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Paolo Jesus Padilla was hired on Apr. 1, 2002 as a Marketing Associate by Am-Phil and his regular employment was confirmed on Sept. 29, 2002. In March 2004, Am-Phil officers informed Padilla that a retrenchment program is being implemented because of adverse condition of the business and Padilla is one of the affected employees. Padilla questioned Am-Phil’s choice for they had 6 contractual employees while he was a regular employee. He also pointed out that that the sales have not been lower relative to the previous year. Padilla filed a complaint for illegal dismissal. For its defense, Am-Phil claimed that Padilla was not illegally terminated and that it validly exercised management prerogative. On May 9, 2005, the LA officer found that Padilla was illegally dismissed. He noted that Am-Phil failed to substantiate its claim of serious business losses and that it failed to comply with the procedural requirement for a proper retrenchment.
In appeal before the NLRC, apart from asserting that Padilla was validly retrenched, Am-Phil claimed that the LA officer was in error in deciding the case despite the pendency of its motion for leave to file supplemental rejoinder. Through the same, Am-Phil supposedly intended to submit its audited financial statements for the years 2001-2004 to prove that it had suffered business losses. Am-Phil claimed that its right to due process was violated by the LA’s refusal to consider the said audited financial statements. NLRC affirmed the LA’s ruling. The NLRC noted that a supplemental rejoinder was not a necessary pleading in proceedings before LAs.
Was it proper for the LA to have ruled that Padilla was illegally dismissed despite AmPhil’s pending motion for leave to file supplemental rejoinder?
No. Am-Phil’s motion for leave to file supplemental rejoinder, dated May 20, 2005, was filed on May 31, 2005, well after the LA promulgated his May 9, 2005 decision. Common sense dictates that as the motion for leave to file supplemental rejoinder was filed after the rendition of the decision, the decision could not have possibly taken into consideration the motion. Even if the Court were to ignore the fact that the motion was filed after the rendition of the decision, the LA was under no obligation to admit supplemental rejoinder. Rule V of the 2002 NLRC Rules of Procedure provides that verified position papers to be submitted shall cover only those claims and causes of action raised in the complaint. The parties shall thereafter not be allowed to allege facts, or present evidence to prove facts, not referred to and any cause or causes of action not included in the complaint or position papers, affidavits, and other documents. It is clear that a supplemental rejoinder, as correctly ruled by the NLRC, is not a pleading which a LA is duty-bound to accept. The requirements of due process in labor cases before the LA is satisfied when the parties are given the opportunity to submit their position papers.