Supreme Court E-Library
Information At Your Fingertips


  View printer friendly version



EN BANC

[ G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018 ]

FLIGHT ATTENDANTS AND STEWARDS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (FASAP), PETITIONER, VS. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC., PATRIA CHIONG AND THE COURT OF APPEALS, RESPONDENTS.

[A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC]

IN RE: LETTERS OF ATTY. ESTELITO P. MENDOZA RE: G.R. NO. 178083 - FLIGHT ATTENDANTS AND STEWARDS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (FASAP) VS. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC., ET AL.

R E S O L U T I O N

BERSAMIN, J.:

In determining the validity of a retrenchment, judicial notice may be taken of the financial losses incurred by an employer undergoing corporate rehabilitation. In such a case, the presentation of audited financial statements may not be necessary to establish that the employer is suffering from severe financial losses.

Before the Court are the following matters for resolution, namely:
(a)
Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 filed by respondents Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) and Patria Chiong;[1] and


(b)
Motion for Reconsideration [Re: The Honorable Court's Resolution dated 13 March 2012][2] of petitioner Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP).
Antecedents

To provide a fitting backgrounder for this resolution, we first lay down the procedural antecedents.

Resolving the appeal of FASAP, the Third Division of the Court[3] promulgated its decision on July 22, 2008 reversing the decision promulgated on August 23, 2006 by the Court of Appeals (CA) and entering a new one finding PAL guilty of unlawful retrenchment,[4] disposing:
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87956 dated August 23, 2006, which affirmed the Decision of the NLRC setting aside the Labor Arbiter's findings of illegal retrenchment and its Resolution of May 29, 2007 denying the motion for reconsideration, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is rendered:
1. FINDING respondent Philippine Airlines, Inc. GUILTY of illegal dismissal;

2. ORDERING Philippine Airlines, Inc. to reinstate the cabin crew personnel who were covered by the retrenchment and demotion scheme of June 15, 1998 made effective on July 15, 1998, without loss of seniority rights and other privileges, and to pay them full backwages, inclusive of allowances and other monetary benefits computed from the time of their separation up to the time of their actual reinstatement, provided that with respect to those who had received their respective separation pay, the amounts of payments shall be deducted from their backwages. Where reinstatement is no longer feasible because the positions previously held no longer exist, respondent Corporation shall pay backwages plus, in lieu of reinstatement, separation pay equal to one (1) month pay for every year of service;

3. ORDERING Philippine Airlines, Inc. to pay attorney's fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award.

Costs against respondent PAL.
SO ORDERED.[5]
The Third Division thereby differed from the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA), which had pronounced in its appealed decision promulgated on August 23, 2006[6] that the remaining issue between the parties concerned the manner by which PAL had carried out the retrenchment program.[7] Instead, the Third Division disbelieved the veracity of PAL's claim of severe financial losses, and concluded that PAL had not established its severe financial losses because of its non-presentation of audited financial statements. It further concluded that PAL had implemented the retrenchment program in bad faith, and had not used fair and reasonable criteria in selecting the employees to be retrenched.

After PAL filed its Motion for Reconsideration,[8] the Court, upon motion,[9] held oral arguments on the following issues:
I

WHETHER THE GROUNDS FOR RETRENCHMENT WERE ESTABLISHED

II

WHETHER PAL RESORTED TO OTHER COST-CUTTING MEASURES BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ITS RETRENCHMENT PROGRAM

III

WHETHER FAIR AND REASONABLE CRITERIA WERE FOLLOWED IN IMPLEMENTING THE RETRENCHMENT PROGRAM

IV

WHETHER THE QUITCLAIMS WERE VALIDLY AND VOLUNTARILY EXECUTED
Upon conclusion of the oral arguments, the Court directed the parties to explore a possible settlement and to submit their respective memoranda.[10]

Unfortunately, the parties did not reach any settlement; hence, the Court, through the Special Third Division,[11] resolved the issues on the merits through the resolution of October 2, 2009 denying PAL's motion for reconsideration,[12] thus:
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED with FINALITY. The assailed Decision dated July 22, 2008 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the award of attorney's fees and expenses of litigation is reduced to P2,000,000.00. The case is hereby REMANDED to the Labor Arbiter solely for the purpose of computing the exact amount of the award pursuant to the guidelines herein stated.

No further pleadings will be entertained.

SO ORDERED.[13]
The Special Third Division was unconvinced by PAL's change of theory in urging the June 1998 Association of Airline Pilots of the Philippines (ALPAP) pilots' strike as the reason behind the immediate retrenchment; and observed that the strike was a temporary occurrence that did not require the immediate and sweeping retrenchment of around 1,400 cabin crew.

Not satisfied, PAL filed the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008.[14]

On October 5, 2009, the writer of the resolution of October 2, 2009 Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, compulsorily retired from the Judiciary. Pursuant to A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC,[15] G.R. No. 178083 was then raffled to Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., a Member of the newly-constituted regular Third Division.[16] Upon the Court's subsequent reorganization,[17] G.R. No. 178083 was transferred to the First Division where Justice Velasco, Jr. was meanwhile re-assigned. Justice Velasco, Jr. subsequently inhibited himself from the case due to personal reasons.[18] Pursuant to SC Administrative Circular No. 84-2007, G.R. No. 178083 was again re-raffled to Justice Arturo D. Brion, whose membership in the Second Division resulted in the transfer of G.R. No. 178083 to said Division.[19]

On September 7, 2011, the Second Division denied with finality PAL's Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008.[20]

Thereafter, PAL, through Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, its collaborating counsel, sent a series of letters inquiring into the propriety of the successive transfers of G.R. No. 178083.[21] His letters were docketed as A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC.

On October 4, 2011, the Court En Banc issued a resolution:[22] (a) assuming jurisdiction over G.R. No. 178083; (b) recalling the September 7, 2011 resolution of the Second Division; and (c) ordering the re-raffle of G.R. No. 178083 to a new Member-in-Charge.

Resolving the issues raised by Atty. Mendoza in behalf of PAL, as well as the issues raised against the recall of the resolution of September 7, 2011, the Court En Banc promulgated its resolution in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC on March 13, 2012,[23] in which it summarized the intricate developments involving G.R. No. 178083, viz.:
To summarize all the developments that brought about the present dispute-expressed in a format that can more readily be appreciated in terms of the Court en banc's ruling to recall the September 7, 2011 ruling - the FASAP case, as it developed, was attended by special and unusual circumstances that saw:

(a) the confluence of the successive retirement of three Justices (in a Division of five Justices) who actually participated in the assailed Decision and Resolution;

(b) the change in the governing rules-from the A.M.s to the IRSC regime-which transpired during the pendency of the case;

(c) the occurrence of a series of inhibitions in the course of the case (Justices Ruben Reyes, Leonardo-De Castro, Corona, Velasco, and Carpio), and the absences of Justices Sereno and Reyes at the critical time, requiring their replacement; notably, Justices Corona, Carpio, Velasco and Leonardo-De Castro are the four most senior Members of the Court;

(d) the three re-organizations of the divisions, which all took place during the pendency of the case, necessitating the transfer of the case from the Third Division, to the First, then to the Second Division;

(e) the unusual timing of Atty. Mendoza's letters, made after the ruling Division had issued its Resolution of September 7, 2011, but before the parties received their copies of the said Resolution; and

(f) finally, the time constraint that intervened, brought about by the parties' receipt on September 19, 2011 of the Special Division's Resolution of September 7, 2011, and the consequent running of the period for finality computed from this latter date; and the Resolution would have lapsed to finality after October 4, 2011, had it not been recalled by that date.

All these developments, in no small measure, contributed in their own peculiar way to the confusing situations that attended the September 7, 2011 Resolution, resulting in the recall of this Resolution by the Court en banc.[24]
In the same resolution of March 13, 2012, the Court En Banc directed the re-raffle of G.R. No. 178083 to the remaining Justices of the former Special Third Division who participated in resolving the issues pursuant to Section 7, Rule 2 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, explaining:
On deeper consideration, the majority now firmly holds the view that Section 7, Rule 2 of the IRSC should have prevailed in considering the raffle and assignment of cases after the 2nd MR was accepted, as advocated by some Members within the ruling Division, as against the general rule on inhibition under Section 3, Rule 8. The underlying constitutional reason, of course, is the requirement of Section 4(3), Article VIII of the Constitution already referred to above.

The general rule on statutory interpretation is that apparently conflicting provisions should be reconciled and harmonized, as a statute must be so construed as to harmonize and give effect to all its provisions whenever possible. Only after the failure at this attempt at reconciliation should one provision be considered the applicable provision as against the other.

Applying these rules by reconciling the two provisions under consideration, Section 3, Rule 8 of the IRSC should be read as the general rule applicable to the inhibition of a Member-in-Charge.This general rule should, however, yield where the inhibition occurs at the late stage of the case when a decision or signed resolution is assailed through an MR. At that point, when the situation calls for the review of the merits of the decision or the signed resolution made by a ponente (or writer of the assailed ruling), Section 3, Rule 8 no longer applies and must yield to Section 7, Rule 2 of the IRSC which contemplates a situation when the ponente is no longer available, and calls for the referral of the case for raffle among the remaining Members of the Division who acted on the decision or on the signed resolution. This latter provision should rightly apply as it gives those who intimately know the facts and merits of the case, through their previous participation and deliberations, the chance to take a look at the decision or resolution produced with their participation.

To reiterate, Section 3, Rule 8 of the IRSC is the general rule on inhibition, but it must yield to the more specific Section 7, Rule 2 of the IRSC where the obtaining situation is for the review on the merits of an already issued decision or resolution and the ponente or writer is no longer available to act on the matter. On this basis, the ponente, on the merits of the case on review, should be chosen from the remaining participating Justices, namely, Justices Peralta and Bersamin.[25]
This last resolution impelled FASAP to file the Motion for Reconsideration [Re: The Honorable Court's Resolution dated 13 March 2012], praying that the September 7, 2011 resolution in G.R. No. 178083 be reinstated.[26]

We directed the consolidation of G.R. No. 178083 and A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC on April 17, 2012.[27]

Issues

PAL manifests that the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 is its first motion for reconsideration vis-a-vis the October 2, 2009 resolution, and its second as to the July 22, 2008 decision. It states therein that because the Court did not address the issues raised in its previous motion for reconsideration, it is re-submitting the same, viz.:
I

xxx THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING CREDENCE TO THE FOLLOWING COMPELLING EVIDENCE AND CIRCUMSTANCES CLEARLY SHOWING PALS; DIRE FINANCIAL CONDITION AT THE TIME OF THE RETRENCHMENT: (A) PETITIONER'S ADMISSIONS OF PAL'S FINANCIAL LOSSES; (B) THE UNANIMOUS FINDINGS OF THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION (SEC), THE LABOR ARBITER, THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (NLRC) AND THE COURT OF APPEALS CONFIRMING PAL'S FINANCIAL CRISIS; (C) PREVIOUS CASES DECIDED BY THE HONORABLE COURT RECOGNIZING PAL'S DIRE FINANCIAL STATE; AND (D) PAL BEING PLACED BY THE SEC UNDER SUSPENSION OF PAYMENTS AND CORPORATE REHABILITATION AND RECEIVERSHIP

II

xxx THERE IS NO SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR THE HONORABLE COURT'S CONCLUSION THAT PAL DID NOT EXERCISE GOOD FAITH [IN] ITS PREROGATIVE TO RETRENCH EMPLOYEES

III

THE HONORABLE COURT'S RULING THAT PAL DID NOT USE FAIR AND REASONABLE CRITERIA IN ASCERTAINING WHO WOULD BE RETRENCHED IS CONTRARY TO ESTABLISHED FACTS, EVIDENCE ON RECORD AND THE FINDINGS OF THE NLRC AND THE COURT OF APPEALS[28]
PAL insists that FASAP, while admitting PAL's serious financial condition, only questioned before the Labor Arbiter the alleged unfair and unreasonable measures in retrenching the employees;[29] that FASAP categorically manifested before the NLRC, the CA and this Court that PAL's financial situation was not the issue but rather the manner of terminating the 1,400 cabin crew; that the Court's disregard of FASAP's categorical admissions was contrary to the dictates of fair play;[30] that considering that the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC and the CA unanimously found PAL to have experienced financial losses, the Court should have accorded such unanimous findings with respect and finality;[31] that its being placed under suspension of payments and corporate rehabilitation and receivership already sufficiently indicated its grave financial condition;[32] and that the Court should have also taken judicial notice of the suspension of payments and monetary claims filed against PAL that had reached and had been consequently resolved by the Court.[33]

PAL describes the Court's conclusion that it was not suffering from tremendous financial losses because it was on the road to recovery a year after the retrenchment as a mere obiter dictum that was relevant only in rehabilitation proceedings; that whether or not its supposed "stand-alone" rehabilitation indicated its ability to recover on its own was a technical issue that the SEC was tasked to determine in the rehabilitation proceedings; that at any rate, the supposed track to recovery in 1999 and the capital infusion of $200,000,000.00 did not disprove the enormous losses it was sustaining; that, on the contrary, the capital infusion accented the severe financial losses suffered because the capital infusion was a condition precedent to the approval of the amended and restated rehabilitation plan by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with the conformity of PAL's creditors; and that PAL took nine years to exit from rehabilitation.[34]

