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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

THIRDDIVISION

G.R.No.183196August19,2009

CHONAESTACIOandLEOPOLDOMANLICLIC,Petitioners,
vs.
PAMPANGAIELECTRICCOOPERATIVE,INC.,andLOLIANOE.ALLAS,Respondents.

DECISION

CHICONAZARIO,J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure assailing the
Decision1oftheCourtofAppealsdated29May2008inCAG.R.SPNo.93971,whichannulledandsetasidethe
Decisiondated30June2005andResolutiondated24January2006oftheNationalLaborRelationsCommission
(NLRC) in NLRCNCR Case No. 04075704. The NLRC found that petitioners Chona Estacio (Estacio) and
Leopoldo Manliclic (Manliclic) were illegally dismissed by respondents Pampanga I Electric Cooperative, Inc.
(PELCOI)andEngineerLolianoE.Allas(Engr.Allas),andorderedthereinstatementofpetitionersandpayment
oftheirbackwages.TheNLRCreversedtheDecisiondated30April2004oftheLaborArbiterinNLRCCaseNo.
RABIII03551703dismissingpetitionersComplaintforillegaldismissalagainstrespondentsforlackofmerit.

Thefactsofthecaseasculledfromtherecordsareasfollows:

Respondent PELCO I is an electric cooperative duly organized, incorporated, and registered pursuant to
PresidentialDecreeNo.269.2RespondentEngr.AllasistheGeneralManagerofrespondentPELCOI.3

Petitioner Estacio had been employed at respondent PELCO I as a bill custodian since 1977, while petitioner
ManliclichadbeenworkingforrespondentPELCOIasabillcollectorsinceJune1992.4

On22August2002,NeliaD.Lorenzo(Lorenzo),theInternalAuditorofrespondentPELCOI,submittedher"Audit
FindingsattheSanLuisAreaOffice"torespondentEngr.Allas,pertinentportionsofwhichstate:

Evaluationoftheresultsofphysicalinventoryofbillsthroughreconciliationofrecordssuchasagingscheduleof
consumer accounts receivable balance, collection reports and other related documents revealed 87 bills
amounting to One Hundred Twenty Six Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty and 93/100 (P126,750.93) remained
unremittedasofAugust20,2002.

Accounting of which includes the accountability of Ms. Estacio amounting to One Hundred Twenty Three
ThousandEightHundredSevenand14/100(P123,807.14)representing86bills.5

RespondentEngr.AllasissuedaMemorandumdated6September2002topetitionerEstacioinformingherofthe
audit findings, and directing her to explain in writing, within 72 hours upon receipt thereof, why no disciplinary
action should be imposed upon her for Gross Negligence of Duty under Section 6.6 of Board Policy No. 0104
dated23July2001.

In her written explanation, petitioner Estacio averred that she had no control over and should not be held
answerableforthefailureofthebillcollectorsattheSanLuisAreaOfficetoremittheirdailycollections.Petitioner
Estacioalsoassertedthataccordingtoherrevisedjobdescriptionasabillcustodian,shemerelyhadtoascertain
on a daily basis the total bills collected and uncollected by collectors. Any failure on her part to update the bill
custodian records by the time the audit was conducted on 9 August 2002 was due to the abnormal weather
conditions during July 2002, resulting in the flooding of San Luis and Candaba, Pampanga. Such negligence
couldnotbecategorizedasgrossincharacteraswouldwarranttheimpositionofdisciplinaryactionagainsther.6
Unsatisfied with petitioner Estacios explanation, respondent Engr. Allas issued a Memorandum7 dated 26
September 2002 charging Estacio with gross negligence of duty. A formal investigation/hearing then ensued,
during which petitioner Estacio was duly represented by counsel. The investigating committee, in the report it
submittedtorespondentEngr.Allason23October2002,foundpetitionerEstacioguiltyofdishonestyandgross
negligence of duty under Section 6.48 and Section 6.6,9 respectively, of Board Policy No. 0104 dated 23 July
2001andrecommendedherdismissalfromservicewithforfeitureofbenefits.10

On 25 October 2002, respondent Engr. Allas rendered a Decision which adopted the recommendation of the
investigation committee dismissing petitioner Estacio from service, with forfeiture of her benefits, effective 28
October 2002 with the modification deleting the charge of dishonesty.11 Petitioner Estacio sought a
reconsiderationofthesaiddecisionbutitwasdeniedbyrespondentEngr.Allas.

In the same "Audit Findings at the San Luis Area Office" submitted to respondent Engineer Allas on 22 August
2002, Internal Auditor Lorenzo reported that petitioner Manliclic, a bill collector, failed to remit to respondent
PELCO I management his collection amounting to P4,813.11, as of 20 August 2002. Respondent Engr. Allas
issuedaMemorandumdated6September2002directingpetitionerManliclictoexplaininwriting,within48hours
from receipt thereof, why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for committing offenses against
respondentPELCOIproperties,12underSection2.1ofBoardPolicyNo.0104dated23July2001.

On11September2002,petitionerManliclicsubmittedhiswrittenexplanation13admittingtheheusedtheamount
ofP4,813.11fromhiscollectiontocoverpressingfamilyobligationsandrequestingtwomonthstopaythesame.
Withthisadmission,respondentEngr.AllasissuedanotherMemorandum14dated28September2002dismissing
petitioner Manliclic from service effective 1 October 2002, with forfeiture of benefits. Petitioner Manliclic sought
reconsideration15 of his dismissal, but was rebuffed by respondent Engr. Allas in the latters letter16 dated 10
October2002,whichreads:

YourletterofreconsiderationdetailedinfullthemannerbywhichtheamountofP4,813.11wasmisappropriated.
Youadmittedhavinglend(sic)toJoselitoOcampothesumofP3,719.75andthisissupportedbytheaffidavitof
admissionofsaidMr.JoselitoOcampowhichwasdulynotarizedbyNotaryPublic,JuanManalastas.Thus,said
affidavitistakenbymanagementasgospeltruth.

Thisaffidavitdoesnothoweverexculpateyoufromtheoffenseofmisappropriation,definedandpenalizedunder
Section 2, paragraph 2.1 ON COOP FUNDS (2.1.2, 2.1.3 & 2.1.4) of the Board Policy No. 2796 and
AdministrativePolicyNo.1089.

