Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Diokno v. Cacdac (2007)

Facts: FLAMES, the Supervisor's Union for MERALCO, held a Union Election. It formed its own COMELEC for the purpose of conducting fair elections, with Dante Tong as its Chairman. 

Jimmy Ong and others filed their certificates of candidacy (CoC). But these were rejected by the COMELEC on the ground that Ong was not a member of FLAMES, and that the others were confidential employees. 

Another group, that of Edgardo Daya, also filed their CoCs. Other members of FLAMES petitioned the COMELEC to have them disqualified. The COMELEC disqualified Daya on the ground that they were committing acts of disloyalty which are inimical to the interest FLAMES, as provided for in their Constitution and By-Laws (CBL). It was alleged that, in their campaign, they had solicited support from non-union members, particularly from officers of the MEMABA and the MESALA. 

The union elections proceeded, then COMELEC declared Diokno and other petitioners as the new President, etc. of FLAMES. 

Ong's group filed a petition to annul the COMELEC's Order rejecting their CoCs. 

Daya's group likewise filed their petition to annul their disqualification, to nullify the election proceedings and counting of votes, to declare a failure of election, and to declare the holding of a new election to be controlled and supervised by the DOLE. 

And yet another group, that of Gaudencio Jimenez, filed another petition alleging that the union elections were not free, orderly and peaceful. 

All of these petitions were filed separately before the Med-Arb Unit of the DOLE, and were subsequently consolidated. 

Meanwhile, a new election was held, this time with Daya's group participating. Eventually, the CA upheld the validity of the new elections, and the declaration of Daya's group as the duly elected winners. 

The Med-Arb ruled that Ong's petition was rendered moot and academic, and that Jimenez's petition was premature for non-exhaustion of administrative remedies within the COMELEC. With respect to Daya's petition, the Med-Arb ruled that Daya's disqualification was improper because it was not supported by substantial evidence, and that the grounds used by the COMELEC as a basis for disqualifying Daya, Art. IV, Sec. 4(a)(6) of the FLAMES CBL, actually referred to the grounds for Expulsion of a member from the union, and not Disqualification from the election. 

In all cases, the Med-Arb asserted its jurisdiction. 

The BLR and the CA affirmed the Med-Arb's decision. 

Diokno and his group argued that the Med-Arb was without jurisdiction over the disputes, because Art. 226 which grants power to the BLR to resolve inter- and intra-union disputes is dead law, and has been amended by Sec. 14, RA 6715 whereby the conciliation, mediation and voluntary arbitration functions of the BLR had been transferred to the NCMB. They also contended that the COMELEC had the sole and exclusive power to rule upon the qualification of any candidate, and therefore it has the correlative power to disqualify any candidate in accordance with its guidelines. 

Issue: Whether or not the BLR has jurisdiction. 

Held:  Yes. Sec. 14, RA 6715 did not repeal the jurisdiction of the BLR. It only added the clause “The Bureau shall have fifteen (15) working days to act on labor cases before it, subject to extension by agreement of the parties.” 

The BLR has original and exclusive jurisdiction on all inter-union and intra-union conflicts. Since Art. 226 has declared that the BLR shall have original and exclusive authority to act on all inter-union and intra-union conflicts, there should be no more doubt as to its jurisdiction. 

As defined, an intra-union conflict would refer to a conflict within or inside a labor union, while an inter-union conflict is one occuring or carried on between or among unions. 

The controversy in the case at bar is an intra-union dispute. There is no question that this is one which involves a dispute within or inside FLAMES, a labor union. At issue is the propriety of the disqualification of Daya by the FLAMES COMELEC in the union elections. 

It must also be stressed that even as the dispute involves allegations that Daya sought the help of non-union members in their election campaign, the same does not detract from the real character of the controversy. It remains as one which involves the grievance over the CBL of a union, and it is a controversy involving members of the union. 

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