As regards the implementation of the retrenchment program in good faith, PAL argues that it exercised sound management prerogatives and business judgment despite its critical financial condition; that it did not act in due haste in terminating the services of the affected employees considering that FASAP was being consulted thereon as early as February 17, 1998; that it abandoned "Plan 14" due to intervening events, and instead proceeded to implement "Plan 22" which led to the recall/rehire of some of the retrenched employees;[35] and that in selecting the employees to be retrenched, it adopted a fair and reasonable criteria pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) where performance efficiency ratings and inverse seniority were basic considerations.[36]

With reference to the Court's resolution of October 2, 2009, PAL maintains that:
I

PAL HAS NOT CHANGED ITS POSITION THAT THE REDUCTION OF PAL'S LABOR FORCE OF ABOUT 5,000 EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING THE 1,423 FASAP MEMBERS, WAS THE RESULT OF A CONFLUENCE OF EVENTS, THE EXPANSION OF PAL'S FLEET, THE ASIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 1997, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES ON PAL'S OPERATIONS, AND THE PILOT'S STRIKE OF JUNE 1998, AND THAT PAL SURVIVED BECAUSE OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS REHABILITATION PLAN (LATER "AMENDED AND RESTATED REHABILITATION PLAN") WHICH INCLUDED AMONG ITS COMPONENT ELEMENTS, THE REDUCTION OF LABOR FORCE

II

THE HONORABLE COURT SHOULD HAVE UPHELD PAL'S REDUCTION OF THE NUMBER OF CABIN CREW IN ACCORD WITH ITS ENTRY INTO REHABILITATION AND THE CONSEQUENT TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT OF CABIN CREW PERSONNEL AS A VALID EXERCISE OF MANAGEMENT PREROGATIVE

III

PAL HAS SUFFICIENTLY ESTABLISHED THE SEVERITY OF ITS FINANCIAL LOSSES, SO AS TO JUSTIFY THE ENTRY INTO REHABILITATION AND THE CONSEQUENT REDUCTION OF CABIN CREW PERSONNEL

IV

THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THERE WAS NO SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR PAL TO IMPLEMENT THE RETRENCHMENT OF CABIN CREW PERSONNEL

V

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE PRIOR IMPLEMENTATION OF LESS DRASTIC COST-CUTTING MEASURES WAS NO LONGER POSSIBLE AND SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED FOR A VALID RETRENCHMENT; IN ANY EVENT, PAL HAD IMPLEMENTED LESS DRASTIC COST-CUTTING MEASURES BEFORE IMPLEMENTING THE DOWNSIZING PROGRAM

VI

QUITCLAIMS WERE VALIDLY EXECUTED[37]
PAL contends that the October 2, 2009 resolution focused on an entirely new basis that of PAL's supposed change in theory. It denies having changed its theory, however, and maintains that the reduction of its workforce had resulted from a confluence of several events, like the flight expansion; the 1997 Asian financial crisis; and the ALPAP pilots' strike.[38] PAL explains that when the pilots struck in June 1998, it had to decide quickly as it was then facing closure in 18 days due to serious financial hemorrhage; hence, the strike came as the final blow.

PAL posits that its business decision to downsize was far from being a hasty, knee-jerk reaction; that the reduction of cabin crew personnel was an integral part of its corporate rehabilitation, and, such being a management decision, the Court could not supplant the decision with its own judgment' and that the inaccurate depiction of the strike as a temporary disturbance was lamentable in light of its imminent financial collapse due to the concerted action.[39]

PAL submits that the Court's declaration that PAL failed to prove its financial losses and to explore less drastic cost-cutting measures did not at all jibe with the totality of the circumstances and evidence presented; that the consistent findings of the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC, the CA and even the SEC, acknowledging its serious financial difficulties could not be ignored or disregarded; and that the challenged rulings of the Court conflicted with the pronouncements made in Garcia v. Philippine Airlines, Inc.[40] and related cases[41] that acknowledged PAL's grave financial distress.

In its comment,[42] FASAP counters that a second motion for reconsideration was a prohibited pleading; that PAL failed to prove that it had complied with the requirements for a valid retrenchment by not submitting its audited financial statements; that PAL had immediately terminated the employees without prior resort to less drastic measures; and that PAL did not observe any criteria in selecting the employees to be retrenched.

FASAP stresses that the October 4, 2011 resolution recalling the September 7, 2011 decision was void for failure to comply with Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution; that the participation of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona who later on inhibited from G.R. No. 178083 had further voided the proceedings; that the 1987 Constitution did not require that a case should be raffled to the Members of the Division who had previously decided it; and that there was no error in raffling the case to Justice Brion, or, even granting that there was error, such error was merely procedural.

The issues are restated as follows:
Procedural

I

IS THE RESOLUTION DATED OCTOBER 4, 2011 IN A.M. NO. 11-10-1-SC (RECALLING THE SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 RESOLUTION) VOID FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH SECTION 14, RULE VIII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION?

II

MAY THE COURT ENTERTAIN THE SECOND MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION FILED BY THE RESPONDENT PAL?
Substantive

I
DID PAL LAWFULLY RETRENCH THE 1,400 CABIN CREW PERSONNEL?
A

DID PAL PRESENT SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE THAT IT INCURRED SERIOUS FINANCIAL LOSSES WHICH JUSTIFIED THE DOWNSIZING OF ITS CABIN CREW?

B

DID PAL OBSERVE GOOD FAITH IN IMPLEMENTING THE RETRENCHMENT PROGRAM?

C

DID PAL COMPLY WITH SECTION 112 OF THE PAL­-FASAP CBA IN SELECTING THE EMPLOYEES TO BE RETRENCHED?
III

ASSUMING THAT PAL VALIDLY IMPLEMENTED ITS RETRENCHMENT PROGRAM, DID THE RETRENCHED EMPLOYEES SIGN VALID QUITCLAIMS?
Ruling of the Court

After a thorough review of the records and all previous dispositions, we GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 filed by PAL and Chiong; and DENY the Motion for Reconsideration [Re: The Honorable Court's Resolution dated 13 March 2012][43] of FASAP.

Accordingly, we REVERSE the July 22, 2008 decision and the October 2, 2009 resolution; and AFFIRM the decision promulgated on August 23, 2006 by the CA.

I

The resolution of October 4, 2011 was a valid issuance of the Court


The petitioner urges the Court to declare as void the October 4, 2011 resolution promulgated in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC for not citing any legal basis in recalling the September 7, 2011 resolution of the Second Division.

The urging of the petitioner is gravely flawed and mistaken.

The requirement for the Court to state the legal and factual basis for its decisions is found in Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, which reads:
Section 14. No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.
The constitutional provision clearly indicates that it contemplates only a decision, which is the judgment or order that adjudicates on the merits of a case. This is clear from the text and tenor of Section 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court, the rule that implements the constitutional provision, to wit:
Section 1. Rendition of judgments and final orders. A judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be in writing personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, signed by him, and filed with the clerk of court.
The October 4, 2011 resolution did not adjudicate on the merits of G.R. No. 178083. We explicitly stated so in the resolution of March 13, 2012. What we thereby did was instead to exercise the Court's inherent power to recall orders and resolutions before they attain finality. In so doing, the Court only exercised prudence in order to ensure that the Second Division was vested with the appropriate legal competence in accordance with and under the Court's prevailing internal rules to review and resolve the pending motion for reconsideration. We rationalized the exercise thusly:
As the narration in this Resolution shows, the Court acted on its own pursuant to its power to recall its own orders and resolutions before their finality. The October 4, 2011 Resolution was issued to determine the propriety of the September 7, 2011 Resolution given the facts that came to light after the ruling Division's examination of the records. To point out the obvious, the recall was not a ruling on the merits and did not constitute the reversal of the substantive issues already decided upon by the Court in the FASAP case in its previously issued Decision (of July 22, 2008) and Resolution (of October 2, 2009). In short, the October 4, 2011 Resolution was not meant and was never intended to favor either party, but to simply remove any doubt about the validity of the ruling Division's action on the case. The case, in the ruling Division's view, could be brought to the Court en banc since it is one of "sufficient importance"; at the very least, it involves the interpretation of conflicting provisions of the IRSC with potential jurisdictional implications.

At the time the Members of the ruling Division went to the Chief Justice to recommend a recall, there was no clear indication of how they would definitively settle the unresolved legal questions among themselves. The only matter legally certain was the looming finality of the September 7, 2011 Resolution if it would not be immediately recalled by the Court en banc by October 4, 2011. No unanimity among the Members of the ruling Division could be gathered on the unresolved legal questions; thus, they concluded that the matter is best determined by the Court en banc as it potentially involved questions of jurisdiction and interpretation of conflicting provisions of the IRSC. To the extent of the recommended recall, the ruling Division was unanimous and the Members communicated this intent to the Chief Justice in clear and unequivocal terms.[44] (Bold underscoring for emphasis)
It should further be clear from the same March 13, 2012 resolution that the factual considerations for issuing the recall order were intentionally omitted therefrom in obeisance to the prohibition against public disclosure of the internal deliberations of the Court.[45]

Still, FASAP assails the impropriety of the recall of the September 7, 2011 resolution. It contends that the raffle of G.R. No. 178083 to the Second Division had not been erroneous but in "full and complete consonance with Section 4(3) Article VIII of the Constitution;"[46] and that any error thereby committed was only procedural, and thus a mere "harmless error" that did not invalidate the prior rulings made in G.R. No. 178083.[47]

The contention of FASAP lacks substance and persuasion.

The Court carefully expounded in the March 13, 2012 resolution on the resulting jurisdictional conflict that arose from the raffling of G.R. No. 178083 resulting from the successive retirements and inhibitions by several Justices who at one time or another had been assigned to take part in the case. The Court likewise highlighted the importance of referring the case to the remaining Members who had actually participated in the deliberations, for not only did such participating Justices intimately know the facts and merits of the parties' arguments but doing so would give to such Justices the opportunity to review their decision or resolution in which they had taken part. As it turned out, only Justice Diosdado M. Peralta and Justice Lucas P. Bersamin were the remaining Members of the Special Third Division, and the task of being in charge procedurally fell on either of them.[48] As such, it is fallacious for FASAP to still insist that the previous raffle had complied with Section 4(3), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution just because the Members of the Division actually took part in the deliberations.

FASAP is further wrong to insist on the application of the harmless error rule. The rule is embodied in Section 6, Rule 51 of the Rules of Court, which states:
Section 6. Harmless error. No error in either the admission or the exclusion of evidence and no error or defect in any ruling or order or in anything done or omitted by the trial court or by any of the parties is ground for granting a new trial or for setting aside, modifying, or otherwise disturbing a judgment or order, unless refusal to take such action appears to the court inconsistent with substantial justice. The court at every stage of the proceedings must disregard any error or defect which does not affect the substantial rights of the parties.
The harmless error rule obtains during review of the things done by either the trial court or by any of the parties themselves in the course of trial, and any error thereby found does not affect the substantial rights or even the merits of the case. The Court has had occasions to apply the rule in the correction of a misspelled name due to clerical error;[49] the signing of the decedents' names in the notice of appeal by the heirs;[50] the trial court's treatment of the testimony of the party as an adverse witness during cross­-examination by his own counsel;[51] and the failure of the trial court to give the plaintiffs the opportunity to orally argue against a motion.[52] All of the errors extant in the mentioned situations did not have the effect of altering the dispositions rendered by the respective trial courts. Evidently, therefore, the rule had no appropriate application herein.

The Court sees no justification for the urging of FASAP that the participation of the late Chief Justice Corona voided the recall order. The urging derives from FASAP's failure to distinguish the role of the Chief Justice as the Presiding Officer of the Banc. In this regard, we advert to the March 13, 2012 resolution, where the Court made the following observation:
A final point that needs to be fully clarified at this juncture, in light of the allegations of the Dissent is the role of the Chief Justice in the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution. As can be seen from the xxx narration, the Chief Justice acted only on the recommendation of the ruling Division, since he had inhibited himself from participation in the case long before. The confusion on this matter could have been brought about by the Chief Justice's role as the Presiding Officer of the Court en banc (particularly in its meeting of October 4, 2011), and the fact that the four most senior Justices of the Court (namely, Justices Corona, Carpio, Velasco and Leonardo-De Castro) inhibited from participating in the case. In the absence of any clear personal malicious participation, it is neither correct nor proper to hold the Chief Justice personally accountable for the collegial ruling of the Court en banc.[53] (Bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)
To reiterate, the Court, whether sitting En Banc or in Division, acts as a collegial body. By virtue of the collegiality, the Chief Justice alone cannot promulgate or issue any decisions or orders. In Complaint of Mr. Aurelio Indencia Arrienda Against SC Justices Puna, Kapunan, Pardo, Ynares­ Santiago,[54] the Court has elucidated on the collegial nature of the Court in relation to the role of the Chief Justice, viz.:
The complainant's vituperation against the Chief Justice on account of what he perceived was the latter's refusal "to take a direct positive and favorable action" on his letters of appeal overstepped the limits of proper conduct. It betrayed his lack of understanding of a fundamental principle in our system of laws. Although the Chief Justice is primus inter pares, he cannot legally decide a case on his own because of the Court's nature as a collegial body. Neither can the Chief Justice, by himself, overturn the decision of the Court, whether of a division or the en banc.

