BITOY JAVIER (DANILO P. JAVIER), Petitioner,
FLY ACE CORPORATION/FLORDELYN CASTILLO, Respondents.
G.R. No. 192558
February 15, 2012
On May 23, 2008, Javier filed a complaint before the NLRC for underpayment of salaries and other labor standard benefits. He alleged that he was an employee of Fly Ace since September 2007, performing various tasks at the respondent’s warehouse such as cleaning and arranging the canned items before their delivery to certain locations, except in instances when he would be ordered to accompany the company’s delivery vehicles, as pahinante; that during his employment, he was not issued an identification card and pay slips by the company; that on May 6, 2008, he reported for work but he was no longer allowed to enter the company premises by the security guard upon the instruction of Ruben Ong (Mr. Ong), his superior; that after several minutes of begging to the guard to allow him to enter, he saw Ong whom he approached and asked why he was being barred from entering the premises; that Ong replied by saying, “Tanungin mo anak mo;” that he then went home and discussed the matter with his family; that he discovered that Ong had been courting his daughter Annalyn after the two met at a fiesta celebration in Malabon City; that Annalyn tried to talk to Ong and convince him to spare her father from trouble but he refused to accede; that thereafter, Javier was terminated from his employment without notice; and that he was neither given the opportunity to refute the cause/s of his dismissal from work.
To support his allegations, Javier presented an affidavit of one Bengie Valenzuela who alleged that Javier was a stevedore or pahinante of Fly Ace from September 2007 to January 2008. The said affidavit was subscribed before the Labor Arbiter
For its part, Fly Ace averred that it was engaged in the business of importation and sales of groceries. Sometime in December 2007, Javier was contracted by its employee, Mr. Ong, as an extra helper on a pakyaw basis at an agreed rate of ₱300.00 per trip, which was later increased to ₱325.00 in January 2008. Mr. Ong contracted Javier roughly 5 to 6 times only in a month whenever the vehicle of its contracted hauler, Milmar Hauling Services, was not available. On April 30, 2008, Fly Ace no longer needed the services of Javier. Denying that he was their employee, Fly Ace insisted that there was no illegal dismissal. Fly Ace submitted a copy of its agreement with Milmar Hauling Services and copies of acknowledgment receipts evidencing payment to Javier for his contracted services bearing the words, “daily manpower (pakyaw/piece rate pay)” and the latter’s signatures/initials.
LA: the LA dismissed the complaint for lack of merit on the ground that Javier failed to present proof that he was a regular employee of Fly Ace.
NLRC: LA Decision was reversed. On appeal with the NLRC, Javier was favored. It ruled that the LA skirted the argument of Javier and immediately concluded that he was not a regular employee simply because he failed to present proof. It was of the view that a pakyaw-basis arrangement did not preclude the existence of an employer-employee relationship.
The NLRC held that substantial evidence was sufficient basis for judgment on the existence of the employer-employee relationship. Finding Javier to be a regular employee, the NLRC ruled that he was entitled to security of tenure.
CA: the CA annulled the NLRC findings that Javier was indeed a former employee of Fly Ace and reinstated the dismissal of Javier’s complaint as ordered by the LA.
“In an illegal dismissal case, the onus probandi rests on the employer to prove that its dismissal was for a valid cause. However, before a case for illegal dismissal can prosper, an employer-employee relationship must first be established. x x x it is incumbent upon private respondent to prove the employee-employer relationship by substantial evidence.”
Since no substantial evidence was presented to establish an employer-employee relationship, the case for illegal dismissal could not prosper.
Whether or not Petitioner was an employee of Fly Ace.
No, he was not an employee. The Court affirms the assailed CA decision.
As the records bear out, the LA and the CA found Javier’s claim of employment with Fly Ace as wanting and deficient. The Court is constrained to agree. The petitioner needs to show by substantial evidence that he was indeed an employee of the company against which he claims illegal dismissal.
Although substantial evidence is not a function of quantity but rather of quality, the circumstances of the instant case demand that something more should have been proffered. Had there been other proofs of employment, such as inclusion in petitioner’s payroll, or a clear exercise of control, the Court would have affirmed the finding of an employer-employee relationship.
In this case, the LA and the CA both concluded that Javier failed to establish his employment with Fly Ace. By way of evidence on this point, all that Javier presented were his self-serving statements purportedly showing his activities as an employee of Fly Ace. Clearly, Javier failed to pass the substantiality requirement to support his claim. Hence, the Court sees no reason to depart from the findings of the CA.
Javier was not able to persuade the Court that the elements of the four-fold test exist in his case. He could not submit competent proof that Fly Ace engaged his services as a regular employee; that Fly Ace paid his wages as an employee, or that Fly Ace could dictate what his conduct should be while at work. In other words, Javier’s allegations did not establish that his relationship with Fly Ace had the attributes of an employer-employee relationship on the basis of the four-fold test.