FACTS: Ernesto Callado, petitioner, was employed as a driver at the IRRI from April 11, 1983 to December 14, 1990. On February 11, 1990, while driving an IRRI vehicle on an official trip to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and back to the IRRI, petitioner figured in an accident. Petitioner was informed of the findings of a preliminary investigation conducted by the IRRI’s Human Resource Development Department Manager in a Memorandum dated March 5, 1990. In view of the aforesaid findings, he was charged with:

“(1) Driving an institute vehicle while on official duty under the influence of liquor;

(2) Serious misconduct consisting of your failure to report to your supervisors the failure of your vehicle to start because of a problem with the car battery which, you alleged, required you to overstay in Manila for more than six (6) hours, whereas, had you reported the matter to IRRI, Los Banos by telephone, your problem could have been solved within one or two hours;

(3) Gross and habitual neglect of your duties.”

In a Memorandum dated March 9, 1990, petitioner submitted his answer and defenses to the charges against him. After evaluating petitioner’s answer, explanations and other evidence, IRRI issued a Notice of Termination to petitioner on December 7, 1990. Thereafter, petitioner filed a complaint on December 19, 1990 before the Labor Arbiter for illegal dismissal, illegal suspension and indemnity pay with moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.

On January 2, 1991, private respondent IRRI, through counsel, wrote the Labor Arbiter to inform him that the Institute enjoys immunity from legal process by virtue of Article 3 of Presidential Decree No. 1620,  and that it invokes such diplomatic immunity and privileges as an international organization in the instant case filed by petitioner, not having waived the same. IRRI likewise wrote in the same tenor to the Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment. While admitting IRRI’s defense of immunity, the Labor Arbiter, nonetheless, cited an Order issued by the Institute on August 13, 1991 to the effect that “in all cases of termination, respondent IRRI waives its immunity,”  and, accordingly, considered the defense of immunity no longer a legal obstacle in resolving the case.

ISSUE:

A.) WON IRRI is immune from suit.

B.) WON IRRI waived its immunity.

C.) WON he was denied due process.

HELD:

A.) YES. IRRI’s immunity from suit is undisputed. Presidential Decree No. 1620, Article 3 provides that the Institute shall enjoy immunity from any penal, civil and administrative proceedings, except insofar as that immunity has been expressly waived by the Director-General of the Institute or his authorized representatives. The grant of immunity to IRRI is clear and unequivocal and an express waiver by its Director-General is the only way by which it may relinquish or abandon this immunity.|||

B. NO. On the matter of waiving its immunity from suit, IRRI had, early on, made its position clear. Through counsel, the Institute wrote the Labor Arbiter categorically informing him that the Institute will not waive its diplomatic immunity. In the second place, petitioner’s reliance on the Memorandum with “Guidelines in handling cases of dismissal of employees in relation to P.D. 1620” dated July 26, 1983, is misplaced. From the last paragraph of the foregoing quotation, it is clear that in cases involving dismissed employees, the Institute may waive its immunity, signifying that such waiver is discretionary on its part. We agree with private respondent IRRI that this memorandum cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered the express waiver by the Director-General. The memorandum, issued by the former Director-General to a now-defunct division of the IRRI, was meant for internal circulation and not as a pledge of waiver in all cases arising from dismissal of employees. Moreover, the IRRI’s letter to the Labor Arbiter in the case at bench made in 1991 declaring that it has no intention of waiving its immunity, at the very least, supplants any pronouncement of alleged waiver issued in previous cases.

C.) NO. Petitioner’s allegation that he was denied due process is unfounded and has no basis. It is not denied that he was informed of the findings and charges resulting from an investigation conducted of his case in accordance with IRRI policies and procedures. He had a chance to comment thereon in a Memorandum he submitted to the Manager of the Human Resource and Development Department. Therefore, he was given proper notice and adequate opportunity to refute the charges and findings, hereby fulfilling the basic requirements of due process.

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