There is only one Supreme Court from whose decisions all other courts are required to take their bearings. While most of the Court's work is performed by its three divisions, the Court remains one court-single, unitary, complete and supreme. Flowing from this is the fact that, while individual justices may dissent or only partially concur, when the Court states what the law is, it speaks with only one voice. Any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the court may be modified or reversed only by the Court en banc.[55]
Lastly, any lingering doubt on the validity of the recall order should be dispelled by the fact that the Court upheld its issuance of the order through the March 13, 2012 resolution, whereby the Court disposed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby confirm that the Court en banc has assumed jurisdiction over the resolution of the merits of the motions for reconsideration of Philippine Airlines, Inc., addressing our July 22, 2008 Decision and October 2, 2009 Resolution; and that the September 7, 2011 ruling of the Second Division has been effectively recalled. This case should now be raffled either to Justice Lucas P. Bersamin or Justice Diosdado M. Peralta (the remaining members of the case) as Member-in-Charge in resolving the merits of these motions.

xxxx

The Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines' Motion for Reconsideration of October 17, 2011 is hereby denied; the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution was made by the Court on its own before the ruling's finality pursuant to the Court's power of control over its orders and resolutions. Thus, no due process issue ever arose.

SO ORDERED.
II

PAL's Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 could be allowed in the higher interest of justice


FASAP asserts that PAL's Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 was a prohibited pleading; and that the July 22, 2008 decision was not anymore subject to reconsideration due to its having already attained finality.

FASAP's assertions are unwarranted.

With the Court's resolution of January 20, 2010 granting PAL's motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration,[56] PAL's Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 could no longer be challenged as a prohibited pleading. It is already settled that the granting of the motion for leave to file and admit a second motion for reconsideration authorizes the filing of the second motion for reconsideration.[57] Thereby, the second motion for reconsideration is no longer a prohibited pleading, and the Court cannot deny it on such basis alone.[58]

Nonetheless, we should stress that the rule prohibiting the filing of a second motion for reconsideration is by no means absolute. Although Section 2, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court disallows the filing of a second motion for reconsideration,[59] the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court (IRSC) allows an exception, to wit:
Section 3. Second motion for reconsideration. The Court shall not entertain a second motion for reconsideration, and any exception to this rule can only be granted in the higher interest of justice by the Court en banc upon a vote of at least two-thirds of its actual membership. There is reconsideration "in the higher interest of justice" when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties. A second motion for reconsideration can only be entertained before the ruling sought to be reconsidered becomes final by operation of law or by the Court's declaration.

In the Division, a vote of three Members shall be required to elevate a second motion for reconsideration to the Court en banc.
The conditions that must concur in order for the Court to entertain a second motion for reconsideration are the following, namely:
  1. The motion should satisfactorily explain why granting the same would be in the higher interest of justice;

  2. The motion must be made before the ruling sought to be reconsidered attains finality;

  3. If the ruling sought to be reconsidered was rendered by the Court through one of its Divisions, at least three members of the Division should vote to elevate the case to the Court En Banc; and

  4. The favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the Court En Banc's actual membership must be mustered for the second motion for reconsideration to be granted.[60]
Under the IRSC, a second motion for reconsideration may be allowed to prosper upon a showing by the movant that a reconsideration of the previous ruling is necessary in the higher interest of justice. There is higher interest of justice when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties.[61]

PAL maintains that the July 22, 2008 decision contravened prevailing jurisprudence[62] that had recognized its precarious financial condition;[63] that the decision focused on PAL's inability to prove its financial losses due to its failure to submit audited financial statements; that the decision ignored the common findings on the serious financial losses suffered by PAL made by the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC, the CA and even the SEC;[64] and that the decision and the subsequent resolution denying PAL's motion for reconsideration would negate whatever financial progress it had achieved during its rehabilitation.[65]

These arguments of PAL sufficed to show that the assailed decision contravened settled jurisprudence on PAL's precarious financial condition. It cannot be gainsaid that there were other businesses undergoing rehabilitation that would also be bound or negatively affected by the July 22, 2008 decision. This was the higher interest of justice that the Court sought to address, which the dissent by Justice Leonen is adamant not to accept.[66] Hence, we deemed it just and prudent to allow PAL's Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008.

It is timely to note, too, that the July 22, 2008 decision did not yet attain finality. The October 4, 2011 resolution recalled the September 7, 2011 resolution denying PAL's first motion for reconsideration. Consequently, the July 22, 2008 decision did not attain finality.

The dissent by Justice Leonen nonetheless proposes a contrary view that both the July 22, 2008 decision and the October 2, 2009 resolution had become final on November 4, 2009 upon the lapse of 15 days following PAL's receipt of a copy of the resolution. To him, the grant of leave to PAL to file the second motion for reconsideration only meant that the motion was no longer prohibited but it did not stay the running of the reglementary period of 15 days. He submits that the Court's grant of the motion for leave to file the second motion for reconsideration did not stop the October 2, 2009 resolution from becoming final because a judgment becomes final by operation of law, not by judicial declaration.[67]

The proposition of the dissent is unacceptable.

In granting the motion for leave to file the second motion for reconsideration, the Court could not have intended to deceive the movants by allowing them to revel in some hollow victory. The proposition manifestly contravened the basic tenets of justice and fairness.

As we see it, the dissent must have inadvertently ignored the procedural effect that a second motion for reconsideration based on an allowable ground suspended the running of the period for appeal from the date of the filing of the motion until such time that the same was acted upon and granted.[68] Correspondingly, granting the motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration has the effect of preventing the challenged decision from attaining finality. This is the reason why the second motion for reconsideration should present extraordinarily persuasive reasons. Indeed, allowing pro forma motions would indefinitely avoid the assailed judgment from attaining finality.[69]

By granting PAL's motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration, the Court effectively averted the July 22, 2008 decision and the October 2, 2009 resolution from attaining finality. Worthy of reiteration, too, is that the March 13, 2012 resolution expressly recalled the September 7, 2011 resolution.

Given the foregoing, the conclusion stated in the dissent that the Banc was divested of the jurisdiction to entertain the second motion for reconsideration for being a "third motion for reconsideration;"[70] and the unfair remark in the dissent that "[t]he basis of the supposed residual power of the Court En Banc to, take on its own, take cognizance of Division cases is therefore suspect"[71] are immediately rejected as absolutely legally and factually unfounded.

To start with, there was no "third motion for reconsideration" to speak of. The September 11, 2011 resolution denying PAL's second motion for reconsideration had been recalled by the October 4, 2011 resolution. Hence, PAL's motion for reconsideration remained unresolved, negating the assertion of the dissent that the Court was resolving the second motion for reconsideration "for the second time."[72]

Also, the dissent takes issue against our having assumed jurisdiction over G.R. No. 178083 despite the clear reference made in the October 4, 2011 resolution to Sections 3(m) and (n), Rule 2 of the IRSC. Relying largely on the Court's construction of Section 4(3), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution in Fortich v. Corona,[73] the dissent opines that the Banc could not act as an appellate court in relation to the decisions of the Division;[74] and that the Banc could not take cognizance of any case in the Divisions except upon a prior consulta from the ruling Division pursuant to Section 3(m), in relation to Section 3(1), Rule 2 of the IRSC.[75]

The Court disagrees with the dissent's narrow view respecting the residual powers of the Banc.

Fortich v. Corona, which has expounded on the authority of the Banc to accept cases from the Divisions, is still the prevailing jurisprudence regarding the construction of Section 4(3), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. However, Fortich v. Corona does not apply herein. It is notable that Fortich v. Corona sprung from the results of the voting on the motion for reconsideration filed by the Sumilao Farmers. The vote ended in an equally divided Division ("two-two"). From there, the Sumilao Farmers sought to elevate the matter to the Banc based on Section 4(3), Article VIII because the required three-member majority vote was not reached. However, the factual milieu in Fortich v. Corona is not on all fours with that in this case.

In the March 13, 2012 resolution, the Court recounted the exigencies that had prompted the Banc to take cognizance of the matter, to wit:
On September 28, 2011, the Letters dated September 13 and 20, 2011 of Atty. Mendoza to Atty. Vidal (asking that his inquiry be referred to the relevant Division Members who took part on the September 7, 2011 Resolution) were "NOTED" by the regular Second Division. The Members of the ruling Division also met to consider the queries posed by Atty. Mendoza. Justice Brion met with the Members of the ruling Division (composed of Justices Brion, Peralta, Perez, Bersamin, and Mendoza), rather than with the regular Second Division (composed of Justices Carpio, Brion, Perez, and Sereno), as the former were the active participants in the September 7, 2011 Resolution.

In these meetings, some of the Members of the ruling Division saw the problems pointed out above, some of which indicated that the ruling Division might have had no authority to rule on the case. Specifically, their discussions centered on the application of A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC for the incidents that transpired prior to the effectivity of the IRSC, and on the conflicting rules under the IRSC - Section 3, Rule 8 on the effects of inhibition and Section 7, Rule 2 on the resolution of MRs.

A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC indicated the general rule that the re-raffle shall be made among the other Members of the same Division who participated in rendering the decision or resolution and who concurred therein, which should now apply because the ruling on the case is no longer final after the cast had been opened for review on the merits. In other words, after acceptance by the Third Division, through Justice Velasco, of the 2nd MR, there should have been a referral to raffle because the excepting qualification that the Clerk of Court cited no longer applied; what was being reviewed were the merits of the case and the review should be by the same Justices who had originally issued the original Decision and the subsequent Resolution, or by whoever of these Justices are still left in the Court, pursuant to the same A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC.

On the other hand, the raffle to Justice Brion was made by applying AC No. 84-2007 that had been superseded by Section 3, Rule 8 of the IRSC. Even the use of this IRSC provision, however, would not solve the problem, as its use still raised the question of the provision that should really apply in the resolution of the MR: should it be Section 3, Rule 8 on the inhibition of a Member-in-Charge, or Section 7, Rule 2 of the IRSC on the inhibition of the ponente when an MR of a decision and a signed resolution was filed. xxx

xxxx  xxxx  xxxx

A comparison of these two provisions shows the semantic sources of the seeming conflict: Section 7, Rule 2 refers to a situation where the ponente has retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited himself from acting on the case; while Section 3, Rule 8 generally refers to the inhibition of a Member-in-Charge who does not need to be the writer of the decision or resolution under review.

Significantly, Section 7, Rule 2 expressly uses the word ponente (not Member-in-Charge) and refers to a specific situation where the ponente (or the writer of the Decision or the Resolution) is no longer with the Court or is otherwise unavailable to review the decision or resolution he or she wrote. Section 3, Rule 8, on the other hand, expressly uses the term Member-in-Charge and generally refers to his or her inhibition, without reference to the stage of the proceeding when the inhibition is made.

Under Section 7, Rule 2, the case should have been re-raffled and assigned to anyone of Justices Nachura (who did not retire until June 13, 2011), Peralta, or Bersamin, either (1) after the acceptance of the 2nd MR (because the original rulings were no longer final); or (2) after Justice Velasco's inhibition because the same condition existed, i.e., the need for a review by the same Justices who rendered the decision or resolution. As previously mentioned, Justice Nachura participated in both the original Decision and the subsequent Resolution, and all three Justices were the remaining Members who voted on the October 2, 2009 Resolution. On the other hand, if Section 3, Rule 8 were to be solely applied after Justice Velasco's inhibition, the Clerk of Court would be correct in her assessment and the raffle to Justice Brion, as a Member outside of Justice Velasco's Division, was correct.

These were the legal considerations that largely confronted the ruling Division in late September 2011 when it deliberated on what to do with Atty. Mendoza's letters.

The propriety of and grounds for the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution

Most unfortunately, the above unresolved questions were even further compounded in the course of the deliberations of the Members of the ruling Division when they were informed that the parties received the ruling on September 19, 2011, and this ruling would lapse to finality after the 15th day, or after October 4, 2011.

Thus, on September 30, 2011 (a Friday), the Members went to Chief Justice Corona and recommended, as a prudent move, that the September 7, 2011 Resolution be recalled at the very latest on October 4, 2011, and that the case be referred to the Court en banc for a ruling on the questions Atty. Mendoza asked. The consequence, of course, of a failure to recall their ruling was for that Resolution to lapse to finality. After finality, any recall for lack of jurisdiction of the ruling Division might not be understood by the parties and could lead to a charge of flip-flopping against the Court. The basis for the referral is Section 3(n), Rule 2 of the IRSC, which provides:

RULE 2.

OPERATING STRUCTURES
Section 3. Court en banc matters and cases. - The Court en banc shall act on the following matters and cases:

xxxx

(n) cases that the Court en banc deems of sufficient importance to merit its attention[.]
Ruling positively, the Court en banc duly issued its disputed October 4, 2011 Resolution recalling the September 7, 2011 Resolution and ordering the re-raffle of the case to a new Member-in-Charge. Later in the day, the Court received PAL's Motion to Vacate (the September 7, 2011 ruling) dated October 3, 2011. This was followed by FASAP's MR dated October 17, 2011 addressing the Court Resolution of October 4, 2011. The FASAP MR mainly invoked the violation of its right to due process as the recall arose from the Court's ex parte consideration of mere letters from one of the counsels of the parties.

