Almirante: Jurisdiction

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By Dominador Almirante

Labor case Digest

Friday, April 25, 2014


ON Sept. 12, 1997, petitioner Hernando Borra and several others filed separate complaints docketed as RAB Case Nos. 06-09-10698-97 and 06-09-10699-97. RAB Case No. 06-09-10698-97 filed against private respondent Hawaiian Philippine Company asked that they be recognized and confirmed as regular employees and prayed for various benefits.

On Jan. 9, 1998, private respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss RAB Case No. 06-09-10698-97 on the ground of res judicata. It cited an earlier decided case entitled “Humphrey Perez, et al. v. Hawaiian Philippine Co. et al.” and docketed as RAB Case No. 06-04-10169-95 for 13th month pay and service incentive leave pay which included herein petitioners as among the complainants and private respondent as a respondent.

The labor arbiter granted the motion. The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) reversed the order of the labor arbiter, reinstated the complaint in RAB Case No. 06-09-10698-97 and remanded the same for further proceedings. The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the decision of the NLRC. In a petition for review on certiorari, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the CA.

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On Dec. 21, 1998 the labor arbiter rendered a decision in RAB Case No. 06-09-10699-97 holding that there is no employer-employee relations between private respondent and petitioners. No appeal having been taken thereon, the decision became final and executory. Consequently, private respondent again filed a Motion to Dismiss RAB Case No. 06-09-10698-97 on the ground, among others, of res judicata. The labor arbiter denied the motion. Private respondents went to the CA on a petition for certiorari which was granted. Petitioners argued that the CA has no jurisdiction over the petition because the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 151801, lodged the jurisdiction in the labor arbiter by directing the remand of RAB Case No. 06-09-10698-97 thereto for further proceedings. Is there merit to the argument?

Supreme Court (Third Division) Ruling: No.

In this regard, it should be reiterated that what has been filed by private respondent with the CA is a special civil action for certiorari assailing the Labor Arbiter’s Order which denied its motion to dismiss.

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In this regard, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, which is applied in a suppletory character to cases covered by the NLRC Rules, provides that in all the instances enumerated under the said Rule, where the judgment or final order is not appealable, the aggrieved party may file an appropriate special civil action under Rule 65. Thus, this Court has held that when the denial of a motion to dismiss is tainted with grave abuse of discretion, the grant of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari may be justified. On the basis of the foregoing, it is clear that the CA has jurisdiction over the special civil action for certiorari filed by private respondent as the latter was able to allege and establish that the denial of its motion to dismiss was tainted with grave abuse of discretion. Petitioners are wrong to argue that this Court’s directive in G.R. No. 151801 to remand RAB Case No. 06-09-10698-97 to the Labor Arbiter for further proceedings deprives the CA of its jurisdiction over private respondent’s petition for certiorari. The essence of this Court’s ruling in G.R. No. 151801 is simply to require resolution of the factual issue of whether or not Fela Contractor has stepped into the shoes of Castillon and, thus, has taken petitioners in its employ. In other words, this Court called for a prior determination as to who is the real employer of petitioners. This issue, however, was already settled as will be discussed below (Hernando Borra, et. al. vs. Court of Appeals, et.al, G.R. No. 167484, September 09, 2013).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 26, 2014.

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