SC junks bid to reinstate PAL pilots

Published by rudy Date posted on June 20, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a petition of a group of commercial pilots to reinstate the pilots of Philippine Airlines (PAL), who claimed they were illegally dismissed in 1998.

The High Court’s first division junked the motion for reconsideration of Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (Alpap) on its 2002 ruling on the labor case, saying “a judgment that has attained finality is immutable and could thus no longer be modified.”

In a 13-page decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the court held that reopening the case would pave the way for “vicious and vexatious proceedings,” considering that the grounds raised in the petition were already provided and resolved in the earlier decision of the court.

Chief Justice Renato Corona and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Roberto Abad and Jose Perez all concurred with the ruling.

The SC also noted that Alpap raised the issues “at a very late stage.”

“Interestingly, these defenses were not raised and discussed when the case was still pending before the DOLE(Department of Labor and Employment) Secretary, the CA (Court of Appeals) or even before this court… Alpap was given all opportunities to present its evidence and arguments. It cannot now complain that it was denied due process,” it added.

The case stemmed from Alpap’s plea for DOLE to identify who among its members were terminated by PAL after the pilots went on strike on June 5, 1998.

Alpap alleged in their petition that a number of their members were unceremoniously dismissed even though they did not participate in the strike, which the high tribunal held as illegal in its April 10, 2002, decision.

The same ruling upheld PAL’s order to sack pilots who refused to report to work even after then Labor Secretary Cresenciano Trajano issued a return-to-work order on June 7, 1998.

DOLE in its June 1, 1999, resolution, also upheld PAL’s termination order.

The airline’s management dismissed some 600 Alpap members when they embarked on a strike to protest the flag carrier’s order for all pilots who have reached 20 years of service or have flown 20,000 hours, to retire regardless of age.

But some of the axed pilots said they were on official leave or were abroad when the strike occurred.

In an attempt to save their employment, the pilots asked the Dole on Jan. 13, 2003, to identify Alpap officers and members who were covered by the dismissal order.

In a letter dated July 4, 2003, then acting Labor Secretary Manuel Imzon argued that no less than the Supreme Court had affirmed the legality of PAL’s dismissal orders.

Imzon’s predecessor,Patricia Sto. Tomas, also raised the same argument in her letter to Alpap. –Edu Punay The Philippine Star

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