Supreme Court of the Philippines

SC upholds CA ruling: ABS-CBN’s dismissal of 4 cameramen illegal

SC upholds CA ruling: ABS-CBN’s dismissal of 4 cameramen illegal

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The Supreme Court junks ABS-CBN petition seeking to reverse the appellate court's ruling on the case

The Supreme Court upheld the the Court of Appeals’ ruling to declare as illegal the dismissal of four cameramen employed by broadcasting giant ABS-CBN in the 2000s.

The SC’s 1st Division on Monday, December 27, junked ABS-CBN’s petition seeking to reverse the appellate court’s ruling on the case. The CA had overturned National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) resolutions in 2011 which threw out the complaints by the former employees.

“[T]he CA committed no error to warrant the reversal of its ruling that respondents are regular employees of petitioner and are entitled to reinstatement and the payment of backwages, other statutory monetary benefits and attorney’s fees, by virtue of their illegal dismissal from the latter,” the 22-page ruling read.

The cameramen who challenged ABS-CBN in court were Kessler Tajanlangit, Vladimir Martin, Herbie Medina, and Juan Paulo.

ABS-CBN had argued that the terms of engagement of the cameramen are co-terminus with the programs for which they submitted their output, but the SC said the media giant failed to present proof of any contract between the cameramen and the company from the time they were engaged in 2003 to 2005, up to the filing of complaint against the company in 2010.

The Court also did not give weight to ABS-CBN’s claim that the cameramen were only independent contractors, saying it failed to establish the status of the respondents or rebut evidence the cameramen submitted to prove their employment.

The cameramen had filed with the NLRC multiple documents, such as identification cards, income tax returns, payslips, and documents from government agencies to prove there was an employer-employee relationship between them and ABS-CBN.

The Supreme Court said the CA correctly considered the evidence, and found that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in its ruling.

“[T]he findings and conclusions reached by the NLRC are not supported by substantial evidence and are in total disregard of evidence material to and even decisive of the controversy,” the Court said. –