G.R. No. L-39195 May 16, 1975
THE SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION and FRANCISCO ANDRES, petitioners,
THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF LABOR, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and GREGORIO YANGLAY, JR., respondents.
Yanglay, a thirty-year old married man residing at Cavite City, after leaving the plant at three o’clock in the afternoon of April 22, 1972, was apprehended by Patrolman E. Reyes of the Manila Police Department outside the company compound. Yanglay was carrying a bagful of drugs. He admitted that he was caught in possession of the said drugs which he had bought from his coworkers and which had been given to them free of charge so as to keep them in the “pink of health”.
At the investigation on June 27, Yanglay denied that he was trafficking illegally in drugs of the company. He said that he bought the drugs from his coworkers in the same way that some workers bought the rice rations of their coworkers.
On the basis of that investigation, Yanglay was dismissed on July 19, 1972. At the meeting of the union and management panels on September 22, 1972 to thresh out Yanglay’s grievance, the union representative contended that there was no company rule against trafficking in drugs, which were no longer owned by the company after having been issued to its workers, and that the sale of the drugs was like the sale of rice rations which sale was allegedly tolerated by the company officials. The union conceded that suspension should be the proper disciplinary action but not dismissal. Yanglay had been in the service of the company for nine years.
The management panel countered that it is evident that Yanglay’s dismissal was not due to union activities; that the sale of the drugs was a subversion of the company’s efforts to give medical benefits to its workers and that trafficking in rice rations cannot be cited as a justification because the value of the rice is reflected in the workers’ income tax returns.
On December 4, 1972 Yanglay filed a complaint with the NLRC alleging that there was no evidence to justify his dismissal, that the truth was that he owned the medicines in question and that he was dismissed because of his union activities as a “militant shop steward of the Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa”, the union representing the workers of the corporation (NLRC Case No. MC-180).
The case was scheduled for mediation on January 10, 1973. The record does not show what transpired on that date. On January 12, 1973 the corporation filed a memorandum wherein it contended (1) that Yanglay’s case was outside the NLRC’s jurisdiction which extends only to disputes and grievances occurring after September 21, 1972; (2) that Yanglay’s dismissal was justified and (3) that, if the dismissal was not justified, his remedy was to ask for separation pay under the Termination Pay Law. Yanglay did not submit any memorandum. On February 21, 1973 the mediator submitted a report wherein he concluded that Yanglay “was dismissed on a shaky ground” because the employer had not shown any violation of any company rule or regulation and that the persons to be penalized should be those who sold or delivered the drugs to Yanglay.
As such, the mediator recommended Yanglay’s reinstatement with backwages, and the NLRC adopted the same.
The San Miguel Corporation moved for the reconsideration of the decision on the ground that it was premature because section 14 of the NLRC’s Rules and Regulations requires that the mediator’s factfinding report be passed upon by an arbitrator. The motion was treated as an appeal by the Secretary of Labor. As already stated, he denied it in his resolution dated July 9, 1974. Thereafter, the company, instituted this certiorari proceeding.
Yanglay raised a jurisdictional question which was not brought up by respondent public officials. He contends that this Court has no jurisdiction to review the decisions of the NLRC and the Secretary of Labor “under the principle of separation of powers” and that judicial review is not provided for in Presidential Decree No. 21.
Whether or not the Court has a jurisdiction over the decision of the NLRC and the Secretary of labor under the “Principle of Separation of powers” and judicial review is not provided under Presidential Decree 21 (Creating a National Labor Relations Commission)
The Court has jurisdiction over the case.
It is generally understood that as to administrative agencies exercising quasi-judicial or legislative power there is an underlying power in the courts to scrutinize the acts of such agencies on questions of law and jurisdiction even though no right of review is given by statute. The purpose of judicial review is to keep the administrative agency within its jurisdiction and protect substantial rights of parties affected by its decisions, It is part of the system of checks and balances which restricts the separation of powers and forestalls arbitrary and unjust adjudications.
Judicial review is proper in case of lack of jurisdiction, grave abuse of discretion, error of law, fraud or collusion.
The courts may declare an action or resolution of an administrative authority to be illegal (1) because it violates or fails to comply with some mandatory provision of the law or (2) because it is corrupt, arbitrary or capricious.
Whether or not Yanglay’s dismissal is proper.
No. Yanglay’s dismissal is not proper.
That was the first time he was caught trafficking in company-supplied drugs. He confessed that necessity forced him to buy the drugs. He promised not to do it again. His impression was that, like the rice rations whose sale was tolerated by the company officials, he could engage in the buy-and-sell of the drugs. He argued that his co-workers, who gave or sold to him the drugs, were equally culpable in sabotaging the company’s practice of rendering free medical assistance to its employees.
The misconduct of employees or workers in misrepresenting to the company that they needed medicines when in fact their purpose was to sell the same should not be tolerated. For such misrepresentations or deceptions, appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against them. On the other hand, in view of the high cost of living and the difficulties of supporting a family it is not surprising that members of the wage-earning class would do anything possible to augment their small income.
Taking into account the circumstances of the case, particularly Yanglay’s initial attitude of confessing that his error was dictated by necessity and his promise not to repeat the same mistake, we are of the opinion that his dismissal was a drastic punishment. He should be reinstated but without back wages because the company acted in good faith in dismissing him. He has been sufficiently penalized by the loss of his wages from July 19, 1972 up to this time.