EVELYN CHUA-QUA, vs. HON. JACOBO C. CLAVE, in his capacity as Presidential Executive Assistant, and TAY TUNG HIGH SCHOOL, INC., (G.R. No. 49549 August 30, 1990)


          Petitioner was a teacher in, Tay Tung High School (private respondent), an educational institution in Bacolod City, since 1963. In 1976, Petitioner was the class adviser in the sixth grade where Bobby Qua was enrolled. The school extended remedial instructions and it was during the course thereof that Petitioner and Bobby Qua fell in love. On December 24, 1975, the couple got married in a civil ceremony in Iloilo City. Petitioner was thirty (30) years old and Bobby Qua was only sixteen (16), consent and advice was given by his mother, Mrs. Concepcion Ong. On January 10, 1976, the two got married in a church wedding.

             On February 4, 1976, private respondent filed with the Department of Labor an application for clearance to terminate the employment of petitioner on the ground of “abusive and unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher”. Petitioner was then placed under suspension without pay on March 12, 1976.

                On September 17, 1976, the Executive Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of the private respondent, holding that:

“While no direct evidences have been introduced to show that immoral acts   were committed during these times, it is however enough for a sane and credible mind to imagine and conclude what transpired and took place during these times…”

          On October 7, 1976, Petitioner appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC for brevity) contending that there was nothing immoral, nor was it abusive and unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher, for a teacher to enter into a lawful wedlock with her student. Hence, the NLRC reversed the Labor Arbiter’s decision on December 27, 1975, stating that there is nothing immoral or scandalous about a girl and a boy talking inside a room after classes with lights on and with the door open. It further held that the depositions of affiants Despi and Chin are of the same tenor. No statements whatever were sworn that they were eyewitnesses to immoral or scandalous acts.

              On March 30, 1977, private respondent elevated the case to the Minister of Labor. The latter reversed the decision of the NLRC and petitioner was awarded six (6) months’ salary as financial assistance.

              On May 20, 1977, Petitioner appealed to the Office of the President. On September 1, 1978, herein public respondent, Presidential Executive Assistant Hon. Clave reversed the appealed decision, thereby ordering reinstatement of the petitioner and other privileges and with full back wages. However, on December 6, 1978, public respondent, acting on a motion for reconsideration, reconsidered and modified the aforesaid decision. Public respondent gave due course to the application of Tay Tung High School, Inc. to terminate the services of petitioner.

               In this petition for certiorari, private respondent argues that “as a school teacher who exercises substitute parental authority over her pupils inside the school campus, petitioner had moral ascendancy over Bobby Qua and, therefore, she must not abuse such authority and respect extended to her.” Private respondent further alleged that Petitioner violated a pertinent provision of Code of Ethics for teachers which provides that a “school official or teacher should never take advantage of his/her position to court a pupil or student.”

            Petitioner maintains that there is nothing wrong with a teacher falling in love with her pupil and subsequently contracting a lawful marriage with him.

Issue: Whether or not the antecedent facts which culminated in the marriage between petitioner and her student constitute immorality and/or grave misconduct.


             No. The Court in this case held that there is no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral acts. The Labor Arbiter, from the outset, has already conceded that there was no direct evidence to show that immoral acts were committed and the same was the finding of herein public respondent but in a patently unsubstantiated decision, ruled in favor of the private respondent.

               The Court further held that with the finding of unsubstantiated evidence of alleged immoral acts, the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics governing school teachers should also fail. Private respondent failed to show that Petitioner took advantage of her position to court her student. The Court held that the school’s policy in rearing and educating children “should not be capitalized on to defeat the security of tenure granted by the Constitution to labor. In termination cases, the burden of proving just and valid cause for dismissing an employee rests on the employer and his failure to do so would result in a finding that the dismissal is unjustified.”

               The Court went on to say that “the deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know.”

                    Hence, the subject resolution was set aside. Private respondent was ordered to pay Petitioner back wages equivalent to three (3) years, without any deduction or qualification, and separation pay in the amount of one (1) month for every year of service.

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