Saturday, February 04, 2012

Session Delights Ice Cream & Fastfoods vs. CA, G.R. No. 172149 , February 8, 2010

Facts: A complaint for illegal dismissal was filed against petitioner Session Delights Ice Cream & Fast Foods by private respondent Adonis Armenio M. Flora, docketed as NLRC Case No. RAB-CAR 09-0507-00. The labor arbiter decided against petitioner, finding that it had illegally dismissed the private respondent. Based on such finding, it awarded private respondent backwages, separation pay in lieu of reinstatement, indemnity, and attorney’s fees.

The CA affirmed with modification the NLRC decision by deleting the awards for a proportionate 13th month pay and for indemnity. The CA decision became final per Entry of Judgment dated July 29, 2003.

In January 2004, and in the course of the execution of the above final judgment, a pre-execution conference was held, with the contending parties in attendance. In said conference an updated computation of the monetary awards in the total amount of P235,986.00, which included additional backwages and separation pay and a proportionate amount of the 13th month pay due to private respondent Flora, was made and was approved by the Labor Arbiter about three (3) months after.

The petitioner objected to the re-computation and appealed the labor arbiter’s order to the NLRC but the same was denied. The CA, however, partially granted the petition by deleting the awarded proportionate 13th month pay.

Issue: Whether or not the updated computation was proper

Held: Yes, the updated computation was proper. The issue in the case at bar is not the correctness of the awards, the finality of the CA’s judgment, nor the petitioner’s failure to appeal. Rather, it is the propriety of the computation of the awards made, whether this violated the principle of immutability of final judgments.

In concrete terms, the question is whether a re-computation in the course of execution, of the labor arbiter’s original computation of the awards made pegged as of the time the decision was rendered and confirmed with modification by a final CA decision, is legally proper.

 The Court held that under the terms of the decision under execution, no essential change is made by a re-computation as this step is a necessary consequence that flows from the nature of the illegality of dismissal declared in that decision. A re-computation (or an original computation, if no previous computation has been made) is a part of the law – specifically, Article 279 of the Labor Code and the established jurisprudence on this provision – that is read into the decision. By the nature of an illegal dismissal case, the reliefs continue to add on until full satisfaction, as expressed under Article 279 of the Labor Code. The re-computation of the consequences of illegal dismissal upon execution of the decision does not constitute an alteration or amendment of the final decision being implemented. The illegal dismissal ruling stands; only the computation of the monetary consequences of this dismissal is affected and this is not a violation of the principle of immutability of final judgments.

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