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Santa Rosa Coca Cola Plant Employee Union vs Coca Cola Bottlers Phil GR 164302-03 Facts: The Sta.

Rosa Coca-Cola Plant Employees Union (Union) is the sole and exclusive bargaining representative of the regular daily paid workers and the monthly paid non-commission-earning employees of the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (Company) in its Sta. Rosa, Laguna plant. Upon the expiration of the CBA, the Union informed the Company of its desire to renegotiate its terms. The CBA meetings commenced on July 26, 1999, where the Union and the Company discussed the ground rules of the negotiations. The Union insisted that representatives from the Alyansa ng mga Unyon sa Coca-Cola be allowed to sit down as observers in the CBA meetings. The Union officers and members also insisted that their wages be based on their work shift rates. For its part, the Company was of the view that the members of the Alyansa were not members of the bargaining unit. The Alyansa was a mere aggregate of employees of the Company in its various plants; and is not a registered labor organization. Thus, an impasse ensued. On August 30, 1999, the Union, its officers, directors and six shop stewards filed a Notice of Strike with the NCMB. The Union decided to participate in a mass action organized by the Alyansa in front of the Companys premises. Thus, the Union officers and members held a picket along the front perimeter of the plant on September 21, 1999. As a result, all of the 14 personnel of the Engineering Section of the Company did not report for work, and 71 production personnel were also absent. As a result, only one of the three bottling lines operated during the day shift. All the three lines were operated during the night shift with cumulative downtime of five (5) hours due to lack of manning, complement and skills requirement. The volume of production for the day was short by 60,000 physical cases versus budget. On October 13, 1999, the Company filed a Petition to Declare Strike Illegal Issue: WON the strike, dubbed by petitioner as picketing, is illegal. Held: Article 212(o) of the Labor Code defines strike as a temporary stoppage of work by the concerted action of employees as a result of an industrial or labor dispute. In Bangalisan v. CA, the Court ruled that the fact that the conventional term strike was not used by the striking employees to describe their common course of action is inconsequential, since the substance of the situation, and not its appearance, will be deemed to be controlling. Picketing involves merely the marching to and fro at the premises of the employer, usually accompanied by the display of placards and other signs making known the facts involved in a labor dispute. As applied to a labor dispute, to picket means the stationing of one or more persons to observe and attempt to observe. The purpose of pickets is said to be a means of peaceable persuasion.

The basic elements of a strike are present in this case. They marched to and fro in front of the companys premises during working hours. Thus, petitioners engaged in a concerted activity which already affected the companys operations. The mass concerted activity constituted a strike. For a strike to be valid, the following procedural requisites provided by Art 263 of the Labor Code must be observed: (a) a notice of strike filed with the DOLE 30 days before the intended date thereof, or 15 days in case of unfair labor practice; (b) strike vote approved by a majority of the total union membership in the bargaining unit concerned obtained by secret ballot in a meeting called for that purpose, (c) notice given to the DOLE of the results of the voting at least seven days before the intended strike. These requirements are mandatory and the failure of a union to comply therewith renders the strike illegal. It is clear in this case that petitioners totally ignored the statutory requirements and embarked on their illegal strike. Petition denied.

CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING CO. vs BUKLOD NG MANGGAGAWA SA CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING CORPORATION Case Digest
CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING CORPORATION AND/OR EDWIN CHUA v. BUKLOD NG MANGGAGAWA SA CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING CORPORATION 513 SCRA 621 (2007) FACTS: A union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal strike and a worker who knowingly participates in the commission of an illegal strike are deemed to have lost their employment status. Buklod ng Manggagawa sa Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing Corporation (the union), a legitimate labor organization, is the recognized bargaining agent of Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing Corporation (the corporation) of which its co-petitioner Edwin Chua is the President. In the election of the union officers, Camilo Lenizo (Lenizo) emerged as President. The corporation however refused to recognize the newly elected officers for the reason that there is an intra-union conflict between the factions of Lenizo and Romeo Ibanez, the former acting union president. The union staged a strike which causes illegal acts that intimidated and harassed the corporation and non-striking employees. The strikers use physical violence and harass those employees who are not on their side by shouting and threatening them not to go to work anymore. The Labor Arbiter declared the strike illegal and thus, some of the members who participated in the mass action lost their employment status. ISSUE: Whether or not some of the employees who participated in the strike should be reinstated without loss of seniority rights HELD: Article 264 (a) of the Labor Code states that any union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his employment status. Thus, a union officer may be declared to have lost his employment status if he knowingly participates in an illegal strike and in this case, the strike is declared illegal by the court because the means employed by the union are illegal.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 160058 June 22, 2007

PILIPINO TELEPHONE CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. PILIPINO TELEPHONE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION (PILTEA), PELAGIO S. BRIONES II, GEORGE L. DE LEON, LECEL M. FIDEL, AUGUSTO C. FRANCISCO, OLIVER B. ANTONIO, RONALDO B. CORONEL, CHRISTOPHER L. HERRERA and GEM TORRES, respondents. x-----------------------------x G.R. No. 160094 June 22, 2007

PILIPINO TELEPHONE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION (PILTEA), PELAGIO S. BRIONES II, GEORGE L. DE LEON, and GEM TORRES, petitioners, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and PILIPINO TELEPHONE CORPORATION, respondents. DECISION PUNO, C.J.: At bar are two consolidated petitions seeking review of the decision1 and resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 59799 which modified the decision3 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) by affirming the illegality of the strike conducted by Pilipino Telephone Employees Association (the Union) but reducing the penalty against union officers Pelagio S. Briones II, George De Leon, Lecel M. Fidel and Gem Torres from dismissal to suspension for six (6) months. First, we unfurl the facts. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the Union and Pilipino Telephone Corporation (the Company) was due to expire on December 31, 1997. On October 30, 1997, the Union submitted to the Company its proposals for the renegotiation of the non-representation aspects of their CBA. As there was a standstill on several issues, the parties submitted their dispute to the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) for preventive mediation.4 The conciliation proceedings before the NCMB failed. On July 13, 1998, the Union filed a Notice of Strike5 with the NCMB for unfair labor practice due to the alleged acts of "restraint and coercion of union members and interference with their right to self-organization" committed by the Company's Revenue Assurance Department (RAD) Manager Rosales and its Call Center Department Manager, Manny Alegado, to wit: 1. Requiring employees to execute undated resignation letters prior to regularization as a condition for continued employment. 2. Preventing employees from displaying Union flags and CBA's slogans.

