SECOND DIVISION

 

NATIONWIDE SECURITY AND

ALLIED SERVICES, INC.,

Petitioner,

 

 

 

 

- versus -

 

 

 

 

RONALD P. VALDERAMA,

Respondent.

 

G.R. No. 186614

 

Present:

 

CARPIO, J.,

Chairperson,

NACHURA,

PERALTA,

ABAD, and

MENDOZA, JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

February 23, 2011

 

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

 

 

 

RESOLUTION

 

NACHURA, J.:

 

Petitioner Nationwide Security and Allied Services, Inc. (petitioner) appeals by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court the December 9, 2008 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 104966, and the February 24, 2009 Resolution[2] denying its reconsideration.

 

Respondent Ronald Valderama (Valderama) was hired by petitioner as security guard on April 18, 2002. He was assigned at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), Quezon City, until his relief on January 30, 2006. Valderama was not given any assignment thereafter. Thus, on August 2, 2006, he filed a complaint for constructive dismissal and nonpayment of 13th month pay, with prayer for damages against petitioner and Romeo Nolasco.

 

Petitioner presented a different version. It alleged that respondent was not constructively or illegally dismissed, but had voluntarily resigned. Its version of the facts was summarized by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in this wise:

 

[Petitioner] x x x averred that [respondent] has committed serious violations of the security rules in the workplace. On January 31, 2004, he was charged with conduct unbecoming for which he was required to explain. Months after, he and four (4) other co-security guards failed to attend a mandatory seminar. For this, he was suspended for seven (7) days. On June 5, 2004, [respondent] displayed his discourteous and rude attitude upon his superior. He said to him in a high pitch of (sic) voice, ano ba sir, personalan ba ito, sabihin mo lang kung ano gusto mo. On June 8, 2004, [petitioner] required him to explain why no disciplinary action should be meted against him.

 

Again, on January 22, 2005, seven security guards, including [respondent], were made to explain their failure to report for duty without informing the office despite the instruction during their formation day which was held a day before. On January 31, 2006, Roy Datiles, Detachment Commander, reported that [respondent] confronted and challenged him in a high pitch and on top of his voice rudely showing discourtesy and rudeness. Being his superior, Datiles recommended the relief of [respondent] in the detachment effective January 31, 2006. By order of the Operations Manager, he was relieved from his post at the Philippine Heart Center. He was directed to report to the office. On February 10, 2006, he got his cash bond and firearm deposit. Despite his voluntary resignation, [petitioner] sent him a letter through registered mail to report for the office and give information on whether or not he was still interested for report for duty or not. [Respondent] did not bother to reply. Neither did he report to the office.[3]


After due proceedings, the Labor Arbiter (LA) rendered a decision, viz.:

This office is of the view that [respondent] was constructively dismissed. [Petitioners] defense that [respondent] voluntarily resigned on February 10, 2006 is unsubstantiated (Annex G). What appears on record is the pro-forma resignation dated 04 October 2004 (Annex D) long before this complaint was filed. It is a basic rule in evidence that the burden of proof is on the part of the party who makes the allegation. [Petitioner] failed to discharge the burden.

 

The general rule is that the filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal is inconsistent with resignation. The Supreme Court in Shie Jie Corp. vs. National Federation of Labor, G.R. No. 153148, July 15, 2005, held:

 

By vigorously pursuing the litigation of his action against petitioner, private respondent clearly manifested that he has no intention of relinquishing his employment which is, wholly incompatible [with] petitioner[]s assertion, that he voluntarily resigned.

 

In Great Southern Maritime Services Corp. vs. Acua, G.R. No. 140189, Feb. 28, 2005, it was ruled that the execution of the alleged resignation letters cum release and quitclaim to support the employers claim that respondents voluntarily resigned is unavailing as the filing of the complaint for illegal dismissal is inconsistent with resignation.

 

Further it is significant to note that [respondent] was even required by [petitioner] to undergo a Re-Training Course conducted from February 20, 2006 to March 1, 2006 (Annex F). It is not only absurd but unbelievable that [respondent] who according to [petitioner] voluntarily resigned on February 10, 2006 and yet participated in the said Re-Training Course after his alleged resignation.

