Almirante: Corporate officer’s liability

RESPONDENT Crisanto P. Uson filed a compliant for illegal dismissal with prayers for backwages, reinstatement, salaries, and 13th month pay, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees against Royal Class Venture. The Labor Arbiter (LA) rendered a decision in favor of Uson for failure of Royal Class Venture to appear in scheduled hearings despite notice and to file a position paper.
During the execution stage, the Labor Arbiter pierced the veil of corporate fiction of Royal Class Venture and held petitioner Jose Immanuel Guillermo jointly and severally liable with the corporation for the enforcement of the claims of Uson. The LA ruling was affirmed by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The Court of Appeals (CA) in turn sustained the NLRC ruling.
Guillermo asserts that he was impleaded in the case only more than a year after its decision had become final and executory, an act which he claims to be unsupported in law and jurisprudence. He contends that the decision had become final, immutable and unalterable and that any amendment thereto is null and void.
Does his contention find merit?

Ruling: No.

Part of the evidence on record is the second page of the verified position paper of complainant (herein respondent) Crisanto P. Uson, where it was clearly alleged that Uson was “illegally dismissed by the President/General Manager of respondent corporation (herein petitioner) Jose Emmanuel P. Guillermo when Uson exposed the practice of the said President/General Manager of dictating and undervaluing the shares of stock of the corporation.”

The statement is proof that Guillermo was the responsible officer in charge of running the company as well as the one who dismissed Uson from employment. As this sworn allegation is uncontroverted - as neither the company nor Guillermo appeared before the Labor Arbiter despite the service of summons and notices - such stands as a fact of the case, and now functions as clear evidence of Guillermo’s bad faith in his dismissal of Uson from employment, with the motive apparently being anger at the latter’s reporting of unlawful activities.

Then, it is also clearly reflected in the records that it was Guillermo himself, as president and general manager of the company, who received the summons to the case, and who also subsequently and without justifiable cause refused to receive all notices and orders of the Labor Arbiter that followed. This makes Guillermo responsible for his and his company’s failure to participate in the entire proceedings before the said office. The fact is clearly narrated in the decision and orders of the Labor Arbiter, Uson’s motions for the issuance of alias writs of execution, as well as in the decision of the NLRC and the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals, which Guillermo did not dispute in any of his belated motions or pleadings, including in his petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals and even in the petition currently before this Court.

Thus, again, the same now stands as a finding of fact of the said lower tribunals which binds this Court and which it has no power to alter or revisit. Guillermo’s knowledge of the case’s filing and existence and his unexplained refusal to participate in it as the responsible official of his company, again is an indicia of his bad faith and malicious intent to evade the judgment of the labor tribunals.

Finally, the records likewise bear that Guillermo dissolved Royal Class Venture and helped incorporate a new firm, located in the same address as the former, wherein he is again a stockholder. This is borne by the Sheriffs Return which reported: that at Royal Class Venture’s business address at Minien East, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, there is a new establishment named “Joel and Sons Corporation,” a family corporation owned by the Guillermos in which Jose Emmanuel F. Guillermo is again one of the stockholders; that Guillermo received the writ of execution but used the nickname “Joey” and denied being Jose Emmanuel F. Guillermo and, instead, pretended to be Jose’s brother; that the guard on duty confirmed that Jose and Joey are one and the same person; and that the respondent corporation Royal Class Venture had been dissolved. Again, the facts contained in the Sheriffs Return were not disputed nor controverted by Guillermo, either in the hearings of Uson’s Motions for Issuance of Alias Writs of Execution, in subsequent motions or pleadings, or even in the petition before this Court. Essentially, then, the facts form part of the records and now stand as further proof of Guillermo’s bad faith and malicious intent to evade the judgment obligation.

The foregoing clearly indicate a pattern or scheme to avoid the obligations to Uson and frustrate the execution of the judgment award, which this Court, in the interest of justice, will not countenance. (Peralta, J., SC Third Division, Jose Emmanuel P. Guillermo vs. Crisanto P. Uson, G.R. No. 198967, March 07, 2016).
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