• Intimidation is not enough to invalidate resignation

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My sister works in the accounting department of a logistics company in Laguna. She had to resign be-cause her supervisors said the company will be forced to file a case against her considering that there were items which were under her custody that were lost and unaccounted for during the months of January to March. She said she felt really intimidated and frightened of what may happen to her if a case will be filed against her, so she immediately executed a letter of apology which included her res-ignation. She just wants to know whether she can seek to invalidate her resignation because of the intimidation of her supervisors. She has no work right now and she has been having difficulty in finding a new job. Please advise me on this matter.
    Nolan

    Dear Nolan,
    Contracts may be invalidated or annulled if the consent of one of the parties thereto was obtained through intimidation (Article 1330, New Civil Code of the Philippines). This holds true even if there may have been no damage to the contracting parties (Article 1390 (2), Ibid.)

    However, intimidation per se does not suffice to annul a contract. The law requires, for intimidation to serve as a legal basis in invalidating a contract, that it be of such nature that one of the contracting par-ties was compelled by a reasonable and well-grounded fear of an imminent and grave evil upon his person or property, or upon the person or property of his spouse, descendants or ascendants, to give his consent. (Article 1335, Id.) It must be equated to unjust or illegal acts. A threat to enforce one’s claim through competent authority, if the claim is just or legal, does not vitiate consent. (Id.)

    In the situation of your sister, while she claims that she was driven to resign from her work because of the supposed intimidation upon her by her supervisors when they told her that a case may be filed against her, such intimidation is not enough to invalidate or annul the resignation that she made. As mentioned, the kind of intimidation which vitiates the consent of one of the parties to a contract must relate to unjust or illegal acts. If the intimidation refers to a threat of enforcing one’s claim through a legal action, such will not render the contract voidable.

    In one case, our Supreme Court held:

    “x x x Moreover, it is a well-settled principle that for intimidation to vitiate consent, petitioner must have been compelled by a reasonable and well-grounded fear of an imminent and grave evil upon his person or property, or upon the person or property of his spouse, descendants or ascendants (Article 1335, par. 2 New Civil Code). In present case, what allegedly constituted the “intimidation” was the threat by private respondent company to file a case for estafa against petitioner unless the latter re-signs.

    In asserting that the above-described circumstance constituted intimidation, petitioner missed alto-gether the essential ingredient that would qualify the act complained of as intimidation, i.e. that the threat must be of an unjust act. In the present case, the threat to prosecute for estafa not being an unjust act (P.P. Agustinos vs. Del Rey, 56 Phil. 512 [1932]), but rather a valid and legal act to enforce a claim, cannot at all be considered as intimidation. A threat to enforce one’s claim through competent authority, if the claim is just or legal, does not vitiate consent. (Article 1335, par. 4 New Civil Code). x x x” (Callanta vs. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 105083, August 20, 1993, 225 SCRA 526)

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based sole-ly on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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