3. Prohibiting employees from conducting and preventing employees from participating in Union activities. 4. Requiring employees to render forced overtime to prevent them from attending Union meetings and activities after office hours. 5. Using vulgar and insulting language such as "Kahit sa puwet n'yo isaksak ang mga banderang yan!" 6. Threatening employees who join concerted Union activities with disciplinary action. 7. Discouraging employees from participating in Union activities by branding the activities illegal and prohibited by law. 8. Abuse of Company Rules and Regulations to prevent the free exercise by the Union and its members of their right to self organization and free expression (e.g. issuing show cause memos for refusal to render overtime and vandalism). 9. Utilizing security guards to harass employees who participate in Union activities by requiring the guards to take down the names of employees who participate in the Union activities.6 The Company filed a petition for Consolidated Assumption of Jurisdiction with the Office of the Secretary of Labor. On August 14, 1998, then Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma issued an Order, the dispositive portion of which states: WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Office hereby assumes jurisdiction over the entire labor disputeat Pilipino Telephone Corporation pursuant to Art. 263(g) of the Labor Code, as amended. Accordingly, any strike or lockout, whether actual or intended, is hereby enjoined. Furthermore, the parties are likewise directed to cease and desist from committing any or all acts that might exacerbate the situation. To expedite the resolution of the dispute, the parties are hereby directed to file their respective position papers and documentary evidence within TEN (10) days from receipt of this Order. SO ORDERED.7 (Emphases supplied.) On September 4, 1998, the Union filed a second Notice of Strike8 with the NCMB on the grounds of: a) union busting, for the alleged refusal of the Company to turn over union funds; and b) the mass promotion of union members during the CBA negotiation, allegedly aimed at excluding them from the bargaining unit during the CBA negotiation. On the same day, the Union went on strike. On September 9, 1998, Secretary Laguesma directed the striking Union officers and members to return to work within twenty-four (24) hours from receipt of the Order and for the Company to accept all strikers under the same terms and conditions of employment prior to the strike. The Union and its members complied. On December 7, 1998, the Company filed with the NLRC a petition9 to declare the Union's September 4, 1998 strike illegal. On August 16, 1999, Labor Arbiter Aliman D. Mangandog issued a decision, the dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the September 4, 1998 strike conducted by PILTEA is declared illegal. Accordingly, the following union officers of PILTEL/MKP, namely: George de Leon, Pelagio S. Briones, Nelson C. Pineda, Rolando U. Sta. Ana, Elna E. Escalante, Gem P. Torres, Ma. Rica D. Hilotin, Gerald Joseph P. Tayas, Lecel M. Fidel and Jose Rudylin R. Gamboa are declared to have lost their employment status. While the following members, namely: Romeo Anonuevo, Jonathan Molaer, Cris Herrera, Edgar Alan Aquino, Aris Ablis, Dorothy Zulieta, Ronald Cornel, Arnel Garcia, Ranelio Mendoza, Oliver Antonio, Alvin Usman, Augusto Francisco, Celia Mogol and Erlinda Madrid are hereby suspended for six (6) months without pay. SO ORDERED.10 The Labor Arbiter found the strike illegal for having been conducted in defiance of Secretary Laguesma's August 14, 1998 assumption order and for non-compliance with the procedural requirements for the conduct of a strike under the Labor Code and its implementing rules. The Labor Arbiter cited Scholastica's College v. Ruben Torres11 which ruled that a strike undertaken despite the issuance of an assumption or certification order by the Secretary of Labor is a prohibited activity, hence, illegal under Article 264 of the Labor Code. He found that the grounds relied upon by the Union in its second notice of strike were substantially the same as those set forth in its first notice of strike. Moreover, he held that the Company's alleged refusal to turn over the checked-off union dues was not a strikeable issue as it was not a gross and blatant violation of the economic provisions of the CBA. He also held that the mass promotion of the Union's members was not tantamount to dismissal, hence, did not constitute union busting. The staging of the strike was likewise found to suffer from fatal procedural defects, to wit: a) the notice of strike was filed on the same day that the strike was conducted; b) the fifteen (15)-day cooling-off period was not observed; c) the Union failed to conduct a strike vote within the time prescribed by law; and d) the result of the strike vote was not furnished to the NCMB at least seven (7) days prior to the intended strike. Certain illegal acts were likewise found to have been committed during the strike, among which were the following: 1) striker Manny Costales prevented the Company's Director, Lilibeth Pasa, from entering the Bankers Centre Building; 2) union officers Judilyn Gamboa and Rolly Sta. Ana physically blocked the front entrance of the same building; 3) striker Aris Ablis drove a company vehicle and used it to block the driveway of PILTEL Centre II, thus, the cars inside the building were prevented from going out. The tires of said company vehicle were found deflated the following day; 4) strikers Dorothy Zulieta and Ronald Cornel prevented the Warehousing Manager assigned at the PILTEL Metropolitan Warehouse from going out of his office; 5) the strikers, led by Nelson Pineda, blocked the Detachment Supervisor of Protection Specialists and the uniformed company guards from delivering food to the non-striking employees trapped inside PILTEL Call Center at the Manila Memorial Park Building; 6) in General Santos City, some union members tied the entrance doors of the PILTEL Building and tied the company vehicles together; 7) Fe Carandang, Estrella Anonical, Zaldy Logos and Jovencio Laderas blocked the main entrance of the Boac, Marinduque office of the Company; 8) strikers Edna Carrion, Celia Mogol, Erlinda Madrid, Raul Montalan, Rolly Miraflor, Zaldy de Chavez and Dina Madla of the Company's office in Boac, Marinduque were also heard telling the Company's clients not to transact business with the company; and 9) strikers Zaldy Logos, Rizaldy de Chavez, Raul Montalan, Rolly Milaflor and Jovencio Laderas were seen preventing the free ingress and egress of the Company's office premises in Boac, Marinduque. The Labor Arbiter ruled that since the September 4, 1998 strike was illegal, the Union officers were deemed to have lost their employment status. He further ruled that the illegal acts committed during the strike were not serious enough to merit the dismissal of the erring Union members as they were merely acting at the order of their leaders. Hence, the erring union members were merely suspended for six (6) months. On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter in toto.12 The Union, its dismissed officers and its suspended members filed a motion for reconsideration, to no avail.13

