Valenzuela vs. Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc.
G.R. No. 222419, October 5, 2016


Valenzuela sued for non-payment of backwages, overtime pay, separation pay, moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees against Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc. (AMO VI) and its owner and president, Cesar E. Detera (Cesar).

Valenzuela was hired as a company driver of AMOVI. He did not just worked for the company but also drove for the members of the Detera family. After five years and five months of service, he was told that he can no longer continue to work as there were no forthcoming funds to pay for his salary.

Respondents however insisted that Valenzuela was the family driver of Cesar and not employee of AMOVI.

LA Ruling:

The Labor Arbiter (LA) rendered a Decision9 holding that Valenzuela had been illegally dismissed. The LA dismissed Cesar’s claim that Valenzuela was a family driver and not an employee of AMOVI, as the evidence on record proved otherwise. She likewise pointed out that the respondents failed to present any evidence to support their claim that Valenzuela abandoned his employment.

Unyielding, the respondents interposed an appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), and reiterated their claim that Valenzuela was the family driver of the Deteras and not an employee of AMOVI. They added that Valenzuela, being a member of the household service, may be terminated at will by his employer pursuant to Article 150 of the Labor Code.

NLRC Ruling:

The NLRC rendered a Decision affirming the ruling of the LA. The NLRC held that respondents failed to present evidence to dispute [Valenzuela’s] allegations. Such allegation is unsupported. On the other hand, the Valenzuela was able to present identification card and payslips.

The respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing decision, but the NLRC denied the same. Undeterred, the respondents filed a petition for certiorari with the CA imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC for holding that there was an employer-employee relationship between AMOVI and Valenzuela.

CA Ruling:

The CA partly granted the petition and modified the same by deleting the award of backwages. The CA held that since there was no clear evidence that Valenzuela was dismissed by the respondents and, on the other hand, there was an equal lack of proof of abandonment of work on the part of Valenzuela. It held further that following the ruling of the Court in Exodus International Construction Corporation, et al. vs. Biscocho, et al., the remedy was to reinstate Valenzuela without backwages.

Valenzuela filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, but the same was denied. Valenzuela filed the petition before the SC questioning the Decision and Resolution of the CA. He contends that the fact of his dismissal was· clearly established and this entitles him to the payment of both separation pay and full backwages.


  1. Whether or not the Exodus ruling applies to this case
  2. Whether or not backwages should be awarded

SC Ruling:

The SC holds that the instant case presents a clear case of illegal dismissal contrary to the ruling of the CA that there was none.

Learn how to Validly Dismiss Employees

Guide To Valid Dismissal of Employees

Guide To Valid Dismissal of Employees

In its decision, the CA ruled that while it was established that Valenzuela was an employee of AMOVI, there was no proof that the company or its president dismissed him from service. It likewise affirmed that Valenzuela did not abandon his employment as the respondents failed to establish acts showing his intention to leave employment.

Thus, it applied the ruling in Exodus where it was held that when there is no evidence of the fact of dismissal on the part of the employer and, at the same time, no proof of abandonment on the part of the employee, the proper relief is reinstatement without backwages.

This has no application where there was evidence of dismissal as when Cesar admits having impliedly dismissed a driver by invoking Art. 150 of the Labor Code in justifying the act. This case was unanimously held by the LA, NLRC, and the CA that the employer was AMOVI.

There being an admission of dismissal, the SC examined whether there was observance of the substantive and procedural due process. The SC found violations in both. Thus, Valenzuela was entitled to backwages under Art. 279 of the Labor Code.

However, in view of the strained relations between the parties, the Court did not award reinstatement and in lieu thereof, granted payment of separation pay of one month for every year of service from the time of illegal termination up to the finality of the decision.

Learn the proper notices for Valid Dismissal:


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