Anda di halaman 1dari 13

SECONDDIVISION

[G.R.No.148205.February28,2005]

COCACOLA BOTTLERS, PHILS., INC., petitioner, vs. KAPISANAN NG


MALAYANGMANGGAGAWASACOCACOLAFFWandFLORENTINO
RAMIREZ,respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO,SR.,J.:

[1]
ThisisapetitionforreviewoftheResolution oftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.SPNo.
58012reversingtheResolutionoftheNationalLaborRelationsCommission(NLRC)inNLRC
NCRCASECA01834199.
TheAntecedents
Petitioner CocaCola Bottlers Phil., Inc. is a domestic corporation engaged in the
manufacture, sale and distribution of softdrinks. It maintains plants in various areas of the
country, among others, in Calamba and Sta. Rosa, Laguna, in Lipa City and Balayan,
BatangasinSta.Cruz,GumacainSanPabloCityandLucenaCity,QuezonProvinceinLas
PiasCity,andDasmarias,Cavite.
OnJuly1,1982,thepetitionerhiredFlorentinoRamirezasdriverhelperwiththefollowing
duties:
(a)asdriver,hechecksthetrucksoil,water,wheels,etc.
(b)ashelper,heischargedofloadingandunloadingtrucksloadputtingbottlesinthe
[2]

coolersanddisplayscompanyproductstoeachoutletorcustomersstore.

RamirezbecameamemberoftherespondentKapisananngMalayangManggagawaSales
Force Union, the bargaining representative of the rank andfile employees of the petitioner
company. In 1996, he was the shop steward of the union at the companys Batangas Sales
[3]
Office.
Sometime in October 1996, it happened that the route salesman for Route M11 was
unavailabletomakehisusualroutes.SinceRamirezhadbeendrivingfortheroutesalesman
for so long, the petitioner company decided to assign him as temporary replacement of the
regularroutesalesmanforroutesM11,AMCandLPR.Thereafter,inaLetterdatedDecember
5,1996,theOfficerinChargeoftheBatangasSalesOffice,VictorC.delaCruz,informedthe
OfficerinCharge of DSSDistrict 44, Rolando Manzanares, that a review of the copies of the
invoicesrelatingtothetransactionsofRamirezinRt.M11revealedthefollowingdiscrepancies:
(a)thenumberofcasesdeliveredtocustomers(b)emptybottlesretrievedfromthem,and(c)
theamountsinSalesInvoicesNos.3212215,3288587,3288763,3288765and3288764,thus:

a.FinanceandCustomersCopiesofSalesInvoiceNo.3288765showingthedeliberateomissioninthe
financecopyofthedeliveryof25casesofSprite(8ounces)andtheabsenceintheCustomersCopyof
theretrievalof10casesofCoke(1.5liters).
b.FinanceandCustomersCopiesofSalesInvoiceNo.3288764,acomparisonofwhichshowsthatthe
retrievalofemptybottlesamountingtoTwoThousandTwoHundredFiftyPesos(P2,250.00)reflectedin
theFinanceCopyashavingbeencollectedwasnotreflectedintheCustomersCopy.
c.FinanceandCustomersCopiesofSalesInvoiceNo.3212215whichshowsthattherefundofthirty
three(33)caseswasreflectedonlyintheFinanceCopy.
Ramirez received a Memorandum from District Office Nos. 44 and 45 requiring him to
reporttothesaidofficestartingDecember5,1996untilsuchtimethathewouldbenotifiedof
[4]
theformalinvestigationofthechargesagainsthim.
During the formal investigation conducted by a panel of investigators on December 20,
1996, Ramirez was not represented by counsel. He also manifested that he was waiving his
righttoberepresentedbycounselwhenthemembersofthepanelaskedhimaboutit.Ramirez
wasthenaskedtoexplainthediscrepanciessubjectofthecharges,andnarratedthefollowing:
(a)Re:SalesInvoiceNo.3212215.Ramirezunloadedtheproductsfromthedeliverytruck
in the morning and delivered the same to the customer. He then gave a copy of the sales
invoice to the customer, which showed the quantity and prices of the products delivered. He
toldthecustomertopreparethepaymentandthathewouldreturnlaterintheeveningtocollect
thesame.Becausethecustomerdidnothaveenoughmoneyonhand,hecoveredthedeficit
by returning 33 cases of empty bottles, which was reflected in the copy of the sales invoice
forwarded to the sales department. Ramirez reasoned that he failed to note the return of the
emptybottlesinthecopyofsalesinvoicehelaterdeliveredtothecustomerbecausethelatter
informed him that such copy had been misplaced. Besides, Ramirez and the customer had
agreedthathe(Ramirez)wouldjustnotethereturnoftheemptybottlesonthecustomerscopy
ofthesalesinvoicethefollowingday.Ramirezpointedoutthatthepetitionercompanydidnot
sufferanylossbecausetheemptybottleswereturnedovertoit.
(b) Re: Sales Invoice No. 3288587 dated October 12, 1996. Ramirez admitted that there
the customer made an overpayment of P504.00. He claimed, however, that he returned the
amount to the customer from his own money, and retained the P504.00 by way of
reimbursement for the amount he had earlier given to the customer. Hence, the petitioner
companyandthecustomerdidnotsufferanyloss.
(c)Re:SalesInvoiceNo.3288763datedOctober14,1996.Ramirezclaimedthathehad
erroneously written Sales Invoice No. 3288763 instead of Sales Invoice No. 3288765
(customers copy) in his RHF Report dated October 14, 1996. He also claimed to have
overlookedSalesInvoiceNo.3288763whenheissuedareceipttocustomersIglesiaorDolor
Hernandez,andmistakenlyissuedSalesInvoiceNo.3288763.Healsodeclaredthathefailed
to include Sales Invoice No. 3288765 in his RHF Report as one of the cancelled invoices
becauseitwasalreadytoolateintheevening.
(d) Re: Sales Invoice No. 3288764. Ramirez declared that it was only after he had
unloadedanddeliveredtheproductstothecustomerandhadgivenacopyofthesalesinvoice
to the latter that he realized that the customer had returned several cases of empty bottles
worthP2,250.00.Hepointedoutthatheindicatedthesameinthecopyofthesalesinvoicehe
submittedtothecompany,butfailedtodosointhecustomerscopyofthesalesinvoice.

