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Albert Teng Fish Trading v. Pahagac, November 17, 2010
Albert Teng Fish Trading is engaged in deep sea fishing and, for this purpose, owns boats (basnig), equipment, and other fishing paraphernalia. It customarily enters into joint venture agreements with master fishermen (maestros) who take charge of the management of each fishing venture, including the hiring of the members of its complement.Teng claims that the maestros hired the respondent workers as checkers to determine the volume of the fish caught in every fishing voyage. The respondent workers filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against Albert Teng Fish Trading before the NCMB, Region Branch No. IX, Zamboanga City.
The respondent workers alleged that Teng hired them, without any written employment contract, to classify the fish caught; where to unload the catch; and to receive to instructions from Teng on procurement of provisions needed by maestros. They also claimed that they received regular monthly salaries, 13th month pay, Christmas bonus, and incentives in the form of shares in the total volume of fish caught. In December 2002, Teng terminated their services.
The Volunteer Arbiter (VA) dismissed the complaint for lack of merit and declared that no employer-employee relationship existed between Teng and the respondent workers and dismissed all other claims by respondents.
The respondents timely filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied by the VA who reasoned out that Section 6, Rule VII of the 1989 Procedural Guidelines in the Conduct of Voluntary Arbitration Proceedings does not provide the remedy of a motion for reconsideration to the party adversely affected by the VA’s order or decision
The respondent-workers elevated the case to the CA which reversed the VA’s decision after finding sufficient evidence showing the existence of employer-employee relationship and remanded the case to the VA for the computation of petitioner’s backwages, separation pay and other monetary benefits. CA denied Teng’s motion for reconsideration. Hence, Teng filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court with Supreme Court.
Whether or not the VA’s decision is subject to a motion for reconsideration or appeal?
Yes. Article 262-A of the Labor Code does not prohibit the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
On March 21, 1989, Republic Act No. 6715 took effect, amending, among others, Article 263 of the Labor Code. As amended, Article 263 is now Article 262-A, which states:
Art. 262-A. x x x [T]he award or decision x x x shall contain the facts and the law on which it is based. It shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties.
Notably, Article 262-A deleted the word "unappealable" from Article 263. The deliberate selection of the language in the amendatory act differing from that of the original act indicates that the legislature intended a change in the law, and the court should endeavor to give effect to such intent.
The Court recognized the intent of the change of phraseology in Imperial Textile Mills, Inc. v. Sampang, where we ruled that:
It is true that the present rule [Art. 262-A] makes the voluntary arbitration award final and executory after ten calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties. Presumably, the decision may still be reconsidered by the Voluntary Arbitrator on the basis of a motion for reconsideration duly filed during that period.
In Coca-Cola Bottlers Phil., Inc., Sales Force Union-PTGWO-Balais v. Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc.,27 we likewise ruled that the VA’s decision may still be reconsidered on the basis of a motion for reconsideration seasonably filed within 10 days from receipt thereof. The seasonable filing of a motion for reconsideration is a mandatory requirement to forestall the finality of such decision. We further cited the 1989 Procedural Guidelines which implemented Article 262-A, viz:
[U]nder Section 6, Rule VII of the same guidelines implementing Article 262-A of the Labor Code, this Decision, as a matter of course, would become final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of copies of the decision by the parties x x x unless, in the meantime, a motion for reconsideration or a petition for review to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court is filed within the same 10-day period.
The Court ruled that the respondent workers seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration of the VA’s judgment, and the VA erred in denying the motion because no motion for reconsideration is allowed.
By allowing a 10-day period, the obvious intent of Congress in amending Article 263 to Article 262-A is to provide an opportunity for the party adversely affected by the VA’s decision to seek recourse via a motion for reconsideration or a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court filed with the CA. Indeed, a motion for reconsideration is the more appropriate remedy in line with the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. For this reason, an appeal from administrative agencies to the CA via Rule 43 of the Rules of Court requires exhaustion of available remedies36 as a condition precedent to a petition under that Rule.
By disallowing reconsideration of the VA’s decision, Section 7, Rule XIX of DO 40-03 and Section 7 of the 2005 Procedural Guidelines went directly against the legislative intent behind Article 262-A of the Labor Code. These rules deny the VA the chance to correct himself and compel the courts of justice to prematurely intervene with the action of an administrative agency entrusted with the adjudication of controversies coming under its special knowledge, training and specific field of expertise.
