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RepublicofthePhilippines
SupremeCourt
Manila

SECONDDIVISION
HYPTER.AUJERO,

G.R.No.193484

Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO,J.,
Chairperson,
versus

PEREZ,
SERENO,
REYES,and
BERNABE,JJ.

PHILIPPINE COMMUNICATIONS
SATELLITECORPORATION,
Promulgated:

Respondent.

January18,2012

xx

DECISION

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REYES,J:

ThisisaPetitionforReviewunderRule45oftheRulesofCourtfromtheNovember
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12,2009Decision andJuly28,2010Resolution oftheCourtofAppeals(CA)inCAG.R.


SP No. 107233 entitled Hypte R. Aujero v. National Labor Relations Commission and
PhilippineCommunicationsSatelliteCorporation.

In its November 12, 2009 Decision, the CA dismissed the petitioners petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court from the National Labor Relations
Commissions (NLRC) July 4, 2008 and September 29, 2008 Resolutions, the dispositive
portionofwhichstates:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed Resolutions dated


July 4, 2008 and September 29, 2008 of public respondent National Labor Relations
CommissioninNLRCNCRCaseNo.0007089212004[NLRCNCRCANo.049644
06]areAFFIRMED.

SOORDERED.

ThepetitionerfiledaMotionforReconsiderationfromtheaboveDecisionbutthis
waslikewisedeniedbytheCAinitsJuly28,2010Resolution.

TheAntecedentFacts

It was in 1967 that the petitioner started working for respondent Philippine
CommunicationsSatelliteCorporation(Philcomsat)asanaccountantinthelatter'sFinance
Department. On August 15, 2001 or after thirtyfour (34) years of service, the petitioner
applied for early retirement. His application for retirement was approved, effective
September15,2001,entitlinghimtoreceiveretirementbenefitsatarateequivalenttoone
andahalfofhismonthlysalaryforeveryyearofservice.Atthattime,thepetitionerwas
Philcomsat's Senior VicePresident with a monthly salary of Two Hundred SeventyFour
4

ThousandEightHundredFivePesos(P274,805.00).

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OnSeptember12,2001,thepetitionerexecutedaDeedofReleaseandQuitclaim in
Philcomsatsfavor,followinghisreceiptfromthelatterofacheckintheamountofNine
Million Four Hundred ThirtyNine Thousand Three Hundred TwentySeven and 91/100
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Pesos(P9,439,327.91).

Almost three (3) years thereafter, the petitioner filed a complaint for unpaid
retirement benefits, claiming that the actual amount of his retirement pay is Fourteen
MillionFifteenThousandandFiftyFivePesos(P14,015,055.00)andtheP9,439,327.91he
received from Philcomsat as supposed settlement for all his claims is unconscionable,
whichismorethanenoughreasontodeclarehisquitclaimasnullandvoid.Accordingto
thepetitioner,hehadnochoicebuttoacceptalesseramountashewasindireneedthereof
and was all set to return to his hometown and he signed the quitclaim despite the
considerabledeficiencyasnosinglecentavowouldbereleasedtohimifhedidnotexecute
7

areleaseandwaiverinPhilcomsat'sfavor.

The petitioner claims that his right to receive the full amount of his retirement
benefits, which is equivalent to one and a half of his monthly salary for every year of
service,isprovidedundertheRetirementPlanthatPhilcomsatcreatedonJanuary1,1977
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forthebenefitofitsemployees. OnNovember3,1997,PhilcomsatandtheUnitedCoconut
Planters Bank (UCPB) executed a Trust Agreement, where UCPB, as trustee, shall hold,
administer and manage the respective contributions of Philcomsat and its employees, as
well as the income derived from the investment thereof, for and on behalf of the
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beneficiariesoftheRetirementPlan.

