Category: LEGAL DIGESTS


 

LOUIS “BAROK” C. BIRAOGO VS. THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010 (G.R. NO. 192935, 07 DECEMBER 2010)

 

REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, REP. RODOLFO B. ALBANO, JR., REP. SIMEON A. DATUMANONG, AND REP. ORLANDO B. FUA, SR. VS.   EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR. AND DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT SECRETARY FLORENCIO B. ABAD (G.R. NO. 193036, 07                                             

THIS CASE IS ABOUT THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE ENSHRINED IN THE CONSTITUTION.

 

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION IN jabbulao.com under the category RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.

 

DOCTRINE:  WHEN A TRUTH COMMISSION IS CREATED TO INVESTIGATE ANOMALIES OF A SPECIFIC ADMINISTRATION IT IS VIOLATIVE OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE.

 

DIGEST:

 

FACTS:

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1 WAS ISSUED BY PRESIDENT NOYNOY AQUINO TO INVESTIGATE REPORTED CASES OF GRAFT AND CORRUPTION OF THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION.

 

ISSUE:

 

IS THIS LEGAL?

 

RULING:

 

NO. IT IS VIOLATIVE OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE. THE ARROYO ADMINISTRATION IS BUT JUST A MEMBER OF A CLASS, THAT IS, A CLASS OF PAST ADMINISTRATIONS. IT IS NOT A CLASS OF ITS OWN. NOT TO INCLUDE PAST ADMINISTRATIONS SIMILARLY SITUATED CONSTITUTES ARBITRARINESS WHICH THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE CANNOT SANCTION.

The ruling of the Court:

Applying these precepts to this case, Executive Order No. 1 should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause.  The clear mandate of the envisioned truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth “concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration”[1][87] only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain, patent and manifest.  Mention of it has been made in at least three portions of the questioned executive order. Specifically, these are:

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the offenders and secure justice for all;

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. – There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as the “COMMISSION,” which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. – The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of reported cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and thereafter submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. [Emphases supplied]

In this regard, it must be borne in mind that the Arroyo administration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past administrations. It is not a class of its own. Not to include past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness which the equal protection clause cannot sanction.  Such discriminating differentiation clearly reverberates to label the commission as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.

Though the OSG enumerates several differences between the Arroyo administration and other past administrations, these distinctions are not substantial enough to merit the restriction of the investigation to the “previous administration” only.  The reports of widespread corruption in the Arroyo administration cannot be taken as basis for distinguishing said administration from earlier administrations which were also blemished by similar widespread reports of impropriety. They are not inherent in, and do not inure solely to, the Arroyo administration. As Justice Isagani Cruz put it, “Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification.”[2][88]

The public needs to be enlightened why Executive Order No. 1 chooses to limit the scope of the intended investigation to the previous administration only.  The OSG ventures to opine that “to include other past administrations, at this point, may unnecessarily overburden the commission and lead it to lose its effectiveness.”[3][89] The reason given is specious. It is without doubt irrelevant to the legitimate and noble objective of the PTC to stamp out or “end corruption and the evil it breeds.”[4][90]

The probability that there would be difficulty in unearthing evidence or that the earlier reports involving the earlier administrations were already inquired into is beside the point. Obviously, deceased presidents and cases which have already prescribed can no longer be the subjects of inquiry by the PTC. Neither is the PTC expected to conduct simultaneous investigations of previous administrations, given the body’s limited time and resources.  “The law does not require the impossible” (Lex non cogit ad impossibilia).[5][91]

Given the foregoing physical and legal impossibility, the Court logically recognizes the unfeasibility of investigating almost a century’s worth of graft cases.  However, the fact remains that Executive Order No. 1 suffers from arbitrary classification.  The PTC, to be true to its mandate of searching for the truth, must not exclude the other past administrations.  The PTC must, at least, have the authority to investigate all past administrations.  While reasonable prioritization is permitted, it should not be arbitrary lest it be struck down for being unconstitutional. In the often quoted language of Yick Wo v. Hopkins,[6][92]

Though the law itself be fair on its face and impartial in appearance, yet, if applied and administered by public authority with an evil eye and an unequal hand, so as practically to make unjust and illegal discriminations between persons in similar circumstances, material to their rights, the denial of equal justice is still within the prohibition of the constitution.  [Emphasis supplied]

It could be argued that considering that the PTC is an ad hoc body, its scope is limited.  The Court, however, is of the considered view that although its focus is restricted, the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the laws should not in any way be circumvented. The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights determined and all public authority administered.[7][93] Laws that do not conform to the Constitution should be stricken down for being unconstitutional.[8][94] While the thrust of the PTC is specific, that is, for investigation of acts of graft and corruption, Executive Order No. 1, to survive, must be read together with the provisions of the Constitution.  To exclude the earlier administrations in the guise of “substantial distinctions” would only confirm the petitioners’ lament that the subject executive order is only an “adventure in partisan hostility.”  In the case of US v. Cyprian,[9][95] it was written: “A rather limited number of such classifications have routinely been held or assumed to be arbitrary; those include: race, national origin, gender, political activity or membership in a political party, union activity or membership in a labor union, or more generally the exercise of first amendment rights.”

