A bank employee who had served his company for 29 long years has not enjoyed the fruit of his labor after he died before the Supreme Court (SC) had decided, in his favor, the labor case he lodged against the bank.
The SC’s Second Division ruled in favor of Eleazar Padillo, former savings account bookkeeper of Rural Bank of Nabunturan, Incorporated, who was separated from his employment due to health reasons on October 3, 2007.
The High Court awarded P75,000 as financial assistance to Padillo, excluding the P100,000 benefit he got from the insurance company Philam Life Plan.
Court records showed that Padillo was employed with Rural Bank in Nabunturan, Incorporated, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province on October 1, 1977.
But in 2003, the bank had experienced liquidity problems prompting the company to procure insurance plans from Philippine American Life and General Insurance Company or Philam Life for its employees amounting to P100,000. The plan would mature on July 11, 2009.
On October 14, 2004, the bank was taken over by Mark Oropeza who bought majority shares of stocks and became the president of the bank.
With Oropeza’s management, the bank’s finances had improved and regained its liquidity.
But in 2007, Padillo suffered a mild stroke and he was diagnosed having hypertension which already affected his work.
Padillo then wrote on September 10, 2007, a letter to Oropeza expressing his intention to avail of the bank’s early retirement package but despite several follow-ups, his letter “remained unheeded”.
Padillo was separated from his employment on October 3, 2007 without affording him any retirement benefits prompting him to file a labor case before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Regional Arbitration Branch XI in Davao City.
Answering the charges hurled by Padillo, the bank and Oropeza countered that Padillo’s claim of retirement benefits “was not favorably acted upon for lack of any basis to grant the same”.
In a decision on March 13, 2009, the labor arbitration office dismissed Padillo’s claim ruling that he was disqualified from demanding retirement benefits pursuant to Article 300 of the Labor Code of the Philippines as he was only 55 years of age, five years short of the law’s prescribed retirement age of 60 and 10 years short of compulsory requirement 65.
The labor arbitration office, however, ordered the bank to pay P100,000 as advance payment from the amount receivable from Philam Life.
Padillo elevated the labor arbiter’s findings before the NLRC, which reversed the decision and granted P164,903.70 on top of the P100,000 he would get from Philam Life.
The NLRC decision was later reversed by the Court of Appeals but with modification to pay Padillo the amount of P50,000 as financial assistance in addition to the P100,000 from Philam Life.
The CA awarded the amount to Padillo for consideration of his 29 years of service with no derogatory record in the company.
Not satisfied with the CA decision, Padillo raised the issue before the Supreme Court.
But before the Supreme Court could hand down its decision, Padillo died on February 24, 2012 and the case was pursued by his heirs.
In a decision promulgated on January 21, 2013, the SC agreed with the CA ruling that Padillo could not get retirement benefits pursuant to law but the High Court increased the amount awarded to Padillo from P50,000 to P75,000 in addition to the P100,000 from Philam Life.