By Bohol Sunday Post
The National Labor Relations Commission sub-regional branch in Tagbilaran City ordered Garcia-Hernandez Mayor Myrna Schreurs to pay her former employee a total of P159,000 for salary differential, backwages and other withheld benefits after losing in a labor case.
Labor Arbiter Fructuoso Villarin of the NLRC Sub-Regional Arbitration branch 7 in Tagbilaran City found that without just cause and due process, Schreurs terminated the employment of Arlene Sayson, whose name used to appear as the owner/general manager/proprietor/president of Garcia-Hernandez Mechandize.
In her arguments, Schreurs used Sayson’s ceremonial ownership of the business in trying to refute that she summarily dismissed her (Sayson) as it could have been a factual error to tag her (Schreurs) as “the employer”, since the documents indicate Sayson as the proprietor of the establishment from which she (Sayson) was separated.
After Sayson’s separation from the business establishment, it was transferred to the name of a certain Fe Jamero Pagulcan, with the new business name, Garcia-Hernandez Enterprise.
In an eight-page decision dated April 25, 2008, Villarin explained that though Sayson’s name appeared as proprietor of the business being the mayor’s dummy, “a cursory examination of the position papers of the parties shows that the fact of [her] employment in the business of Garcia-Hernandez Merchandize has not been put in dispute.
According to Villarin, Sayson “was working in the said establishment” though her role was debated.
Villarin also found Sayson deprived of the minimum wage, 13th-month pay, service incentive leave pay, overtime pay, holiday pay and premium pay due her.
On this, the labor arbiter ordered the mayor to pay Sayson salary differential of P46,800, backwages from the time of her dismissal until the finality of a decision tentatively amounting to P93,600, 13th month pay of P15,600, service incentive leave pay amounting to P3,000 and attorney’s fee equivalent to 10 percent of the total amount due her.
Sayson also hinted that registering the business under different names other than the mayor’s was just a ploy to evade graft issues as the establishment has been transacting business with the government in the mayor’s stint at the municipal hall.
Also in the complaint she filed against Schreurs, through legal counsel, Isabelo Sales Jr., Sayson narrated that before her summary dismissal from work, she “felt the mayor’s resentment towards her caused by jealousy over the suspicion that the mayor’s husband, Wilhemus Schreurs, was giving her too much attention”.
Hostility then reached to a point that “she was barred from entering the company office and other places in the compound”.
Upon her summary dismissal, the mayor “threatened to kill her if it was found out that she had sexual relationship with [the mayor’s] husband”.
Sayson started working as a sales clerk and cashier of Garcia-Hernandez Merchandize on May 14, 1997 until 1999. She returned to work at the establishment on March 10, 2000 for a salary of P150 a day until November 23, 2006 when she was “dismissed without just cause and due process”.
Before the establishment was named under Sayson in 2004, it was named under a certain Vidal Pagaran from 2001 to 2004 and its business name, Bohol General Merchandize, holding office in a rented space owned by the mayor’s husband.
Now, it’s called Garcia-Hernandez Enterprise registered in the name of Pagulcan.
Sayson presented certifications from the Municipal Assessor’s Office, the Office of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development, and the office of the barangay captain that she has no property holdings, disputing the mayor’s argument that she owned the establishment that she (Sayson herself) sued for illegal dismissal.
Moreover, though the business is now registered in the name of Pagulcan, its address is the same as the location of the mayor’s and her husband’s house and business compound.
Villarin led to a conclusion that Sayson was a regular employee of the mayor, who was entitled “to security of tenure and could not be terminated from employment without just cause and due process. (