JOSE P. ARTIFICIO,
G.R. No. 172988
- versus -
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, RP GUARDIANS SECURITY AGENCY, INC., JUAN VICTOR K. LAURILLA, ALBERTO AGUIRRE, and ANTONIO A. ANDRES,
July 26, 2010
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The instant petition for certiorari under Rule 45 seeks to set
aside the Decision
The pertinent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Jose P. Artificio was employed as security guard by respondent RP Guardians Security Agency, Inc., a corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine Laws and likewise duly licensed to engage in the security agency business.
Sometime in June 2002,
Artificio had a heated argument with a fellow security guard, Merlino B. Edu
The report reads:
or about 1710 hrs.
On even date, Andres issued a Memorandum temporarily relieving Artificio from his post and placing him under preventive suspension pending investigation for conduct unbecoming a security guard, such as, abandonment of post during night shift duty, light threats and irregularities in the observance of proper relieving time. He also directed Artificio to report to the office of RP Guardians Security Agency, Inc. and submit his written answer immediately upon receipt of the memorandum.
In another memorandum, Andres
informed Artificio that a hearing will be held on
Without waiting for the hearing to be held, Artificio filed on 5 August 2002, a complaint for illegal dismissal, illegal suspension, non-payment of overtime pay, holiday pay, premium pay for holiday and rest days, 13th month pay, and damages. He also prayed for payment of separation pay in lieu of reinstatement.
After hearing, the Labor
Arbiter rendered a decision dated
Another Memo, likewise dated July 29, 2002, and also received on the same day by complainant directed him to appear before this Office on Monday, August 12, 2002 (10:00 A.M.) to answer the charges leveled against you x x x.
A sensible person who received two
separate Memo directing him first to answer in writing immediately; and,
second, to appear on
Feeling aggrieved and confused, he sought the assistance of this tribunal to air his predicament and plight. This should not be taken against him. It should be borne in mind that when he was directed to immediately answer in writing, he did not stand on equal footing with his superiors.
From the foregoing, the suspensions of complainant, is illegal. And under the peculiar circumstances, this illegal suspension ripened into an illegal dismissal.
Even as the complainant does not seek reinstatement when he filed this cases, he is nevertheless entitled to backwages, albeit limited. Complainant is also entitled to separation pay in lieu of reinstatement, the computation thereof to be reckoned not from 1979 but only from 1986.
As to money claims, the supporting documents submitted by the respondents prove that other than the payment of ECOLA and the refund of the P30.00 monthly Trust Fund, herein complainant had been duly paid of his money claims.
The fallo of the decision rendered by the Labor Arbiter reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered declaring respondents guilty of illegal suspension/lay-off and illegal dismissal.
Since the complainant does not seek reinstatement, he is entitled to limited backwages and separation pay.
Respondent [RP]. Guardian Security Agency, Inc., is hereby ordered to pay complainant as follows:
backwages computed from
lieu of reinstatement, separation pay equivalent to one-half (1/2) months
salary for every year of service computed from 1986 in the amount of
of P30.00 monthly contribution to Trust Fund in the amount of
5. Ten percent (10%) of the total award as
attorneys fees in the amount of
All other claims herein sought and prayed for are hereby denied for lack of legal and factual bases.
On appeal, the NLRC, in a Decision
x x x While
it is true that preventive suspension can ripen into a constructive dismissal
when such goes beyond the 30 day maximum period allowable by law, such is not
prevailing in the case at bar as it was complainant who chose to file a
complaint and have due process before the courts of law. It was complainant who terminated the
relationship with respondents by asking for separation pay in lieu of
reinstatement when the fact of dismissal has not yet happened. From the documents presented, complainant was
put on preventive suspension pending investigation of company violations which
were supported by documentary evidences on
In the end, the NLRC decreed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Labor Arbiter is hereby VACATED and SET ASIDE and a new one entered, ordering respondents to reinstate complainant to his former position without loss of seniority rights. All other claims are hereby dismissed for lack of merit.
The motion for reconsideration
filed by Artificio was denied for lack of merit by the NLRC in a resolution
Artificio next filed a petition
for certiorari before the Court of
Appeals docketed as CA G.R. SP No. 88188. On
OR NOT PETITIONER MAY BE TERMINATED FROM HIS EMPLOYMENT ON THE VERY DATE HE
RECEIVED A LETTER FOR HIS PURPORTED RELIEF WITHOUT FIRST BEING GIVEN AN
WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER MAY BE VALIDLY SUSPENDED FOR AN INDEFINITE PERIOD WITHOUT BEING CONSIDERED DISMISSED CONSTRUCTIVELY FROM HIS EMPLOYMENT.
OR NOT THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE ASSAILED
RESOLUTIONS OF THE NLRC WHICH MISTAKENLY APPLIED THE RULING IN GLOBE-MACKAY AND
RADIO VS. NLRC, G.R. NO. 82511,
WHETHER OR NOT AN EMPLOYEE WHO LOYALLY AND EFFICIENTLY SERVED HIS EMPLOYER FOR TWENTY THREE (23) YEARS BE VALIDLY TERMINATED FROM EMPLOYMENT WITHOUT VIOLATING HIS RIGHTS TO DUE [PROCESS] ON THE PRETEXT OF A PURPORTED CHARGE WHICH DID NOT SET FORTH THE DETAILS, PLACE, AND TIME OF THEIR ALLEGED COMMISSION.
WHETHER OR NOT THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING CREDENCE TO THE FINDINGS OF FACTS OF THE LABOR ARBITER WHICH HAS A FIRST HAND AND DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE PARTY-LITIGANTS.