The Union, its officers Briones, De Leon, Fidel and Torres, and its members Francisco, Antonio, Coronel and Herrera filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the CA, attributing grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction on the part of the NLRC.14 On September 20, 2002, the CA modified the ruling of the NLRC as follows: WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the NLRC dated February 29, 2000 is MODIFIED. Petitioners Pelagio S. Briones, George L. De Leon, Lecel M. Fidel and Gem Torres shall be suspended for six (6) months without pay instead of being dismissed. If already dismissed, petitioners shall be reinstated back to their former positions, or, if already filled, then to any other equal positions and shall be entitled to backwages computed from date of dismissal until date of actual reinstatement less the pay for the six (6) months suspension they were supposed to serve. The suspension of petitioners Augusto C. Francisco, Oliver B. Antonio, Ronaldo B. Coronel and Christopher L. Herrera for six (6) months without pay and the finding of illegality of the September 4, 1998 strike STANDS. SO ORDERED.15 Both parties filed their respective partial motions for reconsideration - the company assailed the CA decision decreasing the penalty of the union officers while the Union and its dismissed officers assailed the decision declaring the strike illegal. Both motions were denied.16 Hence, the instant petitions. In G.R. No. 160058, the Company raises the issue of: [WHETHER] THE ASSAILED 20 SEPTEMBER 2002 DECISION AND 17 SEPTEMBER 2003 RESOLUTION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS ARE CONTRARY TO LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE.17 It prays that the September 20, 2002 Decision and September 17, 2003 Resolution of the CA be reversed in part and judgment be rendered affirming in toto the February 29, 2000 Decision of the NLRC. In G.R. No. 160094, the Union and Union officers Briones, De Leon and Torres raise the issue of: [WHETHER] THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN UPHOLDING NLRC'S FINDING THAT THE 4 SEPTEMBER 1998 STRIKE HELD BY PILTEA WAS ILLEGAL AS IT IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH EXISTING LAW OR JURISPRUDENCE.18 They pray that this Court modify the September 20, 2002 Decision and September 17, 2003 Resolution of the CA and: a) declare the Union's September 4, 1998 strike as legal; b) nullify the six-month suspension imposed on Briones, De Leon and Torres; and c) order the Company to pay them backwages covering the period of their suspension. The twin issues to be resolved are: a) the legality of the Union's strike and b) the penalty to be imposed on the Union officers, if any. First, the legality of the strike. The Union and its officers maintain that their September 4, 1998 strike was legal. They allege that the Company was guilty of union busting in promoting a substantial number of Union members and officers to positions outside the bargaining unit during the period of CBA negotiations. Allegedly, said Union members and officers maintained the same jobs and duties

despite their promotion. They also capitalize on the CA's finding that the company was guilty of unfair labor practice in refusing to turn over the deducted contingency fees of the union members to the union. Citing Bacus v. Ople,19 Panay Electric Company v. NLRC20 and PNOC Dockyard and Engineering Corporation v. NLRC,21 they contend that this finding of unfair labor practice precludes the CA from ruling that the strike was illegal and that the Union was in bad faith in conducting the strike. These arguments do not sway. Article 263 of the Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6715,22 and Rule XXII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code outline the following procedural requirements for a valid strike: 1) A notice of strike, with the required contents, should be filed with the DOLE, specifically the Regional Branch of the NCMB, copy furnished the employer of the union; 2) A cooling-off period must be observed between the filing of notice and the actual execution of the strike thirty (30) days in case of bargaining deadlock and fifteen (15) days in case of unfair labor practice. However, in the case of union busting where the union's existence is threatened, the cooling-off period need not be observed. xxx xxx xxx 4) Before a strike is actually commenced, a strike vote should be taken by secret balloting, with a 24-hour prior notice to NCMB. The decision to declare a strike requires the secret-ballot approval of majority of the total union membership in the bargaining unit concerned. 5) The result of the strike vote should be reported to the NCMB at least seven (7) days before the intended strike or lockout, subject to the cooling-off period.23 It is settled that these requirements are mandatory in nature and failure to comply therewith renders the strike illegal.24 In the case at bar, the Union staged the strike on the same day that it filed its second notice of strike. The Union violated the seven-day strike ban. This requirement should be observed to give the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) an opportunity to verify whether the projected strike really carries the approval of the majority of the union members. 25 Moreover, we agree with the CA that there was no union busting which would warrant the nonobservance of the cooling-off period. To constitute union busting under Article 263 of the Labor Code, there must be: 1) a dismissal from employment of union officers duly elected in accordance with the union constitution and by-laws; and 2) the existence of the union must be threatened by such dismissal. In the case at bar, the second notice of strike filed by the Union merely assailed the "mass promotion" of its officers and members during the CBA negotiations. Surely, promotion is different from dismissal. As observed by the Labor Arbiter: x x x Neither does that (sic) PILTEL's promotion of some members of respondent union constitutes (sic) union busting which could be a valid subject of strike because they were not being dismissed. In fact, these promoted employees did not personally come forward to protest their promotion vis--vis their alleged option to remain in the union bargaining unit of the rank and filers.26 This is consistent with our ruling in Bulletin Publishing Corporation v. Sanchez27 that a promotion which is manifestly beneficial to an employee should not give rise to a gratuitous speculation that it was made to deprive the union of the membership of the benefited employee.

