Affidavit as Evidence in Labor CasesAtty Elvin
Case in point is the holding of the Supreme Court in the case of JR Hauling Services vs. Solamo, (G.R. No. 214294, September 30, 2020)
The employer in such case holds the employees liable for the shortages in the delivery of broilers, sale of live chickens and other relate irregularities in the farm.
The employer, on this point, bring to fore sworn statements or affidavits of several individuals to corroborate the fact of deficiencies in the deliveries supposedly caused by employees.
A perusal of the affidavits, however, readily shows that the statements therein referred only to the employees’ alleged involvement in the unauthorized sale of excess broilers and broiler crates, and not as to their involvement in the delivery shortage of 748 broilers.
Nor was there a reasonable connection between the shortages incurred and the unauthorized sale of broilers and broiler crates.
To be clear, the parties are not in dispute on the fact that the sale of live chickens came from the excess or replacement broilers secured by respondents from the farms. Accordingly, according to the SC, the logic is simple – if what were sold by the employees were the excess broilers from the farms not otherwise accounted for under the job orders, then they would have not incurred short deliveries of
Notably, employees argued before the CA that the affidavits presented by the company were inadmissible to prove their culpability which would justify their dismissal from employment.
Particularly, the employees averred that:
(1) the affidavits were taken ex-parte and, thus, incomplete and inaccurate;
Note: ex-parte means one-sided or without the participation of the other party
(2) statements therein are self-serving and hearsay, and unsubstantiated by concrete evidence; and
(3) the admissions of culpability made by their co-employees are binding only on them and not on respondents.
It is for these reasons that the CA, in finding that the employees were illegally dismissed, disregarded these affidavits and held that even the affidavits submitted by only contain mere allegations uncorroborated by any other evidence which, to this Court, clearly do not constitute substantial evidence to show employees’ involvement in the alleged deliveries and deficiencies indicated in the summary of deliveries.
It is noteworthy, however, that although the affidavits do not address employees’ participation in the delivery shortages of broilers, it is apparent that the statements in the same affidavits attest to their involvement in the unauthorized sale of excess broilers and broiler crates.
In labor cases, affidavits may be sufficient to establish substantial evidence. The employees argued,
however, that affidavits taken ex-parte should not be given due weight for being self-serving, hearsay and inadmissible in evidence. By citing pertinent provisions on the rules on evidence, the employees insisted that any admissions made therein cannot be used to establish their culpability, but only of the confessants themselves.
The argument that the affidavits are hearsay for having been taken ex parte i.e., that the affiants were not presented for cross-examination, does not persuade the Supreme Court. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law do not control proceedings before the labor tribunals where decisions may be reached on the basis of position papers, accompanied by supporting documents, including affidavits of witnesses, and other allied pleadings.
In Bantolino vs. Coca Cola Bottlers Phils. Inc., it is held that administrative bodies like the NLRC are not bound by the technical niceties of law and procedure and the rules obtaining in courts of law. Indeed, the Revised Rules of Court and prevailing jurisprudence may be given only stringent application, i.e., by analogy or in a suppletory character and effect.
The submission that an affidavit not testified to in a trial, is mere hearsay evidence and has no real evidentiary value, cannot find relevance in the present case considering that a criminal prosecution requires a quantum of evidence different from that of an administrative proceeding.
Along the same lines, in Southern Cotabato Development and Construction Inc. vs. National Labor Relations Commission that Article 221 (now 227) of the Labor Code, as amended, provides that “the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity [shall not be controlling]” and that the LA and the NLRC shall “use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively and without regard to technicalities of law and procedure, all in the interest of due process.”
Clearly, to disregard the affidavits on the ground that they were taken ex-parte would necessarily require the application of the technical rules of evidence and thereby negate the purpose of the summary nature of labor proceedings mandated by the Labor Code and the NLRC Rules of Procedure.
The SC found the affidavits executed to constitute substantial evidence to prove employees’ involvement in the unauthorized sale of excess broilers and broiler crates.
The SC was inclined to give them evidentiary weight absent any evidence to rebut their validity. It is well settled that “a document acknowledged before a notary public is a public document that enjoys the presumption of regularity. It is a prima facie evidence of the truth of the facts stated therein and a conclusive presumption of its existence and due execution.”
The case of Gabunas, Sr. vs. Scanmar Maritime Services Inc. is instructive in that, as between bare allegation and the Affidavit of a witness to the contrary, the labor court gives credence to the latter.
In Pan Pacific Industrial Sales Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., it was held that a notarized document carries the evidentiary weight conferred upon it with respect to its due execution. It has in its favor the presumption of regularity, which may only be rebutted by evidence so clear, strong and convincing as to exclude all controversy as to the falsity of the certificate. Absent such evidence, the presumption must be upheld. The burden of proof to overcome the presumption of due execution of a notarial document lies in the one contesting the same.
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