Resignation may be established as Voluntary by Factual CircumstancesAtty Elvin
Resignation is the voluntary act of an employee who is in a situation where one believes that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor of the exigency of the service, and one has no other choice but to dissociate oneself from employment. It is a formal pronouncement or relinquishment of an office, with the intention of relinquishing the office accompanied by the act of relinquishment. As the intent to relinquish must concur with the overt act of relinquishment, the acts of the employee before and after the alleged resignation must be considered in determining whether he or she, in fact, intended to sever his or her employment. (Page 317, Guide to Valid Dismissal of Employees, 2nd Edition, by Atty. Elvin B. Villanueva, citing Gan vs. Galderma Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 177167, January 17, 2013 citing Nationwide Security and Allied Services, Inc. v. Valderama, G.R. No. 186614, February 23, 2011, 644 SCRA 299, 307- 308. See also BMG Records (Phils.), Inc. v. Aparecio, G.R. No. 153290, September 5, 2007.)
In a case where there is no written resignation as evidence, factual circumstances may be examined by the Court to determine the claim of voluntariness. In the case of Villola vs. United Philippine Lines, Inc. (G.R. No. 230047, October 9, 2019), the Supreme Court was faced with a legal dispute where the employee claims to have been illegally dismissed from work while the employer raises the defense of resignation. Interestingly, there appears to have an agreement between the parties for the employee to submit his resignation instead of being declared redundant.
See the full digest of Villola vs. United Philippine Lines, Inc. here.
Since, this was not put in writing, the employer made series of follow-ups with employee. Now, the employer here is treading on dangerous ground since there were cases where asking for employee’s resignation was held as constructive dismissal. But the SC looked at other circumstances surrounding the case in determining whether there was voluntariness in this resignation.
In disposing of the case, the SC held that the fact of resignation is therefore supported by the concurrence of the following: (a) the intent to relinquish one’s office; and (2) the overt act of relinquishment.
Further, in illegal dismissal cases, fundamental is the rule that when an employer interposes the defense of resignation, on him necessarily rests the burden to prove that the employee indeed voluntarily resigned. For the SC, inasmuch as Villola has the burden of proving that he was dismissed from employment, it is the concomitant burden of UPL to prove that he voluntarily resigned from service.
In support of his allegation that no resignation took place and that UPL dismissed him from employment, Villola heavily relied on the following (1) UPL’s failure to furnish a copy of his resignation letter; and (2) the Memorandum issued by UPL informing UPL employees of his dismissal effective June 1, 2013.
However, Villola did not raise any concerns whatsoever to Consunji or inquired on the reasons for the latter’s request to submit a resignation letter. Consunji, in an email, again made a follow-up request to him to submit his resignation letter. Villola, on his part, turned a blind eye, so to speak, on the said request and directly responded instead to the emailas regards the submission of the proposal and quotation for the scanning project. An officer of UPL similarly followed-up on him to furnish management a copy of his resignation which, however, fell on deaf ears.
UPL ceased paying his salaries as in fact, Villola already stopped reporting for work starting June 1, 2013. Further, he submitted to UPL his proposal for the scanning project. The same was furnished to UPL under the name “DRD Technology Solutions,” an entity distinct from UPL, and was jointly prepared by Villola and certain Mr. Ding Dulay who appears to be neither an employer nor an individual affiliated with UPL.
All told, the SC found Villola to have failed to discharge the burden of proof required of him to establish that UPL, et al. indeed took action to dismiss him. If indeed they unceremoniously dismissed him, he would have, at the very first opportunity, raised his concerns on Consunji’s request for submission of a resignation letter as early as May 31, 2013 which Villola clearly failed to do. He himself, without directive whatsoever from UPL management, stopped reporting for work starting June 1, 2013. Notably, this fact was not denied by Villola.
There is substantial evidence – which only entails evidence to support a conclusion, “even if other minds, equally reasonable, might conceivably opine otherwise” to prove that Villola resigned from UPL.
The acts of Villola impelled the SC to arrive at the logical conclusion that there existed a prior agreement between UPL and Villola – that instead of terminating his employment on the ground of redundancy, he agreed that he will simply voluntarily cease his employment effective June 1, 2013, and thereafter render his services to UPL for its scanning project as an independent consultant. Simply put, the concurrence of Villola’s resignation, coupled with his actions thereafter, ultimately support the finding that he resigned from UPL.