G.R. No. 183317 - Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. v. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, et al.
[G.R. NO. 183317 : December 21, 2009]
MARIWASA SIAM CERAMICS, INC., Petitioner, v. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, CHIEF OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR RELATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF DOLE REGIONAL OFFICE NUMBER IV-A & SAMAHAN NG MGA MANGGAGAWA SA MARIWASA SIAM CERAMICS, INC. (SMMSC-INDEPENDENT), Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari 1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to annul the Decision2 dated December 20, 2007 and the Resolution3 dated June 6, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 98332.
The antecedent facts are as follows'
On May 4, 2005, respondent Samahan Ng Mga Manggagawa Sa Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. (SMMSC-Independent) was issued a Certificate of Registration4 as a legitimate labor organization by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Region IV-A.
On June 14, 2005, petitioner Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. filed a Petition for Cancellation of Union Registration against respondent, claiming that the latter violated Article 2345 of the Labor Code for not complying with the 20% requirement, and that it committed massive fraud and misrepresentation in violation of Article 2396 of the same code. The case was docketed as Case No. RO400-0506-AU-004.
On August 26, 2005, the Regional Director of DOLE IV-A issued an Order granting the petition, revoking the registration of respondent, and delisting it from the roster of active labor unions.
Aggrieved, respondent appealed to the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR).
In a Decision7 dated June 14, 2006, the BLR granted respondent's appeal and disposed as follows'
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal by Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. (SMMSC-Independent) is hereby GRANTED, and the Decision dated 26 August 2005 by DOLE-Region-IV-A Director Maximo B. Lim is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. (SMMSC-Independent), under Registration Certificate No. RO400-200505-UR-002, remains in the roster of legitimate labor organizations.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the BLR denied it in a Resolution9 dated February 2, 2007.
Petitioner sought recourse with the Court of Appeals (CA) through a Petition for Certiorari; but the CA denied the petition for lack of merit.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the CA Decision was likewise denied, hence, this petition based on the following grounds'
Review of the Factual Findings of the Bureau of Labor Relations, adopted and confirmed by the Honorable Court of Appeals is warranted[;]
The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred in ruling that the affidavits of recantation cannot be given credence[;]
The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred in ruling that private respondent union complied with the 20% membership requirement[; and]
The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred when it ruled that private respondent union did not commit misrepresentation, fraud or false statement.10
The petition should be denied.
The petitioner insists that respondent failed to comply with the 20% union membership requirement for its registration as a legitimate labor organization because of the disaffiliation from the total number of union members of 102 employees who executed affidavits recanting their union membership.
It is, thus, imperative that we peruse the affidavits appearing to have been executed by these affiants.
The affidavits uniformly state'
Ako, _____________, Pilipino, may sapat na gulang, regular na empleyado bilang Rank & File sa Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc., Bo. San Antonio, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, matapos na makapanumpa ng naaayon sa batas ay malaya at kusang loob na nagsasaad ng mga sumusunod:
1. Ako ay napilitan at nilinlang sa pagsapi sa Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. o SMMSC-Independent sa kabila ng aking pag-aalinlangan[;]
2. Aking lubos na pinagsisihan ang aking pagpirma sa sipi ng samahan, at handa ako[ng] tumalikod sa anumang kasulatan na aking nalagdaan sa kadahilanan na hindi angkop sa aking pananaw ang mga mungkahi o adhikain ng samahan.
SA KATUNAYAN NANG LAHAT, ako ay lumagda ng aking pangalan ngayong ika - ____ ng ______, 2005 dito sa Lalawigan ng Batangas, Bayan ng Sto. Tomas.
Evidently, these affidavits were written and prepared in advance, and the pro forma affidavits were ready to be filled out with the employees' names and signatures.
The first common allegation in the affidavits is a declaration that, in spite of his hesitation, the affiant was forced and deceived into joining the respondent union. It is worthy to note, however, that the affidavit does not mention the identity of the people who allegedly forced and deceived the affiant into joining the union, much less the circumstances that constituted such force and deceit. Indeed, not only was this allegation couched in very general terms and sweeping in nature, but more importantly, it was not supported by any evidence whatsoever.
