Republic of the
FILIPINAS PALMOIL PROCESSING, INC. and DENNIS T. VILLAREAL,
- versus -
JOEL P. DEJAPA, represented by his Attorney-in-Fact MYRNA MANZANO,
G.R. No. 167332
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
February 7, 2011
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The antecedent facts are as follows:
Respondent filed his appeal with the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) which, in a Decision dated
Aggrieved, respondent filed with the CA a petition for certiorari. Petitioners filed their Comment thereto.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated December 29, 1999, as well as the Resolution dated April 28, 2000 in NLRC NCR CASE No. 0005-03748-97 (NLRC NCR CA No. 016505-98) are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
respondent) is ordered REINSTATED without loss of seniority rights with payment
of backwages, including his salary differentials, overtime pay, 13th
month pay, service incentive leave pay and other benefits from the time his
salary was withheld, or from December 1, 1997 until actual reinstatement.
However, if reinstatement is no longer feasible, private respondent company is
ordered to pay separation pay equivalent to one (1) month for every year of
service where a fraction of six (6) months shall be considered as one whole
year. Private respondent company is likewise ordered to pay
as moral damages and P10,000.00 as exemplary damages. In addition,
private respondent company is ordered to pay attorneys fees in the amount
equivalent to 10% of the total monetary award.
The CA found that petitioner company was respondent's employer and that Tom Madula was not really an independent contractor, but petitioner company's Operations Manager. It ruled that respondent was illegally dismissed by petitioner company. We quote the pertinent portions of the Decision, thus:
It must be borne in mind that private respondent company's claim is principally anchored on the assertion that petitioner was not its employee but that of private respondent Madula who is allegedly an independent contractor.
x x x x
In this petition, there is no showing that private respondent Madula is an independent contractor. We reiterate that private respondent company failed to show any evidence to support such claim.
Hence, it is fair to conclude that private respondent Madula is an employee of private respondent company. He is the operations manager of private respondent company. This fact was not refuted by either private respondent Madula or private respondent company.
x x x x
In fine, it is evident that private respondent Madula is indeed an employee of private respondent company. As its operations manager, he is deemed an agent of private respondent company.
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated
Petitioners filed with Us a petition for review
on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No.
159142, which We denied in a Resolution dated
Respondent, through his representative,
filed with the LA a Motion for Execution and Computation of the Award. The LA
issued a Writ of Execution dated
P736,910.10 was garnished.
WHEREFORE, the Motion
to Quash Writ of Execution filed by Asian Plantation is partially granted in so
far as the liability for backwages and reinstatement is concerned such that the
same is adjudged against respondent Tom Madula. The respondents are solidarily
liable to the rest of the award, except damages, which are for the sole account
of respondent company. The garnished account of Filipinas Palm Oil Processing,
Inc. with United Coconut Planters Bank is hereby ordered released to the extent
of TWO HUNDRED SIXTY-SIX THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN & 85/100 PESOS
Dissatisfied, both parties filed their respective appeals with the NLRC.
On October 19, 2004, respondent then filed before the CA a Very Urgent
Motion for Clarification of Judgment, praying that the CA Decision dated August
29, 2002 be clarified to the effect that petitioner be made solely liable to
the judgment award and, as a consequence thereof, to order the NLRC and the LA
to implement the same and to direct the UCPB to release the garnished amount of
P736,910.10 to the NLRC Sheriff and for the latter to deposit the same
to the NLRC cashier for further disposition.