The petitioner claims that Philcomsat has no right to withhold any portion of his
retirement benefits as the trust fund created pursuant to the Retirement Plan is for the
exclusivebenefitofPhilcomsatemployeesandPhilcomsathadexpresslyrecognizedthatit
10

hasnorightorclaimoverthetrustfundevenontheportionpertainingtoitscontributions.
AsSection4oftheTrustAgreementprovides:

Section4TheCompanies,inaccordancewiththeprovisionsofthePlan,herebywaive
alltheirrightstotheircontributionsinmoneyorpropertywhichareandwillbepaidor
transferredtotheTrustFund,andnopersonshallhaveanyrightin,orwithrespectto,
theTrustFundoranypartthereofexceptasexpresslyprovidedhereinorinthePlan.At
notime,priortothesatisfactionofallliabilitieswithrespecttotheparticipantsandtheir
beneficiariesunderthePlan,shallanypartofthecorpusorincomeoftheFundbeused
forordivertedtopurposesotherthanfortheexclusivebenefitofPlanparticipantsand
theirbeneficiaries.
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ThepetitionercallsattentiontotheAugust15,2001letterofPhilcomsat'sChairman
andPresident,Mr.CarmeloAfrica,addressedtoUCPBforthereleaseofP9,439,327.91to
the petitioner and P4,575,727.09 to Philcomsat, which predated the execution of his
12

quitclaimonSeptember12,2001. Accordingtothepetitioner,thisindicatesPhilcomsats
preconceivedplanstodeprivehimofasignificantportionofhisretirementpay.

13

OnMay31,2006,LaborArbiterJoelS.Lustria(LALustria)issuedaDecision in
the petitioners favor, directing Philcomsat to pay him the amount of P4,575,727.09 and
P274,805.00, representing the balance of his retirement benefits and salary for the period
from August 15 to September 15, 2001, respectively. LA Lustria found it hard to believe
that the petitioner would voluntary waive a significant portion of his retirement pay. He
foundtheconsiderationsupportingthesubjectquitclaimunconscionableandruledthatthe
respondentfailedtosubstantiateitsclaimthattheamountreceivedbythepetitionerwasa
productofnegotiationsbetweentheparties.Thus:

It would appear from the tenor of the letter that, rather that the alleged
agreement,betweencomplainantandrespondent,respondentisclaimingpaymentforan
outstanding due to Philcomsat out of the retirement benefits of complainant. This
couldhardlybeconsideredasproofofanagreementtoreducecomplainantsretirement
benefits. Absent any showing of any agreement or authorization, the deductions from
complainantsretirementbenefitsshouldbeconsideredasimproperandillegal.

If we were to give credence to the claim of respondent, it would appear that


complainant has voluntarily waived a total amount of [P]4,575,727.09. Given the
purpose of retirement benefits to provide for a retiree a source of income for the
remainder of his years, it defies understanding how complainant could accept such an
arrangementandlosemorethan[P]4.5millionintheprocess.Onecanreadilyseethe
unreasonablenessofsuchaproposition.Bythesametoken,theQuitclaimandWaiver
over benefits worth millions is apparently unconscionable and unacceptable under
normalcircumstances.TheSupremeCourthasconsistentlyruledthatwaiversmustbe
fair,reasonable,andjustandmustnotbeunconscionableonitsface.Theexplanationof
the complainant that he was presented with a lower amount on pain that the entire
benefits will not be released is more believable and consistent with evidence. We,
therefore,ruleagainsttheeffectivityofthewaiverandquitclaim,thus,complainantis
entitledtothebalanceofhisretirementbenefitsintheamountof[P]4,575,727.09.
14

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InitsJuly4,2008Resolution, theNLRCgrantedPhilcomsatsappealandreversed
and set aside LA Lustrias May 31, 2006 Decision. The NLRC dismissed the petitioners
complaintforunpaidretirementbenefitsandsalaryinconsiderationoftheDeedofRelease
andQuitclaimheexecutedinSeptember12,2001followinghisreceiptfromPhilcomsatof