PHILEC v . CA, December 10, 2014
PHILEC is a domestic corporation “engaged in the manufacture and repairs of high voltage transformers.” Among its rank-and-file employees were Lipio and Ignacio, Sr., former members of the PHILEC Workers’ Union (PWU). While, PWU is a legitimate labor organization and the exclusive bargaining representative of PHILEC’s rank-and-file employees.
Prior to the creation of the new collective bargaining agreement PHILEC selected Lipio for promotion from Machinist under Pay Grade VIII to Foreman I under Pay Grade B and Ignacio, Sr., then DT-Assembler with Pay Grade VII, was likewise selected for training for the position of Foreman I. On September 17, 1997, PHILEC and PWU entered into a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), effective retroactively on June 1, 1997 and expiring on May 31, 1999. Under Article X, Section 4 of the June 1, 1997 collective bargaining agreement, a rank-and-file employee promoted shall be entitled to the following step increases in his or her basic salary. However, PWU members claimed that the schedule of training allowance did not conform with their CBA.Hence, PWU submitted the grievance to the grievance machinery.
PWU and PHILEC failed to amicably settle their grievance. Thus, the parties filed a submission agreement with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. PHILEC disputed PWU’s claim of unfair labor practice. According to PHILEC, it did not violate its collective bargaining agreement with PWU when it implemented the “Modified SGV” scale. Even assuming that it violated the collective bargaining agreement, PHILEC argued that its violation was not “gross” or a “flagrant and/or malicious refusal to comply with the economic provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. PHILEC, therefore, was not guilty of unfair labor practice.
Voluntary Arbitrator held that PHILEC violated its CBA with PWU, therefore ordering them to pay the PWU members allowance based on their CBA. PHILEC then filed a petition for certiorari before the CA, alleging that the Voluntary Arbitrator gravely abused its discretion in rendering its decision. However, CA affirmed the decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator. Hence the petition.
WON a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court against Voluntary Arbitrator Jimenez’s decision proper?
No, a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court against Voluntary Arbitrator Jimenez’s decision is not the proper remedy. Instead, the proper remedy to reverse or modify a Voluntary Arbitrator’s or a panel of Voluntary Arbitrators’ decision or award is to appeal the award or decision before the Court of Appeals via Rule 43 of the Rules of Court.
Assuming arguendo that the voluntary arbitrator or the panel of voluntary arbitrators may not strictly be considered as a quasi-judicial agency, board or commission, still both he and the panel are comprehended within the concept of a "quasi-judicial instrumentality." Since the office of a Voluntary Arbitrator or a panel of Voluntary Arbitrators is considered a quasi-judicial agency, this court concluded that a decision or award rendered by a Voluntary Arbitrator is appealable before the Court of Appeals.
Court ruled that Article 262-A of the Labor Code allows the appeal of decisions rendered by Voluntary Arbitrators. Statute provides that the Voluntary Arbitrator’s decision “shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties.” Being provided in the statute, this 10-day period must be complied with; otherwise, no appellate court will have jurisdiction over the appeal.
There being no appeal seasonably filed in this case, Voluntary Arbitrator Jimenez’s decision became final and executory after 10 calendar days from PHILEC’s receipt of the resolution denying its motion for partial reconsideration. Voluntary Arbitrator Jimenez’s decision is already “beyond the purview of this Court to act upon.”
Baronda v . CA, October 14, 2015
Hideco Sugar Milling Co., Inc. employed the Baronda as a mud press truck driver. He hit HIDECO's transmission lines while operating a dump truck, causing a total factory blackout. Power was eventually restored but the restoration cost HIDECO. Following the incident, HIDECO served a notice of offense requiring him to explain the incident within three days from notice. He complied. Thereafter, the management conducted its investigation, and, finding him guilty of negligence, recommended his dismissal. The resident manager served a termination letter and informed him of the decision to terminate his employment effective at the close of office hours of that day. Hence, HIDECO no longer allowed him to report to work on the next day. The petitioner, along with another employee also dismissed by HIDECO, filed in the Office of the Voluntary Arbitrator of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board in Tacloban City a complaint for illegal dismissal against HIDECO.
