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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 97239 May 12, 1993
INTERNATIONAL RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, petitioner,
vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (THIRD DIVISION) AND NESTOR B. MICOSA, respondents.
Jimenez & Associates for petitioner.
Santos & Associates for private respondent.
NOCON, J.:
Posed for determination in this petition for certiorari is the question of whether a conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude is a ground for dismissal from employment and corollarily, whether a conviction of
a crime of homicide involves moral turpitude.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an international organization recognized by the Philippine
government and accorded privileges, rights and immunities normally granted to organizations of universal
character. In 1977, it hired private respondent Nestor B. Micosa as laborer, who thereby became bound by
IRRI Employment Policy and Regulations, the Miscellaneous Provisions of which states viz:
C. Conviction and Previous Separation
l. . . .
2. An employer who has been convicted of a (sic) criminal offense involving moral turpitude
may be dismissed from the service. 1
On February 6, 1967, Micosa stabbed to death one Reynaldo Ortega inside a beer house in Los Baos,
Laguna.
On September 15, 1987, Micosa was accused of the crime of homicide. During the pendency of the
criminal case, Micosa voluntarily applied for inclusion in IRRI's Special Separation Program. However, on
January 9, 1990, IRRI's Director General, Klaus L. Lampe expressed deep regret that he had to disapprove
Micosa's application for separation because of IRRI's desire to retain the skills and talents that persons like
him possess. 2
On January 23, 1990, the trial court rendered a decision fending Micosa guilty of homicide, but
appreciating, however, in his favor the presence of the mitigating circumstances of (a) incomplete selfdefense and (b) voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any aggravating circumstance.
Subsequently, Micosa applied for suspension of his sentence under the Probation Law.
On February 8, 1990, IRRI's Director General personally wrote Micosa that his appointment as laborer was
confirmed, making him a regular core employee whose appointment was for an indefinite period and who
"may not be terminated except for justifiable causes as defined by the pertinent provisions of the Philippine
Labor Code.3
On March 30, 1990, IRRI's Human Resource Development Head, J.K. Pascual wrote Micosa urging him to
resign from employment in view of his conviction in the case for homicide.

On April 4, 1990, the Laguna Parole and Probation Office No. II wrote IRRI informing the latter that said office
found Micosa's application for probation meritorious as he was evaluated "to possess desirable social
antecedents in his life." 4
On April 6, 1990, Micosa informed J.K. Pascual that he had no intention of resigning from his job at IRRI.
On April 22, 1990, J. K. Pascual replied to Micosa's letter insisting that the crime for which he was convicted
involves moral turpitude and informing him that he is thereby charged of violating Section I-AA, Par VII, C-2
of the Institute's Personnel Manual.
On April 27, 1990, Micosa explained to J.K. Pascual that the slaying of Reynaldo Ortega on February 6, 1987
arose out of his act of defending himself from unlawful aggression; that his conviction did not involve moral
turpitude and that he opted not to appeal his conviction so that he could avail of the benefits of probation,
which the trial court granted to him.
On May 7, 1990, Micosa sought the assistance of IRRI's Grievance Committee who recommended to the
Director General, his continued employment. However, on May 21, 1990, J.K. Pascual issued a notice to
Micosa that the latter's employment was to terminate effective May 25, 1990.
On May 29, 1990, Micosa filed a case for illegal dismissal.
On August 21, 1990, Labor Arbiter Numeriano D. Villena rendered judgment finding the termination of
Micosa illegal and ordering his reinstatement with full backwages from the date of his dismissal up to actual
reinstatement. The dispositive portion of the same is hereunder quoted:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the following orders are hereby entered:
1. Finding the termination of complainant's services illegal;
2. Ordering respondent International Rice Research Institute to reinstate complainant Nestor
B. Micosa to his former position without loss of seniority rights and other privileges
appurtenant, thereto immediately upon receipt hereof;
3. Ordering respondent International Rice Research Institute to pay complainant Nestor B.
Micosa his full backwages computed from the date of his dismissal on May 25, 1990 up to
actual reinstatement based on his latest salary rate of P41,068.00 per month.
4. Ordering respondent International Rice Research Institute, to pay complainant's counsel
the amount of Five Thousand Pesos P5,000.00, representing his attorney's fees; and.
5. Dismissing the claim for damages for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED. 5
On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission was basically in agreement with the findings and
conclusions of the Labor Arbiter. Hence, in a resolution dated January 31, 1991, it affirmed the appealed
decision, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED with modification deleting the award of
attorney's fees.
SO ORDERED. 6
Accordingly, petitioner filed this instant petition raising the following issues:
1. THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION HAS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT IRRI HAD NO RIGHT NOR AUTHORITY TO PRESCRIBE ANY OTHER
CAUSE/S FOR DISMISSAL IF THE SAME IS NOT AMONG THOSE ENUMERATED IN ARTICLE OF THE
LABOR CODE.

2. THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


IN HOLDING THAT "THERE IS NO BASIS TO APPLY PETITIONER'S INSTITUTE PERSONNEL MANUAL IN
DISMISSING THE COMPLAINANT ON THE SOLE GROUND THAT HIS CONVICTION OF HOMICIDE
CONSTITUTE MORAL TURPITUDE. 7
The basic premise of petitioner is that Micosa's conviction of the crime of homicide, which is a crime
involving moral turpitude, is a valid ground for his dismissal under the Miscellaneous Provisions of IRRI's
Employment Policy Regulations.
In addition to its claim that it has the prerogative to issue rules and regulations including those concerning
employee discipline and that its employees are bound by the aforesaid personnel manual, petitioner
justifies its action as a legitimate act of self-defense. It admits that Micosa's interests in his employment
and means of livelihood are adversely affected; that a convict should not be discriminated against in
society and that he should be given the same opportunities as those granted to other fellow citizens but
claims that at times, one's right is deemed superior than that of another. In this case, petitioner believes that
it has a superior right to maintain a very high degree or standard not only to forestall any internal problem
hampering operations but also to prevent even the smallest possibility that said problems could occur
considering that it is an international organization with concomitant obligation to the host country to avoid
creating disturbance or give occasion for such disturbance.
It should be recalled, however, that Micosa was issued an appointment with an assurance from the IRRI's
Director General that as regular core employee he "may not be terminated except for justifiable causes as
defined by the pertinent provisions of the Philippine Labor Code." 8 Thus, IRRI could not remove him from his
job if there existed no justifiable cause as defined by the Labor Code.
Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerates the just causes wherein an employer may terminate an
employment. Verily, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude is not one of these justifiable causes.
Neither may said ground be justified under Article 282 (c) nor under 282 (d) by analogy. Fraud or willful
breach by the employees of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative
under Article 282 (c) refers to any fault or culpability on the part of the employee in the discharge of his duty
rendering him absolutely unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his position. It cannot be
gainsaid that the breach of trust must be related to the performance of the employee's function. 9 On the
other hand, the commission of a crime by the employee under Article 282 (d) refer to an offense against
the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative.
Analogous causes must have an element similar to those found in the specific just cause enumerated under
Article 282. Clearly lacking in the ground invoked by petitioner is its relation to his work or to his employer.
In the case at bar, the commission of the crime of homicide was outside the perimeter of the IRRI complex,
having been committed in a restaurant after office hours and against a non-IRRI employee. Thus, the
conviction of Micosa for homicide was not work-related, his misdeed having no relation to his position as
laborer and was not directed or committed against IRRI or its authorized agent.
Besides, IRRI failed to show how the dismissal of Micosa would be in consideration of the safety and welfare
of its employees, its reputation and standing in the community and its special obligations to its host country.
It did not present evidence to show that Micosa possessed a tendency to kill without provocation or that he
posed a clear and present danger to the company and its personnel. On the contrary, the records reveal
that Micosa's service record is unblemished. There is no record whatsoever that he was involved in any
incident similar to that which transpired on that fateful night of February 6, 1987. In fact, even after his
conviction, the IRRI's Director General expressed his confidence in him when he disapproved his application
for special separation in a letter dated January 8, 1990 and when he conveyed to him IRRI's decision to
promote him to the status of a regular core employee, with the commensurate increases in benefits in a
letter dated February 1990. Respondent IRRI derogates the letters' significance saying that they were
mere pro-forma communications which it had given to numerous other workers. But whether or not such
letters were "form letters, they expressed the message that were meant to be conveyed, i.e., that Micosa is
fit for continued employment. In addition, the employees at IRRI's Grievance Committee interceded
favorably in behalf of Micosa when they recommended his retention despite his conviction showing that
the very employees which IRRI sought to protect did not believe that they were placing their very own lives
in danger with Micosa's retention.

