Case Digest: Airline Pilots v. PAL

G.R. No. 168382 : June 6, 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 filed on December 9, 1997, a notice of strikeagainst respondent PAL with the DOLE, docketed as NCMB NCR NS 12-514-97. Upon PALs petition and considering that its continued operation is impressed with public interest, the DOLE Secretary assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute.

Accordingly, all strikes and lockouts at the Philippine Airlines, Inc., whether actual or impending, are hereby strictly prohibited. The parties are also enjoined from committing any act that may exacerbate the situation.

In a subsequent Order dated May 25, 1998, the DOLE Secretary reiterated the prohibition contained in the December 23, 1997 Order. Despite such reminder to the parties, however, ALPAP went on strike on June 5, 1998. This constrained the DOLE, through then Secretary Cresenciano B. Trajano, to issue a return-to-work order on June 7, 1998. However, it was only on June 26, 1998 when ALPAP officers and members reported back to work as shown in a logbook signed by each of them. As a consequence, PAL refused to accept the returning pilots for their failure to comply immediately with the return-to-work order.

On June 29, 1998, ALPAP filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal lockoutagainst PAL, docketed as NLRC NCR Case No. 00-06-05253-98. ALPAP contended that its counsel received a copy of the return-to-work order only on June 25, 1998, which justified their non-compliance therewith until June 26, 1998. 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.

On PALs motion, the Labor Arbiter consolidated the illegal lockout case with NCMB NCR NS 12-514-97 (strike case) pending before the DOLE Secretary since the controversy presented in the lockout case is an offshoot of the labor dispute over which the DOLE Secretary has assumed jurisdiction and because the factual allegations in both cases are interrelated. In a Resolution dated January 18, 1999, the NLRC sustained the consolidation of the illegal lockout case with the strike case, opining that the DOLE Secretary has the authority to resolve all incidents attendant to his return-to-work order.

Through then DOLE Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma, a Resolution dated June 1, 1999 was rendered in NCMB NCR NS 12-514-97, declaring the strike conducted by ALPAP on June 5, 1998 illegal and pronouncing the loss of employment status of its officers and members who participated in the strike in defiance of the June 7, 1998 return-to-work order.and that DECLARES the strike conducted by ALPAP on June 5, 1998 and thereafter as illegal for being procedurally infirm and in open defiance of the return-to-work order of June 7, 1998 and, consequently, the strikers are deemed to have lost their employment status; and DISMISSES the complaint for illegal lockout for lack of merit.

In a Resolutiondated July 23, 1999, ALPAPs motion for reconsideration was denied. Thus, ALPAP filed a Petition forCertiorariwith the CA assailing both the June 1, 1999 and July 23, 1999 DOLE Resolutions. The case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 54880.

Meanwhile, several ALPAP members filed separate individual complaints for illegal dismissal and non-payment of monetary benefits against PAL with the Labor Arbiters of the NLRC, questioning their termination as a result of the strike staged by other ALPAP members on June 5, 1998.

On January 13, 2003, ALPAP filed before the Office of the DOLE Secretary a Motionin NCMB NCR NS 12-514-97, 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 conducted in June 1998.

By reason of the final ruling of the Honorable Supreme Court, the erring pilots have lost their employment status and second, because these pilots have filed cases to contest such loss before another forum, the Motion and Supplemental Motion of ALPAP as well as the arguments raised therein are merelyNOTEDby this Office.

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.

The CA, in its Decision dated December 22, 2004, dismissed the petition. It found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of Sto. Tomas and Imson in refusing to conduct the necessary proceedings to determine issues relating to ALPAP members employment status and entitlement to employment benefits.

ALPAP moved for reconsideration which was denied for lack of merit in CA Resolutiondated May 30, 2005. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether the termination of ALPAP is valid.

HELD: The decision of the Court of Appeals is sustained.


The records reveals that in NCMB NCR NS 12-514-97, the DOLE Secretary declared the ALPAP officers and members to have lost their employment status based on either of two grounds, viz: their participation in the illegal strike on June 5, 1998 or their defiance of the return-to-work order of the DOLE Secretary. The records of the case unveil the names of each of these returning pilots. The logbookwith the heading "Return To Work Compliance/ Returnees" bears their individual signature signifying their conformity that they were among those workers who returned to work only on June 26, 1998 or after the deadline imposed by DOLE. From this crucial and vital piece of evidence, it is apparent that each of these pilots is bound by the judgment. Besides, the complaint for illegal lockout was filed on behalf of all these returnees. Thus, a finding that there was no illegal lockout would be enforceable against them. In fine, only those returning pilots, irrespective of whether they comprise the entire membership of ALPAP, are bound by the June 1, 1999 DOLE Resolution.