Respondent John Peckson (Peckson) was employed as a sales supervisor for the Battery Department of petitioner Panasonic Manufacturing Philippines (Panasonic).
In a letter dated Sept. 16, 2003, Peckson expressed his intention to resign effective on Oct. 30, 2003. In a subsequent letter dated Sept. 25, 2003, he informed Panasonic that he wished to change the effectivity of his resignation to Oct. 15, 2003 so that he could attend to some personal matters. In both letters, he expressed gratitude to Panasonic for giving him the opportunity to work with it.
On April 11, 2005, Peckson filed a complaint for constructive dismissal against Panasonic and Jose De Jesus (De Jesus), Panasonic’s manager, claiming for separation pay, other money claims, damages and attorney’s fees. He alleged that he was forced to resign by De Jesus after the latter accused him of falsifying his signature in an “Authority to Travel” form. He was placed on “floating status” solely to be the subject of ridicule.
To these allegations, Panasonic maintained that Peckson voluntarily resigned from work, as seen in the tenor of his two resignation letters, his willing completion of the exit interview and the clearance procedure, as well as his signing of a quitclaim and release.
Which position finds merit?
Ruling: That of Panasonic.
To note, the intent to relinquish must concur with the overt act of relinquishment; hence, the acts of the employee before and after the alleged resignation must be considered in determining whether he, in fact, intended to terminate his employment. In illegal dismissal cases, it is a fundamental rule that when an employer interposes the defense of resignation, on him necessarily rests the burden to prove that the employee indeed voluntarily resigned.
Guided by these legal precepts, a judicious review of the facts on record will show that Panasonic was able to show Peckson’s voluntary resignation.
First, the company aptly proved that Peckson’s resignation letters showed the voluntariness of his separation from Panasonic. While the fact of filing a resignation letter alone does not shift the burden of proof, and it is still incumbent upon the employer to prove that the employee voluntarily resigned, in this case, the facts show that the resignation letters are grounded in Peckson’s desire to leave the company as opposed to any deceitful machination or coercion on the part of Panasonic.
The very contents of the letters show not only any lack of reluctance or tension on the part of Peckson, but in fact express gratitude and welI wishes, without qualification, nor do they show any sign of aggression, bitterness, or hostility towards his former employer. In Bilbao v. Saudi Arabian Airlines, 678 Phil. 793 (2011), the Court found as voluntary the resignation of the complainant, whose clear use of words of appreciation and gratitude negated the notion that she was forced and coerced to resign. Likewise, the Court held in Rodriquez v. Park N Ride Inc., et al., 807 Phil.747 (2017), that the petitioner-employee voluntarily resigned as evidenced in part by her submission of two resignation letters containing words of gratitude.
Second, the Court finds that Peckson’s subsequent and contemporaneous actions belie his claim that he was subjected to harassment on the part of Panasonic. Peckson neglected to show any sign that he had reached out to company management regarding his alleged complaints with De Jesus or any other employee of Panasonic, and if he did, he failed to show the same. It would stand to reason that if Peckson had legitimate grievances, he would have raised them up with management.
While Peckson alleges that he sent two complaint-affidavits detailing the acts of abuse heaped on him, as well as his being put on floating status, the Court notes that Peckson was unable to proffer any proof that he sent these to Panasonic. The lack of any proof that he did, without any evidence of intimidation or coercion, should highlight the intangibility of these accusations. (Panasonic Manufacturing Philippines Corp. (formerly Matsushita Electric Philippines Corp. vs. John Peckson, G.R. No. 206316, March 20, 2019).