OnFebruary11,1997,Ramirezreceivedanoticefromthecompanyinforminghimthathis
serviceswerebeingterminatedthatbasedontheinvestigation,itwasclearlyestablishedthat
he violated Sections 10 and 12 of the CCBPI Employees Code of Disciplinary Rules and
Regulations (Red Book) and that coupled with his prior infractions, his employment was
terminatedeffectiveFebruary12,1997.
[5]
OnMarch17,1997,RamirezandtheunionfiledaComplaint forunfairlaborpracticeand
illegal dismissal against the company with the Arbitration Branch of the NLRC, docketed as
RABIV3886297B. Ramirez claimed that although he was merely an acting salesman, the
alleged violations for which he was dismissed, i.e., Sections 10 and 12 of the petitioner
companys rules and regulations, particularly designated as fictitious sales and falsification of
companyreports,werenormallyonlyforfullfledgedsalesmen.Hepointedoutthat:
Firstly,respondentcompanysactofgroundingindividualcomplainantonallegedshortageinthebodega,
hasnofactualbasis,asnoactualinventorywasconductedand
Secondly,individualcomplainantwasterminatedforviolationswhicharealientohisofficialfunctions
anddesignationand
Lastly,asofficeroftheunion,individualcomplainantwasterminatedatthetimethecollective
bargainingnegotiationswasunderwayandatitscriticalstage.
Thesefactsclearlyestablishaclassiccaseofanemployerharassinganofficialoftheunion,whichwe
humblysubmitasaclearcaseofinterferencebyanemployerintherightoftheworkerstoself
[6]

organizationandtocollectivebargaining.

Ramirez likewise claimed that he was denied of his right to due process, based on the
followinggrounds:
Firstly,individualcomplainantwasdismissedwithouthavingbeenfirstissuedanoticeofdismissal
whichsupposedlyshouldcontainthechargesagainsthim,whichwouldbemadeasbasisforhis
termination.
Secondly,individualcomplainantwasdismissedwithoutaffordinghimanampleopportunitytodefend
himself,ashewasnotnotifiedinadvanceofthesubjectoftheadministrativeinvestigation.
Thirdly,individualcomplainantwasterminatedwithoutjustandvalidcause,andingrossviolationofhis
righttodueprocess.
Lastly,individualcomplainantwasterminatedbyrespondentsinutterbadfaith,asthedecisiononthe
saidterminationwasarrivedat,withoutanyjustandvalidcause.Simplyput,respondentssimplyacted
[7]

oppressively,malevolently,andwithgraveabuseofprerogatives.

Foritspart,thepetitionercompanyallegedthatthedismissalofRamirezwasbasedonthe
factsunearthedduringtheformalinvestigation,andthathewasguiltyofseriousmisconduct,a
valid ground for termination of employment. Even if he was occupying the position of route
driver/helper, he was nevertheless performing the functions and duties of a route salesman,
and,assuch,henotonlycommittedfraud,butalsowillfullybreachedthetrustandconfidence
reposed on him by the petitioner company. According to the petitioner company, considering
the sanctions imposed on Ramirez for prior breaches of company rules, his dismissal from