As the narration in this Resolution shows, the Court acted on its own pursuant to its power to recall its own orders and resolutions before their finality. The October 4, 2011 Resolution was issued to determine the propriety of the September 7, 2011 Resolution given the facts that came to light after the ruling Division's examination of the records. To point out the obvious, the recall was not a ruling on the merits and did not constitute the reversal of the substantive issues already decided upon by the Court in the FASAP case in its previously issued Decision (of July 22, 2008) and Resolution (of October 2, 2009). In short, the October 4, 2011 Resolution was not meant and was never intended to favor either party, but to simply remove any doubt about the validity of the ruling Division's action on the case. The case, in the ruling Division's view, could be brought to the Court en banc since it is one of "sufficient importance"; at the very least, it involves the interpretation of conflicting provisions of the IRSC with potential jurisdictional implications.

At the time the Members of the ruling Division went to the Chief Justice to recommend a recall, there was no clear indication of how they would definitively settle the unresolved legal questions among themselves. The only matter legally certain was the looming finality of the September 7, 2011 Resolution if it would not be immediately recalled by the Court en banc by October 4, 2011. No unanimity among the Members of the ruling Division could be gathered on the unresolved legal questions; thus, they concluded that the matter is best determined by the Court en banc as it potentially involved questions of jurisdiction and interpretation of conflicting provisions of the IRSC. To the extent of the recommended recall, the ruling Division was unanimous and the Members communicated this intent to the Chief Justice in clear and unequivocal terms.[76] (Bold scoring supplied for emphasis)
It is well to stress that the Banc could not have assumed jurisdiction were it not for the initiative of Justice Arturo V. Brion who consulted the Members of the ruling Division as well as Chief Justice Corona regarding the jurisdictional implications of the successive retirements, transfers, and inhibitions by the Members of the ruling Division. This move by Justice Brion led to the referral of the case to the Banc in accordance with Section 3(1), Rule 2 of the IRSC that provided, among others, that any Member of the Division could request the Court En Banc to take cognizance of cases that fell under paragraph (m). This referral by the ruling Division became the basis for the Banc to issue its October 4, 2011 resolution.

For sure, the Banc, by assuming jurisdiction over the case, did not seek to act as appellate body in relation to the acts of the ruling Division, contrary to the dissent's position.[77] The Banc's recall of the resolution of September 7, 2011 should not be so characterized, considering that the Banc did not thereby rule on the merits of the case, and did not thereby reverse the July 22, 2008 decision and the October 2, 2009 resolution. The referral of the case to the Banc was done to address the conflict among the provisions of the IRSC that had potential jurisdictional implications on the ruling made by the Second Division.

At any rate, PAL constantly raised in its motions for reconsideration that the ruling Division had seriously erred not only in ignoring the consistent findings about its precarious financial situation by the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC, the CA and the SEC, but also in disregarding the pronouncements by the Court of its serious fiscal condition. To be clear, because the serious challenge by PAL against the ruling of the Third Division was anchored on the Third Division's having ignored or reversed settled doctrines or principles of law, only the Banc could assume jurisdiction and decide to either affirm, reverse or modify the earlier decision. The rationale for this arrangement has been expressed in Lu v. Lu Ym[78] thuswise:
It is argued that the assailed Resolutions in the present cases have already become final, since a second motion for reconsideration is prohibited except for extraordinarily persuasive reasons and only upon express leave first obtained; and that once a judgment attains finality, it thereby becomes immutable and unalterable, however unjust the result of error may appear.

The contention, however, misses an important point. The doctrine of immutability of decisions applies only to final and executory decisions. Since the present cases may involve a modification or reversal of a Court­-ordained doctrine or principle, the judgment rendered by the Special Third Division may be considered unconstitutional, hence, it can never become final. It finds mooring in the deliberations of the framers of the Constitution:
On proposed Section 3(4), Commissioner Natividad asked what the effect would be of a decision that violates the proviso that "no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the court in a decision rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the court en banc." The answer given was that such a decision would be invalid. Following up, Father Bernas asked whether the decision, if not challenged, could become final and binding at least on the parties. Romulo answered that, since such a decision would be in excess of jurisdiction, the decision on the case could be reopened anytime. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
A decision rendered by a Division of this Court in violation of this constitutional provision would be in excess of jurisdiction and, therefore, invalid. Any entry of judgment may thus be said to be "inefficacious" since the decision is void for being unconstitutional.

While it is true that the Court en banc exercises no appellate jurisdiction over its Divisions, Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes opined in Firestone and concededly recognized that "[t]he only constraint is that any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court, either rendered en banc or in division, may be overturned or reversed only by the Court sitting en banc."

That a judgment must become final at some definite point at the risk of occasional error cannot be appreciated in a case that embroils not only a general allegation of "occasional error" but also a serious accusation of a violation of the Constitution, viz., that doctrines or principles of law were modified or reversed by the Court's Special Third Division August 4, 2009 Resolution.

The law allows a determination at first impression that a doctrine or principle laid down by the court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed in a case which would warrant a referral to the Court En Banc. The use of the word "may" instead of "shall" connotes probability, not certainty, of modification or reversal of a doctrine, as may be deemed by the Court. Ultimately, it is the entire Court which shall decide on the acceptance of the referral and, if so, "to reconcile any seeming conflict, to reverse or modify an earlier decision, and to declare the Court's doctrine."

The Court has the power and prerogative to suspend its own rules and to exempt a case from their operation if and when justice requires it, as in the present circumstance where movant filed a motion for leave after the prompt submission of a second motion for reconsideration but, nonetheless, still within 15 days from receipt of the last assailed resolution.[79]
Lastly, the dissent proposes that a unanimous vote is required to grant PAL's Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008.[80] The dissent justifies the proposal by stating that "[a] unanimous court would debate and deliberate more fully compared with a non­unanimous court."[81]

The radical proposal of the dissent is bereft of legal moorings. Neither the 1987 Constitution nor the IRSC demands such unanimous vote. Under Section 4(2), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, decisions by the Banc shall be attained by a "concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon." As a collegial body, therefore, the Court votes after deliberating on the case, and only a majority vote is required,[82] unless the 1987 Constitution specifies otherwise. In all the deliberations by the Court, dissenting and concurring opinions are welcome, they being seen as sound manifestations of "the license of individual Justices or groups of Justices to separate themselves from "the Court's" adjudication of the case before them,"[83] thus:
[C]oncurring and dissenting opinions serve functions quite consistent with a collegial understanding of the Court. Internally within the Court itself-dissent promotes and improves deliberation and judgment. Arguments on either side of a disagreement test the strength of their rivals and demand attention and response. The opportunity for challenge and response afforded by the publication of dissenting and concurring opinions is a close and sympathetic neighbor of the obligation of reasoned justification.

Externally for lower courts, the parties, and interested bystanders-concurring and dissenting opinions are important guides to the dynamic "meaning" of a decision by the Court. From a collegial perspective, dissenting and concurring opinions offer grounds for understanding how individual Justices, entirely faithful to their Court's product, will interpret that product. The meaning each Justice brings to the product of her Court will inevitably be shaped by elements of value and judgment she brings to the interpretive endeavor; her dissent from the Court's conclusions in the case in question is likely to be dense with insight into these aspects of her judicial persona.[84]
III

PAL implemented a valid retrenchment program

Retrenchment or downsizing is a mode of terminating employment initiated by the employer through no fault of the employee and without prejudice to the latter, resorted to by management during periods of business recession, industrial depression or seasonal fluctuations or during lulls over shortage of materials. It is a reduction in manpower, a measure utilized by an employer to minimize business losses incurred in the operation of its business.[85]

Anent retrenchment, Article 298[86] of the Labor Code provides as follows:
Article 298. Closure of Establishment and Reduction of Personnel. - The employer may also terminate the employment of any employee due to the installation of labor saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless the closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by serving a written notice on the workers and the Ministry of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof. In case of termination due to the installation of labor saving devices or redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least his one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. In case of retrenchment to prevent losses and in cases of closure or cessation of operations of establishment or undertaking not due to serious business losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay or to at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be considered one (1) whole year.
Accordingly, the employer may resort to retrenchment in order to avert serious business losses. To justify such retrenchment, the following conditions must be present, namely:
1. The retrenchment must be reasonably necessary and likely to prevent business losses;

2. The losses, if already incurred, are not merely de minimis, but substantial, serious, actual and real, or, if only expected, are reasonably imminent;

3. The expected or actual losses must be proved by sufficient and convincing evidence;

4. The retrenchment must be in good faith for the advancement of its interest and not to defeat or circumvent the employees' right to security of tenure; and

5. There must be fair and reasonable criteria in ascertaining who would be dismissed and who would be retained among the employees, such as status, efficiency, seniority, physical fitness, age, and financial hardship for certain workers.[87]
Based on the July 22, 2008 decision, PAL failed to: (1) prove its financial losses because it did not submit its audited financial statements as evidence; (2) observe good faith in implementing the retrenchment program; and (3) apply a fair and reasonable criteria in selecting who would be terminated.

Upon a critical review of the records, we are convinced that PAL had met all the standards in effecting a valid retrenchment.

A

PAL's serious financial losses were duly established


PAL was discharged of the burden to prove serious financial losses in view of FASAP's admission

PAL laments the unfair and unjust conclusion reached in the July 22, 2008 decision to the effect that it had not proved its financial losses due to its non-submission of audited financial statements. It points out that the matter of financial losses had not been raised as an issue before the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC, the CA, and even in the petition in G.R. No. 178083 in view of FASAP's admission of PAL having sustained serious losses; and that PAL's having been placed under rehabilitation sufficiently indicated the financial distress that it was suffering.

It is quite notable that the matter of PAL's financial distress had originated from the complaint filed by FASAP whereby it raised the sole issue of "Whether or not respondents committed Unfair Labor Practice."[88] FASAP believed that PAL, in terminating the 1,400 cabin crew members, had violated Section 23, Article VII and Section 31, Article IX of the 1995-2000 PAL-FASAP CBA. Interestingly, FASAP averred in its position paper therein that it was not opposed to the retrenchment program because it understood PAL's financial troubles; and that it was only questioning the manner and lack of standard in carrying out the retrenchment, thus:
At the outset, it must be pointed out that complainant was never opposed to the retrenchment program itself, as it understands respondent PAL's financial troubles. In fact, complainant religiously cooperated with respondents in their quest for a workable solution to the company-­threatening problem. Attached herewith as Annexes "A" to "D" are the minutes of its meetings with respondent PAL's representatives showing complainant's active participation in the deliberations on the issue.

What complainant vehemently objects to are the manner and the lack of criteria or standard by which the retrenchment program was implemented or carried out, despite the fact that there are available criteria or standard that respondents could have utilized or relied on in reducing its workforce. In adopting a retrenchment program that was fashioned after the evil prejudices and personal biases of respondent Patria Chiong, respondent PAL grossly violated at least two important provisions of its CBA with complainant - Article VII, Section 23 and Article IX, Sections 31 and 32.[89]
These foregoing averments of FASAP were echoed in its reply[90] and memorandum[91] submitted to the Labor Arbiter.

Evidently, FASAP's express recognition of PAL's grave financial situation meant that such situation no longer needed to be proved, the same having become a judicial admission[92] in the context of the issues between the parties. As a rule, indeed, admissions made by parties in the pleadings, or in the course of the trial or other proceedings in the same case are conclusive, and do not require further evidence to prove them.[93] By FASAP's admission of PAL's severe financial woes, PAL was relieved of its burden to prove its dire financial condition to justify the retrenchment. Thusly, PAL should not be taken to task for the non-submission of its audited financial statements in the early part of the proceedings inasmuch as the non-submission had been rendered irrelevant.

Yet, the July 22, 2008 decision ignored the judicial admission and unfairly focused on the lack of evidence of PAL's financial losses. The Special Third Division should have realized that PAL had been discharged of its duty to prove its precarious fiscal situation in the face of FASAP's admission of such situation. Indeed, PAL did not have to submit the audited financial statements because its being in financial distress was not in issue at all.

Nonetheless, the dissent still insists that PAL should be faulted for failing to prove its substantial business losses, and even referred to several decisions of the Court[94] wherein the employers had purportedly established their serious business losses as a requirement for a valid retrenchment.

Unfortunately, the cases cited by the dissent obviously had no application herein because they originated from either simple complaints of illegal retrenchment, or unfair labor practice, or additional separation pay.[95]

LVN Pictures originated from a complaint for unfair labor practice (ULP) based on Republic Act No. 874 (Industrial Peace Act). The allegations in the complaint concerned interference, discrimination and refusal to bargain collectively. The Court pronounced therein that the employer (LVN Pictures) did not resort to ULP because it was able to justify its termination, closure and eventual refusal to bargain collectively through the financial statements showing that it continually incurred serious financial losses. Notably, the Court did not interfere with the closure and instead recognized LVN's management prerogative to close its business and dismiss its employees.

North Davao Mining was a peculiar case, arising from a complaint for additional separation pay, among others. The Court therein held that separation pay was not required if the reason for the termination was due to serious business losses. It clarified that Article 283 (now Art. 298) governed payment of separation benefits in case of closure of business not due to serious business losses. When the reason for the closure was serious business losses, the employer shall not be required to grant separation pay to the terminated employees.

In Manatad, the complaint for illegal dismissal was based on the allegation that the retrenchment program was illegal because the employer was gaining profits. Hence, the core issue revolved around the existence (or absence) of grave financial losses that would justify retrenchment.

