Monday, September 6, 2010

Alipio Ruga, et. al. vs. NLRC, et. al

Chester Cabalza recommends his visitors to please read the original & full text of the case cited. Xie xie!

Employee-Employer Relationship

G.R. No. L-72654-61 January 22, 1990



Petitioners were the fishermen-crew members of 7/B Sandyman II, one of several fishing vessels owned and operated by private respondent De Guzman Fishing Enterprises which is primarily engaged in the fishing business with port and office at Camaligan, Camarines Sur. Petitioners rendered service aboard said fishing vessel in various capacities, as follows: Alipio Ruga and Jose Parma patron/pilot; Eladio Calderon, chief engineer; Laurente Bautu, second engineer; Jaime Barbin, master fisherman; Nicanor Francisco, second fisherman; Philip Cervantes and Eleuterio Barbin, fishermen.

For services rendered in the conduct of private respondent's regular business of "trawl" fishing, petitioners were paid on percentage commission basis in cash by one Mrs. Pilar de Guzman, cashier of private respondent. As agreed upon, they received thirteen percent (13%) of the proceeds of the sale of the fish-catch if the total proceeds exceeded the cost of crude oil consumed during the fishing trip, otherwise, they received ten percent (10%) of the total proceeds of the sale. The patron/pilot, chief engineer and master fisherman received a minimum income of P350.00 per week while the assistant engineer, second fisherman, and fisherman-winchman received a minimum income of P260.00 per week.

On September 11, 1983 upon arrival at the fishing port, petitioners were told by Jorge de Guzman, president of private respondent, to proceed to the police station at Camaligan, Camarines Sur, for investigation on the report that they sold some of their fish-catch at midsea to the prejudice of private respondent. Petitioners denied the charge claiming that the same was a countermove to their having formed a labor union and becoming members of Defender of Industrial Agricultural Labor Organizations and General Workers Union (DIALOGWU) on September 3, 1983.

During the investigation, no witnesses were presented to prove the charge against petitioners, and no criminal charges were formally filed against them.

Notwithstanding, private respondent refused to allow petitioners to return to the fishing vessel to resume their work on the same day, September 11, 1983.

On September 22, 1983, petitioners individually filed their complaints for illegal dismissal and non-payment of 13th month pay, emergency cost of living allowance and service incentive pay, with the then Ministry (now Department) of Labor and Employment, Regional Arbitration Branch No. V, Legaspi City, Albay. They uniformly contended that they were arbitrarily dismissed without being given ample time to look for a new job.


Whether or not the fishermen-crew members of the trawl fishing vessel 7/B Sandyman II are employees of its owner-operator, De Guzman Fishing Enterprises.


Disputing the finding of public respondent that a "joint fishing venture" exists between private respondent and petitioners, petitioners claim that public respondent exceeded its jurisdiction and/or abused its discretion when it added facts not contained in the records when it stated that the pilot-crew members do not receive compensation from the boat-owners except their share in the catch produced by their own efforts; that public respondent ignored the evidence of petitioners that private respondent controlled the fishing operations; that public respondent did not take into account established jurisprudence that the relationship between the fishing boat operators and their crew is one of direct employer and employee.

We have consistently ruled that in determining the existence of an employer-employee relationship, the elements that are generally considered are the following (a) the selection and engagement of the employee; (b) the payment of wages; (c) the power of dismissal; and (d) the employer's power to control the employee with respect to the means and methods by which the work is to be accomplished. 8 The employment relation arises from contract of hire, express or implied. 9 In the absence of hiring, no actual employer-employee relation could exist.

From the four (4) elements mentioned, we have generally relied on the so-called right-of-control test where the person for whom the services are performed reserves a right to control not only the end to be achieved but also the means to be used in reaching such end. The test calls merely for the existence of the right to control the manner of doing the work, not the actual exercise of the right.

The petition is GRANTED. The questioned resolution of the National Labor Relations Commission dated May 30,1985 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Private respondent is ordered to reinstate petitioners to their former positions or any equivalent positions with 3-year backwages and other monetary benefits under the law. No pronouncement as to costs.

Acknowledgement: Jaja Oftana

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