Ifwemayinformyouthemoneyyoucollectedareheldintrustbyyousothatyouhavetoremitthesametothe
cooperative(SanLuisAreaOffice)atthepropertime.

Youshouldnottakethelibertyoflendingthemtoanycoemployeebecauseyouhavetoaccountforthemtothe
lastcentavoattheendofthecollectionday.

Inviewoftheforegoing,itissadtosaythatyourletterofreconsiderationisherebydenied.17

From respondent Engr. Allas actions on their administrative case, petitioners Estacio and Manliclic separately
filedwiththeBoardofDirectorsofrespondentPELCOItheirmemorandaofappeal.18TheBoardofDirectorsof
respondent PELCO I subsequently passed two resolutions, with essentially the same contents, i.e., Resolutions
No.3819dated15November2002andNo.39,20dated25November2002,respectively.InsaidResolutions,the
Board of Directors of respondent PELCO I reinstated petitioners to their positions without loss of seniority, and
ordered respondent Engr. Allas to pay in full the salaries and other incentives accruing to petitioners after
deductingthefirst15daysoftheirsuspension.

Notwithstanding the approval of Resolutions No. 38 and No. 39, respondent Engr. Allas refused to reinstate
petitionersandproceededtodismissthemfromservice.AddressingtheBoardofDirectorsofrespondentPELCO
I,respondentEngr.Allasstatedinhisletterdated29November200221:

Theactofreducingtheirpenaltiesisagrossabuseofauthorityandcommissionofactsinimicaltotheinterestof
thecooperativeandthepublicatlargebecauseyouhavenoauthoritytodososinceBoardPolicyNo.0104of
PELCOIclearlyprovidesthepenaltyofdismissalfortheoffensestheywerefoundguilty.Yourhonorsauthorityto
act is governed by the rules as provided in the aforesaid Board Policy. Going beyond that is abuse of authority
insteadofprotectingtheinterestofthecooperativeyouprotectedtheemployeeswhothroughtheiractsdepleted
theearningsandfundsofthecooperative.

In a letter dated 9 December 2002 by Regional Director Alberto A. Guiang of the National Electrification
Administration(NEA)totheBoardofDirectorsofrespondentPELCOI,hewrote:
THEBOARDOFDIRECTORS
PampangaIElectricCooperative,Inc.(PELCOI)
Mexico,Pampanga

Gentlemen:

This has reference to your Board Resolution No. 38 and 39 series of 2002, granting the letters of
appeal of Ms. Chona Estacio and Mr. Leopoldo Manliclic for reinstatement of their positions to the
PELCOIworkforce.

While we appreciate your concern to the coop operation, we wish to call your attention to the NEA
Guidelinesdated27January1995,specifyingthedelineationofRolesofECBoardofDirectorsand
General Managers, and on Memorandum No. 35. Accordingly, the Board is not vested with the
authoritytohireandfirenorrehireemployees.TheGeneralManageristheonlyauthorizedofficial
forthismatter,whiletheBoardhastoformulatepoliciesnorguidelinesonlyfortheGMtoimplement.

Thisofficecarefullyreviewedthefactssurroundingtheissuesraisedbytheconcernedparties,and
wefoundthatdueprocesswasundertakenafterrenderingthedecisionbytheGeneralManageron
thismatter,andshouldbeenforced.Thisishealthymoveoferadicatingdishonestyandinefficiency
amongtheemployees.Thus,thedisapprovaloftheaboveresolutions.

Thankyou.

Verytrulyyours,

(SGD)ALBERTOA.GUIANG22

NEA through Regional Director Alberto A. Guiang issued another letter to the Board of Directors of respondent
PELCO I dated 10 December 2002 stating that it was disapproving Resolution No. 39 issued by the Board of
DirectorsofrespondentPELCOIgrantingtheletterofappealofpetitioners.23

TheforegoingeventspromptedpetitionerstofilewiththeNLRC,RegionalArbitrationBoard(RAB)III,CityofSan
Fernando, Pampanga, their Complaints24 against respondents for illegal dismissal and payment of backwages,
13thmonthpay,andotherbenefits.TheComplaintsweredocketedasNLRCCaseNo.RABIII03551703.

InaDecisiondated30April2004,theLaborArbiterruledinfavorofrespondents,forthefollowingreasons:

Respondentsundertheironuswererequiredtoshowthat[hereinpetitioners]weredismissedforcause.

Asto[petitioner]ChonaEstaciorespondentscontendedthatshewasguiltyofgrossnegligenceofdutyundersec.
6.6.6.ofitsEmployeesCodeofDiscipline(BoardPolicy0104).Respondentshaveshownthat[petitioner]Estacio
failed to carry out her duties and responsibilities as a bill custodian per the latters job description more
particularlyno.2andno.3ofherdetailedduties,namely:

"2.MaintainsanaccuraterecordofallOfficialElectricBillReceipts(OERB)issuedtoandreturnedbycollectors,
andseestoitthatthesameareproperlysignedorinitialedbythecollectorasclearancetoanyaccountability

"3.Accountsandascertainsonadailybasisthetotalbillscollectedanduncollectedbycollectorsandthosebills
paid in the office by consumers through the maintenance of bill route control and related record" (Annex "1" of
respondentsReply).

It was likewise shown that this infraction carries the penalty of dismissal. Record also showed that the
requirementsofproceduraldueprocesswasaffordedthe[petitioner]beforeshewasfinallyseparated.

Inthecaseof[petitioner]Manliclic,respondentswereabletoshowwiththeadmissionoftheformerthatsec.2,
subsection2.1,pars.2.1.2to2.1.4ofBoardPolicyNo.0104wereviolatedby[petitioner].Thesameviolations
carry the penalty of dismissal. The procedural requirements of notice and hearing were likewise afforded
[petitioner]Manliclicbeforehewasfinallyterminated.

Inviewoftheabove,weholdthatthereisnoillegaldismissal.25

Intheend,theLaborArbiterdecreed:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing instant complaint for illegal
dismissalforlackofmerit.

