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PAL unions seek end to long-running labor row in flag carrier

September 11, 2012 2:28pm

The Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) on Tuesday staged a rally outside the Supreme Court, sending a message to newly-installed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resolve the labor dispute plaguing flag carrier Philippine Airlines in the last 14 years.
What FASAP wants is for the high tribunal to tackle the case in an en banc session and uphold its September 2011 ruling that declared as illegal the management-enforced retrenchment of 1,400 PAL workers in 1998, union spokesman Ding Dreyfus said. In that ruling, the high court also ordered PAL owner Lucio Tan to indemnify FASA members to the tune of P3 billion.
In October, however, the high court – after receiving letters from PAL legal counsel Estelito Mendoza – recalled its September ruling citing "technicalities."
Defining the "technicalities," the high court said that instead of a Special Division taking up the case – as required by Section 7, Rule 2 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court – the court’s Second Division on Sept. 7 promulgated a resolution, dismissing PAL’s second motion for reconsideration and affirming the Third Division’s 2008 decision in favor of FASAP.
"It's been 14 years. We are still hoping that a decision will be given at the soonest time possible time. I believe there has been a big change in the justice system with the new chief justice. We are appealing to her to make a speedy resolution to our case so we can move one and live our lives again," said Dreyfus.

PALEA's case
In a separate statement Tuesday, Philippine Airlines Employees' Association (PALEA) president said the criminal charges against their members are not helping both sides in settling the long-running labor row.
PALEA called on the new management, headed by PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang of the San Miguel Corp.,  to help resolve dispute by dropping “trumped” up charges against its members filed by then PAL president and COO Jaime Bautista.
“These criminal charges are an irritant to settling the labor row as they were intended to cajole and coerce PALEA members to avail of the outsourcing separation package and thereby surrender the fight for regular jobs,” the PALEA statement read.
“The trumped up charges were inconsistent with the statement of Mr. Ramon Ang during the PAL annual stockholders meeting that the new management proposes a just and humane conclusion to the long-running labor row,” it added.

Through a $500-million buy-in last April, diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. acquired 49 percent of PAL's publicly listed parent PAL Holdings Inc..
The deal gave SMC effective control of at least 40 percent of PAL and 49 percent of Air Philippines Corp., PAL's -carrier affiliate.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online Tuesday, PALEA president Gerry Ortega said PALEA condemned Pasay Assistant City Prosecutor Orlando Mariano and Judge Bibiano Colasito of the Pasay MTC Branch 44 for finding probable cause and issuing warrants of arrest to 39 members despite the absence of a clearance from the Labor Department.
Last August, Sereno replaced former Chief Justice Renato Corona as the country's top judge. The Senate in late May found Corona guilty of hiding around P200 million that he supposedly acquired while in public office.
FASAP president Roberto Anduiza, in February, testified against Corona and claimed the chief magistrate was responsible for withdrawing the September 2011 order that favored FASAP.
"Let the original decision stand,” FASAP’s Dreyfus said. “Remind namin sila na 'Hello nandito pa kami'.
"We have a new hope with the new chief justice. We believe in her. We believe she is fair, she is true and that she will make a right decision as well as the other members of the en banc," Dreyfus said.

Sereno dissents
Last March, Sereno penned a dissenting opinion and alleged Corona had indeed meddled in the case.
"Without waiting for [a response] to the recommendation of referral, the Chief Justice, who was presiding, informed the Court that the 07 September 2011 Resolution of the Second Division must be recalled, because it had a lot of serious problems," Sereno said in her dissent.
FASAP claimed the October 2011 recall order came even though the court already ruled three times in favor of the FASAP – in 2008, 2009, and in September 2011. — With a report by Anna Mae Lamentillo/VS, GMA News
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