The contention of the Union and its officers that the finding of unfair labor practice by the CA precludes the ruling that the strike was illegal is unmeritorious. The refusal of the Company to turn over the deducted contingency funds to the union does not justify the disregard of the mandatory seven-day strike ban and the 15-day cooling-off period. The Union's reliance on Bacus v. Ople,28 Panay Electric Company v. NLRC29 and PNOC Dockyard and Engineering Corporation v. NLRC30 is likewise unavailing. Nowhere in Panay Electric Company and PNOC Dockyard and Engineering Corporation did the Court rule that the procedural requirements for a valid strike may be dispensed with if the striking workers believed in good faith that the company was committing acts of unfair labor practice. In both cases, the striking union members complied with the procedural requirements for a valid strike. It is correct that this Court, in Bacus, held that "a strike staged by the workers inspired by good faith does not automatically make the same illegal," but said case was decided before the effectivity of R.A. No. 6715 on March 21, 1989. We have ruled that with the enactment of R.A. No. 6715, the requirements as to the filing of a notice of strike, strike vote, and notice given to the DOLE are mandatory in nature.31 Moreover, we agree with the NLRC that the subject strike defied the assumption order of the Secretary of Labor. The NLRC correctly affirmed the Labor Arbiter that the second notice of strike was based on substantially the same grounds as the first notice of strike. The Union and its officers and members alleged that the mass promotion of the union officers and members and the non-remittance of the deducted contingency fees were the reasons for their concerted activities which annoyed the Company's RAD Manager and made him commit acts of unfair labor practice, eventually leading to the Union's filing of the first notice of strike. Clearly then, the issues which were made as grounds for the second notice of strike, viz, the mass promotion of the union members and officers and the non-remittance of the deducted contingency fees, were already existing when the Secretary of Labor assumed jurisdiction over the entire labor dispute between the Company and the Union on August 14, 1998. Article 264 of the Labor Code provides: Art. 264. Prohibited activities.x x x No strike or lockout shall be declared after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or the Secretary or after certification or submission of the dispute to compulsory or voluntary arbitration or during the pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the strike or lockout. Having settled that the subject strike was illegal, we shall now determine the proper penalty to be imposed on the union officers who knowingly participated in the strike. Both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC imposed the penalty of dismissal on the striking union officers after finding that: a) the strike was illegal for having been conducted in defiance of Secretary Laguesma's August 14, 1998 Order of assumption of jurisdiction and for noncompliance with the procedural requirements for the conduct of a strike under the Labor Code and its implementing rules; b) the grounds relied upon by the Union in its second notice of strike were substantially the same as those set forth in its first notice of strike; c) the Company's alleged refusal to turn over the checked-off union dues was not a strikeable issue as it was not a gross and blatant violation of the economic provisions of the CBA; d) the mass promotion of the Union's members was also not tantamount to dismissal, hence, did not constitute union busting; and e) certain illegal acts were found to have been committed during the strike. On the other hand, the CA reduced the penalty of the union officers from dismissal to suspension for six months after finding that the "supreme penalty of dismissal" imposed on union officers Briones, De Leon, Fidel and Torres was "so harsh" considering that the Union did not

defy the Secretary of Labor's Assumption Order and that the Company did not have "clean hands" when it filed the instant case for having committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to turn over the union dues to the Union. We find that the CA committed a reversible error in modifying the rulings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. For a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to prosper, the tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions must be proven to have acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.32 "Grave abuse of discretion" has been defined as "a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough, it must be so grave as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law."33 We note that although the CA modified the ruling of the NLRC, nowhere in its decision did it attribute grave abuse of discretion to the NLRC. And rightly so. Article 264 of the Labor Code further provides: Art. 264. Prohibited activities. x x x Any workers whose employment has been terminated as a consequence of an unlawful lockout shall be entitled to reinstatement with full back wages. Any union officer who knowingly participates in illegal strike and any worker or union officer who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his employment status: Provided, that mere participation of a worker in a lawful strike shall not constitute sufficient ground for termination of his employment, even if a replacement had been hired by the employer during such lawful strike. x x x We have explained the meaning of this provision as follows: The effects of illegal strikes, as outlined in Article 264 of the Labor Code, make a distinction between ordinary workers and union officers who participate therein. Under established jurisprudence, a union officer may be terminated from employment for knowingly participating in an illegal strike. The fate of union members is different. Mere participation in an illegal strike is not a sufficient ground for termination of the services of the union members. The Labor Code protects ordinary, rank-and-file union members who participated in such a strike from losing their jobs provided that they did not commit illegal acts during the strike.34 In Gold City Integrated Port Service, Inc. v. NLRC,35 the Court held that "[t]he law, in using the word may,grants the employer the option of declaring a union officer who participated in an illegal strike as having lost his employment." Thus, in a number of cases,36 proof that an employee who knowingly participated in an illegal strike is a union officer was enough to warrant his dismissal from employment. This rule was relaxed in the case of PAL v. Brillantes37 where the Court "invoke[d] its judicial prerogative to resolve disputes in a way to render to each interested party the most judicious solution, and in the ultimate scheme, a resolution of a dispute tending to preserve the greater order of society." In said case, the Court dismissed the petition of PAL seeking the termination from employment of certain Union members and officers who staged a strike in violation of the Secretary of Labor's return-to-work order. The Court found that both parties contributed to the