To reiterate, in order for a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it must include or embrace all persons who naturally belong to the class.[10][96] “Such a classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or so constituted as to preclude additions to the number included within a class, but must be of such a nature as to embrace all those who may thereafter be in similar circumstances and conditions.  Furthermore, all who are in situations and circumstances which are relative to the discriminatory legislation and which are indistinguishable from those of the members of the class must be brought under the influence of the law and treated by it in the same way as are the members of the class.”[11][97]

The Court is not unaware that “mere underinclusiveness is not fatal to the validity of a law under the equal protection clause.”[12][98] “Legislation is not unconstitutional merely because it is not all-embracing and does not include all the evils within its reach.”[13][99] It has been written that a regulation challenged under the equal protection clause is not devoid of a rational predicate simply because it happens to be incomplete.[14][100] In several instances, the underinclusiveness was not considered a valid reason to strike down a law or regulation where the purpose can be attained in future legislations or regulations.  These cases refer to the “step by step” process.[15][101] “With regard to equal protection claims, a legislature does not run the risk of losing the entire remedial scheme simply because it fails, through inadvertence or otherwise, to cover every evil that might conceivably have been attacked.”[16][102]

In Executive Order No. 1, however, there is no inadvertence.  That the previous administration was picked out was deliberate and intentional as can be gleaned from the fact that it was underscored at least three times in the assailed executive order.  It must be noted that Executive Order No. 1 does not even mention any particular act, event or report to be focused on unlike the investigative commissions created in the past. “The equal protection clause is violated by purposeful and intentional discrimination.”[17][103]

To disprove petitioners’ contention that there is deliberate discrimination, the OSG clarifies that the commission does not only confine itself to cases of large scale graft and corruption committed during the previous administration.[18][104]  The OSG points to Section 17 of Executive Order No. 1, which provides:

SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand the mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and corruption during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental Executive Order.

 The Court is not convinced.  Although Section 17 allows the President the discretion to expand the scope of investigations of the PTC so as to include the acts of graft and corruption committed in other past administrations, it does not guarantee that they would be covered in the future.  Such expanded mandate of the commission will still depend on the whim and caprice of the President.  If he would decide not to include them, the section would then be meaningless. This will only fortify the fears of the petitioners that the Executive Order No. 1 was “crafted to tailor-fit the prosecution of officials and personalities of the Arroyo administration.”[19][105]

The Court tried to seek guidance from the pronouncement in the case of Virata v. Sandiganbayan,[20][106] that the “PCGG Charter (composed of Executive Orders Nos. 1, 2 and 14) does not violate the equal protection clause.” The decision, however, was devoid of any discussion on how such conclusory statement was arrived at, the principal issue in said case being only the sufficiency of a cause of action.

A final word

The issue that seems to take center stage at present is – whether or not the Supreme Court, in the exercise of its constitutionally mandated power of Judicial Review with respect to recent initiatives of the legislature and the executive department, is exercising undue interference.  Is the Highest Tribunal, which is expected to be the protector of the Constitution, itself guilty of violating fundamental tenets like the doctrine of separation of powers? Time and again, this issue has been addressed by the Court, but it seems that the present political situation calls for it to once again explain the legal basis of its action lest it continually be accused of being a hindrance to the nation’s thrust to progress.

The Philippine Supreme Court, according to Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, is vested with Judicial Power that “includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave of abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.”

Furthermore, in Section 4(2) thereof, it is vested with the power of judicial review which is the power to declare a treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation unconstitutional. This power also includes the duty to rule on the constitutionality of the application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations. These provisions, however, have been fertile grounds of conflict between the Supreme Court, on one hand, and the two co-equal bodies of government, on the other.  Many times the Court has been accused of asserting superiority over the other departments.

To answer this accusation, the words of Justice Laurel would be a good source of enlightenment, to wit: “And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.”[21][107]

Thus, the Court, in exercising its power of judicial review, is not imposing its own will upon a co-equal body but rather simply making sure that any act of government is done in consonance with the authorities and rights allocated to it by the Constitution. And, if after said review, the Court finds no constitutional violations of any sort, then, it has no more authority of proscribing the actions under review. Otherwise, the Court will not be deterred to pronounce said act as void and unconstitutional.

It cannot be denied that most government actions are inspired with noble intentions, all geared towards the betterment of the nation and its people. But then again, it is important to remember this ethical principle: “The end does not justify the means.” No matter how noble and worthy of admiration the purpose of an act, but if the means to be employed in accomplishing it is simply irreconcilable with constitutional parameters, then it cannot still be allowed.[22][108] The Court cannot just turn a blind eye and simply let it pass. It will continue to uphold the Constitution and its enshrined principles.

“The Constitution must ever remain supreme. All must bow to the mandate of this law. Expediency must not be allowed to sap its strength nor greed for power debase its rectitude.”[23][109]

Lest it be misunderstood, this is not the death knell for a truth commission as nobly envisioned by the present administration.  Perhaps a revision of the executive issuance so as to include the earlier past administrations would allow it to pass the test of reasonableness and not be an affront to the Constitution. Of all the branches of the government, it is the judiciary which is the most interested in knowing the truth and so it will not allow itself to be a hindrance or obstacle to its attainment.  It must, however, be emphasized that the search for the truth must be within constitutional bounds for “ours is still a government of laws and not of men.”[24][110]

WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED.  Executive Order     No. 1 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it is violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

As also prayed for, the respondents are hereby ordered to cease and desist from carrying out the provisions of Executive Order No. 1.

            SO ORDERED.

                                                           JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

                                                                 Associate Justice

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 ANTONIO T. CARPIO                     CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

                                                                                                                                                Associate Justice                                           Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.      ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

                                                                                                                                                Associate Justice                                      Associate Justice

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO       ARTURO D. BRION

                   Associate Justice                                       Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA                              LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

  Associate Justice                                                Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO                        ROBERTO A. ABAD

                                                                                                                                                Associate Justice                                        Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.                JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

                                                                                                                                                Associate Justice                                   Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO

                                                                                                                                                                             Associate Justice

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice


 


[1][87] 7th Whereas clause, Executive Order No. 1.

[2][88] Cruz, Constitutional Law, 2003 ed., p. 128.

[3][89] OSG, Memorandum, p. 89, rollo, p. 408.

[4][90] 6th Whereas clause, Executive Order No. 1

[5][91] Lee, Handbook of Legal Maxims, 2002 Ed., p.

