license from the MMDA; that petitionerís license was not redeemed and respondent secured only two extensions of the TVR's validity for two months; that when he was again apprehended in May 1996 and upon arrival at the respondent's garage, he gave the extended TVR to Hegina and requested the latter to redeem his license from the MMDA; that Hegina informed him that his license would be redeemed the following day, but when petitioner tried to get his license from Hegina, the latter told him that he failed to get it because of heavy workload; that petitioner was asked to come back after one week with the assurance that his license would already be available, but no license was released; that he was constantly following up his license with respondent's office but was only given promises that his license was due for release; that respondent's refusal to redeem his license constituted constructive dismissal because he was deprived of his source of livelihood, as he was not able to perform his work as a bus driver without his license.
In its position paper, respondent claimed that petitioner abandoned his job as shown by the former's letter dated July 28, 1996 addressed to petitioner requiring the latter to explain why he should not be dismissed for neglecting his duty through prolonged absence; that after petitioner submitted his reply to respondent's letter, nothing was heard from him until he filed his complaint with the LA; that it was petitioner's obligation to redeem the driver's license; that petitioner's inaction to get back his license showed his lack of interest in resuming his job; and that respondent could not give back petitioner's work without his driver's license.
Petitioner filed his reply, arguing that in his August 8, 1996 letter to respondent's letter dated July 28, 1996, he had already brought to its attention that it should redeem his license for having been caught for illegal terminal, to wit:
Bilang tugon sa sulat ninyo ay ikinalulungkot kong sabihin sa inyo na hindi ako nagpabaya sa aking tungkulin bilang driver bagkus ay nasa management ang pagkukulang at ito'y tungkol sa hindi pagtubos ng aking TVR na nahuli sa Ayala ng illegal terminal na dapat ay sagutin ng ating kumpanya. Nagpabalik balik ako sa ating opisina dahil gusto kong makuha ang original license ko pero ang nangyari puro extension at hanggang sa tuluyan ng nawala dahil nadukutan ako. At isa pa, nagpaalam ako kay Arnel na hindi muna ako makakalabas hangga't hindi pa nalulutas and problema ko.5 (Emphasis supplied)
that there was no response received from respondent; that it was only in its position paper filed with the LA that respondent raised the matter of not condoning or encouraging the act of using illegal terminal, and that it could not be held liable for petitioner's unlawful act. Petitioner added that it could not be denied that petitioner requested respondent to redeem his license, since the TVR was in respondent's possession.
In the Rejoinder, respondent argued that the TVR was submitted by petitioner when he was given an extension permit, and it was for record purposes as it was only a xerox copy.
On September 10, 1998, the LA rendered a decision6 in favor of herein petitioner, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondents to reinstate complainant to his former position with full backwages which as of August 31, 1998 had already amounted to
P175,500.00 and incentives in the amount of P35,100.00.7
In finding that petitioner was constructively dismissed, the LA said that respondent's claim of petitioner's negligence in the performance of his duties as a driver due to his alleged prolonged absences had been well explained by petitioner; that said absences could never be attributed to petitioner's fault, since he could not perform his usual duties as a driver without his license; that he was not remiss in following up the release of his license from respondent, which did not do its job.
The LA did not sustain respondent's claim that it was not the latter's policy to redeem the license of its drivers who were caught for illegal terminal, as respondent did not deny petitioner's allegation that he submitted the TVR to Hegina and that the office of respondent worked for the renewal of the period of its validity pending the release of petitioner's license; and respondent's policy of redeeming driver's license was further established by the affidavit of Marcelino Ibañez, one of respondent's drivers and the Chairman of the Board of the Kilusang Manggagawa sa PVP Liner. The LA then concluded that respondent's failure to redeem petitioner's license deprived him of the source of his livelihood without just and valid cause.
Respondent filed its appeal with the NLRC. The NLRC rendered its decision8 dated August 17, 2000, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is MODIFIED in that respondent is ordered to reinstate complainant to his former position as bus driver without backwages.9
On the question of who should redeem petitioner's driver's license, the NLRC ruled that petitioner as the holder of the license should be the one to redeem the same; that considering petitionerís allegation in his position paper, that he gave the TVR to Hegina and requested the latter to redeem his license, it was clear that petitioner was merely requesting him to redeem his license, which did not connote any obligation on Hegina's part; that as respondent failed to heed such request, it was incumbent upon petitioner to redeem his license, as it was necessary in the pursuit of his occupation as a bus driver. The NLRC did not believe petitioner's claim that he submitted the original TVR to respondent, because he could not have driven with only a photocopy of said document.1awphi1.zw+
On the issue of constructive dismissal, the NLRC found that the evidence showed that respondent sent a notice to petitioner requiring him to explain his prolonged absences, to which petitioner submitted an explanation that he could not report for work, as his license was with the authorities and was waiting to be redeemed by respondent; and that no action was taken by the latter on the matter. Thus, the NLRC agreed with the LA that there was constructive dismissal; and petitioner should be reinstated upon presentation of his driver's license, but without backwages considering that he was equally at fault, as he did not bother to take proper steps to redeem his license.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution10 dated September 29, 2000.
Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with the CA. Respondent filed its Comment and petitioner his Reply thereto.
On November 28, 2003, the CA rendered herein assailed decision dismissing the petition for lack of merit.
The CA found that while an award of backwages presupposes a finding of illegal dismissal, not every case of illegal dismissal deserves an award of backwages, citing Manila Electric Co. v. National Labor Relations Commission,11 Cathedral School of Technology v. National Labor Relations Commission, 12 and Durabuilt Recapping and Plant Company v. National Labor Relations Commission.13 The CA further held that petitioner was the holder of the confiscated driver's license; thus, it was his duty to redeem his license; that while respondent previously took care of retrieving a confiscated driver's license, it was only a matter of accommodation, as there is no law or regulation making it an obligation of the employer to undertake retrieval of its erring driver's license; that when respondent failed to heed petitioner's request to redeem his license, a personal privilege and non-transferable, petitioner should have personally redeemed the same, which he did not; thus, he was not entitled to backwages.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in the assailed Resolution dated July 19, 2004.