However,respondentsareheldliableandorderedtopay[petitioners]thefollowing:
ServiceIncentive
13thmonthpay
Leavepay
1.ChonaEstacio P5,765.19 P5,074.03

2.LeopoldoManliclic 8,294.19 6,596.25

Allotherclaimsareherebydismissedforutterlackofmerit.26

Disgruntled with the Labor Arbiters Decision, petitioners appealed to the NLRC. The appeal was docketed as
NLRCNCRCaseNo.04075704.

TheNLRC,initsDecisiondated30June2005,disagreedwiththeLaborArbiter:

ThereisnothingonrecordshowingthatResolutionNo.39,Seriesof2002isnullandvoid.Neitheristhereany
evidence on record showing that there is legal basis to hold the December 9 and 10, 2002 letters of Alberto A.
Guiang, Regional Director, National Electrification Administration (NEA), Regional Electrification Office III as
having nullified Resolution No. 39, Series of 2002. For what the mentioned letters may be worth, we are
convinced they were nothing but mere opinions which bear no weight on the labor dispute obtaining between
complainantsandrespondents.Verily,complainantsemployerisPampangaIElectricCooperative,Inc.(PELCO),
nottheNationalElectrificationAdministration(NEA).

Finally, jurisprudence teaches us that the Court, out of its concern for those less privileged in life, has inclined
towardstheworkerandupheldhiscauseonhisconflictswiththeemployer(Revidadvs.NLRC,245SCRA356).
Timeandagainwehaveheldthatshoulddoubtsexistbetweentheevidencepresentedbytheemployerandthe
employee,thescalesofjusticemustbetiltedinfavorofthelatter(Asuncionvs.NLRC,G.R.No.129329,July31,
2001). This favored treatment is directed by the social justice policy of the Constitution (Article II of the 1987
Constitution),andembodiedinArticles3and4oftheLaborCode.27

ThedispositiveportionoftheNLRCDecision28reads:

WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,thedecisionappealedfromisherebyMODIFIED.

The findings a quo dismissing the complaint for illegal dismissal is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one
enteredfinding[hereinpetitioners]tohavebeenillegallydismissedbyrespondents.Accordingly,respondentsare
herebyorderedtoreinstate[petitioners]andpaythembackwagespursuanttoArticle279oftheLaborCode.The
restoftheassaileddecisionisAFFIRMED.

LettheArbitrationBranchoforiginrendertheappropriatecomputationsof[petitioners]backwages.29

Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration30 of the NLRC Decision dated 30 June 2005, asking the
Commissiontoaffirm,instead,theDecisiondated30April2004oftheLaborArbiterwhichdismissedpetitioners
Complaintsforillegaldismissalforlackofmerit.

On24January2006,theNLRCpromulgateditsResolution31denyingrespondentsMotionforReconsideration.32

RespondentselevatedtheircasetotheCourtofAppealsviaaPetitionforCertiorari,underRule65ofthe1997
RulesofCivilProcedure,docketedasCAG.R.SPNo.93971.

InaDecisiondated29May2008,theCourtofAppealsheld:

Weagreewiththe[hereinrespondents],whowasjoinedbytheLaborArbiterintheirstance,pointingoutthatif
only [herein petitioner] Estacio had conscientiously performed her duties in accordance with the revised job
description of a bill custodian, then the unremitted collection of P123,807.14, representing different collection
periodsfromJuly3,5,6,10,23,26,27,31toAugust1,3,5,7,2002,inthehandsofthebillcollectorcouldhave
beendiscoveredearlierandcouldnothaveaccumulatedtoabiggeramount.[Petitioner]Estaciosexcusethatif
shewasnotabletoupdatetherecordsoftheBillCustodianatthetimewhentheauditwasmadeonAugust9,
2002, it is because due to the abnormal weather condition on the month of July 2002 when San Luis and
Candabawereflooded,wascorrectlyrejectedby[respondents]forbeinginsufficientjustificationsincethewhole
monthofJuly2002wasnotfloodedandshewasonlyonleaveforatotaloffive(5)days.

Soalso,fromtheevidenceadducedby[respondents],ithasbeenadequatelyestablishedthat[hereinpetitioner]
Manliclic violated Section 2.1 of the Revised Employees Code of Discipline under Board Policy No.` 0104 for
failureonhisparttoremit/turnoverhiscollectiontothemanagementandmisappropriatingthesameforhisown
personaluseandbenefit,constitutingseriousmisconduct.33
TheCourtofAppealsdisposedofCAG.R.SPNo.93971,thus:

WHEREFORE, premised considered, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated June 30,
2005andtheResolutiondatedJanuary24,2006renderedbypublicrespondentNLRCareherebyANNULLED
andSETASIDE.TheDecisiondated30April2004oftheLaborArbiterinNLRCCaseNo.RABIII03551703is
REINSTATED.34

PetitionersdidnotfileaMotionforReconsiderationtotheCourtofAppeals.

PetitionersnowcometothisCourtraisingthefollowingissuesintheinstantPetition:

I. WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW
AND APPLICABLE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT AND ITS FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
WHICHAREBASEDONMISAPPREHENSIONOFFACTSWITHOUTCITATIONOFSPECIFICEVIDENCE
OF WHICH THEY ARE PREMISED DUE TO THE APPARENT REASON THAT THEY WERE NOT
SUPPORTEDBYEVIDENCEANDCONTRADICTEDBYRECORDS,SHALLPREVAILORPREPONDERATE
OVER THE DECISION OF THE NLRC, WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY BOTH
PARTIES,LAWS,APPLICABLEJURISPRUDENCEANDCONSTITUTIONALPROVISIONS.

II. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH EVIDENCE ON
RECORD, APPLICABLE LAWS AND JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT RULED THAT RESOLUTIONS NOS. 38
AND39GRANTINGTHELETTERSOFAPPEALOFESTACIOANDMANLICLICANDORDERINGTHEIR
REINSTATEMENT WITHOUT LOSS OF SENIORITY RIGHTS AND THE PAYMENT OF THEIR
BACKWAGESINVALID.

