Monday, August 31, 2015

Case Digest: Begino v. ABS-CBN

NELSON V. BEGINO, GENER DEL VALLE, MONINA A VILA-LLORIN AND MA. CRISTINA SUMAYAO, Petitioners, vs. ABS-CBN CORPORATION (FORMERLY, ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION) AND AMALIA VILLAFUERTE, Respondents.

G.R. No. 199166, 20 April 2015.

PEREZ, J.:

Respondent ABS-CBN, through Respondent Villafuerte, engaged the services of Petitioners as cameramen, editors or reporters for TV Broadcasting. Petitioners signed regularly renewed Talent Contracts (3 months - 1 year) and Project Assignment Forms which detailed the duration, budget and daily technical requirements of a particular project. Petitioners were tasked with coverage of news items for subsequent daily airings in Respondents’ TV Patrol Bicol Program.

The Talent Contract has an exclusivity clause and provides that nothing therein shall be deemed or construed to establish an employer-employee relationship between the parties.

Petitioners filed against Respondents a complaint for regularization before the NLRC's Arbitration branch.

In support of their complaint, Petitioners claimed that they worked under the direct control of Respondent Villafuerte - they were mandated to wear company IDs, they were provided the necessary equipment, they were informed about the news to be covered the following day, and they were bound by the company’s policy on attendance and punctuality.

Respondents countered that, pursuant to their Talent Contracts and Project Assignment Forms, Petitioners were hired as talents to act as reporters, editors and/or cameramen. Respondents further claimed they never imposed control as to how Petitioners discharged their duties. At most, they were briefed regarding the general requirements of the project to be executed.

While the case was pending, Petitioners contracts were terminated, prompting the latter to file a second complaint for illegal dismissal.

The Arbitration Branch ruled that Petitioners were regular employees, and ordered Respondents to reinstate the Petitioners.

The NLRC affirmed the ruling, but the CA overturned the decision.

ISSUE: W/N Petitioners are regular employees of Respondents.

RULING: Yes.

Of the criteria to determine whether there is an employer-employee relationship, the so-called "control test" is generally regarded as the most crucial and determinative indicator of the said relationship.

Under this test, an employer-employee relationship is said to exist where the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control not only the end result but also the manner and means utilized to achieve the same.

Notwithstanding the nomenclature of their Talent Contracts and/or Project Assignment Forms and the terms and condition embodied therein, petitioners are regular employees of ABS-CBN.

As cameramen, editors and reporters, it appears that Petitioners were subject to the control and supervision of Respondents which provided them with the equipment essential for the discharge of their functions. The exclusivity clause and prohibitions in their Talent Contract were likewise indicative of Respondents' control over them, however obliquely worded.

Also,the presumption is that when the work done is an integral part of the regular business of the employer and when the worker does not furnish an independent business or professional service, such work is a regular employment of such employee and not an independent contractor.

Case Digest: Ronulo v. People

RENE RONULO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

G.R. No. 182438, 2 July 2014.

BRION, J.:

Joey Umadac and Claire Bingayen were scheduled to marry on 29 March 2003 at the Sta. Rosa Catholic Parish Church in Ilocos Norte. But on the day of the wedding, the church's officiating priest refused to solemnize the marriage because of lack of a marriage license. 

With the couple and the guests already dressed for the wedding, they headed to an Aglipayan Church. The Aglipayan priest, herein petitioner Ronulo, conducted a ceremony on the same day where the couple took each other as husband and wife in front of the guests. This was despite Petitioner's knowledge of the couple's lack of marriage license.

Petitioner was eventually charged of violating Article 352 of the ROC for performing an illegal marriage ceremony.

The MTC did not believe Petitioner's defense that what he did was an act of blessing and was not tantamount to solemnization of marriage and was found guilty.

The decision was affirmed by both the RTC and the CA.

ISSUE: W/N Petitioner committed an illegal marriage.

RULING: Yes.

Article 352 of the RPC penalizes an authorized solemnizing officer who shall perform or authorize any illegal marriage ceremony. The elements of this crime are: 
  1. authority of the solemnizing officer; and 
  2. his performance of an illegal marriage ceremony.
The first element is present since Petitioner himself admitted that he has authority to solemnize a marriage.

The second element is present since the alleged "blessing" by Petitioner is tantamount to the performance of an illegal marriage ceremony.

There is no prescribed form or rite for the solemnization of a marriage. However, Article 6 of the Family Code provides that it shall be necessary: 
  1. for the contracting parties to appear personally before the solemnizing officer; and 
  2. declare in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age that they take each other as husband and wife.
The first requirement is present since petitioner admitted to it. The second requirement is likewise present since the prosecution, through the testimony of its witnesses, proved that the contracting parties personally declared that they take each other as husband and wife.

The penalty for violating Article 352 of the RPC is in accordance with the provision of the Marriage Law, specifically Article 44, which states that:
Section 44. General Penal Clause – Any violation of any provision of this Act not specifically penalized, or of the regulations to be promulgated by the proper authorities, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both, in the discretion of the court.
As such, Petitioner was held guilty of violating Article 352 and was fined P200 as penalty.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Case Digest: San Mateo v. People

ERLINDA C. SAN MATEO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

G.R. No. 200090, 6 March 2013.

