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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

L-2089 October 31, 1949

JUSTA G. GUIDO, petitioner, vs. RURAL PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION, c/o FAUSTINO AGUILAR, Manager, Rural Progress Administration, respondent. Guillermo B. Guevara for petitioner. Luis M. Kasilag and Lorenzo B. Vizconde for respondent.

TUASON, J.: This a petition for prohibition to prevent the Rural Progress Administration and Judge Oscar Castelo of the Court of First Instance of Rizal from proceeding with the expropriation of the petitioner Justa G. Guido's land, two adjoining lots, part commercial, with a combined area of 22,655 square meters, situated in Maypajo, Caloocan, Rizal, just outside the north Manila boundary, on the main street running from this city to the north. Four grounds are adduced in support of the petition, to wit: (1) That the respondent RPA (Rural Progress Administration) acted without jurisdiction or corporate power in filling the expropriation complaint and has no authority to negotiate with the RFC a loan of P100,000 to be used as part payment of the value of the land. (2) That the land sought to be expropriated is commercial and therefore excluded within the purview of the provisions of Act 539. (3) That majority of the tenants have entered with the petitioner valid contracts for lease, or option to buy at an agreed price, and expropriation would impair those existing obligation of contract. (4) That respondent Judge erred in fixing the provisional value of the land at P118,780 only and in ordering its delivery to the respondent RPA. We will take up only ground No. 2. Our conclusion on this branch of the case will make superfluous a decision on the other questions raised. Sections 1 and 2 of Commonwealth Act No. 539, copied verbatim, are as follows: SECTION 1. The President of the Philippines is authorized to acquire private lands or any interest therein, through purchaser or farms for resale at reasonable prices and under such conditions as he may fix to their bona fide tenants or occupants or to private individuals who will work the lands themselves and who are qualified to acquire and own lands in the Philippines.

SEC. 2. The President may designated any department, bureau, office, or instrumentality of the National Government, or he may organize a new agency to carry out the objectives of this Act. For this purpose, the agency so created or designated shall be considered a public corporation. The National Assembly approved this enactment on the authority of section 4 of Article XIII of the Constitution which, copied verbatim, is as follows: The Congress may authorize, upon payment of just compensation, the expropriation of lands to be subdivided into small lots and conveyed at cost to individuals. What lands does this provision have in view? Does it comprehend all lands regardless of their location, nature and area? The answer is to be found in the explanatory statement of Delegate Miguel Cuaderno, member of the Constitutional Convention who was the author or sponsor of the above-quoted provision. In this speech, which was entitled "Large Estates and Trust in Perpetuity" and is transcribed in full in Aruego's "The Framing of the Philippine Constitution," Mr. Cuaderno said: There has been an impairment of public tranquility, and to be sure a continuous of it, because of the existence of these conflicts. In our folklore the oppression and exploitation of the tenants are vividly referred to; their sufferings at the hand of the landlords are emotionally pictured in our drama; and even in the native movies and talkies of today, this theme of economic slavery has been touched upon. In official documents these same conflicts are narrated and exhaustively explained as a threat to social order and stability. But we should go to Rizal inspiration and illumination in this problem of this conflicts between landlords and tenants. The national hero and his family were persecuted because of these same conflicts in Calamba, and Rizal himself met a martyr's death because of his exposal of the cause of the tenant class, because he would not close his eyes to oppression and persecution with his own people as victims.lawphi1.nt I ask you, gentlemen of the Convention, knowing this as you do and feeling deeply as you must feel a regret over the immolation of the hero's life, would you not write in the Constitution the provision on large estates and trust in perpetuity, so that you would be the very instrument of Providence to complete the labors of Rizal to insure domestic tranquility for the masses of our people? If we are to be true to our trust, if it is our purpose in drafting our constitution to insure domestic tranquility and to provide for the well-being of our people, we cannot, we must fail to prohibit the ownership of large estates, to make it the duty of the government to break up existing large estates, and to provide for their acquisition by purchase or through expropriation and sale to their occupants, as has been provided in the Constitutions of Mexico and Jugoslavia. No amendment was offered and there was no debate. According to Dean Aruego, Mr. Cuaderno's resolution was readily and totally approved by the Convention. Mr. Cuaderno's speech therefore may be taken as embodying the intention of the framers of the organic law, and Act No. 539 should be construed in a manner consonant with that intention. It is to be presumed that the National Assembly did not intend to go beyond the constitutional scope of its powers.