IIIWHETHERORNOTTHECOURTOFAPPEALSACTEDINACCORDANCEWITHLAWS,ESTABLISHED
JURISPRUDENCEANDCONSTITUTIONALMANDATESWHENITRULEDTHATRESPONDENTALLASAS
GENERALMANAGEROFPELCOIHASTHESOLEPREROGATIVEANDPOWERTOSUSPENDAND/OR
DISMISS THE EMPLOYEES OF PELCO I, BASED ON NATIONAL ELECTRIFICATION ADMINISTRATION
BULLETINNO.35.

IV.WHETHERORNOTTHEFINDINGSOFTHECOURTOFAPPEALSCOMMITTEDSERIOUSERRORS
IN IGNORING OR THRUSTING ASIDE THE UNDISPUTED FACTS THAT THE PETITION FOR
CERTIORARIFILEDBYALLASTOTHECOURTOFAPPEALSWHICHWASVERIFIEDBYHIMWITHOUT
BOARD RESOLUTION OF PELCO I BOARD OF DIRECTORS ASSAILING OR QUESTIONING
RESOLUTIONSNO.38AND39OFPELCOIBOARDOFDIRECTORSDISCLOSEDHISLACKOFLEGAL
PERSONALITY CONSIDERING THAT THE LATTER IS THE GOVERNING BODY OF PELCO I, AND HAS
THE DIRECT INTEREST AND CONTROL OF ITS CORPORATE POWERS AND IN OVERLOOKING OR
DISREGARDINGTHEFACTTHATRESOLUTIONNO.5306BELATEDLYISSUEDBYANOTHERSETOF
MEMBERS OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF PELCO I ATTACHED BY ALLAS IN A MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION IN EFFECT RATIFIED OR CONSENTED ALLAS PETITION QUESTIONING OR
ASSAILING PELCO I BOARD OF DIRECTORS VERY OWN RESOLUTIONS NO. 38 AND 39 EARLIER
PROMULGATED BY DIFFERENT SET OF MEMBERS OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS, DEBAR OR
PRECLUDEPELCOIFORDOINGSO,FORITISANOBVIOUSINSTANCEOFESTOPPELANDLACHES
ANDANELOQUENTPROOFOFAFTERTHOUGHT.

V.WHETHERORNOTRESOLUTIONSNO.38AND39WHICHWAS(sic)UPHELDBYTHENLRCISIN
ACCORDANCEWITHLAW,SETTLEDJURISPRUDENCEANDCONSTITUTIONALMANDATES.35

Beforedelvingintothesubstantialissuesinthiscase,theCourtmustfirstresolvetheproceduralissueofwhether
respondentEngr.AllashadthelegalpersonalitytofilebeforetheCourtofAppealsthePetitioninCAG.R.SPNo.
93971.

TheCourtanswersintheaffirmative.

It bears to stress that petitioners themselves filed their Complaints before the NLRC against both respondents
PELCOIandEngr.Allas.RespondentEngr.AllasparticipatedintheproceedingsbeforetheLaborArbiterandthe
NLRC. As a party aggrieved by the NLRC decision and resolution, respondent Engr. Allas had a substantial
interesttofilewiththeCourtofAppealsthePetitionforCertiorariunderRule65ofthe1997RevisedRulesofCivil
Procedure,onhisownbehalf.36

AsforrespondentEngr.AllasauthoritytofilethesamePetitiononbehalfofrespondentPELCOI,itisevidenced
byBoardResolutionNo.5306,37approvedbytheBoardofDirectorsofthecooperativeon5August2006.Even
thoughBoardResolutionNo.5306wasbelatedlyfiled,theCourtofAppealsrightfullyacceptedthesame.Inthe
presentcase,thefindingsandconclusionoftheLaborArbiterandtheNLRCareatodds,andthecaseconcerns
a labor matter to which our fundamental law mandates the state to give utmost priority and full protection.38
Necessarily, this Court will look beyond alleged technicalities to open the way for resolution of substantive
issues.39

TheCourtcannotsubscribetopetitionersargumentthatafterpassingResolutionsNo.38andNo.39reversing
petitioners dismissal from service and ordering that they be reinstated and paid their backwages, the Board of
Directors of respondent PELCO I was estopped from subsequently passing Board Resolution No. 5306. The
Board Resolution authorized respondent Engr. Allas to file the Petition for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals,
challengingtheNLRCjudgmentthatpetitionerswereillegallydismissed.

Estoppel,anequitableprinciplerooteduponnaturaljustice,preventspersonsfromgoingbackontheirownacts
andrepresentations,totheprejudiceofotherswhohavereliedonthem.40

Thepartyclaimingestoppelmustshowthefollowingelements:

1)lackofknowledgeandofthemeansofknowledgeofthetruthastothefactsinquestion

2)relianceingoodfaith,upontheconductorstatementsofthepartytobeestoppedand

3) action or inaction based thereon of such character as to change the position or status of the party
claimingtheestoppel,tohisinjury,detrimentorprejudice.41

Inthiscase,theessentialelementsofestoppelareinexistent.42

Thefirstelementisunavailinginthecaseatbar.Petitionershavetheknowledgeandthemeansofknowledgeof
the truth as to the facts in question. In issuing Resolutions No. 38 and No. 39, the Board of Directors of
respondentPELCOIrelayeditsinitialdeterminationthatpetitionersdismissalfromservicewasharshanddrastic.
TheseResolutionsmerelyexpressedthepositionoftheBoardofDirectorsofrespondentPELCOIatthetimeof
their issuance. The subsequent passing of Board Resolution No. 5306 by the same Board of Directors of
respondent PELCO I, explicitly conveyed a change of mind, i.e., the Board now wanted to contest, through
respondentEngr.Allas,thefindingoftheNLRCthatpetitionerswereillegallydismissed.

Without any basis, the Court cannot conclude that by the mere issuance of Board Resolution No. 5306, the
BoardofDirectorsofrespondentPELCOIcommittedfalserepresentationorconcealmentofmaterialfactsinits
earlierResolutionsNo.38andNo.39.WhatisapparenttothisCourt,onthefaceoftheseResolutions,isthatthe
Board of Directors of respondent PELCO I eventually arrived at a different conclusion after reviewing the very
samefacts,whichitconsideredforResolutionsNo.38andNo.39.