ABAD, J.:

Petitioner Erlinda San Mateo ordered assorted yarns from ITSP through its the Vice President for Operations, Ravin A. Sehwani. In partial payment, thereof, she issued 11 postdated checks.

But whenever a check matured, San Mateo would call Sehwani requesting him not to deposit the checks.

Sehwani finally deposited one check, but was it dishonored due to insufficient funds. He informed San Mateo of the dishonor, who asked him to defer depositing the other checks since she was encountering financial difficulties.

Sehwani deposited another check but was dishonored due to a stop payment order. Sehwani deposited the remaining checks which were all dishonored because the account had been closed. Sehwani attempted to contact San Mateo but she never responded.

Sehwani’s counsel then sent a demand letter to San Mateo’s residence but the security guard of the townhouse complex refused to accept the letter. Thereafter, he sent a copy of the demand letter to San Mateo by registered mail which was returned to his counsel’s office with the notation "N/S Party Out 12/12/05" and that San Mateo did not claim it despite three notices to her.

San Mateo was charged with 11 counts of violation of B.P. 22, and was found guilty of 10 counts by the MTC. On appeal, the ruling was affirmed by the RTC and the CA.

ISSUE: W/N San Mateo was guilty of violating B.P. 22.

RULING: No.

To be liable for violation of B.P. 22, the following essential elements must be present: 
  1. The making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value; 
  2. The knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and 
  3. The subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.
In this case, the third element is present and had been adequately established. The first element had also been established since San Mateo herself admitted that she drew and issued the same as payment for the yarns she ordered from ITSP. Besides, the issue of lack of valuable consideration for the issuance of checks which were later on dishonored for insufficient funds is immaterial to the success of a prosecution for violation of B.P. 22.

However, the second element was not sufficiently established. Section 2 of B.P. 22 creates the presumption that the issuer of the check was aware of the insufficiency of funds when he issued a check and the bank dishonored it. This presumption, however, arises only after it is proved that the issuer had received a written notice of dishonor.

Here, when Sehwani's counsel's attempted to serve the notice by leaving a copy with the security guard, there was no showing that the letter ever reached San Mateo.

On the second occasion, Sehwani's counsel sent a demand letter to San Mateo by registered mail. However, the prosecution must not only prove that a notice of dishonor was sent to the accused, it must also prove actual receipt of said notice, because the fact of service provided for in the law is reckoned from receipt of such notice of dishonor by the accused.

Since there is insufficient proof that San Mateo actually received the notice of dishonor, the presumption that she knew of the insufficiency of her funds cannot arise. For this reason, the Court cannot convict her of violation of B.P. 22.

Nevertheless, San Mateo’s acquittal does not entail the extinguishment of her civil liability for the dishonored checks. An acquittal based on lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt does not preclude the award of civil damages.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

B.M. No. 2872 (In Re: 2015 Bar Examinations)

NOTICE

Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated MARCH 10, 2015, which reads as follows:

"B.M. No. 2872 (In Re: 2015 Bar Examinations).- Acting on the Letter dated February 23, 2015 of Atty. Maria Cristina B. Layusa, Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confident, and upon the recommendation of Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Chairperson, 2015 Committee on Bar Examinations, the Court Resolved to APPROVE the following:

      (a) conduct of the 2015 Bar Examinations on November 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2015;

      (b) holding of the said examinations at the University of Santo Tomas in España, Manila;

      (c) acceptance of the applications to take the 2015 Bar Examinations starting June 15, 2015 anti ending on July 31, 2015 without any extension; and

      (d) negotiation by the Bar Confidant with the University of Santo Tomas for the use of the latter's campus and facilities for the subject Bar Examinations.


The Court further Resolved to REFER the Letter dated February 23, 2015 of Atty. Layusa regarding the procurement of digital duplicators and collating machines to the PROCUREMENT PLANNING COMMITTEE for appropriate action." (adv45)


Very truly yours,



(sgd.)
ENRIQUETA E. VIDAL
Clerk of Court

Source

Sunday, April 5, 2015

B.M. No. 850 (Re: Rules on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for Active Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines)

NOTICE

Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that the Court en bane issued a Resolution dated FEBRUARY 17, 2015, which reads as follows:

"B.M. No. 850 (Re: Rules on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for Active Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines). - Acting on the Letter dated January 13, 2015 of Hon. Bernardo P. Pardo, Chairperson, MCLE Governing Board, submitting for the Court's approval the MCLE Governing Board Resolution No. 007-2014, the Court Resolved to REQUIRE all members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to file a written entry of appearance indicating their MCLE exemption or compliance number for the current or immediately preceding compliance period and date of issuance thereof before appearing as counsel or engaging in oral argument in open court or before a quasi-judicial body. However, counsels who affixed their signatures in- their pleadings and indicated their MCLE exemption or compliance number in their pleadings need not file a separate entry of appearance. Henceforth, all counsels, including partners of law firms whose names appear in the said pleadings, shall also indicate their MCLE exemption or compliance number.

