GERONIMO Q. QUADRA, G.R. No. 147593
PUNO, J., Chairperson,
- versus - SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
THE COURT OF APPEALS
and the PHILIPPINE CHARITY Promulgated:
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
D E C I S I O N
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 55634 dated
Petitioner Geronimo Q. Quadra was the
Chief Legal Officer of respondent Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)
when he organized and actively participated in the activities of Philippine
Charity Sweepstakes Employees Association (CUGCO), an organization composed of
the rank and file employees of PCSO, and then later, the Association of
Sweepstakes Staff Personnel and Supervisors (CUGCO) (ASSPS [CUGCO]). In April 1964, he was administratively charged
before the Civil Service Commission with violation of Civil Service Law and
Rules for neglect of duty and misconduct and/or conduct prejudicial to the
interest of the service. On
Respondent PCSO complied with the decision of the CIR. But while it reinstated petitioner to his former position and paid his backwages, it also filed with the Supreme Court a petition for review on certiorari entitled “Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, et al. v. The Association of Sweepstakes Staff Personnel, et al.” assailing the decision of the CIR in Case No. 4312-ULP. The petition was docketed as G.R. No. L-27546.
Respondent PCSO moved to dismiss the petition for damages on the following grounds: (1) the CIR has no jurisdiction to award moral and exemplary damages; (2) the cause of action is barred by prior judgment, it appearing that two complaints are brought for different parts of a single cause of action; and (3) the petition states no valid cause of action.
resigned from PCSO on
petition for damages and the motion to dismiss, however, remained pending with
the CIR until it was abolished and the NLRC was created. On
million. The dispositive
portion of the decision stated:
in view of all the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered
awarding to complainant Geronimo Q. Quadra moral damages consisting of the
following sum: Three Hundred Fifty
Thousand Pesos (
P350,000.00) for besmirched reputation; Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos ( P350,000.00)
for social humiliation; One Hundred
Thousand Pesos ( P100,000.00) for mental anguish; One Hundred Thousand Pesos ( P100,000.00)
for serious anxiety; One Hundred
Thousand Pesos ( P100,000.00) for wounded feelings; One Hundred Thousand Pesos ( P100,000.00)
for moral shock; and the further sum of P500,000.00
as exemplary damages, on account of the arbitrary and unlawful dismissal
effected by respondents. Consequently, respondents are therefore ordered to pay
complainant Quadra the total sum of One Million Six Hundred Thousand Pesos ( P1,600,000.00) within ten (10) days after this Decision
The NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter, prompting respondent PCSO to file a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the NLRC. It held that there was no basis for the grant of moral and exemplary damages to petitioner as his dismissal was not tainted with bad faith. It was the Civil Service Commission that recommended petitioner’s dismissal after conducting an investigation. It also held that the petition claiming moral and exemplary damages filed by petitioner after respondent PCSO had complied with the CIR decision of reinstatement and backwages amounted to splitting of cause of action.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision of the Court of Appeals, but the same was denied for lack for merit.
Petitioner now seeks the Court to review the ruling of the Court of Appeals. He basically argues:
First: The ruling of the Court of Appeals that the PCSO did not act in bad faith when it dismissed the petitioner is contrary to the already final and executory decision of the CIR dated November 1, 1966 finding the PCSO guilty of bad faith and unfair labor practice in dismissing the petitioner. The decision of the CIR was affirmed by the High Court in the case of PCSO, et al. v. Geronimo Q. Quadra, et al., 115 SCRA 34. The Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction to amend the final and executory decision of November 1, 1966 of the CIR which was affirmed by the High Court. Once a decision has become final [and] executory, it could no longer be amended or altered.
Second: The ruling of the Court of Appeals that the claims for moral and exemplary damages of the petitioner is allegedly “tantamount to splitting of cause of action under Sec. 4, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure” is contrary to law. When petitioner filed with the CIR his complaint for illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice, the prevailing law and jurisprudence was that the CIR did not have jurisdiction to grant moral and exemplary damages. Petitioner’s claim for moral damages was filed with the CIR in the same case by virtue of the ruling of the High Court in Rheem v. Ferrer, 19 SCRA 130 holding that the CIR has jurisdiction to award moral and exemplary damages arising out of illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice.
The petition is impressed with merit.
A dismissed employee is entitled to moral damages when the dismissal is attended by bad faith or fraud or constitutes an act oppressive to labor, or is done in a manner contrary to good morals, good customs or public policy. Exemplary damages may be awarded if the dismissal is effected in a wanton, oppressive or malevolent manner. It appears from the facts that petitioner was deliberately dismissed from the service by reason of his active involvement in the activities of the union groups of both the rank and file and the supervisory employees of PCSO, which unions he himself organized and headed. Respondent PCSO first charged petitioner before the Civil Service Commission for alleged neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the service because of his union activities. The Civil Service Commission recommended the dismissal of petitioner. Respondent PCSO immediately served on petitioner a letter of dismissal even before the latter could move for a reconsideration of the decision of the Civil Service Commission. Respondent PCSO may not impute to the Civil Service Commission the responsibility for petitioner’s illegal dismissal as it was respondent PCSO that first filed the administrative charge against him. As found by the CIR, petitioner’s dismissal constituted unfair labor practice. It was done to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization. It stated:
Upon the entire evidence as a whole (sic), the [c]ourt feels and believes that complainant Quadra was discriminatorily dismissed by reason of his militant union activities, not only as President of PCSEA, but also as President of the ASSPS.
In Nueva Ecija I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NEECO I) Employees Association, et al. v. NLRC, et al., we found it proper to award moral and exemplary damages to illegally dismissed employees as their dismissal was tainted with unfair labor practice. The Court said:
Unfair labor practices violate the constitutional rights of workers and employees to self-organization, are inimical to the legitimate interests of both labor and management, including their right to bargain collectively and otherwise deal with each other in an atmosphere of freedom and mutual respect; and disrupt industrial peace and hinder the promotion of healthy and stable labor-management relations. As the conscience of the government, it is the Court’s sworn duty to ensure that none trifles with labor rights.
For this reason, we find it proper in this case to impose moral and exemplary damages on private respondent. x x x
On the second issue, we agree with petitioner that the filing of a petition for damages before the CIR did not constitute splitting of cause of action under the Revised Rules of Court. The Revised Rules of Court prohibits parties from instituting more than one suit for a single cause of action. Splitting a cause of action is the act of dividing a single cause of action, claim or demand into two or more parts, and bringing suit for one of such parts only, intending to reserve the rest for another separate action. The purpose of the rule is to avoid harassment and vexation to the defendant and avoid multiplicity of suits.
rule at the time that the action for unfair labor practice and illegal
dismissal was filed and tried before the CIR was that said court had no
jurisdiction over claims for damages.
Hence, petitioner, at that time, could not raise the issue of damages in
the proceedings. However, on
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The decision of the NLRC in NLRC NCR Case No. 4312-ULP is REINSTATED.
REYNATO S. PUNO
CANCIO C. GARCIA
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 Court’s Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify 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 Court’s Division.
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
 Rollo, pp. 61-86.
 G.R. No. L-27546,
 G.R. No. L-22979,
 See CA Decision, rollo, pp. 28-29.
 Rollo, pp. 44-60.
 Rollo, pp. 26-31.
 Rollo, p. 42.
 Rollo, pp. 13-14.
 Kay Products, Inc., et al. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 162472, July 28, 2005, 464 SCRA 544.
 CIR Decision, Case No. 4312-ULP, p. 23, rollo, p. 83.
 G.R. No. 116066,
 Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, vol. 1, (1997), p. 67.
 Supra note 3.