G.R. No. 155306, August 28, 2013 - MALAYANG MANGGAGAWA NG STAYFAST PHILS., INC., Petitioner, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, STAYFAST PHILIPPINES, INC./ MARIA ALMEIDA, Respondents.
G.R. No. 155306, August 28, 2013
MALAYANG MANGGAGAWA NG STAYFAST PHILS., INC., Petitioner, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, STAYFAST PHILIPPINES, INC./ MARIA ALMEIDA, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
On July 21, 1997, however, petitioner’s members staged a “sit-down strike” to dramatize their demand for a fair and equal treatment as respondent company allegedly continued to discriminate against them. Respondent company issued a memorandum requiring the alleged participants in the “sit-down strike” to explain within 24 hours why they should not be terminated or suspended from work for infraction of company rules and regulations pertaining to unauthorized work stoppage, acts inimical to company interest, and disregard of instruction of immediate supervisor to perform assigned task. As no one complied with the memorandum within the 24-hour deadline, respondent company promptly terminated the service of the participants in the “sit-down strike” on July 22, 1997. Consequently, on July 23, 1997, petitioner staged a strike and filed a complaint for unfair labor practice, union busting and illegal lockout against respondent company and its General Manager, Maria Almeida, in the NLRC.11cralaw virtualaw library
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:cralawlibrary
This is to certify that it appears from the “Minutes/Agreement” of conciliation conference dated July 15, 1997, which was further confirmed by Conciliator/Mediator Gil Caragayan[,] the Notice of Strike filed by MMSP-Independent on June , 1997, against Stayfast Philippines, Inc. is considered dropped/withdrawn from the business calendar of this office.
It is further certified that there is no new Notice of Strike filed by the same union.
This certification is being issued upon the written request of Atty. Edgardo R. Abaya.
July 31, 1997.(Sgd.) LEOPOLDO B. DE JESUS
Director II10cralaw virtualaw library
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the complaint is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.15cralaw virtualaw libraryPetitioner appealed but, in a Resolution dated January 31, 2000, the NLRC upheld the Labor Arbiter’s Decision. According to the NLRC, the actuations of petitioner were patently illegal because the sit-down strike staged on July 21, 1997 was made barely a week after petitioner withdrew its notice of strike, with prejudice, on account of the concessions agreed upon by the parties. Petitioner filed no new notice of strike that could have supported its charges of discriminatory acts and unfair labor practice. Moreover, no evidence was presented to establish such charges. Also, petitioner’s members were given the opportunity to explain their violation of respondent company’s rules on unauthorized work stoppage, acts inimical to company interest and disregard of instruction of immediate supervisor to perform assigned task. Thus, the NLRC dismissed petitioner’s appeal.16 The dispositive portion of the NLRC’s Resolution dated January 31, 2000 reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision under review is AFFIRMED, and complainants’ appeal, DISMISSED, for lack of merit.17cralaw virtualaw libraryPetitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the NLRC denied it in a Resolution dated April 10, 2000.18cralaw virtualaw library
(A) RESPONDENT NLRC COMMITTED GROSS AND GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT UPHELD THE LABOR ARBITER’S DECISION.In a Decision dated July 1, 2002, the Court of Appeals found that petitioner was seeking a review of the findings of fact and conclusion of the Labor Arbiter which was sustained by the NLRC. The Court of Appeals found no cogent reason to indulge petitioner. It applied the rule that findings of fact made by the Labor Arbiter and affirmed by the NLRC are considered by the appellate court as binding if supported by substantial evidence. The Court of Appeals ruled that the NLRC Resolution dated January 31, 2000 was supported by justifiable reason and cannot be faulted with grave abuse of discretion. Petitioner failed to establish that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion. Moreover, a petition for certiorari is not used to correct a lower tribunal’s appreciation of evidence and findings of fact. Thus, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals’ Decision dated July 1, 2002 reads:cralawlibrary
(B) COMPLAINANTS/APPELLANTS WHOSE TERMINATION RESULTED FROM THE UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE[,] UNION-BUSTING AND UNLAWFUL LOCKOUT OF HEREIN RESPONDENT ARE ENTITLED TO REINSTATEMENT WITH FULL BACKWAGES.
