Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence

Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 2009 > July 2009 Decisions > G.R. No. 168406 - Club Filipino, Inc. and Atty. Roberto F. De Leon v. Benjamin Bautista, et al. :

G.R. No. 168406 - Club Filipino, Inc. and Atty. Roberto F. De Leon v. Benjamin Bautista, et al.



[G.R. NO. 168406 : July 13, 2009]




Petitioner Club Filipino, Inc. (the company) is a non-stock, non profit corporation duly formed, organized and existing under Philippine laws, with petitioner Atty. Roberto F. de Leon as its president. Respondents Ronnie Sualog, Joel Calida, Johnny Arinto and Roberto de Guzman, on the other hand, were former officers and members of the Club Filipino Employees Association (the union).

The union and the company had a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which expired on May 31, 2000. Prior to the expiration of the CBA and within the freedom period,2 the union made several demands for negotiation but the company replied that it could not muster a quorum, thus no CBA negotiations could be held.

Sometime in 2000, the union submitted its formal CBA proposal to the company's negotiating panel and repeatedly asked for the start of negotiations. No negotiations, however, took place for various reasons proffered by the company, among them the illness of the chairman of the management panel.

In order to compel the company to negotiate, respondents, as officers of the union, filed a request for preventive mediation with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB). Their strategy, however, failed to bring the management to the negotiating table. The union and management only met on April 5, 2001, but the meeting concluded with a declaration by both parties of a deadlock in their negotiations.

On April 6, 2001, the union filed a notice of strike with the NCMB on the grounds of bargaining deadlock and failure to bargain. On April 22, 2001, the company formally responded to the demands of the union when it submitted the first part of its economic counter-proposal; the second part was submitted on May 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, on May 4, 2001, the union conducted a strike vote under the supervision of the Department of Labor and Employment.

In response to the company's counter-proposal, the union sent the company its improved proposal, but the company refused to improve on its offer. This prompted the union to stage a strike on May 26, 2001 on the ground of a CBA bargaining deadlock.

On May 31, 2001, the company filed before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) a petition to declare the strike illegal. The company further prayed that all union officers who participated in the illegal strike be considered separated from the service.3

In a decision dated November 28, 2001, the labor arbiter4 declared the strike "procedurally [infirm] and therefore illegal."5 The labor arbiter noted that the union failed to attach its written CBA proposal and the company's counter-proposal to the notice of strike and to provide proof of a request for a conference to settle the dispute. Thus, the notice to strike was deemed not to have been filed and the strike illegal. As a consequence, all the officers of the union were deemed terminated from service. However, these employees were entitled to separation pay equivalent to that granted to employees affected by the retrenchment program which the company had earlier launched.6

Respondents appealed but on September 30, 2002, the NLRC in a decision7 affirmed the labor arbiter. The NLRC did not see fit to pass upon the issues raised by respondents because, by the time they appealed on December 20, 2001, they had either resigned from the company or were no longer part of the union because of the election of new set of officers.8

Respondents' motion for reconsideration was consequently denied.9 Aggrieved, they elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals (CA) via a petition for certiorari .10

On May 31, 2005, the CA issued its assailed decision,11 holding that the labor arbiter and the NLRC "took a selective view of the attendant facts of the case" and in "negating thereby the effects of the notice of strike the union filed."12 What was more, the NLRC's reasoning was flawed because "a worker ordered dismissed under a tribunal's decision has every right to question his or her dismissal."13 The labor arbiter's ruling was likewise wrong because it was based on a "flimsy technicality" that conveniently booted out the union officers from the company.14

Thus, the CA set aside the rulings of the NLRC and the labor arbiter as far as respondents Sualog, Calida, De Guzman and Arinto were concerned and ordered petitioners to pay them full backwages and benefits from the time of their dismissal up to the finality of its decision, plus separation pay computed at one month salary per year of service from the time they were hired up to the finality of its decision.15 On the other hand, the CA dismissed the petition as far as Laureano Fegalquin,16 Bautista and Precentacion were concerned.17

Petitioners then sought redress from this Court by filing a Petition for Review on Certiorari 18 hoisting the issue of whether or not the strike staged by respondents on May 26, 2001 was legal.