volatile atmosphere that emerged despite the Secretary of Labor's status quo order as PAL terminated en masse the employment of 183 union officers and members. It noted the finding of the Acting Secretary of Labor that PAL "did not come to this office with 'clean hands' in seeking the termination of the officers and members of PALEA who participated in the 16 June 1994 strike."38 This Court exercised this judicial prerogative sparingly in Nissan Motors Philippines, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor.39 In said case, the Court also found Nissan equally guilty of exacerbating the situation after the assumption order of the Secretary for suspending a substantial number of Union officers and members with threat of eventual dismissal and perceived illegal lockout and union busting. However, while it affirmed the ruling of the Secretary of Labor suspending the union members who participated in the illegal strike, the Court sustained the dismissal of the union officers, viz: While the employer is authorized to declare a union officer who participated in an illegal strike as having lost his employment, his/its option is not as wide with respect to union members or workers for the law itself draws a line and makes a distinction between union officers and members/ordinary workers. An ordinary striking worker or union member cannot, as a rule, be terminated for mere participation in an illegal strike; there must be proof that he committed illegal acts during the strike.40 The Court further explained the reason: x x x Thus in Association of Independent Union in the Philippines vs. NLRC,41 we held that the responsibility of union officers, as main players in an illegal strike, is greater than that of the members and, therefore, limiting the penalty of dismissal only for the former for participation in an illegal strike is in order. Of the same tenor, albeit formulated a bit differently is our holding in Gold City Integrated Port Service, Inc. vs. NLRC.42 (Emphasis supplied.) In the case at bar, we do not find any reason to deviate from our rulings in Gold City Integrated Port Service, Inc. and Nissan Motors Philippines, Inc. It bears emphasis that the strike staged by the Union in the instant case was illegal for its procedural infirmities and for defiance of the Secretary's assumption order. The CA, the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter were unanimous in finding that bad faith existed in the conduct of the subject strike. The relevant portion of the CA Decision states: x x x We cannot go to the extent of ascribing good faith to the means taken in conducting the strike. The requirement of the law is simple, that is1. Give a Notice of Strike; 2. Observe the cooling period; 3. Observe the mandatory seven day strike ban; 3. If the act is union busting, then the union may strike doing away with the cooling-off period, subject only to the seven-day strike ban. To be lawful, a strike must simply have a lawful purpose and should be executed through lawful means. Here, the union cannot claim good faith in the conduct of the strike because, as can be gleaned from the findings of the Labor Arbiter, this was an extensively coordinated strike having been conducted all through out the offices of PILTEL all over the country. Evidently, the strike was planned. Verily, they cannot now come to court hiding behind the shield of "good faith." Be that as it may, petitioners claim good faith only in so far as their grounds for the strike but not on the conduct of the strike. Consequently, they still had to comply with the procedural requirements for a strike, which, in this case, they failed to do so.43 Thus, in imposing the penalty of dismissal, the NLRC correctly held: x x x the point We wish to stress is that the [open, blatant] and willful defiance by the respondents of the Order emanating from the Secretary of Labor and Employment in this

labor dispute only goes to show that the respondents have little or no regard at all for lawful orders from duly constituted authorities. For what their officers and members have suffered they have no one else to blame.44 It cannot be overemphasized that strike, as the most preeminent economic weapon of the workers to force management to agree to an equitable sharing of the joint product of labor and capital, exert some disquieting effects not only on the relationship between labor and management, but also on the general peace and progress of society and economic well-being of the State.45 This weapon is so critical that the law imposes the supreme penalty of dismissal on union officers who irresponsibly participate in an illegal strike and union members who commit unlawful acts during a strike. The responsibility of the union officers, as main players in an illegal strike, is greater than that of the members as the union officers have the duty to guide their members to respect the law.46The policy of the state is not to tolerate actions directed at the destabilization of the social order, where the relationship between labor and management has been endangered by abuse of one party's bargaining prerogative, to the extent of disregarding not only the direct order of the government to maintain the status quo, but the welfare of the entire workforce though they may not be involved in the dispute. The grave penalty of dismissal imposed on the guilty parties is a natural consequence, considering the interest of public welfare.47 IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition in G.R. No. 160094 is DENIED. The petition in G.R. No. 160058 is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 59799 dated September 20, 2002 and September 17, 2003, respectively, are REVERSED and the Decision and Resolution of the NLRC dated February 29, 2000 and April 28, 2000, respectively, are REINSTATED. SO ORDERED. Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, Azcuna, Garcia, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 154591

March 5, 2007

MANILA HOTEL EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION and its members, Petitioners, vs. MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION, Respondent.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision,1dated 31 October 2001, promulgated by the Court of Appeals, affirming the Decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), dated 5 April 2000, declaring that the strike held by the petitioner Manila Hotel Employees Association (MHEA), herein represented by Ferdinand Barles, is illegal. The Court of Appeals, in its assailed Decision, modified the Decision rendered by the NLRC and ruled that both incumbent officers and members of MHEA involved in the illegal strike lost their employment status.

On 11 November 1999, the MHEA filed a Notice of Strike with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) in its National Capital Region office against Manila Hotel on the grounds of unfair labor practices.2 Upon the petition of Manila Hotel, the Secretary of Labor and Employment (SOLE) certified the labor dispute to the NLRC for compulsory arbitration pursuant to Article 263(g) of the Labor Code on 24 November 1999. Specifically, the Order enjoined any strike or lockout and the parties were ordered to cease and desist from committing any acts that may exacerbate the situation.3 The parties and their counsels were served copies of the said Order.4 MHEA filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated 29 November 1999 assailing the validity of said Order.

The case was set for mandatory conference on 8 February 2000 before Presiding Commissioner Rogelio I. Rayala. During the conference, the parties were advised of the certification order, which prohibited them from taking any action that would exacerbate the situation. At the instance of the MHEA officers, the hearing of the case was reset to 29 February 2000 due to the absence of the counsel for MHEA.5

On 10 February 2000, the MHEA conducted a strike despite the clear terms of the Order issued by the SOLE on 24 November 1999, and despite the repeated reminders thereof.6 On the same day, Commissioner Rayala called for a mandatory conference.7 Thereafter, several conferences were conducted by the NLRC, wherein both parties were warned against aggravating the already volatile situation. During its hearing on 8 March 2000, the NLRC sought to have both parties identify the issues and stipulate the facts, despite their reluctance. It also allowed the parties sufficient time to file their position papers, with which both parties failed to comply.8

After the strike was conducted, both parties filed various motions and pleadings before the NLRC. Manila Hotel filed a complaint with Prayer for Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order on 11 February 2000, alleging that MHEA conducted an illegal strike, blocked all ingress and egress of the hotel premises, harassed and intimidated company officers, non-striking employees, customers and suppliers. In addition, it sought a declaration that the strike was illegal and that, consequently, the striking employees lost their employment.9

The NLRC issued an Order dated 11 February 2000 directing the striking workers to return to work immediately and the hotel to accept them back under the same terms and conditions of employment. The NLRC further instructed the parties to submit proof of compliance with the instant order immediately after the lapse of twenty-four hours.10 The parties, through their counsels, received the said Order before 4:00 pm of the same day. In their Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order dated 14 February 2000, and Motion for Reconsideration dated 11 April 2000, MHEA admitted that a copy of the order was served on the picket lines at 5:00 pm of 11 February 2000.11

