Carag v. National Labor Relations Commission

G.R. No. 147590, 2 April 2007

FACTS:

National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) and Mariveles Apparel Corporation Labor Union (MACLU) (collectively, complainantsfiled a complaint against MAC for illegal dismissal brought about by its illegal closure of business. In their complaint dated complainants alleged the following:

• That without notice of any kind filed in accordance with pertinent provisions of the Labor Code, [MAC], for reasons known only by herself [sic] ceased operations with the intention of completely closing its shop or factory.

• That at the time of closure, employees who have rendered one to two weeks work were not paid their corresponding salaries/wages, which remain unpaid and there are other benefits than those above-mentioned which have been unpaid by [MAC] at the time it decided to cease operations, benefits gained by the workers both by and under the CBA and by operations [sic] of law.

• That the closure made by [MAC] in the manner and style done is perce [sic] illegal, and had caused tremendous prejudice to all of the employees, who suffered both mental and financial anguish and who in view thereof merits [sic] award of all damages.

In their position paper dated 3 January 1994, complainants moved to implead MAC’s Chairman of the Board Antonio Carag (Carag), and MAC’s President Armando David (David).This inclusion of individual respondents as party respondents in the present case is to guarantee the satisfaction of any judgment award on the basis of Article 212(c) of the Philippine Labor Code, as amended, which says:

“Employer includes any person acting in the interest of an employer, directly or indirectly. It does not, however, include any labor organization or any of its officers or agents except when acting as employer.”

Where the employer-corporation, AS IN THE PRESENT CASE, is no longer existing and unable to satisfy the judgment in favor of the employee, the officer should be held liable for acting on behalf of the corporation. Without any further proceedings, Arbiter Ortiguerra rendered her Decision granting the motion to implead Carag and David. In the same Decision, Arbiter Ortiguerra declared Carag and David solidarily liable with MAC to complainants.

ISSUE:

WON the director personally liable for the debts of the corporation.

RULING:

NO. The rule is that a director is not personally liable for the debts of the corporation, which has a separate legal personality of its own. Section 31 of the Corporation Code lays down the exceptions to the rule. Section 31 makes a director personally liable for corporate debts if he wilfully and knowingly votes for or assents to patently unlawful acts of the corporation. Section 31 also makes a director personally liable if he is guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in directing the affairs of the corporation.

Complainants did not allege in their complaint that Carag wilfully and knowingly voted for or assented to any patently unlawful act of MAC. Complainants did not present any evidence showing that Carag wilfully and knowingly voted for or assented to any patently unlawful act of MAC. Neither did Arbiter Ortiguerra make any finding to this effect in her Decision. Complainants did not also allege that Carag is guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in directing the affairs of MAC. Complainants did not present any evidence showing that Carag is guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in directing the affairs of MAC. Neither did Arbiter Ortiguerra make any finding to this effect in her Decision.

To hold a director personally liable for debts of the corporation, and thus pierce the veil of corporate fiction, the bad faith or wrongdoing of the director must be established clearly and convincingly. Bad faith is never presumed. Bad faith does not connote bad judgment or negligence. Bad faith imports a dishonest purpose. Bad faith means breach of a known duty through some ill motive or interest. Bad faith partakes of the nature of fraud.

*Case Digest by Stephanie C. Castillo, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY: 2019-2020

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