We rule in the affirmative.

It is undisputed that the notice of strike was filed by the union without attaching the counter-proposal of the company. This, according to petitioners and the labor arbiter, made the ensuing strike of respondents illegal because the notice of strike of the union was defective.

The contention is untenable.

Rule XXII, Section 4 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code states:

In cases of bargaining deadlocks, the notice shall, as far as practicable, further state the unresolved issues in the bargaining negotiations and be accompanied by the written proposals of the union, the counter-proposals of the employer and the proof of a request for conference to settle differences. In cases of unfair labor practices, the notice shall, as far as practicable, state the acts complained of, and efforts taken to resolve the dispute amicably.ςηαñrοblεš νιr υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

Any notice which does not conform with the requirements of this and the foregoing section shall be deemed as not having been filed and the party concerned shall be so informed by the regional branch of the Board. (emphasis supplied)

In the instant case, the union cannot be faulted for its omission. The union could not have attached the counter-proposal of the company in the notice of strike it submitted to the NCMB as there was no such counter-proposal. To recall, the union filed a notice of strike on April 6, 2001 after several requests to start negotiations proved futile. It was only on April 22, 2001, or after two weeks, when the company formally responded to the union by submitting the first part of its counter-proposal. Worse, it took the company another three weeks to complete it by submitting on May 11, 2001 the second part of its counter-proposal. This was almost a year after the expiration of the CBA sought to be renewed.

The Implementing Rules use the words "as far as practicable." In this case, attaching the counter-proposal of the company to the notice of strike of the union was not practicable. It was absurd to expect the union to produce the company's counter-proposal which it did not have. One cannot give what one does not have. Indeed, compliance with the requirement was impossible because no counter-proposal existed at the time the union filed a notice of strike. The law does not exact compliance with the impossible. Nemo tenetur ad impossibile.

Another error committed by the labor arbiter was his declaration that respondents, as union officers, automatically severed their employment with the company due to the alleged illegal strike. In the first place, there was no illegal strike. Moreover, it is hornbook doctrine that a mere finding of the illegality of the strike should not be automatically followed by the wholesale dismissal of the strikers from employment.19

The law is clear:

Any union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union officer who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his employment status.20 (emphasis supplied)

Note that the verb "participates" is preceded by the adverb "knowingly." This reflects the intent of the legislature to require "knowledge" as a condition sine qua non before a union officer can be dismissed from employment for participating in an illegal strike.21 The provision is worded in such a way as to make it very difficult for employers to circumvent the law by arbitrarily dismissing employees in the guise of exercising management prerogative. This is but one aspect of the State's constitutional22 and statutory23 mandate to protect the rights of employees to self-organization.

Nowhere in the ruling of the labor arbiter can we find any discussion of how respondents, as union officers, knowingly participated in the alleged illegal strike. Thus, even assuming arguendo that the strike was illegal, their automatic dismissal had no basis.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.

Costs against petitioners.



1 Benjamin Bautista and Carlito Precentacion were improperly impleaded in this petition because the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari as far as they were concerned. See note 17.

2 Labor Code, Article 253. Duty to bargain collectively when there exists a collective bargaining agreement. - When there is a collective bargaining agreement, the duty to bargain collectively shall also mean that neither party shall terminate nor modify such agreement during its lifetime. However, either party can serve a written notice to terminate or modify the agreement at least sixty (60) days prior to its expiration date. It shall be the duty of both parties to keep the status quo and to continue in full force and effect the terms and conditions of the existing agreement during the 60-day period and/or until a new agreement is reached by the parties. (emphasis supplied)

3 Rollo, pp. 59-64.

4 Labor Arbiter Manuel P. Asuncion. CA rollo, pp. 40-48.

5 Id., p. 47.

6 Id., pp. 45-48.

7 Penned by Commissioner Lourdes C. Javier and concurred in by Commissioner Ireneo B. Bernardo. Commissioner Tito F. Genilo took no part. Id., pp. 76-79.

