August 16, 2013
Members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) who were asked to fork over P2.4 million in an extortion attempt trooped to the Department of Justice (DOJ) this morning as the union filed an administrative complaint against assistant prosecutor Diosdado Solidum, Jr. Scores of PALEA members picketed the DOJ main office in Ermita with placards calling for “Justice for PALEA, Suspend Solidum” and “Justice for workers, End contractualization.”
In PALEA’s complaint it asked for the immediate suspension of Solidum. The union welcomed the filing of separate charges last Tuesday by the Ombudsman against Solidum but he was freed after posting bail last Wednesday and yesterday he already reported for work in the DOJ.
PALEA also called on the DOJ to dismiss the case against 241 of its members for alleged violation of the Civil Aviation Authority Act (CAAA). “We salute DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima for her iron will to fight corruption within her department and in government as shown in the entrapment of Solidum and the crusade against Juliet Lim Napoles. But we urge her to struggle for justice too as workers are wronged by fiscals and prosecutors who make erroneous anti-labor decisions,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.
A new DOJ prosecutor is now handling PALEA’s petition for review after Solidum was arrested in an entrapment operation Thursday last week. PALEA filed the petition for review after a
fiscal found probable cause for violation of Section 81 of CAAA pertaining to
disruption and destruction of airport services and facilities during PALEA’s
protest against outsourcing in September 27, 2011.
“It behooves the DOJ to dismiss the harassment case against the PALEA 241 because of a fatal flaw. Lawyers of Philippine Airlines do not have any clearance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in filing the case. Any complaint arising from a labor dispute requires such a clearance before civil courts can take jurisdiction,” Rivera asserted.
Rivera added that the harassment case has a chilling effect on labor relations and is a clear and present danger to workers rights. “Labor protests will then be banned in the aviation industry with workers penalized by both imprisonment and fine in violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights. This will be a grave precedent and new special laws can then be enacted to deny workers the freedoms of assembly, expression, self-organization and strike,” he explained.
He explained that “The decision is void of any legal basis as no damages were committed to airport facilities. Moreover the case is a labor issue and thus prior authority from the DOLE and DOJ should have been secured prior to the filing of the complaint. The CAAA is also explicit in providing that 'only the Director General' can file the appropriate charges and not the PAL Vice-President of the Airport Services as in this case.”