Settled is the rule that 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 Article 11462 of the New Civil Code, which must be brought within four years.3
The petitioners contend that the period when they filed a labor case on May 14, 1998 but withdrawn on March 22, 1999 should be excluded from the computation of the four-year prescriptive period for illegal dismissal cases. However, the Court had already ruled that the prescriptive period continues even after the withdrawal of the case as though no action has been filed at all. The applicability of Article 11554of the Civil Code in labor cases was upheld in the case of Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation v. Panganiban5 where the Court held that “although the commencement of a civil action stops the running of the statute of prescription or limitations, its dismissal or voluntary abandonment by plaintiff leaves the parties in exactly the same position as though no action had been commenced at all.”6
In like manner, while the filing of the complaint for illegal dismissal before the LA interrupted the running of the prescriptive period, its voluntary withdrawal left the petitioners in exactly the same position as though no complaint had been filed at all. The withdrawal of their complaint effectively erased the tolling of the reglementary period.
A prudent review of the antecedents of the claim reveals that it has in fact prescribed due to the petitioners’ withdrawal of their labor case docketed as NLRC RAB-I-01-1007.7 Hence, while the filing of the said case could have interrupted the running of the four-year prescriptive period, the voluntary withdrawal of the petitioners effectively cancelled the tolling of the prescriptive period within which to file their illegal dismissal case, leaving them in exactly the same position as though no labor case had been filed at all. The running of the four-year prescriptive period not having been interrupted by the filing of NLRC RAB-I-01-1007, the petitioners’ cause of action had already prescribed in four years after their cessation of employment on October 26, 1997 and November 24, 1997. Consequently, when the petitioners filed their complaint for illegal dismissal, separation pay, retirement benefits, and damages in 2002, their claim, clearly, had already been barred by prescription.8
x x x."
G.R. No. 190828, March 16, 2015, ONOFRE V. MONTERO, EDGARDO N. ESTRAÑERO, RENING P. PADRE, GABRIEL A. MADERA, HERMINIO T. TACLA, NELSON C. VILORIA, DEMETRIO Q. PAJARILLO, ALFREDO R. AGANON, REYNALDO AVILA, ALBERT T. RUIZ, NESTOR Y. YAGO, HARTY M. TUPASI, AGUSTIN R. AVILA, JR. OR MARCOS R. AVILA, BONIFACIO B. GAANO, JOSELITO D. CUENTA, JONAS P. ESTILONG, DOMINADOR C. CANARIA, GENARO C. RONDARIS, HERARDO M. DULAY, FRANKLIN A. RAVINA, JR., AND RUBEN C. CABELLO, PETITIONERS, VS. TIMES TRANSPORTATION CO., INC., AND SANTIAGO RONDARIS, MENCORP TRANSPORT SYSTEMS, INC., VIRGINIA R. MENDOZA AND REYNALDO MENDOZA, RESPONDENTS.