[7][93] Macalintal v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 157013, July 10, 2003, 405 SCRA 614, pp. 631-632; Manila Prince Hotel vs. GSIS, 335 Phil. 82, 101 (1997).

[8][94] Id. at 632.

[9][95] 756 F. Supp. 388, N.. D. Ind., 1991, Jan 30, 1991, Crim No. HCR 90-42; also http://in.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19910130_0000002.NIN.htm/qx <accessed December 5, 2010>

[10][96]  McErlain v. Taylor, 207 Ind. 240 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 367.

[11][97]  Martin v. Tollefson, 24 Wash. 2d 211 cited in  Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), pp. 367-368 .

[12][98]  Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 US 425 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 371.

[13][99]  Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So 2d 435 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 370.

[14][100] Clements v. Fashing, 457 US 957.

[15][101] See Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), pp. 370-371, as footnote (A state legislature may, consistently with the Equal Protection Clause, address a problem one step at a time, or even select one phase of one field and apply a remedy there, neglecting the others. [Jeffeson v. Hackney, 406 US 535].

[16][102] McDonald v. Board of Election Com’rs of Chicago, 394 US 802 cited in  Am Jur 2d, Footnote No. 9. 

[17][103] Ricketts v. City of Hardford, 74 F. 3d 1397 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b),  p. 303.

[18][104] OSG Consolidated Comment, p. 66, rollo, p.186.

[19][105] Lagman Memorandum, p. 30; rollo, p. 118.

[20][106] G.R. No. 86926, October 15, 1991; 202 SCRA 680.

[21][107] Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139, 158 (1936).

[22][108] Cruz, Philippine Political Law, 2002 ed., pp. 12-13.

[23][109] Id.

[24][110] Republic v. Southside Homeowners Association, G.R. No. 156951, September 22, 2006.

ROMULO R. PERALTA VS. HON. E DE LEON HON. RAUL E. DE LEON ET AL. (G.R. NO. 187978, 24 NOVEMBER 2010)

 

THIS CASE IS ABOUT THE JURISDICTION OF HLURB.

 

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION IN jabbulao.com under the category RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.

DOCTRINE:  ALL CASES INVOLVING QUESTIONS ABOUT SUBDIVISIONS AND CONDOMINIUMS ARE WITHIN THE JUDRISDICTION OF HLURB.

 

DIGEST:

 

FACTS:

 

ABC AND DEVELOPER XYZ COMPANY ENTERED INTO CONTRACT TO SELL. ABC FAILED TO PAY FULL AMORTIZATION PAYMENT. XYZ FILED CASE AT HLURB AGAINST ABC. XYZ WON THE CASE. HLURB ORDERED CANCELLATION OF CONTRACT TO SELL, FORFEITURE OF AMORTIZATION PAYMENT, FORCLOSURE OF ABC’S CONDO UNITS AND GARNISHMENT OF HIS BANK DEPOSITS. ABC FILED A CIVIL CASE AT RTC FOR ISSUANCE OF TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION.

 

ISSUE:

 

DOES RTC HAVE JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE TO RESTRAIN ENFORCEMENT OF HLURB DECITION.

 

RULING:

 

RTC HAS NO JURISDICTION. ALL CASES INVOLVING QUESTIONS ON SUBDIVISIONS AND CONDOMINIUMS ARE UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF HLURB. THE PROVISIONS OF P.D. NO. 957 WERE INTENDED TO ENCOMPASS ALL QUESTIONS REGARDING SUBDIVISIONS AND CONDOMINIUMS.

Said the Supreme Court:

PEREZ, J.:

 

XXXX

         

We affirm the Court of Appeals.

Generally, the extent to which an administrative agency may exercise its powers depends largely, if not wholly, on the provisions of the statute creating or empowering such agency.  Presidential Decree No. 1344, “Empowering the National Housing Authority to Issue Writ of Execution in the Enforcement of its Decision under Presidential Decree No. 957,” clarifies and spells out the quasi-judicial dimensions of the grant of jurisdiction to the HLURB in the following specific terms:

Sec 1.  In the exercise of its functions to regulate real estate trade and business and in addition to its powers provided for in Presidential Decree No. 957, the National Housing Authority shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of the following nature.

A.                Unsound real estate business practices;

B.                 Claims involving refund and any other claims filed by subdivision lot or condominium unit buyer against the project owner, developer, dealer, broker or salesman; and

C.                 Cases involving specific performance of contractual and statutory obligations filed by buyers of subdivision lots or condominium units against the owner, developer, broker or salesman.[1][14]

It is noteworthy that the HLURB in HLURB Case No. REM-091699-10646, rendered a decision against petitioner ordering him to pay CSDI the unpaid amount due from his purchase of a condominium unit or in the alternative, the rescission of contract with forfeiture of payments made by petitioner.  A writ of execution was issued against petitioner and his appeal was dismissed by the Office of the President.  Petitioner no longer assailed this dismissal, thus the same became final and executory.   Unable to obtain relief before the Office of the President, petitioner filed Civil Case No. 07-0141 before the RTC of Parañaque City.  As adverted to earlier, the RTC concluded that the jurisdiction over petitioner’s complaint falls on the HLURB.  This was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. 

It is a settled rule that the jurisdiction of the HLURB to hear and decide cases is determined by the nature of the cause of action, the subject matter or property involved and the parties.[2][15]

In Civil Case No. 07-0141, petitioner prayed for the issuance of temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to restrain respondent CSDI from cancelling the Contract to Sell, forfeiting the amortization payment, foreclosing petitioner’s condominium units, and garnishing his bank deposits.  Specifically, petitioner asked that the RTC, Branch 258:

1. Immediately upon receipt of this petition, a temporary restraining Order be issued and/or a Preliminary Injunction, pending the determination of the merits of the case, by way of restraining defendants from forfeiting the amortization payments, foreclosure of plaintiff’s condominium unit, its break opening, and garnishment of plaintiff’s bank deposits at Bank of Philippine Islands, Forbes Park branch, Makati City.

