501 Phil. 589
On 04 March 1988, the NOWM and a number of workers-complainants filed with the Arbitration Branch of the NCR, NLRC, Manila, against San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Dairy Products Corporation, Magnolia Dairy Products, Skillpower Corporation and Lipercon Services, Inc. for illegal dismissal.It was upon the filing of the said petition for certiorari that the Court had the first opportunity to pass upon the controversies involved in this case. In a Resolution dated 30 August 1989, the Court dismissed G.R. No. 85577 entitled, "Philippine Dairy Products Corporation and San Miguel Corporation — Magnolia Dairy Products Division v. Voluntary Arbitrator Tito F. Genilo of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Organization of Workingmen (NOWM)" for lack of merit. The Court held in full:
In a conciliation conference held on 06 May 1988, the parties entered into an agreement which provided that all pending issues before the NCR-Arbitration Branch of the NLRC shall be submitted to voluntary arbitration.
The Voluntary Arbitrator rendered a decision on 29 July 1988, the dispositive of which states:WHEREFORE, it is hereby declared that complainants are regular employees of SMC and PDPC. Accordingly, SMC and PDPC are hereby ordered to reinstate the dismissed 85 complainants to their former positions as their regular employees effective from the date of the filing of their complaints with full backwages less the daily financial assistance of P30.00 per day each, extended to them by Lipercon and Skillpower.Aggrieved by the said decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator, SMC and PDPC filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court.
Individual private respondents are members of respondent union and are laborers supplied to petitioners by Skillpower Corporation and Lipercon Services, Inc., on the basis of contracts of services. Upon expiration of the said contracts, individual private respondents were denied entry to petitioners' premises. Individual private respondents and respondent union thus filed separate complaints for illegal dismissal against petitioners San Miguel Corp., Skillpower Corporation and Lipercon Services, Inc., in the National Labor Relations Commission, National Capitol Region. After consolidation and voluntary arbitration, respondent Labor Arbiter Tito F. Genilo rendered a decision on July 29, 1988, declaring individual private respondents regular employees of petitioners and ordering the latter to reinstate the former and to pay them backwages. On motion for execution filed by private respondents, Labor Arbiter Genilo issued on October 20, 1988 an order directing, among others, the regularization of "all the complainants which include those still working and those already terminated." Hence, this petition for certiorari with injunction.In fine, the Court affirmed the ruling of the Voluntary Arbitrator and declared that therein complainants are regular employees of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and PDPC. It must be noted that in the abovequoted Resolution, the Court extended the benefit of regularization not only to the original complainants but also to those workers who are "similarly situated" to therein complainants. Herein petitioners are among those who are "similarly situated."
Petitioners contend that prior to reinstatement, individual private respondents should first comply with certain requirements, like submission of NBI and police clearances and submission to physical and medical examinations, since petitioners are deemed to be direct employers and have the right to ascertain the physical fitness and moral uprightness of its employees by requiring the latter to undergo periodic examinations, and that petitioners may not be ordered to employ on regular basis the other workers rendering services to petitioners by virtue of a similar contract of services between petitioners and Skillpower Corporation and Lipercon Services, Inc. because such other workers were not parties to or were not impleaded in the voluntary arbitration case.
Considering that the clearances and examinations sought by petitioners from private respondents are not 'periodic' in nature but are made preconditions for reinstatement, as in fact the petition filed alleged that reinstatement shall be effective upon compliance with such requirements, (pp. 5-6 thereof) which should not be the case because this is not a case of initial hiring, the workers concerned having rendered years of service to petitioners who are considered direct employers, and that regularization is a labor benefit that should apply to all qualified employees similarly situated and may not be denied merely because some employees were allegedly not parties to or were not impleaded in the voluntary arbitration case, even as the finding of Labor Arbiter Genilo is to the contrary, this Court finds no grave abuse of discretion committed by Labor Arbiter Genilo in issuing the questioned order of October 20, 1988.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to Dismiss the petition for lack of merit. [Emphasis ours]
WHEREFORE, let a partial Writ of Execution Issue ordering:SMC and PDPC moved for the reconsideration of the foregoing order of the Voluntary Arbitrator but was denied in an Order dated 27 December 1989.
a) the regularization of employees listed in Annex "A", except those who have already been regularized as mentioned in pages 4 to 6 thereof;
b) the reinstatement and regularization of employees listed in Annexes "B" and "C."
The notice of Attorney's lien filed by complainants' counsel is approved.
Finally, the Socio-Economic Analyst of the NLRC, NCR Arbitration Branch is hereby directed to proceed to the premises of respondent company, inspect its books and records, compute the total amount individual complainants are entitled pursuant to the judgment award and submit a report thereon within fifteen (15) days from its completion.