There are indeed powerful considerations, aside from the intrinsic meaning of section 4 of Article XIII of the Constitution, for interpreting Act No. 539 in a restrictive sense. Carried to extremes, this Act would be subversive of the Philippine political and social structure. It would be in derogation of individual rights and the time-honored constitutional guarantee that no private property of law. The protection against deprivation of property without due process for public use without just compensation occupies the forefront positions (paragraph 1 and 2) in the Bill for private use relieves the owner of his property without due process of law; and the prohibition that "private property should not be taken for public use without just compensation" (Section 1 [par. 2], Article III, of the Constitution) forbids necessary implication the appropriation of private property for private uses (29 C.J.S., 819). It has been truly said that the assertion of the right on the part of the legislature to take the property of and citizen and transfer it to another, even for a full compensation, when the public interest is not promoted thereby, is claiming a despotic power, and one inconsistent with very just principle and fundamental maxim of a free government. (29 C.J.S., 820.) Hand in hand with the announced principle, herein invoked, that "the promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all the people should be the concern of the state," is a declaration, with which the former should be reconciled, that "the Philippines is a Republican state" created to secure to the Filipino people "the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty and democracy." Democracy, as a way of life enshrined in the Constitution, embraces as its necessary components freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom in the pursuit of happiness. Along with these freedoms are included economic freedom and freedom of enterprise within reasonable bounds and under proper control. In paving the way for the breaking up of existing large estates, trust in perpetuity, feudalism, and their concomitant evils, the Constitution did not propose to destroy or undermine the property right or to advocate equal distribution of wealth or to authorize of what is in excess of one's personal needs and the giving of it to another. Evincing much concern for the protection of property, the Constitution distinctly recognize the preferred position which real estate has occupied in law for ages. Property is bound up with every aspects of social life in a democracy as democracy is conceived in the Constitution. The Constitution owned in reasonable quantities and used legitimately, plays in the stimulation to economic effort and the formation and growth of a social middle class that is said to be the bulwark of democracy and the backbone of every progressive and happy country. The promotion of social justice ordained by the Constitution does not supply paramount basis for untrammeled expropriation of private land by the Rural Progress Administration or any other government instrumentality. Social justice does not champion division of property or equality of economic status; what it and the Constitution do guaranty are equality of opportunity, equality of political rights, equality before the law, equality between values given and received on the basis of efforts exerted in their production. As applied to metropolitan centers, especially Manila, in relation to housing problems, it is a command to devise, among other social measures, ways and means for the elimination of slums, shambles, shacks, and house that are dilapidated, overcrowded, without ventilation. light and sanitation facilities, and for the construction in their place of decent dwellings for the poor and the destitute. As will presently be shown, condemnation of blighted urban areas bears direct relation to public safety health, and/or morals, and is legal. In reality, section 4 of Article XIII of the Constitution is in harmony with the Bill of Rights. Without that provision the right of eminent domain, inherent in the government, may be exercised to acquire large tracts of land as a means reasonably calculated to solve serious economic and social problem. As Mr. Aruego says "the primary reason" for Mr.

Cuaderno's recommendation was "to remove all doubts as to the power of the government to expropriation the then existing landed estates to be distributed at costs to the tenantdwellers thereof in the event that in the future it would seem such expropriation necessary to the solution of agrarian problems therein." In a broad sense, expropriation of large estates, trusts in perpetuity, and land that embraces a whole town, or a large section of a town or city, bears direct relation to the public welfare. The size of the land expropriated, the large number of people benefited, and the extent of social and economic reform secured by the condemnation, clothes the expropriation with public interest and public use. The expropriation in such cases tends to abolish economic slavery, feudalistic practices, and other evils inimical to community prosperity and contentment and public peace and order. Although courts are not in agreement as to the tests to be applied in determining whether the use is public or not, some go far in the direction of a liberal construction as to hold that public advantage, and to authorize the exercise of the power of eminent domain to promote such public benefit, etc., especially where the interest involved are considerable magnitude. (29 C.J.S., 823, 824. See also People of Puerto Rico vs. Eastern Sugar Associates, 156 Fed. [2nd], 316.) In some instances, slumsites have been acquired by condemnation. The highest court of New York States has ruled that slum clearance and reaction of houses for low-income families were public purposes for which New York City Housing authorities could exercise the power of condemnation. And this decision was followed by similar ones in other states. The underlying reasons for these decisions are that the destruction of congested areas and insanitary dwellings diminishes the potentialities of epidemic, crime and waste, prevents the spread of crime and diseases to unaffected areas, enhances the physical and moral value of the surrounding communities, and promotes the safety and welfare of the public in general. (Murray vs. La Guardia, 52 N.E. [2nd], 884; General Development Coop. vs. City of Detroit, 33 N.W. [2ND], 919; Weizner vs. Stichman, 64 N.Y.S. [2nd], 50.) But it will be noted that in all these case and others of similar nature extensive areas were involved and numerous people and the general public benefited by the action taken. The condemnation of a small property in behalf of 10, 20 or 50 persons and their families does not inure to the benefit of the public to a degree sufficient to give the use public character. The expropriation proceedings at bar have been instituted for the economic relief of a few families devoid of any consideration of public health, public peace and order, or other public advantage. What is proposed to be done is to take plaintiff's property, which for all we know she acquired by sweat and sacrifice for her and her family's security, and sell it at cost to a few lessees who refuse to pay the stipulated rent or leave the premises. No fixed line of demarcation between what taking is for public use and what is not can be made; each case has to be judge according to its peculiar circumstances. It suffices to say for the purpose of this decision that the case under consideration is far wanting in those elements which make for public convenience or public use. It is patterned upon an ideology far removed from that consecrated in our system of government and embraced by the majority of the citizens of this country. If upheld, this case would open the gates to more oppressive expropriations. If this expropriation be constitutional, we see no reason why a 10-, 15-, or 25-hectare farm land might not be expropriated and subdivided, and sold to those who want to own a portion of it. To make the analogy closer, we find no reason why the Rural Progress Administration could not take by condemnation an urban lot containing an area of 1,000 or 2,000 square meters for subdivision into tiny lots for resale to its occupants or those who want to build thereon. The petition is granted without special findings as to costs.