Also,BoardResolutionNo.5306wasunanimouslypassedbyallthedirectorsofrespondentPELCOI.Thereis
no allegation, much less, evidence, of any irregularity committed by the Board in the approval and issuance of
said Board Resolution. Hence, the Court cannot simply brush Board Resolution No. 5306 aside. Questions of
policyandofmanagementarelefttothehonestdecisionoftheofficersanddirectorsofacorporation(orinthis
case,cooperative),andthecourtsarewithoutauthoritytosubstitutetheirjudgmentforthejudgmentoftheboard
ofdirectors.Theboardisthebusinessmanagerofthecorporation,andsolongasitactsingoodfaith,itsorders
arenotreviewablebythecourts.43

Moreover,petitionerswereunabletoestablishthethirdelementofestoppel.Itbearsstressingthatiftherebeany
injury,detriment,orprejudicetothepetitionersbytheactionoftheBoardofDirectorsinpassingResolutionNos.
38and39andsubsequentlyResolutionNo.5306,suchinjurywasduetopetitionersownfault.PetitionerEstacio
failedtoaccountforandascertainonadailybasisatotalof86billscollectedanduncollectedbythebillcollectors
ofPELCOI,resultinginunremittedbillsamountingtoP123,807.14.InthecaseofpetitionerManliclic,headmitted
havingusedtheamountofP4,813.111fromhiscollection.Estoppelisashieldagainstinjusticeapartyinvoking
itsprotectionshouldnotbeallowedtousethesametoconcealhisorherownlackofdiligence.44

Tobesure,estoppelcannotbesustainedbymereargumentordoubtfulinferenceitmustbeclearlyprovedinall
itsessentialelementsbyclear,convincingandsatisfactoryevidence.45

The Court then proceeds to resolve the substantive issue of whether petitioners were illegally dismissed by
respondents.

Therequisitesforavaliddismissalare:(a)theemployeemustbeaffordeddueprocess,i.e.,hemustbegivenan
opportunitytobeheardanddefendhimselfand(b)thedismissalmustbeforavalidcauseasprovidedinArticle
28246oftheLaborCodeorforanyoftheauthorizedcausesunderArticles28347and28448ofthesameCode.

Wellsettled is the rule that the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard or as applied to
administrativeproceedings,anopportunitytoexplainone'ssideoranopportunitytoseekareconsiderationofthe
actionorrulingcomplainedof.49
Itisundisputedthatpetitionerswereaccordeddueprocess.ThroughtheMemorandaissuedbyrespondentEngr.
Allas,petitionersweredulyinformedoftheresultsoftheauditconductedbyInternalAuditorLazaro,whichwere
unfavorable to petitioners. Petitioners were given a chance to submit their written explanations. As to petitioner
Estacio, a formal hearing/investigation was even conducted by an investigating committee. Only thereafter, did
respondent Engr. Allas notify petitioners Estacio and Manliclic, through a Decision dated 25 October 2002 and
Memorandum dated 28 September 2002, respectively, that they were found guilty of the charges against them
and were being dismissed from service. Both petitioners had the opportunity to seek reconsideration of their
dismissal.

TheCourtalsofindsthattherewasvalidcauseforpetitionerEstaciosdismissal.

Petitioner Estacio was dismissed from service for the commission of an offense under Board Policy No. 0104
dated23July2001ofrespondentPELCOI,particularly:

Section6.6OnNegligenceofDuty

6.6.6Grossnegligenceinassignedtasks/dutiesasspecifiedinthejobdescription.

Gross negligence connotes want or absence of or failure to exercise even slight care or diligence, or the total
absenceofcare.Itevincesathoughtlessdisregardofconsequenceswithoutexertinganyefforttoavoidthem.To
warrantremovalfromservice,thenegligenceshouldnotmerelybegross,butalsohabitual.50Asingleorisolated
actofnegligencedoesnotconstituteajustcauseforthedismissaloftheemployee.51

In JGB and Associates, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission,52 the Court further declared that gross
negligenceconnoteswantofcareintheperformanceofonesduties.Habitualneglectimpliesrepeatedfailureto
performonesdutiesforaperiodoftime,dependinguponthecircumstances.Fraudandwillfulneglectofduties
imply bad faith of the employee in failing to perform his job, to the detriment of the employer and the latters
business.

TodetermineifindeedpetitionerEstaciowasgrosslynegligentintheperformanceofherduties,theCourtmust
firstunderstandwhatherdutieswere.PetitionerEstacio,asabillcustodianofrespondentPELCOI

1.Issuesandaccountsallelectricbillsissuedtoandreturnedbycollectorsaswellaspaidofficebillsand
shallbeaccountableandliableforalluncollectedbillsunderhis/hercustody.

2. Maintains an accurate record of all Official Electric Bill Receipts (OEBR) issued to and returned by
collectors,andseestoitthatthesameareproperlysignedorinitialedbythecollectorasclearancetoany
accountability.

3.Accountsandascertainsonadailybasisthetotalbillscollectedanduncollectedbycollectorsandthose
billspaidintheofficebyconsumersthroughthemaintenanceofbillroutecontrolandrelatedrecords

4.Prepareslistingsofdelinquentconsumersduefordisconnection

5. Issues or certifies to the clearance of accounts of consumers before reconnection or change of billing
namesiseffected.

6.Issuesbillsduefromemployeestobedeductedfromtheirrespectivepayandcorrespondinglylogsthe
sameinthebillroutecontrol

7.Filesinanorderlyandsystematicmannerallthepertinentelectricbillsandotherrelateddocumentsin
herpossessionforeasyaccessandreference

8.Performsotherdutiesthatmaybeassignedfromtimetotime.53

There is no more question that petitioner Estacio did fail to account for and record the bill collections for eight
days of July and four days of August 2002. As a result of petitioner Estacios improper accounting and records
keeping, the amount of P123,807.14 remains unremitted to respondent PELCO I. As correctly observed by the
investigatingcommitteeofPELCO54:

From the record of the case and investigation conducted it appears that Ms. Estacio as the designated Bill
CustodianatSanLuisAreaOfficeisresponsibleforthesafekeepingofconsumersofelectricbillsespeciallythe
unpaidoruncollectedbills.Thatforcontrolandaccountingpurposes,shehastoaccountdailyallcollectedand
uncollected bills in her custody including the bills paid in the office. That in issuing the bills to the bill collectors,
she has to maintain an accurate record which is the basic tool in maintaining and controlling all the bills in her
possession. Then in case the collectors do not return the bills uncollected and do not make a report of the
collectedbillsinaday,asBillCustodian,itisalsoherdutytorequirethecollectorstoreturnthebillsandmakea
report of the collected bills. If the collector still failed to do such, the custodian should report the matter to the
immediatesupervisororAreaManager.ButsadtosayMs.Estaciofailedtoperformalltheabovestatedduties
whichresultedtotheaccumulationofunremittedbills(86)amountingtoP123,807.14.

