THE NATIONAL Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) has ruled in favor of UST Hospital in an illegal dismissal case filed by a former pharmacist following an apparent attempt to cart away medicines from the drug store.

In a June 28 decision, the commission reversed the ruling of a labor arbiter and granted the appeal of UST Hospital, after finding that the hospital had “just cause” to terminate the employee “for serious misconduct and gross negligence.”

Labor Arbiter Luvina Roque earlier found the hospital liable for illegally dismissing Judith Sobremonte and ordered her reinstatement without loss of seniority and privileges, as well as the payment of backwages and attorney's fees, in a ruling dated Jan. 8.

Sobremonte, a senior pharmacist who had been working in the hospital for 21 years, was dismissed on April 24, 2012 for failing to follow UST Hospital’s procedure for dispensing medicines to be paid through salary deduction.

Sobremonte ran to the National Capital Region Arbitration Branch and complained that UST Hospital’s move was illegal.

Documents showed that in February 2012, Rodolfo Lobaton, a security officer, found ward clerk Baltazar Oca in possession of large quantities of medicines costing P44,601 without supporting papers or receipts.

Oca, the documents showed, claimed that Sobremonte had given him the medicines through the hospital’s “care of salary of an employee” program. Oca was also sacked.

After the incident, Security Officer Dario Abarabar submitted a report to Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. and the hospital director for finance and administration.

Human Resource Department Head Ferdinand Magkasi sent a letter to Sobremonte on March 5, 2012 placing her on preventive suspension. Magkasi also told Sobremonte to submit a written explanation on why no disciplinary action should be taken against her. Sobremonte denied the accusations and asked that her suspension be lifted. She claimed Oca had given her a prescription from Dr. Segundo Lansang, and then took the medicines without her knowledge. However, Lansang wrote Medical Director Dr. Vicente Caguioa that he did not give a prescription to Oca. NLRC found that the medicines were dispensed without a salary deduction from the accounting office, documents showed.

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Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said Sobremonte had filed a motion for reconsideration. “We are confident that it would be denied,” the University’s legal counsel said.

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