THE Board of Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) has decided to reinstate Sulpicio Lagarde Jr. as general manager, but in payroll only.
This was confirmed by Ceneco president Arnel Lapore following the board’s deliberation during its meeting on Friday.
Ceneco already received the order from the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Western Visayas directing the reinstatement of Lagarde to the position of general manager.
Lapore said that majority of the Board voted to appeal the case with NLRC and that they will reinstate Lagarde in the payroll of Ceneco, but there will be no physical reinstatement as they are already satisfied with the performance of current general manager Chuchie Destriza.
He said that Destriza was able to lower the electric cooperative’s systems loss from 16 percent during the time of Lagarde to only 12.29 percent as of Friday.
The reinstatement in payroll is allowed under the labor rules and even by the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
The claims for back wages and others will remain as a disputed issue pending appeal and it will be litigated at the NLRC office in Cebu within a 10-day period.
"Within the 10-day period, we will make a manifestation to the NLRC that we are reinstating him through payroll," Lapore said.
Lagarde won the labor case against Lapore and directors Michael Maravilla, Paul Lizares, Joyce Martha Cuenca, Zenaida Lacson, and Robert Javellana.
His dismissal was declared by NLRC as illegal in its order dated August 31, 2015.
NLRC Labor Arbiter Henry Tanoso directed Ceneco to reinstall him to his former position being the general manager without loss of seniority rights and his other benefits within 10 days from receipt of the decision.
Ceneco was also directed to solidarily pay Lagarde of his backwages, 13th month pay, and attorney's fee amounting to P2.065 million within 10 days from receipt.
Lagarde, who was appointed general manager on May 27, 2008, was dismissed from his position by Ceneco Board in November 27, 2014 effective immediately on the basis of loss of trust and confidence.
The Board rated Lagarde 5.2 out of 10 with the lowest rate attributed to his level of competence.
Lagarde’s counsel Maclord Zafra said the reinstatement order is executory.
The Board has no choice, but to reinstate Lagarde whether actual reinstatement or payroll reinstatement, but the rest of the order is still appealable, he added.
"If they don't want Mr. Lagarde to go back as general manager, then they can reinstate him in the payroll and he does not need to report for work. This is applicable when there is a strained relationship between the employee and the employer," Zafra said.
He added that Lagarde was never given any opportunity to explain his side and refute the grounds cited by the Board of Directors, and he was never served a written notice.
Lagarde said the NRLC order is a vindication on his part.
"I have been saying that I am not guilty of anything. And I am happy of the outcome. I am able, capable, and enthusiastic to return to my post,” he added.
However, since they decided to reinstate him only in the payroll, Lagarde said he is hopeful that final vindication will be on his favor.
“I still have a case pending with NEA against the members of the Board for abuse of authority and for effecting the dismissal in bad faith. If that will be decided on my favor, the penalty for those responsible for my illegal dismissal is suspension and dismissal from service,” he added.