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theamountofP9,439,327.91,whichconstitutesthefullsettlementofallhisclaimsagainst
Philcomsat. According to the NLRC, the petitioner failed to allege, much less, adduce
evidence that Philcomsat employed means to vitiate his consent to the quitclaim. The
petitioner is welleducated, a licensed accountant and was Philcomsats Senior Vice
President prior to his retirement he cannot therefore claim that he signed the quitclaim
withoutunderstandingtheconsequencesandimplicationsthereof.Therelevantportionsof
theNLRCsJuly4,2008Resolutionstates:

After analyzing the antecedent, contemporaneous and subsequent facts


surroundingtheallegedunderpaymentofretirementbenefits,Werulethatrespondent
appellanthavenomoreobligationtothecomplainantappellee.

The complainantappellee willingly received the check for the said amount,
without having filed any objections nor reservations thereto, and even executed and
signedaReleaseandQuitclaiminfavoroftherespondentappellant.Undoubtedly,the
quitclaimthecomplainantappelleesignedisvalid.Complainantappelleehasnotdenied
at any time its due execution and authenticity. He never imputed claims of coercion,
undueinfluence,orfraudagainsttherespondentappellant.Hisstatementinhisreplyto
therespondentappellantspositionpaperthatthequitclaimisvoidallegingthatitwas
obtained through duress is only an afterthought to make his claim appear to be
convincing.Ifitweretrue,complainantappelleeshouldhaveassertedsuchfactfromthe
verybeginning.Also,therewasnoconvincingproofshownbythecomplainantappellee
toproveexistenceofduressexertedagainsthim.Hisstatureandeducationalattainment
wouldbothnegatethathecanbeforcedintosomethingagainsthiswill.

It should be stressed that complainantappellee even waited for a period of


almost three (3) years before he filed the complaint. If he really felt aggrieved by the
amount he received, prudence dictates that he immediately would call the respondent
appellantsattentionandattheearliestopportuneshouthisobjections,ratherthanwait
for years, before deciding to claim his supposed benefits, [e]specially that his alleged
entitlementisalargesumofmoney.Thus,itisevidentthatthefilingoftheinstantcase
is a clear case of afterthought, and that complainantappellee simply had a change of
mind.ThisWecannotallow.

xxxx

Intheinstantcase,havingwillinglysignedtheDeedofReleaseandQuitclaim
dated September 12, 2001, it is hard to conclude that the complainantappellee was
merelyforcedbythenecessitytoexecutethequitclaim.Complainantappelleeisnota
gullibleorunsuspectingpersonwhocaneasilybetrickedorinveigledand,thus,needs
the extra protection of law. He is welleducated and a highly experienced man. The
releaseandquitclaimexecutedbythecomplainantappelleeisthereforeconsideredvalid
and binding on him and the respondentappellant. He is already estopped from
questioningthesame.
16

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Philcomsats appeal to the NLRC from LA Lustrias May 31, 2006 Decision was
filedanditssuretybondpostedbeyondtheprescribedperiodoften(10)days.OnJune20,
2006,acopyofLALustriasDecisionwasservedonMaritessQuerubin(Querubin),oneof
Philcomsats executive assistants, as Philcomsats counsel and the executive assistant
assigned to her were both out of the office. It was only the following day that Querubin
gaveacopyofthesaidDecisiontotheexecutiveassistantofPhilcomsatscounsel,leading
thelattertobelievethatitwasonlythenthatthesaidDecisionhadbeenserved.Inturn,this
ledPhilcomsatscounseltobelievethatitwasonJune21,2006thattheten(10)dayperiod
startedtorun.