2.  To order the final and permanent injunction.

3. And to order defendant-developer to pay plaintiff the actual damages of his hospitalization amounting to Php 60,000.00 including the interest until fully paid, caused by the unlawful and damaging acts of defendants as above shown;

4. To order defendant developer to pay P300,000.00 as moral damages to plaintiff;

5. Another payment of P300,000.00 as exemplary damages to plaintiff;

6.   To pay Attorneys fees of P50,000.00 and costs of suit;

7.  Ordering defendants to adhere to the License to Sell and all its strict compliance thereto imposed on defendant developer.[3][16]

We have to agree with the trial court and the Court of Appeals that jurisdiction over the complaint filed by the petitioner is with the HLURB.

Maria Luisa Park Association, Inc. v. Almendras,[4][17] finds application in this case.  The Court ruled:

The provisions of P.D. No. 957 were intended to encompass all questions regarding subdivisions and condominiums. The intention was aimed at providing for an appropriate government agency, the HLURB, to which all parties aggrieved in the implementation of provisions and the enforcement of contractual rights with respect to said category of real estate may take recourse. The business of developing subdivisions and corporations being imbued with public interest and welfare, any question arising from the exercise of that prerogative should be brought to the HLURB which has the technical know-how on the matter. In the exercise of its powers, the HLURB must commonly interpret and apply contracts and determine the rights of private parties under such contracts. This ancillary power is no longer a uniquely judicial function, exercisable only by the regular courts.[5][18]

This Court was equally explicit in Chua v. Ang,[6][19] when it pronounced that: 

x x x The law recognized, too, that subdivision and condominium development involves public interest and welfare and should be brought to a body, like the HLURB, that has technical expertise.  In the exercise of its powers, the HLURB, on the other hand, is empowered to interpret and apply contracts, and determine the rights of private parties under these contracts.  This ancillary power, generally judicial, is now no longer with the regular courts to the extent that the pertinent HLURB laws provide.

            Viewed from this perspective, the HLURB’s jurisdiction over contractual rights and obligations of parties under subdivision and condominium contracts comes out very clearly.[7][20]

We are in accord with the RTC when it held:

First: On the matter of lack of jurisdiction of this Court over this case – This Court is fully aware of the cited decisions of respondents particularly those which pertain to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) as provided for under pertinent laws to the exclusion of the regular courts and this is one of them.  It cannot be gainsaid that while [plaintiff] harps on Arts. 20 and 21 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines to be the basis of his cause of action for damages before this Court, the issue of his claiming damages against respondent Concepts & Systems Dev’t. Inc. (CSDI), has already been resolved in HLURB Case No. REM-091699-10646 in favor of CSDI and against him to which a Writ of Execution has been issued, partially implemented by co-respondent Sheriff Lucas Eloso Eje and to which [plaintiff] is asking this Court to issue a temporary restraining order in order to suspend the full implementation of said writ.  While [plaintiff] claims that his cause of action is one of damages, the truth is his main objective is to have this Court enjoin the enforcement of the writ of execution issued by the HLURB.  Such subterfuge is easily discernible in view of the amount of damages [plaintiff] is only claiming in this case against that which respondent CSDI is entitled to if the writ of execution is fully satisfied.  This cannot be done for it is tantamount to undue interference with the decision of a quasi-judicial body which, as above-stated, is vested by law and jurisprudence with exclusive authority to hear and decide cases between sellers and buyers of subdivision lots and condominium units, among others.

The Court, therefore, hereby adopts by reference the arguments of respondent CSDI relative to this Court’s lack of jurisdiction to hear and decide this case which need no longer be repeated herein as it will not serve any useful purpose.[8][21]

As observed in C.T. Torres Enterprises, Inc. v. Hibionada:[9][22]

The argument that only courts of justice can adjudicate claims resoluble under the provisions of the Civil Code is out of step with the fast-changing times. There are hundreds of administrative bodies now performing this function by virtue of a valid authorization from the legislature. This quasi-judicial function, as it is called, is exercised by them as an incident of the principal power entrusted to them of regulating certain activities falling under their particular expertise.

 

Finally, it must be emphasized that the decision of the HLURB in HLURB Case No. REM-091699-10646, has already become final and executory due to the failure of the petitioner to elevate the dismissal of his appeal by the Office of the President to the Court of Appeals.  It is axiomatic that final and executory judgments can no longer be attacked by any of the parties or be modified, directly or indirectly, even by the highest court of the land.[10][23]

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 29 May 2008 in CA G.R. SP No. 98922 as well as its Resolution dated 11 May 2009 are AFFIRMED.  Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

                                                                                      JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ                                                                                          Associate Justice
             WE CONCUR:RENATO C. CORONAChief JusticeChairperson 
    

 

 

   PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. 

Associate Justice

    

 

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

    

 

 

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

                                                                        RENATO C. CORONA

    Chief Justice 


 


[1][14]          Osea v. Ambrocio, G.R. 162774, 7 April 2006, 486 SCRA 599, 605-606.

[2][15]          De los Santos v. Sarmiento, G.R. No. 154877, 27 March 2007, 519 SCRA 62, 73.

[3][16]          Records, Vol. I, pp. 10-11.

[4][17]          G.R. No. 171763, 5 June 2009, 588 SCRA 663.

[5][18]          Id. at 672-673 citing Antipolo Realty Corp. v. National Housing Authority, 237 Phil. 389, 397-398 (1987).

[6][19]          G.R. No. 156164, 4 September 2009, 598 SCRA 229.

[7][20]          Id. at 242.

[8][21]          Id. at 345-347.

[9][22]          G.R. No. 80916, 9 November 1990, 191 SCRA 268, 272.

