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Geraldine L. Velasco was employed with petitioner PFIZER, INC. as Professional Health Care Representative since 1 August 1992. Sometime in April 2003, Velasco had a medical work up for her high-risk pregnancy and was subsequently advised bed rest which resulted in her extending her leave of absence. Velasco filed her sick leave for the period from 26 March to 18 June 2003, her vacation leave from 19 June to 20 June 2003, and leave without pay from 23 June to 14 July 2003.
While Velasco was still on leave, PFIZER through its Area Sales Manager, Ferdinand Cortez, personally served Velasco a "Show-cause Notice" dated 25 June 2003. Aside from mentioning about an investigation on her possible violations of company work rules regarding "unauthorized deals and/or discounts in money or samples and unauthorized withdrawal and/or pull-out of stocks" and instructing her to submit her explanation on the matter within 48 hours from receipt of the same, the notice also advised her that she was being placed under "preventive suspension" for 30 days or from that day to 6 August 2003 and consequently ordered to surrender some of the accountabilities from her employer.
Velasco sent a letter denying the charges claiming that the transaction with Mercury Drug, Magsaysay Branch. Velasco received a "Second Show-cause Notice" informing her of additional developments in their investigation. According to the notice, a certain Carlito Jomen executed an affidavit pointing to Velasco as the one who transacted with a printing shop to print PFIZER discount coupons. Again, Velasco was given 48 hours to submit her written explanation on the matter. On 16 July 2003, Velasco sent a letter to PFIZER via Aboitiz courier service asking for additional time to answer the second Show-cause Notice.
Velasco filed a complaint for illegal suspension with money claims before the Regional Arbitration Branch. PFIZER sent her a letter inviting her to a disciplinary hearing to be held on 22 July 2003. Velasco received it under protest and informed PFIZER via the receiving copy of the said letter that she had lodged a complaint against the latter and that the issues that may be raised in the July 22 hearing "can be tackled during the hearing of her case" or at the preliminary conference set for 5 and 8 of August 2003.She likewise opted to withhold answering the Second Show-cause Notice. On 25 July 2003, Velasco received a "Third Show-cause Notice," together with copies of the affidavits of two Branch Managers of Mercury Drug, asking her for her comment within 48 hours. Finally, on 29 July 2003, PFIZER informed Velasco of its "Management Decision" terminating her employment.
Whether Pfizer shall pay Velasco wages from the date of the Labor Arbiter’s decision ordering her reinstatement when the Court of Appeals rendered its decision declaring Velasco’s dismissal valid.
Yes, PFIZER’s previous payment to respondent representing her wages that was successfully garnished under the Labor Arbiter’s Writ of Execution cannot be considered in its favor. Not only was this sum legally due to respondent under prevailing jurisprudence but also this circumstance highlighted PFIZER’s unreasonable delay in complying with the reinstatement order of the Labor Arbiter.
An award or order of reinstatement is immediately self-executory without the need for the issuance of a writ of execution in accordance with the third paragraph of Article 223 of the Labor Code. The provision of Article 223 is clear that an award shall be immediately executory even pending appeal and the posting of a bond by the employer shall not stay the execution for reinstatement. If the requirements of Article 224 including the issuance of a writ of execution were to govern, then the executory nature of a reinstatement order or award contemplated by Article 223 will be unduly circumscribed and rendered ineffectual.
In the case at bar, PFIZER did not immediately admit respondent back to work which, according to the law, should have been done as soon as an order or award of reinstatement is handed down by the Labor Arbiter without need for the issuance of a writ of execution. Thus, respondent was entitled to the wages paid to her under the aforementioned writ of execution.
It is well-settled that when a person is illegally dismissed, he is entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages. In the event, however, that reinstatement is no longer feasible, or if the employee decides not to be reinstated, the employer shall pay him separation pay in lieu of reinstatement. Such a rule is likewise observed in the case of a strained employer-employee relationship or when the work or position formerly held by the dismissed employee no longer exists. In sum, an illegally dismissed employee is entitled to: (1) either reinstatement if viable or separation pay if reinstatement is no longer viable, and (2) backwages.