employmentwaswithbasis.ThepetitionercompanyalsoinsistedthatRamirezwasaccorded
hisrighttodueprocess:hewasnotifiedofthechargesagainsthim,wassubjectedtoaformal
investigationduringwhichhewasallowedtoexplainthediscrepancies,andwasnotifiedofthe
outcomethereof,aswellasthebasesoftheterminationofhisemployment.
[8]
OnJuly31,1998,theLaborArbiter(LA)renderedjudgment dismissingthecomplaintfor
lack of merit. The LA found that based on the evidence, there was a justifiable basis for the
dismissalofRamirez.AccordingtotheLA,itwasofnomomentthattheofficialdesignationof
Ramirez was driverhelper, since he committed the infractions while he was performing the
functions of an acting salesman. The LA further found that due process had been complied
[9]
with.
Aggrieved, Ramirez appealed the decision to the NLRC, docketed as NLRC NCR CASE
CA01834199.
Ramirez argued that any errors or discrepancies he may have committed while he was
assignedasroutesalesmanwereexcusable.Hepointedoutthathewasmerelyadriver/helper
andhadnoformaltrainingasroutesalesmanbeforesuchtemporarydesignation.Heaverred
that the petitioner company dismissed him because of the ongoing collective bargaining
negotiationswhichweretheninacriticalstage.
[10]
OnSeptember20,1999,theNLRCrenderedaResolution
affirmingthedecisionofthe
LA. It declared that the petitioner company had adduced documentary evidence to show that
RamirezfailedtojustifywhytheamountofP2,250.00wasnotreflectedinthecustomerscopy
of Sales Invoice No. 3288764. According to the NLRC, Ramirez also failed to justify the
omissionofthereturnof33casesofcompanyproductsinthecustomerscopyofSalesInvoice
No. 3212215. The NLRC found the same to be sufficient basis for a finding of grave
misconduct, which rendered Ramirez unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded of his
position as an acting salesman. Citing the ruling of this Court in Philippine Commercial
[11]
International Bank v. Jacinto,
the NLRC declared that Ramirezs claim that the penalty of
dismissalwastooharshanddisproportionateonaccountofhisbeingamereactingsalesman,
wasuntenable.
TheNLRC,likewise,rejectedRamirezspleaofdenialofdueprocess,declaringthathewas
accordedthechancetobeheardonthecomplaintagainsthimandtoadduceevidenceonhis
behalf.ItruledthatRamirezfailedtoproveillmotiveonthepartofthepetitionercompanyfor
dismissinghim.
Upon the denial of his motion for reconsideration, Ramirez filed a petition for certiorari
underRule65oftheRulesofCourtwiththeCourtofAppeals(CA),docketedasCAG.R.SP
No.58012whereinheallegedthefollowing:
1.THEHONORABLEPUBLICRESPONDENTSERIOUSLYERRED,THEREBYCOMMITTING
GRAVEABUSEOFDISCRETION,AMOUNTINGTOLACKAND/OREXCESSOF
JURISDICTION,INAFFIRMINGTHELABORARBITERSDECISIONUPHOLDINGTHE
LEGALITYOFINDIVIDUALPETITIONERSDISMISSAL,CONSIDERINGTHAT:
A.INDIVIDUALPETITIONERWASOFFICIALLYDESIGNATEDASDRIVERHELPER,A
POSITIONWHICHDOESNOTINVOLVED(sic)THEELEMENTOFTRUSTANDCONFIDENCE,
YET,WASTERMINATEDFORALLEGEDLOSSOFTRUSTANDCONFIDENCE

B.INDIVIDUALPETITIONER,ASADRIVERHELPERWASMERELYTEMPORARILY
ASSIGNEDASACTINGSALESMANWHENTHEALLEGEDDISCREPANCYINTHE
TRANSACTIONDOCUMENTSTOOKPLACE
C.INDIVIDUALPETITIONERWASNOTSPECIFICALLYTRAINEDASSALESMAN,THUS,
CANNOTBEEXPECTEDTOPERFORMINTHESAMEMANNERASANOFFICIALONE,WHO
AREPRECISELYTRAINEDFORTHEENDEAVOR.
2.THEHONORABLEPUBLICRESPONDENTCOMMITTEDGRAVEABUSEOFDISCRETION,
AMOUNTINGTOLACKAND/OREXCESSOFJURISDICTION,INFINDINGTHAT
INDIVIDUALPETITIONERWASVALIDLYDISMISSEDFORLOSSOFTRUSTAND
CONFIDENCE,AS,EVENIFTHESAIDGROUNDREALLYEXISTS,HECOULDHAVEBEEN
ALLOWEDTOCONTINUEHISEMPLOYMENT,ASDRIVERHELPERHISOFFICIAL
DESIGNATION,APOSITIONWHICHDOESNOTINVOLVEANELEMENTOFTRUSTAND
CONFIDENCE.
3.THEHONORABLEPUBLICRESPONDENT,LIKETHEHONORABLELABORARBITERA
QUO,COMMITTEDGRAVEABUSEOFDISCRETION,AMOUNTINGTOLACKAND/OR
EXCESSOFJURISDICTION,INDECLARINGTHATCOMPLAINANTSDESIGNATIONATTHE
TIMEOFTHEINFRACTIONISOFNOMOMENT.
4.INSUM,THEHONORABLEPUBLICRESPONDENTCOMMITTEDGRAVEABUSEOF
DISCRETION,AMOUNTINGTOLACKAND/OREXCESSOFJURISDICTION,INNOTFINDING
PRIVATERESPONDENTGUILTYOFILLEGALDISMISSALANDUNFAIRLABORPRACTICE
ANDINNOTORDERINGPRIVATERESPONDENTTOREINSTATEINDIVIDUALPETITIONER
TOHISFORMERPOSITIONASDRIVERHELPER,ANDTOPAYFULLBACKWAGES,
[12]

DAMAGESANDATTORNEYSFEES.