When the efforts of the parties to implement the abovequoted Order failed, employees under the special payroll filed on 04 March 1991 a motion insisting on the strict enforcement of the 12 November 1990 Order. Conformably, the Voluntary Arbitrator on 06 March 1991 directed private respondents to comply strictly with the mandate of the 12 November 1990 Order by accepting the workers enumerated under the special payroll as regular employees without further delay.. . .
- Not being contrary to law, morals and public policy, the agreement entered into by the parties on October 1, 1990 covering the 'employees similarly situated' is hereby approved. Respondent is accordingly hereby directed to immediately implement the same, to wit:
The Company will exert its best efforts to find regular positions in the Magnolia Dairy Plant for those listed in Annexes 1 and 2 hereof provided, of course, they meet the Company's normal hiring requirements and depending upon the availability of regular positions.
- Respondents are hereby directed to pay the complainants and 'workers similarly situated' who have since been regularized pursuant to the Decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator their respective monetary entitlements as shown opposite their respective names in Appendices "1", "2" and "3" of the Report dated 8 November 1990 (Annex 4 hereof) submitted by Juanita O. Bautista, Sr. Labor and Employment Officer and noted by Ricardo O. Atienza, Acting Chief, Research and Information Unit of the NLRC, NCR.
The writ of execution issued under the November 10, 1989 Order of this Office is hereby withdrawn. [Emphasis ours]
Under the circumstances, we can only conclude that the respondent company has indeed been remiss in its obligation to find regular positions for the individual complainants as mandated by the Order dated 12 November 1990. Be that as it may, the best evidence to prove the non-availability of regular positions for the individual complainants is the 'plantilla' of the respondent company. Regrettably the respondent company failed to present the same.On 04 September 1992, private respondents filed a second petition before this Court charging public respondent Voluntary Arbitrator with having gravely abused his discretion and acting without jurisdiction when he altered the 12 November 1990.
. . .
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondent company to reinstate as regular employees the nine (9) remaining complainants under the special payroll, namely: (1) Valentin Laguda, (2) Melchor Lipio, (3) Vergel Tamayo, (4) Margie Gregona, (5) Virgilio Buenaventura, (6) Angelito Casuga, (7) Edwin Basto, (8) Gregorio Cabaysa and, (9) Nerio Catalan, including the individual complainants mentioned in Annexes 1 and 2 of the Order dated 12 November 1990, but excluding those complainants who have already been regularized and those who have already accepted separation pay and executed the corresponding Receipt, Release and Quitclaim.
In the Order of November 12, 1990, the Voluntary Arbitrator directed petitioners to exert their best efforts to find regular positions for those workers under the special payroll, approved the agreement of October 1, 1990 where the parties agreed that petitioners would exert their best efforts to find regular positions in the MDP for those listed in Annexes 1 and 2, provided they meet the normal hiring requirements and depending upon the availability of regular positions, and directed petitioners to pay complainants and the workers similarly situated who have been regularized their respective monetary entitlements.In accordance with the said Decision of the Court, PDPC reinstated the petitioners in its payroll on 16 March 1995. In April 1995, petitioners executed Receipts, Releases, and Quitclaims in favor of PDPC indicating therein that they have been paid the sum of P97,500.00 as payment for all the monetary benefits due them.
The Order of March 17, 1992 ordered petitioners to reinstate as regular employees the nine remaining complainants under the special payroll, including the individual complainants mentioned in Annexes 1 and 2 of the November 12, 1990 Order but excluding those complainants who have already been regularized and those who have already accepted separation pay and executed the corresponding Receipt, Release and Quitclaim.
The latter Order required petitioners to reinstate certain employees, while the previous Order directed that the regularization be made on "best effort" basis. At first blush, it appears that there is merit in the contention of petitioners that respondent Voluntary Arbitrator altered his previous order. However, a careful reading of the March 17, 1992 and the interim orders issued by the Voluntary Arbitrator from November 12, 1990 up to March 17, 1992 will reveal the reasons for this apparent alteration.
It did not take long after the November 12, 1990 Order was issued, for respondent union to sense the failure of petitioners to comply with the same, prompting the calling of a conference on February 8, 1991 where the parties themselves agreed that nine of the complainants under the special payroll be regularized and the rest be considered as contractuals pending efforts to relocate them. This voluntary agreement likewise remained unfulfilled, compelling the Voluntary Arbitrator to issue the March 6, 1991 Order directing petitioners to regularize the complainants without delay. The reason behind this was petitioners' continued hiring of contractuals which seriously breached their obligation to exert best efforts to find regular positions for the complainants. A year after, with full implementation still to be accomplished, the Voluntary Arbitrator issued the March 17, 1992 Order directing petitioners to reinstate the nine remaining complainants in the special payroll and those in Annexes 1 and 2.