8 Rollo, pp. 78-79.

9 Id., pp. 80-81.

10 Under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. CA rollo, pp. 2-16.

11 Penned by Justice Arturo D. Brion (now a member of the Supreme Court) and concurred in by Associate Justices Eugenio S. Labitoria (retired) and Eliezer R. De Los Santos (deceased). Rollo, pp. 38-58.

12 Id., p. 48.

13 Id., p. 47.

14 Id., p. 51.

15 Id., p. 56.

16 Not impleaded in the instant case.

17 The petition was dismissed insofar as Fegalquin and Bautista were concerned because according to the CA, "In the present case where the recipients are responsible union officers who have regularly acted in behalf of their members in the discharge of their union duties and where there is no direct evidence of coercion or vitiation of consent, we believe we can safely conclude that the petitioners Bautista and Fegalquin fully knew what they entered into when they accepted their retirement benefits and when they executed their quitclaims." Rollo, p. 55. On the other, the petition was dismissed insofar as Precentacion was concerned because he "does not appear to be covered by the assailed Labor Arbiter and NLRC decisions because he was not a union officer and was not dismissed under the assailed decisions, and who had sought redress through a separately-filed case." Id.

18 Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

19 Progressive Worker's Union v. Aguas, G.R. NOS. L-59711-12, 29 May 1987, 150 SCRA 429, 440; Bacus v. Ople, G.R. No. L-56856, 23 October 1984, 132 SCRA 690, 703; Almira v. B.F. Goodrich Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. L-34974, 25 July 1974, 58 SCRA 120; Shell Oil Workers' Union v. Shell Company of the Philippines, Ltd., G.R. No. L-28607, 31 May 1971, 39 SCRA 276; Cebu Portland Cement Co. v. Workers Union, G.R. NOS. L-25032 and L-25037-38, 14 October 1968, 25 SCRA 504; Ferrer v. Court of Industrial Relations, et al., G.R. NOS. L-24267-8, 31 May 1966, 17 SCRA 352; Progressive Worker's Union v. Aguas, G.R. NOS. L-59711-12, 29 May 1987, 150 SCRA 429, 440.

20 Labor Code, Article 264(a).

21 See Stamford Marketing Corp. v. Julian, G.R. No. 145496, 24 February 2004, 423 SCRA 633, 648 where the Court held: "Article 264 of the Labor Code, in providing for the consequences of an illegal strike, makes a distinction between union officers and members who participated thereon. Thus, knowingly participating in an illegal strike is a valid ground for termination from employment of a union officer. The law, however, treats differently mere union members. Mere participation in an illegal strike is not a sufficient ground for termination of the services of the union members. The Labor Code protects an ordinary, rank-and-file union member who participated in such a strike from losing his job, provided that he did not commit an illegal act during the strike. Thus, absent any clear, substantial and convincing proof of illegal acts committed during an illegal strike, an ordinary striking worker or employee may not be terminated from work." (emphasis supplied)

22 CONSTITUTION, Section 18, Article II. The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.

Id., Section 8, Article III. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies, for purposes not contrary to law, shall not be abridged.

Id., Section 3, Article XIII. The State is mandated to "guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law."

23 Labor Code, Article 243. Coverage and employees' right to self-organization. ' All persons employed in commercial, industrial or educational institutions, whether operating for profit or not, shall have the right to self-organization and to form, join, or assist labor organizations of their own choosing for purposes of collective bargaining. Ambulant, intermittent and itinerant workers, self-employed people, rural workers and those without any definite employers may form labor organizations for their mutual aid and protection.

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  • G.R. No. 179154 - People of the Philippines v. Roger Perez and Danilo Perez

  • G.R. No. 179177 - Carlos N. Nisda v. Sea Serve Maritime Agency, et al.

  • G.R. No. 179187 - People of the Philippines v. Renato Talusan y Panganiban

  • G.R. No. 179430 - Jamela Salic Maruhom v. Commssion on Elections and Mohammad Ali "Mericano" A. Abinal

  • G.R. No. 179271 and G.R. No. 179295 - BANAT v. Commission on Election

  • G.R. No. 179512 - Eagle Star Security Services, Inc. v. Bonifacio L. Mirando.