[13]
In a Decision dated October 25, 2000, the CA dismissed the petition.
Itruledthatthe
petitionersdesignationatthetimeoftheinfractionwasofnomomentwhenheagreedtobean
acting salesman for Route M11, AMC and LPR, he actually performed the duties of a
salesman, and in so doing, assumed the responsibilities of the position. The CA further
ratiocinatedthatnotwithstandingRamirezslackoftraining,hehadassumedandperformedthe
dutiesofasalesmanhence,hewasobligatedtodosowithduecare,dedication,andwithdue
regardtotheexerciseofthedegreeofdiligencetopreventthecommissionofanyseriouserror,
mistakeorblunderonhispart.
TheCAalsoruledthatRamirezhadnotbeendeniedhisrighttodueprocess.Itconcluded
thatthefalsificationofthesalesinvoicesandreceiptsviolatedcompanyrulesandpolicy,and
thathewasguiltyofgrossmisconductwhichalsoconstitutedabreachoftrustandconfidence
reposedonhimbythepetitionercompany.
Undaunted,thepetitionerfiledamotionforthereconsiderationofthedecisioncontending
that:
THEHONORABLECOURTSERIOUSLYERREDWHENITHELDTHATTHEFINDINGAND
DECLARATIONOFTHELABORARBITERANDPUBLICRESPONDENTTHATINDIVIDUAL
PETITIONERSDESIGNATIONATTHETIMEOFTHEINFRACTIONISOFNOMOMENTHAVE
[14]

LEGALBASIS.

THEHONORABLECOURTSERIOUSLYERREDWHENITFAILEDTOCONSIDERTHAT
INDIVIDUALPETITIONERWASOFFICIALLYDESIGNATEDASDRIVERHELPER,A
POSITIONWHICHDOESNOTINVOLVED(sic)THEELEMENTOFTRUSTANDCONFIDENCE.
[15]

THEHONORABLECOURTSERIOUSLYERREDINNOTFINDINGTHATTHEINDIVIDUAL
[16]

PETITIONERSRIGHTTODUEPROCESSWASGROSSLYVIOLATED.

This time, the CA found merit in petitioners cause and, on January 30, 2001, issued a
Resolutiongrantingthesaidmotion,andsetasideitsearlierruling.
WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,thepetitionersmotionforreconsiderationisherebyGRANTED,
andOurdecisionof25October2000isvacated.Theassailedresolutionsofpublicrespondentdated
September20,1999andDecember21,1999areREVERSEDandSETASIDE,andanewjudgmentis
rendered,orderingtherespondentcompanytoreinstatepetitionerFlorentinoA.Ramireztohisjobas
driverhelperwithoutlossofseniorityandotherrights,andtopayhimhisfullbackwages,allowances
andotherbenefitsuntilhisretirement,withoutdiminution,ortheirmonetaryequivalent,plus10%as
[17]

attorneysfees.Costsagainstprivaterespondent.

The CA ratiocinated that as an acting salesman who did not possess the required basic
trainingofaroutesalesman,Ramirezwasmadetodischargethedutiesofaroutesalesman.It
also emphasized that as driver/helper, his job was not a position reposed with trust and
confidence. Thus, the CA declared that the petitioner committed a mere oversight of certain
internalcontrolproceduresintheproperrecordingofhissalesandothertransactions,resulting
intheshortageinonetransaction,offsetbyanoverageinanother.Whilehewasinefficientand
incompetent as a route salesman, he was not so as a driver/helper. Considering that he was
merely discharging the functions of a salesman in an acting capacity, and that the petitioner
companydidnotsufferanylossonaccountoftheviolationsand/oromissionsofRamirez,the
penalty of dismissal was too harsh. The CA also ruled that there was no dishonesty or a
demonstrationofmoralperversenessaswouldjustifytheclaimedlossofconfidenceattendant
tothejob,and,assuch,gaveRamirezthebenefitofthedoubt.
Ontheissueofdueprocess,theCAruledthatthepetitionerwasnotaffordeddueprocess
because the panel of investigators focused on Ramirezs violations of internal control
[18]
proceduresinsteadofthesubstanceofthechargesagainsthim.
Aggrieved by the appellate courts volte face, the petitioner company filed the instant
petitionforreviewoncertiorari,allegingthat:
THEHONORABLECOURTOFAPPEALSDECIDEDAQUESTIONOFSUBSTANCE
CONTRARYTOLAWANDTHESETTLEDRULINGSOFTHESUPREMECOURTINTHAT:
A.THERESPONDENTWASLAWFULLYTERMINATEDFROMEMPLOYMENT.
B.THECOURTOFAPPEALSACTEDWITHOUTJURISDICTIONINRENDERINGTHE
QUESTIONEDRESOLUTIONS.
C.THEFINDINGSOFFACTBYTHECOURTOFAPPEALSARECONTRARYTOTHOSEOF
THEHONORABLELABORARBITERANDTHENATIONALLABORRELATIONS
COMMISSIONANDAREMERECONCLUSIONSREACHEDWITHOUTCITATIONOR

SPECIFICEVIDENCEAND/ORAREPREMISEDONTHEPURPORTEDABSENCEOF
[19]

EVIDENCECONTRADICTEDBYTHEEVIDENCEONRECORD.