Moran, C.J., Feria, Bengzon, Padilla Paras and Reyes, JJ., concur in the result. Separate Opinions TORRES, J., concurring:

and

Montemayor,

JJ.,

concur.

I fully concur in the above opinion of Mr. Justice Tuason. I strongly agree with him that when the framers of our Constitution wrote in our fundamental law the provision contained in section 4 of Article XIII, they never intended to make it applicable to all cases, wherein a group of more or less numerous persons represented by the Rural Progress Administration, or some other governmental instrumentality, should take steps for the expropriation of private land to be resold to them on the installment plan. If such were the intention of the Constitution, if section 4 of its Article XIII will be so interpreted as to authorize that government corporation to institute the corresponding court proceedings to expropriate for the benefit of a new interested persons a piece of private land, the consequence that such interpretation will entail will be incalculable. In addition to the very cogent reasons mentioned by Mr. Justice Tuason in support of his interpretation of that constitution created by the acquisition of the so-called friar lands at the beginning of the establishment of civil government by the United States in these islands. After the lapse of a few years, the tenants for whose benefit those haciendas were purchased by the government, and who signed contracts of purchase by the government. Thousands of cases were time, the Government which had been administering those haciendas for a long period of years went into much expense in order to achieve the purpose of the law. I take for granted that in this case the prospective purchasers, in inducing the government to buy the land to be expropriated and sold to them by lots on the installments plan do from the beginning have the best of intentions to abide by the terms of the contract which they will be required to sign. If I am not misinformed, the whole transaction in the matter of the purchase of the friar lands has been a losing proposition, with the government still holding many lots originally intended for sale to their occupants, who for some reasons or other failed to comply with the terms of the contract signed by them. Without the sound interpretation thus given this Court restricting within reasonable bounds the application of the provision of section 4 of Article XIII of our Constitution and clarifying the powers of the Rural Progress Administration under Commonwealth Act No. 539, said corporation or, for that matter, some other governmental entity might embark in a policy of indiscriminate acquisition of privately owned land, urban or otherwise just for the purpose of taking care of the wishes of certain individuals and, as outlined by Mr. Justice Tuason, regardless of the merits of the case. And once said policy is carried out, it will place the Government of the Republic in the awkward predicament of veering towards socialism, a step not foreseen nor intended by our Constitution. Private initiative will thus be substituted by government action and intervention in cases where the action of the individual will be more than enough to accomplish the purpose sought. In the case at bar, it is understood that contracts, for the sale by lots of the land sought to be expropriated to the present tenants of this herein petitioner, have been executed. There is, therefore, not the slightest reason for the intervention of the government in the premises.

.R. No. 174585

October 19, 2007

FEDERICO M. LEDESMA, JR., Petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (NLRC-SECOND DIVISION) HONS. RAUL T. AQUINO, VICTORIANO R. CALAYCAY and ANGELITA A. GACUTAN ARE THE COMMISSIONERS, PHILIPPINE NAUTICAL TRAINING INC., ATTY. HERNANI FABIA, RICKY TY, PABLO MANOLO, C. DE LEON and TREENA CUEVA, Respondents. DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: This a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, filed by petitioner Federico Ledesma, Jr., seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision,1 dated 28 May 2005, and the Resolution,2 dated 7 September 2006, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79724. The appellate court, in its assailed Decision and Resolution, affirmed the Decision dated 15 April 2003, and Resolution dated 9 June 2003, of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), dismissing petitioners complaint for illegal dismissal and ordering the private respondent Philippine National Training Institute (PNTI) to reinstate petitioner to his former position without loss of seniority rights. The factual and procedural antecedents of the instant petition are as follows: On 4 December 1998, petitioner was employed as a bus/service driver by the private respondent on probationary basis, as evidenced by his appointment.3 As such, he was required to report at private respondents training site in Dasmarias, Cavite, under the direct supervision of its site administrator, Pablo Manolo de Leon (de Leon).4 On 11 November 2000, petitioner filed a complaint against de Leon for allegedly abusing his authority as site administrator by using the private respondents vehicles and other facilities for personal ends. In the same complaint, petitioner also accused de Leon of immoral conduct allegedly carried out within the private respondents premises. A copy of the complaint was duly received by private respondents Chief Accountant, Nita Azarcon (Azarcon).5 On 27 November 2000, de Leon filed a written report against the petitioner addressed to private respondents Vice-President for Administration, Ricky Ty (Ty), citing his suspected drug use. In view of de Leons report, private respondents Human Resource Manager, Trina Cueva (HR Manager Cueva), on 29 November 2000, served a copy of a Notice to petitioner requiring him to explain within 24 hours why no disciplinary action should be imposed on him for allegedly violating Section 14, Article IV of the private respondents Code of Conduct.6 On 3 December 2000, petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against private respondent before the Labor Arbiter.

