In Our Resolution dated November 18, 1996, the Court dismissed the instant petition for certiorari
filed by Philippine Airlines, Inc (PAL), seeking the termination from employment of certain members and officers of the respondent union PAL Employees’ Association (PALEA), for staging a strike in violation of the Secretary of Labor’ s return to work order.
In doing so, we upheld the March 9, 1995 Order of the respondent Acting Labor Secretary Jose S. Brillantes which meted the penalty of suspension upon eighteen (18) PALEA officers and members for eight months, and directing PAL to reinstate them to their respective posts after they have served their suspension.
The dispositive portion of our decision reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"With the denial of the prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction on June 26, 1995, the court takes note that the union officers concerned have since served their suspensions and returned to service.
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the court hereby resolved to DISMISS the petition for certiorari
that is G.R. No. 119360. The Order of the respondent Honorable Acting Secretary of Labor Jose S. Brillantes is hereby AFFIRMED.
"SO ORDERED."cralaw virtua1aw library
On December 27, 1996, PAL filed a Motion for Reconsideration, taking exception to the Court’s affirmation of the Acting Secretary’s Order. The order for the suspension of the eighteen PALEA officers and members is tagged as a violation of Article 264 of the Labor Code, and contradicts previous decisions of the Court upon the said provision, including; Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Drilon, et. al. (193 SCRA 223, 1991); Union of Filipro Employees v. Nestle Philippines, Inc. (192 SCRA 396, 1990); Federation of Free Workers v. Inciong (208 SCRA 157, 1992); St. Scholastica’s College v. Torres (210 SCRA 565, 1992)
Clearly, the unequivocal rule laid down by the foregoing is that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"A strike that is undertaken despite the issuance by the Secretary of Labor of an assumption and/or certification is a prohibited activity and thus illegal. The union officers and members, as a result, are deemed to have lost their employment status for having knowingly participated in an illegal act. Stated differently, from the moment a worker defies a return-to-work order, he is deemed to have abandoned his job. The loss of employment status results from the striking employees’ own act — an act which is illegal, an act in violation of the law and in defiance of authority."cralaw virtua1aw library
The loss of employment status allegedly results from the application of the second and third paragraphs of Article 264 of the Labor Code, which, petitioner posits, is mandatory.
"Art. 264. . . .
No strike or lockout shall be declared after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or the Minister or after certification election or submission of the dispute to compulsory or voluntary arbitration or during the pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the strike or lockout.
Any worker whose employment has been terminated as a consequence of an unlawful lockout shall be entitled to reinstatement with full backwages. Any union officer who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his employment status: Provided, That mere participation of a worker in a lawful strike shall not constitute sufficient ground for termination of his employment even if a replacement had been hired by the employer during such lawful strike.
x x x
The Court need not dwell on the hermeneutics of the abovementioned provision of law.
The cases cited by the petitioner leave no doubt as to the policy of the state not to tolerate actions directed at the destabilization of the social order, where the relationship between labor and management has been endangered by abuse of one party’s bargaining prerogative, to the extent of disregarding not only the direct order of the government to maintain the status quo, but the welfare of the entire workforce, though they may not be involved in the dispute. The grave penalty of dismissal visited upon the guilty parties was a natural consequence, considering the interest of public welfare.
In the instant case, there is no doubting the validity of our observation that in the collective bargaining process, not only PALEA, but both parties contributed to the volatile atmosphere emerging despite the Secretary of Labor’s status quo order, disrupting thereby the orderly continuance of negotiations. As observed by the Acting Secretary of Labor in his March 9, 1996 Order, "PAL did not come to this Office with ‘clean hands’ in seeking the termination of the officers and members of PALEA who participated in the 16 June 1994 strike. As the records will show, PAL terminated en masse the employment of 183 union officers and members of PALEA on 6 July 1994 in violation of our 3 June 1994 Order enjoining the parties to cease and desist from committing any and all acts that might exacerbate the situation." It is for this reason that we decided not to mete upon the concerned members and officers of PALEA the capital punishment of dismissal from office, notwithstanding the law’s sanction for such a consequence.
This particular circumstance sets this case apart from previous instances of labor disputes cited by the petitioner, where the striking union officers were dismissed after breaking the return to work order issued by the Secretary of Labor. Moreover, in the instant case, the Court invokes its judicial prerogative to resolve disputes in a way to render to each interested party the most judicious solution, and in the ultimate scheme, a resolution of a dispute tending to preserve the greater order of society.
Thus we declared in our November 18, 1996 resolution, the peculiar nature of the judicial treatment of labor disputes urges the arbiter of the issues involved to maintain a careful eye, if not a caring hand, to the interests of the parties, such that industrial peace and labor-management stability is preserved.
Private respondents, in the meantime, made it known to the Court that the union officers who have been suspended for twelve months and the other members of the union who have been suspended for eight months, in accordance with the Secretary of Labor’s order, have not been returned to service until this time. These union officers and members should be immediately reinstated and paid their backwages and other accrued benefits, counted from the time they have served their respective suspensions until actual reinstatement, undiminished by earnings derived elsewhere during the period of their suspension, in accordance with latest jurisprudence 1 affirming such intent of the legislature.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby RESOLVED to DENY, with finality, the motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioner Philippine Airlines, Inc. Petitioner is hereby ORDERED to REINSTATE the union members ordered suspended for twelve months and eight months respectively under the Acting Secretary of Labor’s March 9, 1995 order, and to PAY them full backwages and other benefits due, from the time their suspensions have been served until their actual reinstatement.
Regalado and Puno, JJ.
1. Bustamante, et. al. v. NLRC and Evergreen Farms, Inc., G.R. No. 111651, November 28, 1996.