[G.R. No. 150306.November 27, 2002]




Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated 27 NOV 2002.

G.R. No. 150306 (Charter Chemical and Coating Corp. and/or Albert Lee/John Lee Garcia vs. Court of Appeals and Alexander Magcasi.)


Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the resolution of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the NLRC which, in turn, affirmed the decision of the labor arbiter finding petitioners liable for the illegal dismissal of private respondent and consequently ordering petitioner to reinstate private respondent and to pay him backwages of P80,470.

Petitioner Charter Chemical and Coating Corporation is a domestic corporation engaged in the manufacture of paints and other related products.

Private respondent, Alexander Magcasi, was hired by petitioner as a casual employee on June 9, 1995. On November 9, 1995, instead of terminating private respondent, petitioner retained his services and made him a probationary employee for 6 months. On May 13, 1996, private respondent was made to sign another five-month employment contract reverting him to the status of a casual employee. Private respondent acceded for fear of losing his employment. On September 2, 1996, private respondent was again made to sign a new employment contract as a driver but this time with a certain Cholo Management Resources, Inc. (CMRI), a manpower firm contracted by petitioner to deliver its products. The employment contract between CMRI and private respondent was renewed every 5 months until May 15, 1998 when CMRI terminated his services.

Aggrieved, private respondent filed a complaint for illegal dismissal.

On July 13, 1999 the labor arbiter rendered a decision in favor of private respondent and declared the existence of an employer-employee relationship between the parties, and disposed thus:

����������� CONFORMABLY WITH THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered finding complainant to have been illegally dismissed by respondents, and should be reinstated to his former position and paid his back wages by respondents in solidum which as of June 15, 1999 has already amounted to P80,470.


����������� Attorney's fees equivalent to 5% of the moneyawards must likewise be paid by respondents solidarily. [1] cralaw


On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the assailed decision but deleted the award of attorney's fees.

Their motion for reconsideration having likewise failed, petitioners filed a special civil action for certiorari at the Court of Appeals. But this too was dismissed.

Thus, the instant petition, wherein petitioners assail the failure of the labor arbiter to act on their motion to set the case for trial on the merits, claiming that they were denied due process.

On January 28, 2002 the Court issued a resolution requiring private respondent to file a comment on the petition. Said comment was filed on April 1, 2002.

The petition must fail.

Petitioners argue that they were denied due process of law when no formal hearing was conducted before the labor arbiter decided their case. According to them, they filed with the labor arbiter a Motion to Set Case for Trial on the Merits but the labor arbiter did not act on it.

Petitioners ought to be reminded that what due process contemplates is freedom from arbitrariness, the substance rather than the form being paramount. A formal or trial-type hearing is not, at all times and in all instances, essential to due process, the requirements of which are satisfied once the parties are afforded a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy. It is enough that the parties are given a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their respective sides of the controversy and to presentsupporting evidence on which a fair decision can be based. [2] cralaw

It is not legally objectionable for the labor arbiter to resolve a case on the basis solely of the position papers, affidavits or documentary evidence submitted by the parties. The affidavits of witnesses in a such case may even take the place of their direct testimony. [3] cralaw In Vinta Maritime Co., Inc. vs. NLRC, [4] the Court ruled that the holding of an adversarial trial is discretionary on the labor arbiter and the parties cannot demand it as a matter of right. More often than not, a litigant may be heard more creditably through pleadings than through oral arguments.

In administrative proceedings, technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied. Administrative due process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial sense. Due process is intended to afford an opportunity to be heard. An actual verbal hearing need not always be held. The necessity of conducting a hearing is addressed to the sound discretion of the labor arbiter.

In the instant case, the decisions of both the labor arbiter and the NLRC were not only based on the bare allegations of the parties but also on the evidence and documents submitted by the parties, e.g., pay slips, employment contracts, etc.

The fact that the labor arbiter failed to issue an order denying petitioner's motion or to issue an order to the effect that there was no necessity of further hearing, is not per se a denial of due process.

Pertinently, Article 221 of the Labor Code, as amended by Section 11 of RA 6715, provides:

Technical rules not binding and prior resort to amicable settlement. In any proceeding before the Commission or any of the Labor Arbiters, the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling and it is the spirit and intention of this Code that the Commission and its members and the Labor Arbiters shall use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively and without regard to technicalities of law or procedure, all in the interest of due process. In any proceeding before the Commission or any Labor Arbiter, the parties may be represented by legal counsel but it shall be the duty of the Chairman, any Presiding Commissioner or Commissioner or any Labor Arbiter to exercise complete control of the proceedings at all stages.


xxx������������������ xxx������������������ xxx


Evidently, under the aforequoted Rule, the labor arbiter is given the discretion to determine the necessity for a formal hearing or investigation, after the position papers and other documentary evidences of the parties have been submitted to him. The parties may ask for a hearing but such hearing is not a matter of right. The labor arbiter, in the exercise of his discretion, may deny such request and proceed to decide the case on the basis of the position papers and other documents brought before him, without resorting to the technical rules of evidence observed in regular courts of justice. Such a procedure has been sanctioned by this Court as not being violative of due process, considering that proceedings before a labor arbiter are summary and non-litigious in nature.

Petitioners cannot deny the fact that position papers and other documentary evidences were submitted by both parties to the labor arbiter. Petitioners were even given the additional opportunity to argue their case on appeal before public respondent NLRC. Such appeal to the NLRC and the petition before the Court of Appeals have afforded the petitioners more than ample opportunity to be heard.

To recapitulate, in labor cases, the filing of position papers and supporting documents fulfill the requirements of due process. The essence of due process [5] cralaw in administrative proceedings is simply the opportunity to seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. [6] cralaw All of these were afforded to petitioners.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby denied due course.


SO ORDERED. �������

Very truly yours,


Clerk of Court


Asst. Clerk of Court



[1] cralaw Rollo, p. 60.

[2] cralaw Autobus Worker's Union (AWU) vs. NLRC, 291 SCRA 219 [1998].

[3] cralaw CMP Federal Security Agency, Inc. vs. NLRC , 303 SCRA 99 [1999].

[4] cralaw 284 SCRA 656 [1998].

[5] cralaw Aparente, Sr. vs. NLRC, 331 SCRA 82 [2000].

[6] cralaw Audion Electric Co., Inc. vs. NLRC, 308 SCRA 340 [1999].

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