(C) COMPLAINANTS, BY REASON OF THE ARBITRARY ACTION IN WANTON DISREGARD OF THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF HEREIN [COMPLAINANTS,] ARE ENTITLED TO DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES.19cralaw virtualaw library
(1) The Honorable Justices of the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when they upheld the rulings of the NLRC and disregarded the constitutional protection of labor as well as Article 248 (e) and Article 263 of the Labor Code.In discussing the above grounds, petitioner claims that the discriminatory acts of respondent company and its General Manager against petitioner’s members constituted unfair labor practice under Article 248(e) of the Labor Code, as amended. The termination of employment of petitioner’s 127 officers and members constituted union-busting and unlawful lockout. As the said officers and members were unlawfully dismissed from employment, they are entitled to reinstatement with full backwages. The arbitrary action of respondent company and its General Manager wantonly disregarded the legal rights of petitioner’s officers and members thereby entitling said officers and members to damages and attorney’s fees.23cralaw virtualaw library
(2) The Honorable Justices of the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when they upheld the decision of the NLRC that the termination of complainants/appellants were valid and corollary thereto no reinstatement[,] backwages, damages and attorney’s fees were awarded.22cralaw virtualaw library
Section 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. – A party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment, final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Tax Appeals, the Regional Trial Court or other courts, whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition may include an application for a writ of preliminary injunction or other provisional remedies and shall raise only questions of law, which must be distinctly set forth. The petitioner may seek the same provisional remedies by verified motion filed in the same action or proceeding at any time during its pendency.For purposes of appeal, the Decision dated July 1, 2002 of the Court of Appeals was a final judgment as it denied due course to, and dismissed, the petition. Thus, the Decision disposed of the petition of petitioner in a manner that left nothing more to be done by the Court of Appeals in respect to the said case. Thus, petitioner should have filed an appeal by petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, not a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, in this Court. Where the rules prescribe a particular remedy for the vindication of rights, such remedy should be availed of.
It bears emphasis that the special civil action for certiorari is a limited form of review and is a remedy of last recourse. The Court has often reminded members of the bench and bar that this extraordinary action lies only where there is no appeal nor plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. It cannot be allowed when a party to a case fails to appeal a judgment despite the availability of that remedy, certiorari not being a substitute for a lapsed or lost appeal. Where an appeal is available, certiorari will not prosper, even if the ground therefor is grave abuse of discretion. x x x. (Citations omitted.)Moreover, certiorari is not and cannot be made a substitute for an appeal where the latter remedy is available but was lost through fault or negligence.28 In this case, petitioner received the Decision dated July 1, 2002 on August 2, 2002 and, under the rules,29 had until August 19, 2002 to file an appeal by way of a petition for review in this Court. Petitioner let this period lapse without filing an appeal and, instead, filed this petition for certiorari on October 1, 2002.
The term “grave abuse of discretion” has a specific meaning. An act of a court or tribunal can only be considered as with grave abuse of discretion when such act is done in a “capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.” The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an “evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.” Furthermore, the use of a petition for certiorari is restricted only to “truly extraordinary cases wherein the act of the lower court or quasi-judicial body is wholly void.” From the foregoing definition, it is clear that the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 can only strike an act down for having been done with grave abuse of discretion if the petitioner could manifestly show that such act was patent and gross. x x x. (Citations omitted.)In this case, nowhere in the petition did petitioner show that the issuance of the Decision dated July 1, 2002 of the Court of Appeals was patent and gross that would warrant striking it down through a petition for certiorari. Aside from a general statement in the Jurisdictional Facts portion of the petition and the sweeping allegation of grave abuse of discretion in the general enumeration of the grounds of the petition,35 petitioner failed to substantiate its imputation of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals. No argument was advanced to show that the Court of Appeals exercised its judgment capriciously, whimsically, arbitrarily or despotically by reason of passion and hostility. Petitioner did not even discuss how or why the conclusions of the Court of Appeals were made with grave abuse of discretion. Instead, petitioner limited its discussion on its version of the case, which had been already rejected both by the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Thus, petitioner failed in its duty to demonstrate with definiteness the grave abuse of discretion that would justify the proper availment of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
The Supreme Court is not a trier of facts, more so in the consideration of the extraordinary writ of certiorari where neither questions of fact nor of law are entertained, but only questions of lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion. The sole object of the writ is to correct errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion. The phrase ‘grave abuse of discretion’ has a precise meaning in law, denoting abuse of discretion “too patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty, or a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or act in contemplation of law, or where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and personal hostility.” It does not encompass an error of law. Nor does it include a mistake in the appreciation of the contending parties’ respective evidence or the evaluation of their relative weight. (Citations omitted.)Fifth, considering that petitioner basically presented an issue of fact, its petition for certiorari crumbles in view of the identical findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC which were further upheld by the Court of Appeals.
* Per Special Order No. 1502 dated August 8, 2013.
1Rollo, pp. 114-122; penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. with Associate Justices Romeo A. Brawner and Mario L. Guariña III, concurring.
2 Id. at 115.
3 Resolution dated January 14, 1998 in G.R. No. 125957 (Malayang Mangggagawa ng Stayfast Phils., Inc. v. Hon. Secretary of Labor and Employment, Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Stayfast [NLMS-Olalia] and Stayfast Philippines, Inc.).
4Rollo, p. 115.
6 Upon finality of the Resolution, entry of judgment was made on May 22, 1998.
7Rollo, pp. 115-116.
8 Id. at 116.nadcralawlibrary
9 Id. at 87-99, 95; NLRC Resolution dated January 31, 2000.redcralaw
10 CA rollo, p. 63.
11 Id. at 68-69; Labor Arbiter’s Decision dated April 27, 1999.
12 Id. at 98-99.
13 Id. at 99.
14 Id. at 71-78.
15 Id. at 78.
16 Id. at 95-107.
17 Id. at 106.
18 Id. at 111.
19 Id. at 114-116.
20Rollo, p. 121.
21 Id. at 3-18.
22 Id. at 8.
23 Id. at 9-15.
24 Id. at 133-140; Comment.red cralawlibrary
25 Rules of Court, Rule 65, Section 1.
26Bugarin v. Palisoc, 513 Phil. 59, 66 (2005).
27 523 Phil. 305, 309 (2006).
28Bugarin v. Palisoc, supra note 26 at 66-67.
29 Section 2, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court provides:Section 2. Time for filing; extension. – The petition shall be filed within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from, or of the denial of the petitioner’s motion for new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after notice of the judgment. On motion duly filed and served, with full payment of the docket and other lawful fees and the deposit for costs before the expiration of the reglementary period, the Supreme Court may for justifiable reasons grant an extension of thirty (30) days only within which to file the petition.The 15th day after petitioner’s receipt of the Decision dated July 1, 2002 was August 17, 2002, a Saturday. Under Section 1, Rule 22, if the last day of the period “falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday in the place where the court sits, the time shall not run until the next working day.” Hence, petitioner had until August 19, 2002, a Monday, to file the petition for review in this Court.
30Romy’s Freight Service v. Castro, 523 Phil. 540, 545 (2006).
31Villena v. Rupisan, 549 Phil. 146, 158 (2007).
32 These exceptions are:cralawlibrary
(a) Where the order is a patent nullity, as where the court a quo has no jurisdiction;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
(b) Where the questions raised in the certiorari proceeding have been duly raised and passed upon by the lower court, or are the same as those raised and passed upon in the lower court;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
(c) Where there is an urgent necessity for the resolution of the question and any further delay would prejudice the interests of the Government or of the petitioner or the subject matter of the action is perishable;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
(d) Where, under the circumstances, a motion for reconsideration would be useless;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
(e) Where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme urgency for relief;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
(f) Where, in a criminal case, relief from an order of arrest is urgent and the granting of such relief by the trial court is improbable;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
(g) Where the proceedings in the lower court are a nullity for lack of due process;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
(h) Where the proceedings were ex parte or in which the petitioner had no opportunity to object; and
(i) Where the issue raised is one purely of law or where public interest is involved. (Romy’s Freight Service v. Castro, supra note 30.)
33Abedes v. Court of Appeals, 562 Phil. 262, 276 (2007).
34 G.R. No. 189207, June 15, 2011, 652 SCRA 341, 348.
35Rollo, pp. 5 and 8.
36 Id. at 9-15.cralaw
37Korea Technologies Co., Ltd. v. Lerma, 566 Phil. 1, 35 (2008).
38Ramcar, Inc. v. Hi-Power Marketing, 527 Phil. 699, 708 (2006).
39 Supra note 30 at 546.
40Spouses Santos v. National Labor Relations Commission, 354 Phil. 918, 931 (1998).
41 For example, the doctrine is reiterated in Metro Transit Organization, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 367 Phil. 259, 263 (1999).
42Rollo, p. 121.
43 Labor Arbiter’s Decision dated April 27, 1999, pp. 6-7 and NLRC Resolution dated January 31, 2000, pp. 9-11, rollo, pp. 71-72 and 95-97, respectively.
44 Id. at 97.
45 Id. at 121.