WHETHER OR NOT AN EMPLOYEE WHOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS EMPLOYER WAS STRAINED BY THE FILING OF A LEGITIMATE LABOR COMPLAINT BE CORRECTLY ORDERED REINSTATED.
Artificio maintains that he was illegally suspended since his preventive suspension was for an indefinite period and was imposed without investigation. He also argues that he was illegally dismissed because the charges against him were couched in general and broad terms. Further, he was not given any notice requiring him to explain his side.
Respondents counter that Artificio was not dismissed but merely placed under preventive suspension pending investigation of the charges against him.
Sections 8 and 9 of Rule XXIII, Implementing Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code provides:
SEC. 8. Preventive suspension. The employer may place the worker concerned under preventive suspension if his continued employment poses a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of his co-workers.
SEC. 9. Period of suspension. No preventive suspension shall last longer than thirty (30) days. The employer shall thereafter reinstate the worker in his former or in a substantially equivalent position or the employer may extend the period of suspension provided that during the period of extension, he pays the wages and other benefits due to the worker. In such case, the worker shall not be bound to reimburse the amount paid to him during the extension if the employer decides, after completion of the hearing, to dismiss the worker.
As succinctly stated above, preventive suspension is justified where the employees continued employment poses a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of the employees co-workers. Without this kind of threat, preventive suspension is not proper.
In this case, Artificios preventive suspension was justified since he was employed as a security guard tasked precisely to safeguard respondents client. His continued presence in respondents or its clients premises poses a serious threat to respondents, its employees and client in light of the serious allegation of conduct unbecoming a security guard such as abandonment of post during night shift duty, light threats and irregularities in the observance of proper relieving time.
Besides, as the employer, respondent has the right to regulate, according to its discretion and best judgment, all aspects of employment, including work assignment, working methods, processes to be followed, working regulations, transfer of employees, work supervision, lay-off of workers and the discipline, dismissal and recall of workers. Management has the prerogative to discipline its employees and to impose appropriate penalties on erring workers pursuant to company rules and regulations.
This Court has upheld a companys management prerogatives so long as they are exercised in good faith for the advancement of the employers interest and not for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the rights of the employees under special laws or under valid agreements.
This delineation of management prerogatives is relevant to the observation of the NLRC that:
x x x even
assuming that one of the fellow guards, PSG Edu had an axe to grind against
complainant thats why he wrote the letter asking for the latters
investigation on certain violations he has committed, the allegation that
complainant committed irregularity on companys policy on relieving time was
amply supported by the logbook. In fact,
the labor arbiter in her decision even cited that accusation boils [down] to
the alleged irregularity of complainant in the observance of relieving of
time. Further, on
These observations can no longer be disturbed. They are now established facts before us.
Significantly, Artificio regrettably chose not to present his side at the administrative hearing scheduled to look into the factual issues that accompanied the accusation against him. In fact, he avoided the investigation into the charges by filing his illegal dismissal complaint ahead of the scheduled investigation. He, on his own decided that his preventive suspension was in fact illegal dismissal and that he is entitled to backwages and separation pay. Indeed, Artificio would even reject reinstatement revealing his bent to have his own way through his own means. As aptly noted by the NLRC, Artificio preempted the investigation that could have afforded him the due process of which he would then say he was denied.
That resolved, we next proceed to the benefits due Artificio.
As already mentioned, after Artificio
was placed under preventive suspension on
Nonetheless, given the attendant circumstances in this case, namely, that Artificio had been working with the company for a period of sixteen (16) years and without any previous derogatory record, the ends of social and compassionate justice would be served if Artificio be given some equitable relief in the form of separation pay.
Artificio is entitled to separation pay considering that while reinstatement is an option, Artificio himself has never, at anytime after the notice of preventive suspension intended to remain in the employ of private respondents.
the instant petition is PARTIALLY
GRANTED. The Decision dated
RENATO C. CORONA
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, 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.
RENATO C. CORONA
 Penned by Associate Justice Sesinando E. Villon, with Associate Justices Edgardo P. Cruz and Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente, concurring. Rollo, pp. 25-37.
 CA rollo, pp. 18-25.
 Rollo, pp. 79-92.
 CA rollo, p. 83.
 Rollo, p. 87.
 1. References:
a) RPGSAI Circular No. 2 dtd
b) Attached letter request for investigation
fm PSG Edu dtd
c) Verbal instruction from client
connection with the above references, you are hereby temporarily relieved from
your post and placed under preventive suspension effective
3. Further, you are directed to report to this Office and submit an answer in writing immediately upon receipt of this memo, to the following offenses to wit:
a) Conduct unbecoming of a Security Guard
Abandonment of post during night shift duty
Irregularities in the observance of proper relieving time
which are contrary to the pertinent provisions of Agency Policies and RA 5487, as amended.
For your guidance and strict compliance.
(SGD) PSUPT ANTONIO A. ANDRES (inact)
By (SGD) JOSE P. ARTIFICIO
Signature above printed name (Please print legibly)
Date and Time 1400 Hr
 Maricalum Mining Corporation v. Decorion, G.R. No. 158637, 12 April 2006, 487 SCRA 182, 188; Valiao v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 146621, 30 July 2004, 435 SCRA 543, 554.
 Challenge Socks Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 165268, 8 November 2005, 474 SCRA 356, 363.
 Rollo, pp. 119-120.
v. National Labor Relations Commission, 322 Phil. 342, 349-350 (1996) cited
in Solid Bank v. National Labor Relations
Commission, G.R. No. 165951,