PATTERN OF NEGLECT AMOUNTS TO GROSS AND HABITUAL NEGLECT OF DUTY; 48 HOURS GIVEN TO SUBMIT REPLY IS INSUFFICIENT
Quiro-Quiro vs. Balagtas Credit Cooperative & Community Development, Inc.G.R. No. 209921, January 13, 2016
Petitioner Balagtas Credit Cooperative and Community Development, Inc. (“petitioner”/“BCCCDI”) initially hired respondent Emma H. Quiro-quiro (“respondent/Quiro-quiro) as accountant/bookkeeper in 1989. However, sometime in April 2010, BCCCDI terminated the employment of Quiro-quiro, who was then holding the concurrent posts of General Manager and Accountant, on the grounds of “gross negligence/violation of company rules” and “gross dishonesty.” The charges involve over withdrawal of Time Deposit (TD), Loss of borrower’s title, over computation of interest on TD placements, Unfair filing of delinquent accounts, Concealment of the irregularity regarding the over withdrawal in the TD, and Non-disclosure of the true financial condition of the cooperative. Quiro-quiro disputed the charges. Thus, he filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and damages.
The LA found that there was substantial evidence showing that petitioner was lawfully dismissed and respondent observed due process in terminating her.
The NLRC reversed the decision of the LA holding that Complainant was declared to have been illegally dismissed. The NLRC also denied the motion for reconsideration Inc.
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the NLRC and reinstated the decision of the Labor Arbiter. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing among others that the case had already been settled by virtue of an offer from respondent to pay the amount awarded by the NLRC. Petitioner also maintained that her dismissal was invalid.
The Court of Appeals found that “there was more than enough substantial evidence presented” to support a valid dismissal. The Court of Appeals gave credence to the following evidence showing petitioner had neglected her duties, had been dishonest and had breached her employer’s trust.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing among others that the case had already been settled by virtue of an offer from respondent to pay the amount awarded by the NLRC. Petitioner also maintained that her dismissal was invalid. The Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration. Hence, the petition
The SC denied the petition.
Respondent’s offer to pay the sum of P452,730.34 representing the monetary award of the NLRC is not in the nature of a compromise agreement, which effectively puts an end to this controversy. According to respondent, the underlying reason for the offer of payment was petitioner’s motion for the issuance of the writ of execution, leaving respondent without any recourse but to pay. In other words, such payment was in compliance with the writ of execution issued by the NLRC.
As pointed out by respondent, the issuance of the writ of execution and notice of garnishment forced respondent to pay the monetary award of the NLRC to avoid its bank account being frozen and to prevent the cessation of its operations. Clearly, there is no intent on the part of respondent to enter into a compromise agreement to put an end to this dispute. Otherwise, respondent could have simply filed a motion to withdraw its petition before the Court of Appeals, specifically manifesting the execution by the parties of a compromise agreement. On the contrary, respondent pursued its appeal before the Court of Appeals and vigorously opposed the petition in the SC.
The dismissal was valid. Petitioner’s “inability to stop during her watch an over withdrawal by one member, amounting to P250,000.00,” and followed by a series of monthly withdrawals, “constitutes gross and habitual neglect of duty that is a just cause for her dismissal.” The Court of Appeals further found that “her other infractions such as the loss of a certificate of title, the granting of a high interest to pre-terminated deposits, duplication of JV numbers, and a backlog in her reportings or postings only add to such major infraction and establish a pattern of negligence and inability to fulfill her duty. Moreover, there is no dispute that petitioner held the sensitive positions of general manager and accountant, which demand respondent’s utmost trust and confidence. Clearly, petitioner’s act warranted the penalty of dismissal.
While petitioner’s dismissal is lawful, the SC sustained the award of P30,000 nominal damages in favor of petitioner for respondent’s nonobservance of the due process requirements in dismissing her. The 48 hours given to petitioner to explain her side was insufficient time to “consult the union official or lawyer, gather data and evidence and decide on [her defenses].” Petitioner should have been given at least five calendar days from receipt of the notice to prepare for her defense. Notwithstanding, the lack of statutory due process does not nullify the dismissal or render it illegal or ineffectual when the dismissal was for just cause, but it will merit the grant of nominal damages as indemnification.