536 Phil. 1007
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding respondent BANCO FILIPINO guilty of illegal dismissal, and is hereby ordered to actually reinstate complainant to his former position without loss of seniority rights and other privileges, or at the option of the respondent, payroll reinstatement; and to pay complainant's full backwages, which amounts to Php824,125.00, and ten percent (10%) of said award representing attorney's fees for Php82,412.50.On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the Labor Arbiter. It also denied the bank's motion for reconsideration for being one day late. The Labor Arbiter later issued a writ of execution and directed the Sheriff to collect P901,984.81 representing the bank's appeal cash bond to answer for petitioner's monetary award.
All other claims and charges are DISMISSED for lack of merit.
1) THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN GIVING DUE COURSE TO RESPONDENT'S PETITION FOR CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65 NOTWITHSTANDING THE FINALITY AND THE SUBSEQUENT ENTRY OF JUDGMENT OF THE DECISION OF THE NLRC.The issues for resolution are (1) whether the Court of Appeals correctly disregarded the bank's failure to file on time its motion for reconsideration with the NLRC; and (2) whether petitioner was illegally dismissed.
2) EVEN ASSUMING THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS DID NOT ERR IN GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE SAID PETITION, IT NEVERTHELESS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FINDING GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION ON THE PART OF THE NLRC.
3) AGAIN ASSUMING THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS DID NOT ERR IN GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE SAID PETITION, IT NEVERTHELESS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN REVIEWING THE PERCEIVED ERRORS OF JUDGMENT OF THE NLRC IN CONTRAVENTION WITH THE RULES AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE.
6) x x x The check presented by the favored client-depositor is validated as "check deposit"; The branch manager or any of the bank officers will "release" or waive the "float days" of the check (the "float days" refer to the period of days within which a check is cleared for withdrawal by the drawee bank through the Central bank clearing house - for Manila checks, the "float days" is seven days, while Naga or local checks it is three days. The act of "releasing" the float days is by encoding into the computer the password, and the float days would be reduced into "0" day instead of reflecting the actual number of days for clearing. The encoding may only be done by two bank officers by inputting "over-ride 1" and "over-ride 2". Once the release of float days is done, the amount of the check deposited is ready for withdrawal by the process mentioned in letter (g) of the preceding paragraph.Petitioner's excuse that he was helpless given Disuanco's loud, brash and aggressive management style is unacceptable. As correctly held by the Court of Appeals:
9) Thus, after Mr. Mateum went on leave, I was ordered to perform the functions left by him, particularly the release of the float days of check deposits. Although I was aware that what we were doing was against bank policy, I could not disobey Mr. Disuanco. Knowing his character and his violent reactions whenever his objectives were not met, it would be impossible for me to resist or disobey him. x x x
10) Mr. Disuanco had a list prepared of favored clients whose check deposits were to be accommodated. He was the only one who prepared this and gave the tellers copies of the list. When a check deposit came in from a favored client whose name appears in the list, I was then instructed to encode my password into the computer as I was the other branch officer to do either of the "over-ride." I was, however, very apprehensive already but Mr. Disuanco kept assuring me that nothing will go wrong and that he knew well the bank clients concerned and that it was necessary for us to be able to keep them as clients of the bank. I was also ordered by him to instruct the tellers to do what was necessary in order to accommodate the checks. However, I told the tellers firmly that I was not sold out to the idea of Mr. Disuanco but I was just following his orders. (Emphasis added)
In his affidavit, private respondent admitted that he was aware of Memorandum No. BR-97030 addressed to all branch managers reminding them of the bank's policy on drawings against uncollected deposits. He also admitted that the orders made by Disuanco were contrary to bank policy. In his letter dated October 24, 1997 addressed to the Senior Vice-President, private respondent stated:Based on the foregoing, we find that loss of trust and confidence, as a valid ground for termination, has been clearly established. Petitioner's alleged good faith or the fact that he did not profit from the illegal transactions, would not justify his infraction. In Etcuban, Jr. v. Sulpicio Lines, Inc., we upheld the employee's dismissal despite lack of proof of actual participation in anomalous activities because his actuations had sown in his employer "the seed of mistrust and loss of confidence," thus:5. I am aware that check accommodations are strictly prohibited except upon the approval of the Manager who "calls the shot", I, being helpless being new as an officer of the bank;As borne out by the record, private respondent's act of encoding his I.D. and password into the computer in order to facilitate the prohibited transactions was done of his own free will and volition without undue pressure or threat exerted by a third person and with full knowledge of its consequences. By releasing the float days of uncleared checks, he was well aware that the same would not only put the bank to undue risk but also constitutes a blatant violation of banking procedure. Thus, his act constituted willful breach of the trust reposed on him as a bank officer. We might have reached a contrary conclusion favorable to private respondent had he committed the infraction by inadvertence or through simple negligence. However, such was not the case here.
6. I finally realized my mistakes and did nothing to prevent nor report to Head Office and humbly regrets and ask for absolution; x x x
In various instances before the Labor Arbiter, private respondent pointed out that he was merely forced or compelled to obey the demands of Disuanco. However, no proof as to the extent and degree of compulsion, force or threat was adduced other then private respondent's bare assertion that he was a weakling and that Disuanco had a strong personality with whom he was afraid to cross swords. In short, these assertions were just private respondent's lame justification for his irregular acts. (Emphasis supplied)
While, indeed, it was not proved that he was the one who made the irregular entries on the tickets, the fact that he did not lift a finger at all to determine who it was is a sad reflection of his job. In fact, even if the petitioner had no actual and direct participation in the alleged anomalies, his failure to detect any anomaly in the passage tickets amounts to gross negligence and incompetence, which are, likewise, justifiable grounds for his dismissal. Be that as it may, to our mind, it is no longer necessary to prove the petitioner's direct participation in the irregularity, for what is material is that his actuations were more than sufficient to sow in his employer the seed of mistrust and loss of confidence.The aforesaid ruling applies with greater force against petitioner because of his unequivocal declaration that he participated in the kiting operations by typing his password to complete the "over-ride." His participation was indispensable in the perpetration of the prohibited transactions.