The core issue for resolution is whether or not respondent Florentino Ramirez was
dismissedbythepetitionerwithoutjustorvalidcause.
TheRespondentCommitted
IrregularitiesinthePerformance
ofHisDutiesasRouteSalesman
We find, as the CA did in its assailed Resolution, that the respondent, by his acts and
omissions,committedirregularitiesintheperformanceofhisduties.Hemadeitappearinthe
customers copy of Sales Invoice No. 3212215 that the latter returned 33 cases of familysize
emptybottlesvaluedatP4,092.00however,suchtransactionwasnotreflectedintheinvoice
submittedbyhimtothepetitionercompany.
Aperusalofthecustomerscopyofthesalesinvoicewouldshowthatthecustomerowed
the petitioner company P9,045.00. However, in the petitioner companys copy of the sales
invoice,therespondentdeclaredthatthecustomerreturned33casesofemptybottlesvalued
atP4,092.00hence,thecustomerowedthepetitioneronlyP4,953.40whichthecustomerpaid.
The respondent failed to indicate the return of the empty bottles in the petitioner companys
copyofthesalesinvoice.Theexplanationoftherespondent,thatwhileheintendedtocorrect
thecustomerscopyofthesalesinvoicehewasunabletodosobecausesuchcustomerscopy
hadbeenmisplacedbythecustomer,isunacceptable.Therespondentshouldhavepresented
the affidavit of the customer to corroborate such claim. The fact that it turned out that the
customerstillhadhiscopyofthesalesinvoicedoesnotsitwellwiththerespondentscause.In
finethen,theexplanationgivenbytherespondentduringthepanelinvestigationisuntrue.
There is no dispute that the respondent overcharged the customer in Sales Invoice No.
3288587intheamountofP504.00,andthattherespondentreturnedtheoverpaymenttothe
customer. However, the respondent was burdened to give a valid explanation for such
overchargingonthecustomer,whichhefailedtodo.
The respondent also admitted that he failed to indicate in the customers copy of Sales
InvoiceNo.3288764thecustomersretrievalof210casesofemptyCocaColabottlesofvaried
sizes, amounting to P2,250.00. The respondent failed to give a valid explanation for his
omission,althoughthereappearstobenodoubtthat,indeed,thecustomerreturnedthe210
emptybottlestothepetitionerthroughhim.
ThePenaltyofDismissal
FortheRespondents
Infractionis,however,
TooSevere
Inordertoeffectavaliddismissalofanemployee,thelawrequiresthattherebejustand
validcauseasprovidedinArticle282andthattheemployeewasaffordedanopportunitytobe
[20]
heard and to defend himself.
Pursuant to Article 282 of the Labor Code, an employees
servicescanbeterminatedforthefollowingjustcauses:
(a)Seriousmisconductorwillfuldisobediencebytheemployeeofthelawfulordersofhisemployeror

representativeinconnectionwithhiswork
(b)Grossandhabitualneglectbytheemployeeofhisduties
(c)Fraudorwillfulbreachbytheemployeeofthetrustreposedinhimbyhisemployerorduly
authorizedrepresentative.
(d)Commissionofacrimeoroffensebytheemployeeagainstthepersonofhisemployerorany
immediatememberofhisfamilyorhisdutyauthorizedrepresentativeand
(e)Othercausesanalogoustotheforegoing.
In termination disputes, the burden of proof is always on the employer to prove that the
[21]
dismissal was for a just and valid cause.
Considering the nature of the charges and the
penaltiestherefor,thepetitionerisboundtoadduceclearandconvincingevidencetoprovethe
same.
We have always held that an employer enjoys a wide latitude of discretion in the
[22]
promulgationofpolicies,rulesandregulationsonworkrelatedactivitiesoftheemployees.
It
isrecognizedthatcompanypoliciesandregulations,unlessshowntobegrosslyoppressiveor
contrarytolaw,aregenerallyvalidandbindingonthepartiesandmustbecompliedwithuntil
finally revised or amended, unilaterally or preferably through negotiation, by competent
authority. The Court has upheld a companys management prerogatives so long as they are
exercisedingoodfaithfortheadvancementoftheemployersinterestandnotforthepurpose
of defeating or circumventing the rights of the employees under special laws or under valid
[23]
agreements.
For misconduct or improper behavior to be a just cause for dismissal, the
samemustberelatedtotheperformanceoftheemployeesdutiesandmustshowthathehas
[24]
becomeunfittocontinueworkingfortheemployer.
In cases when an employer may dismiss an employee on the ground of willful
disobedience,theremustbeconcurrenceofatleasttworequisites:(1)theemployeesassailed
conductmusthavebeenwillfulorintentional,thewillfulnessbeingcharacterizedbyawrongful
and perverse attitude and (2) the order violated must have been reasonable, lawful, made
known to the employee and must pertain to the duties which he had been engaged to
[25]
discharge.
In the present case, the respondent was dismissed for dishonesty, more specifically for
violationofthecompanypolicy,and,moreparticularly,Sections10and12ofCompanyRules
and Regulation No. 00585, Fictitious sales transactions Falsification of company
records/data/documents/reports Conspiring or conniving with, or directing others to commit
fictitious transactions and inefficiency in the performance of duties, negligence and blatant
disregardofordeviationfromestablishedcontrolandotherpoliciesandprocedures.
However,thepetitionerfailedtoadduceclearandconvincingevidencethattherespondent
hadfictitioussalestransactions,orthathefalsifiedcompanyrecords/documents/reports,orthat
heconnivedwithcustomersofthepetitionertopersuadethemtocommitfictitioustransactions.
Itisundisputedthattherespondententeredintothesalestransactionssubjectofthecomplaint
ofthepetitionerforandinbehalfofthepetitioner.Whileitistruethattherespondentfailedto
indicatethereturnoftheemptybottlesmadebyacustomereitherinthepetitionercompanys
copy of the sales invoice or in his reports on his sales transactions and overcharged a