Havinginmindthatthedelaywasonlyone(1)dayandtheexplanationofferedby
Philcomsatscounsel,theNLRCdisregardedPhilcomsatsprocedurallapseandproceeded
todecidetheappealonitsmerits.Thus:

It appears that on June 20[,] 2006[,] copy of the Decision was received by one
(Maritess)whoisnottheSecretaryofrespondentsappellantscounselandthereforenot
authorizedtoreceivesuchdocument.Itwasonlythefollowingday,June21,2006,that
respondentsappellants[] counsel actually received the Decision which was stamped
receivedonsaiddate.Verily,counselhasuntilJuly3,2006withinwhichtoperfectthe
appeal,whichhedid.InPLDTvs.NLRC,etal.,G.R.No.60250,March26,1984,the
Honorable Supreme Court held that: where notice of the Decision was served on the
receivingstationatthegroundfloorofthedefendantscompanybuilding,andreceived
muchlaterattheofficeofthelegalcounselontheninthfloorofsaidbuilding,whichwas
hisaddressofrecord,serviceofsaiddecisionhastakeneffectfromsaidlaterreceiptat
theaforesaidofficeofitslegalcounsel.

Bethatasitmay,theprovisionsofSection10,RuleVIIoftheNLRCRulesof
Procedure,states,that:

SECTION 10. TECHNICAL RULES NOT BINDING. The rules


ofprocedureandevidenceprevailingincourtsoflawandequityshallnot
be controlling and the Commission shall use every and all reasonable
means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively,
withoutregardtotechnicalitiesoflaworprocedure,allintheinterestof
dueprocess.xxx

Additionally, the Supreme Court has allowed appeals from decisions of the Labor
Arbiter to the NLRC, even if filed beyond the reglementary period, in the interest of
justice. Moreover, under Article 218 (c) of the Labor Code, the NLRC may, in the
exerciseofitsappellatepowers,correct,amendorwaiveanyerror,defectorirregularity
whetherinsubstanceorinform.Further,Article221ofthesameprovidesthat:Inany
proceedingsbeforetheCommissionoranyoftheLaborArbiters,therulesofevidence
prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling and it is the spirit and
intentionofthisCodethattheCommissionanditsmembersandtheLaborArbitersshall
useineachcasespeedilyandobjectivelyandwithoutregardtotechnicalitiesoflawor

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useineachcasespeedilyandobjectivelyandwithoutregardtotechnicalitiesoflawor
procedure,allintheinterestofdueprocess.
17

In his petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to the CA, the
petitioner accused the NLRC of grave abuse of discretion in giving due course to the
respondents belated appeal by relaxing the application of one of the fundamental
requirements of appeal. An appeal, being a mere statutory right, should be exercised in a
manner that strictly conforms to the prescribed procedure. As of July 3, 2006, or when
Philcomsatfileditsappealandposteditssuretybond,LALustriasDecisionhadbecome
final and executory and Philcomsats counsels failure to verify when the copy of said
Decisionwasactuallyreceiveddoesnotconstituteexcusablenegligence.

Thepetitionerlikewiseanchoredhisallegationofgraveabuseofdiscretionagainst
the NLRC on the latter's refusal to strike as invalid the quitclaim he executed in
Philcomsats favor. According to the petitioner, his retirement pay amounts to
P14,015,055.00andP9,439,327.91hereceivedfromPhilcomsatassupposedsettlementfor
allhisclaimsagainstitisunconscionableandthisismorethanenoughreasontodeclarehis
quitclaimasnullandvoid.

By way of the assailed Decision, the CA found no merit in the petitioners claims,
holdingthattheNLRCdidnotactwithgraveabuseofdiscretioningivingduecoursetothe
respondentsappeal.

The Supreme Court has ruled that where a copy of the decision is served on a
personwhoisneitheraclerknoroneinchargeoftheattorneysoffice,suchserviceis
invalid. In the case at bar, it is undisputed that Maritess Querubin, the person who
received a copy of the Labor Arbiters decision, was neither a clerk of Atty. Yanzon,
privaterespondentscounsel,norapersoninchargeofAtty.Yanzonsoffice.Hence,her
receiptofsaiddecisiononJune20,2006cannotbeconsideredasnoticetoAtty.Yanzon.
Since a copy of the decision was actually delivered by Maritess to Atty. Yanzons
secretaryonlyonJune21,2006,itwasonlyonthisdatethatthetendayperiodforthe
filingofprivaterespondentsappealcommencedtorun.Thus,privaterespondentsJuly
3,2006appealtotheNLRCwasseasonablyfiled.

