Juanito Garcia v. PAL

CASE NO. 2 OF 50

JUANITO A. GARCIA and ALBERTO J. DUMAGO,

Petitioners,

Versus        

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC.,

Respondent.

 FACTS:

The case stemmed from the administrative charge filed by Philippine Airlines (PAL) against its employees-herein petitioners after they were allegedly caught in the act of sniffing shabu when a team of company security personnel and law enforcers raided the PAL Technical Center’s Toolroom Section on July 24, 1995.

After due notice, PAL dismissed petitioners for transgressing the PAL Code of Discipline, prompting them to file a complaint for illegal dismissal and damages which was resolved by the Labor Arbiter in their favor, thus ordering PAL to, inter alia, immediately comply with the reinstatement aspect of the decision.

Subsequently, the Labor Arbiter issued a Writ of Execution respecting the reinstatement decision and issued a Notice of Garnishment. 

Respondent elevated the matter to the appellate court which issued the herein challenged Decision and Resolution nullifying the NLRC Resolutions on two grounds, essentially espousing that:

(1) a subsequent finding of a valid dismissal removes the basis for implementing the reinstatement aspect of a labor arbiter’s decision; and

(2) the impossibility to comply with the reinstatement order due to corporate rehabilitation provides a reasonable justification for the failure to exercise the options under Article 223 of the Labor Code (the second ground).

HENCE, this Petition.

 RULING:

Amplification of the First Ground:

The Court reaffirms the prevailing principle that even if the order of reinstatement of the Labor Arbiter is reversed on appeal, it is obligatory on the part of the employer to reinstate and pay the wages of the dismissed employee during the period of appeal until reversal by the higher court.

 It settles the view that the Labor Arbiter’s order of reinstatement is immediately executory and the employer has to either re-admit them to work under the same terms and conditions prevailing prior to their dismissal, or to reinstate them in the payroll, and that failing to exercise the options in the alternative, employer must pay the employee’s salaries.

Amplification of the Second Ground

The Court sustains the appellate court’s finding that the peculiar predicament of a corporate rehabilitation rendered it impossible for respondent to exercise its option under the circumstances.     

 The test is two-fold: (1) there must be actual delay or the fact that the order of reinstatement pending appeal was not executed prior to its reversal; and (2) the delay must not be due to the employer’s unjustified act or omission.  If the delay is due to the employer’s unjustified refusal, the employer may still be required to pay the salaries notwithstanding the reversal of the Labor Arbiter’s decision.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY DENIED.  Insofar as the Court of Appeals Decision and Resolution annulling the NLRC Resolutions affirming the validity of the Writ of Execution and the Notice of Garnishment are concerned, the Court finds no reversible error. 

SO ORDERED.

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