Monday, August 31, 2015

Case Digest: Begino v. ABS-CBN


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


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.


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


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


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 RPC 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.


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


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


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.


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.
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