  • G.R. No. 179546 - Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils, Inc. v. Alan M. Agito, Regolo S. Oca III, et al.

  • G.R. No. 179653 - United Muslim and Christian Urban Poor Association, Inc., etc. v. BRYC-V Development Corporation, etc., et al.

  • G.R. No. 179674 - Pyro Coppermining Corporation v. Mines Adjudication Board-Department of Environment and Natural Resources, et al.

  • G.R. No. 179807 - Ramy Gallego v. Bayer Philippines, Inc., et al.

  • G.R. No. 179937 - The People of the Philippines v. Gerald Librea y Camitan

  • G.R. No. 180043 - Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Philippine Airline, Inc. (PAL)

  • G.R. No. 180055 and G.R. No. 183055 - Franklin M. Drilon, et al. v. Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr., et al.

  • G.R. No. 180066 - Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Philippine Airlines, Inc.

  • G.R. No. 180458 - Development Bank of the Philippines v. Family Foods Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Spouses Juliano and Catalina Centeno

  • G.R. No. 180465 - Eric Dela Cruz and Paul M. Lacuata v. Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils.

  • G.R. No. 180528 - Civil Service Commission v. Nelia O. Tahanlangit

  • G.R. No. 180568 - Lydia Montebon a.k.a. Jingle Montebon v. The Honorable Court of Appeals, et al.

  • G.R. No. 180675 - Virgilio Bote v. San Pedro Cineplex Properties Corporation

  • G.R. No. 181235 - Banco De Oro-EPCI, Inc. v. John Tansipek

  • G.R. No. 181393 - Grandteq Industrial Steel Products, Inc. and Abelardo M. Gonzales v. Edna Margallo

  • G.R. No. 181478 - Eddie T. Panlilio v. Commission on Elections and Lilia G. Pineda

  • G.R. No. 181531 - National Union of Workers in Hotels Restaurant and Allied Industries-Manila Pavilion Hotel Chapter v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, et al.

  • G.R. No. 182420 - People of the Philippines v. Elsie Barba

  • G.R .No. 182454 - People of the Philippines v. Felix Wasit

  • G.R. No. 182485 - Sps. Henry O and Pacita Cheng v. Sps. Jose Javier and Claudia Dailisan

  • G.R. No. 182567 - Guillermo M. Telmo v. Luciano M. Bustamante

  • G.R. No. 182687 - People of the Philippines v. Warlito Martinez

  • G.R. No. 182941 - Roberto Sierra y Caneda v. People of the Philippines

  • G.R. No. 183105 - Erna Casals, et al. v. Tayud Golf and Country Club, et al..

  • G.R. No. 183819 - People of the Philippines v. Arsenio Cortez y Macalindong a.k.a. "Archie"

  • G.R. No. 184586 - Rafael Flauta, Jr., et al. v. Commission on Elections, et al.

  • G.R. No. 184801 - Jonas Taguiam v. Commission on Election, et al.

  • G.R. No. 184948 - Cong. Glenn A. Chong, Mr. Charles Chong, and Mr. Romeo Arribe v. Hon. Philip L. Dela Cruz, et al.

  • G.R. No. 185035 - Government Service Insurance System v. Salvador A. De Castro

  • G.R. No. 185063 - Sps. Lita De Leon, et al. v. Anita B. De Leon, et al.

  • G.R. No. 185095 - Maria Susan L. Ra ola, et al. v. Spouses Fernando & Ma. Concepcion M. Ra ola

  • G.R. No. 185220 - Laguna Metts Corporation v. Court of Appeals, Aries C. Caalam and Geraldine Esguerra

  • G.R. No. 185389 - People of the Philippines v. Benjie Resurrection

  • G.R. No. 185401 - Henry "June" Due as, Jr. v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Angelito "Jett" P. Reyes

  • G.R. NO. 186007 and G.R. No. 186016 - Salvador Divinagracia, Jr. v. Commission on Elections and Alex A. Centena

  • G.R. No. 187152 - People of the Philippines v. Teodulo Villanueva, Jr.

  • UDK-14071 - Martin Gibbs Fletcher v. The Director of Bureau of Corrections or his representative