In his Position Paper,7 petitioner averred that in view of the complaint he filed against de Leon for his abusive conduct as site administrator, the latter retaliated by falsely accusing petitioner as a drug user. VP for Administration Ty, however, instead of verifying the veracity of de Leons report, readily believed his allegations and together with HR Manager Cueva, verbally dismissed petitioner from service on 29 November 2000. Petitioner alleged that he was asked to report at private respondents main office in Espaa, Manila, on 29 November 2000. There, petitioner was served by HR Manager Cueva a copy of the Notice to Explain together with the copy of de Leons report citing his suspected drug use. After he was made to receive the copies of the said notice and report, HR Manager Cueva went inside the office of VP for Administration Ty. After a while, HR Manager Cueva came out of the office with VP for Administration Ty. To petitioners surprise, HR Manager Cueva took back the earlier Notice to Explain given to him and flatly declared that there was no more need for the petitioner to explain since his drug test result revealed that he was positive for drugs. When petitioner, however, asked for a copy of the said drug test result, HR Manager Cueva told him that it was with the companys president, but she would also later claim that the drug test result was already with the proper authorities at Camp Crame.8 Petitioner was then asked by HR Manager Cueva to sign a resignation letter and also remarked that whether or not petitioner would resign willingly, he was no longer considered an employee of private respondent. All these events transpired in the presence of VP for Administration Ty, who even convinced petitioner to just voluntarily resign with the assurance that he would still be given separation pay. Petitioner did not yet sign the resignation letter replying that he needed time to think over the offers. When petitioner went back to private respondents training site in Dasmarias, Cavite, to get his bicycle, he was no longer allowed by the guard to enter the premises.9 On the following day, petitioner immediately went to St. Dominic Medical Center for a drug test and he was found negative for any drug substance. With his drug result on hand, petitioner went back to private respondents main office in Manila to talk to VP for Administration Ty and HR Manager Cueva and to show to them his drug test result. Petitioner then told VP for Administration Ty and HR Manager Cueva that since his drug test proved that he was not guilty of the drug use charge against him, he decided to continue to work for the private respondent.10 On 2 December 2000, petitioner reported for work but he was no longer allowed to enter the training site for he was allegedly banned therefrom according to the guard on duty. This incident prompted the petitioner to file the complaint for illegal dismissal against the private respondent before the Labor Arbiter. For its part, private respondent countered that petitioner was never dismissed from employment but merely served a Notice to Explain why no disciplinary action should be filed against him in view of his superiors report that he was suspected of using illegal drugs. Instead of filing an answer to the said notice, however, petitioner prematurely lodged a complaint for illegal dismissal against private respondent before the Labor Arbiter.11 Private respondent likewise denied petitioners allegations that it banned the latter from entering private respondents premises. Rather, it was petitioner who failed or refused to report to work after he was made to explain his alleged drug use. Indeed, on 3 December 2000, petitioner was able to claim at the training site his salary for the period of 16-30

November 2000, as evidenced by a copy of the pay voucher bearing petitioners signature. Petitioners accusation that he was no longer allowed to enter the training site was further belied by the fact that he was able to claim his 13th month pay thereat on 9 December 2000, supported by a copy of the pay voucher signed by petitioner.12 On 26 July 2002, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision,13 in favor of the petitioner declaring illegal his separation from employment. The Labor Arbiter, however, did not order petitioners reinstatement for the same was no longer practical, and only directed private respondent to pay petitioner backwages. The dispositive portion of the Labor Arbiters Decision reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the dismissal of the [petitioner] is herein declared to be illegal. [Private respondent] is directed to pay the complainant backwages and separation pay in the total amount of One Hundred Eighty Four Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty One Pesos and Fifty Three Centavos (P184, 861.53).14 Both parties questioned the Labor Arbiters Decision before the NLRC. Petitioner assailed the portion of the Labor Arbiters Decision denying his prayer for reinstatement, and arguing that the doctrine of strained relations is applied only to confidential employees and his position as a driver was not covered by such prohibition.15 On the other hand, private respondent controverted the Labor Arbiters finding that petitioner was illegally dismissed from employment, and insisted that petitioner was never dismissed from his job but failed to report to work after he was asked to explain regarding his suspected drug use.161wphi1 On 15 April 2003, the NLRC granted the appeal raised by both parties and reversed the Labor Arbiters Decision.17 The NLRC declared that petitioner failed to establish the fact of dismissal for his claim that he was banned from entering the training site was rendered impossible by the fact that he was able to subsequently claim his salary and 13th month pay. Petitioners claim for reinstatement was, however, granted by the NLRC. The decretal part of the NLRC Decision reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision under review is, hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and another entered, DISMISSING the complaint for lack of merit. [Petitioner] is however, ordered REINSTATED to his former position without loss of seniority rights, but WITHOUT BACKWAGES.18 The Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioner was likewise denied by the NLRC in its Resolution dated 29 August 2003.19 The Court of Appeals dismissed petitioners Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, and affirmed the NLRC Decision giving more credence to private respondents stance that petitioner was not dismissed from employment, as it is more in accord with the evidence on record and the attendant circumstances of the instant case.20 Similarly ill-fated was petitioners Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution issued on 7 September 2006. 21 Hence, this instant Petition for Review on Certiorari22 under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, filed by petitioner assailing the foregoing Court of Appeals Decision and Resolution on the following grounds:

I. WHETHER, THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS, AND THE ASSAILED DECISION IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD. PETITIONERS DISMISSAL WAS ESTABLISHED BY THE UNCONTRADICTED EVIDENCES ON RECORD, WHICH WERE MISAPPRECIATED BY PUBLIC RESPONDENT NLRC, AND HAD THESE BEEN CONSIDERED THE INEVITABLE CONCLUSION WOULD BE THE AFFIRMATION OF THE LABOR ARBITERS DECISION FINDING ILLEGAL DISMISSAL II. WHETHER, THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS SUBVERTED DUE PROCESS OF LAW WHEN IT DID NOT CONSIDER THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD SHOWING THAT THERE WAS NO JUST CAUSE FOR DISMISSAL AS PETITIONER IS NOT A DRUG USER AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS GROUND FOR DISMISSAL. III. WHETHER, THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW IN NOT FINDING THAT RESPONDENTS SUBVERTED PETITIONERS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF THE LAW.23 Before we delve into the merits of this case, it is best to stress that the issues raised by petitioner in this instant petition are factual in nature which is not within the office of a Petition for Review.24 The raison detre for this rule is that, this Court is not a trier of facts and does not routinely undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending parties for the factual findings of the labor officials who have acquired expertise in their own fields are accorded not only respect but even finality, and are binding upon this Court.25 However, when the findings of the Labor Arbiter contradict those of the NLRC, departure from the general rule is warranted, and this Court must of necessity make an infinitesimal scrunity and examine the records all over again including the evidence presented by the opposing parties to determine which findings should be preferred as more conformable with evidentiary facts.26 The primordial issue in the petition at bar is whether the petitioner was illegally dismissed from employment. The Labor Arbiter found that the petitioner was illegally dismissed from employment warranting the payment of his backwages. The NLRC and the Court of Appeals found otherwise. In reversing the Labor Arbiters Decision, the NLRC underscored the settled evidentiary rule that before the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove the validity of the employees dismissal, the employee must first sufficiently establish that he was indeed dismissed from employment. The petitioner, in the present case, failed to establish the fact of his dismissal.

The NLRC did not give credence to petitioners allegation that he was banned by the private respondent from entering the workplace, opining that had it been true that petitioner was no longer allowed to enter the training site when he reported for work thereat on 2 December 2000, it is quite a wonder he was able to do so the very next day, on 3 December 2000, to claim his salary.27 The Court of Appeals validated the above conclusion reached by the NLRC and further rationated that petitioners positive allegations that he was dismissed from service was negated by substantial evidence to the contrary. Petitioners averments of what transpired inside private respondents main office on 29 November 2000, when he was allegedly already dismissed from service, and his claim that he was effectively banned from private respondents premises are belied by the fact that he was able to claim his salary for the period of 16-30 November 2000 at private respondents training site. Petitioner, therefore, is now before this Court assailing the Decisions handed down by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals, and insisting that he was illegally dismissed from his employment. Petitioner argues that his receipt of his earned salary for the period of 16-30 November 2000, and his 13th month pay, is neither inconsistent with nor a negation of his allegation of illegal dismissal. Petitioner maintains that he received his salary and benefit only from the guardhouse, for he was already banned from the work premises. We are not persuaded. Well-entrenched is the principle that in order to establish a case before judicial and quasiadministrative bodies, it is necessary that allegations must be supported by substantial evidence.28 Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.29 In the present case, there is hardly any evidence on record so as to meet the quantum of evidence required, i.e., substantial evidence. Petitioners claim of illegal dismissal is supported by no other than his own bare, uncorroborated and, thus, self-serving allegations, which are also incoherent, inconsistent and contradictory. Petitioner himself narrated that when his presence was requested on 29 November 2000 at the private respondents main office where he was served with the Notice to Explain his superiors report on his suspected drug use, VP for Administration Ty offered him separation pay if he will just voluntarily resign from employment. While we do not condone such an offer, neither can we construe that petitioner was dismissed at that instance. Petitioner was only being given the option to either resign and receive his separation pay or not to resign but face the possible disciplinary charges against him. The final decision, therefore, whether to voluntarily resign or to continue working still, ultimately rests with the petitioner. In fact, by petitoners own admission, he requested from VP for Administration Ty more time to think over the offer. Moreover, the petitioner alleged that he was not allowed to enter the training site by the guard on duty who told him that he was already banned from the premises. Subsequently, however, petitioner admitted in his Supplemental Affidavit that he was able to return to the said site on 3 December 2000, to claim his 16-30 November 2000 salary, and again on 9 December 2000, to receive his 13th month pay. The fact alone that he was able to return to the training site to claim his salary and benefits raises doubt as to his purported ban from the premises.