Similarly,theprovisionofArticle223oftheLaborCoderequiringthepostingof
a bond for the perfection of an appeal of a monetary award must be given liberal
interpretationinlinewiththedesiredobjectiveofresolvingcontroversiesonthemerits.
Ifonlytoachievesubstantialjustice,strictobservanceofthereglementaryperiodsmay
be relaxed if warranted. However, this liberal interpretation must be justified by
substantialcompliancewiththerule.AstheSupremeCourtruledinBuenaobrav.Lim
KingGuan:

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xxxx

Wenotethatintheinstantcase,privaterespondentsubstantiallycompliedwith
thefilingofitsappealandtherequiredappealbondonJuly3,2006thenextworking
dayafterJuly1,2006,theinterveningdaysbetweenthesaidtwodatesbeingaSaturday
andaSunday.Substantialjusticedictatesthatthepresentcasebedecidedonthemerits,
especiallysincetherewasamereonedaydelayinthefilingbyprivaterespondentofits
appealandappealbondwiththeNLRC.xxx. (citationomitted)
18

The CA further ruled that the NLRC was correct in upholding the validity of the
petitionersquitclaim.Thus:

Inthesamevein,thisCourtfindsthattheNLRCdidnotactwithgraveabuseof
discretionamountingtolackorexcessofjurisdictionindeclaringasvalidtheDeed of
ReleaseandQuitclaimdatedSeptember12,2001absolvingprivaterespondentfrom
liability arising from any and all suits, claims, demands or other causes of action of
whatever nature in consideration of the amount petitioner received in connection with
hisretirementsignedbypetitioner.xxx

xxxx

The assertion of petitioner that the Deed of Release and Quitclaim he signed
should be struck down for embodying unconscionable terms is simply untenable.
Petitioner himself admits that he has received the amount of [P]9,327,000.00
representing his retirement pay and other benefits from private respondent. By no
stretchoftheimaginationcouldthesaidamountbeconsideredunconscionablylowor
shockingtotheconscience,soastowarranttheinvalidationoftheDeedofReleaseand
Quitclaim.Grantingthatthesourceoftheretirementpayofpetitioneristhetrustfund
maintainedbyprivaterespondentattheUCPBforthepaymentoftheretirementpayof
privaterespondents employees, the said circumstance would still not justify the
invalidationoftheDeedofReleaseandQuitclaim,forpetitionerclearlyunderstoodthe
contentsthereofatthetimeofitsexecutionbutstillchoosetosignthedeed.Theterms
thereofbeingreasonableandtherebeingnoshowingthatprivaterespondentemployed
coercion,fraudorundueinfluenceuponpetitionertocompelhimtosignthesame,the
subjectDeed of Release and Quitclaim signed by petitioner shall be upheld as valid.
(citationsomitted)
19

The petitioner ascribes several errors on the part of the CA. Specifically, the petitioner
claimsthattheCAerredinnotdismissingtherespondentsappealtotheNLRC,whichwas
filed beyond the prescribed period. There is no dispute that Querubin was authorized to
receivemailsandcorrespondencesonbehalfofPhilcomsatscounselandherreceiptofLA
Lustrias Decision on June 20, 2006 is binding on Philcomsat. Also, the failure of
Philcomsats counsel to ascertain when exactly the copy of LA Lustrias Decision was

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received by Querubin is inexcusable negligence. Since the perfection of an appeal within


theten(10)dayperiodisamandatoryandjurisdictionalrequirement,Philcomsatsfailure
tojustifyitsdelayshouldhavebeenreasonenoughtodismissitsappeal.

