CA affirms PAL’s P730-M lawsuit vs striking pilots

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The Court of Appeals has given the go-signal for Philippine Airlines (PAL) to proceed with its P730-million damage suit against its former pilots who staged a labor strike that crippled the flag carrier’s operations about 13 years ago.

In reversing the Feb. 26, 2010, resolution of the National Labor Relations Commission, the appellate court said the NLRC erred when it ruled that PAL forfeited its right to claim damages when it filed the case outside the three-year prescriptive period for filing such legal action.

In its Aug. 26 decision, the court upheld PAL’s argument that its claim for damages could only be filed once the Supreme Court rendered its final judgment in a separate case for illegal strike that the airline earlier filed against members of Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (Alpap).

PAL said the damage suit had depended on the result of the question of legality it has raised with the court in connection with the work stoppage that Alpap spearheaded on June 5, 1998.

The appellate court said that since the high tribunal had resolved the first case with finality only on Aug. 29, 2002, “it was only then that (the pilots’) act of abandoning their aircraft had been declared illegal.”

“(H)ence, they (pilots) could already be held culpable for causing injury to (PAL’s) business, assuming such could be proven by the petitioner,” the court said in a 26-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Ramon Cruz.

Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Antonio Villamor agreed with Cruz’s decision.

If PAL had sued Alpap before the resolution of the illegal labor strike case attained finality, the court said the complaint might have been considered “premature” and a “groundless suit.”

“Stated differently, (the) petitioner’s cause of action only accrued upon finality of the Supreme Court decision declaring private respondents’ strike to be illegal,” it maintained.

However, the appellate court affirmed the NLRC’s decision to throw out the case for lack of jurisdiction, saying damage claims should be filed before the civil courts and not with the quasijudicial labor body.

After the high court ruled on the case with finality, PAL lodged the multimillion-peso civil suit against Alpap members in April 2003.

But the labor arbiter dismissed the case due to lack of jurisdiction and prescription, prompting PAL to elevate the case to the appellate court.

The case stemmed from the decision of Alpap to stage a 22-day strike in June 1998 in protest of PAL’s alleged unfair labor practices, crippling the flag carrier’s domestic and international flights.

At the height of the work stoppage, the airline dismissed nearly 5,000 workers purportedly to stave off PAL’s impending closure.

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  • http://twitter.com/hustlergalore hustlergalore

    well as usual, maraming tuta yang si lucio tan sa court of appeals. kahit yang si hilario davide tuta ni lucio tan. huli na nga lang ni erap malaman yan yung nagkalabo-labo na sila. akalain mo binigyan pa ni erap ng award si lucio tan ng best tax contribution ek ek. LOL

    ganyan talaga kapag abusado ang amo, maraming strikes

    unfair labor practices – yan kaya. kelan magkakaroon ng hustisya?

  • http://twitter.com/BoomBuzzTech Boom Buzz Tech

    Simple lang yan kung ayaw nila sa PAL eh di lumipat sa iba, indemand ang Pilots ngayon bakit kailangan pa nila i-damay yong mga passengers sa perwisyong dinulot nila? Sana manalo ang PAL para matigil na ang mga ganitong klaseng economic sabotage.

    • Anonymous

      Ano kamo? In demand ang mga piloto NGAYON?” E, diba sabi nung article 1998 yung strike? Naiintindihan mo ba ang binabasa mo? May economic sabotage ka pa hindi mo naman pala naintindihan yung storya.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leodegardo-Pruna/100000668583781 Leodegardo Pruna

      Nanalo na ang management at dapat na ito ay magbigay aral sa mga piloto na huwag basta naniniwala sa kanilang leader na ang motibo ay pangsarili. Pagpalain tayo ng Maykapal.

      • Anonymous

        di kaya nabili ng Lucio ang CA. Ganyan kasi ang kalakaran sa Pinas kapag pera ang pinairal sa CA. Sa madali salita judgement for sale infavor of rich. May karanasan na kami diyan.

    • Anonymous

      TAO KA SIGURO NI LUCIO TAN…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KV4CVF5EPHFKJ766VIEZ4HNNUY G

    OMG!! A decision after 13 years? And still await SC final decision? Another 13 years? Those pilots who took part in the strike may be retired or passed away..
    Another “Justice delayed is justice denied” case..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leodegardo-Pruna/100000668583781 Leodegardo Pruna

    That is what happens when employees (pilots) act without reason. Always thinking that DoLE is pro-labor and  that final settlement is in the Courts of Justice. Misled by leaders for greed. God bless the Philippines.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CKBW2BZX34JXQUSVAMZVKCLNAU TagaDumantay

    There are two grounds NLRC dismissed PAL petition:
    1. Lack of jurisdiction
    2. Outside the three-year prescriptive period
    The CA say NLRC is wrong in prescriptive period but correct on the jurisdiction. Therefore NLRC is correct in throwing out the petition because of lack of jurisdiction, period. No other issue.
    CA stated that petition should have been filled with civil court. Now, have PAL filed a case in civil court? Not yet, what is the year now? 2011. SC decision was 2002, therefore the prescription period is more than 3 years now.

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