G.R. No. 113032, 21 August 1997
Private respondents, Ricardo T. Salas, Salvador T. Salas, Soledad Salas-Tubilleja, Antonio S. Salas, and Richard S. Salas, belonging to the same family, are the majority and controlling members of the Board of Trustees of Western Institute of Technology, Inc. (WIT), a stock corporation engaged in the operation, among others, of an educational institution. According to Homero L. Villasis, Dimas Enriquez, peston F. Villasis, and Reginald F. Villasis, the minority stockholders of WIT, sometime in June 1986 in the principal office of WIT, a Special Board Meeting was held.
In attendance were other members of the Board including Reginald Villasis. Prior to said Special Board Meeting, copies of notice thereof, dated 24 May 1986, were distributed to all Board Members. The notice allegedly indicated that the meeting to be held on 1 June 1986 included Item 6 which states that “Possible implementation of Art. III, Sec. 6 of the Amended By-Laws of Western Institute of Technology, Inc. on compensation of all officers of the corporation.”
In said meeting, the Board of Trustees passed Resolution 48, series 1986, granting monthly compensation to Salas, et. al. as corporate officers retroactive 1 June 1985, in the following amounts:
“Chairman 9,000.00/month, Vice Chairman P3,500.00/month, Corporate Treasurer P3,500.00/month and Corporate Secretary P3,500.00/month, retroactive June 1, 1985 and the ten percentum of the net profits shall be distributed equally among the ten members of the Board of Trustees. This shall amend and supercede any previous resolution.”
On 13 March 1991, Homero Villasis, Preston Villasis, Reginald Villasis and Dimas Enriquez filed an affidavit-complaint against Salas, et. al. before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Iloilo, as a result of which 2 separate criminal informations, one for falsification of a public document under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and the other for estafa under Article 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC, were filed.
The charge for falsification of public document was anchored on Salas, et. al.’s submission of WIT’s income statement for the fiscal year 1985-1986 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reflecting therein the disbursement of corporate funds for the compensation of Salas, et. al. based on Resolution 4, series of 1986, making it appear that the same was passed by the board on 30 March 1986, when in truth, the same was actually passed on 1 June 1986, a date not covered by the corporation’s fiscal year 1985-1986 (beginning May 1, 1995 and ending April 30, 1986).
Thereafter, trial for the two criminal cases (Criminal Cases 37097 and 37098), was consolidated. After a full-blown hearing, Judge Porfirio Parian handed down a verdict of acquittal on both counts dated 6 September 1993 without imposing any civil liability against the accused therein. Villasis, et. al. filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the civil aspect of the RTC Decision which was, however, denied in an Order dated 23 November 1993. Villasis, et. al. filed the petition for review on certiorari.
Significantly on 8 December 1994, a Motion for Intervention, dated 2 December 1994, was filed before this Court by Western Institute of Technology, Inc., disowning its inclusion in the petition and submitting that Atty. Tranquilino R. Gale, counsel for Villasis, et. al., had no authority whatsoever to represent the corporation in filing the petition. Intervenor likewise prayed for the dismissal of the petition for being utterly without merit. The Motion for Intervention was granted on 16 January 1995.
Whether the grant of compensation to Salas, et. al. is valid.
Directors or trustees, as the case may be, are not entitled to salary or other compensation when they perform nothing more than the usual and ordinary duties of their office.
This rule is founded upon a presumption that directors/trustees render service gratuitously, and that the return upon their shares adequately furnishes the motives for service, without compensation. Under Section 30 of the Corporation Code, there are only two (2) ways by which members of the board can be granted compensation apart from reasonable per diems:
(1) when there is a provision in the by-laws fixing their compensation; and
(2) when the stockholders representing a majority of the outstanding capital stock at a regular or special stockholders’ meeting agree to give it to them.
Also, the proscription, however, against granting compensation to director/trustees of a corporation is not a sweeping rule. Worthy of note is the clear phraseology of Section 30 which state:
“[T]he directors shall not receive any compensation, as such directors.”
The phrase as such directors is not without significance for it delimits the scope of the prohibition to compensation given to them for services performed purely in their capacity as directors or trustees. The unambiguous implication is that members of the board may receive compensation, in addition to reasonable per diems, when they render services to the corporation in a capacity other than as directors/trustees. Herein, resolution 48, s. 1986 granted monthly compensation to Salas, et. al. not in their capacity as members of the board, but rather as officers of the corporation, more particularly as Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary of Western Institute of Technology.
Clearly, therefore, the prohibition with respect to granting compensation to corporate directors/trustees as such under Section 30 is not violated in this particular case.
Consequently, the last sentence of Section 30 which provides that “In no case shall the total yearly compensation of directors, as such directors, exceed ten (10%) percent of the net income before income tax of the corporation during the preceding year” does not likewise find application in this case since the compensation is being given to Salas, et. al. in their capacity as officers of WIT and not as board members.
*Case Digest by Stephanie C. Castillo, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY: 2019-2020