By KYLE EDWARD FRANCISCO
VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur – Eighteen years after 160 members of the Times Employees Union (TEU) held its first strike in March 1997 and more than five years after the Supreme Court ruled with finality in favor of the workers, justice remains out of reach for its members.
On August 26, 2015, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Second Division granted the Petition for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) filed by Reynaldo and Virginia Mendoza, owners of the defunct Times Transport System (TTS). In effect, the checks amounting P86.90 Million, awarded to TEU from the sale of TSS property in Dagupan City was cancelled. Commissioners Erlinda T. Agus, Gregorio O. Bilog III and Allan A. Venture undertook the proceedings and issued the TRO. The amount is part of the monetary compensations awarded in the December 2009 decision.
An affiliate of the National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno, TEU has been demanding the execution of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) ruling against Reynaldo and Virginia Mendoza, owners of the defunct Times Transport System and Mencorp Transport System Company, Incorporated (operator of Dominion Bus).
The high court issued its verdict on December 16, 2009 affirming the judgment issued by Labor Arbiter Renaldo O. Hernandez on January 31, 2002 that Times management “effected, participated in… prohibited act of unfair labor practice” and that the sale of the latter to Mencorp “was simulated and/or effected in bad faith.” The ruling further state to reinstate all dismissed union members without loss of seniority rights and benefits, to pay for the back wages of workers and to recognize the union. Based on NLRC computation the union is to receive P97 million worth of back wages and other benefits from 1997 to 2011.
Delaying Tactics and Harassment
In an effort to delay the implementation of the ruling, Mencorp and Melissa Lim filed an Urgent Motion to Inhibit against Labor Arbiter Patricio Libo-on and a Third Party Claim in October 2012 respectively. NLRC Sheriff Ronnie Jalalain also received a Notice of Complaint from the same entities that made him defer the levying of Mencorp and Mendoza’s properties. Arbiter Libo-on denied all the petitions.
Spouses Mendoza and Mencorp also filed other legal remedies that their legal team can think of under the labor code. Libo-on noted in his order to release the proceeds from the auction sale of the Dagupan property that they have “persistently raised the sale of the Spouses Mendoza share in the respondent’s company; the alleged sale of the company to a certain Melissa Lim; the alleged notice to report for reinstatement; and the fact of the respondent company having lost its juridical personality” all of which were judged as “rehashed points that have been resolved.”
The Mendozas and Mencorp also filed an injunction case against Honorio “Ka Nori” Arcaina, President of TEU, with a P5.0 Million damages claim. Ka Nori said that the suit is to pressure him to agree on the P30 Million settlement agreement that the company offered a short period after filing of the case.
Several of our members already died, waiting in vain for the execution of the decision while many of them lost their homes and were forced to give up the education of their children because of the economic hardship they faced after their dismissal, the long process for the final resolution of the case and now, they again prolong our sufferings,” laments Ka Nori.
Loop holes in the Labor Code
“The long struggle of the union to receive the monetary reward and this unfavorable event manifest the amount of loopholes in the country’s labor code and justice system that companies and individuals with enough money can utilize to deprive workers of the fruits of their labor and their rights,” said Ka Nori.
The union submitted their reply to the petition filed by the Mendoza’s and to the TRO issued by the Second Division last September 10. They expect that a decision will be reach by the second week of October as per NLRC guidelines that such cases must be decided within 15 days upon receipt of the answer.
Ka Nori emphasized that the union will not think twice to take tothe streets and march to the commissions in protest if no decision is handed within the prescribed period or if the long awaited financial relief for the members is further delayed. TEU held a 400 kilometers march-caravan from Vigan City to the NLRC Office in Quezon City in November 2012 to press for the implementation of the final Supreme Court order fand for the denial of the Petition for Inhibition filed by Mencorp against Arbiter Libo-on. #nordis.net