Likewise, noteworthy is the fact that Micosa, although found guilty as charged, was also found worthy of
probation. This means that all the information regarding his character, antecedents, environment, as well as
his mental and physical condition were evaluated as required under Section 8 of the Probation Law and it
was found that there existed no undue risk that Micosa will commit another crime during his period of
probation and that his being placed on probation would be to the benefit of society as a whole.
In the face of all these, IRRI remained adamant and insisted on Micosa's termination. Certainly, said
termination cannot be upheld for it lacked not only a legal basis but factual basis as well.
Even under IRRI's Employment Policy and Regulations, the dismissal of Micosa's on the ground of his
conviction for homicide cannot be sustained. The miscellaneous provisions of said personnel manual
mentions of conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude as a ground for dismissal. IRRI simply assumed
that conviction of the crime of homicide is conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. We do not
subscribe to this view.
Moral turpitude has been defined in Can v. Galing 10 citing In Re Basa 11 and Tak Ng v. Republic 12 as
everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; an act of baseness, vileness or
depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary
to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals.
As
to
what
crime
involves
moral
turpitude,
is
for
the
Supreme
Court
to
determine. 13 Thus, the precipitate conclusion of IRRI that conviction of the crime of homicide involves moral
turpitude is unwarranted considering that the said crime which resulted from an act of incomplete selfdefense from an unlawful aggression by the victim has not been so classified as involving moral turpitude.
IRRI argues that the crime of homicide committed by Micosa involves moral turpitude as the killing of a man
is conclusively an act against justice and is immoral in itself not merely prohibited by law. It added that
Micosa stabbed the victim more than what was necessary to repel the attack.
IRRI failed to comprehend the significance of the facts in their totality. The facts on record show that Micosa
was then urinating and had his back turned when the victim drove his fist unto Micosa's face; that the victim
then forcibly rubbed Micosa's face into the filthy urinal; that Micosa pleaded to the victim to stop the attack
but was ignored and that it was while Micosa was in that position that he drew a fan knife from the left
pocket of his shirt and desperately swung it at the victim who released his hold on Micosa only after the
latter had stabbed him several times. These facts show that Micosa's intention was not to slay the victim but
only to defend his person. The appreciation in his favor of the mitigating circumstances of self- defense and
voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any aggravating circumstance demonstrate that Micosa's
character and intentions were not inherently vile, immoral or unjust.
This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve moral turpitude. Homicide may
or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. 14 Moral turpitude is not involved
in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and intentional violation of statute, but whether any
particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the
surrounding circumstances. 15 While . . . generally but not always, crimes mala in se involve moral turpitude,
while crimes mala prohibita do not, it, cannot always be ascertained whether moral turpitude does or does
not exist by classifying a crime as malum in se or as malum prohibitum, since there are crimes which
are mala in se and yet but rarely involve moral turpitude and there are crimes which involve moral turpitude
and are mala prohibita only. 16 It follows therefore, that moral turpitude is somewhat a vague and indefinite
term, the meaning of which must be left to the process of judicial inclusion or exclusion as the cases are
reached.
In fine, there is nothing in this case to show any abuse of discretion by the National Labor Relations
Commission in affirming the decision of the Labor Arbiter finding that Micosa was illegally dismissed.
For certiorari to lie, there must be capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power, the very antithesis of
the judicial prerogative in accordance with centuries of both civil and common traditions. 17 The abuse of
discretion must be grave and patent, and it must be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or
despotically. 18
WHEREFORE, the petition, is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. 3360 January 30, 1990
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, complainant
vs.
ATTY. FE T. TUANDA, respondent.
PER CURIAM:
In a Motion to Lift Order of Suspension dated 12 July 1989, respondent Fe T. Tuanda, a member of the
Philippine Bar, asks this Court to lift the suspension from the practice of law imposed upon her by a decision
of the Court of Appeals dated 17 October 1988 in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 05093.
On 17 December 1983, respondent received from one Herminia A. Marquez several pieces of jewelry, with a
total stated value of P36,000.00, for sale on a commission basis, with the condition that the respondent
would turn over the sales proceeds and return the unsold items to Ms. Marquez on or before 14 February
1984. Sometime in February 1984, respondent, instead of returning the unsold pieces of jewelry which then
amounted to approximately P26,250.00, issued three checks: (a) a check dated 16 February 1984 for the
amount of P5,400.00; (b) a check dated 23 February 1984 also for the amount of P5,400.00; and (c) a check
dated 25 February 1984 for the amount of P15,450.00. Upon presentment for payment within ninety (90)
days after their issuance, all three (3) checks were dishonored by the drawee bank, Traders Royal Bank, for
insufficiency of funds. Notwithstanding receipt of the notice of dishonor, respondent made no
arrangements with the bank concerning the honoring of checks which had bounced and made no effort
to settle her obligations to Ms. Marquez.
Consequently, four (4) informations were filed against respondent with the Regional Trial Court of Manila: (a)
one for estafa, docketed as Criminal Case No. 85-38358; and (b) three (3) for violation of B.P. Blg. 22,
docketed respectively as Criminal Cases Nos. 85-38359, 85-38360 and 85-38361. In due time, after trial, the
trial court rendered a decision dated 25 August 1987 which:
(a) acquitted respondent of the charge of estafa; and
(b) convicted respondent of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in all three (3) cases, and sentenced
respondent to pay a fine of P6,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and
to indemnify the complainant in the amount of P5,400.00 in Criminal Case No. 8538359;

