[O]ne’s employment, profession, trade or calling is a “property right,” and the wrongful interference therewith is an actionable wrong. The right is considered to be property within the protection of a constitutional guaranty of due process of law. Clearly then, when one is arbitrarily and unjustly deprived of his job or means of livelihood, the action instituted to contest the legality of one’s dismissal from employment constitutes, in essence, an action predicated “upon an injury to the rights of the plaintiff,” as contemplated under Art. 1146 of the New Civil Code, which must be brought within four years. (Callanta v. Carnation Philippines, Inc. 229 SCRA 279, 288-289 )
This was the question presented in the case of Laurel vs. Abrogar (2006). I met this case when I was studying Property in my second year in law school. I paid interest, not just because the respondent judge’s surname sounds “family” (as a friend would joke about it), but because in USC, there is no excuse if you do not read ALL the cases. And as my history of unfortunate events would tell me, I am usually called to recite on the case which for one reason or another I have not read. So I always have to prepare. I would rather miss class when unprepared than humiliate myself in front of my teacher.
I have read this case in 2006. I decided to read it (full text) again in 2009, during my bar review, thinking it might pop out in the exam. When I searched it on the net (my lex libris cd being inutile), I got excited by a 2009 en banc resolution (January 13, 2009) of the same case by the Supreme Court. It was outside of the coverage, but nothing to lose, as I usually say. It did not come out in the exams but it was worth reading. It was one of many reversals the Court had made over the past years. Now I thought of sharing it here. For future reference, in case my memory fails me.
Laurel was charged with engaging in International Simple Resale (ISR) or the unauthorized routing and completing of international long distance calls using lines, cables, antennae, and/or air wave frequency and connecting these calls directly to the local or domestic exchange facilities of the country where destined. These calls, in effect, reached various parts of the country and even Japan without passing through the information gateway of PLDT. According to PLDT, it lost billions of pesos in profit because of this unauthorized activities.
In the original case (G.R. No. 155076, February 27, 2006), the issue was whether or not PLDT’s business may be the subject of theft. In answering this, it is necessary to clarify some things first. What constitutes the “business” of PLDT? Is this business considered “personal property that may be stolen by another? Read the rest of this entry »