 

In this case, [respondent] was not posted since he was relieved from his post on January 30, 2006 until the filing of the instant complaint on August 2, 2006 or for a period of more than six (6) months. In Valdez vs. NLRC, 286 SCRA 87, the Supreme Court held that, However, it must be emphasized that such temporary activity should continue for six months. Otherwise, the security agency concerned could be held liable for constructive dismissal.

 

This office is in accord with [respondents] argument that the letter sent to the latter to report for work is an absurdity considering [petitioners] claim that [respondent] voluntarily resigned. x x x.[4]


The LA disposed thus:

 

WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring [respondent] to have been constructively dismissed. [Petitioner is] ordered to reinstate [respondent] to his former position without loss of seniority rights and other benefits. Further, [petitioner] Nationwide Security & Allied Services, Inc. is ordered to pay [respondent] the following monetary awards[:]

 

1. Backwages (see computation) 148, 125.00

 

2. Prop. 13th Month Pay

1/06 - 1/30/06 = 97 mo.

P450 x 30 x 1/12 x .97 1,091.25

 

TOTAL AWARD 149,216.25

x x x x

SO ORDERED.[5]

 

On appeal, the NLRC modified the LA decision. It declared that respondent was neither constructively terminated nor did he voluntarily resign. As such, respondent remained an employee of petitioner. The NLRC thus ordered respondent to immediately report to petitioner and assume his duty. It also deleted the award of backwages and the order of reinstatement by the LA for lack of basis.[6]

 

The NLRC decreed that:

 

 

WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the instant appeal is PARTIALLY GRANTED deleting the award of backwages and order of reinstatement. [Respondent] is directed to report immediately and [petitioner is] ordered to accept him. [Petitioner is] also ordered to pay his 13th month pay in the amount of P1,091.25 as ordered in the Decision.

 

SO ORDERED.[7]

 

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration, but the NLRC denied it on June 11, 2008.

 

Respondent went to the CA via certiorari. On December 9, 2008, the CA rendered a Decision[8] setting aside the resolutions of the NLRC and reinstating that of the LA. In gist, the CA sustained respondents claim of constructive dismissal. It pointed out that respondent remained on floating status for more than six (6) months, and petitioner offered no credible explanation why it failed to provide a new assignment to respondent after he was relieved from PHC. It likewise rejected petitioners claim that respondent voluntarily resigned, holding that no convincing evidence was offered to prove it. The CA found it odd that respondent attended the re-training course conducted by petitioner from February 20, 2006 to March 1, 2006, if respondent indeed resigned on February 10, 2006. The CA, therefore, ruled against the legality of respondents dismissal and sustained the LAs award of backwages and order of reinstatement in favor of respondent.

 

The CA decreed, thus:

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated 27 March 2008 and 11 June 2008 of the National Labor Relations Commission (Third Division) in NLRC NCR CASE NO. 00-08-06365-06; NLRC CA NO. 051626-07 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated 29 November 2006 of Labor Arbiter Enrique L. Flores, Jr. is hereby REINSTATED. Costs against [petitioner].

 

SO ORDERED.[9]


Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the CA denied it on February 24, 2009.[10]

 

Hence, this appeal by petitioner faulting the CA for sustaining respondents claim of constructive dismissal.

 

The appeal lacks merit.

 

In cases involving security guards, a relief and transfer order in itself does not sever employment relationship between a security guard and his agency. An employee has the right to security of tenure, but this does not give him a vested right to his position as would deprive the company of its prerogative to change his assignment or transfer him where his service, as security guard, will be most beneficial to the client. Temporary off-detail or the period of time security guards are made to wait until they are transferred or assigned to a new post or client does not constitute constructive dismissal, so long as such status does not continue beyond six months.[11]

 

The onus of proving that there is no post available to which the security guard can be assigned rests on the employer, viz.:

 

When a security guard is placed on a "floating status," he does not receive any salary or financial benefit provided by law. Due to the grim economic consequences to the employee, the employer should bear the burden of proving that there are no posts available to which the employee temporarily out of work can be assigned.[12]

 

Respondent claims that he was relieved from PHC on January 30, 2006; thereafter, he was not given a new assignment. Petitioner, on the other hand, asserts that respondent refused to report to petitioner for his reassignment. Otherwise stated, petitioner claims that respondent abandoned his job.