In the cited cases, the employers had to establish that they were incurring serious business losses because it was the very issue, if not intricately related to the main issue presented in the original complaints. In contrast, the sole issue herein as presented by FASAP to the Labor Arbiter was the "manner of retrenchment," not the basis for retrenchment. FASAP itself, in representation of the retrenched employees, had admitted in its position paper, as well as in its reply and memorandum submitted to the Labor Arbiter the fact of serious financial losses hounding PAL. In reality, PAL was not remiss by not proving serious business losses. FASAP's admission of PAL's financial distress already established the latter's precarious financial state.

Judicial notice could be taken of the financial losses incurred; the presentation of audited financial statements was not required in such circumstances

The July 22, 2008 decision recognized that PAL underwent corporate rehabilitation. In seeming inconsistency, however, the Special Third Division refused to accept that PAL had incurred serious financial losses, observing thusly:
The audited financial statements should be presented before the Labor Arbiter who is in the position to evaluate evidence. They may not be submitted belatedly with the Court of Appeals, because the admission of evidence is outside the sphere of the appellate court's certiorari jurisdiction. Neither can this Court admit in evidence audited financial statements, or make a ruling on the question of whether the employer incurred substantial losses justifying retrenchment on the basis thereof, as this Court is not a trier of facts. Even so, this Court may not be compelled to accept the contents of said documents blindly and without thinking.

xxxx

In the instant case, PAL failed to substantiate its claim of actual and imminent substantial losses which would justify the retrenchment of more than 1,400 of its cabin crew personnel. Although the Philippine economy was gravely affected by the Asian financial crisis, however, it cannot be assumed that it has likewise brought PAL to the brink of bankruptcy. Likewise, the fact that PAL underwent corporate rehabilitation does not automatically justify the retrenchment of its cabin crew personnel.[96] (Emphasis supplied)
Indeed, that a company undergoes rehabilitation sufficiently indicates its fragile financial condition. It is rather unfortunate that when PAL petitioned for rehabilitation the term "corporate rehabilitation" still had no clear definition. Presidential Decree No. 902-A,[97] the law then applicable, only set the remedy.[98] Section 6(c) and (d) of P.D. No. 902-A gave an insight into the precarious state of a distressed corporation requiring the appointment of a receiver or the creation of a management committee, viz.:
xxxx

c) To appoint one or more receivers of the property, real and personal, which is the subject of the action pending before the Commission in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court in such other cases whenever necessary in order to preserve the rights of the parties-litigants and/or protect the interest of the investing public and creditors: Provided, however, That the Commission may, in appropriate cases, appoint a rehabilitation receiver of corporations, partnerships or other associations not supervised or regulated by other government agencies who shall have, in addition to the powers of a regular receiver under the provisions of the Rules of Court, such functions and powers as are provided for in the succeeding paragraph d) hereof: Provided, further, That the Commission may appoint a rehabilitation receiver of corporations, partnerships or other associations supervised or regulated by other government agencies, such as banks and insurance companies, upon request of the government agency concerned: Provided, finally, That upon appointment of a management committee, rehabilitation receiver, board or body, pursuant to this Decree, all actions for claims against corporations, partnerships or associations under management or receivership pending before any court, tribunal, board or body shall be suspended accordingly.

d) To create and appoint a management committee, board, or body upon petition or motu propio to undertake the management of corporations, partnerships or other associations not supervised or regulated by other government agencies in appropriate cases when there is imminent danger of dissipation, loss, wastage or destruction of assets or other properties of paralyzation of business operations of such corporations or entities which may be prejudicial to the interest of minority stockholders, parties-litigants or the general public: Provided, further, That the Commission may create or appoint a management committee, board or body to undertake the management of corporations, partnerships or other associations supervised or regulated by other government agencies, such as banks and insurance companies, upon request of the government agency concerned.

The management committee or rehabilitation receiver, board or body shall have the power to take custody of, and control over, all the existing assets and property of such entities under management; to evaluate the existing assets and liabilities, earnings and operations of such corporations, partnerships or other associations; to determine the best way to salvage and protect the interest of the investors and creditors; to study, review and evaluate the feasibility of continuing operations and restructure and rehabilitate such entities if determined to be feasible by the Commission. It shall report and be responsible to the Commission until dissolved by order of the Commission: Provided, however, That the Commission may; on the basis of the findings and recommendation of the management committee, or rehabilitation receiver, board or body, or on its own findings; determine that the continuance in business of such corporation or entity would not be feasible or profitable nor work to the best interest of the stockholders, parties-litigants, creditors, or the general public, order the dissolution of such corporation entity and its remaining assets liquidated accordingly. The management committee or rehabilitation receiver, board or body may overrule or revoke the actions of the previous management and board of directors of the entity or entities under management notwithstanding any provision of law, articles of incorporation or by-laws to the contrary.

The management committee, or rehabilitation receiver, board or body shall not be subject to any action, claim or demand for, or in connection with, any act done or omitted to be done by it in good faith in the exercise of its functions, or in connection with the exercise of its power herein conferred. (Bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)
After having been placed under corporate rehabilitation and its rehabilitation plan having been approved by the SEC on June 23, 2008, PAL's dire financial predicament could not be doubted. Incidentally, the SEC's order of approval came a week after PAL had sent out notices of termination to the affected employees. It is thus difficult to ignore the fact that PAL had then been experiencing difficulty in meeting its financial obligations long before its rehabilitation.

Moreover, the fact that airline operations were capital intensive but earnings were volatile because of their vulnerability to economic recession, among others.[99] The Asian financial crisis in 1997 had wrought havoc among the Asian air carriers, PAL included.[100] The peculiarities existing in the airline business made it easier to believe that at the time of the Asian financial crisis, PAL incurred liabilities amounting to P90,642,933,919.00, which were way beyond the value of its assets that then only stood at P85,109,075,351.

Also, the Court cannot be blind and indifferent to current events affecting the society[101] and the country's economy,[102] but must take them into serious consideration in its adjudication of pending cases. In that regard, Section 2, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court recognizes that the courts have discretionary authority to take judicial notice of matters that are of public knowledge, or are capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions.[103] The principle is based on convenience and expediency in securing and introducing evidence on matters that are not ordinarily capable of dispute and are not bona fide disputed.[104]

Indeed, the Labor Arbiter properly took cognizance of PAL's substantial financial losses during the Asian financial crisis of 1997.[105] On its part, the NLRC recognized the grave financial distress of PAL based on its ongoing rehabilitation/receivership.[106] The CA likewise found that PAL had implemented a retrenchment program to counter its tremendous business losses that the strikes of the pilot's union had aggravated.[107] Such recognitions could not be justly ignored or denied, especially after PAL's financial and operational difficulties had attracted so much public attention that even President Estrada had to intervene in order to save PAL as the country's flag carrier.[108]

The Special Third Division also observed that PAL had submitted a "stand-alone" rehabilitation program that was viewed as an acknowledgment that it could "undertake recovery on its own and that it possessed enough resources to weather the financial storm." The observation was unfounded considering that PAL had been constrained to submit the "stand-alone" rehabilitation plan on December 7, 1998 because of the lack of a strategic partner.[109]

We emphasize, too, that the presentation of the audited financial statements should not the sole means by which to establish the employer's serious financial losses. The presentation of audited financial statements, although convenient in proving the unilateral claim of financial losses, is not required for all cases of retrenchment. The evidence required for each case of retrenchment really depends on the particular circumstances obtaining. The Court has cogently opined in that regard:
That petitioners were not able to present financial statements for years prior to 2005 should not be automatically taken against them. Petitioner BEMI was organized and registered as a corporation in 2004 and started business operations in 2005 only. While financial statements for previous years may be material in establishing the financial trend for an employer, these are not indispensable in all cases of retrenchment. The evidence required for each case of retrenchment will still depend on its particular circumstances. In fact, in Revidad v. National Labor Relations Commission, the Court declared that "proof of actual financial losses incurred by the company is not a condition sine qua non for retrenchment," and retrenchment may be undertaken by the employer to prevent even future losses:
In its ordinary connotation, the phrase "to prevent losses" means that retrenchment or termination of the services of some employees is authorized to be undertaken by the employer sometime before the anticipated losses are actually sustained or realized. It is not, in other words, the intention of the lawmaker to compel the employer to stay his hand and keep all his employees until after losses shall have in fact materialized. If such an intent were expressly written into the law, that law may well be vulnerable to constitutional attack as unduly taking property from one man to be given to another.[110] (Bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)
In short, to require a distressed corporation placed under rehabilitation or receivership to still submit its audited financial statements may become unnecessary or superfluous.

Under P.D. No. 902-A, the SEC was empowered during rehabilitation proceedings to thoroughly review the corporate and financial documents submitted by PAL. Hence, by the time when the SEC ordered PAL's rehabilitation, suspension of payments and receivership, the SEC had already ascertained PAL's serious financial condition, and the clear and imminent danger of its losing its corporate assets. To require PAL in the proceedings below to still prove its financial losses would only trivialize the SEC's order and proceedings. That would be unfortunate because we should not ignore that the SEC was then the competent authority to determine whether or not a corporation experienced serious financial losses. Hence, the SEC's order- presented as evidence in the proceedings below - sufficiently established PAL's grave financial status.

Finally, PAL argues that the Special Third Division should not have deviated from the pronouncements made in Garcia v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Kurangking, Philippine Airlines v. Court of Appeals, Philippine Airlines v. Zamora, Philippine Airlines v. PALEA, and Philippine Airlines v. National Labor Relations Commission, all of which judicially recognized PAL's dire financial condition.

The argument of PAL is valid and tenable.

Garcia v. Philippine Airlines, Inc. discussed the unlikelihood of reinstatement pending appeal because PAL had been placed under corporate rehabilitation, explaining that unlike the ground of substantial losses contemplated in a retrenchment case, the state of corporate rehabilitation was judicially pre-determined by a competent court and not formulated for the first time by the employer, viz.:
While reinstatement pending appeal aims to avert the continuing threat or danger to the survival or even the life of the dismissed employee and his family, it does not contemplate the period when the employer­-corporation itself is similarly in a judicially monitored state of being resuscitated in order to survive.

The parallelism between a judicial order of corporation rehabilitation as a justification for the non-exercise of its options, on the one hand, and a claim of actual and imminent substantial losses as ground for retrenchment, on the other hand, stops at the red line on the financial statements. Beyond the analogous condition of financial gloom, as discussed by Justice Leonardo Quisumbing in his Separate Opinion, are more salient distinctions. Unlike the ground of substantial losses contemplated in a retrenchment case, the state of corporate rehabilitation was judicially pre-determined by a competent court and not formulated for the first time in this case by respondent.

More importantly, there are legal effects arising from a judicial order placing a corporation under rehabilitation. Respondent was, during the period material to the case, effectively deprived of the alternative choices under Article 223 of the Labor Code, not only by virtue of the statutory injunction but also in view of the interim relinquishment of management control to give way to the full exercise of the powers of the rehabilitation receiver. Had there been no need to rehabilitate, respondent may have opted for actual physical reinstatement pending appeal to optimize the utilization of resources. Then again, though the management may think this Wise, the rehabilitation receiver may decide otherwise, not to mention the subsistence of the injunction on claims.[111]
In Philippine Airlines v. Kurangking, Philippine Airlines v. Court of Appeals, Philippine Airlines v. PALEA and Philippine Airlines v. National Labor Relations Commission, the Court uniformly upheld the suspension of monetary claims against PAL because of the SEC's order placing it under receivership. The Court emphasized the need to suspend the payment of the claims pending the rehabilitation proceedings in order to enable the management committee/receiver to channel the efforts towards restructuring and rehabilitation. Philippine Airlines v. Zamora reiterated this rule and deferred to the prior judicial notice taken by the Court in suspending the monetary claims of illegally dismissed employees.[112]

Through these rulings, the Court consistently recognized PAL's financial troubles while undergoing rehabilitation and suspension of payments. Considering that the ruling related to conditions and circumstances that had occurred during the same period as those obtaining in G.R. No. 178083, the Court cannot take a different view.

It is also proper to indicate that the Court decided the other cases long before the promulgation of the assailed July 22, 2008 decision. Hence, the Special Third Division should not have regarded the financial losses as an issue that still required determination. Instead, it should have just simply taken judicial notice of the serious financial losses being suffered by PAL.[113] To still rule that PAL still did not prove such losses certainly conflicted with the antecedent judicial pronouncements about PAL's dire financial state.

As such, we cannot fathom the insistence by the dissent that the Court had not taken judicial notice but merely "recognized" that PAL was under corporate rehabilitation. Judicial notice is the cognizance of certain facts that judges may properly take and act on without proof because they already know them. It is the manner of recognizing and acknowledging facts that no longer need to be proved in court. In other words, when the Court "recognizes" a fact, it inevitably takes judicial notice of it.

For sure, it would not have been the first time that the Court would have taken judicial notice of the findings of the SEC and of antecedent jurisprudence recognizing the fact of rehabilitation by the employer. The Court did so in the 2002 case of Clarion Printing House, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission,[114] to wit:
Sections 5 and 6 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A (P.D. 902-A) ("REORGANIZATION OF THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION WITH ADDITIONAL POWERS AND PLACING SAID AGENCY UNDER THE ADMINISTRATIVE SUPERVISION OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT"), as amended, read:
SEC. 5. In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative functions of THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION over corporations, partnerships and other forms of associations registered with it as expressly granted under existing laws and decrees, it shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving:

xxx xxx xxx

(d)
Petitions of corporations, partnerships or associations declared in the state of suspension of payments in cases where the corporation, partnership or association possesses sufficient property to cover all debts but foresees the impossibility of meeting them when they respectively fall due or in cases where the corporation, partnership, association has no sufficient assets to cover its liabilities, but is under the management of a Rehabilitation Receiver or Management Committee created pursuant to this Decree.