The NLRC received a copy of the Compliance filed by Manila Hotel on 14 February 2000, manifesting that only six striking employees complied with the return-to-work Order and were reinstated. The other striking employees had openly defied the said Order.12

In response to the NLRCs return-to-work order, dated 11 February 2000, the MHEA filed an Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order on 14 February 2000. It alleged that the Motion for Reconsideration, dated 29 November 1999, questioning the validity of the Order of the SOLE, dated 24 November 1999, which certified the case to the NLCR, was still pending with the SOLE. The said

motion had prevented the said Order of the SOLE from becoming final and executory. Thus, it alleged that the NLRC had not acquired jurisdiction over the labor dispute pending the resolution of the Motion for Reconsideration filed before the SOLE.13 On 17 February 2000, the NLRC denied MHEAs Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order.14

The NLRC also issued another Order on 17 February 2000, ordering MHEA to refrain from putting up a blockade or barricade or any mode of preventing the free ingress to and egress from the hotel. Parenthetically, it also ordered Manila Hotel to respect the right of the striking workers to peacefully picket in a designated area outside the hotel. 15 Manila Hotel moved for the Reconsideration of the said Order on the ground that the picket, which they were ordered to respect, was an unlawful activity.16

Pending the resolution of its motion, MHEA filed a Motion to Inhibit, dated 10 March 2000, seeking to inhibit Commissioner Rayala,17 who voluntarily inhibited himself.>18 Likewise, the MHEA, through a Supplemental Motion, dated 22 March 2000, sought the inhibition of all the members of the First Division of the NLRC.19 Commissioner Veloso also voluntarily inhibited himself. On 31 March 2000, the case was re-raffled to the members of the Second and Third Divisions. The Commissioners thus convened and agreed to resolve the case per curiam. 20

In the Decision promulgated on 5 April 2000, the NLRC ruled that the 10 February 2000 strike held by MHEA was illegal for its defiance of the return-to-work order. However, it determined that only the union officers were deemed to have lost their employment. It ruled that there was no evidence showing who among the striking employees were actually notified of the return-to-work order, and therefore, such employees have not forfeited their employment. But in view of the antagonism on both sides, the NLRC awarded a severance pay equivalent to one-month salary to the returning union members for every year of service, instead of ordering Manila Hotel to reinstate them.21 In the dispositive part of the Decision,22 the NLRC decreed that:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the strike is declared illegal. Accordingly, the incumbent officers of the union are declared to have forfeited their employment status. Further, no relief may be granted the union with respect to their demands, in view of the absence of a decision thereon by a Voluntary Arbitrator.

In lieu of an order for the Hotel and members of the union to maintain their respective status previous to the strike, Manila Hotel, Inc. is hereby ORDERED to pay the returning union members, as an alternative relief to continued employment, severance compensation in an amount equivalent to one (1) month salary for every year of service, a fraction thereof, being considered as one whole year. No entitlement to backwages is however decreed, pursuant to the no-work-no-pay principle in strike cases.

Both parties filed their respective Motions for Reconsideration. Manila Hotel filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration which sought the deletion of the award of severance compensation to the union members who participated in the illegal strike.23 MHEA, on the other hand, sought the reversal of the Decision on the ground that the NLRC had no jurisdiction over the case and that they were deprived of due process.24 The NLRC denied both motions in a Resolution dated 17 May 2000.25

On 6 July 2000, Manila Hotel filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals to assail the Decision dated 5 April 2000, and the Resolution dated 17 May 2000, both issued by the NLRC.26 In a Decision27 dated 31 October 2001, the Court of Appeals granted the petition, to wit:

WHEREFORE, finding merit in the petition, the same is GRANTED. The assailed Decision is MODIFIED in that both the incumbent officers and members of the Union involved in the illegal strike are declared to have lost their employment status. The award of severance compensation to the striking members of the union is consequently DELETED.

On 26 November 2001, MHEA filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the Court of Appeals denied in a Resolution, dated 1 August 2002.28

MHEA filed a petition for review on certiorari before this Court questioning the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 October 2000. Thereafter, the Court ordered MHEA to submit proof that the Chairman/President of MHEA, Fernando Barles, had been duly authorized to sign the verification of the petition and certification of forum shopping.29 In compliance thereof, MHEA submitted eight (8) special powers of attorney (SPAs) executed by 138 union members authorizing Atty. Potenciano Flores and Ferdinand Barles to represent them in the case Manila Hotel Employees Association v. NLRC, CA-G.R. S.P No. 59601.30 Manila Hotel sought the dismissal of the present petition on the ground that petitioner Ferdinand Barles was not authorized to file it. Manila Hotel alleged that Barles was no longer the Chairman of MHEA and attached a certification31 dated 5 March 2003 of the union Secretary General, stating that Eduardo M. Saplan was the Chairman of the union, and that he succeeded Antonio Dumpit who held the position of Chairman from 5 July 2000 to 19 December 2002. It further alleged that the SPAs attached to the Compliance authorizing Barles and Potenciano to represent the union pertained to a different case, and not the present case.32 MHEA, however, insisted that it was the same case since it involved the same parties, facts, and issues.33

In the present petition, MHEA raises the following issues34:

WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE RESPONDENT COMMISSION HAD ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND THEY HAD COMMITED REVERSIBLE ERRORS IN THEIR QUESTIONED DECISIONS AND RESOLUTIONS WHEN, OBVIOUSLY, BY LAW AND SETTLED JURISPRUDENCE, THE INDIVIDUAL PETITIONERS, WHO ARE MERE ORDINARY MEMBERS OF THE UNION, ARE ENTITLED TO BE REINSTATED BACK (sic) TO WORK WITHOUT LOSS OF SENIORITY OR OTHER EMPLOYEES RIGHTS AND BENEFITS AND WITH FULL BACKWAGES FROM DATE OF DISMISSAL UNTIL ACTUAL REINSTATEMENT.

II

WITH DUE RESPECT, THE COURT BELOW AND THE RESPONDENT COMMISSION HAD COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF STRAINED RELATIONSHIP IN THE CASE AT BAR.

This petition is devoid of merit.