 

The jurisprudential rule on abandonment is constant. It is a matter of intention and cannot lightly be presumed from certain equivocal acts. To constitute abandonment, two elements must concur: (1) the failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason; and (2) a clear intent, manifested through overt acts, to sever the employer-employee relationship.[13]

 

In this case, petitioner failed to establish clear evidence of respondents intention to abandon his employment. Except for petitioners bare assertion that respondent did not report to the office for reassignment, no proof was offered to prove that respondent intended to sever the employer-employee relationship.

 

Besides, the fact that respondent filed the instant complaint negates any intention on his part to forsake his work. It is a settled doctrine that the filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal is inconsistent with the charge of abandonment, for an employee who takes steps to protest his dismissal cannot by logic be said to have abandoned his work.[14]


Similarly, we cannot accept petitioners argument that respondent voluntarily resigned.

 

Resignation is the voluntary act of an employee who is in a situation where one believes that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor of the

exigency of the service, and one has no other choice but to dissociate oneself from employment. It is a formal pronouncement or relinquishment of an office, with the intention of relinquishing the office accompanied by the act of relinquishment. As the intent to relinquish must concur with the overt act of relinquishment, the acts of the employee before and after the alleged resignation must be considered in determining whether, he or she, in fact, intended to sever his or her employment.[15]

 

In Mobile Protective & Detective Agency v. Ompad[16] and Mora v. Avesco Marketing Corporation,[17] we ruled that should the employer interpose the defense of resignation, it is incumbent upon the employer to prove that the employee voluntarily resigned. On this point, petitioner failed to discharge the burden.

 

Petitioner was also firm in asserting that respondent voluntarily resigned. Oddly, it failed to present the alleged resignation letter of respondent. We also note that, in its March 24, 2006 letter,[18] petitioner required respondent to report at its office for reassignment. It strains credulity that petitioner would require respondent to report for reassignment if the latter already tendered his resignation effective February 10, 2006.

 

Petitioner capitalizes on the withdrawal of the cash and firearm bonds by respondent. It contends that the withdrawal of bonds sufficiently proved respondents intention to terminate his employment contract with petitioner. In support of its argument, petitioner cited Roberta Gaa v. Nationwide Security and Allied Services, Inc. and Romeo Nolasco,[19] which declared that cash bond and firearm bond are never withdrawable for as long as the security guard intends to remain an employee of the security agency.

Petitioners reliance on Gaa is misplaced. We note that the declaration that cash bond and firearm bond are never withdrawable for as long as the security guard intends to remain an employee of the security agency was made by the NLRC.[20] Although this Court affirmed the NLRC in a Minute Resolution dated September 26, 2007,[21] still, the said NLRC ruling cannot be considered a binding precedent that can be invoked by petitioner in its favor.

As explained by this Court in Philippine Health Care Providers, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue:[22]

 

It is true that, although contained in a minute resolution, our dismissal of the petition was a disposition of the merits of the case. When we dismissed the petition, we effectively affirmed the CA ruling being questioned. As a result, our ruling in that case has already become final. When a minute resolution denies or dismisses a petition for failure to comply with formal and substantive requirements, the challenged decision, together with its findings of fact and legal conclusions, are deemed sustained. But what is its effect on other cases?

 

With respect to the same subject matter and the same issues concerning the same parties, it constitutes res judicata. However, if other parties or another subject matter (even with the same parties and issues) is involved, the minute resolution is not binding precedent. Thus, in CIR v. Baier-Nickel, the Court noted that a previous case, CIR v. Baier-Nickel involving the same parties and the same issues, was previously disposed of by the Court thru a minute resolution dated February 17, 2003 sustaining the ruling of the CA. Nonetheless, the Court ruled that the previous case "ha(d) no bearing" on the latter case because the two cases involved different subject matters as they were concerned with the taxable income of different taxable years.