customerinonetransaction,thereisnoclearandconvincingevidencethattherespondentdid
sointentionally,forawrongorcriminalpurpose.Thereisalsonoshowingthattherespondent
intentionallydefiedthelawfulordersorregulationsofthepetitioner.Indeed,asdeclaredbythe
CAinitsassailedresolution,thepetitionerdidnotsufferanymateriallossbytherespondents
actuations:
Attheoutset,itmaybestatedthatthepetitionerspositiveallegationthattheindividualpetitionerwas
alsoanofficialofthepetitionerunion,beingthelattersshopstewardatrespondentcompanysBatangas
SalesOffice,astherealmotiveforhistermination,hasnotbeenestablishedbysufficientprooftojustify
afindingintheirfavor.
AquickreviewofthesalientfactsshowsthatindividualpetitionerFlorentinoA.Ramirezwashiredby
privaterespondentcompanyonJuly1,1982,asdriverhelper,withthelatestbasicsalaryofP11,285.00
asofFebruary1997andanaveragecommissionofP2,800.00amonth.Assuchdriverhelper,hisofficial
dutiesandresponsibilities,amongothers,areasfollows:(a)asdriver,hechecksthetrucksoil,water,
wheels,etc.(b)ashelper,heistaskedwithloadingandunloadingtrucksloadputtingbottlesinthe
coolersanddisplayscompanyproductstoeachoutletorcustomersstore.Obviously,thisjobdidnot
involvethesameamountoftrustandconfidenceasthatofasalesman.Officially,petitionerRamirezhad
nootheralternateduties.
Itisnotrefutedthatindividualpetitionerdidnotpossesstherequiredbasictrainingtoactassalesman,
andthatthisfactwasknowntotheprivaterespondentcompanyatthetimeitdesignatedhimasacting
salesmanduringthosedays,particularOctober02,12,and14,1996,whennoroutesalesmanwas
available.Itisalsoselfevidentthatthejobdescriptionofthedriverhelperhardlyincludesanytask
whichwouldsignificantlyoverlapwiththoseofthesalesmanaswouldaffordthedriverhelper,through
timeperhaps,theexperiencetoadequatelydischargethedutiesofasalesman.Infact,asadmittedbythe
privaterespondent,becauseoftheamountoftrustandconfidenceinvolvedinthejobofasalesman,
rigorousrequirementsandinternalcontrolproceduresareenforced,andunderstandably,aswellasstrict
accountability.
Fromthepartiesvariouspleadingsbothinthispetition,aswellasinthecasebelow,whatbecomesclear
isthattheprivaterespondentsufferednodamagewhatsoeverfromtheactuationsoftheindividual
petitioner.Hisallegeddishonestywasnotproven.Whathecommittedwasmerelynoncompliancewith,
oroversightof,certaininternalproceduresintheproperrecordingofhissalesandothertransactions,
resultinginashortageinonetransaction,whichwasneverthelessoffsetbyanoverageinanother.It
couldbeallowedthat,indeed,hewasinefficientandincompetentforthefunctionofasalesmanwhichhe
[26]

hadtotemporarilyperform.

