G.R. No. 168897 - Gina M. Tiangco and Salvacion Jenny Manego v. Uniwide Sales Warehouse Club, Inc. and Jimmy Gow
[G.R. NO. 168697 : December 14, 2009]
GINA M. TIANGCO and SALVACION JENNY MANEGO, Petitioners, v. UNIWIDE SALES WAREHOUSE CLUB, INC. and JIMMY GOW, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari 1 of the February 9, 2005 decision2 and June 28, 2005 resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 85474.
Petitioners Gina M. Tiangco and Salvacion Jenny Manego4 were employees of respondent Uniwide Sales Warehouse Club, Inc. (USWCI), a domestic corporation. Respondent Jimmy N. Gow was the president of the corporation.5
Petitioner Tiangco was employed by respondent USWCI on June 10, 1997 as concession manager. In 1998, she was designated as group merchandising manager for the fashion and personal care department with a monthly salary of
P45,000. On the other hand, petitioner Manego was initially employed as buyer on January 16, 1984 but was promoted as senior category head with a monthly salary of P25,000.6
On July 5, 2001 and July 13, 2001, petitioners Tiangco and Manego respectively filed separate complaints for illegal dismissal, payment of separation pay as well as award of moral and exemplary damages in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The complaints, docketed as NLRC NCR Case Nos. 00-09-03512-2001 and 00-09-04757-2001, were consolidated.7
In his order dated January 11, 2002, the labor arbiter8 considered the consolidated cases as submitted for decision.9
On February 13, 2002, the respondents filed a manifestation and motion praying that the proceedings on the consolidated cases be suspended on the ground that respondent USWCI had been placed in a state of suspension of payments by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as early as April 11, 2000 and a receivership committee had in fact been appointed.10
On February 26, 2002, the labor arbiter suspended the proceedings until further orders from the SEC.11
On March 23, 2004, petitioners filed a motion to reopen case on the ground that the SEC, in its order dated December 23, 2002, had already approved the second amendment to the rehabilitation plan (SARP) of respondent USWCI.12
In their opposition to the motion, respondents argued that the proceedings in the consolidated cases must remain suspended inasmuch as the mere approval of the SARP did not constitute a valid ground for their reopening.13
On June 16, 2004, the labor arbiter issued an order directing the parties to file their memoranda. He further stated that even without the memoranda, the cases would be ordered submitted for decision after the lapse of the period for filing.14
This prompted respondents to file a petition for certiorari 15 with prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the CA, imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the labor arbiter.
On September 17, 2004, the CA granted the application for a TRO.16 In its February 9, 2005 decision, it granted the petition and reversed the June 16, 2004 order of the labor arbiter. It ruled that proceedings on the cases should remain suspended until further orders from the SEC citing Rubberworld (Phils.), Inc. v. NLRC17 and Sections 6(b), 11 and 27, Rule 4 of the 2000 Interim Rules of Procedure on Corporate Rehabilitation.18 It denied reconsideration on June 28, 2005.
Hence, this petition.
The issue determinative of this case is whether the consolidated illegal dismissal cases can be reopened at this point of the SEC proceedings for respondent USWCI's rehabilitation.
This issue is far from novel. We resolved the same question as early as 1999 in Rubberworld (Phils.), Inc. v. NLRC19 and since then, we have reiterated the ruling in several other cases.20
The relevant law dealing with the suspension of payments for money claims against corporations under rehabilitation is Presidential Decree No. (PD) 902-A,21 as amended. Section 6 (c) thereof provides:
Sec. 6. In order to effectively exercise such jurisdiction, the [SEC]22 shall possess the following powers:
x x x
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