[10][23]         Peña v. Government Service Insurance System, G.R. No. 159520, 19 September 2006, 502 SCRA 383, 396-397 citing Teodoro v. Court of Appeals, 437 Phil. 336, 346 (2002).

SOLIDBANK CORP VS. ERNESTO U. GAMIER ET AL (G.R. NO. 159460, 15 NOVEMBER 2010).

 

THIS CASE IS ABOUT LABOR STRIKES. IT DISTINGUISHES LIABILITY OF A UNION OFFICER FROM LIABILITY OF MERE UNION MEMBER.

 

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION IN jabbulao.com under the category RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.

 

THIS DIGEST ALSO APPEARS IN jabbulao.com under the category: LEGAL DIGESTS. 

 

DOCTRINE:  DEMONSTRATIONS AND WORK BOYCOTTS IN VIOLATION OF DOLE ORDER AFTER DOLE ASSUMES JURISDICTION CONSTITUTES ILLEGAL STRIKE. UNION OFFICERS CAN BE TERMINATED IF THEY PARTICIPATE IN ILLEGAL STRIKES. BUT MERE MEMBERS CAN BE TERMINATED ONLY IF THEY COMMIT ILLEGAL ACTS DURING SUCH STRIKES.

 

DIGEST:

 

FACTS:

 

XYZ BANK AND ABC LABOR UNION WERE RENEGOTIATING THEIR CBA. NOT BEING ABLE TO AGREE, ABC LABOR UNION DECLARED DEADLOCK AND FILED NOTICE TO STRIKE. DOLE ASSUMED JURISDICTION AND ISSUED AN ORDER ON THE ISSUES IN DISPUTE. DISSATISFILED WITH THE ORDER, ABC LABOR UNION FILED A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. WHILE FILING SUCH MOTION THEY STAGED DEMONSTRATION AT DOLE. THEY ALSO DID NOT REPORT TO WORK FOR 3 DAYS. XYZ BANK TERMINATED MANY OF THOSE WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE STRIKE. EMPLOYEES AFFECTED FILED CASE FOR ILLEGAL DISMISSAL BEFORE TWO ARBITERS. ONE ARBITER DISMISSED THE COMPLAINT. ANOTHER ARBITER RULED IN FAVOR OF EMPLOYEES. NLRC RULED THAT THE DISMISSAL WAS ILLEGAL. PARTIES APPEALED TO THE CA. CA RULED  THAT THE DISMISSAL WAS ILLEGAL. THE PROTEST ACTION STAGED BY THE EMPLOYEES BEFORE DOLE AND THEIR WALK OUT FOR 3 DAYS WAS NOT A STRIKE BUT AN EXERCISE OF RIGHT TO EXPRESS DISSATISFACTION OF DOLE DECISION. XYZ BANK FILED PETITION BEFORE THE SC.

ISSUES:

THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED IN THIS CONTROVERSY ARE: (1) WHETHER THE PROTEST RALLY AND CONCERTED WORK ABANDONMENT/BOYCOTT STAGED BY THE RESPONDENTS VIOLATED THE ORDER DATED JANUARY 18, 2000 OF THE SECRETARY OF LABOR; (2) WHETHER THE RESPONDENTS WERE VALIDLY TERMINATED; AND (3) WHETHER THE RESPONDENTS ARE ENTITLED TO SEPARATION PAY OR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.

RULING:

THE DEMONSTRATION AT DOLE AND THE 3 DAY BOYCOTT WAS IN VIOLATION OF THE ORDER OF DOLE. THEREFORE, SUCH CONSTITUTES AN ILLEGAL STRIKE. ONCE DOLE TAKES OVER JURISDICTION THE SAME MUST NOT BE ALLOWED.

NOT ALL EMPLOYEES CAN BE TERMINATED ON SAME GROUNDS. UNION OFFICERS CAN BE TERMINATED ON THE BASIS OF THEIR BEING INVOLVED IN ILLEGAL STRIKES. MERE UNION MEMBERS CAN BE TERMINATED ONLY IF THEY COMMIT ILLEGAL ACTS DURING THE STRIKES.

UNION MEMBERS WHO ARE DUE FOR REINSTATEMENT AFTER THEY JOINED THE ILLEGAL STRIKES CANNOT CLAIM BACKWAGES. BUT SINCE REINSTATEMENT IS NOT POSSIBLE ANYMORE, THEY ARE ENTITLED TO SEPARATION PAY.

Said the Supreme Court:

Our Ruling

          Article 212 of the Labor Code, as amended, defines strike as any temporary stoppage of work by the concerted action of employees as a result of an industrial or labor dispute. A labor dispute includes any controversy or matter concerning terms and conditions of employment or the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or arranging the terms and conditions of employment, regardless of whether or not the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employers and employees.[1][41]  The term “strike” shall comprise not only concerted work stoppages, but also slowdowns, mass leaves, sitdowns, attempts to damage, destroy or sabotage plant equipment and facilities and similar activities.[2][42]  Thus, the fact that the conventional term “strike” was not used by the striking employees to describe their common course of action is inconsequential, since the substance of the situation, and not its appearance, will be deemed to be controlling.[3][43]

          After a thorough review of the records, we hold that the CA patently erred in concluding that the concerted mass actions staged by respondents cannot be considered a strike but a legitimate exercise of the respondents’ right to express their dissatisfaction with the Secretary’s resolution of the economic issues in the deadlocked CBA negotiations with petitioners.  It must be stressed that the concerted action of the respondents was not limited to the protest rally infront of the DOLE Office on April 3, 2000.  Respondent Union had also picketed the Head Office and Paseo de Roxas Branch.  About 712 employees, including those in the provincial branches, boycotted and absented themselves from work in a concerted fashion for three continuous days that virtually paralyzed the employer’s banking operations.   Considering that these mass actions stemmed from a bargaining deadlock and an order of assumption of jurisdiction had already been issued by the Secretary of Labor to avert an impending strike, there is no doubt that the concerted work abandonment/boycott was the result of a labor dispute.   