Inpointingoutthattheprivaterespondentsufferednomaterialloss,Wenotethatitwasverypossible
thatthediscrepanciesfoundinthedocumentsreflectingtheindividualpetitionerstransactionsasan
actingsalesmancouldverywellhavebeenduetosimpleinadvertenceandthefactthatthecustomers,
whoforsomereasonfailedtopaytheiraccountswithexactcashbutinsteadpartlywithemptybottles,
latermisplacedtheircopyoftheinvoice.Thus,theircopycouldnotbecorrectedseasonably.The
recordingwasverylikelybungledfurtherbyindividualpetitionerslackoftrainingandfamiliaritywith
thestrictrecordingprocedures.Weareinclinedtogivehimthisbenefitofthedoubt.
Thattheindividualpetitionerhasnotbeenspecificallytrainedassalesmanisundisputed.Itislikewise
uncontrovertedthatbeforeanemployeecouldqualifyasafullfledgesalesman,therespondentcompany
requiresasaconditionsinequanonthathefirstundergobasicsalesmantrainingandseveralseminarsto
beacquaintedwithhisspecificfunctions.Thisisunderstandable,becausethecompanysalesmannot
onlymustfindcustomers,promoteandsellitsproducts,buthealsomustaccountforhissalesand

inventorytothelastcentavo,everyday,accordingtoitsinternalcontrolsandpolicies.Itisobviousthat
thiswasnotsowiththeindividualpetitioner.Hewastaskedwithadutyinvolvingtrustandspecialized
skillsforwhichhewasnevertrained.Hisallegedfailuretocomplystrictlywithalltheprocedures,of
whichhewasunfamiliar,wastobeexpected.
YetRamirezwaspenalizedasafullfledgesalesman,notasadriverhelperwhowasforcedtoperform
thefunctionsofactingsalesmanorperhapsriskbeingchargedwithinsubordination.Thenitwasnotjust
anypenaltymetedouttohim,asifthereisonlyonepunishmentpossibleforhim:thesupremesanction
ofdismissal.
Wecannotbutagreethattheextremepenaltyofdismissalwastooharshandmanifestlydisproportionate
totheinfractioncommitted,whichappearstohavebeenfullyexplained,and,infact,tobenot
inexcusableunderthecircumstances.Therewasnodishonesty,nodemonstrationofsuchmoral
perversenessaswouldhavejustifiedtheclaimedlossofconfidenceattendanttothejob.Thecompany
mustbearashareoftheblameforentrustingameredriverhelperwithahighlyfiduciarytaskknowing
thathedidnotpossesstherequiredskills.Atmost,Ramirezfailedtocomplywith,orevenviolated,
certaincompanyrulesofinternalcontrolprocedures,buttosaythatitwasdeliberateisgratuitous.
Perhaps,individualpetitionershouldfirsthavebeengivenamerewarning,thenareprimandorevena
suspension,butcertainlynotoutrightdismissalfromemployment.Onemustkeepinmindthataworkers
employmentispropertyintheconstitutionalsense,andhecannotbedeprivedthereofwithoutdue
[27]
processandunlessitwascommensuratetohisactsanddegreeofmoraldepravity.
In Charles Joseph U. Ramos v. The Honorable Court of Appeals and Union Bank of the
[28]
Philippines,
the Court held that, in order to validly dismiss an employee on the ground of
lossoftrustandconfidenceunderArticle282oftheLaborCodeofthePhilippines,thefollowing
guidelinesmustbefollowed:
1.Thelossofconfidencemustnotbesimulated
2.Itshouldnotbeusedasasubterfugeforcauseswhichareillegal,improperorunjustified
3.Itmaynotbearbitrarilyassertedinthefaceofoverwhelmingevidencetothecontrary
4.Itmustbegenuine,notamereafterthought,tojustifyearlieractiontakeninbadfaithand
5.Theemployeeinvolvedholdsapositionoftrustandconfidence.

[29]

[30]
InSulpicioLines,Inc.v.Gulde,
theCourtemphasizedthatlossoftrustandconfidence
as a just cause for termination of employment is premised on the fact that the employee
concerned holds a position of responsibility or trust and confidence. As such, he must be
invested with confidence on delicate matters, such as the custody handling or care and
protection of the property and assets of the employer. In order to constitute a just cause for
dismissal,theactcomplainedofmustbeworkrelated.Itmustbeshownthattheemployeeis
unfittocontinuetoworkfortheemployer.Further,wellsettledistherulethatforlossoftrust
andconfidencetobeavalidgroundfordismissalofanemployee,itmustbesubstantialand
founded on clearly established facts sufficient to warrant the employees separation from
[31]
employment.

