Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim that was executed in one petition which caused the dismissal thereof may render moot the separate petition involving the same facts, issues, and subject matter.
Antonio M. Magtalas vs. Isidro A. Ante, et al.
G.R. No. 193451, January 28, 2015
Petitioner Magtalas is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Review Director of the CPA Review Center of the Philippine School of Business Administration-Manila (PSBA-Manila). He was impleaded in this case in his official capacity.
The Labor Code of the Philippines (Re-numbered per R.A. 10151) by Atty. Villanueva
PSBA is a corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws. It is engaged in business as an educational institution and offers review classes to candidates for the CPA Licensure Examinations.
Respondents Isidoro A. Ante, Raul C. Addatu, Nicanor B. Padilla, Jr., Dante Y. Ceñido and Rhamir C. Dalioan were engaged by PSBA-Manila as professional reviewers at its CPA Review Center and were paid on an hourly basis. However, for the school year 2005-2006, they were not given any review load.
Respondents then sent a letter to the President of PSBA-Manila, Jose F. Peralta (Peralta), requesting for the payment of termination or retirement benefits for failure of PSBA-Manila to give them review load for the said school year. Petitioner and Peralta sent respondents individual replies stating that they were not entitled to retirement or termination benefits because they do not have an employer-employee relationship, but a professional-client relationship.
Consequently, respondents filed a complaint for constructive illegal dismissal, non-payment of overtime pay, holiday pay, premium for holiday pay, vacation and sick leave pay, 13th month pay, separation pay and retirement benefits, as well as for moral, exemplary, actual, nominal and temperate damages and attorney’s fees against PSBA-Manila, Peralta and herein petitioner with the Labor Arbitration Branch of the NLRC.
The Labor Arbiter found petitioner, PSBA-Manila and the other persons named in the complaint liable for illegal dismissal. Finding that respondents are regular employees of PSBA-Manila, the Labor Arbiter ordered PSBA-Manila, Peralta and petitioner to pay respondents back wages, separation pay and other benefits and damages.
In a Memorandum on Appeal, petitioner Magtalas alone filed with the NLRC a separate appeal with a simultaneous Motion to Reduce Bond. Petitioner deposited only P100,000.00 as cash bond, with motion to reduce bond due to his incapacity of posting either a cash bond equivalent to the monetary award to respondents amounting to around P10,250,000.00 or the P600,000.00 premium of a surety bond for such amount. PSBA-Manila and Peralta, on the other hand, separately posted a cash bond of P50,000.00 with Motion to Reduce Bond.
The NLRC jointly resolved and dismissed the separate appeals of petitioner Magtalas on one hand, and PSBA-Manila and Peralta on the other, on the ground of non-perfection. It held that the cash bonds posted by the separate appeals of petitioner, as well as PSBA-Manila and Peralta, were not reasonable amounts, and did not interrupt the running of the period to perfect an appeal.
Petitioner then filed a Petition for Certiorari – separately from PSBA-Manila and Peralta – with the CA. The petition filed by Magtalas was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 107316, while PSBA-Manila and Peralta’s petition was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 107029.
Respondents subsequently moved to consolidate the petitions. The appellate court granted the motion. In the assailed Decision, the CA affirmed the ruling of the NLRC and dismissed the consolidated petitions.
Magtalas sought reconsideration in a motion, but the motion was denied by the appellate court.
Petitioner Magtalas seeks recourse to the SC via the instant petition for review filed. The instant petition assails the dismissal of his appeal by the NLRC due to his failure to post a sufficient bond.
Petitioner also reiterates his argument that he is not covered by the rule of the NLRC on appeal bonds because he was not the employer of respondents. He also questions the findings of the NLRC that respondents were regular employees of PSBA-Manila and that they were illegally dismissed.
PSBA-Manila and Peralta, for their part, separately filed an appeal from the same CA decision with the SC.
The petitions were docketed as G.R. Nos. 193438 and 194184 which were raffled off to the Second Division. The instant petition, however, was not consolidated with these two cases under the Second Division.
During the pendency of the three petitions, a Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim was executed before Labor Arbiter Cellan under docket numbers NLRC LAC No. 12-003259-07 and RAB CASE No. 00-04-03133-06. It was dated and stamp received by the Office of the Labor Arbiter, NLRC-NCR on March 23, 2011.
In view of the execution of the above Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim and the Addendum (to Release, Waiver and Quitclaim) on March 23, 2011, PSBA-Manila and Peralta filed a Manifestation with Motion to Dismiss on April 14, 2011. They moved for the dismissal of the petitions docketed under G.R. Nos. 193438 and 194184 due to the execution of these documents.
On June 8, 2011, the Court, acting through the Third Division, issued a Resolution granting the Manifestation with Motion to Dismiss. Despite the issuance by the Third Division of the June 8, 2011 Resolution which declared G.R. Nos. 193438 and 194184 closed and terminated, the Court’s First Division issued a Resolution dated August 15, 2011 directing the First Division Clerk of Court to study whether the case at bar – docketed as G.R. No. 193451 – should be consolidated with G.R. Nos. 193438 and 194184, and to make a Report thereon within ten days from receipt of notice.
It was the First Division that issued the August 15, 2011 Resolution as this case was transferred from the Third to the First Division in a June 29, 2011 Resolution of this Court. In a Memorandum Report26 dated August 24, 2011, the Acting Assistant Division Clerk of Court of the First Division recommended not to consolidate considering that the other petition was already closed and terminated.
Whether or not a petition that is not consolidated with a similar one should prosper despite the dismissal of the latter case.
While the instant petition was not consolidated with G.R. Nos. 193438 and 194184 – either on motion of both parties or by this Court motu proprio – a perusal of the Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim and the Addendum (to Release, Waiver and Quitclaim) executed on March 23, 2011 between the same parties has clearly operated to fully and finally settle all of herein respondents’ claims for remuneration, wages and/or benefits of whatever nature from the PSBA, its directors, officers, agents and/or employees from any and all claims, demands, causes of action and/or liability of whatever nature arising out of respondents’ employment with them.
The Addendum further stated that “x x x no further claim, suit or proceeding of whatever nature may be filed in court or agency of the government against said Philippine School of Business Administration, Inc. – Quezon City or any person acting in their interest.”
In the case at bar, petitioner Magtalas was impleaded in the original complaint in his official capacity as then Review Director of the CPA Review Center of PSBA-Manila. The Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim and the Addendum (to Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim) with the negotiated amount of Nine Million Philippine Pesos (PHP9,000,000.00)was signed by all five of the respondents in this case as full and final settlement of all of their claims for remuneration, wages and/or benefits of whatever nature from PSBA and its directors, officers, agents and/or employees -clearly including herein petitioner.
The Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim and the Addendum (to Release, Waiver and Quitclaim) executed on March 23, 2011 has now therefore rendered the case moot and academic. Not one of the respondents herein has assailed the validity and enforceability of the two documents executed on March 23, 2011 -either in this petition or in the consolidated cases of G.R. Nos. 193438 and 194184. None of the respondents also filed any opposition when PSBA-Manila and Peralta filed a Manifestation with Motion to Dismiss on April 14, 2011 for the dismissal of the consolidated petitions docketed under G.R. Nos. 193438 and 194184 in view of the execution of both documents pertaining to the release, waiver and quitclaim.
Further, there was no opposition from respondents when the Third Division of the Court issued a Resolution on June 8, 2011 granting such motion to dismiss.
Thus, the SC denied the petition on the ground of mootness.