Affirmative relief on appeal is available only to party that appealed the decision of the lower court. Decision becomes final as against a party who does not appeal the same and an appellee who has not himself appealed cannot obtain from the appellate court any affirmative relief other than those granted in the decision of the lower tribunal.
Ramon Manuel T. Javines vs. Xlibris a.k.a. Author Solutions, Inc., Joseph Steinbach, and Stella Mars Quano
G.R. No. 214301, June 7, 2017
Javines was hired by respondent Xlibris as Operations Manager. Approximately 10 months after, Javines was terminated for falsifying/tampering three meal receipts. The falsification was discovered when Javines submitted the meal receipts for reimbursement to the finance department. Prompted by said discovery, the company’s Finance Officer prepared an incident report on the same day.
Consequently, a Notice to Explain was issued to Javines for alleged violation of Sections 9.5 and 9.6 of the Employee’s Code of Conduct and charging him with acts constituting dishonesty. Xlibris obtained certified copies of the meal receipts from the fast food chains concerned and Javines was notified that the receipts were tampered. A KFC receipt was altered from an amount of PhP540.00 to PhP5,450.00, while McDonald’s receipt from PhP107.00 to PhP2,207.00, and McDonald’s receipts from PhP164.00 to PhP3,164.00.
Javines submitted his written explanation, denying having tampered the receipts. He explained that as Operations Manager, he is responsible for securing reimbursement for expenses incurred by the supervisors under him. He further explained that it is the supervisors who submit the receipts to him and for which, he prepares a reimbursement request. Once the reimbursement is made, Javines distributes the cash to the supervisor concerned. Javines argued that while he prepares the request for reimbursement, he has no knowledge or part in the tampered receipts.
An administrative hearing was held. Javines failed to explain why and how the incident transpired. Instead, Javines requested for further investigation since, at that time, he allegedly could not recall who submitted the receipts to him.
Consequently, on the same day, notices to explain were sent to the supervisors under Javines. In their written accounts, the supervisors denied participation in the tampered receipts.
Xlibris terminated Javines’ employment through an “end of employment notice.” Javines then filed a complaint for illegal dismissal.
The complaint was dismissed by the Labor Arbiter who found that Javines’ dismissal was for just cause and with due process.
The NLRC modified the decision of the Labor Arbiter, finding that, while Javines was dismissed for just cause, he was not afforded procedural due process. In particular, the NLRC noted that after the administrative hearing, notices to explain were immediately sent to the supervisors who denied participation in the falsification of the receipts.
The NLRC noticed that no other hearing was called thereafter so as to afford Javines the opportunity to confront the witnesses against him before he was dismissed. As such, the NLRC awarded nominal damages in the amount of PhP10,000 in Javines’ favor.
Javines failed to move for reconsideration of the NLRC’s decision while Xlibris’ motion for partial reconsideration was denied. Thus, only Xlibris elevated the case to the CA on certiorari on the sole issue that the NLRC gravely abused its discretion in holding that it failed to comply with the requirements of procedural due process.
By way of comment, Javines reiterated his position that he was not afforded procedural due process because his request for further investigation for purposes of identifying source of the questioned meal receipts was never granted. Additionally, Javines questioned the cause of his dismissal on the argument that Xlibris failed to prove by substantial evidence the misconduct imputed against him.
The CA partially granted the petition.
It observed that while Javines was given a chance to explain his side and adduce evidence in his defense through his written explanation and through the administrative hearing, he was nevertheless not given the opportunity to rebut the additional pieces of evidence secured by Xlibris thereafter and considered by Xlibris in arriving at the decision to terminate him.
However, the CA reduced the award of nominal damages from PhP10,000 to PhP1,000 considering that the altered meal receipts show a discrepancy of PhP10,010.
Only Javines moved for reconsideration of the CA Decision, arguing that he was not dismissed for just cause. Xlibris opposed Javines’ motion for reconsideration on the ground that the issue as to whether or not Javines was dismissed for cause was never raised in its petition for certiorari filed before the CA nor discussed in the CA Decision.
Xlibris further argued that the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC unanimously found that Javines was dismissed for just cause, which findings Javines failed to challenge by interposing a timely appeal therefrom.
The CA denied Javines’ motion for reconsideration, prompting Javines to file the instant Petition.
Whether or not the party who failed to appeal the decision in the lower tribunal can still raise the decided issues in the higher court
Whether or not the filing of certiorari by the other party opens the whole case for review including the issues already decided and not appealed from
The SC did not find merit in the petition.
The SC held that although appeal is an essential part of judicial process, the right thereto is not a natural right or a part of due process but is merely a statutory privilege. Settled are the rules that a decision becomes final as against a party who does not appeal the same and an appellee who has not himself appealed cannot obtain from the appellate court any affirmative relief other than those granted in the decision of the court below. Hence, the finding that Javines was dismissed for just cause was upheld.
Javines’ insistence that the petition for certiorari filed by Xlibris throws open the entire case for review such that the issue of whether or not he was dismissed for just cause ought to have been addressed by the CA is entirely misplaced.
While it is true that the appellate court is given broad discretionary power to waive the lack of proper assignment of errors and to consider errors not assigned, it has authority to do so in the following instances: (a) when the question affects jurisdiction over the subject matter; (b) matters that are evidently plain or clerical errors within contemplation of law; (c) matters whose consideration is necessary in arriving at a just decision and complete resolution of the case, or in serving the interests of justice or avoiding dispensing piecemeal justice; (d) matters raised in the trial court and are of record having some bearing on the issue submitted that the parties failed to raise or that the lower court ignored; ( e) matters closely related to an error assigned; and (f) matters upon which the determination of a question properly assigned is dependent.
None of the aforesaid instances exists in the instant case.