Case Digest: Abaria, et al. v. NLRC, et al.

G.R. No. 154113: December 7, 2011

EDEN GLADYS ABARIA, et al., Petitioners, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, et al., Respondents.


The consolidated petitions before us involve the legality of mass termination of hospital employees who participated in strike and picketing activities.

In a letter addressed to Nava, Ernesto Canen, Jr., Jesusa Gerona, Hannah Bongcaras, Emma Remocaldo, Catalina Alsado and Albina Baz, Atty. Alforque suspended their union membership for serious violation of the Constitution and By-Laws.

Upon the request of Atty. Alforque, MCCHI granted one-day union leave with pay for 12 union members.The next day, several union members led by Nava and her group launched a series of mass actions such as wearing black and red armbands/headbands, marching around the hospital premises and putting up placards, posters and streamers.For their continued picketing activities despite the said warning, more than 100 striking employees were dismissed.Unfazed, the striking union members held more mass actions. With the volatile situation adversely affecting hospital operations and the condition of confined patients, MCCHI filed a petition for injunction. A temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued.

Thereafter, several complaints for illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice were filed by the terminated employees against MCCHI, Rev. Iyoy, UCCP and members of the Board of Trustees of MCCHI.

Executive Labor Arbiter Reynoso A. Belarmino rendered his decision dismissing the complaints for unfair labor practice. Complainants appealed to the Commission, which affirmed the Labor Arbiter.

Complainants elevated the case to the Court of Appeals (CA) (Cebu Station) via a petition for certiorari. CAs Eighth Division dismissed the petition on the ground that out of 88 petitioners only 47 have signed the certification against forum shopping.

InG.R. No. 196156, MCCHI/VCMC prayed for the annulment of Resolution of the CA, for this Court to declare the dismissal of respondents Yballe, et al. as valid and legal and to reinstate the Resolution of the NLRC.

G.R. No. 187861 was consolidated with G.R. Nos. 154113 and 187778 as they involve similar factual circumstances and identical or related issues. G.R. No. 196156 was later also consolidated with the aforesaid cases.

ISSUE:Whether or not respondents are illegally dismissed?

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is sustained.


Records of the NCMB and DOLE Region 7 confirmed that NAMA-MCCH-NFL had not registered as a labor organization, having submitted only its charter certificate as an affiliate or local chapter of NFL.Not being a legitimate labor organization, NAMA-MCCH-NFL is not entitled to those rights granted to a legitimate labor organization under Art. 242.

Aside from the registration requirement, it is only the labor organization designated or selected by the majority of the employees in an appropriate collective bargaining unit which is the exclusive representative of the employees in such unit for the purpose of collective bargaining, as provided in Art. 255.NAMA-MCCH-NFL is not the labor organization certified or designated by the majority of the rank-and-file hospital employees to represent them in the CBA negotiations but the NFL, as evidenced by CBAs concluded in 1987, 1991 and 1994.

Even assuming that NAMA-MCCH-NFL had validly disaffiliated from its mother union, NFL, it still did not possess the legal personality to enter into CBA negotiations. A local union which is not independently registered cannot, upon disaffiliation from the federation, exercise the rights and privileges granted by law to legitimate labor organizations; thus, it cannot file a petition for certification election.Besides, the NFL as the mother union has the right to investigate members of its local chapter under the federations Constitution and By-Laws, and if found guilty to expel such members.MCCHI therefore cannot be faulted for deferring action on the CBA proposal submitted by NAMA-MCCH-NFL in view of the union leaderships conflict with the national federation. We have held that the issue of disaffiliation is an intra-union disputewhich must be resolved in a different forum in an action at the instance of either or both the federation and the local union or a rival labor organization, not the employer.


The above provision makes a distinction between workers and union officers who participate in an illegal strike: an ordinary striking worker cannot be terminated for mere participation in an illegal strike. There must be proof that he or she committed illegal acts during a strike. A union officer, on the other hand, may be terminated from work when he knowingly participates in an illegal strike, and like other workers, when he commits an illegal act during a strike.

Considering their persistence in holding picketing activities despite the declaration by the NCMB that their union was not duly registered as a legitimate labor organization and the letter from NFLs legal counsel informing that their acts constitute disloyalty to the national federation, and their filing of the notice of strike and conducting a strike vote notwithstanding that their union has no legal personality to negotiate with MCCHI for collective bargaining purposes, there is no question that NAMA-MCCH-NFL officers knowingly participated in the illegal strike. The CA therefore did not err in ruling that the termination of union officers Perla Nava, Catalina Alsado, Albina Baz, Hannah Bongcaras, Ernesto Canen, Jesusa Gerona and Guillerma Remocaldo was valid and justified.


Separation pay is made an alternative relief in lieu of reinstatement in certain circumstances, like: (a) when reinstatement can no longer be effected in view of the passage of a long period of time or because of the realities of the situation; (b) reinstatement is inimical to the employer's interest; (c) reinstatement is no longer feasible; (d) reinstatement does not serve the best interests of the parties involved; (e) the employer is prejudiced by the workers continued employment; (f) facts that make execution unjust or inequitable have supervened; or (g) strained relations between the employer and employee.