11 September 2012
The country’s biggest coalition of trade unions and labor organizations, NAGKAISA! described as ‘sadistically anti-labor’ a Pasay judge who adversely ruled against the protesting officers and members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA).
On September 3, 2012, when PALEA photocopied the entire court record of a pending case of grave coercion filed by the Philippine Airlines against a number of union officers and members, it accidentally discovered from among the documents an order dated August 15, 2012 already signed by Judge Bibiano Colasito of Pasay City’s Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 44 for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against 39 officers and members of PALEA.
“What a farce! On July 25, a Pasay court under Judge Mupas freed Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on bail citing weak evidence against the former President. It granted the same to former Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos on August 18. Nobody noticed that during this same period, August 15, there was another Pasay judge in the name of Bibiano Colasito who ordered the arrest of 39 PALEA officers and members from a clearly non-criminal but dispute related action by workers,” bewailed NAGKAISA! leaders during a press conference held yesterday at the TUCP headquarters in Quezon City.
NAGKAISA! said Colasito’s ruling was unfair and unjust. In particular, it cried foul on the judge’s decision to blindly entertain the information filed by the prosecutor against the accused PALEA officers and members without the required clearance from the labor department as provided under DOJ Ministry Circular No. 15 (Series of 1982) and Department of Labor and Employment Department Order No. 40-G-03 (Series of 2010).
Labor leaders pointed out that the PAL-PALEA dispute on outsourcing/contractualization was the biggest labor dispute in the country that hugged the news during the last three years thus any action by PALEA members clearly arose from this long running dispute completely ignored by the Office of City Prosecutor and then by Judge Colasito.
“Worse, Colasito sided with the fallacious claim by PAL that PALEA members ‘coerced’ the company on October 29, 2011 when on the contrary it was the PALEA protest camp that was attacked on the same time and date by dozens of hired goons resulting in fact to the arrest of one goon, physical injuries to several PALEA members, and the destruction of half of the camp,” said NAGKAISA!.
The labor coalition said, it will join PALEA in taking Colasito’s action to higher authorities for remedy and will not hesitate to file administrative charges against the judge if necessary.
The group is alarmed that once Colasito’s action takes precedence, courts can anytime be utilized by employers as a tool to supress labor rights by criminalizing cases arising out of purely labor-related disputes – rights that were respected even during the martial law period.
NAGKAISA! also called on the new PAL management to commence negotiations with PALEA rather than pursue a protracted legal battle that will never arrive at a just resolution to the lingering labor dispute in the flag carrier.
Apart from the grave coercion rap, 234 PALEA members including the top leaders are facing another case for violation of RA 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Law in relation to their September 27, 2011 protest against outsourcing that disrupted airport operations.