to pay a fine of P 6,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to


indemnify the complainant in the amount of P5,400.00, in Criminal Case No. 85-38360; and
to pay a fine of P16,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to
indemnify the complainant in the amount of P15,450.00, in Criminal Case No. 85-38361, and
to pay the costs in all three (3) cases.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 05093 affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court
but, in addition, suspended respondent Tuanda from the practice of law. The pertinent portion of the
decision read as follows:
For reasons above stated and finding the evidence sufficient to sustain the conviction, the
judgment is hereby AFFIRMED subject to this modification.
It appearing from the records that the accused Fe Tuanda is a member of the Bar, and the
offense for (sic) which she is found guilty involved moral turpitude, she is hereby ordered
suspended from the practice of law and shall not practice her profession until further action
from the Supreme Court, in accordance with Sections 27 and 28 of Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court. A copy of this decision must be forwarded to the Supreme Court as required by
Section 29 of the same Rule.
SO ORDERED. 1
On 16 December 1988, respondent filed a Notice of Appeal with the Court of Appeals. The Court of
Appeals, in a Resolution dated 9 January 1989, noted respondent's Notice of Appeal and advised her "to
address her Notice of Appeal to the Honorable Supreme Court, the proper forum." On 1 February 1989,
respondent filed with this Court a Notice of Appeal.
In a Resolution dated 31 May 1989, the Supreme Court noted without action respondent's Notice of Appeal
and declared that the Court of Appeals' decision of 17 October 1988 had become final and executory
upon expiration of the period for filing a petition for review on certiorari on 16 December 1988. In that
Resolution, the Court found that respondent had lost her right to appeal by certiorari when she posted with
this Court a Notice of Appeal instead of filing a petition for review on certiorari under Section 1, Rule 45 of
the Revised Rules of Court within the reglementary period.
In the instant Motion to Lift Order of Suspension, respondent states:
that suspension from the practice of law is indeed a harsh if not a not painful penalty
aggravating the lower court's penalty of fine considering that accused-appellant's action on
the case during the trial on the merits at the lower court has always been motivated purely
by sincere belief that she is innocent of the offense charged nor of the intention to cause
damage to the herein plaintiff-appellee.
We read the above statement as a claim by the respondent that, she had not violated her oath as a
member of the Philippine Bar upon the ground that when she issued the checks which bounced, she did
not intend to cause damage to complainant Ms. Marquez.
The Court affirms the suspension from the practice of law imposed by the Court of Appeals upon
respondent Tuanda. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that "the offense [of] which she is found guilty
involved moral turpitude." We should add that violation of B.P. Blg. 22 is a serious criminal offense which
deleteriously affects public interest and public order. In Lozano v. Martinez, 2 the Court explained the nature
of the offense of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in the following terms:
xxx xxx xxx
The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. Blg. 22 is the act of making and issuing a
worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its presentation for payment. . . . The
thrust of the law is to prohibit under pain of penal sanctions, the making of worthless checks
and putting them in circulation. Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest, the

