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Persons Labor Case Digest: 2. Gatbonton v. NLRC and Mapua (2006)

Gatbonton v. NLRC and Mapua

G.R. NO. 146779             January 23, 2006

Lessons Applicable: Publication must be in full, Preventive suspension, damages

Laws Applicable: Art. 2 Civil Code, Section 8, Rule XXIII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code


·         November 1998: A civil engineering student of respondent Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) filed a letter-complaint against Renato S. Gatbonton,  an associate professor of the Faculty of Civil Engineering for unfair/unjust grading system, sexual harassment and conduct unbecoming of an academician.
·         Pending investigating, MIT, through its committee on Decorum and Investigation placed him under a 30-day preventive suspension effective January 11, 1999.
o   The committee believed that his continued stay during the investigation will affect his performance as a faculty member, as well as the student’s learning and that the suspension will allow petitioner to “prepare himself for the investigation and will prevent his influence to other members of the community.
·         He filed a complaint with the NLRC for illegal suspension, damages and attorney’s fees
·         He questioned the validity of the administrative proceedings with the RTC in a petition for certiorari but was terminated since MIT agreed to publish in the school organ the rules and regulations implementing Republic Act No. 7877 (R.A. No. 7877) and disregard the previous administrative proceedings
·         Labor Arbiter: 30-day preventive suspension is illegal and directed MIT to pay his wages during the said period
·         NLRC: set aside the Labor Arbiter’s decision
·         CA on special civil action for certiorari: affirming the NLRC


  1. Whether Mapua’s Rules and Regulations is effective as of January 11, 1999 when it was published only on February 23, 1999 (persons)
  2. W/N there is a valid justification for the 30-day preventive suspension under the Labor Code (labor)
  3. Whether damages should be awarded

Held: Petition is partially granted. CA, NLRC set aside and Labors Arbiter reinstated

1.      NO
·         R.A. No. 7877 imposed the duty on educational or training institutions to "promulgate rules and regulations in consultation with and jointly approved by the employees or students or trainees, through their duly designated representatives, prescribing the procedures for the investigation of sexual harassment cases and the administrative sanctions therefor
·         Taňada vs. Tuvera:
o   all statutes, including those of local application and private laws shall be published as a condition for their effectivity is fixed by the legislative.(especially penal laws)
o   Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and executive orders promulgated by the President in the exercise of legislative powers whenever the same are validly delegated by the legislature or, at present, directly conferred by the Constitution. Administrative rules and regulations must also be published if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to a valid delegation.
·         publication must be in full or it is no publication at all since its purpose is to inform the public of the contents of the laws
·         Mapua Rules is one of those issuances that should be published for its effectivity, since its purpose is to enforce and implement R.A. No. 7877, which is a law of general application
o   Mapua Rules Section 3 Rule IV (Administrative Provisions) states that it shall take effect 15 days after publication by the committee.

2.      NO.
·         Preventive suspension is a disciplinary measure for the protection of the company’s property pending investigation of any alleged malfeasance or misfeasance committed by the employee. The employer may place the worker concerned under preventive suspension if his continued employment poses a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of his co-workers. However, when it is determined that there is no sufficient basis to justify an employee’s preventive suspension, the latter is entitled to the payment of salaries during the time of preventive suspension
·         Section 8, Rule XXIII, Book V of the Ominibus Rules, there is no valid justification
o   does not show that evidence of petitioner’s guilt is strong and that the school head is morally convinced that petitioner’s continued stay during the period of investigation constitutes a distraction to the normal operations of the institution; or that petitioner poses a risk or danger to the life or property of the other members of the educational community

3.      No.
·         While petitioner’s preventive suspension may have been unjustified, this does not automatically mean that he is entitled to moral or other damages
o   No showing of bad faith or in a wanton or fraudulent manner in preventively suspending petitioner