SEC. 6. In order to effectively exercise such jurisdiction, the Commission shall possess the following powers:

xxx xxx xxx

(c)
To appoint one or more receivers of the property, real and personal, which is the subject of the action pending before the Commission in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Court in such other cases whenever necessary in order to preserve the rights of the parties-litigants and/or protect the interest of the investing public and creditors: Provided, however, That the Commission may in appropriate cases, appoint a rehabilitation receiver of corporations, partnerships or other associations not supervised or regulated by other government agencies who shall have, in addition to powers of the regular receiver under the provisions of the Rules of Court, such functions and powers as are provided for in the succeeding paragraph (d) hereof: ...


(d)
To create and appoint a management committee, board or body upon petition or motu propio to undertake the management of corporations, partnership or other associations not supervised or regulated by other government agencies in appropriate cases when there is imminent danger of dissipation, loss, wastage or destruction of assets or other properties or paralization of business operations of such corporations or entities which may be prejudicial to the interest of minority stockholders, parties-litigants of the general public: ... (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
From the above-quoted provisions of P.D. No. 902-A, as amended, the appointment of a receiver or management committee by the SEC presupposes a finding that, inter alia, a company possesses sufficient property to cover all its debts but "foresees the impossibility of meeting them when they respectively fall due" and "there is imminent danger of dissipation, loss, wastage or destruction of assets of other properties or paralization of business operations."

That the SEC, mandated by law to have regulatory functions over corporations, partnerships or associations, appointed an interim receiver for the EYCO Group of Companies on its petition in light of, as quoted above, the therein enumerated "factors beyond the control and anticipation of the management" rendering it unable. to meet its obligation as they fall due, and thus resulting to "complications and problems ... to arise that would impair and affect [its] operations ..." shows that CLARION, together with the other member-companies of the EYCO Group of Companies, was suffering business reverses justifying, among other things, the retrenchment of its employees.

This Court in fact takes judicial notice of the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 11, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 55208, "Nikon Industrial Corp., Nikolite Industrial Corp., et al. (including CLARION), otherwise known as the EYCO Group of Companies v. Philippine National Bank, Solidbank Corporation, et al., collectively known and referred as the 'Consortium of Creditor Banks,'" which was elevated to this Court via Petition for Certiorari and docketed as G.R. No. 145977, but which petition this Court dismissed by Resolution dated May 3, 2005:
Considering the joint manifestation and motion to dismiss of petitioners and respondents dated February 24, 2003, stating that the parties have reached a final and comprehensive settlement of all the claims and counterclaims subject matter of the case and accordingly, agreed to the dismissal of the petition for certiorari, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the petition for certiorari (Underscoring supplied).
The parties in G.R. No. 145977 having sought, and this Court having granted, the dismissal of the appeal of the therein petitioners including CLARION, the CA decision which affirmed in toto the September 14, 1999 Order of the SEC, the dispositive portion of which SEC Order reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is as it is hereby, granted and the Order dated 18 December 1998 is set aside. The Petition to be Declared in State of Suspension of payments is hereby disapproved and the SAC Plan terminated. Consequently, all committee, conservator/receivers created pursuant to said Order are dissolved and discharged and all acts and orders issued therein are vacated.

The Commission, likewise, orders the liquidation and dissolution of the appellee corporations. The case is hereby remanded to the hearing panel below for that purpose.

xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
has now become final and executory. Ergo, the SEC's disapproval of the EYCO Group of Companies' "Petition for the Declaration of Suspension of Payment ..." and the order for the liquidation and dissolution of these companies including CLARION, must be deemed to have been unassailed.

That judicial notice can be taken of the above-said case of Nikon Industrial Corp. et al. v. PNB et al., there should be no doubt.

As provided in Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court:
SECTION 1. Judicial notice, when mandatory. - A court shall take judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial extent of states, their political history, forms of government and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political constitution and history of the Philippines, the official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the geographical divisions. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
which Mr. Justice Edgardo L. Paras interpreted as follows:
A court will take judicial notice of its own acts and records in the same case, of facts established in prior proceedings in the same case, of the authenticity of its own records of another case between the same parties, of the files of related cases in the same court, and of public records on file in the same court. In addition judicial notice will be taken of the record, pleadings or judgment of a case in another court between the same parties or involving one of the same parties, as well as of the record of another case between different parties in the same court. Judicial notice will also be taken of court personnel. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In fine, CLARION's claim that at the time it terminated Miclat it was experiencing business reverses gains more light from the SEC's disapproval of the EYCO Group of Companies' petition to be declared in state of suspension of payment, filed before Miclat's termination, and of the SEC's consequent order for the group of companies' dissolution and liquidation.[115]
At any rate, even assuming that serious business losses had not been proved by PAL, it would still be justified under Article 298 of the Labor Code to retrench employees to prevent the occurrence of losses or its closing of the business, provided that the projected losses were not merely de minimis, but substantial, serious, actual, and real, or, if only expected, were reasonably imminent as perceived objectively and in good faith by the employer.[116] In the latter case, proof of actual financial losses incurred by the employer would not be a condition sine qua non for retrenchment,[117] viz.:
Third, contrary to petitioner's asseverations, proof of actual financial losses incurred by the company is not a condition sine qua non for retrenchment. Retrenchment is one of the economic grounds to dismiss employees, which is resorted to by an employer primarily to avoid or minimize business losses. The law recognize this under Article 283 of the Labor Code xxx

xxxx

In its ordinary connotation, the phrase "to prevent losses" means that retrenchment or termination of the services of some employees is authorized to be undertaken by the employer sometime before the anticipated losses are, actually sustained or realized. It is not, in other words, the intention of the lawmaker to compel the employer to stay his hand and keep all his employees until after losses shall have in fact materialized. If such an intent were expressly written into the law, that law may well be vulnerable to constitutional attack as unduly taking property from one man to be given to another.

At the other end of the spectrum, it seems equally clear that not every asserted possibility of loss is sufficient legal warrant for the reduction of personnel. In the nature of things, the possibility of incurring the losses is constantly present, in greater or lesser degree, in the carrying on of business operations, since some, indeed many, of the factors which impact upon the profitability or viability of such operations may be substantially outside the control of the employer.

On the bases of these consideration, it follows that the employer bears the burden to prove his allegation of economic or business reverses with clear and satisfactory evidence, it being in the nature of an affirmative defense. As earlier discussed, we are fully persuaded that the private respondent has been and is besieged by a continuing downtrend in both its business operations and financial resources, thus amply justifying its resort to drastic cuts in personnel and costs.[118]
B

PAL retrenched in good faith


The employer is burdened to observe good faith in implementing a retrenchment program. Good faith on its part exists when the retrenchment is intended for the advancement of its interest and is not for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the rights of the employee under special laws or under valid agreements.[119]

The July 22, 2008 decision branded the recall of the retrenched employees and the implementation of "Plan 22" instead of "Plan 14" as badges of bad faith on the part of PAL. On the other hand, the October 2, 2009 resolution condemned PAL for changing its theory by attributing the cause of the retrenchment to the ALPAP pilots' strike.

PAL refutes the adverse observations, and maintains that its position was clear and consistent - that the reduction of its labor force was an act of survival and a less drastic measure as compared to total closure and liquidation that would have otherwise resulted; that downsizing had been an option to address its financial losses since 1997;[120] that the reduction of personnel was necessary as an integral part of the means to ensure the success of its corporate rehabilitation plan to restructure its business;[121] and that the downsizing of its labor force was a sound business decision undertaken after an assessment of its financial situation and the remedies available to it.[122]

A hard look at the records now impels the reconsideration of the July 22, 2008 decision and the resolution of October 2, 2009.

PAL could not have been motivated by ill will or bad faith when it decided to terminate FASAP's affected members. On the contrary, good faith could be justly inferred from PAL's conduct before, during and after the implementation of the retrenchment plan.

Notable in this respect was PALs candor towards FASAP regarding its plan to implement the retrenchment program. This impression is gathered from PAL's letter dated February 11, 1998 inviting FASAP to a meeting to discuss the matter, thus:
Roberto D. Anduiza
President
Flight Attendants' and Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP)
xxxx

Mr. Anduiza:

Due to critical business losses and in view of severe financial reverses, Philippine Airlines must undertake drastic measures to strive at survival. In order to meet maturing obligations amidst the present regional crisis, the Company will implement major cost-cutting measures in its fleet plan, operating budget, routes and frequencies. These moves include the closure of stations, downsizing of operations and reducing the workforce through layoff/retrenchment or retirement.

In this connection, the Company would like to meet with the Flight Attendants' and Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP) to discuss the implementation of the lay-off/retrenchment or retirement of FASAP-covered employees. The meeting shall be at the Allied Bank Center (8th Floor-Board Room) on February 12, 1998 at 4:00 p.m.

This letter serves as notice in compliance with Article 283 of the Labor Code, as amended and DOLE Orders Nos[.] 9 and 10, Series of 1997.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.)
JOSE ANTONIO GARCIA
President & Chief Operating Officer[123]
The records also show that the parties met on several occasions[124] to explore cost-cutting measures, including the implementation of the retrenchment program. PAL likewise manifested that the retrenchment plan was temporarily shelved while it implemented other measures (like termination of probationary cabin attendant, and work-rotations).[125] Obviously, the dissent missed this part as it stuck to the belief that PAL did not implement other cost-cutting measures prior to retrenchment.[126]

Given PAL's dire financial predicament, it becomes understandable that PAL was constrained to finally implement the retrenchment program when the ALPAP pilots strike crippled a major part of PAL's operations.[127]

In Rivera v. Espiritu,[128] we observed that said strike wrought "serious losses to the financially beleaguered flag carrier;" that "PAL's financial situation went from bad to worse;" and that "[f]aced with bankruptcy, PAL adopted a rehabilitation plan and downsized its labor force by more than one-third." Such observations sufficed to show that retrenchment became a last resort, and was not the rash and impulsive decision that FASAP would make it out to be now.

As between maintaining the number of its flight crew and PAL's survival, it was reasonable for PAL to choose the latter alternative. This Court cannot legitimately force PAL as a distressed employer to maintain its manpower despite its dire financial condition. To be sure, the right of PAL as the employer to reasonable returns on its investments and to expansion and growth is also enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.[129] Thus, although labor is entitled to the right to security of tenure, the State will not interfere with the employer's valid exercise of its management prerogative.

Moreover, PAL filed its Petition for Appointment of Interim Rehabilitation Receiver and Approval of a Rehabilitation Plan with the SEC on June 19, 1998, before the retrenchment became effective.[130] PAL likewise manifested that:
xxx The Rehabilitation Plan and Amended Rehabilitation Plan submitted by PAL in pursuance of its corporate rehabilitation, and which obtained the joint approval of PAL's creditors and the SEC, had as a primary component, the downsizing of PAL's labor force by at least 5,000, including the 1,400 flight attendants. As conceptualized by a team of industry experts, the cutting down of operations and the consequent reduction of work force, along with the restructuring of debts with significant "haircuts" and the capital infusion of Mr. Lucio Tan amounting to US$200 million, were the key components of PAL's rehabilitation. The Interim Rehabilitation Receiver was replaced by a Permanent Rehabilitation Receiver on June 7, 1999.[131] (Bold underscoring supplies tor emphasis)
Being under a rehabilitation program, PAL had no choice but to implement the measures contained in the program, including that of reducing its manpower. Far from being an impulsive decision to defeat its employees' right to security of tenure, retrenchment resulted from a meticulous plan primarily aimed to resuscitate PAL's operations.

Good faith could also be inferred from. PAL's compliance with the basic requirements under Article 298 of the Labor Code prior to laying-off its affected employees. Notably, the notice of termination addressed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) identified the reasons behind the massive termination, as well as the measures PAL had undertaken to prevent the situation, to wit:
June 15, 1998

HON. MAXIMO B. LIM
THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR
Department of Labor and Employment
Regional Office No. NCR

Dear Sir:

This is to inform you that Philippine Air Lines, Inc. (PAL) will be implementing a retrenchment program one (1) month from notice hereof in order to prevent bankruptcy.

PAL is forced to take this action because of continuous losses it has suffered over the years which losses were aggravated by the PALEA strike in October 1996, peso depreciation, Asian currency crisis, causing a serious drop in our yield and the collapse of passenger traffic in the region. Specifically, PAL suffered a net loss of P2.18 Billion during the fiscal year 1995-1996, P2.50 Billion during the fiscal year 1996-1997 and P8.08 Billion for the period starting April 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998.

These uncontrolled heavy losses have left PAL with no recourse but to reduce its fleet and its flight frequencies both in the domestic and international sectors to ensure its survival.

In an effort to avoid a reduction of personnel, PAL has resorted to other measures, such as freeze on all hiring, no salary increase for managerial and confidential staff (even for promotions), reduction of salaries of senior management personnel, freeze on staff movements, pre-termination of temporary staff contracts and negotiations with foreign investors. But all these measures failed to avert the continued losses.