          In Toyota Motor Phils. Corp. Workers Association (TMPCWA) v. National Labor Relations Commission,[4][44] petitioners union and members held similar protest rallies infront of the offices of BLR and DOLE Secretary and at the company plants.  We declared that said mass actions constituted illegal strikes:

Petitioner Union contends that the protests or rallies conducted on February 21 and 23, 2001 are not within the ambit of strikes as defined in the Labor Code, since they were legitimate exercises of their right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. Mainly relying on the doctrine laid down in the case of Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization v. Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., it argues that the protest was not directed at Toyota but towards the Government (DOLE and BLR).  It explains that the protest is not a strike as contemplated in the Labor Code.  The Union points out that in Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization, the mass action staged in Malacañang to petition the Chief Executive against the abusive behavior of some police officers was a proper exercise of the employees’ right to speak out and to peaceably gather and ask government for redress of their grievances. 

The Union’s position fails to convince us.

While the facts in Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization are similar in some respects to that of the present case, the Union fails to realize one major difference: there was no labor dispute in Philippine Blooming Mills Employees OrganizationIn the present case, there was an on-going labor dispute arising from Toyota’s refusal to recognize and negotiate with the Union, which was the subject of the notice of strike filed by the Union on January 16, 2001.  Thus, the Union’s reliance on Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization is misplaced, as it cannot be considered a precedent to the case at bar.

x x x x

Applying pertinent legal provisions and jurisprudence, we rule that the protest actions undertaken by the Union officials and members on February 21 to 23, 2001 are not valid and proper exercises of their right to assemble and ask government for redress of their complaints, but are illegal strikes in breach of the Labor Code. The Union’s position is weakened by the lack of permit from the City of Manila to hold “rallies.” Shrouded as demonstrations, they were in reality temporary stoppages of work perpetrated through the concerted action of the employees who deliberately failed to report for work on the convenient excuse that they will hold a rally at the BLR and DOLE offices in Intramuros, Manila, on February 21 to 23, 2001. x x x (Emphasis supplied.)

          Moreover, it is explicit from the directive of the Secretary in his January 18, 2000 Order that the Union and its members shall refrain from committing “any and all acts that might exacerbate the situation,”[5][45] which certainly includes concerted actions.  For all intents and purposes, therefore, the respondents staged a strike ultimately aimed at realizing their economic demands. Whether such pressure was directed against the petitioners or the Secretary of Labor, or both, is of no moment.  All the elements of strike are evident in the Union-instigated mass actions.

          The right to strike, while constitutionally recognized, is not without legal constrictions.[6][46]  Article 264 (a) of the Labor Code, as amended, provides:

Art. 264. Prohibited activities. –  (a) x x x

No strike or lockout shall be declared after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or the Secretary or after certification 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.

x x x x   (Emphasis supplied.)

          The Court has consistently ruled that once the Secretary of Labor assumes jurisdiction over a labor dispute, such jurisdiction should not be interfered with by the application of the coercive processes of a strike or lockout.[7][47]  A strike that is undertaken despite the issuance by the Secretary of Labor of an assumption order and/or certification is a prohibited activity and thus illegal.[8][48]

Article 264 (a) of the Labor Code, as amended, also considers it a prohibited activity to declare a strike “during the pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the same strike.”[9][49]  There is no dispute that when respondents conducted their mass actions on April 3 to 6, 2000, the proceedings before the Secretary of Labor were still pending as both parties filed motions for reconsideration of the March 24, 2000 Order.  Clearly, respondents knowingly violated the aforesaid provision by holding a strike in the guise of mass demonstration simultaneous with concerted work abandonment/boycott. 

Notwithstanding the illegality of the strike, we cannot sanction petitioners’ act of indiscriminately terminating the services of individual respondents who admitted joining the mass actions and who have refused to comply with the offer of the management to report back to work on April 6, 2000.   The liabilities of individual respondents must be determined under Article 264 (a) of the Labor Code, as amended:

Art. 264.  Prohibited activities.— x x x

            x x x x

Any worker whose employment has been terminated as a consequence of an unlawful lockout shall be entitled to reinstatement with full back wages.  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:  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 x

          The foregoing shows that the law makes a distinction between union officers and members. For knowingly participating in an illegal strike or participating in the commission of illegal acts during a strike, the law provides that a union officer may be terminated from employment.  The law grants the employer the option of declaring a union officer who participated in an illegal strike as having lost his employment. It possesses the right and prerogative to terminate the union officers from service.[10][50] 

          However, a worker merely participating in an illegal strike may not be terminated from employment.  It is only when he commits illegal acts during a strike that he may be declared to have lost employment
status.[11][51]  We have held that the responsibility of union officers, as main players in an illegal strike, is greater than that of the members and, therefore, limiting the penalty of dismissal only for the former for participation in an illegal strike is in order.[12][52]   Hence, with respect to respondents who are union officers, the validity of their termination by petitioners cannot be questioned.  Being fully aware that  the proceedings before the Secretary of Labor were still pending as in fact they filed a motion for reconsideration of the March 24, 2000 Order, they cannot invoke good faith as a defense.[13][53]

          For the rest of the individual respondents who are union members, the rule is that an ordinary striking worker cannot be terminated for mere participation in an illegal strike.  There must be proof that he or she committed illegal acts during a strike. In all cases, the striker must be identified.  But proof beyond reasonable doubt is not required. Substantial evidence available under the attendant circumstances, which may justify the imposition of the penalty of dismissal, may suffice.  Liability for prohibited acts is to be determined on an individual basis.[14][54]

