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ST. MARTIN FUNERAL HOME, petitioner, vs.


G.R. No. 130866 September 16, 1998

Private respondent alleges that he worked as Operations Manager of petitioner St. Martin
Funeral Home but that there was no contract of employment nor was his name included in the
payroll. He was dismissed from his employment for allegedly misappropriating P38K which was
intended for payment of tax to the BIR.

Petitioner, on the other hand, claims that private respondent was not its employee but only
asked for financial assistance from the mother of the funeral homes owner. Since then, as an
indication of gratitude, private respondent voluntarily helped the mother of Amelita in overseeing
the business. When the mother of Amelita passed away, the latter discovered that there were
arrears in the payment of taxes and other government fees, although the records purported to
show that the same were already paid. Amelita then made some changes in the business
operation and private respondent and his wife were no longer allowed to participate in the
management thereof. As a consequence, the latter filed a complaint charging that petitioner had
illegally terminated his employment.

LA rendered a decision in favor of petitioner declaring that no employer-employee relationship

existed between the parties and, therefore, his office had no jurisdiction over the case.

NLRC set aside the questioned decision and remanding the case to the labor arbiter for
immediate appropriate proceedings. Petitioner then filed a motion for reconsideration which was
denied. Hence, the present petition alleging that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion.

ISSUE: Is this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 before the SC the proper remedy in assailing
NLRC decisions?


Yes but it should be filed with the CA first.

Legal History of NLRC

Oct 14, 1972: NLRC was first established by P.D. No. 21, and its decisions were expressly
declared to be appealable to the Secretary of Labor and, ultimately, to the President of the
May 1, 1974: P.D. No. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines)created and regulated the present
NLRC which was attached to the Department of Labor and Employment for program and policy
coordination only. Initially, Article 302 (now, Article 223) thereof also granted an aggrieved party
the remedy of appeal from the decision of the NLRC to the Secretary of Labor, but P.D. No.
1391 subsequently amended said provision and abolished such appeals. No appellate review
has since then been provided for.

When the issue was raised in an early case on the argument that this Court has no jurisdiction
to review the decisions of the NLRC, and formerly of the Secretary of Labor, since there is no
legal provision for appellate review thereof, the Court nevertheless rejected that thesis. It held
that there is an underlying power of the courts to scrutinize the acts of such agencies on
questions of law and jurisdiction even though no right of review is given by statute; and that the
purpose of judicial review is to keep the administrative agency within its jurisdiction and protect
the substantial rights of the parties.

Therefore, the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a motion for reconsideration, and
then seasonably avail of the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65, which has now a
reglementary period of sixty days from notice of the decision.

The problem is: paragraph (3), Section 9 of B.P. No. 129 now grants exclusive appellate
jurisdiction to the Court of Appeals over all final adjudications of the Regional Trial Courts and
the quasi-judicial agencies generally or specifically referred to therein except, among others,
"those falling within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Labor
Code..." This would necessarily imply that the appeal from the NLRC cannot be brought to the
Court of Appeals, but to this Court only. However, this is illogical and impracticable, and
Congress could not have intended that procedural gaffe.

There may have been an oversight in the course of the deliberations on the said Act or an
imprecision in the terminology used therein. In fine, Congress did intend to provide for judicial
review of the adjudications of the NLRC in labor cases by the Supreme Court, but there was an
inaccuracy in the term used for the intended mode of review.

The Court is, therefore, of the considered opinion that ever since appeals from the NLRC to the
Supreme Court were eliminated, the legislative intendment was that the special civil action of
certiorari was and still is the proper vehicle for judicial review of decisions of the NLRC. The use
of the word "appeal" in relation thereto and in the instances we have noted could have been a
lapsus plumae because appeals by certiorari and the original action for certiorari are both
modes of judicial review addressed to the appellate courts. The important distinction between
them, however, is that the special civil action of certiorari is within the concurrent original
jurisdiction of this Court and the Court of Appeals.

While we do not wish to intrude into the Congressional sphere on the matter of the wisdom of a
law, on this score we add that there is a growing number of labor cases being elevated to this
Court which, not being a trier of fact, has at times been constrained to remand the case to the
NLRC for resolution of unclear or ambiguous factual findings; that the Court of Appeals is
procedurally equipped for that purpose, aside from the increased number of its component
divisions; and that there is undeniably an imperative need for expeditious action on labor cases
as a major aspect of constitutional protection to labor.

Therefore, all references in the amended Section 9 of B.P. No. 129 to supposed appeals from
the NLRC to the Supreme Court are interpreted and hereby declared to mean and refer to
petitions for certiorari under Rule 65. Consequently, all such petitions should hence forth be
initially filed in the Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy of
courts as the appropriate forum for the relief desired.