Finally, petitioners stance that he was dismissed by private respondent was further weakened with the presentation of private respondents payroll bearing petitioners name proving that petitioner remained as private respondents employee up to December 2000. Again, petitioners assertion that the payroll was merely fabricated for the purpose of supporting private respondents case before the NLRC cannot be given credence. Entries in the payroll, being entries in the course of business, enjoy the presumption of regularity under Rule 130, Section 43 of the Rules of Court. It is therefore incumbent upon the petitioner to adduce clear and convincing evidence in support of his claim of fabrication and to overcome such presumption of regularity.30 Unfortunately, petitioner again failed in such endeavor. On these scores, there is a dearth of evidence to establish the fact of petitioners dismissal. We have scrupulously examined the records and we found no evidence presented by petitioner, other than his own contentions that he was indeed dismissed by private respondent. While this Court is not unmindful of the rule that in cases of illegal dismissal, the employer bears the burden of proof to prove that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause in the case at bar, however, the facts and the evidence did not establish a prima facie case that the petitioner was dismissed from employment.31 Before the private respondent must bear the burden of proving that the dismissal was legal, petitioner must first establish by substantial evidence the fact of his dismissal from service. Logically, if there is no dismissal, then there can be no question as to the legality or illegality thereof. In Machica v. Roosevelt Services Center, Inc.,32 we had underscored that the burden of proving the allegations rest upon the party alleging, to wit: The rule is that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it; thus, petitioners were burdened to prove their allegation that respondents dismissed them from their employment. It must be stressed that the evidence to prove this fact must be clear, positive and convincing. The rule that the employer bears the burden of proof in illegal dismissal cases finds no application here because the respondents deny having dismissed the petitioners.33 In Rufina Patis Factory v. Alusitain,34 this Court took the occasion to emphasize: It is a basic rule in evidence, however, that the burden of proof is on the part of the party who makes the allegations ei incumbit probatio, qui dicit, non qui negat. If he claims a right granted by law, he must prove his claim by competent evidence, relying on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of that of his opponent.35 It is true that the Constitution affords full protection to labor, and that in light of this Constitutional mandate, we must be vigilant in striking down any attempt of the management to exploit or oppress the working class. However, it does not mean that we are bound to uphold the working class in every labor dispute brought before this Court for our resolution. The law in protecting the rights of the employees, authorizes neither oppression nor selfdestruction of the employer. It should be made clear that when the law tilts the scales of justice in favor of labor, it is in recognition of the inherent economic inequality between labor and management. The intent is to balance the scales of justice; to put the two parties on relatively equal positions. There may be cases where the circumstances warrant favoring

labor over the interests of management but never should the scale be so tilted if the result is an injustice to the employer. Justitia nemini neganda est -- justice is to be denied to none.36 WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated 28 May 2005 and its Resolution dated 7 September 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No. 79724 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.

RAFAEL GELOS, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and ERNESTO ALZONA, respondents. Balagtas P. Ilagan for petitioner. Emil Capulong, Jr., for private respondent.

CRUZ, J.: The Court is asked to determine the real status of the petitioner, who claims to be a tenant of the private respondent and entitled to the benefits of tenancy laws. The private respondent objects, contending that the petitioner is only a hired laborer whose right to occupy the subject land ended with the termination of their contract of employment. The subject land is a 25,000 square meter farmland situated in Cabuyao, Laguna, and belonging originally to private respondent Ernesto Alzona and his parents in equal shares. On July 5, 1970, they entered into a written contract with petitioner Rafael Gelos employing him as their laborer on the land at the stipulated daily wage of P5.00. 1 On September 4, 1973, after Alzona had bought his parents' share and acquired full ownership of the land, he wrote Gelos to inform him of the termination of his services and to demand that he vacate the property. Gelos refused and continued working on the land. On October 1, 1973, Gelos went to the Court of Agrarian Relations and asked for the fixing of the agricultural lease rental on the property. He later withdrew the case and went to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, which granted his petition. For his part, Alzona filed a complaint for illegal detainer against Gelos in the Municipal Court of Cabuyao, but this action was declared "not proper for trial" by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform because of the existence of a tenancy relationship between the parties. Alzona was rebuffed for the same reason when he sought the assistance of the Ministry of Labor and later when he filed a complaint with the Court of Agrarian Relations for a declaration of non-tenancy and damages against Gelos. On appeal to the Office of the President, however, the complaint was declared proper for trial and so de-archived and reinstated.

After hearing, the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City (which had taken over the Court of Agrarian Relations under PB 129) rendered a decision dated April 21, 1987, dismissing the complaint. 2 It found Gelos to be a tenant of the subject property and entitled to remain thereon as such. The plaintiff was also held liable in attorney's fees and costs. The decision was subsequently reversed by the Court of Appeals. In its judgment promulgated on November 25, 1988, 3 it held that Gelos was not a tenant of the land in question and ordered him to surrender it to Alzona. He was also held liable for the payment of P10,000.00 as attorney's fees and the costs of the suit. The basic question the petitioner now raises before the Court is essentially factual and therefore not proper in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Only questions of law may be raised in this kind of proceeding. The settled rule is that the factual findings of the Court of Appeals are conclusive on even this Court as long as they are supported by substantial evidence. The petitioner has not shown that his case comes under any of those rare exceptions on such findings may be validly reversed by this Court. It is true that in Talavera v. Court of Appeals, 4 we held that a factual conclusion made by the trial court that a person is a tenant farmer, if it is supported by the minimum evidence demanded by law, is final and conclusive and cannot be reversed by the appellate tribunals except for compelling reasons. In the case at bar, however, we find with the respondent court that there was such a compelling reason. A careful examination of the record reveals that, indeed, the trial court misappreciated the facts when it ruled that the petitioner was a tenant of the private respondent. The circumstance that the findings of the respondent court do not concur with those of the trial court does not, of course, call for automatic reversal of the appellate court. Precisely, the function of the appellate court is to review and, if warranted, reverse the findings of the trial court. Disagreement between the two courts merely calls on us to make a specially careful study of their respective decisions to determine which of them should be preferred as more conformable to the facts at hand. The Court has made this careful study and will sustain the decision of the respondent court. The contract of employment dated July 5, 1970, written in Tagalog and entitled "Kasunduan ng Upahang Araw," reads pertinently as follows: 1. Ang Unang Panig ay siyang may-ari at nagtatangkilik ng isang lagay na lupa, sinasaka, na tumatayo sa Nayon ng Baclaran, Cabuyao, Laguna, na siyang gagawa at sasaka sa lupa, samantalang ang Ikalawang Panig ay magiging upahan at katulong sa paggawa ng lupa. 2. Ang Unang Panig ay gustong ipagpatuloy ang pagbubungkal at paggawa ng bukid na binabanggit sa itaas at ang Ikalawang Panig ay may ibig na magpaupa sa paggawa sa halagang P5.00 sa bawat araw, walong oras na trabaho gaya ng mga sumusunod: Patubigan ng linang; pagpapahalabas ng mga pilapil; pagpapaaldabis sa

