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G.R. No.

198465
April 22, 2015
LITEX GLASS AND ALUMINUM SUPPLY AND/OR RONALD ONGSITCO vs. DOMINADOR B. SANCHEZ
Labor Law; Abandonment; To constitute abandonment, it is essential that an
employee failed to report for work without any valid and justifiable reason
and that he had a clear intention to sever the employment relationship by
some overt act. Mere failure to report for work after notice to return does
not constitute abandonment.
Same; Reinstatement; An illegally dismissed employee is entitled to
reinstatement as a matter of right but when an atmosphere of antipathy and
antagonism has already strained the relations between the employer and
employee, separation pay is to be awarded as reinstatement can no longer
be equitably effected.
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
FACTS: Dominador B. Sanchez (Sanchez) was employed as a driver and an
aluminum installer in companies owned and managed by Ronald Ong-Sitco
(Ong-Sitco), the last of which was with Glass and Aluminum Supply (Litex).
On December 23, 2008, Sanchez claimed that Ong-Sitco and his wife
scolded and threw offensive words and criticisms upon him. Then, he was
ordered to go on indefinite leave. Hence, Sanchez left the work premises
with the hope that the hostility between him and his employer would sooner
or later be settled.
Days after, Sanchez went back to discuss to Ong-Sitco his employment
status but the latter just ignored him. After two similar attempts from
Sanchez, Ong-Sitco still refused to entertain Sanchez. Thus, Sanchez filed a
case for illegal dismissal and non-payment of holiday pay, premium for
holiday pay, service incentive leave pay and attorney's fees against Litex
and Ong-Sitco.
Subsequent to the filing of the said complaint, Sanchez received two
memorandum-letters which contain notices to report for work and to
explain the following infractions: 1) going home early without justification
on December 3, 2008; 2) exhibiting erratic behavior and threatening to file
a case after being summoned to explain his unjustified leave; and, 3)

unauthorized use of company vehicle for personal benefit on December 20,


2008. The second letter contained a warning that should Sanchez fail to
report and explain his continued absence within 24 hours, it would be
tantamount to his abandonment of work.
Sanchez did not report for work. According to him, the memorandumletter was a mere afterthought to cover up Ong-Sitcos act of illegal
termination. This prompted Ong-Sitco and Litex to conclude that Sanchez
abandoned his job.
ISSUES: (1) WHETHER OR NOT SANCHEZ ABANDONED HIS WORK
(2) WHETHER OR NOT SANCHEZ IS ENTITLED TO SEPARATION PAY
HELD: (1) NEGATIVE. Sanchez did not abandon his work but he was
illegally dismissed.
To constitute abandonment, it is essential that an employee failed to
report for work without any valid and justifiable reason and that he had a
clear intention to sever the employment relationship by some overt act.
Mere failure to report for work after notice to return does not constitute
abandonment.
According to Ong-Sitco himself, he and Sanchez had an altercation in
his office, and that Ong-Sitco also admitted that Sanchez subsequently went
several times to his office to clear his employment status but Ong-Sitco
payed no heed to him. The "show-cause" letters sent to Sanchez to give him
an opportunity to answer the infractions against him and to likewise give
notice for him to return to work were merely made in order to give impute
that Sanchez abandoned his work when in fact he was illegally dismissed. It
has been held that the filing of the complaint negates any intention of
abandonment of work.
(2) AFFIRMATIVE. As stated, "an illegally dismissed employee is
entitled to reinstatement as a matter of right." But when an atmosphere of
antipathy and antagonism has already strained the relations between the
employer and employee, separation pay is to be awarded as reinstatement
can no longer be equitably effected.

Although separation pay was not prayed for by Sanchez, he is entitled


to such since the altercation between him and Ong-Sitco is enough basis to
conclude that there exists a strained relationship between them.