The sequence of orders issued by the Voluntary Arbitrator convinces the Court that he committed no grave abuse of discretion in issuing the Order of March 17, 1992. The supposed "alteration" cannot be said to be whimsical on his part. In fact, he had no other recourse but to issue the same after petitioners themselves failed to comply fully with the Order of November 12, 1990 on the basis of the "best efforts" formula when they hired contractuals instead of regularizing the complainants.
Petitioners' argument that the March 17, 1992 Order could not alter the final November 12, 1990 Order is without reason. When they failed to comply with the November 12, 1990 Order, they voluntarily entered into an agreement on February 8, 1991 which, in effect, altered the November 12, 1990 Order. Subsequently, the orders of March 6, 1991 and March 12, 1992 were issued. It was only thereafter that petitioners raised the argument that the November 12, 1990 Order had become final.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the respondent Philippine Dairy Products Corporation is hereby ordered to reinstate and regularize the individual complainants named above without further delay.In compliance with the said Order, on 03 July 1995, herein petitioners were physically reinstated and given work assignments in PDPC's plant in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motions filed by the movants to issue order requiring Philippine Dairy Products Corporation to strictly comply with the final judgment rendered in this case, should be, as it is hereby denied for lack of merit.Not satisfied with the Order of the Voluntary Arbitrator, petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals. On 21 September 1999, the appellate court dismissed the petition for lack of merit. The Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioners was also denied.
WHEREAS, complainants and respondent companies, after a mature deliberation, agreed as they hereby agree to settle their difference and to jointly move for judgment on the basis of the Receipt, Release and Quitclaims executed on March 31, 1995 by the individual complainants whose names appear thereunder. Copies of the said Receipt, Release and Quitclaims are attached hereto.The document entitled, Receipt, Release and Quitclaim states:
NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the foregoing premises and the mutual covenants set forth below, the parties agreed as follows:
- The individual complainants shall be paid each the amount of PESOS: (P97,500.00) in consideration of which each shall execute an individual RECEIPT, RELEASE AND QUITCLAIM insofar as all their claims for backwages and other monetary claims/awards are concerned in the above entitled case and on G.R. No. 106705.
- That all the above payment shall constitute the totality of the amount that shall be paid to said complainants in consideration of which all their claims for backwages and other monetary claims/awards in G.R. No. 106705 shall be deemed duly satisfied.
WHEREAS, the Decision of the Supreme Court dated 26 September 1994 has already become final and executory.A reading of both the Compromise Agreement and the Receipt, Release, and Quitclaim will show that the petitioners have attested to the complete settlement of their backwages and other monetary claims in the amount of P97,000.00 each, in accordance with the Decisions of this Court.
WHEREAS, I hereby acknowledged receipt of the sum of PESOS: NINETY-SEVEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED & 00/100 (P97,500.00), (inclusive of 10% Attorney fees), to me in hands paid by Philippine Dairy Products Corporation (PDPC), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), and/or Magnolia Nestle Corporation (formerly Magnolia Division of SMC), in full payment of backwages and other monetary awards in connection with the decision of the Supreme Court, Third Division, in the above captioned cases.
NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the aforesaid sum of PESOS: NINETY-SEVEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED &00/100 (P97,500.00), in hand paid to me by Philippine Dairy Products Corporation, San Miguel Corporation and/or Magnolia Nestle Corporation, receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, I hereby remise, release and forever discharge as far as payment of backwages and other monetary awards are concerned, which I may have, or which I can, shall or may have upon or by reason of any matter, cause or thing, in connection with the above entitled cases.
I hereby agree that with the execution of this Receipt, Release and Quitclaim, the instant case between the same parties is deemed closed/terminated and that said Receipt, Release and Quitclaim is in total or full compliance with the order (dated September 26, 1994) of the Supreme Court, Third Division.
Not all waivers and quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If the agreement was voluntarily entered into and represents a reasonable settlement, it is binding on the parties and may not later be disowned simply because of a change of mind. It is only where there is clear proof that the waiver was wrangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person, or the terms of settlement are unconscionable on its face, that the law will step in to annul the questionable transaction. But where it is shown that the person making the waiver did so voluntarily, with full understanding of what he was doing, and the consideration for the quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding undertaking.As can be culled from the records of the case and pointed out by the Voluntary Arbitrator in the assailed Order, an order was issued by the Voluntary Arbitrator on 04 October 1995 upholding the validity of the settlement entered into by the parties. It was further stated that the individual complainants executed and signed individual Deeds of Receipt, Release and Quitclaim attesting to the fact that they freely and voluntarily accepted the amount of P97,500.00 each as settlement of their case.