Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION (MANDAUE PACKAGING PRODUCTS PLANTS), petitioner, vs. MANDAUE PACKING PRODUCTS PLANTS-SAN PACKAGING PRODUCTS –SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION MONTHLIES RANK-AND-FILE UNION – FFW (MPPP-SMPP-SMAMRFU-FFW), respondent.

Facts: On 15 June 1998, respondent, identifying itself as an affiliate of Federation of Free Workers (FFW), filed a petition for certification election with the DOLE Regional Office. In the petition, respondent stated that it sought to be certified and to represent the permanent rank-and-file monthly paid employees of the petitioner. A set of documents were attached to the petition, including a (1) Charter Certificate issued by FFW certifying that respondent was a duly certified local chapter of FFW, (2) copy of the constitution of respondent, (3) a list of respondent’s officers, (4) a certification signifying that respondent had just been organized and no amount had yet been collected from its members and (5) a list of all the rank-and-file monthly paid employees of the Mandaue Packaging Products Plants and Mandaue Glass Plant 

On 27 July 1998, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the petition for certification election on the sole ground that herein respondent is not listed or included in the roster of legitimate labor organizations based on the certification issued by the Officer-In-Charge, Regional Director of the DOLE Regional Office. 

Undersecretary Baldoz concluded that respondent acquired legal personality as early as 15 June 1998, the date it submitted the required documents, citing Section 3, Rule VI of the New Rules Implementing the Labor Code (Implementing Rules) which deems that a local/chapter acquires legal personality from the date of filing of the complete documentary requirements as mandated in the Implementing Rules. 

These two conclusions of the DOLE were affirmed in the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals 

Issue: Whether or not respondent has acquired legal personality 

Held: YES. It could be properly said that at the exact moment respondent was filing the petition for certification, it did not yet possess any legal personality, since the requisites for acquisition of legal personality under Section 3, Rule VI of Department Order No. 9 had not yet been complied with. It could also be discerned that the intention of the Labor Code and its Implementing Rules that only those labor organizations that have acquired legal personality are capacitated to file petitions for certification elections. Such is the general rule. Yet there are peculiar circumstances in this case that allow the Court to rule that respondent acquired the requisite legal personality at the same time it filed the petition for certification election. In doing so, the Court acknowledges that the strict letter of the procedural rule was not complied with. However, labor laws are generally construed liberally in favor of labor, especially if doing so affirms the constitutionally guaranteed right to self-organization. 

Under Section 3, Rule VI of Department Order No. 9, it is the submission of these same documents to the Regional Office or Bureau that operates to vest legal personality on the local/chapter. There is no doubt that on 15 June 1998, or the date respondent filed its petition for certification election, attached thereto were respondent’s constitution, the names and addresses of its officers, and the charter certificate issued by the national union FFW. 

However, respondent never submitted a separate by-laws, nor does it appear that respondent ever intended to prepare a set thereof. Section 1(c), Rule VI, Book V of Department Order No. 9 provides that the submission of both a constitution and a set of by-laws is required, or at least an indication that the local/chapter is adopting the constitution and by-laws of the federation or national union. A literal reading of the provision might indicate that the failure to submit a specific set of by-laws is fatal to the recognition of the local/chapter. However, a critical examination of respondent’s constitution reveals that it is sufficiently comprehensive in establishing the necessary rules for its operation. These premises considered, there is clearly no need for a separate set of by-laws to be submitted by respondent.

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