Weagreethatroutesalesmenarelikelyindividualisticpersonnelwhoroamaroundselling
softdrinks, deal with customers and are entrusted with large asset and funds and property of
the employer. There is a high degree of trust and confidence reposed on them, and when
[32]
confidence is breached, the employer may take proper disciplinary action on them.
The
workofasalesmanexposeshimtovoluminousfinancialtransactionsinvolvinghisemployers
goods.Thelifeofthesoftdrinkscompanydependsnotsomuchonthebottlingorproductionof
the product since this is primarily done by automatic machines and personnel who are easily
supervisedbutuponmobileandfarrangingsalesmenwhogofromstoretostorealloverthe
countryorregion.Salesmenarehighlyindividualisticpersonnelwhohavetobetrustedandleft
essentially on their own. A high degree of confidence is reposed on them because they are
[33]
entrustedwithfundsorpropertiesoftheiremployer.
The designation of the respondent, who was employed as driverhelper, but temporarily
assignedasroutesalesmanforaperiodofthree(3)days,didnotautomaticallymakehiman
employeeonwhomthepetitionerreposedtrustandconfidence,forbreachofwhichheshallbe
metedthepenaltyofdismissal.Theassumptionbytherespondent,foronlythreedays,ofsome
ofthedutiesofaroutesalesmanonordersofthepetitioner,didnotautomaticallymakehiman
employee holding a position of trust and confidence. Despite his additional duties, the
respondent remained a driverhelper of the petitioner. Thus, respondent cannot be dismissed
pursuanttoArticle282oftheLaborCode.
TherulingsoftheCourtinCharlesJosephU.Ramosv.TheHonorableCourtofAppeals
[34]
andUnionBankofthePhilippines,
citedbythepetitionerarenotonallfoursapplicablein
thiscase.ThisissobecauseinRamos,priortothedismissedemployeesappointmentasan
actingbranchmanager,hewasthebranchcashier,thepositionnexttothebranchmanager.
The positions of branch cashier and branch manager are positions endowed with trust and
confidence. Moreover, upon the appointment of Ramos as OfficerInCharge (OIC) branch
manager,anotherpersonwasappointedtoserveasOICbranchcashier.Thus,forthatperiod
of time, Ramos ceased to be a branch cashier when he was appointed as OIC branch
manager.Inthiscase,however,therespondentcontinuedtobeadriver/helperwhenhewas
designated as an acting salesman. Although barren of experience and training as route
salesman,therespondenthadnochoicebuttocomplywiththepetitionersordersandtriedhis
besttodothetaskassignedtohim.
[35]
The ruling of the Court in Philippine Commercial International Bank v. Jacinto,
is not
alsoapplicableinthepresentcase.Inthatcase,Jacintowasacustomerrelationsassistantand
was assigned to act as an alternate FX Teller when the FX Teller was not available. Both
positions involved trust and confidence. Moreover, the employee (Jacinto) was not dismissed
butonlymetedthepenaltyofsuspension.
Initsassailedresolution,theCAruled:
Thatonce,backin1992,Ramirezhadborrowedsomeemptybottlesfromacustomerbutlater
returnedthemthesamedayandwassuspendedforit,orthathewentAWOLseveraltimesin
1996andthuswasmetedasuspensionof2days,aretheonlyblemishesinhisrecordofany
significance.Toourmind,coupledwithhispresentpredicament,thesecouldnotjustifysucha
[36]

professedlossofconfidenceastoseverhimfromhisemploymentof14years.

WeagreewiththeCA.AstheCourtruledinPepsiColaDistributorsofthePhilippines,Inc.

[37]
v.NLRC:
Moreover,privaterespondentwasalreadypenalizedwithsuspensionsinsomeoftheinfractionsimputed
tohiminthiscase,likesleepingwhileonrouterides,incompleteaccomplishmentofsalesreportandhis
failuretoachievesalescommitments.Hecannotagainbepenalizedforthosemisconduct.Theforegoing
actscannotbeaddedtosupporttheimpositionoftheultimatepenaltyofdismissalwhichmustbebased
onclearandnotonambiguousandambivalentground.
Considering the factual backdrop in this case, we find and so rule that for his infractions,
therespondentshouldbemetedasuspensionoftwo(2)months.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The
ResolutionoftheCourtofAppealsdatedJanuary30,2001affirmingtheassailedresolutionof
the NLRC is SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated October 25, 2000 is
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the respondent is meted the penalty of Two (2)
monthssuspension.Nocosts.
SOORDERED.
Puno,(Chairman),AustriaMartinez,Tinga,andChicoNazario,JJ.,concur.
[1]

[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]

Penned by Associate Justice Eliezer de los Santos, with Associate Justices Eugenio S. Labitoria and Eloy R.
Bello,Jr.(retired),concurring.
Rollo,p.87.
Ibid.
Id.at105.
Records,p.1.
Id.at34.
Id.at35.
Id.at110114.
Id.at114.

[10]
[11]
[12]
[13]
[14]
[15]

Id.at169175.
196SCRA697(1991).
CARollo,pp.1213.
Id.at469.
Id.at471.
Id.at474.

[16]
[17]
[18]
[19]
[20]
[21]
[22]
[23]
[24]
[25]
[26]
[27]
[28]
[29]
[30]
[31]
[32]
[33]
[34]
[35]
[36]
[37]

Id.at478.
Id.at500.
Id.at493494.
Rollo,pp.1920.
Phil.EmployServicesandResources,Inc.v.Paramio,427SCRA732(2004).
VHManufacturing,Inc.v.NLRC,322SCRA417(2000).
Id.at422.
Aparente,Sr.v.NationalLaborRelationsCommission,331SCRA82(2000).
Molatov.NationalLaborRelationsCommission,266SCRA42(1997).
Ibid.
Rollo,pp.261262.
Id.at264266.
G.R.No.145405,June29,2004.
Ibid.
377SCRA525(2002).
Ibid.
CocaColaBottlersPhilippines,Inc.v.NLRC,172SCRA751(1989).
Id.at757.
Supra,note28.
Supra,note11.
Rollo,p.266.
272SCRA267(1997).