Before discussing the substantial issues of this case, this Court takes notice of a serious procedural flaw. Ferdinand Barles is not authorized to sign the verification and certification of non-forum shopping in the present case. The General Membership Resolution, dated 23 December 1998, affirmed that he was appointed as the Chairman of MHEA, in place of Gonzalo Irabon.35 Nevertheless, Barles failed to refute the facts that were ascertained by the certification of the secretary-general of MHEA: that at the time this petition was filed on 26 September 2002, and even at the time the petition was filed before the Court of Appeals by Manila Hotel - on 10 July 2000, Ferdinand Barles was no longer the Chairman of MHEA. The certification clearly stated that Antonio Dumpit was the union Chairman from 5 July 2000 to 19 December 2000, and that he was succeeded by Eduardo Saplan. Moreover, the SPAs that were submitted to the Court in order to prove that Barles was authorized to sign the verification and certification of non-forum shopping in this case failed to establish that crucial fact. The SPAs had in fact authorized Barles to represent the 138 members who signed the SPA to represent them in a different case, Manila Hotel Employees Association v. National Labor Relations Commission, CA-G.R. S.P No. 59601, which was raised on appeal before the Supreme Court under G.R. No. 144879. The MHEAs assertion that there were the same parties and issues involved in the two cases is self-defeating, not only because these are clearly two distinct cases, but because such will likewise violate the rule against non-forum shopping.

The provisions of Supreme Court Circular Nos. 28-91 and 04-94 require a Certification of Non-Forum Shopping in any initiatory pleading filed before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. In the case of Teoville Homeowners Association v. Ferreira,36 the Court emphatically underscored the need to show to the satisfaction of the Court that the person signing the verification and certification against non-forum shopping had been specifically authorized to do so. In other similar cases,37 it has been ruled that it is the party-pleader, and not the counsel, who must execute the certificate against forum shopping. The rationale for the rule is that the counsel may be unaware of any similar actions pending with other courts on the same matter. In this case, Ferdinand Barles was no longer an officer of the union at the time this petition was filed, and therefore was no longer privy to the cases that may have been filed by MHEA. Absent the specific authorization from the MHEA members that he sought to represent, any statement he may make cannot bind the MHEA herein named. For the foregoing reasons alone, this petition should be dismissed.

Aside from its procedural defects, the petition is also substantially infirm. MHEA members seek their reinstatement after participating in an illegal strike, that is, a strike that was conducted after receiving an Order of assumption38 by the SOLE certifying the dispute to the NLRC for compulsory arbitration. Worse still, the strikers failed to comply with the 11 February 2000 return-to-work Order, issued by the NLRC, despite receipt thereof. The law explicitly prohibits such acts.

ART. 263. STRIKES, PICKETING, AND LOCKOUTS

xxxx

(g) When, in his opinion there exists a labor dispute causing or likely to cause a strike or lockout in an industry indispensable to the national interest, the Secretary of Labor and Employment may assume jurisdiction over the dispute and decide it or certify the same to the Commission for compulsory arbitration. Such assumption or certification shall have the effect of automatically enjoining the intended or impending strike or lockout as specified in the assumption or certification order. If one has already taken place at the time of the assumption or certification, all striking or locked out employees shall immediately return to work and the employer shall immediately resume operations and readmit all workers under the same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike or lockout. The Secretary of Labor and Employment or the Commission may seek the assistance of law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance with this provision as well as with such orders as he may issue to enforce the same.

ART. 264. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES

(a) x x x x

No strike or lockout shall be declared after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or the Minister or after certification or submission of the dispute to compulsory or voluntary arbitration or during the pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the strike or lockout.

More to the point, the Court has consistently ruled in a long line of cases spanning several decades that once the SOLE assumes jurisdiction over a labor dispute, such jurisdiction should not be interfered with by the application of the coercive processes of a strike or lockout. Defiance of the assumption order or a return-to work order by a striking employee, whether a union officer or a member, is an illegal act and, therefore, a valid ground for loss of employment status.39

The assumption of jurisdiction by the SOLE over labor disputes causing or likely to cause a strike or lockout in an industry indispensable to the national interest is in the nature of a police power measure.40 In this case, the SOLE sufficiently justified the assumption order, thus:

The Hotel is engaged in the hotel and restaurant business and one of the de luxe hotels operating in Metro Manila catering mostly to foreign tourist groups and businessmen. It serves as venue for local and international conventions and conferences. The Hotel provides employment to more than 700 employees as well as conducts business with entities dependent on its continued operation. It also provides substantial contribution to the government coffers in the form of foreign exchange earnings and tax payments. Undoubtedly, a work stoppage thereat will adversely affect the Hotel, its employees, the industry, and the economy as a whole.

At this critical time when efforts of the present administration are seriously focused on preserving the economic gains achieved and ensuring that existing jobs are maintained, it is the utmost concern of this Office to avoid work disruption that might result to the firms closure particularly so when an alternative mechanism obtains to resolve the parties differences.41

The allegation42 that the strikers relied on their honest belief that the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order, issued by the SOLE on 24 November 1999, entitled them to participate in a strike, cannot be sustained. In the case of St. Scholasticas College v. Torres,43 the Court reiterated the rule that a return-to-work order is immediately executory notwithstanding the filing of a motion for reconsideration. It must be strictly complied with even during the pendency of any petition questioning its validity. Citing the case Philippine Airlines Employees Association v. Philippine Airlines, Inc.,44 it accounted for the rationale of this rule, as thus:

The very nature of a return-to-work order issued in a certified case lends itself to no other construction. The certification attests to the urgency of the matter, affecting as it does an industry indispensable to the national interest. The order is issued in the exercise of the courts compulsory power of arbitration, and therefore must be obeyed until set aside. To say that its [return-to-work order] effectivity must await affirmance on a motion for reconsideration is not only to emasculate it but indeed to defeat its import, for by then the deadline fixed for the return to work would, in the ordinary course, have already passed and hence can no longer be affirmed insofar as the time element it concerned.

