Lex Rex Ph

Portuguez vs. GSIS (2007)


  1. Balancing labor and management rights: It is stated that our laws aim to balance the conflicting interests of labor and management, ensuring that both parties are on equal footing when bargaining in good faith.
  2. In cases of constructive dismissal, the burden of proof rests on the employee to establish that the separation from employment was involuntary (Here, the employee availed of P1.324 million separation pay, hence not voluntary). Self-serving declarations without clear, positive, or convincing evidence are insufficient to support claims.
  3. The findings of the Labor Arbiter and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), when supported by evidence, are accorded respect if not finality, and are considered binding. However, when there is a conflict with the findings of the Court of Appeals, a review of the records is necessary to determine which findings should be preferred.


The petitioner, Ricardo Portuguez, alleged that he was discriminated against by the GSIS Family Bank in terms of payment of salary and grant of benefits and allowances. He claimed that while newly hired bank officers were given higher salaries and benefits, he was only paid a lower amount of P15,000 basic pay and P4,000 allowance for the position of Acting Assistant Vice-President. However, Portuguez failed to substantiate his claim and provide evidence of the actual salaries and bonuses received by the newly hired bank officers.

Portuguez argued that he possessed the same skills, competencies, and expertise as those of the newly hired bank officers and that his functions, duties, and responsibilities were similar. Portuguez contended that he was coerced to resign from his position due to unbearable harassment and the deprivation of salary and other benefits and privileges.

  • The Labor Arbiter initially ruled in favor of Portuguez, finding the bank guilty of illegal dismissal. 
  • NLRC also upheld this decision. 
  • However, the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling, stating that Portuguez’s separation from the bank was voluntary when he chose to avail himself of the bank’s early retirement program. The Court of Appeals found no evidence of constructive dismissal or discrimination, stating that no reasonable distinction or classification could be obtained between them.

Portuguez then filed a petition for review on certiorari to the Supreme Court.

Issue 1

Whether Portuguez was discriminated against and constructively dismissed from his employment. No, because his claims are devoid of sufficient evidence.

Ruling 1

  • Discrimination has been defined as the failure to treat all persons equally when no reasonable distinction can be found between those favored and those not favored. The quantum of evidence required to establish a fact in quasi-judicial bodies (Labor Arbiter) is substantial evidence.
    1. No clear, positive, and convincing evidence to support his claims that he was discriminated against. Hence, the petitioner failed to establish that he was discriminated against and forced to sever his employment. The burden of proof rests on the petitioner to substantiate his allegations of discrimination and involuntary separation from employment. However, he only presented his own self-serving declarations without any supporting evidence. Below are his failures:
      1. No Bank records: The Petitioner claimed that bank records could show that newly hired officers were being paid higher salaries compared to his own salary. However, no bank records were ever presented as evidence to support this claim.
      2. Self-serving declarations: The Petitioner’s own statements and allegations were not considered sufficient evidence. It was stated that self-serving and unsubstantiated declarations are insufficient to establish a case before quasi-judicial bodies.
      3. Failed to prove he received lower salaries. Failed to substantiate his claim of receiving lower salaries and benefits compared to the newly hired bank officers,
      4. Comparative Standard | No evidence of a clear distinction between himself and the newly hired bank officers as to skills and expertise. He did not provide a reasonable distinction or classification between himself and the newly hired bank officers who were allegedly receiving higher salaries and benefits. he did not demonstrate that he possessed the same skills, competencies, and expertise as the newly hired bank officers
      5. Failed to present proof of the exact amount of salaries and bonuses allegedly enjoyed by the newly hired bank officers. 

Without sufficient evidence, the petitioner could not establish that he was a victim of discrimination or that his separation from the bank was involuntary.

Was Portuguez constructively dismissed? No

  • The court found that Portuguez voluntarily availed himself of the bank’s early retirement program and received retirement pay in the amount of P1.324 Million. The burden of proof was on Portuguez to establish that his availment of the program was involuntary, but he failed to do so.

Issue 2

  • Is Petitioner Portuguez entitled to a Salary differential? No.

Ruling 1

  • No. The Court of Appeals ruled that there was no evidence presented by Portuguez to support his claim of discrimination and underpayment of wages.
  • The court stated that the facts and evidence did not establish a rational basis for the amount of compensation for Portuguez’s position, making his claim for salary differentials unsubstantiated.

Other matters

What is the legal principle that does not apply in the instant controversy?

The presumption in favor of labor. This presumption cannot defeat the purpose for which labor laws exist, which is to balance the conflicting interests of labor and management and ensure that both parties are treated equally. The CA found no evidence of involuntary separation or discrimination by the bank, and therefore the burden of proof remains with the petitioner to prove that his separation from employment was involuntary.

What is the policy of social justice as mandated by the Philippine Constitution?

The policy of social justice, as mandated by the Philippine Constitution, is to strike a balance between the protection of the working class from exploitation and unfair treatment and the maintenance of the legal rights of capital. It aims to ensure that labor and management have equal bargaining power and stand on equal footing when negotiating with each other. The Constitution recognizes the need to protect labor while also respecting and enforcing the rights of management in the interest of fair play .

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