384 Phil. 529
Before the Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to set aside the Decision, of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), and the Order dated June 21, 1995, denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration in NLRC-NCR-CA No. 002761-92, on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
"xxx xxx xxxOn January 18, 1991, petitioners received a uniform notice of dismissal effective a month from the date of receipt, which notice contained the reasons justifying the termination:
(1) The employment shall be strictly on a temporary basis and only for the duration of the particular undertaking for which a particular employee is hired;
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(2) Such temporary employment will not entitle an employee to any benefits except those granted by law;
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(3) The Liquidator reserves the right to terminate the services of the employee at any time during the period of such employment if the employee is found not qualified, competent or, efficient in the performance of his job, or have violated any rules and regulations, or such circumstances and conditions recognized by law.
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"(a) To reduce costs and expenses in the liquidation of closed banks in order to protect the interests of the depositors, creditors and stockholders of the Philippine Veterans Bank.On February 4, 1991, petitioners instituted a case for illegal dismissal before Honorable Labor Arbiter Oswald Lorenzo.
(b) The employment were on strictly temporary basis."
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the Philippine Veterans Bank, through its Liquidator or his Deputies, to reinstate complainants to their former or substantially equivalent position, without loss of seniority rights with full backwages from the time they were illegally dismissed up to the time they were reinstated, and to pay moral damages in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000) each as moral damages, plus the sum equivalent to Ten (10%) per centum of the total amount due as attorney’s fees. The claim for exemplary damages is hereby dismissed for lack of merits.Respondent Bank appealed the aforesaid decision of the Labor Arbiter. On July 12, 1994, the NLRC reversed the decision of the Labor Arbiter and dismissed the Complaints for lack of merit.
"In connection with the liquidation of the Philippine Veterans Bank under Monetary Board Resolution No. 612 dated June 7, 1985, we are confirming your employment under the following terms and conditions:On June 15, 1985, the services of the petitioners were terminated when the Monetary Board ordered the liquidation of the Philippine Veterans Bank. However, petitioners were re-hired on the following day, June 16, 1985, by the Bank’s Liquidator on the basis of the abovementioned employment contract.(1) The employment shall be on a strictly temporary basis and only for the duration of the particular undertaking for which you are hired and only for the particular days during which actual work is available as determined by the Liquidator or his representatives since the work requirements of the liquidation process merely demand intermittent and temporary rendition of services." (Emphasis ours)
"As can be gleaned from the said case, the two guidelines by which fixed contracts of employment can be said NOT to circumvent security of tenure, are either:The employment contract entered into by the parties herein appears to have observed the said guidelines. Furthermore, it is evident from the records that the subsequent re-hiring of petitioners which was to continue during the period of liquidation and the process of liquidation ended prior to the enactment of RA 7169 entitled, "An Act to Rehabilitate Philippine Veterans Bank", which was promulgated on January 2, 1992.
1. The fixed period of employment was knowingly and voluntarily agreed upon by the parties, without any force, duress or improper pressure being brought to bear upon the employee and absent any other circumstances vitiating his consent;
2. It satisfactorily appears that the employer and employee dealt with each other on more or less equal terms with no moral dominance whatever being exercised by the former on the latter."
"(9) The Liquidator reserves the right to terminate your services at any time during this period of temporary employment if you are found not qualified, competent or inefficient in the performance of your job, or if you are found to have violated any of the rules and regulations. The Liquidator also reserves the right to terminate your services at any time under the circumstances and conditions recognized by law on the matter. In any event, you will be entitled to collect your compensation up to the close of working hours of the last day of the actual service, which compensation shall be paid to you after proper clearance." (emphasis supplied)The reason given by the Liquidator for the termination of petitioners’ employment was "in line with the need of the objective of the Supervision and Examination Sector, Department V, Central Bank of the Philippines, to reduce costs and expenses in the liquidation of closed banks in order to protect the interest of the depositors, creditors and stockholders.
"As can be seen from the termination letters Exhs. "A", "A-1" to "A-19" (inclusive), complainants were terminated thirty (30) days after receipt of such letters allegedly ‘to reduce costs and expenses in the liquidation of closed banks in order to protect the interests of the depositors, creditors and stockholders of the Philippine Veterans Bank’, which termination papers speaks of ‘finality’ by their very wordings that left complainants with no alternative but to accept it with grief foreseen sacrifice and only by going into this forum they may be vindicated by such action of the liquidator.Since findings by the Labor Arbiter are binding on this Court if supported by substantial evidence, the Court rules that there was illegal dismissal absent just cause, which is one of the facets of a dismissal. Such illegal dismissal warrants reinstatement and payment of backwages. However, since petitioners’ reinstatement is now considered impractical because the new Philippine Veterans Bank has been rehabilitated by virtue of RA 7169, the Court limits the relief to be granted to the petitioners to the unpaid wages during the remaining period of their employment contract.
xxx Thus the failure of respondent bank to dispute complainants’ evidence pertinent to the various unnecessary and highly questionable expenses incurred renders the termination process as a mere subterfuge, as the same was not on the basis as it purports to see, for reason that immediately after the termination from their respective positions, the same were given to other employees who appear not qualified. What respondent’s counsel did was merely to dispute by pleadings the jurisdiction of this Office and the claims for damages, which evidentiary matters respondent is required to prove to sustain the validity of such dismissals."
"Sec. 7. Rehabilitation Committee. - To facilitate the implementation of the provisions of this Act, there is hereby created a rehabilitation committee xxx xxx xxx.
Specifically, the Committee shall:
(b) Select and organize an initial manning force headed by a management team to be composed of competent, experienced and professional managers who must possess all qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided under the Central Bank rules and regulations. The management team shall be staffed by a trained workforce: Provided, That preference shall be given to the veterans and their dependents, other qualifications being equal;
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