MAM REALTY CORPORATION v. NLRC, CELSO BALBASTRO
GR 114787, 02 June 1995
Corporation Law Case Digest by John Paul C. Ladiao (15 March 2016)
(Topic: Doctrine of Piercing the Veil of Corporate Fiction)
a complaint filed with the Labor Arbiter by private respondent Celso B. Balbastro against herein petitioners, MAM Realty Development Corporation ("MAM") and its Vice President Manuel P. Centeno, for wage differentials, "ECOLA," overtime pay, incentive leave pay, 13th month pay (for the years 1988 and 1989), holiday pay and rest day pay. Balbastro alleged that he was employed by MAM as a pump operator in 1982 and had since performed such work at its Rancho Estate, Marikina, Metro Manila.
MAM countered that Balbastro had previously been employed by Francisco Cacho and Co., Inc., the developer of Rancho Estates. Sometime in May 1982, his services were contracted by MAM for the operation of the Rancho Estates' water pump. He was engaged, however, not as an employee, but as a service contractor, at an agreed fee of P1,590.00 a month. Similar arrangements were likewise entered into by MAM with one Rodolfo Mercado and with a security guard of Rancho Estates III Homeowners' Association. Under the agreement, Balbastro was merely made to open and close on a daily basis the water supply system of the different phases of the subdivision in accordance with its water rationing scheme. He worked for only a maximum period of three hours a day, and he made use of his free time by offering plumbing services to the residents of the subdivision. He was not at all subject to the control or supervision of MAM for, in fact, his work could so also be done either by Mercado or by the security guard. On 23 May 1990, prior to the filing of the complaint, MAM executed a Deed of Transfer, 1 effective 01 July 1990, in favor of the Rancho Estates Phase III Homeowners Association, Inc., conveying to the latter all its rights and interests over the water system in the subdivision.
National Labor Relations Commission ("NLRC") rendered judgment on 21 March 1994, ordered MAM Realty Development Corporation ("MAM") and its Vice President Manuel P. Centeno are hereby directed to pay jointly and severally complainant the sum of P86,641.05.
Whether or not that the NLRC erred in holding Centeno jointly and severally liable with MAM?
the NLRC erred in holding Centeno jointly and severally liable with MAM. A corporation, being a juridical entity, may act only through its directors, officers and employees. Obligations incurred by them, acting as such corporate agents, are not theirs but the direct accountabilities of the corporation they represent. True, solidary liabilities may at times be incurred but only when exceptional circumstances.
In labor cases, for instance, the Court has held corporate directors and officers solidarily liable with the corporation for the termination of employment of employees done with malice or in bad faith.
In the case at Bench, there is nothing substantial on record that can justify, prescinding from the foregoing, petitioner Centeno's solidary liability with the corporation.
The case is REMANDED to the NLRC for a re-computation of private respondent's monetary awards, which, conformably with this opinion, shall be paid solely by petitioner MAM Realty Development Corporation. No special pronouncement on costs.