practice is prescribed by the law. The law punishes the act not as an offense against
property but an offense against public order.
xxx xxx xxx
The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends the private interests of the parties
directly involved in the transaction and touches the interests of the community at large. The
mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public.
The harmful practice of putting valueless commercial papers in circulation, multiplied a
thousandfold, can very well pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking
system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest. 3 (Italics supplied)
Respondent was thus correctly suspended from the practice of law because she had been convicted of
crimes involving moral turpitude. Sections 27 and 28 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provide as
follows:
Sec. 27. Attorneys renewed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. A member of
the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court of
any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a wilful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as
an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at
law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
malpractice. (Italics supplied)
Sec. 28. Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance. The
Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance may suspend an attorney from practice for any
of the causes named in the last preceding section, and after such suspension such attorney
shall not practice his profession until further action of the Supreme Court in the premises.
(Italics supplied)
We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted also import deceit and violation of her
attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility under both of which she was bound to "obey the
laws of the land." Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude might not (as in the instant case, violation
of B.P. Blg. 22 does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer; however, it certainly relates to
and affects the good moral character of a person convicted of such offense. In Melendrez v. Decena, 4 this
Court stressed that:
the nature of the office of an attorney at law requires that she shall be a person of good
moral character. This qualification is not only a condition precedent to an admission to the
practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law. 5
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Motion to Lift Order of Suspension. Respondent shall remain
suspended from the practice of law until further orders from this Court. A copy of this Resolution shall be
forwarded to the Bar Confidant and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and spread on the record of
respondent.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes
and Grio-Aquino, JJ., concur.

PEOPLE vs. TUANDA


(A.M. No. 3360. JANUARY 30, 1990)
FACTS: Respondent Fe T. Tuanda, a member of the Philippine Bar, asks this Court to lift the suspension
from the practice of law imposed upon her by a decision of the Court of Appeals. In 1983, Atty. Fe Tuanda
received from one Herminia A. Marquez several pieces of jewelry with a total value of P36,000 for sale on
commission basis. In 1984, instead of returning the unsold pieces of jewelry worth P26,250, she issued 3
checks. These checks were dishonored by the drawee bank, Traders Royal Bank, for insufficiency of funds.
Notwithstanding receipt of the notice of dishonor, Tuanda made no effort to settle her obligation. Criminal
cases were filed, wherein she wasacquitted of estafa but was found guilty of violation of BP 22 (The AntiBouncing Check Law). The appellate court affirmed the decision of the trial court and imposed further
suspension against Tuanda in the practice of law, on the ground that the offense involves moral turpitude.
Tuanda is now appealing to the Supreme Court for her suspension to be lifted arguing that her suspension
was a penalty so harsh on top of the fines imposed to her in violation of the aforementioned
law. Arguing further that she intends no damage to the plaintiff-appellee (Herminia A. Marquez)and she is
not guilty of the offense charged.
ISSUE: Whether or not the suspension of Atty. Tuanda be lifted.
HELD: NO. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that "the offense [of] which she is found guilty involved moral
turpitude. Sections 27 and 28 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provide as follows:
Sec. 27. Attorneys renewed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. A member of the bar
may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court of any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
take before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or
for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The
practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or
brokers, constitutes malpractice. (Italics supplied)
Sec. 28. Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance. The Court
of Appeals or a Court of First Instance may suspend an attorney from practice for any of the causes
named in the last preceding section, and after such suspension such attorney shall not practice his
profession until further action of the Supreme Court in the premises.
Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude relates to and affects the good moral character of a person
convicted of such offense. Herein, BP 22 violation is a serious criminal offense which deleteriously affects
public interest and public order. The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends the private
interest of parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the interest of the community at large.

Putting valueless commercial papers in circulation, multiplied a thousand fold, can very well pollute the
channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and
the public interest. The crimes of which respondent was convicted also import deceit and violation of her
attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility under both of which she was bound to "obey the
laws of the land."
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Motion to Lift Order of Suspension. Respondent shall remain
suspended from the practice of law until further orders from this Court.