THE Court of Appeals stopped the implementation of a Pasay City court ruling, ordering the Manila International Airport Authority to pay the Cost of Living Allowances (Cola) of more than 1,500 airport employees.

In a 10-page decision, Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, CA’s Fifth Division, granted the petition of the MIAA seeking a reversal in the 2006 ruling of the Pasay RTC Branch 119.

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The appellate court agreed that the trial court ruling deprived petitioners’ right to due process when it failed to dismiss outright the plea filed by the Samahang Manggagawa sa Paliparan ng Pilipinas led by engineer Ceferino Lopez for its failure to enlist the Department of Budget and Management as an “indispensable party” in the suit.

The CA held that the DBM has the right to be heard on the issue since it is the government agency primarily tasked to enforce Republic Act 6758 or the Salary Standardization Law and its implementing rules.

The appellate court said the RTC’s order for MIAA to appropriate funds to pay for their Cost of Living allowance (Cola) and amelioration allowance is void as it was issued in violation of the DBM’s right to due process.

It noted that the respondents named in the complaint filed by MIAA employees are considered “nominal parties” only because they are only implementing RA 6758 in accordance with the circular issued by the DBM.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Rebecca de Guia-Salvador and Sesinando Villon.

Records showed that MIAA employees filed a suit before the Pasay RTC seeking to compel MIAA to implement Sections 4.1 and 4.2 of DBM Corporate Compensation Circular No. 10 series of 1999, by adding the COLA and amelioration allowance into their basis salaries from July 16 up to the present.

Named respondent in that suit were then MIAA general manager Alfonso Cusi and the board of directors of the airport management.

The employees also asked the trial court to direct the MIAA board of directors to issue the necessary board resolution appropriating funds for it.

Airport workers recounted that Section 12 of RA 6758 mandates the integration of all allowances received by government employees into their basic salary.

In 1989, the DBM issued Circular No 10 to implement RA 6758 but it was declared unenforceable by the Supreme Court in a ruling issued on August 12, 1998 due to its non-publication.

Thus, on February 15, 1999, the circular was re-issued and took effect on July 16, 1999 after its publication in the official gazette. As a result, MIAA employees were given their Cola and amelioration allowance back pay from July 1, 1989 to July 15, 1999.

The group requested the airport management to continue paying their allowances but it was denied by MIAA on the ground that it were already integrated into their salaries pursuant to DBM circular no. 10.(JCV/Sunnex)