Obviously, the confusion was brought about by the
Ordinarily, the recourse against such an order of
the Labor Arbiter is to challenge the same on appeal or via the extraordinary
remedies of certiorari, prohibition
or mandamus. However, requiring petitioner to undergo such litigious process
once again would not be in keeping with the protection to labor mandate of the
Constitution. Thus, in order to write finis
to this controversy, which has tarried for some time now, and in order to
forestall the offshoot of another prolonged litigation, this Court, in the
exercise of equity jurisdiction, hereby grants petitioner's motion for
clarification. It is, of course, stressed that the Court is not amending its
Thus, the dispositive portion of the assailed CA Resolution reads:
in view of the foregoing, in accordance with petitioner's supplications, this
Court renders, nunc pro tunc, the
following clarification to the decretal portion of this Court's
premises considered, the assailed Decision dated
Filipinas Palmoil Processing Inc. (Asian Plantation Phils., Inc.) is hereby
ordered to REINSTATE petitioner Joey Dejapa without loss of seniority rights
and to pay him his backwages including his salary differentials, overtime pay,
13th month pay, service incentive leave pay and other benefits from
the time his salary was withheld or from
Private respondent Filipinas Palmoil
Processing Inc. (Asian Plantation Phils., Inc.) is likewise ordered to pay
P10,000.00 as moral damages, P10,000.00 as exemplary
damages, and attorney's fees in the amount equivalent to 10% of the total
Private respondent Tom Madula is hereby relieved from any liability under the judgment.
Labor Arbiter Lilia S.
Savari is hereby directed to implement the final judgment of this Court
strictly in accordance with the foregoing, and to order the UCPB to release the
garnished amount of
P736,910.10 to the NLRC Sheriff for further
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied
in a Resolution dated
Hence this Petition for review on certiorari raising the following grounds:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE CONTRARY TO LAW AND SETTLED RULINGS OF THE SUPREME COURT WHEN IT ORDERED THE COMPANY TO REINSTATE THE RESPONDENT AND PAY HIM BACKWAGES, SALARY DIFFERENTIALS, OVERTIME PAY, 13TH MONTH PAY, SERVICE INCENTIVE LEAVE PAY AND OTHER BENEFITS, AND IF REINSTATEMENT IS NOT POSSIBLE, TO PAY RESPONDENT SEPARATION PAY IN ADDITION TO BACKWAGES AND OTHER BENEFITS, PLUS DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY'S FEES CONSIDERING THAT:
A. RESPONDENT WAS NEVER DISMISSED AND WAS NEVER UNDER THE EMPLOY OF THE COMPANY, [AND]
B. QUASHAL OF THE WRIT OF EXECUTION IS PROPER UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE.
Petitioners insist that: (1) it
engaged the services of Tom Madula to provide it with manning services and
delivery of liquid cargo; (2) Madula assigned respondent to work as
barge patron in the company's Butuan depot; (3) the terms of the contract between
Madula and petitioner were clear and categorical, which negate the existence of an employment
relationship between respondent and petitioner; and (4) Madula's obligation to
provide the services contracted and which were performed by respondent were among
the functions expressly allowed by law to be contractible. Petitioners claim
that the CA Decision dated
In his Comment, respondent claims that
(1) petitioner seeks to reverse or set aside the CA Decision dated
August 29, 2002, which had already attained finality and an entry of judgment
had already been made; (2) the issues which petitioners raised have already
been passed upon by the CA in its 2002 decision; and (3) the CA Resolution which is being
assailed in this petition was merely a clarification of the final and executory
CA Decision dated August 29, 2002, where the CA did not modify its earlier
decision but only interpreted the same, which was well within its authority to do so. Respondent
informs Us that the amount of
P736,910.10 in the UCPB had already been
released to the NLRC Sheriff and was deposited to the Cashier, who in turn had
released the said amount to respondent
through his attorney-in-fact.
In their Reply, petitioners contend that it is not precluded from assailing the Resolutions issued by the CA via a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and reiterated the arguments raised in the petition.
We find the petition unmeritorious.