If only Ms. Estacio is performing her duties as Bill Custodian in accordance with what is prescribed on the job
description these unremitted collections could have been discovered earlier and did not accumulate to a bigger
amount.

PetitionerEstacio,despitetheopportunitiesgiventoher,didnotofferanysatisfactoryexplanationorevidencein
her defense. Her only reason for failing to comply with the requisite daily accounting and reporting of the bill
collectionswastheterribleweatherconditionduringthemonthofJuly2002,whichresultedinthefloodingofthe
San Luis and Candaba area in Pampanga, hence, keeping her from going to work. Like the investigating
committee,theLaborArbiter,andtheCourtofAppeals,thisCourtisunconvinced.PetitionerEstaciowasonleave
foronlyfivedaysofJuly2002.Shehadtheoccasiontoupdateherrecordsonthebillcollectionsduringtheother
daysofJulyandAugust2002,whentheweatherwasfineandshewasabletoreportforworkyet,shestilldid
notdoso.Shewaiteduntilherinfractionwasdiscoveredduringtheconductoftheinternalaudit,onlytoproffera
feebleexcuse.

Petitioner Estacios failure to make a complete accounting and reporting of the bill collections plainly
demonstratedherdisregardforoneofherfundamentaldutiesasabillcustodian.Itwasanomissionrepeatedby
petitionerEstacioforseveraldays,spanningseveralbillingperiodsforJulyandAugust2002thus,sheallowed,
duringthesaidperiod,theaccumulationoftheamountsunremittedbybillcollectorstorespondentPELCOI,until
thesereachedthesubstantialamountofP123,807.14.Alltheforegoingconsidered,theCourtcanonlyconclude
thattherewasvalidcausetodismisspetitionerEstacioforgrossandhabitualnegligence.

Similarly,theCourtrulesthatthereisvalidcauseforpetitionerManliclicsdismissalfromservice.

Torecall,petitionerManliclic,abillcollector,admittedtohavingusedtheamountofP4,813.11fromhiscollection,
lendingP3,719.75thereoftoaJoselitoOcampoandpresumablykeepingtheresttohimself.Thisqualifiesasan
offense against properties of respondent PELCO I, which may be committed by any of the means described in
Section2.1ofBoardPolicyNo.0104dated23July2001,towit:

2.1.1. Malversation of Coop funds or other financial securities and such other funds or other financial
securitiesinthecareandcustodyoforentrustedtotheCoopforwhichitmaybeheldliable.

2.1.2. Failure to remit collection and/or failure to turnover materials/equipments due the Coop within the
requiredperiodoftimepursuanttoCooppoliciesandrulesandregulations.(Dependingonthegravityasa
resultoftheoffense.)

2.1.3.Malversing/misappropriatingorwithholdingCoopfundsoranyattempt/frustrationthereof.55

InPiedadv.LanaodelNorte,56WarlitoPiedadwasabillcollectorwiththeLanaodelNorteElectricCooperative.
Upon audit, Piedad was found to have incurred a shortage in his cash collection in the amount of P300.00. He
acknowledged having used said amount. The Court affirmed Piedads termination from service on account of
suchshortage,despitehishavingrenderednineyearsofunblemishedserviceandbeingawardedasCollectorof
theYear.Weexpostulatedinthatcasethatitwasneitherwithrhymenorreasonthatthepetitionerwasdismissed
from employment. His acts need not have resulted in material damage or prejudice before his dismissal on
grounds of loss of confidence may be effected. Being charged with the handling of company funds, the
petitionersposition,thoughgenerallydescribedasmenial,was,nonetheless,apositionoftrustandconfidence.
Nocompanycanaffordtohavedishonestbillcollectors.

In Garcia v. National Labor Relations Commission,57 Evelyn Garcia, a cashier at a school, committed several
irregularities in handling school funds. The Court upheld her dismissal from service on the ground of breach of
trust.Bearinginmindthatthepositionofcashierisahighlysensitiveposition,requiringasitdoestheattributesof
absolutetrustandhonestybecauseofthetemptationsattendanttothedailyhandlingofmoney,itcouldnotbe
helpedthatGarcia'sactswouldsowmistrustandlossofconfidenceonthepartofrespondentemployer.

Petitioner Manliclics honesty and integrity are the primary considerations for his position as a bill collector
because, as such, he has in his absolute control and possession prior to remittance a highly essential
property of the cooperative, i.e., its collection. Respondent PELCO I, as the employer, must be able to have
utmosttrustandconfidenceinitsbillcollectors. 1 a v v p h i1

The amount misappropriated by petitioner Manliclic is irrelevant. More than the resulting material damage or
prejudice,itispetitionerManliclicsveryactofmisappropriationthatisoffensivetorespondentPELCOI.Iftaxes
are the lifeblood of the state, then, by analogy, the payment collection is the lifeblood of the cooperative. The
collection provides respondent PELCO I with the financial resources to continue its operations. Respondent
PELCOIcannotaffordtocontinueinitsemploydishonestbillcollectors.
By his own admission, petitioner Manliclic committed a breach of the trust reposed in him by his employer,
respondentPELCOI.Thisconstitutesvalidcauseforhisdismissalfromservice.

WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,theinstantPetitionisDENIEDandtheDecisiondated29May2008ofthe
CourtofAppealsinCAG.R.SPNo.93971isAFFIRMED.Nocosts.

SOORDERED.