The petitioner also claims that the CA erred in upholding the validity of the subject
quitclaim. The respondent has no right to retain a portion of his retirement pay and the
consideration for the execution of the quitclaim is simply unconscionable. The petitioner
submitsthattheCAshouldhavetakenintoaccountthatPhilcomsatsretirementplanwas
for the exclusive benefit of its employees and to allow Philcomsat to appropriate a
significantportionofhisretirementpayisaclearcaseofunjustenrichment.

Ontheotherhand,Philcomsatallegesthatthepetitionerwillfullyandknowinglyexecuted
the subject quitclaim in consideration of his receipt of his retirement pay. Albeit his
retirement pay was in the reduced amount of P9,439,327.91, Philcomsat alleges that this
wasarrivedatfollowingitsnegotiationswiththepetitionerandthelatterparticipatedinthe
computationthereof,takingintoaccounthisaccountabilitiestoPhilcomsatandthelatters
financialdebacles.

Philcomsat likewise alleges that the NLRC is clothed with ample authority to set aside
technicalruleshence,theNLRCdidnotactwithgraveabuseofdiscretioninentertaining
Philcomsatsappealinconsiderationofthecircumstancessurroundingthelatefilingthereof
andtheamountsubjectofthedispute.

Issues

Inviewoftheconflictingpositionsadoptedbytheparties,thisCourtisconfronted
withtwo(2)issuesthatarefarfrombeingnovel,towit:

a.WhetherthedelayinthefilingofPhilcomsatsappealandpostingofsurety
bondisinexcusableand

b. Whether the quitclaim executed by the petitioner in Philcomsats favor is


valid, thereby foreclosing his right to institute any claim against
Philcomsat.

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OurRuling

A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is confined to the
correctionoferrorsofjurisdictionandwillnotissueabsentashowingofacapriciousand
whimsical exercise of judgment, equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Not every error in a
proceeding, or every erroneous conclusion of law or of fact, is an act in excess of
20

jurisdiction or an abuse of discretion. The prerogative of writ of certiorari does not lie
21

excepttocorrect,noteverymisstep,butagraveabuseofdiscretion.

Procedural rules may be relaxed to give way to


thefulldeterminationofacaseonitsmerits.

ConfrontedwiththetaskofdeterminingwhethertheCAerredinnotfindinggrave
abuseofdiscretionintheNLRC'sdecisiontogiveduecoursetoPhilcomsat'sappealdespite
itsbeingbelatedlyfiled,thisCourtrulesinPhilcomsat'sfavor.

Proceduralrulesmaybewaivedordispensedwithinabsolutelymeritoriouscases.A
22

reviewofthecasescitedbythepetitioner,Rubiav.GovernmentServiceInsuranceSystem
23

and Videogram Regulatory Board v. Court of Appeals, where this Court adhered to the
strictimplementationoftherulesandconsideredtheminviolable,showsthatthepatentlack
of merit of the appeals render liberal interpretation pointless and naught. The contrary
obtains in this case as Philcomsat's case is not entirely unmeritorious. Specifically,
Philcomsatallegedthatthepetitioner'sexecutionofthesubjectquitclaimwasvoluntaryand
hemadenoclaimthathedidso.Philcomsatlikewisearguedthatthepetitioner'seducational
attainmentandthepositionheoccupiedinPhilcomsat'shierarchymilitateagainsthisclaim
thathewaspressuredorcoercedintosigningthequitclaim.

Theemergingtrendinourjurisprudenceistoaffordeverypartylitiganttheamplest
opportunityfortheproperandjustdeterminationofhiscausefreefromtheconstraintsof
24

technicalities. Far from having gravely abused its discretion, the NLRC correctly
prioritized substantial justice over the rigid and stringent application of procedural rules.

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This,byallmeans,isnotacaseofgraveabuseofdiscretioncallingfortheissuanceofa
writofcertiorari.

Absent any evidence that any of the vices of


consent is present and considering the
petitionerspositionandeducation,thequitclaim
executedbythepetitionerconstitutesavalidand
bindingagreement.

