Case Digest: South Davao Development Corp. vs. Sergio L. Gamo, et al (G.R. No. 171814, May 8, 2009)

Control Test.


South Davao Development Corp. vs. Sergio L. Gamo, et al (G.R. No. 171814, May 8, 2009)



Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari for the decision made by the CA in ascertaining that the private respondents (Gamo and those copraceros under him) were regular seasonal employees who can be dismissed by the petitioner at the end of the season provided due process is observed. Also, SDDC petitions for CA’s ruling that Eleanor Cosep did not abandon her work.

Petitioner SDDC is the operator of coconut and mango farm in Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur. On August 1963, petitioner hired Sergio Gamo as foreman. In 1987, petitioner appointed Gamo as a copra maker contractor. 3 of the respondents were all employees in the coconut farm while 4 of them were all employees of the mango farm. All of these respondents were later transferred by SDDC to Gamo as copraceros. From 1987 to 1999, Gamo and petitioner entered into a profit-sharing agreement (30%-70%, respectively). The other copra workers were paid by Gamo from his 30% share. Sometime later, Gamo and petitioner were not able to agree on the profit-sharing. Thus, petitioner terminated Gamo and the other copra workers. The respondents alleged they were illegally dismissed.

Respondent Eleonor Cosep was also employed as a mango classifier in the packing house of SDDC’s mango farm in Davao Oriental. In October 1999, she did not report for work as she had wanted to raise and sell pigs instead.



  1. Whether or not there is an employer-employee relationship between SDDC and Gamo
  2. Whether or not Eleonor abandoned her work at SDDC



To determine the  existence of an employee-employer relationship, the 4-fold test must be applied:

  1. Selection and engagement of the employee
  2. Payment of wages
  3. Power of dismissal
  4. Power of control

Among these elements, the power of control is the most important. From the time they were hired up to the time they were reassigned, the respondents’ status as SDDC’s employees did not cease. Power to control the manner of doing the work is determinant as long as it exists. It does not necessarily need actual exercise of such power to control. Power to control existed in the petitioners’ reassignment the employees, even there was a change in the payment scheme.

On the other case, it was ruled that Eleanor did not abandon her work. Abandonment, as a just and valid ground for dismissal, required the deliberate and unjustified refusal of the employee to return for work. Two (2) elements must be present:

  1. Failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason, and;
  2. Clear intention to sever the employee-employer relationship

The 2nd element is more determinant of the intent and must be evidenced by overt acts. As such, Eleonor’s mere absence is insufficient as the burden of proof rests upon the employer to show that the employee clearly and deliberately intended to discontinue her employment with no intention of returning. In SDDC’s case, the employer did not undertake with the due process requirement of sending notices to the employee prior to dismissal.

Case Digest: Caltex vs. Palomar (G.R. L-19650, 09/29/1966)

Noscitur a sociis

Caltex vs. Palomar (G.R. L-19650, 09/29/1966)




Caltex conceived a promotional scheme which will increase its patronage for oil products called “Caltex Hooded Pump Contest.” The contest calls for participants to estimate the number of liters a hooded gas pump at each Caltex station will dispense during a specified period. To participate, entry forms are only needed which can be made available upon request at each Caltex station. No fee is required to be paid nor purchase has to be made prior to participating. Foreseeing the extensive use of mails to publicize the promotional scheme, Caltex made representations with the postal authorities to secure advanced clearance for mailing. Caltex, through its counsel, posited that  the contest does not violate anti-lottery provisions of the Postal Law. The Postmaster General Palomar declined the grant of the requested clearance. Caltex sought a reconsideration. Palomar maintained that if the contest was pursued, a fraud order will be issued against Caltex. Thus, this case at bar.




1.       Whether or not the petition states a sufficient cause of action for declaratory relief

2.       Whether or not the proposed contest violates the Postal Law




The Court held that the petition states a sufficient cause of action for declaratory relief since it qualifies for the 4 requisites on invoking declaratory relief available to any person whose rights are affected by a statute to determine any question of construction or validity. To the petitioner, the construction hampers or disturbs its freedom to enhance its business while to the respondent, suppression of the petitioner’s proposed contest believed to transgress the law he has sworn to uphold and enforce is an unavoidable duty.


Likewise, using the rules of Statutory Construction in discovering the meaning and intention of the authors in a case clouded with doubt as to its application, it was held that the promotional scheme does not violate the Postal Law in that it does not entail lottery or gift enterprise. Using the principle “noscitur a sociis’, the term under construction shall be understood by the words preceding and following it. Thus, using the definitions of lottery and gift enterprise which both has the requisites of prize, chance and consideration, the promo contest does not clearly violate the Postal Law because of lack of consideration.

Pursuit of Law: My Storyboard

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

It has been 5 weeks since the start of my classes in law school. It has been a norm for professors during the first 2 weeks to ask their students to introduce themselves and answer the tough question:

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

As a practicing certified public accountant, I am pursuing law because I am advancing my career as a CPA lawyer. My current hopes for my career after completing law school is to venture into the corporate world armed with my working knowledge in accounting, auditing, taxation and integrating all these with the application of the law in legal disputes, especially in business. Using my 5 years of meaningful experience in the audit and tax industry interwoven with my first-hand experience in handling fraud audits and BIR tax cases as a solid support for my pursuit of law, I am in high hopes of advancing myself in the corporate jungle.

Principally, the values and skills needed to become a good lawyer are the same as that of accountants in the context of maintaining the highest degree of professionalism, ethics and integrity. I believe that all these 3 were already ingrained in me and are still being further developed as I practice accountancy. However, one skill that I know I will need to develop during my stay in law school to prepare me in becoming a full-pledged lawyer is the ability to communicate well orally as in negotiating and defending my arguments. Being a lawyer really requires being adept in the laws and updated about the current events and developments in jurisprudence and legal practice. As such, the skill of advanced reading comprehension must also be developed.

I believe that learning per se should be a never-ending process. My perspective and experiences will contribute in the enrichment of the quality and breadth of my community’s intellectual life and enhance the legal profession. As the need of our time varies accordingly with the development of civilization, it is really a necessity that men should continue to improve ways of developing the society we live in. My experiences will open opportunities for me to share the values of ethics and integrity not just in the legal industry but also in matters of community development and public policy. As my perspectives in business as linked to legal concepts broaden, I can ultimately share in the efficient and effective applications of such concepts in the business community.