Voluntary Arbitrator Antonio C. Lopez, Jr. handled the case and eventually rendered his decision by finding the petitioner's dismissal illegal, and ordering his reinstatement. Voluntary Arbitrator Lopez, Jr. deemed the petitioner's separation from the service as a suspension from work without pay, and commanded him to pay on installment basis the damages sustained by HIDECO incident he had caused. HIDECO filed a motion for reconsideration but the Voluntary Arbitrator denied the motion. Accepting the outcome, HIDECO subsequently reinstated the petitioner. The petitioner filed his manifestation with motion for the issuance of the writ of execution in the Office of the Voluntary Arbitrator praying for the execution of the decision, and insisting on being entitled to back wages and other benefits. HIDECO opposed the petitioner's motion for execution and simultaneously presented its own motion for execution to enforce the decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator directing the petitioner to pay the actual damages. The Voluntary Arbitrator denied the petitioner's motion for execution on the ground that the decision did not award any backwages and granted HIDECO's motion for execution.
Whether the reinstatement aspect of the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision was executory pending appeal?
The timely filing of a motion for reconsideration or of an appeal forestalls the finality of the decision or award of the Voluntary Arbitrator the reinstatement aspect of the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision or award remains executory regardless of the filing of such motion for reconsideration or appeal. The immediate reinstatement of the employee pending the appeal has been introduced by Section 12 of Republic Act No. 6715, which amended Article 223 of the Labor Code. The duties and responsibilities of the State are imposed not so much to express sympathy for the workingman as to forcefully and meaningfully underscore labor as a primary social and economic force, which the Constitution also expressly affirms with equal intensity. Labor is an indispensable partner for the nation's progress and stability.
We see no reason to obstruct the reinstatement decreed by the Voluntary Arbitrator, or to treat it any less than the reinstatement that is ordered by the Labor Arbiter. Voluntary arbitration really takes precedence over other dispute settlement devices. Such primacy of voluntary arbitration is mandated by no less than the Philippine Constitution and is ingrained as a policy objective of our labor relations law. The reinstatement order by the Voluntary Arbitrator should have the same authority, force and effect as that of the reinstatement order by the Labor Arbiter not only to encourage parties to settle their disputes through this mode, but also, and more importantly, to enforce the constitutional mandate to protect labor, to provide security of tenure, and to enhance social justice.
Guagua National Colleges v. Court of Appeals, August 28, 2018
Under Section 5(2)3 of Republic Act No. 6728 (Government Assistance To Students and Teachers In Private Education Act), 70% of the increase in tuition fees shall go to the payment of salaries, wages, allowances and other benefits of the teaching and non-teaching personnel. Pursuant to this provision, the petitioner imposed a 7% increase of its tuition fees for school year 2006-2007. In order to save the depleting funds of the Guagua National Colleges’ Retirement Plan, its Board of Trustees approved the funding of the retirement program out of the 70% net incremental proceeds arising from the tuition fee increases. GNC-Faculty Labor Union and GNC Non-Teaching Maintenance Labor Union challenged the Guagua National Colleges’ unilateral decision by claiming that the increase violated Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 6728.
The parties referred the matter to voluntary arbitration after failing to settle the controversy by themselves. After hearing the parties, Voluntary Arbitrator rendered his decision dated June 16, 2008 in favor of GNC, holding that retirement benefits fell within the category of "other benefits" that could be charged against the 70% net incremental proceeds pursuant to Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 6728.
After receiving a copy of the decision on June 16, 2008, the Guagua National Colleges filed an Urgent Motion for Extension praying that the CA grant them an extension of 15 days from July 1, 2008, or until July 16, 2008, within which to file their petition for review. On July 2, 2008, the CA issued a resolution granting the Urgent Motion for Extension. The Guagua National Colleges filed the petition for review on July 16, 2008. Subsequently, the GNC-Faculty Labor Union and GNC Non-Teaching Maintenance Labor Union filed its Motion to Dismiss, asserting that the decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator had already become final and executory pursuant to Article 276 of the Labor Code and in accordance with the ruling in Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. Sales Force Union-PTGWO- Balais v. Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. The CA acted on the Motion to Dismiss on December 15, 2008 through the now assailed resolution denying the Motion to Dismiss.
Whether or not the CA gravely abuse its discretion in denying the GNC-Faculty Labor Union and GNC Non-Teaching Maintenance Labor Union’s Motion to Dismiss despite the finality of the decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator pursuant to Article 276 of the Labor Code?