25

In Goodrich Manufacturing Corporation, v. Ativo, this Court reiterated the


standards that must be observed in determining whether a waiver and quitclaim has been
validlyexecuted:

Not all waivers and quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If the
agreement was voluntarily entered into and represents a reasonable settlement, it is
binding on the parties and may not later be disowned simply because of a change of
mind. It is only where there is clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an
unsuspectingorgullibleperson,orthetermsofsettlementareunconscionableon
itsface,thatthelawwillstepintoannulthequestionabletransaction.Butwhereit
isshownthatthepersonmakingthewaiverdidsovoluntarily,withfullunderstandingof
whathewasdoing,andtheconsiderationforthequitclaimiscredibleandreasonable,
the transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding undertaking. (emphasis
supplied)
26

27

InCallantav.NationalLaborRelationsCommission, thisCourtruledthat:

It is highly unlikely and incredible for a man of petitioners position and educational
attainment to so easily succumb to private respondent companys alleged pressures
without even defending himself nor demanding a final audit report before signing any
resignationletter.Assumingthatpressurewasindeedexertedagainsthim,therewasno
urgencyforpetitionertosigntheresignationletter.Heknewthenatureoftheletterthat
he was signing, for as argued by respondent company, petitioner being "a man of high
educational attainment and qualification, x x x he is expected to know the import of
everythingthatheexecutes,whetherwrittenororal.
28

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While the law looks with disfavor upon releases and quitclaims by employees who are
inveigledorpressuredintosigningthembyunscrupulousemployersseekingtoevadetheir
legalresponsibilities,alegitimatewaiverrepresentingavoluntarysettlementofalaborer's
29

claimsshouldberespectedbythecourtsasthelawbetweentheparties. Consideringthe
petitioner'sclaimoffraudandbadfaithagainstPhilcomsattobeunsubstantiated,thisCourt
findsthequitclaimindisputetobelegitimatewaiver.

Whilethepetitionerbewailedashavingbeencoercedorpressuredintosigningtherelease
andwaiver,hisfailuretopresentevidencerendershisallegationselfservingandinutileto
invalidate the same. That no portion of his retirement pay will be released to him or his
urgentneedforfundsdoesnotconstitutethepressureorcoercioncontemplatedbylaw.

That the petitioner was all set to return to his hometown and was in dire need of
moneywouldlikewisenotqualifyasunduepressuresufficienttoinvalidatethequitclaim.
"Dire necessity" may be an acceptable ground to annul quitclaims if the consideration is
unconscionablylowandtheemployeewastrickedintoacceptingit,butisnotanacceptable
groundforannullingthereleasewhenitisnotshownthattheemployeehasbeenforcedto
30

executeit. Whileitisourdutytopreventtheexploitationofemployees,italsobehooves
31

ustoprotectthesanctityofcontractsthatdonotcontraveneourlaws.

Thepetitionerisnotanordinarylaborer.Heismature,intelligentandeducatedwith
acollegedegree,whocannotbeeasilydupedortrickedintoperforminganactagainsthis
will. As no proof was presented that the said quitclaim was entered into through fraud,
deception,misrepresentation,thesameisvalidandbinding.Thepetitionerisestoppedfrom
questioning the said quitclaim and cannot renege after accepting the benefits thereunder.
This Court will never satisfy itself with surmises, conjectures or speculations for the
purpose of giving imprimatur to the petitioner's attempt to abdicate from his obligations
underavalidandbindingreleaseandwaiver.

The petitioner's educational background and employment stature render it


improbable that he was pressured, intimidated or inveigled into signing the subject
quitclaim.ThisCourtcannotpermitthepetitionertorelievehimselffromtheconsequences
ofhisact,whenhisknowledgeandunderstandingthereofisexpected.Also,theperiodof
timethatthepetitionerallowedtolapsebeforefilingacomplainttorecoverthesupposed
deficiency in his retirement pay clouds his motives, leading to the reasonable conclusion
thathisclaimofbeingaggrievedisamereafterthought,ifnotamerepretention.

