July 27, 2019 05:50am – SC orders Kentex CFO to pay P1.4M to 57 surviving workers – Jerome Aning, Inquirer Mobile
The Supreme Court has affirmed the Department of Labor and Employment’s (Dole) decision ordering the chief finance officer of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to pay more than P1.44 million to 57 surviving workers found to have been underpaid after the Valenzuela City slipper factory burned down in 2015.
The high court’s First Division granted the Dole’s petition and ruled that Kentex CFO Ong King Guan, aside from the company’s chair and chief executive officer Beato Ang, should be held liable for the monetary awards.
Ong elevated the Dole-National Capital Region (NCR) decision dated June 26, 2015, which ordered him and Ang to pay the workers back wages.
The Dole-NCR, however, said Ong should have appealed to the office of the labor secretary first in accordance with the rules.
The Supreme Court agreed, saying that due to Ong’s failure to do so within 10 days, or until July 6, 2015, the Dole-NCR decision had already become final and executory.
Victims of underpayment
The Kentex factory burned down on May 13, 2015, killing 72 workers.
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Dole inspectors sent to the place found out that it had several contractual workers deployed from an unregistered private recruitment and placement agency, CJC Manpower Services.
The Dole-NCR eventually found that the CJC contractuals were victims of underpayment of wages and nonpayment of statutory benefits.
As a result, the Kentex officials were ordered to pay monetary awards.
In 2017, however, Ong secured a ruling from the Court of Appeals, which said that he could not be personally held liable for the debts of Kentex without a showing of bad faith or wrongdoing on his part of the corporation’s unlawful act.
The Supreme Court said the appeals tribunal committed a serious error in discharging or releasing Ong from the obligations of Kentex.
Final and executory
“The reason is elemental in its simplicity: contrary to settled, unrelenting jurisprudence, it unconsciously and egregiously sought to alter and modify, as it indeed altered and modified, an already final and executory verdict,” the high court said in the nine-page decision written by Justice Mariano del Castillo.
The other division members, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and Justices Francis Jardeleza, Alexander Gesmundo and Rosmari Carandang, concurred in the ruling.