MANILA, Philippines – The 20-year-old retrenchment row between the Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) ended as the Supreme Court en banc voted in favor of the flag carrier.
Voting 7-2, SC affirmed the 2006 decision of the Court of Appeals, which ruled that the dismissal of 5,000 workers implemented by the the Lucio Tan-owned airline was legal.
The high court, in its decision, said that the retrenchment was done by PAL in good faith since the company adhered to their Collective Bargaining Agreement. (READ: SC votes after 20 years: PAL wins in retrenchment case vs FASAP)
The retrenchment happened in 1998 and the case reached the SC in 2008.
Philippine Airlines lays off a total of 5,000 employees, including 1,400 cabin crew personnel, as part of its cost-cutting measure after the company allegedly incurred P90 billion in liabilities during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
The Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) files with the National Labor Relations Commissions (NLRC) a complaint of illegal retrenchment against PAL and Patria Chiong, assistant vice president for cabin services.
Labor arbiter Jovencio Mayor rules in favor of FASAP, ordering PAL to reinstate the employees.
After PAL has filed an appeal, NLRC reverses its previous decision. FASAP brings the case to the Court of Appeals.
Court of Appeals (CA) affirms the NLRC's 2004 decision, which said PAL didn't have to consult FASAP for its criteria for its retrenchment program.
CA denies FASAP's motion for reconsideration. The case goes to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court special 3rd division rules in favor of FASAP and orders PAL to reinstate 5,000 employees retrenched in 1998.
PAL files motion for reconsideration.
The SC’s 3rd division affirms the 2008 decision, which declared illegal the retrenchment of the FASAP members.
The high court denies the motion for reconsideration filed by PAL for lack of merit. It also does not accept PAL’s justification for the retrenchment that it was suffering from financial distress after a pilots’ strike in 1998.
“We find this argument untenable. The strike was a temporary occurrence that did not necessitate the immediate and sweeping retrenchment of 1,400 cabin or flight attendants,” the SC says in its decision.
PAL files motion for reconsideration for the October 2009 decision and second motion for reconsideration for the 2008 decision. The FASAP case is raffled off to SC second division because members of the special 3rd division have retired.
The SC second division dismisses PAL’s second motion for reconsideration.
PAL lawyer Estelito Mendoza sends a series of letters to the Supreme Court's Clerk of Court regarding the case. He sent a total of 4 letters.
In one letter, Mendoza points out a “misapplication of the rules.” He cites Section 4(3), Article VIII, of the Constitution, which states that cases “heard by a division shall be decided or resolved with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon, and in no case without the concurrence of at least three of such members.”
The decision comes after the court took cognizance of a letter submitted by Mendoza, PAL’s legal counsel.
Then spokesperson (and now court administrator) Jose Midas Marquez says the SC committed an "honest mistake” because the case should have been handled by the high court’s special 3rd division, not the second division.
In a motion for reconsideration, FASAP asks the Supreme Court to set aside its October 4, 2011, resolution.
The SC en banc affirms the 2006 decision by the Court of Appeals that validated the retrenchment implemented by PAL, setting aside two existing decisions which were in favor of FASAP.
Seven justices voted in favor of PAL, 2 dissented, 5 took no part, while Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is on indefinite leave. Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.