unang araw ng pag-aararo; pagpapalinis ng damo sa ibabaw ng pilapil; pagpapakamot (unang pagpapasuyod), pagpapahalang at pagpapabalasaw (ikalawa't ikatlong pagpapasuyod); isang tao sa pagsasabog ng abono una sa pagpapantay ng linang; bago magtanim; isang tao sa pagaalaga ng dapog; upa sa isang tao ng magbobomba ng gamot laban sa pagkapit ng mga kulisap (mayroon at wala); sa nag-we-weeder; upa sa mga tao na maggagamas at magpapatubig ng palay; magsasapaw ng mga pilapil at iba pa. 3. Ang Unang Panig at ang Ikalawang Panig ay nagkasundo na ang huli ay gagawa sa bukid ayon sa nabanggit sa itaas bilang katulong at upahan lamang. Ang Unang Panig bukod sa sila ang gagawa at magsasaka ay maaaring umupa ng iba pang tao manggagawa sa upahang umiiral sang-ayon sa batas katulad ng pag-aararo, pagpapahulip, pagpapagamas, pagbobomba, pagweweeder, pagsasabog ng abono, pagbobomba ng gamot, pagpapatubig at iba pang mga gawain. Maaaring alisin ang Ikalawang Panig sa pagpapatrabaho sa ano mang oras ng Unang Panig. 4. Ipinatatanto ng Ikalawang Panig na siya ay hindi kasama sa bukid kundi upahan lamang na binabayaran sa bawa't araw ng kanyang paggawa sa bukid na nabanggit. It is noted that the agreement provides that "ang Ikalawang Panig (meaning Gelos) ay may ibig na magpaupa sa paggawa sa halagang P5.00 sa bawa't araw, walong oras na trabaho" (The Second Party desires to lease his services at the rate of P5.00 per day, eight hours of work) and that "Ipinatatanto ng Ikalawang Panig na siya ay hindi kasama sa bukid kundi upahan lamang na binabayaran sa bawa't araw ng kanyang paggawa sa bukid na nabanggit.'' (The Second Party makes it known that he is not a farm tenant but only a hired laborer who is paid for every day of work on the said farm.) These stipulations clearly indicate that the parties did not enter into a tenancy agreement but only a contract of employment. The agreement is a lease of services, not of the land in dispute. This intention is quite consistent with the undisputed fact that three days before that agreement was concluded, the former tenant of the land, Leocadio Punongbayan, had executed an instrument in which he voluntarily surrendered his tenancy rights to the private respondent. 5 It also clearly demonstrates that, contrary to the petitioner's contention, Alzona intended to cultivate the land himself instead of placing it again under tenancy. The petitioner would now disavow the agreement, but his protestations are less than convincing. His wife's testimony that he is illiterate is belied by his own testimony to the contrary in another proceeding. 6 Her claim that they were tricked into signing the agreement does not stand up against the testimony of Atty. Santos Pampolina, who declared under his oath as a witness (and as an attorney and officer of the court) that he explained the meaning of the document to Gelos, who even read it himself before signing it. 7 Atty. Pampolina said the agreement was not notarized because his commission as notary public was good only for Manila and did not cover Laguna, where the document was executed. 8 At any rate, the lack of notarization did not adversely affect the veracity and effectiveness of the agreement, which, significantly, Gelos and his wife do not deny having signed.

