Tuesday 17 July, 2018
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Zambales I Electric Cooperative Zameco

Napag-initan? CA says late Zameco district chief was illegally dismissed

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has ruled that a Zambales I Electric Cooperative (Zameco) district chief forced to resign over his personnel’s illegal tapping activities had been illegally dismissed under suspicious circumstances.

In a recent 14-page decision, the CA Special 5th Division granted the appeal of the heirs of the now-deceased Tony Cansas to reverse the National Labor Relations Commission’s (NLRC) November 2016 ruling that affirmed his dismissal as valid.

The CA reinstated the labor arbiter’s May 2016 decision finding the Sta. Cruz district chief to be illegally dismissed and thus entitled to backwages of P277,000 plus 6% interest.

Zameco let Cansas resign in August 2015, after employee Gilbert Alejandro, who was accused by complainant Lorna Vinluan of illegally tapping electricity lines, implicated his boss in his activities.

While the NLRC said Zameco’s loss of trust and confidence in Cansas was a sufficient ground to let him go, the CA said this “must not be indiscriminately used as a shield by the employer against a claim that the dismissal of an employee was arbitrary.”

“It is likewise required that the loss of trust and confidence must be genuine, and must not be used as a subterfuge for causes which are illegal, improper, and unjustified…,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta.

The CA noted that Vinluan’s statement, which only directly implicated Alejandro, carried no weight for being hearsay as she never even met Cansas personally.

Meanwhile, the court found Alejandro’s uncorroborated statement implicating Cansas to be “self-serving” because it was a condition for Zameco to execute an affidavit of desistance that would shield the former from the filing of a criminal complaint.

The fact that Alejandro was shielded from criminal liability despite being directly involved in the illegal tapping activities “inspires suspicion of ill motive” in dismissing Cansas, the court said.

Cansas died on August 6, 2016, of a gunshot to the back.

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