This resolution shall take effect on March 1, 2015 following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation." Brion, J., on leave. Jardeleza, J., on official leave. (adv36)


Very truly yours,

(sgd.)
ENRIQUETA E. VIDAL
Clerk of Court

Friday, May 30, 2014

Case Digest: Soliman v. Sandiganbayan

MANUEL SOLIMAN, Petitioner, v. HON. SANDIGANBAYAN, 3RD DIVISION; and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

G.R. No. 71305, November 24, 1986.

CRUZ, J:

Petitioner Manuel Soliman was convicted of qualified theft by Sandiganbayan for having allegedly conspired with his co-workers in the Malacañang garage to steal 1,000 liters of gasoline. All his co-accused were acquitted with the exception of Bernardo Cube, the driver of the truck where the stolen fuel was carried, who had escaped and could not be tried.

A requisition was made by the Malacañang garage for 9,000 liters of gasoline which was filled in Pandacan. 1,000 liters was retained in the delivery truck which the accused were allegedly intending to sell. It was foiled as a surveillance team prevented the sale. The driver was arrested and implicated his other co-accused.

In finding the petitioner guilty, the Sandiganbayan relied heavily on the supposed confession of Cube, who was at large and never tried. However, the confession had not been formally and specifically offered in evidence by the prosecution.

The Court also relied on the alleged confession of Soliman, although he alleged the confession was
elicited by interrogators who manhandled him.

The Court also made the conjecture that since Soliman had gone to the Pandacan depot and later rode with Cube in the delivery truck that brought the gasoline to Malacañang, he really conspired with Cube.

Although Soliman explained that he was ordered by a superior to follow up on the requisition, Sandiganbayan held that the said person should have been presented as a defense witness.

ISSUE: W/N Soliman could be held guilty of qualified theft.

RULING: No.

1. The confession of Cube was not offered in evidence, in contravention of the Section 35 Rule 132 of the Rules of Court (on offer of evidence).

2. Cube's confession should have been barred altogether as pure hearsay since the petitioner did not have the chance to confront and cross-examine his accuser.

3. Soliman's alleged confession is inadmissible for being violative of his Bill of Rights while under custodial investigation.

4. The conclusion of conspiracy is far-fetched. In effect, the petitioner is held guilty because of his presence in the Pandacan depot and later in the delivery truck, as if such presence were a crime.

5. The non-presentation of Soliman's supervisor does not point to his guilt, since there is still constitutional presumption of innocence. If at all, it was the prosecution that had to introduce evidence to disprove the Soliman's testimony and not the other way around.

"We repeat our counsel against ill-considered convictions based only, as in this case, on unfounded surmises or, in other cases, prejudgments and prejudices. Although these errors may at times be corrected and undone on appeal, the stigma of a criminal conviction, even if ultimately reversed, is never quite washed away and remains to soil the innocent man’s name to his dying day."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Case Digest: Dolefil v. NLRC

DOLE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (Second Division) ALFREDO TARROZA, ROGELIO DE LA PEÑA and LORETO TEJERO, respondents.

G.R. No. L-55413, 25 July 1983.

AQUINO, J.:

Alfredo Tarroza, Rogelio de la Peña and Loreto Tejero ("Respondents") were light-wheel tractor operators in the pineapple field of Dole Philippines, Inc ("Dolefil"). 

On April 29, 1977, landguards of Dolefil spotted two drums containing crude oil in the farmlot of Inocencio Asibal which adjoins Dolefil's pineapple field. 

Asibal and companion Rogelio Odarve were investigated by the police and stated in their sworn statements that they bought the crude oil from Respondents and two other Dolefil employees.

Respondents and their two co-employees were charged with qualified theft in the municipal court. 

While those cases were pending, Dolefil filed with the Department of Labor an application for clearance to terminate the employment of Respondents for "stealing or dishonesty," which was granted.

Eight months later, the municipal court of acquitted Respondents of qualified theft while the two other Dolefil employees were convicted of qualified theft.

After that decision, Respondents filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and for reinstatement with backwages against Dolefil.

The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint and declared as valid, lawful and for a just cause the termination from employment of Respondents. The NLRC set aside the decision of the Labor Arbiter. 

ISSUE: W/N Dolefil is justified in dismissing Respondents.

RULING: Yes.

An employer may terminate an employment for "serious misconduct" or for "fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or representative".

Loss of confidence as a ground for dismissal does not entail proof beyond reasonable doubt of the employee's misconduct. It is enough that there be some basis for such loss of confidence or that the employer has reasonable grounds to believe that the employee is responsible for the misconduct and that the nature of his participation therein rendered him absolutely unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his position. 

The eventual conviction of an employee who is prosecuted for his misconduct is not indispensable to warrant his dismissal by his employer.

On the other hand, the acquittal of an employee in the criminal case filed against him by his employer does not also guarantee his reinstatement if the employer has lost confidence in him. 

A company has the right to dismiss its erring employees if only as a measure of self-protection against acts inimical to its interest.

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