Gelos points to the specific tasks mentioned in the agreement and suggests that they are the work of a tenant and not of a mere hired laborer. Not so. The work specified is not peculiar to tenancy. What a tenant may do may also be done by a hired laborer working under the direction of the landowner, as in the case at bar. It is not the nature of the work involved but the intention of the parties that determines the relationship between them. As this Court has stressed in a number of cases, 9 "tenancy is not a purely factual relationship dependent on what the alleged tenant does upon the land. It is also a legal relationship. The intent of the parties, the understanding when the farmer is installed, and as in this case, their written agreements, provided these are complied with and are not contrary to law, are even more important." Gelos presented receipts 10 for fertilizer and pesticides he allegedly bought and applied to the land of the private respondent, but the latter insists that it was his brother who bought them, being an agriculturist and in charge of the technical aspect of the farm. Moreover, the receipts do not indicate to which particular landholding the fertilizers would be applied and, as pointed out by the private respondent, could refer to the other parcels of land which Gelos was tenanting. The petitioner's payment of irrigation fees from 1980 to 1985 to the National Irrigation Administration on the said landholding is explained by the fact that during the pendency of the CAR case, the Agrarian Reform Office fixed a provisional leasehold rental after a preliminary finding that Gelos was the tenant of the private respondent. As such, it was he who had to pay the irrigation fees. Incidentally, Section 12, subpar. (r) of PD 946 provides that the Secretary's determination of the tenancy relationship is only preliminary and cannot be conclusive on the lower court. It is noteworthy that, except for the self-serving testimony of the petitioner's wife, the records of this case are bereft of evidence regarding the sharing of harvest between Gelos and Alzona. No less importantly, as the Court of Appeals observed, the petitioner has not shown that he paid rentals on the subject property from 1970 to 1973, before their dispute arose. A tenant is defined under Section 5(a) of Republic Act No. 1199 as a person who himself and with the aid available from within his immediate farm household cultivates the land belonging to or possessed by another, with the latter's consent, for purposes of production, sharing the produce with the landholder under the share tenancy system, or paying to the landholder a price-certain or ascertainable in produce or in money or both, under the leasehold tenancy system. (Emphasis supplied) For this relationship to exist, it is necessary that: 1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; 2) the subject is agricultural land; 3) there is consent; 4) the purpose is agricultural production; 5) there is personal cultivation; and 6) there is sharing of harvest or payment of rental. In the absence of any of these requisites, an occupant of a parcel of land, or a cultivator thereof, or planter thereon, cannot qualify as a de jure tenant. 11 On the other hand, the indications of an employer-employee relationship are: 1) the selection and engagement of the employee; 2) the payment of wages; 3) the

power of dismissal; and 4) the power to control the employee's conduct although the latter is the most important element. 12 According to a well-known authority on the subject, 13 tenancy relationship is distinguished from farm employer-farm worker relationship in that: "In farm employer-farm worker relationship, the lease is one of labor with the agricultural laborer as the lessor of his services and the farm employer as the lessee thereof. In tenancy relationship, it is the landowner who is the lessor, and the tenant the lessee of agricultural land. The agricultural worker works for the farm employer and for his labor be receives a salary or wage regardless of whether the employer makes a profit. On the other hand, the tenant derives his income from the agricultural produce or harvest." The private respondent, instead of receiving payment of rentals or sharing in the produce of the land, paid the petitioner lump sums for specific kinds of work on the subject lot or gave him vales, or advance payment of his wages as laborer thereon. The petitioner's wife claims that Alzona made her husband sign the invoices all at one time because he allegedly needed them to reduce his income taxes. Even assuming this to be true, we do not think that made the said payments fictitious, especially so since the petitioner never denied having received them. The other issue raised by the petitioner, which is decidedly legal, is easily resolved. There being no tenancy relationship, the contention that the private respondent's complaint has prescribed under Section 38 of R.A. 3844 must also fail. That section is not applicable. It must be noted that at the very outset, Alzona rejected the petitioner's claim of agricultural tenancy and immediately instituted his action for unlawful detainer in accordance with Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court. As it happened, the said case was held not proper for trial by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform. He then resorted to other remedies just so he could recover possession of his land and, finally, in 1979, he yielded to the jurisdiction of the defunct Court of Agrarian Relations by filing there an action for declaration of non-tenancy. The action, which was commenced in 1979, was within the ten-year prescriptive period provided under Article 1144 of the Civil Code for actions based on a written contract. * The Court quotes with approval the following acute observations made by Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy: It might not be amiss to state at this juncture that in deciding this case in favor of defendant, the lower court might have been greatly influenced by the fact that defendant is a mere farmer who is almost illiterate while plaintiff is an educated landlord, such that it had felt that it was its duty to be vigilant for the protection of defendant's interests. But the duty of the court to protect the weak and the underprivileged should not be carried out to such an extent as to deny justice to the landowner whenever truth and justice happen to be on his side. Besides, defendant's economic position vis a vis the plaintiff does not necessarily make him the underprivileged party in this case, for as testified by plaintiff which defendant never denied, the small land in question was the only landholding of plaintiff when he and his father bought the same, at which time he was just a lowly employee who did not even have a house of his own and his father, a mere farmer, while defendant

was the agricultural tenant of another piece of land and also owns his own house, a sari sari store, and a caritela. Plaintiff also surmised that it was only after defendant had been taken into its wings by the Federation of Free Farmers that he started claiming to be plaintiff's agricultural tenant, presumably upon the Federation's instigation and advice. And we cannot discount this possibility indeed, considering that during the early stages of the proceedings this case, defendant even counter-proposed to plaintiff that he would surrender the land in question to the latter if plaintiff would convey to him another piece of land adjacent to the land in question, almost one ha. in area, that plaintiff had also acquired after buying the land in question, showing that defendant was not as ignorant as he would want the Court to believe and had the advice of people knowledgeable on agrarian matters. This Court has stressed more than once that social justice or any justice for that matter is for the deserving, whether he be a millionaire in his mansion or a pauper in his hovel. It is true that, in case of reasonable doubt, we are called upon to tilt the balance in favor of the poor, to whom the Constitution fittingly extends its sympathy and compassion. But never is it justified to prefer the poor simply because they are poor, or to reject the rich simply because they are rich, for justice must always be served, for poor and rich alike, according to the mandate of the law. WHEREFORE, the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED and the petition is DENIED, with costs against the petitioner. It is so ordered. Narvasa, C.J., Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Bellosillo, JJ., concur.