          Petitioners have not adduced evidence on such illegal acts committed by each of the individual respondents who are union members.  Instead, petitioners simply point to their admitted participation in the mass actions which they knew to be illegal, being in violation of the Secretary’s assumption order.  However, the acts which were held to be prohibited activities are the following:

… where the strikers shouted slanderous and scurrilous words against the owners of the vessels; where the strikers used unnecessary and obscene language or epithets to prevent other laborers to go to work, and circulated libelous statements against the employer which show actual malice; where the protestors used abusive and threatening language towards the patrons of a place of business or against co-employees, going beyond the mere attempt to persuade customers to withdraw their patronage; where the strikers formed a human cordon and blocked all the ways and approaches to the launches and vessels of the vicinity of the workplace and perpetrated acts of violence and coercion to prevent work from being performed; and where the strikers shook their fists and threatened non-striking employees with bodily harm if they persisted to proceed to the workplace. x x x[15][55]

          The dismissal of herein respondent-union members are therefore unjustified in the absence of a clear showing that they committed specific illegal acts during the mass actions and concerted work boycott.

          Are these dismissed employees entitled to backwages and separation pay?

          The award of backwages is a legal consequence of a finding of illegal dismissal.  Assuming that respondent-union members have indeed reported back to work at the end of the concerted mass actions, but were soon terminated by petitioners who found their explanation unsatisfactory, they are not entitled to backwages in view of the illegality of the said strike. Thus, we held in G & S Transport Corporation v. Infante[16][56]

It can now therefore be concluded that the acts of respondents do not merit their dismissal from employment because it has not been substantially proven that they committed any illegal act while participating in the illegal strike. x x x

x  x  x x

With respect to backwages, the principle of a “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor” remains as the basic factor in determining the award thereof.  If there is no work performed by the employee there can be no wage or pay unless, of course, the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out, suspended or dismissed or otherwise illegally prevented from working.  While it was found that respondents expressed their intention to report back to work, the latter exception cannot apply in this case.  In Philippine Marine Officers’ Guild v. Compañia Maritima, as affirmed in Philippine Diamond Hotel and Resort v. Manila Diamond Hotel Employees Union, the Court stressed that for this exception to apply, it is required that the strike be legal, a situation that does not obtain in the case at bar. (Emphasis supplied.)

          Under the circumstances, respondents’ reinstatement without backwages suffices for the appropriate relief. But since reinstatement is no longer possible, given the lapse of considerable time from the occurrence of the strike, not to mention the fact that Solidbank had long ceased its banking operations, the award of separation pay of one (1) month salary for each year of service, in lieu of reinstatement, is in order.[17][57]  For the twenty-one (21) individual respondents who executed quitclaims in favor of the petitioners, whatever amount they have already received from the employer shall be deducted from their respective separation pay.  

          Petitioners contended that in view of the blatant violation of the Secretary’s assumption order by the striking employees, the award of separation pay is unjust and unwarranted.  That respondent-members themselves knowingly participated in the illegal mass actions constitutes serious misconduct which is a just cause under Article 282 for terminating an employee.

          We are not persuaded.

          As we stated earlier, 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.[18][58]   Article 264 (e) of the Labor Code, as amended, provides for such acts which are generally prohibited during concerted actions such as picketing:

No person engaged in picketing shall commit any act of violence, coercion or intimidation or obstruct the free ingress to or egress from the employer’s premises for lawful purposes, or obstruct public thoroughfares. (Emphasis supplied.)

          Petitioners have not adduced substantial proof that respondent-union members perpetrated any act of violence, intimidation, coercion or obstruction of company premises and public thoroughfares.   It did not submit in evidence photographs, police reports, affidavits and other available evidence. 

As to the issue of solidary liability, we hold that Metrobank cannot be held solidarily liable with Solidbank for the claims of the latter’s dismissed employees.  There is no showing that Metrobank is the successor-in-interest of Solidbank.  Based on petitioners’ documentary evidence, Solidbank was merged with FMIC, with Solidbank as the surviving corporation, and was later renamed as FMIC. While indeed Solidbank’s banking operations had been integrated with Metrobank, there is no showing that FMIC has ceased business operations. FMIC as successor-in-interest of Solidbank remains solely liable for the sums herein adjudged against Solidbank.

Neither should individual petitioners Vistan and Mendoza be held solidarily liable for the claims adjudged against petitioner Solidbank.   Article 212 (e)[19][59] does not state that corporate officers are personally liable for the unpaid salaries or separation pay of employees of the corporation.  The liability of corporate officers for corporate debts remains governed by Section 31[20][60] of the Corporation Code.          

 It is basic that a corporation is invested by law with a personality separate and distinct from those of the persons composing it as well as from that of any other legal entity to which it may be related.  Mere ownership by a single stockholder or by another corporation of all or nearly all of the capital stock of a corporation is not of itself sufficient ground for disregarding the separate corporate personality.[21][61] In labor cases, in particular, the Court has held corporate directors and officers solidarily liable with the corporation for the termination of employment of corporate employees done with malice or in bad faith.[22][62]  Bad faith is never presumed.[23][63] Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence — it imports a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of wrong.  It means a breach of a known duty through some motive or interest or ill-will that partakes of the nature of fraud.[24][64]

Respondents have not satisfactorily proven that Vistan and Mendoza acted with malice, ill-will or bad faith. Hence, said individual petitioners are not liable for the separation pay of herein respondents-union members.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are PARTLY GRANTED.   The Decision dated March 10, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 67730 and 70820 is hereby SET ASIDE. Petitioner Solidbank Corporation (now FMIC) is hereby ORDERED to pay each of the above-named individual respondents, except union officers who are hereby declared validly dismissed, separation pay equivalent to one (1) month salary for every year of service.  Whatever sums already received from petitioners under any release, waiver or quitclaim shall be deducted from the total separation pay due to each of them.