 

Besides, there are substantial, not simply formal, distinctions between a minute resolution and a decision. The constitutional requirement under the first paragraph of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution that the facts and the law on which the judgment is based must be expressed clearly and distinctly applies only to decisions, not to minute resolutions. A minute resolution is signed only by the clerk of court by authority of the justices, unlike a decision. It does not require the certification of the Chief Justice. Moreover, unlike decisions, minute resolutions are not published in the Philippine Reports. Finally, the proviso of Section 4(3) of Article VIII speaks of a decision. Indeed, as a rule, this Court lays down doctrines or principles of law which constitute binding precedent in a decision duly signed by the members of the Court and certified by the Chief Justice.

 

Accordingly, since petitioner was not a party in G.R. No. 148680 and since petitioner's liability for DST on its health care agreement was not the subject matter of G.R. No. 148680, petitioner cannot successfully invoke the minute resolution in that case (which is not even binding precedent) in its favor.

 

Furthermore, the filing of the complaint belies petitioners claim that respondent voluntarily resigned. As held by this Court in Valdez v. NLRC:[23]

 

It would have been illogical for herein petitioner to resign and then file a complaint for illegal dismissal. Resignation is inconsistent with the filing of the said complaint.

 

 

Indubitably, respondent remained on floating status for more than six months. He was relieved on January 30, 2006, and was not given a new assignment at the time he filed the complaint on August 2, 2006. Jurisprudence is trite with pronouncements that the temporary inactivity or floating status of security guards should continue only for six months. Otherwise, the security agency concerned could be liable for constructive dismissal.[24] The failure of petitioner to give respondent a work assignment beyond the reasonable six-month period makes it liable for constructive dismissal. The CA was correct in sustaining respondents claim.

 

If there is a surplus of security guards caused by lack of clients or projects, the security agency may resort to retrenchment upon compliance with the requirements set forth in the Labor Code. In this way, the security agency will not to be held liable for constructive dismissal and be burdened with the payment of backwages.

 

Under Article 279[25] of the Labor Code, an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges; to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances; and to other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.[26] Therefore, the CA committed no reversible error in sustaining the LAs award of backwages and ordering respondents reinstatement.

 

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 104966 are AFFIRMED.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

 

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

Associate Justice

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

 

 

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice


 

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

 

 

A T T E S T A T I O N

 

I attest that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson, Second Division

 

 


 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

 

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 



[1] Penned by Associate Justice Celia C. Librea-Leagogo, with Associate Justices Mario L. Guaria III and Sesinando E. Villon, concurring; rollo, pp. 46-63.

[2] Id. at 68-69.

[3] Id. at 156-157.

[4] Id. at 110-112.

[5] Id. at 114-115.

[6] Id. at 155-159.

[7] Id. at 158.

[8] Supra note 1.

[9] Id. at 63.

[10] Supra note 2.

[11] Megaforce Security and Allied Services, Inc. v. Lactao, G.R. No. 160940, July 21, 2008, 559 SCRA 110, 116-117.

[12] Pido v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 169812, February 23, 2007, 516 SCRA 609, 616-617.

[13] CRC Agricultural Trading v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 177664, December 23, 2009, 609 SCRA 138, 148.

[14] Samarca v. Arc-Men Industries, Inc., 459 Phil. 506, 515 (2003).

[15] BMG Records (Phils.), Inc. v. Aparecio, G.R. No. 153290, September 5, 2007, 532 SCRA 300, 313-314.

[16] 497 Phil. 621 (2005).

[17] G.R. No. 177414, November 14, 2008, 571 SCRA 226.

[18] Rollo, p. 221.

[19] NLRC NCR 00-08-09249-04 (CA No. 046155-05); rollo, pp. 142-153.

[20] Id. at 153.

[21] G.R. No. 179206, September 26, 2007.

[22] G.R. No. 167330, September 18, 2009, 600 SCRA 413, 446-447.

[23] 349 Phil. 760, 767 (1998).

[24] Soliman Security Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 433 Phil. 902, 910 (2002); Valdez v. NLRC, supra, at 765-766; Superstar Security Agency, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 81493, April 3, 1990, 184 SCRA 74, 77.

[25] ART. 279. Security of Tenure. In cases of regular employment, the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.

[26] Megaforce Security and Allied Services, Inc. v. Lactao, supra note 11, at 118-119.