Lolita Lopez v. Quezon City Sports Clubs, Inc.

CASE NO. 1 0F 50

LOLITA A. LOPEZ, et al.,

Petitioners.

versus

QUEZON CITY SPORTS CLUB, INC.,

Respondent.

FACTS: 

The Kasapiang Manggagawa sa Quezon City Sports Club (union), a registered collective bargaining agent of Quezon City Sports Club (QCSC), filed a complaint for unfair labor practice against QCSC.

QCSC, for its part, contended that it had not committed any unfair labor practice; and that the union had staged an illegal strike.

On 29 December 1998, Labor Arbiter Joel Lustria promulgated a decision finding QCSC guilty of unfair labor practice and ordering it to pay the affected employees their separation pay, backwages, and salary increase, totaling P27,504,864.46.

QCSC appealed from the labor arbiter’s decision. In turn, the union filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for non-perfection due to failure to post the appeal bond.

QCSC filed a motion for reduction of the appeal bond to FOUR MILLION PESOS (P4,000,000.00).

On 1 August 2001, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) rendered a decision granting the appeal and reversing the Lustria.

Relying heavily on the NLRC decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari. 

Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiotari.

 RULING:

This petition essentially presents two legal questions.

First, do the simultaneous filing of the motion to reduce the appeal bond and posting of the reduced amount of bond within the reglementary period for appeal constitute substantial compliance with Article 223 of the Labor Code? 

At the outset, it should be stressed that the right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due process; it is merely a statutory privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law. The party who seeks to avail himself of the same must comply with the requirements of the rules. Failing to do so, the right to appeal is lost.

Under the Rules, appeals involving monetary awards are perfected only upon compliance with the following mandatory requisites, namely: (1) payment of the appeal fees; (2) filing of the memorandum of appeal; and (3) payment of the required cash or surety bond.

Applying these jurisprudential guidelines, The Court find and hold that the NLRC did not err in reducing the amount of the appeal bond and considering the appeal as having been filed within the reglementary period.

The second legal question deals with the validity of the NLRC decision, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.  We rule in favor of petitioners.

 To recapitulate, the NLRC erred in setting aside the Lustria decision, as well as in deleting the award of backwages and separation pay, despite the finding that the affected employees had been constructively dismissed. 

Based on the foregoing, the Lustria decision should be upheld and therefore reinstated except as regards the four petitioners.

 WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED IN PART.  The decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the NLRC ruling is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE.  The decision of Labor Arbiter Lustria granting the monetary claims of petitioners  is  REINSTATED.

 SO ORDERED.

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