The NLRC is hereby directed to determine who among the individual respondents are union members entitled to the separation pay herein awarded, and those union officers who were validly dismissed and hence excluded from the said award.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

                                                MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.

                                                               Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:  

 

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice

Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRIONAssociate Justice LUCAS P. BERSAMINAssociate Justice 
MARIA LOURDES  P. A. SERENOAssociate Justice

A T T E S T A T I O N

 

          I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

  CONCHITA CARPIO MORALESAssociate JusticeChairperson, Third Division

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

  RENATO C. CORONAChief Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


[1][41] Gold City Integrated Port Service, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. Nos. 103560 & 103599, July 6, 1995, 245 SCRA 627, 635-636.

[2][42] Samahang Manggagawa sa Sulpicio Lines, Inc.-NAFLU v. Suplicio Lines, Inc.,G.R. No. 140992, March 25, 2004, 426 SCRA 319, 326, citing Sec. 2, P.D. No. 823, as amended by P.D. No. 849.

[3][43] Bangalisan v. Hon. CA, 342 Phil. 586, 594 (1997) cited in Gesite v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 123562-65, November 25, 2004, 444 SCRA 51, 57.

[4][44] G.R. Nos. 158786 & 158789, October 19, 2007, 537 SCRA 171, 200-202.

[5][45] Supra note 3.

[6][46] Philcom Employees Union v. Philippine Global Communications, G.R. No. 144315, July 17, 2006, 495 SCRA 214, 244.

[7][47] Telefunken Semiconductors Employees Union-FFW v. Court of Appeals, supra note 21 at 582.

[8][48] Philcom Employees Union v. Philippine Global Communications, supra note 46 at 243. See also  Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Brillantes, G.R. No. 119360, October 10, 1997, 280 SCRA 515, 516, citing Phil. Airlines, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, G.R. No. 88210, January 23, 1991, 193 SCRA 223; Union of Filipro Employees v. Nestle Philippines, Inc., G.R. Nos. 88710-13, December 19, 1990, 192 SCRA 396; Federation of Free Workers v. Inciong, G.R. No. 49983, April 20, 1992, 208 SCRA 157; and St. Scholastica’s College v. Torres, G.R. No. 100158, June 29, 1992, 210 SCRA 565. 

[9][49] Philcom Employees Union v. Philippine Global Communications, id. at 246.

[10][50]         Steel Corporation of the Philippines v. SCP Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Unions, G.R. Nos. 169829-30, April 16, 2008, 551 SCRA 594, 612, citing Santa Rosa Coca-Cola Plant Employees Union v. Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils, Inc., G.R. Nos. 164302-03, January 24, 2007, 512 SCRA 437, 458-459 and Stamford Marketing Corp. v. Julian, G.R. No. 145496, February 24, 2004, 423 SCRA 633, 648.

[11][51]         Id.

[12][52]         Nissan Motors Philippines, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, G.R. Nos. 158190-91, 158276 and 158283, June 21, 2006, 491 SCRA 604, 624, citing Association of Independent Unions in the Philippines v. NLRC, G.R. No. 120505, March 25, 1999, 305 SCRA 219.

[13][53]         See Sukhothai Cuisine and Restaurant v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 150437, July 17, 2006, 495 SCRA 336, 348, citing  First City Interlink Transportation Co., Inc. v. Sec. Confesor, 338 Phil. 635, 644 (1997).

[14][54]         Id. at 355-356, citing Samahang Manggagawa sa Sulpicio Lines, Inc.-NAFLU v. Sulpicio Lines, Inc., supra note 42 at 328 and Asso. of Independent Unions in the Phil. v. NLRC, 364 Phil. 697, 708-709 (1999).

[15][55]         Id. at 351, citing United Seamen’s Union of the Phil. v. Davao Shipowners Association, Nos. L-18778 and L-18779, August 31, 1967, 20 SCRA 1226, 1240; Cromwell Commercial Employees and Laborers Union (PTUC) v. Court of Industrial Relations, No. L-19778, September 30, 1964, 12 SCRA 124, 132; Liberal Labor Union v. Phil. Can Co., 91 Phil. 72, 78 (1952); Linn v. United Plan Guard Workers, 15 L.Ed 2d 582; 31 Am. Jur. § 245, p. 954; 116 A.L.R. 477, 505; 32 A.L.R. 756; 27 A.L.R. 375; cited in 2 C.A. Azucena, The Labor Code With Comments and Cases p. 500 (1999) and Asso. of Independent Unions in the Phil. v. NLRC, id. at 706-707.

[16][56]         G.R. No. 160303, September 13, 2007, 533 SCRA 288, 301-302.

[17][57]         Id. at 304.

[18][58] Id. at 300.

[19][59]      Art. 212.  x x x

      x x x x

      (e) “Employer” includes any person acting in the interest of an employer, directly or indirectly. The term shall not include any labor organization or any of its officers or agents except when acting as employer.

[20][60]      SEC. 31. Liability of directors, trustees or officers. – Directors or trustees who willfully and knowingly vote for or assent to patently unlawful acts of the corporation or who are guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in directing the affairs of the corporation or acquire any personal or pecuniary interest in conflict with their duty as such directors or trustees shall be liable jointly and severally for all damages resulting therefrom suffered by the corporation, its stockholders or members and other persons.

            x x x x

[21][61]         Carag v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 147590, April 2, 2007, 520 SCRA 28, 55.

[22][62]         Malayang Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa M. Greenfield v. Ramos, G.R. No. 113907, April 20, 2001, 357 SCRA 77, 93-94.

[23][63]         See McLeod v. NLRC, G.R. No. 146667, January 23, 2007, 512 SCRA 222, 246, citing Lim v. Court of Appeals, 380 Phil. 60 (2000) and Del Rosario v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 85416, July 24, 1990, 187 SCRA 777.

[24][64]      Ford Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 99039, February 3, 1997, 267 SCRA 320, 328.