No. The petition for review shall be filed within 15 days pursuant to Section 4, Rules 43 of the Rules of Court; the 10-day period under Article 276 of the Labor Code refers to the filing of a motion for reconsideration vis-a-vis the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision or award.
We ruled that Article 262-A of the Labor Code allows the appeal of decisions rendered by Voluntary Arbitrators. Statute provides that the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision "shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties." Being provided in the statute, this 10-day period must be complied with; otherwise, no appellate court will have jurisdiction over the appeal. This absurd situation occurs when the decision is appealed on the 11th to 15th day from receipt as allowed under the Rules, but which decision, under the law, has already become final and executory.
Furthermore, under Article VIII, Section 5 (5) of the Constitution, this court "shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights" in promulgating rules of procedure in courts. The 10-day period to appeal under the Labor Code being a substantive right, this period cannot be diminished, increased, or modified through the Rules of Court.
The rule, therefore, is that a Voluntary Arbitrator's award or decision shall be appealed before the Court of Appeals within 10 days from receipt of the award or decision. Should the aggrieved party choose to file a motion for reconsideration with the Voluntary Arbitrator, the motion must be filed within the same 10-day period since a motion for reconsideration is filed "within the period for taking an appeal."
By allowing a 10-day period, the obvious intent of Congress in amending Article 263 to Article 262-A is to provide an opportunity for the party adversely affected by the VA's decision to seek recourse via a motion for reconsideration or a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court filed with the CA. Indeed, a motion for reconsideration is the more appropriate remedy in line with the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. For this reason, an appeal from administrative agencies to the CA via Rule 43 of the Rules of Court requires exhaustion of available remedies as a condition precedent to a petition under that Rule.
The requirement that administrative remedies be exhausted is based on the doctrine that in providing for a remedy before an administrative agency, every opportunity must be given to the agency to resolve the matter and to exhaust all opportunities for a resolution under the given remedy before bringing an action in, or resorting to, the courts of justice. Where Congress has not clearly required exhaustion, sound judicial discretion governs, guided by congressional intent.
Coca-cola Femsa Philippines v. Bacolod Sales Force Union, September 21, 2016
Coca-cola Femsa Philippines Inc. is a corporation engaged in the manufacture of non-nonalcoholic beverages.
Thereafter, Cosmos ceded its sales functions to petitioner which resulted in the integration of a number of Cosmo’s salesmen (Cosmos integrees) into petitioner’s workforce as route salesmen.
Subsequently, by adopting a route-to-market system abolished the route salesman position and replaced by account developer position. Through internal selection process, the Cosmos salesmen’s position were designated as ADs. However, petitioner hired new ADs with a higher basic monthly pay and benefits occupying the same position, job description and functions. Aggrieved by the difference in treatment, respondent the recognized CB agent submitted its concerns to the grievance machinery contending the same. In its defense, Cosmo argued that the fixing of hiring rates is a management prerogative. The Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators (VA) ruled that there is a disparity in the wages between the two and directed the petitioner to readjust their salaries.
CA denied the petition for review of petitioner on the ground that Voluntary Arbitration decision had attained finality.
Whether or not Voluntary Arbitrator’s judgments or final orders which are declared final by law are exempt from judicial review?
No. The Voluntary Arbitrator’s judgments or final orders which are declared final by law are not so exempt from judicial review when so warranted. "Any agreement stipulating that 'the decision of the arbitrator shall be final and unappealable' and 'that no further judicial recourse if either party disagrees with the whole or any part of the arbitrator's award may be availed of' cannot be held to preclude in proper cases the power of judicial review which is inherent in courts."
The Court sees the prima facie reasonableness of petitioner's asseverations and finds that the merits of its case, based on such argumentation, properly warrant judicial review. As such, the CA should look into the soundness of the VA rulings in relation to the nuances averred, particularly, the impact of the differences in the selection processes applied and relevant qualifications between the Cosmos integrees and the newly-hired ADs.
Moreover, the CA ought to determine the proper application of the "equal pay for equal work" principle vis-a-vis the business decision of an employer to adopt a more competitive compensation scheme in light of the demands in human resource. Thus, borrowing the language in Chung Fu Industries (Phils.) Inc. v. CA - which similarly involved a restrictive stipulation on appeal from an arbitral award the Court finds that the CA erred in refusing "to look into the merits of this case, despite prima facie showing of the existence of grounds warranting judicial review," which, thus, "effectively deprived petitioner of the opportunity to prove or substantiate its allegations."
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