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Apr 30, 2008

G.R. No. 157488, February 6, 2007


On different dates, complainants Alagos et al., were hired as security guards by Solgus Corp., a duly licensed security and investigation agency, and then assigned to its clients.

In 1994, they separately filed complaints for illegal dismissal and underpayment of salaries and related benefits against Solgus and its principals. Among their allegations are: (1) at the time of hiring, there was no stipulation they there were hired as probationary employees; (2) they worked 12 hours daily; (3) they were made to sign blank payrolls; and (4) they were summarily dismissed from employment.

For its defense, Solgus alleged that complainants Soriano, Emano and Deseo were probationary employees who, due to unsatisfactory performance, failed to pass the 6-month probationary period; and that the other complainants were removed from their posts at the request of Solgus clients and that, thereafter, they abandoned their jobs.

The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaints and affirmed the validity of the Affidavits of Desistance submitted by two of the complainants. The case was appealed to the NLRC who reversed the decision of the LA and ordered reinstatement. Solgus then elevated the case to the CA, who modified the NLRC decision. The Motion for Reconsideration was denied.


  • W/N the Labor Arbiter’s decision to give effect and validity to the affidavits of desistance was proper


In Periquet v. National Labor Relations Commission, the guideposts to determine validity of affidavits of desistance were set, thus:

"Not all waivers and quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If the agreement was voluntarily entered into and represents a reasonable settlement, it is binding on the parties and may not later be disowned simply because of a change of mind. It is only where there is clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person, or the terms of settlement are unconscionable on its face, that the law will step in to annul the questionable transaction. But where it is shown that the person making the waiver did so voluntarily, with full understanding of what he was doing, and the consideration for the quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding undertaking. x x x. "

In the instant case, we agree with both the NLRC and the Court of Appeals that the Affidavits of Desistance deserve scant consideration.

The NLRC Rules of Procedure particularly Section 3, Rule V, provides:

Section 3. Submission of Position Papers/Memorandum. – Should the parties fail to agree upon an amicable settlement, either in whole or in part, during the conferences, the Labor Arbiter shall issue an order stating therein the matters taken up and agreed upon during the conferences and directing the parties to simultaneously file their respective verified position papers.

These verified position papers shall cover only those claims and causes of action raised in the complaint excluding those that may have been amicably settled, and shall be accompanied by all supporting documents including the affidavits of their respective witnesses which shall take the place of the latter’s direct testimony. 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. x x x. (Emphasis supplied.)

The records clearly indicate that Solgus received the 5 December 1996 Order of the Labor Arbiter on 2 January 1997. However, it inexplicably managed to submit its Memorandum only on 27 August 1997 when it presented for the first time the alleged Affidavits of Desistance executed by complainants Telin and Alagos.

We agree with the NLRC that the Labor Arbiter should not have taken undue haste in considering the Affidavits of Desistance of complainants as presented by Solgus on the ground that it made no reference at all in its position paper, reply, and rejoinder to the existence of the said affidavits in patent violation of the aforementioned rule of the NLRC. The belated presentation of the purported Affidavits of Desistance deprived complainants Telin and Alagos of the opportunity to debunk the authenticity of said Affidavits of Desistance before the Labor Arbiter in gross violation of the rules of fair play.

Even more, the claim of Solgus that they were already existing as early as the time of their execution but submitted to the Labor Arbiter only in 1997 because they could not be located is specious. Such very important documents as the Affidavits of Desistance which are very material to the case could not have been misplaced or difficult to locate as claimed by Solgus. Pertaining as it does to a waiver of rights, Solgus should have exercised more prudence in the custody of these documents.

The Supreme Court does not countenance the genuineness of the allegedly executed affidavits of desistance since the complainants who allegedly executed them deny doing the same. Such being the case, the rule that when the voluntariness of the execution of the affidavit of desistance or release is put into issue then the claim of the employee may still be given due course, finds application in this case.

The Affidavits of Desistance do not even bear the prima facie evidence of their due execution accorded to private documents, because even the notaries public before whom they were acknowledged issued a certification that no such affidavit was acknowledged by Telin and Alagos before them.

Quitclaims, releases and other waivers of benefits granted by law or contracts in favor of workers should be strictly scrutinized to protect the weak and the disadvantaged. The waivers should be carefully examined, in regard not only to the words and terms used, but also to the factual circumstances under which they have been executed. Under prevailing jurisprudence, a deed of release or quitclaim cannot bar an employee from demanding benefits to which he is legally entitled. It is the employer’s duty to prove that such quitclaims were voluntary. The mere fact that the respondents were not physically coerced or intimidated does not necessarily imply that they freely or voluntarily consented to the terms thereof. The law looks with disfavor upon quitclaims and releases by employees pressured into signing the same by unscrupulous employers minded to evade legal responsibilities. Settled is the rule that quitclaims are ineffective in barring full recovery of the benefits due the employee.


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