Hence, herein petition on the following grounds:
(1) the decision is inconsistent with the settled doctrine that doubts arising from the evidence must be resolved in favor of the employee;14
(2) the findings of the Court of Appeals that petitioner should be the one who should redeem his driver's license are grounded on speculations, surmises or conjectures;15 and
(3) petitioner is entitled to reinstatement with full backwages considering that he was illegally dismissed from the service. 16
The petition lacks merit.
For a correct perspective in the resolution of the present petition, it must be stressed that the finding of the LA that petitioner was constructively dismissed by respondent is already a settled issue. Respondent did not appeal from the finding that it constructively dismissed petitioner.
Thus, the Court is constrained to limit itself to the determination of whether petitioner is entitled to backwages; that is, whether the CA was correct in upholding the NLRC's finding that petitioner is not entitled to backwages, as he was equally at fault for not bothering to take proper steps to redeem his license.
The LA found that it was the obligation of respondent to redeem petitioner's driverís license and, therefore, petitioner was constructively dismissed by respondent. While affirming the constructive dismissal committed by respondent, the NLRC and the CA, however, held that petitioner as the holder of the license should be the one to redeem the same, as this was necessary in the pursuit of his occupation as a bus driver.
Petitioner was using the extended TVR when he was again caught sometime in May 1996 by highway patrol operatives and was ordered to drive directly to the garage.
Petitioner claimed that he gave the extended TVR to respondent for the latter to redeem the same. However, such claim was belied by petitioner's letter-reply dated August 8, 1996 to respondent's letter dated July 28, 1996, asking him to explain his prolonged absence. Petitioner wrote that the extended TVR was stolen from him. Such admission shows that the extended TVR had been in petitioner's possession in May 1996 until it was stolen from him, the date of which petitioner did not specify, wittingly or unwittingly. There is no showing that petitioner ever reported the loss of the extended TVR to respondent before he was asked to explain his prolonged absence in July 1996; or that he reported the loss to the MMDA. Thus, how could petitioner expect respondent to redeem his driver's license when the extended TVR was not in respondent's possession? Respondent could not be reasonably expected to redeem petitionerís driver's license while he, as owner of the license, did not take the proper steps to report the loss of the TVR to respondent or to the MMDA to get back his license. These circumstances show that petitioner was not at all faultless, as his violation caused the confiscation of his license.
Consequently, the Court agrees with the NLRC's conclusion that petitioner is not entitled to backwages.
He never bothered to redeem his license at the soonest possible time when there was no showing that he was unlawfully prevented by respondent from doing so. Thus, petitioner should not be paid for the time he was not working. The Court has held that where the failure of employees to work was not due to the employer's fault, the burden of economic loss suffered by the employees should not be shifted to the employer. Each party must bear his own loss.17 It would be unfair to allow petitioner to recover something he has not earned and could not have earned, since he could not discharge his work as a driver without his driver's license. Respondent should be exempted from the burden of paying backwages.
The age-old rule governing the relation between labor and capital, or management and employee, of a "fair day's wage for a fair day's labor" remains as the basic factor in determining employees' wages. If there is no work performed by the employee, there can be no wage or pay -- unless, of course, the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out, suspended or dismissed,18 or otherwise illegally prevented from working,19 a situation which we find is not present in the instant case.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED. The Decision dated November 28, 2003 and the Resolution dated July 19, 2004 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
|MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
|ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
A T T E S T A T I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courtís Division.
Chairperson, Third Division
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersonís Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courtís Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
1 Penned by Justice Ruben T. Reyes (now a retired member of this Court) and concurred in by Justices Edgardo P. Cruz and Noel G. Tijam; rollo, pp. 28-34.
2 Id. at 35.
3 In all the pleadings filed by petitioner as well as in the decisions of the LA, NLRC and CA, he was referred to as "Regina"; but based on the latter's own affidavit (rollo, p. 59), his real surname is Hegina.
4 NLRC Decision dated August 17, 2000; rollo, pp. 50-51.
5 Rollo, p. 76.
6 Rollo, pp. 61-64.
7 Id. at 64.
8 Rollo, pp. 50-59; Commissioner Victoriano R Calaycay, concurred in by Presiding Commissioner Raul T. Aquino and Commissioner Angelita A. Gacutan.
9 Id. at 58.
10 Id. at 60.
11 G.R. No. 78763, July 12, 1989, 175 SCRA 277.
12 G.R. No. 101438, October 13, 1992, 214 SCRA 551.
13 No. L-76746, July 27, 1987, 152 SCRA 328.
14 Rollo, p. 16.
15 Id. at 18.
16 Rollo, p. 21.
17 See Durabuilt Recapping Plant and Co. v. National Labor Relations Commission, supra note 13, at 334-335, citing Social Security System v. SSS Supervisors' Union -CUGCO, G.R. No. L-31832, October 23, 1982, 117 SCRA 746 .
18 See Caltex Refinery Employees Association (CREA) v. Brillantes, G.R. No. 123782, September 16, 1997, 279 SCRA 218, 233; Durabuilt Recapping Plant and Co. v. National Labor Relations Commission, supra note 13; Social Security System v. SSS Supervisors' Union, supra note 17, citing J.P. Heilbronn Co. v. National Labor Union, 92 Phil. 575, 577-578.
19 Caltex Refinery Employees' Association (CREA) v. Brillantes, supra note 18.
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