Returning to work in this situation is not a matter of option or voluntariness but of obligation. The worker must return to his job together with his co-workers so the operations of the company can be resumed and it can continue serving the public and promoting its interest.45 This extraordinary authority given to the Secretary of Labor is aimed at arriving at a peaceful and speedy solution to labor disputes, without jeopardizing national interests. Regardless therefore of their motives, or the validity of their claims, the striking workers must cease and/or desist from any and all acts that tend to, or undermine this authority of the Secretary of Labor, once an assumption and/or certification order is issued. They cannot, for instance, ignore return-to-work orders, citing unfair labor practices on the part of the company, to justify their action.46

MHEA claims that the Court should consider as a mitigating circumstance the fact that they held the strike three months after filing their notice of strike. Such detail is irrelevant. What is crucial is that they were apprised of the assumption order of the SOLE wherein they were enjoined from carrying out a strike. They were again reminded to refrain from conducting a strike during the mandatory conference on 8 February 2000. Pending the proceedings for compulsory arbitration and for no apparent reason, they staged the strike two days later and refused to obey the return-to-work order issued on 11 February 2000. In the case of Grand Boulevard Hotel v. Genuine Labor Organization of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (GLOWHRAIN),47 the Court cautioned against the unreasonable and indiscriminate exercise of the right to strike:

[T]he decision to wield the weapon of strike must therefore rest on a rational basis, free from emotionalism, unswayed by the tempers and tantrums of a few hotheads, and firmly focused on the legitimate interest of the union which should not however be antithetical to the public welfare. In every strike staged by a union, the general peace and progress of society and public welfare are involved. x x x.

MHEA alleges that the union members were not served a copy of the assumption order issued by SOLE.48 Such allegation is absurd considering that MHEA repeatedly alluded in its Motion for Reconsideration dated 29 November 1999 to the assumption order, which they now deny having received. The records also state that petitioners and their counsels received a copy of the order on 24 November 1999 and 26 November 1999, respectively. On 8 February 2000, two days before the

strike was undertaken, MHEA officers had attended a mandatory conference before the NLRC wherein they were advised not to take any action to exacerbate the situation. They had even moved for the postponement of the hearing to 29 February 2000 due to the absence of their counsel. It is only too obvious that MHEA conducted the 10 February 2000 strike knowing fully that an assumption order had been issued.1awphi1.nt

They, likewise, imply that they were not served a copy of the return-to-work order.49 Such allegation loses credence because MHEA, in its Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order dated 14 February 2000, and Motion for Reconsideration dated 11 April 2000, admitted that a copy of the return-to-work order was served on the picket lines. Records show that their counsel was likewise served a copy thereof during the 11 February 2000 conference and that he refused to acknowledge receipt.50 During the 16 February 2000 conference, MHEAs counsel stated that the reason that some of the strikers were unable to return to work was the fact that the picket lines were violently dispersed a few hours after the twenty-four hour period expired.51 This implies that during the twenty-four hour period that they were allowed to be fully reinstated, they failed to report to work.

MHEA cannot lean on the doctrine in the case of PNOC Dockyard and Engineering Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission.52 The Court, in the aforecited case, ruled that there was no valid service of the certification order which prohibited any strike or lockout since the said order was served on the guard on duty instead of the president of the union who was authorized to receive the same. As a result, the strike undertaken after the issuance of the said order was considered legal, hence cannot effectively terminate the employment of workers who joined the strike. In the present case, not only were the union officers apprised of the order, a copy of the same was served on the picket lines.

MHEA, likewise, assails the Decision of the NLRC for having been determined without conducting any preliminary hearings nor requiring the submission of position papers.53 Again, the records belie these statements. During the mandatory conference held on 8 March 2000, the parties had in fact identified the issues and made stipulations of facts.54 During the same hearing, the Presiding Commissioner required both parties to file their position papers.55 The parties, however, failed to present evidence or file the position papers after they had been given ample opportunity to do so.

MHEA propounds the theory56 that both parties had acted in pari delicto and, therefore, the dismissal of its members who participated in the illegal strike, was unwarranted, citing as its precedents Philippine Airlines Inc. v. Brillantes57 and Philippines Interfashion Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission.58 In both cases, the undisputed finding that the employer was guilty of an illegal lockout while the union conducted an illegal strike, caused the Court to order the reinstatement of the employees who participated in the illegal strike. In Philippine Airlines Inc. v. Brillantes,59 the Court emphasized the unequivocal rule that participating in a strike undertaken in

defiance of the order of the SOLE results in the loss of employment status. It only made an exception of the said case because the records clearly established that the employer, Philippine Airlines, Inc., terminated the employment of 183 union officers and members, in violation of the order issued by the SOLE.60 In Philippines Interfashion Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, the return-to-work order was not issued pursuant to an assumption or certification order.61 More importantly, the employees complied with the return-to-work order and reported back for work within one day after receiving the same. Despite such compliance, the employer refused to reinstate 114 employees, and, thus, such refusal on the part of the employer amounted to an illegal lockout.62

In the present case, nothing in the records shows that Manila Hotel was guilty of an illegal lockout. It readmitted the six (6) employees who complied with the return-to-work order. MHEA made a vague reference to striking employees who complied with the return-to-work order, but were nevertheless refused re-admittance by Manila Hotel.63 However, they failed to even identify these employees. There is no allegation that MHEA filed any case for illegal lock-out against Manila Hotel. What is clearly shown by the records is that the strike or picketing was still being conducted on 28 February 2000, way after the 24-hour deadline set by the NLRC.64 Thus, it is obvious that applying the in pari delicto doctrine pronounced in Philippine Airlines Inc. v. Brillantes65 and Philippines Interfashion Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission66 to this case would be improper and without basis.

It would not be amiss to reiterate the Courts pronouncement in the case Reliance Surety & Insurance Co., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission67:

As a general rule, the sympathy of the Court is on the side of the laboring classes, not only because the Constitution imposes sympathy but because of the one-sided relation between labor and capital. The Court must take care, however, that in the contest between labor and capital, the results achieved are fair and in conformity with the rules. x x x.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant Petition is DENIED. This Court AFFIRMS the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, promulgated on 31 October 2001, declaring the strike conducted by the MHEA on 10 February 1999 as illegal and, thus, resulting in the loss of employment status of the union officers and members who participated in the said strike. No costs.

SO ORDERED.