The second allegation ostensibly bares the affiant's regret for joining respondent union and expresses the desire to abandon or renege from whatever agreement he may have signed regarding his membership with respondent.
Simply put, through these affidavits, it is made to appear that the affiants recanted their support of respondent's application for registration.
In appreciating affidavits of recantation such as these, our ruling in La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory v. Director of the Bureau of Labor Relations11 is enlightening, viz.'
On the second issue whether or not the withdrawal of 31 union members from NATU affected the petition for certification election insofar as the 30% requirement is concerned, We reserve the Order of the respondent Director of the Bureau of Labor Relations, it appearing undisputably that the 31 union members had withdrawn their support to the petition before the filing of said petition. It would be otherwise if the withdrawal was made after the filing of the petition for it would then be presumed that the withdrawal was not free and voluntary. The presumption would arise that the withdrawal was procured through duress, coercion or for valuable consideration. In other words, the distinction must be that withdrawals made before the filing of the petition are presumed voluntary unless there is convincing proof to the contrary, whereas withdrawals made after the filing of the petition are deemed involuntary.
The reason for such distinction is that if the withdrawal or retraction is made before the filing of the petition, the names of employees supporting the petition are supposed to be held secret to the opposite party. Logically, any such withdrawal or retraction shows voluntariness in the absence of proof to the contrary. Moreover, it becomes apparent that such employees had not given consent to the filing of the petition, hence the subscription requirement has not been met.
When the withdrawal or retraction is made after the petition is filed, the employees who are supporting the petition become known to the opposite party since their names are attached to the petition at the time of filing. Therefore, it would not be unexpected that the opposite party would use foul means for the subject employees to withdraw their support.12
In the instant case, the affidavits of recantation were executed after the identities of the union members became public, i.e., after the union filed a petition for certification election on May 23, 2005, since the names of the members were attached to the petition. The purported withdrawal of support for the registration of the union was made after the documents were submitted to the DOLE, Region IV-A. The logical conclusion, therefore, following jurisprudence, is that the employees were not totally free from the employer's pressure, and so the voluntariness of the employees' execution of the affidavits becomes suspect.
It is likewise notable that the first batch of 25 pro forma affidavits shows that the affidavits were executed by the individual affiants on different dates from May 26, 2005 until June 3, 2005, but they were all sworn before a notary public on June 8, 2005.
There was also a second set of standardized affidavits executed on different dates from May 26, 2005 until July 6, 2005. While these 77 affidavits were notarized on different dates, 56 of these were notarized on June 8, 2005, the very same date when the first set of 25 was notarized.
Considering that the first set of 25 affidavits was submitted to the DOLE on June 14, 2005, it is surprising why petitioner was able to submit the second set of affidavits only on July 12, 2005.
Accordingly, we cannot give full credence to these affidavits, which were executed under suspicious circumstances, and which contain allegations unsupported by evidence. At best, these affidavits are self-serving. They possess no probative value.
A retraction does not necessarily negate an earlier declaration. For this reason, retractions are looked upon with disfavor and do not automatically exclude the original statement or declaration based solely on the recantation. It is imperative that a determination be first made as to which between the original and the new statements should be given weight or accorded belief, applying the general rules on evidence. In this case, inasmuch as they remain bare allegations, the purported recantations should not be upheld.13
Nevertheless, even assuming the veracity of the affidavits of recantation, the legitimacy of respondent as a labor organization must be affirmed. While it is true that the withdrawal of support may be considered as a resignation from the union, the fact remains that at the time of the union's application for registration, the affiants were members of respondent and they comprised more than the required 20% membership for purposes of registration as a labor union. Article 234 of the Labor Code merely requires a 20% minimum membership during the application for union registration. It does not mandate that a union must maintain the 20% minimum membership requirement all throughout its existence.14 ???ñr?bl?š ??r
Back to Home | Back to Main