ALPAP vs. PAL Digest

G.R. No. 168382, June 06 : 2011




The present controversy stemmed from a labor dispute between respondent Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) and ALPAP, the legitimate labor organization and exclusive bargaining agent of all commercial pilots of PAL.Claiming that PAL committed unfair labor practice, ALPAP a notice of strike against PAL with the DOLE. The DOLE Secretary assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute and ruled that all strikes and lockouts at the Philippine Airlines, Inc., whether actual or impending, are hereby strictly prohibited.

Despite such reminder to the parties, however, ALPAP went on strike. This constrained the DOLE, through then Secretary Cresenciano B. Trajano, to issue a return-to-work order which ALPAP did not immediately follow. As a consequence, PAL refused to accept the returning pilots for their failure to comply immediately with the return-to-work order.

ALPAP filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal lockout against PAL. It thus prayed that PAL be ordered to accept unconditionally all officers and members of ALPAP without any loss of pay and seniority and to pay whatever salaries and benefits due them pursuant to existing contracts of employment.

Through then DOLE Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma, a Resolution was rendered declaring the strike conducted by ALPAP illegal and pronouncing the loss of employment status of its officers and members who participated in the strike in defiance of the return-to-work order.

ALPAPfiledbefore the Office of the DOLE Secretary a Motion requesting the said office to conduct an appropriate legal proceeding to determine who among its officers and members should be reinstated or deemed to have lost their employment with PAL for their actual participation in the strike.ccording to ALPAP, such measure, as to meet the requirements of due process, is essential because it must be first established that a union officer or member has participated in the strike or has committed illegal acts before they could be dismissed from employment.

In its Comment, PAL argued that the motions cannot legally prosper since the DOLE Secretary has no authority to reopen or review a final judgment of the Supreme Court relative toCMB NCR NS 12-514-97; that the requested proceeding is no longer necessary as the CA or this Court did not order the remand of the case to the DOLE Secretary for such determination; that the NLRC rather than the DOLE Secretary has jurisdiction over the motions as said motions partake of a complaint for illegal dismissal with monetary claims; and that all money claims are deemed suspended in view of the fact that PAL is under receivership.

Then Acting DOLE Secretary, Imson, resolved ALPAP's motions and stated that NCMB-NCR-NS-12-514-97 has indeed been resolved with finality by the highest tribunal of the land, the Supreme Court. Being final and executory, this Office is bereft of authority to reopen an issue that has been passed upon by the Supreme Court.

ALPAP filed its motion for reconsideration arguing that the issues raised in its motions have remained unresolved hence, it is the duty of DOLE to resolve the same it having assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute.

ISSUE: Whether the decision of the DOLE is final and immutable.


LABOR LAW: Finality and immutability of judgment

In the instant case, ALPAP seeks for a conduct of a proceeding to determine who among its members and officers actually participated in the illegal strike because, it insists, the June 1, 1999 DOLE Resolution did not make such determination.However, as correctly ruled by Sto. Tomas and Imson and affirmed by the CA, such proceeding would entail a reopening of a final judgment which could not be permitted by this Court.Settled in law is that once a decision has acquired finality, it becomes immutable and unalterable, thus can no longer be modified in any respect. Subject to certain recognized exceptions, the principle of immutability leaves the judgment undisturbed as "nothing further can be done except to execute it."

True, the dispositive portion of the DOLE Resolution does not specifically enumerate the names of those who actually participated in the strike but only mentions that those strikers who failed to heed the return-to-work order are deemed to have lost their employment. This omission, however, cannot prevent an effective execution of the decision.As was held in Reinsurance Company of the Orient, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, any ambiguity may be clarified by reference primarily to the body of the decision or supplementary to the pleadings previously filed in the case. In any case,specially when there is an ambiguity,"a judgment shall be read in connection with the entire record and construed accordingly."