Almirante: Requisites of valid quitclaim

Dominador A. Almirante

IN 2005, respondent Gloria Maquilan (Gloria) was employed by petitioner Carolina’s Lace Shoppe (CLS) as sales clerk.

In April 2008, the Department of Labor and Employment inspected CLS. Upon inspection, one of the latter’s employees, Santiago A. Espultero, told the labor inspector that he was receiving a daily wage of P250. Thereafter, Espultero was dismissed from the service.

One month thereafter, Gloria was likewise dismissed for no reason given. Like Espultero, she was made to sign a quitclaim in order to claim her separation pay amounting to P15,000 despite her three years in service.

Gloria filed a case for illegal dismissal with money claims and damages against CLS. In defense, CLS averred that Gloria voluntarily executed a quitclaim and that she offered no evidence which depicted that force or fraud was employed in the execution thereof.

Is there merit to this defense?

Ruling: No.

In the case of Mobile Protective and Detective Agency, 497 Phil. 621, 630 (2005), this Court ruled that resignation letters which are in the nature of a quitclaim, lopsidedly worded to free the employer from liabilities reveal the absence of voluntariness. Moreover, the quitclaim contained in the resignation letter does not contain stipulations required for its efficacy. In the case of Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines vs. Philippine Airlines Inc., G.R. 178083, March 13, 2018, this Court reiterated the ruling in EDI-Staffbuilders International Inc. vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 563 Phil. 1 (2007), which laid down the basic contents of a valid and effective quitclaim, to wit:

In order to prevent disputes on the validity and enforceability of quitclaims and waivers of employees under the Philippine laws, said agreements should contain the following:

1. A fixed amount as full and final compromise settlement;

2. The benefits of the employees if possible with the corresponding amounts, which the employees are giving up in consideration of the fixed compromise amount;

3. A statement that the employer has clearly explained to the employee in English, Filipino, or in the dialect known to the employees—that by signing the waiver or quitclaim, they are forfeiting or relinquishing their right to receive the benefits which are due them under the law; and

4. A statement that the employees signed and executed the document voluntarily, and had fully understood the contents of the document and that their consent was freely given without any threat, violence, duress, intimidation, or undue influence exerted on their person.

Admittedly, the quitclaim does not indicate that Gloria received the amount of P15,000 as full and final settlement. Similarly, there was nothing which indicates that said amount constitutes said full and final settlement. The quitclaim was also couched in general terms and the tenor of the same does not show that Gloria understood the importance of the same considering that on the same day that she resigned, she immediately relieved respondents from their liabilities.

There was also no indication that Gloria intends to give up her claimed benefits in consideration of a fixed compromise amount. It must be emphasized that Gloria was constrained to receive the amount of P15,000 as she was eight months pregnant at that time and lives with no other means aside from her employment with CLS. (Carolina’s Lace Shoppe, et al. vs. Gloria Maquilan, et al., G.R. 219419, April 10, 2019).