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The CA and the NLRC were unanimous in holding that the petitioner voluntarily
executed the subject quitclaim. The Supreme Court (SC) is not a trier of facts, and this
doctrine applies with greater force in labor cases. Factual questions are for the labor
tribunalstoresolveandwhetherthepetitionervoluntarilyexecutedthesubjectquitclaimis
a question of fact. In this case, the factual issues have already been determined by the
NLRC and its findings were affirmed by the CA. Judicial review by this Court does not
extend to a reevaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the proper labor
32

tribunalhasbaseditsdetermination.

Factual findings of labor officials who are deemed to have acquired expertise in
matters within their respective jurisdictions are generally accorded not only respect, but
evenfinality,andarebindingontheSC.Verily,theirconclusionsareaccordedgreatweight
upon appeal, especially when supported by substantial evidence. Consequently, the SC is
notdutyboundtodelveintotheaccuracyoftheirfactualfindings,intheabsenceofaclear
33

showingthatthesamewerearbitraryandbereftofanyrationalbasis.

WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,thePetitionisherebyDENIED.Theassailed
November12,2009DecisionandJuly28,2010ResolutionoftheCourtofAppealsinCA
G.R.SPNo.107233areherebyAFFIRMED.

Nopronouncementsastocost.

SOORDERED.

BIENVENIDOL.REYES
AssociateJustice
WECONCUR:

ANTONIOT.CARPIO

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ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice

JOSEPORTUGALPEREZ

MARIALOURDESP.A.SERENO

AssociateJustice

AssociateJustice

ESTELAM.PERLASBERNABE
AssociateJustice

ATTESTATION

IattestthattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultationbefore
thecasewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson,SecondDivision

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's

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Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts
Division.

RENATOC.CORONA
ChiefJustice
AdditionalMemberinlieuofAssociateJusticeArturoD.BrionperSpecialOrderNo.1174datedJanuary9,2012.
1PennedbyAssociateJusticeHakimS.Abdulwahid,withAssociateJusticesSesinandoE.VillonandStephenC.Cruz,
concurringrollo,at3152.
2Id.at5455.
3Id.at51.
4Id.at14.
5 Id.at349.
6Id.at16.
7Id.
8Id.at14,141and225.
9Id.at141142.
10Id.at15.
11Id.at143.
12 Id.at15,16and319.
13Id.at7685.
14Id.at8384.
15Id.at177185
16Id.at182184.
17Id.at180181.
18Id.at4647.
19Id.at4951.
20AlhambraCigarandCigaretteMfg.Co.,Inc.v.Caleda,etal.,122Phil355,363(1965).
21Garcia,Jr.v.JudgeRanada,Jr.,248Phil239,246(1988).
22476Phil623(2004).
23332Phil820(1996).
24HeirsoftheDeceasedSpousesArcillav.Teodoro,G.R.No.162886,August11,2008,561SCRA545,557.
25G.R.No.188002,February1,2010,611SCRA261,citingPeriquetv.NLRC,264Phil1115,1122(1990).
26Id.at266.
27G.R.No.105083,August20,1993,225SCRA526.
28Id.at535.

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28Id.at535.
29Talamv.NLRC,G.R.No.175040,April6,2010,617SCRA408,425,citingVelosoandLiguatonv.DOLE,etal.,G.R.
No.87297,August5,1991,200SCRA201.
30CoatsManilaBay,Inc.v.Ortega,G.R.No.172628,February13,2009,579SCRA300,312.
31AsianAlcoholCorp.v.NLRC,364Phil912,933(1999).
32Alfarov.CourtofAppeals,416Phil310,318(2001),citingSocialSecuritySystemEmployeesAssociationv.Bathan
Velasco,372Phil124,128129(1999).
33Id.

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