MINITAV.CHICONAZARIO
AssociateJustice
ActingChairperson

WECONCUR:

CONCHITACARPIOMORALES*
AssociateJustice

PRESBITEROJ.VELASCO,JR. ANTONIOEDUARDOB.NACHURA
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice

DIOSDADOM.PERALTA
AssociateJustice

ATTESTATION

IattestthattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionwerereachedinconsultationbeforethecasewasassignedto
thewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

MINITAV.CHICONAZARIO**
AssociateJustice
ActingChairperson,ThirdDivision

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, it is hereby
certifiedthattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionwerereachedinconsultationbeforethecasewasassignedto
thewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

REYNATOS.PUNO
ChiefJustice

Footnotes
* Per Special Order No. 679 dated 3 August 2009, signed by Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, designating
AssociateJusticeConchitaCarpioMoralestoreplaceAssociateJusticeConsueloYnaresSantiago,whois
onofficialleave.
**PerSpecialOrderNo.681dated3August2009,signedbyChiefJusticeReynatoS.Puno,designating
Associate Justice Minita V. ChicoNazario as Acting Chairperson to replace Associate Justice Consuelo
YnaresSantiago,whoisonofficialleave.

1 Penned by Associate Justice Marlene GonzalesSison with Associate Justices Amelita G. Tolentino and
LucenitoN.Tagle,concurringrollop.58.
2 Presidential Decree No. 269, "Creating the `National Electrification Administration as a Corporation,
prescribing its powers and activities, appropriating the necessary funds therefor and declaring a national
policy objective for the total electrification of the Philippines on an area coverage service basis, the
organization, promotion and development of electric cooperatives to attain the said objective, prescribing
termsandconditionsfortheiroperations,therepealofRepublicActNo.6038,andforotherpurposes."
3CArollo,p.4.

4Records,p.24.
5Id.at5256.

6Id.at50.

7AnnexDrollo,p.88.

86.4.OnDishonesty.

96.6.OnNegligenceofDuty.

10Records,p.37.

11Rollo,p.96.

12Section2.OffensesagainstCoopproperties.xxx

2.1OnCoopFunds

2.1.1MalversationofCoopfundsorotherfinancialsecuritiesandsuchotherfundsorotherfinancial
securitiesinthecareandcustodyoforentrustedtotheCoopforwhichitmaybeheldliable.

2.1.2Failuretoremitcollectionand/orfailuretoturnovermaterials/equipmentduetheCoopwithin
the required period of time pursuant to Coop policies and rules and regulations (Depending on the
gravityasaresultoftheoffense).

2.1.3Malversing/misappropriatingorwithholdingCoopfundsoranyattempt/frustrationthereof.

2.1.4 Failure to turnover to the Coop immediately upon receipt thereof any money of whatever
currencyoramountgivenbytheclientorhis/herrepresentativetotheCoop.
13Manliclicsletterstates:

This has reference to your Memorandum dated September 28, 2002, dismissing the undersigned
fromtheserviceeffectiveOctober01,2002duetononremittanceoftheamountofFourThousand
EightHundredThirteenandElevenCentavos(P4,813.11)whichwithallcandidnesswasadmittedby
the undersigned in my letter of explanation dated September 11, 2002. The undersigned opted to
utilizethereasonofpressingfamilyobligationsbutthetruthofthematteristhatoutoftheaforesaid
amount the sum of Three Thousand Seven Hundred Nineteen and SeventyFive Centavos
(P3,719.75)wasborrowedfrommebyMr.JoselitoOcampoonthelastweekofJune2002.Thisis
confirmedbytheAffidavitofMr.JoselitoOcampoexecutedlastOctober3,2002,acopyofwhichis
heretoattachedforyourreference.

That the remaining amount of One Thousand NinetyThree Pesos and ThirtySix Centavos
(P1,093.36)representstwoelectricbillswhichwerenotincludedonthefirstauditandsuchamount
aswellasthereceiptswereturn[ed]overbythebillcustodianMarijoPanliliotoourauditor.

WhileindeedItooksoleresponsibilityfortheunremittedamountandIknewfullywellthatitshould
not have been lend (sic) by me to Mr. Ocampo the undersigned was constrained to do so out of
human compassion on the predicament of Mr. Ocampo at that time. The undersigned is filing this
letterofreconsiderationinordertodivulgethetruthregardingsuchamountforthereconsiderationof
yourMemorandumdatedSeptember28,2002.

(Sgd)LeopoldoManliclic

MeterReader/Collector(Records,p.43.)
14Id.at42.

15Rollo,p.99.

16Records,p.43.

17Id.at45.

18AccordingtoBoardPolicyNo.0104dated23July2001:
Anaggrievedemployeewhofeelsthatthechargesagainsthim/herarenottrue,orthatthepenalty
imposedonhim/herbytheGeneralManagerfortheallegedparticularviolationoroffensecommitted
is too heavy or drastic, or that his/her case has not been given proper due process/course, may
appealinwritingtotheGeneralManagerforreconsiderationorforathoroughreviewofhis/hercase
withinfive(5)daysfromreceiptofsuchaction.TheGeneralManagershallactonsuchappealwithin
five(5)daysfromreceiptthereof.

If he/she is not yet fully satisfied with the General Managers decision, he/she may elevate his/her
case in writing to the Board of Directors, through the President, for further
review/evaluation/investigation and hearing of his/her case as appealed within ten (10) days from
receipt of the General Managers action. The Board will then render its decision accordingly within
thirty (30) days from receipt thereof, based on the merits and facts of the case at bar. (Annex 2,
records,p.82.)
19Rollo,p.117.

20ResolutionNo.39,inparticular,reads:

RESOLUTIONNO.39
SERIESOF2002

RESOLUTIONGRANTINGTHELETTERSOFAPPEALOFMRS.CHONAESTACIOANDMR.
LEOPOLDOMANLICLICWITHMODIFICATION

WHEREAS,theboardofDirectorsofPELCOIreceivedlettersofappealofMrs.ChonaEstacio
andMr.LeopoldoManliclicregardingtheirdismissalfromtheservice.

WHEREAS,upondeliberationandthoroughstudyofthemembersoftheBoardofDirectorsof
PELCOIitwasfoundoutthatthepenaltyofdismissalthatwereimposedagainstMrs.Chona
EstacioandMr.LeopoldoManliclicistoodrasticandcruelincharacter.

