JETHRO INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY CORPORATION and YAKULT PHILS., INC.
- versus -
THE HON. SECRETARY OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, FREDERICK GARCIA, GIL CORDERO, LEONIELYN UDALBE, MICHAEL BENOZA, EDWIN ABLITER, CELEDONIO SUBERE and MA. CORAZON LANUZA,
G.R. No. 172537
August 14, 2009
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D E C I S I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Petitioner Jethro Intelligence and Security Corporation (Jethro) is a security service contractor with a security service contract agreement with co-petitioner Yakult Phils., Inc. (Yakult). On the basis of a complaint filed by respondent Frederick Garcia (Garcia), one of the security guards deployed by Jethro, for underpayment of wages, legal/special holiday pay, premium pay for rest day, 13th month pay, and night shift differential, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Regional Office No. IV conducted an inspection at Yakults premises in Calamba, Laguna in the course of which several labor standards violations were noted, including keeping of payrolls and daily time records in the main office, underpayment of wages, overtime pay and other benefits, and non-registration with the DOLE as required under Department Order No. 18-02.
Hearings on Garcias complaint and on the subsequent
complaints of his co-respondents Gil Cordero et al. were conducted during which
Jethro submitted copies of payrolls covering
By Order of September 9, 2004, the DOLE Regional Director, noting petitioners failure to rectify the violations noted during the above-stated inspection within the period given for the purpose, found them jointly and severally liable to herein respondents for the aggregate amount of EIGHT HUNDRED NINE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED TEN AND 16/100 PESOS (P809,210.16) representing their wage differentials, regular holiday pay, special day premium pay, 13th month pay, overtime pay, service incentive leave pay, night shift differential premium and rest day premium. Petitioners were also ordered to submit proof of payment to the claimants within ten calendar days, failing which the entire award would be doubled, pursuant to Republic Act No. 8188, and the corresponding writs of execution and garnishment would be issued.
Jethro appealed to the Secretary of Labor and Employment (SOLE), faulting the Regional Director for, among other things, basing the computation of the judgment award on Garcias affidavit instead of on the data reflected in the payrolls for 2001 to 2004.
By Decision dated
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the SOLE Decision having been denied, they filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, insisting that the affidavit of Garcia should not have been given evidentiary weight in computing the judgment award.
attribute grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOLE Regional Director
and the SOLE in this wise: (1) the SOLE has
no jurisdiction over the case because, following Article 129 of the Labor Code,
the aggregate money claim of each employee exceeded
P5,000.00; (2) petitioner
Jethro, as the admitted employer of respondents, could not be expected to keep payrolls
and daily time records in Yakults premises as its office is in Quezon City,
hence, the inspection conducted in Yakults plant had no basis; and (3) having
filed the required bond equivalent to the judgment award, and as the Regional Directors
Order of September 9, 2004 was not served on their counsel of record, the writs
of execution and garnishment subsequently issued were not in order.
And petitioners maintain that Garcias affidavit should not have been given weight, they not having been afforded the opportunity to cross-examine him.
The petition is bereft of merit.
The sole office of a writ of certiorari is the correction of errors of jurisdiction including the commission of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. It does not include the correction of a tribunals evaluation of the evidence and factual findings thereon, especially since factual findings of administrative agencies are generally held to be binding and final so long as they are supported by substantial evidence in the record of the case.
In dismissing petitioners petition for certiorari and thus affirming the SOLE Decision, the appellate court did not err. The scope of the visitorial powers of the SOLE and his/her duly authorized representatives was clarified in Allied Investigation Bureau, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, viz:
While it is true that under Articles 129 and 217 of the Labor Code, the Labor Arbiter has jurisdiction to hear and decide cases where the aggregate money claims of each employee exceeds P5,000.00, said provisions do not contemplate nor cover the visitorial and enforcement powers of the Secretary of Labor or his duly authorized representatives.
Rather, said powers are defined and set forth in Article 128 of the Labor Code (as amended by R.A. No. 7730) thus:
Art. 128. Visitorial and enforcement power.
x x x x
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Articles 129 and 217 of this Code to the contrary, and in cases where the relationship of employer-employee exists, the Secretary of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives shall have the power to issue compliance orders to give effect to the labor standards provisions of this Code and other labor legislation based on the findings of labor employment and enforcement officers or industrial safety engineers made in the course of inspection. The Secretary or his duly authorized representatives shall issue writs of execution to the appropriate authority for the enforcement of their orders, except in cases where the employer contests the finding of the labor employment and enforcement officer and raises issues supported by documentary proofs which were not considered in the course of inspection. [Emphasis, underscoring and italics supplied]
x x x x
The aforequoted [Art. 128] explicitly excludes from its coverage Articles 129 and 217 of the Labor Code by the phrase (N)otwithstanding the provisions of Articles 129 and 217 of this Code to the contrary xxx thereby retaining and further strengthening the power of the Secretary of Labor or his duly authorized representative to issue compliance orders to give effect to the labor standards provisions of said Code and other labor legislation based on the findings of labor employment and enforcement officers or industrial safety engineers made in the course of inspection. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
In Ex-Bataan Veterans Security Agency, Inc. v. Laguesma case, the Court went on to hold that
x x x if the labor standards case is covered by the exception clause in Article 128(b) of the Labor Code, then the Regional Director will have to endorse the case to the appropriate Arbitration Branch of the NLRC. In order to divest the Regional Director or his representatives of jurisdiction, the following elements must be present: (a) that the employer contests the findings of the labor regulations officer and raises issues therein; (b) that in order to resolve such issues, there is a need to examine evidentiary matters; and (c) that such matters are not verifiable in the normal course of inspection. The rules also provide that the employer shall raise such objections during the hearing of the case or at any time after receipt of the notice of inspection results.
case at bar, the Secretary of Labor correctly assumed jurisdiction over the
case as it does not come under the exception clause in Art. 128(b) of the Labor
Code. While petitioner Jethro appealed the
inspection results and there is a need to examine evidentiary matters to resolve
the issues raised, the payrolls presented by it were considered in the ordinary
course of inspection. While the
employment records of the employees could not be expected to be found in
Yakults premises in Calamba, as Jethros offices are in
Jethros failure to keep payrolls and daily time records in Yakults premises was not the only labor standard violation found to have been committed by it; it likewise failed to register as a service contractor with the DOLE, pursuant to Department Order No. 18-02 and, as earlier stated, to pay the wages and benefits in accordance with the rates prescribed by law.
Respecting petitioners objection to the
weight given to Garcias affidavit, it bears noting that said affidavit was not the only basis in arriving at the
judgment award. The payrolls for
Article 221 of the Labor Code is clear: technical rules are not binding, and the application of technical rules of procedure may be relaxed in labor cases to serve the demand of substantial justice. The rule of evidence prevailing in court of law or equity shall not be controlling in labor cases and it is the spirit and intention of the Labor Code that the Labor Arbiter shall use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively and without regard to technicalities of law or procedure, all in the interest of due process. Labor laws mandate the speedy administration of justice, with least attention to technicalities but without sacrificing the fundamental requisites of due process. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
noting that while Jethro claims that it did not cross-examine Garcia, the
minutes of the
Respecting the fact that Jethros first
counsel of record, Atty. Benjamin Rabuco III, was not furnished a copy of the
September 9, 2004 Order of the Director, the SOLE noted in her assailed
Decision that since Atty. Thaddeus
Venturanza formally entered his appearance as Jethros new counsel on appeal and
an appeal was indeed filed and duly verified by Jethros owner/manager, for all
practical purposes, the failure to furnish Atty. Rabuco a copy of the said Order had
been rendered moot. For, on account of such lapse, the SOLE deleted
the double indemnity
award and held that the writs issued in implementation of the September 9, 2004 Order were null and void, without prejudice to the subsequent issuance by the Regional Director of the writs necessary to implement the SOLE Decision.
DOLE-Regional Office subsequently issued the following Orders: Order
It bears emphasis that the SOLE, under Article 106 of the Labor Code, as amended, exercises quasi-judicial power, at least to the extent necessary to determine violations of labor standards provisions of the Code and other labor legislation. He/she or the Regional Directors can issue compliance orders and writs of execution for the enforcement thereof. The significance of and binding effect of the compliance orders of the DOLE Secretary is enunciated in Article 128 of the Labor Code, as amended, viz:
ART. 128. Visitorial and enforcement power.
x x x x
(d) It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to obstruct, impede, delay or otherwise render ineffective the orders of the Secretary of Labor or his duly authorized representatives issued pursuant to the authority granted under this article, and no inferior court or entity shall issue temporary or permanent injunction or restraining order or otherwise assume jurisdiction over any case involving the enforcement orders issued in accordance with this article.
And Sec. 5, Rule V (Execution) of the Rules on Disposition of Labor Standards Cases in Regional Offices provides that the filing of a petition for certiorari shall not stay the execution of the appealed order or decision, unless the aggrieved party secures a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Court. In the case at bar, no TRO or injunction was issued, hence, the issuance of the questioned writs of execution and garnishment by the DOLE-Regional Director was in order.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Court of Appeals
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
ARTURO D. BRION
ROBERTO A. ABAD
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 Courts Division.
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Acting Chairpersons 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 Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
* Additional member per Special Order No. 671 in lieu of Senior Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing who is on official leave.
 Records, p. 3.
 Penned by Associate Justice Arturo G. Tayag (ret), with the concurrence of Associate Justices Jose L. Sabio, Jr. and Jose C. Mendoza. CA rollo, pp. 98-107.
 CA rollo, pp. 122-123
 377 Phil. 80 (1999).
 Ex-Bataan Veterans Security Agency, Inc. v. Laguesma, G.R. No. 152396, November 20, 2007, 537 SCRA 651, 663.
 Records, p. 30.
 G.R. No. 157634,
 Records, p. 26.
 Records, 465-466.