Sunday, February 26, 2012

Metro Drug Distribution vs. Metro Drug Employee Association (2005)

Facts: Company and Assoc had a CBA with a grievance procedure. In a letter, the union president asked to grievable issues re: health insurance provider and the issue pertaining to the amendment to the salesmen’s incentive scheme which was implemented by Metro Drug. Even after grievance meetings conducted, both parties could not reach an agreement. According to union, it wanted to submit issue to a voluntary arbitrator (VA) as provided in CBA but the company despite notice, failed to submit its own nominees of VA such that union was prompted to file for ULP before the arbitration branch of NLRC. 

Union: Company violated CBA a) economic provisions stemming from petitioner’s introduction of unilateral changes on the salesmen’s incentive scheme and health insurance provider; b) violations of the duty to bargain and non-observance of the CBA provision on grievance machinery. 

Company: MTD filed for lack of jurisdiction should be with VA under Art. 217, 260, 261 of LC. 

Labor Arbiter: MTD denied. 

Company filed certiorari with CA which was dismissed. 

Issue: Whether or not certiorari filed directly with CA after MTD was denied by Labor Arbiter was proper? NO 

Held: Certiorari was not proper. 

Under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, for a certiorari proceeding to prosper, there should be a concurrence of the essential requisites, to wit: (a) the tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial functions has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction, and (b) there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law for the purpose of annulling or modifying the proceeding. 

Under NLRC rules, no appeal may be made of an order denying MTD. The NLRC rule proscribing appeal from a denial of a motion to dismiss is similar to the general rule observed in civil procedure that an order denying a motion to dismiss is interlocutory and, hence, not appealable until final judgment or order is rendered. The remedy of the aggrieved party in case of denial of the motion to dismiss is to file an answer and interpose, as a defense or defenses, the ground or grounds relied upon in the motion to dismiss, proceed to trial and, in case of adverse judgment, to elevate the entire case by appeal in due course. In order to avail of the extraordinary writ of certiorari, it is incumbent upon petitioner to establish that the denial of the motion to dismiss was tainted with grave abuse of discretion. 

Exhaustion of administrative remedies before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative processes afforded him. 

Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction, then such remedy should be exhausted first before the court’s judicial power can be sought. The premature invocation of court’s judicial intervention is fatal to one’s cause of action -The underlying principle of the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies rests on the presumption that the administrative agency, if afforded a complete chance to pass upon the matter, will decide the same correctly. 

HERE, company's remedy from the order of denial of its motion to dismiss was to submit its position paper as ordered by the labor arbiter and raise the question of supposed lack of jurisdiction. In the event of unfavorable judgment, it could thereafter raise the case, including the issue of jurisdiction, via appeal to the NLRC as provided for in the Labor Code on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. 

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