Finally, all the efforts of PAL to preserve the employment of its personnel were shattered by the illegal strike of its pilots which has cause irreparable damage to the company's cash flow. Consequently, the company is now no longer able to meet its maturing obligations and is not about to go into default in all its major loans. It is presently under threat of receiving a barrage of suits from its creditors who will go after the assets of the corporation.

Under the circumstances, PAL is left with no recourse but to reduce its fleet and its flight frequencies both in the domestic and international sectors to ensure its survival. Consequently, a reduction of personnel is inevitable.

All affected employees in the attached list will be given the corresponding benefits which they may be entitled to.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd)
JOSE ANTONIO GARCIA
President & Chief Operating Officer[132]
As regards the observation made in the decision of July 22, 2008 to the effect that the recall of the flight crew members indicated bad faith, we hold to the contrary.

PAL explained how the recall process had materialized, as follows:
During this time, the Company was slowly but steadily recovering. Its finances were improving and additional planes were flying. Because of the Company's steady recovery, necessity dictated more employees to man and service the additional planes and flights. Thus, instead of taking in new hires, the Company first offered employment to employees who were previously retrenched. A recall/rehire plan was initiated.

The recall/rehire plan was a success. A majority of retrenched employees were recalled/rehired and went back to work including the members of petitioner union. In the process of recall/rehire, many employees who could not be recalled for various reasons (such as, among others, being unfit for the job or the employee simply did not want to work for the Company anymore) decided to accept separation benefits and executed, willingly and voluntarily, valid quitclaims. Those who received separation packages included a good number of the members of the petitioner union.[133]
Contrary to the statement in the dissent that the implementation of Plan 22 instead of Plan 14 indicated bad faith,[134] PAL reasonably demonstrated that the recall was devoid of bad faith or of an attempt on its part to circumvent its affected employees' right to security of tenure. Far from being tainted with bad faith, the recall signified PAL's reluctance to part with the retrenched employees. Indeed, the prevailing unfavorable conditions had only compelled it to implement the retrenchment.

The rehiring of previously retrenched employees should not invalidate a retrenchment program, the rehiring being an exercise of the employer's right to continue its business. Thus, we pointed out in one case:
We likewise cannot sustain petitioners' argument that their dismissal was illegal on the basis that Lapanday did not actually cease its operation, or that they have rehired some of the dismissed employees and even hired new set of employees to replace the retrenched employees.

The law acknowledges the right of every business entity to reduce its workforce if such measure is made necessary or compelled by economic factors that would otherwise endanger its stability or existence. In exercising its right to retrench employees, the firm may choose to close all, or a part of, its business to avoid further losses or mitigate expenses. In Caffco International Limited v. Office of the Minister-Ministry of Labor and Employment, the Court has aptly observed that -
Business enterprises today are faced with the pressures of economic recession, stiff competition, and labor unrest. Thus, businessmen are always pressured to adopt certain changes and programs in order to enhance their profits and protect their investments. Such changes may take various forms. Management may even choose to close a branch, a department, a plant, or a shop.
In the same manner, when Lapanday continued its business operation and eventually hired some of its retrenched employees and new employees, it was merely exercising its right to continue its business. The fact that Lapanday chose to continue its business does not automatically make the retrenchment illegal. We reiterate that in retrenchment, the goal is to prevent impending losses or further business reversals - it therefore does not require that there is an actual closure of the business. Thus, when the employer satisfactorily proved economic or business losses with sufficient supporting evidence and have complied with the requirements mandated under the law to justify retrenchment, as in this case, it cannot be said that the subsequent acts of the employer to rehire the retrenched employees or to hire new employees constitute bad faith. It could have been different if from the beginning the retrenchment was illegal and the employer subsequently hired new employees or rehired some of the previously dismissed employees because that would have constituted bad faith. Consequently, when Lapanday continued its operation, it was merely exercising its prerogative to streamline its operations, and to rehire or hire only those who are qualified to replace the services rendered by the retrenched employees in order to effect more economic and efficient methods of production and to forestall business losses. The rehiring or reemployment of retrenched employees does not necessarily negate the presence or imminence of losses which prompted Lapanday to retrench.

In spite of overwhelming support granted by the social justice provisions of our Constitution in t wor of labor, the fundamental law itself guarantees, even during the process of tilting the scales of social justice towards workers and employees, "the right of enterprises to reasonable returns of investment and to expansion and growth." To hold otherwise would not only be oppressive and inhuman, but also counter-productive and ultimately subversive of the nation's thrust towards a resurgence in our economy which would ultimately benefit the majority of our people. Where appropriate and where conditions are in accord with law and jurisprudence, the Court has authorized valid reductions in the workforce to forestall business losses, the hemorrhaging of capital, or even to recognize an obvious reduction in the volume of business which has rendered certain employees redundant.[135]
Consequently, we cannot pass judgment on the motive behind PAL's initiative to implement "Plan 22" instead of "Plan 14." The prerogative thereon belonged to the management alone due to its being in the best position to assess its own financial situation and operate its own business. Even the Court has no power to interfere with such exercise of the prerogative.

C

PAL used fair and reasonable criteria in selecting the employees to be retrenched pursuant to the CBA


The July 22, 2008 decision agreed with the holding by the CA that PAL was not obligated to consult with FASAP on the standards to be used in evaluating the performance of its employees. Nonetheless, PAL was found to be unfair and unreasonable in selecting the employees to be retrenched by doing away with the concept of seniority, loyalty, and past efficiency by solely relying on the employees' 1997 performance rating; and that the retrenchment of employees due to "other reasons," without any details or specifications, was not allowed and had no basis in fact and in law.[136]

PAL contends that it used fair and reasonable criteria in accord with Sections 23, 30 and 112 of the 1995-2000 CBA;[137] that the NLRC's use of the phrase "other reasons" referred to the varied grounds (i.e. excess sick leaves, previous service of suspension orders, passenger complains, tardiness, etc.) employed in conjunction with seniority in selecting the employees to be terminated;[138] that the CBA did not require reference to performance rating of the previous years, but to the use of an efficiency rating for a single year;[139] and that it adopted both efficiency rating and inverse seniority as criteria in the selection pursuant to Section 112 of the CBA.[140]

PAL's contentions are meritorious.

In selecting the employees to be dismissed, the employer is required to adopt fair and reasonable criteria, taking into consideration factors like: (a) preferred status; (b) efficiency; and (c) seniority, among others.[141] The requirement of fair and reasonable criteria is imposed on the employer to preclude the occurrence of arbitrary selection of employees to be retrenched. Absent any showing of bad faith, the choice of who should be retrenched must be conceded to the employer for as long as a basis for the retrenchment exists.[142]

We have found arbitrariness in terminating the employee under the guise of a retrenchment program wherein the employer discarded the criteria it adopted in terminating a particular employee;[143] when the termination discriminated the employees on account of their union membership without regard to their years of service;[144] the timing of the retrenchment was made a day before the employee may be regularized;[145] when the employer disregarded altogether the factor of seniority and choosing to retain the newly hired employees;[146] that termination only followed the previous retrenchment of two non-regular employees;[147] and when there is no appraisal or criteria applied in the selection.[148]

On the other hand, we have considered as valid the retrenchment of the employee based on work efficiency,[149] or poor performance;[150] or the margins of contribution of the consultants to the income of the company;[151] or absenteeism, or record of disciplinary action, or efficiency and work attitude;[152] or when the employer exerted efforts to solicit the employees' participation in reviewing the criteria to be used in selecting the workers to be laid off.[153]

In fine, the Court will only strike down the retrenchment of an employee as capricious, whimsical, arbitrary, and prejudicial in the absence of a clear-cut and uniform guideline followed by the employer in selecting him or her from the work pool. Following this standard, PAL validly implemented its retrenchment program.

PAL resorted to both efficiency rating and inverse seniority in selecting the employees to be subject of termination. As the NLRC keenly pointed out, the "ICCD Masterank 1997 Ratings - Seniority Listing" submitted by PAL sufficiently established the criteria for the selection of the employees to be laid off. To insist on seniority as the sole basis for the selection would be unwarranted, it appearing that the applicable CBA did not establish such limitation. This counters the statement in the dissent that the retrenchment program was based on unreasonable standards without regard to service, seniority, loyalty and performance.[154]

In this connection, we adopt the following cogent observations by the CA on the matter for being fully in accord with law and jurisprudence:
FASAP insists that several CBA provisions have been violated by the retrenchment. They are the provisions on seniority, performance appraisal, reduction in personnel and downgrading and permanent OCARs. Seniority and performance stand out because these were the main considerations of PAL in selecting workers to be retrenched. Under the CBA, seniority is defined "to mean a measure of a regular Cabin Attendant's claim in relation to other regular Cabin Attendants holding similar positions, to preferential consideration whatever the Company exercises its right to promote to a higher paying position of lay-off of any Cabin Attendant." Seniority, however, is not the sole determinant of retention. This is clear under Article XIII on performance appraisal of the CBA provisions.

Under the CBA, several factors are likewise taken into consideration like performance and professionalism in addition to the seniority factor. However, the criteria for performance and professionalism are not indicated in the CBA but are to be formulated by PAL in consultation with FASAP. Where there is retrenchment, cabin attendants who fail to attain at least 85% of the established criteria shall be demoted progressively. Domestic cabin attendants, the occupants of lowest rung of the organizational hierarchy, are to be retrenched once they fail to meet the required percentage.

We have painstakingly examined the records and We find no indication that these provisions have been grossly disregarded as to taint the retrenchment with illegality. PAL relied on specific categories of criteria, such as merit awards, physical appearance, attendance and checkrides, to guide its selection of employees to be removed. We do not find anything legally objectionable in the adoption of the foregoing norms. On the contrary, these norms are most relevant to the nature of cabin attendant's work.

However, the contention of FASAP that these criteria required its prior conformity before adoption is not supported by Section 30, Article VIII of the CBA. Note should be taken that this provision only mandates PAL to "meet and consult" the Association (FASAP) in the formulation of the Performance and Professionalism Appraisal System. By the ordinary import of this provision, PAL is only required to confer with FASAP; it is not at all required to forge an addendum to the CBA, which will concretize the appraisal system as basis for retrenchment or retention.[155]
To require PAL to further limit its criteria would be inconsistent with jurisprudence and the principle of fairness. Instead, we hold that for as long as PAL followed a rational criteria defined or set by the CBA and existing laws and jurisprudence in determining who should be included in the retrenchment program, it sufficiently met the standards of fairness and reason in its implementation of its retrenchment program.

D

The retrenched employees signed valid quitclaims


The July 22, 2008 decision struck down as illegal the quitclaims executed by the retrenched employees because of the mistaken conclusion that the retrenchment had been unlawfully executed.

We reverse.

In EDI Staffbuilders International, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission,[156] we laid down the basic contents of valid and effective quitclaims and waivers, to wit:
In order to prevent disputes on the validity and enforceability of quitclaims and waivers of employees under Philippine laws, said agreements should contain the following:
1. A fixed amount as full and final compromise settlement;

2. The benefits of the employees if possible with the corresponding amounts, which the employees are giving up in consideration of the fixed compromise amount;

3. A statement that the employer has dearly explained to the employee in English, Filipino, or in the dialect known to the employees - that by signing the waiver or quitclaim, they are forfeiting or relinquishing their right to receive the benefits which are due them under the law; and

4. A statement that the employees signed and executed the document voluntarily, and had fully understood the contents of the document and that their consent was freely given without any threat, violence, duress, intimidation, or undue influence exerted on their person.[157] (Bold supplied for emphasis)
The release and quitclaim signed by the affected employees substantially satisfied the aforestated requirements. The consideration was clearly indicated in the document in the English language, including the benefits that the employees would be relinquishing in exchange for the amounts to be received. There is no question that the employees who had occupied the position of flight crew knew and understood the English language. Hence, they fully comprehended the terms used in the release and quitclaim that they signed.

Indeed, not all quitclaims are per se invalid or against public policy. A quitclaim is invalid or contrary to public policy only: (1) where there is clear proof that the waiver was wrangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person; or (2) where the terms of settlement are unconscionable on their face.[158] Based on these standards, we uphold the release and quitclaims signed by the retrenched employees herein.

WHEREFORE, the Court:

(a) GRANTS the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 filed by the respondents Philippine Airlines, Inc. and Patria Chiong;

(b) DENIES the Motion for Reconsideration (Re: The Honorable Court's Resolution dated March 13, 2012) filed by the petitioner Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines;

(c) SETS ASIDE the decision dated July 22, 2008 and resolution dated October 2, 2009; and

(d) AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 23, 2006.

No pronouncement on costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno,* C. J., on indefinite leave.
Martires, and Tijam, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., (Acting C. J.), no part.
Velasco, Jr., J., no part.
Leonardo-De Castro, J., no part.
Peralta, J., I join the opinion of J. Caguioa.
Del Castillo, J., no part.
Perlas-Bernabe, J., I join the opinion of J. Caguioa.
Leonen, J., I dissent. See separate opinion.
Jardeleza, J., no part.
Caguioa, J., See Separate Concurring Opinion.
Reyes, Jr., J., I dissent. I join J. Leonen dissenting opinion.
Gesmundo, J., I join the separate concurring opinion of J. Caguioa.



