No effect

Published by rudy Date posted on May 19, 2011
cxA retraction does not necessarily negate an earlier declaration. Retractions are looked upon with disfavor and do not automatically exclude the original statement or declaration. This is the general principle applied in this case of a labor union (SMMSC).
SMMSC is a union with membership of 169 rank and file employees out of a total of 528 workers in a Ceramics Company (MSC). Considering that its union membership is equivalent to 32% of the total rank and file employees of the company, which is more than the 20% minimum membership required by Article 234 of the Labor Code for purposes of registration as a labor union, SMMSC applied for registration as a legitimate labor organization in MSC. On May 4, 2005, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) granted its application after submission of the necessary documents.
On June 14, 2005 however MSC filed a Petition for Cancellation of the Union Registration against SMMSC claiming that the latter had not actually complied with the 20% requirement. In support of this petition MSC submitted pro forma affidavits prepared in advance and filled out with names and signatures of 102 employees recanting their union membership.
The first common allegation in the affidavits is that in-spite of hesitation they were forced and deceived by the union into joining it. They did not however identify the person who forced and deceived them much less the circumstances constituting the force and deceit. The second allegation ostensibly bares the affiants’ regret in joining the union and their desire to abandon or renege from whatever agreement they may have signed regarding their membership in the union.
The first batch of 25 pro forma affidavits were executed by individual affiants on different dates from May 26, to June 3, 2005 but were all notarized on June 8, 2005. Another batch of 77 affidavits was executed on different dates from May 26, until July 6, 2005, 56 of which were notarized also on June 8, 2005 while the rest were notarized on different dates. The first set was submitted to DOLE on June 14, 2005 and the second set on July 12, 2005.
On August 26, 2005 the DOLE Regional Director issued an Order granting the petition, revoking the registration of SMMSC and delisting it from the roster of active labor union. This order was however reversed and set aside by the Bureau of Labor and upheld by the Court of Appeals (CA).
MSC questioned the CA decision. It insisted that SMMSC failed to comply with the 20% union membership requirement for its registration as a legitimate labor organization because of the disaffiliation of 102 employees from the union as shown by their affidavits recanting their union membership. Was MSC correct?
No. It is important to determine first which statements, the new or the original, should be given weight or accorded belief applying the general rules on evidence. In appreciating the affidavits of recantation, distinction must be made whether the affidavits were made before or after the filing of the petition for registration. Affidavits of withdrawals made before the filing of the petition are presumed to be voluntary unless there is convincing proof to the contrary, whereas affidavits of withdrawal made after the filing of the petition are deemed involuntary. This is so because before the filing of the petition, the names of employees supporting the petition are not yet known by the employer, hence any such withdrawal or retraction is presumed voluntary in the absence of proof to the contrary. Moreover it becomes apparent that such employees who made the affidavits had not given consent to the filing of the petition hence the subscription requirement would not really be met.
When the withdrawal or recantation is made after the petition for registration is filed, the employees who are supporting the petition become known to the company since their names are attached to the petition at the time of filing. Therefore it may be expected that the employer would use fair or foul means to convince the employees to withdraw their support.
In the instant case the affidavits of recantation were executed after the identities of the union members became public, i.e. after the filing of the petition for certification election since the names of the members were attached to the petition. The logical conclusion therefore is that the employees were not totally free from the employer’s pressure and so the voluntariness of the employees’ execution of the affidavits becomes suspect.
Moreover the affidavits were prepared in advance, executed under suspicious circumstances, couched in general terms and sweeping in nature containing common allegations unsupported by evidence. At best they are self serving and possess no probative value.
Even assuming the veracity of the affidavits and the withdrawal of support considered as resignation from the union, the fact remains that at the time of the union’s petition for registration, the affiants were members of SMMSC and they comprised more than 20%. Hence its legitimacy as a labor organization must be affirmed. The law (Article 234) does not mandate that a union must maintain the 20% membership requirement all throughout its existence (Mariwasa Siam Ceramics vs. Secretary DOLE et. al., G.R. 183317, December 21, 2009).
Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call Tel. 7249445.
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E-mail at: –Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

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