WHEREAS,thatBoardofDirectorsofPELCOIdeemitimproperandunjusttoreconsiderthe
penaltyofdismissalimposedtoMrs.ChonaEstacioandMr.LeopoldoManliclicwhileDirector
Mirandas motion that the initial disciplinary action would only be a first offense and the
objectionwasraisedbyDirectorDizonthatheisnotinfavorofthereinstatement.

WHEREAS, in view of the fact that Mrs. Chona Estacio has already served a thirty (30) days
preventive suspension, General Manager Loliano Allas is hereby directed to reinstate Mrs.
Chona Estacio and Mr. Leopoldo Manliclic to be included in the payroll and to receive all
benefitsuponeffectivityoftheirreinstatement.

NOW, THEREFORE, upon Motion of Director Venancio S. Macapagal duly seconded by


Director Albert B. Franco resolved as it is hereby resolved that upon majority votes of the
Board of Directors of PELCO I approved the granting of the letters of appeal of Mrs. Chona
EstacioandMr.LeopoldoManliclictobereinstated.Eventually,G.M.Allasisherebyorderedto
comply2daysuponreceiptofthisresolution.(Records,pp.4849.)
21Annex3,Records.

22Annex5,id.

23Annex6,id.

24Records,pp.1and8.

25Rollo,pp.143144.

26Id.at145.

27Id.at160161.

28Id.at147.

29Id.at161.

30Id.at163.
31Id.at167.

32Id.at173.

33Id.at67.

34Id.at71.

35Id.at337338.

36RULE65

CERTIORARI,PROHIBITIONANDMANDAMUS

SECTION1.Petitionforcertiorari.Whenanytribunal,boardorofficerexercisingjudicialor
quasijudicial functions has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave
abuseofdiscretionamountingtolackorexcessofjurisdiction,andthereisnoappeal,orany
plain,speedy,andadequateremedyintheordinarycourseoflaw,apersonaggrievedthereby
mayfileaverifiedpetitioninthepropercourt,allegingthefactswithcertaintyandprayingthat
judgmentberenderedannullingormodifyingtheproceedingsofsuchtribunal,boardorofficer,
andgrantingsuchincidentalreliefsaslawandjusticemayrequire.
37Entitled"ResolutionAuthorizingtheGeneralManager,Engr.Allas,tofileanAppeal/PetitionforReviewat
the Court of Appeals, Re: Chona Estacio and Leopoldo Manliclic v. Pamapanga I Electric Cooperative
Incorporated.(Rollo,p.316.)

38PhilippineNationalConstructionCorporationv.Matias,G.R.No.156283,6May2005,458SCRA148,
158.

39TaclobanIINeighborhoodAssociation,Inc.v.OfficeofthePresident,G.R.No.168561,26September
2008,566SCRA493,510511.

40PhilippineNationalBankv.Palma,G.R.No.157279,9August2005,466SCRA307,323325.

41TheInsularLifeAssuranceCo.Ltd.v.AssetBuildersCorp.,466Phil.751,773(2004).

42RepublicGlassv.Qua,479Phil.393(2004).

43PhilippineStockExchange,Inc.v.CourtofAppeals,346Phil.218,234(1997).

44Mijaresv.CourtofAppeals,338Phil.274,289(1997).

45TheInsularLifeAssuranceCompany,Ltd.v.AssetBuildersCorporation,supranote41at772.

46ART.282.TERMINATIONBYEMPLOYER.Anemployermayterminateanemploymentforanyofthe
followingcauses:

(a)SeriousMisconductorwillfulDisobediencebytheemployeeofthelawfulordersofhisemployer
orrepresentativeinconnectionwithhiswork

(b)GrossandhabitualNeglectbytheemployeeofhisduties

(c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly
authorizedrepresentative

(d) Commission of a Crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any
immediatememberofhisfamilyorhisdulyauthorizedrepresentativeand

(e)OthercausesAnalogoustotheforegoing.

47 ART. 283. CLOSURE OF ESTABLISHMENT AND REDUCTION OF PERSONNEL The employer may
alsoterminatetheemploymentofanyemployeeduetotheinstallationoflaborsavingdevices,redundancy,
retrenchmenttopreventlossesortheclosingorcessationofoperationoftheestablishmentorundertaking
unlesstheclosingisforthepurposeofcircumventingtheprovisionsofthisTitle,byservingawrittennotice
ontheworkerandtheMinistryofLaborandEmploymentatleastone(1)monthbeforetheintendeddate
thereof. In case of termination due to the installation of labor saving devices or redundancy, the worker
affectedtherebyshallbeentitledtoaseparationpayequivalenttoatleasthisone(1)monthpayortoat
leastone(1)monthpayforeveryyearofservice,whicheverishigher.Incaseofretrenchmenttoprevent
losses and in cases of closures or cessation of operations of establishment or undertaking not due to
seriousbusinesslossesorfinancialreverses,theseparationpayshallbeequivalenttoone(1)monthpay
oratleastonehalf(1/2)monthpayforeveryyearofservice,whicheverishigher.Afractionofatleastsix
(6)monthsshallbeconsideredasone(1)wholeyear.

48ART.284.DISEASEASGROUNDFORTERMINATION.Anemployermayterminatetheservicesofan
employee who has been found to be suffering from any disease and whose continued employment is
prohibitedbylaworisprejudicialtohishealthaswellastothehealthofhiscoemployees:Provided,That
heispaidseparationpayequivalenttoatleastone(1)monthsalaryortoonehalf(1/2)monthsalaryfor
everyyearofservice,whicheverisgreater,afractionofatleastsix(6)monthsbeingconsideredasone(1)
wholeyear.
49Sarapatv.Salanga,G.R.No.154110,23November2007,538SCRA324,332.

50Salasv.AboitizOne,Inc.,G.R.No.178236,27June2008,556SCRA374,385386.

51PremiereDevelopmentBankv.Mantal,G.R.No.167716,23March2006,485SCRA234,239.

52324Phil.747(1996)PremiereDevelopmentBankv.Mantal,id.

53CArollo,p.157.

54Records,p.86.

55Rollo,p.106.

56G.R.No.L73735,31August1987,153SCRA500.

57327Phil.1097(1996).

TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation