G.R. No. 192601, June 03, 2013
PHILIPPINE JOURNALISTS, INC., Petitioner, v. JOURNAL EMPLOYEES UNION (JEU), FOR ITS UNION MEMBER, MICHAEL ALFANTE, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Complainant Judith Pulido alleged that she was hired by respondent as proofreader on 10 January 1991; that she was receiving a monthly basic salary of P15,493.66 plus P155.00 longevity pay plus other benefits provided by law and their Collective Bargaining Agreement; that on 21 February 2003, as union president, she sent two letters to President Gloria Arroyo, regarding their complaint of mismanagement being committed by PIJ executive; that sometime in May 2003, the union was furnished with a letter by Secretary Silvestre Afable, Jr. head of Presidential Management Staff (PMS), endorsing their letter-complaint to Ombudsman Simeon V. Marcelo; that respondents took offense and started harassments to complainant union president; that on 30 May 2003, complainant received a letter from respondent Fundador Soriano, International Edition managing editor, regarding complainant’s attendance record; that complainant submitted her reply to said memo on 02 June 2003; that on 06 June 2003, complainant received a memorandum of reprimand; that on 04 July 2003, complainant received another memo from Mr. Soriano, for not wearing her company ID, which she replied the next day 05 July 2003; that on 04 August 2003, complainant again received a memo regarding complainant’s tardiness; that on 05 August 2003, complainant received another memorandum asking her to explain why she should not be accused of fraud, which she replied to on 07 August 2003; and that on the same day between 3:00 to 4:00 P.M., Mr. Ernesto “Estong” San Agustin, a staff of HRD handed her termination paper.
Complainant added that in her thirteen (13) years with the company and after so many changes in its management and executives, she had never done anything that will cause them to issue a memorandum against her or her work attitude, more so, reasons to terminate her services; that she got dismissed because she was the Union President who was very active in defending and pursuing the rights of her union members, and in fighting against the abuses of respondent Corporate Officers; and that she got the ire of respondents when the employees filed a complaint against the Corporate Officers before Malacañang and which was later indorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The second complainant Michael L. Alfante alleged that he started to work with respondents as computer technician at Management Information System under manager Neri Torrecampo on 16 May 2000; that on 15 July 2001, he was regularized receiving a monthly salary of P9,070.00 plus other monetary benefits; that sometime in 2001, Rico Pagkalinawan replaced Torrecampo, which was opposed by complainant and three other co-employees; that Pagkalinawan took offense of their objection; that on 22 October 2002, complainant Alfante received a memorandum from Pagkalinawan regarding his excessive tardiness; that on 10 June 2003, complainant Alfante received a memorandum from Executive Vice-President Arnold Banares, requiring him to explain his side on the evaluation of his performance submitted by manager Pagkalinawan; that one week after complainant submitted his explanation, he was handed his notice of dismissal on the ground of “poor performance”; and that complainant was dismissed effective 28 July 2003.
Complainant Alfante submitted that he was dismissed without just cause.
Respondents, in their position paper, averred that complainants Pulido and Alfante were dismissed for cause and with due process.
With regard to complainant Pulido, respondents averred that in a memorandum dated 30 May 2003, directed complainant to explain her habitual tardiness, at least 75 times from January to May of 2003. In a memorandum, dated 06 June 2003, directed complainant to observe the 3 p.m. rule to avoid grammatical lapses, use of stale stories just to beat the 10:00 p.m. deadline. In the same memorandum complainant was given the warning that any repeated violation of the rules shall be dealt with more severely. Once again, in a memorandum, dated 04 August 2003, complainant Pulido was required to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against her for habitual tardiness – 18 times out of the 23 reporting days during the period from 27 June – 27 July 2003 and on 05 August 2003, complainant was directed to explain in writing why complainant should not be administratively sanctioned for committing fraud or attempting to commit fraud against respondents. Respondents found complainant’s explanations unsatisfactory. On 07 August 2003, respondents dismissed complainant Pulido for habitual tardiness, gross insubordination, utter disrespect for superiors, and committing fraud or attempting to commit fraud which led to the respondents’ loss of confidence upon complainant Pulido.
In case of complainant Alfante, respondents averred in defense that complainant was dismissed for “poor performance” after an evaluation by his superior, and after being forewarned that complainant may be removed if there was no showing of improvement in his skills and knowledge on current technology.
In both instances, respondents maintained that they did not commit any act of unfair labor practices; that they did not commit acts tantamount to interfering, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization.
Respondents deny liabilities as far as complainants’ monetary claims are concerned. Concerning violations of the provision on wage distortion under Wage Order No. 9, respondents stressed that complainants were not affected since their salary is way over the minimum wage.
With respect to the alleged non-adjustment of longevity pay and burial aid, respondent PJI pointed out that it complies with the provisions of the CBA and that both complainants have not claimed for the burial aid.
Respondents put forward the information that the alleged non-payment of rest days – every Monday for the past three (3) years is a matter that is still at issue in NLRC Case No. 02-0402973-93, which case is still pending before this Commission.
Respondents asserted that the respondents Arturo Dela Cruz, Bobby Capco, Arnold Banares, Ruby Ruiz-Bruno and Fundador Soriano should not be held liable on account of complainants’ dismissal as they merely acted as agents of respondent PJI.1
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered, finding complainant Judith Pulido to have been illegally dismissed. As such, she is entitled to reinstatement and backwages from 07 August 2003 up to her actual or payroll reinstatement. To date, complainant’s backwages is P294,379.54.
Respondent Philippine Journalist, Inc. is hereby ordered to pay complainant Judith Pulido her backwages from 07 August 2003 up to her actual or payroll reinstatement and to reinstate her to her former position without loss of seniority right.
Respondent is further ordered to submit a report to this Office on complainant’s reinstatement ten (10) days from receipt of this decision.
The charge of illegal dismissal by Michael Alfante is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.
The charge of unfair labor practice is dismissed for lack of basis.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is PARTLY GRANTED.
The twin Resolutions dated January 31, 2007 and April 24, 2007, respectively, of the Third Division of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), in NLRC NCR CA No. 048785-06 (NLRC NCR Case No. 00-10-11413-04), are MODIFIED insofar as the funeral or bereavement aid is concerned, which is hereby GRANTED, but only after submission of conclusive proofs that the deceased is a parent, either father or mother, of the employees concerned, as well as the death certificate to establish the fact of death of the deceased legal dependent.
The rest of the findings of fact and law in the assailed Resolutions are hereby AFFIRMED.
A collective bargaining agreement (or CBA) refers to the negotiated contract between a legitimate labor organization and the employer concerning wages, hours of work and all other terms and conditions of employment in a bargaining unit. As in all contracts, the parties in a CBA may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient provided these are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy. Thus, where the CBA is clear and unambiguous, it becomes the law between the parties and compliance therewith is mandated by the express policy of the law.Accordingly, the stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions of the CBA, being the law between the parties, must be complied with by them.21 The literal meaning of the stipulations of the CBA, as with every other contract, control if they are clear and leave no doubt upon the intention of the contracting parties.22
SECTION 4. Funeral/Bereavement Aid. The COMPANY agrees to grant a funeral/bereavement aid in the following instances:cralavvonlinelawlibraryPetitioner insists that notwithstanding the silence of the CBA, the term legal dependent should follow the definition of it under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8282 (Social Security Law),24 so that in the case of a married regular employee, his or her legal dependents include only his or her spouse and children, and in the case of a single regular employee, his or her legal dependents include only his or her parents and siblings, 18 years old and below; and that the term dependents has the same meaning as beneficiaries as used in Section 5, Article XIII of the CBA.
a. Death of a regular employee in line of duty – P50,000
b. Death of a regular employee not in line of duty – P40,000
c. Death of legal dependent of a regular employee – P15,000. (Emphasis supplied)
Social Security System v. Aguas is instructive in determining the extent of the required “dependency” under the SS Law. In Aguas, the Court ruled that although a husband and wife are obliged to support each other, whether one is actually dependent for support upon the other cannot be presumed from the fact of marriage alone.
Further, Aguas pointed out that a wife who left her family until her husband died and lived with other men, was not dependent upon her husband for support, financial or otherwise, during the entire period.Said the Court:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
In a parallel case involving a claim for benefits under the GSIS law, the Court defined a dependent as “one who derives his or her main support from another. Meaning, relying on, or subject to, someone else for support; not able to exist or sustain oneself, or to perform anything without the will, power, or aid of someone else.” It should be noted that the GSIS law likewise defines a dependent spouse as “the legitimate spouse dependent for support upon the member or pensioner.” In that case, the Court found it obvious that a wife who abandoned the family for more than 17 years until her husband died, and lived with other men, was not dependent on her husband for support, financial or otherwise, during that entire period. Hence, the Court denied her claim for death benefits.
The obvious conclusion then is that a wife who is already separated de facto from her husband cannot be said to be “dependent for support” upon the husband, absent any showing to the contrary. Conversely, if it is proved that the husband and wife were still living together at the time of his death, it would be safe to presume that she was dependent on the husband for support, unless it is shown that she is capable of providing for herself.
1Rollo, pp. 243-248.cralawlibrary
2 Id. at 252.cralawlibrary
3 Id. at 253-276.cralawlibrary
4 Id. at 292-294.cralawlibrary
5 Id. at 295-301.cralawlibrary
6 Id. at 321-322.cralawlibrary
7 Id. at 54-65; penned by Associate Justice Franchito N. Diamante, with the concurrence of Associate Justice Mario L. Guariña III (retired) and Associate Justice Sesinando E. Villon.cralawlibrary
8 Id. at 66-68.cralawlibrary
9Rollo (G.R. No. 192478), p. 13.cralawlibrary
10 Id. at 390.cralawlibrary
11 Id. at 405.cralawlibrary
12 Id. at 406.cralawlibrary
13Rollo, p. 41.cralawlibrary
14 Id. at 41-42.cralawlibrary
15 Article 100. Prohibition against elimination or diminution of benefits. – Nothing in this Book shall be construed to eliminate or in any way diminish supplements, or other employee benefits being enjoyed at the time of promulgation of this Code.cralawlibrary
16Rollo, p. 43.cralawlibrary
17 Id. at 43-44.cralawlibrary
18 Id. at 45.cralawlibrary
19 Id. at 473-490.cralawlibrary
20 G.R. No. 145561, June 15, 2005, 460 SCRA 186, 190-191.cralawlibrary
21TSPIC Corporation v. TSPIC Employees Union (FFW), G.R. No. 163419, February 13, 2008, 545 SCRA 215, citing Centro Escolar University Faculty and Allied Workers Union-Independent v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 165486, May 31, 2006, 490 SCRA 61, 72.cralawlibrary
22 Article 1370, Civil Code.cralawlibrary
23Rollo, p. 134.cralawlibrary
24An Act Further Strengthening the Social Security System Thereby Amending for this Purpose Republic Act No. 1161, As Amended, Otherwise Known as the Social Security Law.
25An Act Instituting a National Health Insurance Program for All Filipinos and Establishing the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation for the Purpose.
26An Act Amending Presidential Decree No. 1146, as amended, Expanding and Increasing the Coverage and Benefits of the Government Service Insurance System, Instituting Reforms Therein and for Other Purposes
27 G.R. No. 164790, August 29, 2008, 563 SCRA 693, 703-704.cralawlibrary
28Sulo sa Nayon, Inc. v. Nayong Pilipino Foundation, G.R. No. 170923, January 20, 2009, 576 SCRA 655, 666.cralawlibrary
29 Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. v. Eastern Telecoms Employees Union, G.R. No. 185665, February 8, 2012, 665 SCRA 516, 533.cralawlibrary
30 Boncodin v. National Power Corporation Employees Consolidated Union (NECU), G.R. No. 162716, September 27, 2006, 503 SCRA 611, 628.cralawlibrary
31Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 152928, June 18, 2009, 589 SCRA 376, 384.cralawlibrary
32Sevilla Trading Company v. Semana, G.R. No. 152456, April 28, 2004, 428 SCRA 239, 249.cralawlibrary
33Rollo, p. 41
34 Id. at 40.cralawlibrary
35 Id. at 121-140.