In the Decision dated
The instant petition for review filed with Us by petitioners assails
the CA Resolutions dated December 10, 2004 and February 17, 2005, which the CA
issued upon respondent's filing of a Very Urgent Motion for Clarificatory
Judgment praying that the CA clarify its Decision dated August 29, 2002
declaring petitioner company solely liable to the judgment award and, as a
consequence thereof, to order the NLRC and the LA to implement the same and for
the UCPB to release the garnished amount of
P736,910.10 to the Sheriff for further disposition. Notably, the
CA Resolutions sought to be annulled in this petition were only issued to
clarify the CA Decision dated
As a general rule, final and executory judgments are immutable and
unalterable, except under these recognized exceptions, to wit: (a) clerical
errors; (b) nunc pro tunc entries
which cause no prejudice to any party; and (c) void judgments. What
the CA rendered on
In Briones-Vazquez v. Court of Appeals, nunc pro tunc judgments have been defined and characterized as follows:
The object of a judgment nunc pro tunc is not the rendering of a new judgment and the ascertainment and determination of new rights, but is one placing in proper form on the record, the judgment that had been previously rendered, to make it speak the truth, so as to make it show what the judicial action really was, not to correct judicial errors, such as to render a judgment which the court ought to have rendered, in place of the one it did erroneously render, nor to supply nonaction by the court, however erroneous the judgment may have been.
By filing the instant petition for review with Us, petitioners would
like to appeal anew the merits of the illegal dismissal case filed by
respondent against petitioners raising the same arguments which had long been
passed upon and decided in the August 29, 2002 CA Decision which had already
attained finality. As the CA said in denying petitioners' motion for
reconsideration of the assailed
It is basic that once a decision becomes final and executory, it is immutable and unalterable. Private respondents' (herein petitioners) motion for reconsideration seeks a modification or reversal of this Court's August 29, 2002 decision, which has long become final and executory, as in fact, it is already in its execution stage. It may no longer be modified by this Court or even by the Highest Court of the land.
It should be sufficiently clear to private respondents (herein petitioners) that the December 10, 2004 Resolution was issued merely to clarify a seeming ambiguity in the decision but as stressed therein, it is neither an amendment nor a rectification of a perceived error therein. The instant motion for reconsideration has, therefore, no merit at all.
We find that petitioners' action is merely a subterfuge to alter or modify the final and executory Decision of the CA which we cannot countenance without violating procedural rules and jurisprudence.
In Navarro v. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, We discussed the rule on immutability of judgment and said:
No other procedural law principle is indeed more settled than that once a judgment becomes final, it is no longer subject to change, revision, amendment or reversal, except only for correction of clerical errors, or the making of nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, or where the judgment itself is void. The underlying reason for the rule is two-fold: (1) to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus make orderly the discharge of judicial business, and (2) to put judicial controversies to an end, at the risk of occasional errors, inasmuch as controversies cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely and the rights and obligations of every litigant must not hang in suspense for an indefinite period of time. As the Court declared in Yau v. Silverio,
Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be, not through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as they are to put an end to controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt to prolong them.
Indeed, just as a losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party also has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the resolution of his case by the execution and satisfaction of the judgment. Any attempt to thwart this rigid rule and deny the prevailing litigant his right to savor the fruit of his victory must immediately be struck down. Thus, in Heirs of Wenceslao Samper v. Reciproco-Noble, we had occasion to emphasize the significance of this rule, to wit:
It is an important fundamental principle in our Judicial system that every litigation must come to an end x x x Access to the courts is guaranteed. But there must be a limit thereto. Once a litigant's rights have been adjudicated in a valid final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an unbridled license to come back for another try. The prevailing party should not be harassed by subsequent suits. For, if endless litigations were to be encouraged, then unscrupulous litigants will multiply in number to the detriment of the administration of justice.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Resolutions of the Court of Appeals,
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA ROBERTO A. ABAD Associate Justice Associate Justice
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.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Second Division, Chairperson
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division 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.
RENATO C. CORONA
 Penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, with Associate Justices Salvador J. Valdez, Jr. and Danilo B. Pine, concurring; rollo, pp. 205- 216.
 Per Labor Arbiter Lilia S. Savari; id. at 187-190.
 Briones-Vazquez v. Court of Appeals, 491 Phil. 81, 92 (2005).
 Resolution dated
Nos. 165697 and 166481,