NOTICE OF JUDGMENT

Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that on March 13, 2018 a Decision/Resolution, copy attached herewith, was rendered by the Supreme Court in the above-entitled cases, the original of which was received by this Office on March 23, 2018 at 10:40 a.m.


Very truly yours,



(SGD)

EDGAR O. ARICHETA
 
Clerk of Court


* On indefinite leave effective March 1, 2018.

[1] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2239-2294.

[2] Rollo (A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC), pp. 165-173.

[3] Then composed of Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago  (ponente), Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Associate Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario, Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, and Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro (designated in lieu of Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes).

[4] Rollo (A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC), pp. 1517-1547.

[5] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. II, pp. 1546-1547.

[6] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. I, pp. 59-83; penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes and concurred in by Associate Justice Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and Associate Justice Vicente S.E. Veloso.

[7] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. I, p. 73.

[8] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. II, pp. 1549-1585.

[9] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 1805-1806.

[10] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 1816-1817.

[11] Then composed of Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago (ponente), Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario, Justice Eduardo B. Nachura, Justice Diosdado M. Peralta (replacing Justice Alicia Austria-Martinez who retired on April 30, 2009), and Justice Lucas P. Bersamin (in lieu of Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro who inhibited from the case due to personal reasons).

[12] See Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., G.R. No. 178083, October 2, 2009, 602 SCRA 473.

[13] Id. at 506-507.

[14] Supra note 1.

[15] Amended Rules on Who Shall Resolve Motions for Reconsideration of Decisions or Signed Resolutions in Cases Assigned to the Division of the Court (November 17, 2009).

[16] Then composed of Justice Antonio T. Carpio (in lieu of then Chief Justice Renato Corona who inhibited from the case), Justice Velasco, Jr., Justice Nachura, Justice Peralta, and Justice Bersamin. See In Re: Letters of Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza Re: G.R. No. 178083-Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL), A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC March 13, 2012, 668 SCRA 11, 27.

[17] Special Order No. 839 dated May 17, 2010.

[18] In Re: Letters of Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, supra, note 16, at 32.

[19] Special Order No. 1025 dated June 21, 2011.

[20] Comprised of Justice Brion (ponente), with Justice Peralta (in lieu of Justice Carpio who also inhibited from the case), Justice Bersamin (temporarily replacing Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno who was on leave), Justice Jose Perez (now retired), and Justice Jose C. Mendoza (temporarily replacing Justice Bienvenido Reyes who was on leave).

[21] Dated September 13, 16, 20, and 22, 2011.

[22] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. IV, p. 3568.

[23] In Re: Letters of Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, supra, note 16.

[24] Id. at 46-47.

[25] In Re: Letters of Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, supra, note 16, at 47-48.

[26] Supra note 2.

[27] Rollo (A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC), p. 157.

[28] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083). Vol. III, p. 2299.

[29] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. II, p. 1551.

[30] Id. at 1551-1554.

[31] Id. at 1555.

[32] Id. at 1556-1557.

[33] Id. at 1564-1567 (PAL claims that the Court had suspended the claims in view of the pending rehabilitation in Philippine Airlines v. Kurangking, G.R. No. 146698, September 24, 2002, 389 SCRA 588; Philippine Airlines v. Zamora, G.R. No. 166966, February 6, 2007, 514 SCRA 584; Garcia v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., G.R. No. 164856, August 29, 2007, G.R. No. 164856, 531 SCRA 574; Philippine Airlines v. Philippine Airlines Employee Association (PALEA), G.R. No. 142399, June 19, 2007, 526 SCRA 29; Philippine Airlines v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 123294, September 4, 2000, 634 SCRA 18.

[34] Id. at 1567-1568.

[35] Id. at 1569-1576.

[36] Id. at 1577-1582.

[37] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2250-2251.

[38] Id. at 2251-2252.

[39] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2276-2277.

[40] G.R. No. 164856, August 29, 2007, 531 SCRA 574.

[41] E.g., Philippine Airlines v. Kurangking, G.R. No. 146698, September 24, 2002, 389 SCRA 588; Philippine Airlines, Incorporated v. Zamora, G.R. No. 166966, February 6, 2007, 514 SCRA 584; Philippine Airlines, Incorporated v. Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), G.R. No. 142399, June 19, 2007, 525 SCRA 29; and Philippine Airlines v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 123294, September 4, 2000, 634 SCRA 18.

[42] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2444-2496.

[43] Rollo (A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC), pp. 165-173.

[44] 668 SCRA 11, 43-44.

[45] Id. at 50.

[46] Rollo (A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC), p. 169.

[47] Id. at 169-170.

[48] Id. at 85.

[49] See Republic v. Mercadera, G.R. No. 186027, December 8, 2010, 637 SCRA 654.

[50] Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 165155, April 13, 2010, 618 SCRA 181, 202-203.

[51] Gaw v. Chua, G.R. No. 160855, April 16, 2008, 551 SCRA 506, 516.

[52] Remonte v. Bonto, No. L-19900, February 28, 1966, 16 SCRA 257, 261.

[53] 668 SCRA 11, 48-49.

[54] A.M. No. 03-11-30-SC, June 9, 2005, 460 SCRA 1.

[55] Id. at 15-16.

[56] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2435-2436.

[57] League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 176951, February 15, 2011, 643 SCRA 149.

[58] McBurnie v. Ganzon, G.R. Nos. 178034 & 178117 & G.R. Nos. 186984-85, October 17, 2013, 707 SCRA 646, 668-669.

[59] Sec. 2. Second motion for reconsideration. - No second motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained.

[60] SM Land, Inc. v. Bases Conversion and Development Authority, G.R. No. 203655, September 7, 2015, 769 SCRA 310, 317.

[61] Section 3, Rule 15 of the IRSC.

[62] Supra note 41.

[63] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2239-2240.

[64] Id. at 2242-2244.

[65] Id. at 2244-2245.

[66] Dissenting Opinion, p. 21.

[67] Id. at 7.

[68] Belviz v. Buenaventura, 83 Phil. 337-340 (1949). In Guilambo v. Court of Appeals, 65 Phil. 183-189 1937), the Court explained: "Within what time should a second motion for reconsideration or a second motion for new trial, be filed? Nothing is provided in our rules; but considering, on the one hand, that, under the provisions of Rule 37, judgment should be entered fifteen days after the promulgation of the decision of the court, and, on the other hand, that the previous leave of court is necessary to file a second motion for reconsideration or a second motion for new trial, it is inferable from all this that the second motion should be filed within the time granted by the court, and as the rules are likewise silent on the period within which application for leave of court to file a second motion for new trial or a second motion for reconsideration should be made, a reasonable and logical interpretation of Rule 39 seems to authorize the opinion that the said leave should be applied for immediately after receipt of notice denying the first motion, or as soon as possible."

[69] Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco, G.R. No. 109645, 112564 (Resolution), March 4, 1996, 324 PHIL 483-498

[70] Dissenting Opinion, p. 1.

[71] Id. at 17.

[72] Id. at 8.

[73] 352 Phil. 461 (1998).

[74] Dissenting Opinion, p. 12.

[75] Id. at 17-18.

[76] In Re: Letters of Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, supra, note 16, at 38-44.

[77] Dissenting Opinion, p. 18.

[78] G.R. No. 153690, February 15, 2011, 643 SCRA 23.

[79] Id. at 40-42; emphasis and underscoring are part of the original text.

[80] To correct the statement in the Dissenting Opinion (p. 19) that the motion was PAL's "third motion for reconsideration."

[81] Dissenting Opinion, p. 19.

[82] Consing v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 78272, 29 August 1989, 177 SCRA 14, 21.

[83] Kornhauser and Sager, The One and the Many: Adjudication in Collegial Courts, 81 Cal. L. Rev. 1, p. 7 (1993). Available at: http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/californialawreview/vol81/iss1/1 (last accessed January 14, 2018).

[84] Id. at 9.

[85] Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. v. Molon, G.R. No. 175002, February 18, 2013, 691 SCRA 113, 126; Philippine Carpet Employees Association (PHILCEA) v. Sto. Tomas, G.R. No. 168719, February 22, 2006, 483 SCRA 128, 143.

[86] Formerly Article 283; See DOLE Department Advisory No. 01 series of 2015.

[87] DOLE Department Order No. 147-15, series of 2015 (Amending the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Book VI of the Labor Code of the Philippines, As Amended)

[88] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. I, p. 491.

[89] Id. at 113-114.

[90] Id. at 164-165.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Reply reads:

3. It must be stressed that complainant was never opposed to respondents['] retrenchment program as it truly understands respondent PAL's financial position. As a matter of fact, when it became apparent that the company was already in the brink of bankruptcy, complainant actively participated in fashioning out some workable solutions to the problem. Respondents have personal knowledge of such fact;

4. What complainant vigorously objects to was the capricious and whimsical implementation of the retrenchment program which, as circumstances would prove, intended not only to save respondent PAL from business and financial collapse but also to get rid of employees who were actively engaging in union activities and also those who are relatively of age already. In other words, such retrenchment program was taken advantage of to cleanse complainant's ranks of vigilant and active union members as well as older and senior cabin attendants.

[91] Id. at 175-176.

FASAP averred:

This is a case of unfair labor practice, plain and simple. Respondents, finding an opportunity in its financial predicament due to the Asian economic crisis that gravely affected most industries in the far east, and specifically Respondents herein, retrenched around Five Thousand employees, including One Thousand Four Hundred flight attendants and stewards as well as pursers. While Complainant does not question the financial setback of respondent airline due to the Asian economic crisis, it doubts the manner and sincerity by which respondents effected the termination. It challenges respondents to show in this suit that they followed a set of rules and norms in coming up with the list of employees to be retrenched, more specifically those members and officers of Complainant union.

[92] Sec. 4, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court.

[93] Josefa v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 182705, July 18, 2014, 730 SCRA 126, 144; Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) v. Pingol, G.R. No. 182622, September 8, 2010, 630 SCRA 413, 421.

[94] Namely: Central Azucarera de La Carlota v. National Labor Relations Commission, Polymart Paper Industries, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission. F.F. Marine Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission, Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Dawal, LVN Pictures Employees and Workers Association (NLU) v. LVN Pictures, Inc., North Davao Mining Corporation v. NLRC, and Manatad v. Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (Dissenting Opinion, pp. 23-24)

[95] Central Azucarera de la Carlota originated from a complaint for reinstatement, alleging that the implemented retrenchment program was not based on valid grounds. In Polymart, the employees alleged that their employer resorted to illegal dismissal on the pretext of incurring serious business losses and the officers and members of the labor union were the first to be retrenched because of their previous misdemeanors. F.F. Marine Corp. arose from a complaint for illegal dismissal, with the employee alleging that he was beguiled to accept the separation pay on the pretext that the machine he was working on was transferred to the province. The employer however countered that the employee was validly retrenched. In PAL v. Dawal, the complaint before the Labor Arbiter was that of illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice, with PAL claiming that the termination was a valid retrenchment due to the Asian Financial Crisis.

[96] Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., G.R. No. 178083, July 22, 2008, 559 SCRA 252, 278-279.

[97] Reorganization of the Securities and Exchange Commission with Additional Power and Placing Said Agency under the Administrative Supervision of the Office of the President, as amended by P.D. No. 1799.

[98] Concepcion, Corporate Rehabilitation: The Philippine Experience. Economic Policy Agenda Series No. 9. Foundation for Economic Freedom, Inc., p. 3, available at http://dirp3.pids.gov.ph/ris/taps/tapspp9916.pdflast accessed on April 8, 2017.

[99] International Air Transport Association (IATA). Airline Disclosure Guide: Aircraft Acquisition Cost and Depreciation available at https://www.iata.org/publications/Documents/Airline-Disclosure-Guide­aircraft-acquisition.pdflast accessed on April 8, 2017.

[100] These included Cathay Pacific, Garuda Airlines, Japan Airlines and Malaysian Airlines, all of which reviewed their operating costs and implemented cost cutting measures including employment lay-off. See World Tourism Organization. Impacts of the Financial Crisis on Asia's Tourism Sector, p. 22 available at http://sete.gr/files/Media/Ebook/110301_Impacts%20of%20the%20Financial%20Crisis%20on%20Asia%20Tourism%20Sector.pdflast accessed on April 8, 2017.

[101] In Re. Request Radio-TV Coverage of the Trial in the Sandiganbayan of the Plunder Cases Against the Former President Joseph E. Estrada, Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, Cesar Sarino, Renato Cayetano and Atty. Ricardo Romulo v. Estrada, A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC, June 29, 2001, 360 SCRA 248, the Court took judicial notice of the effect of the media in stirring public sentiments during an impeachment trial.

[102] In Marcos v. Manglapus, G.R. No. 88211, September 15, 1989, 177 SCRA 668,  the Court took judicial notice of the resulting precarious state of the economy in connection with the return of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos to the country; In Candelaria v. People, G.R. No. 209386, December 8, 2014, 744 SCRA 178, the Court also took judicial notice of the value of diesel fuel as a matter of public knowledge.

[103] Section 2, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court.

[104] Republic v. Sandiganbayan (Fourth Division), G.R. No. 152375, December 13, 2011, 662 SCRA 152, 212; Habagat Grill v. DMC-Urban Property Developer, Inc., G.R. No. 155110, March 31, 2005, 454 SCRA 653, 668, 669.

[105] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. I, pp. 491-492.

The Labor Arbiter stated in its decision:

"[I]t is not disputed that PAL suffered business reverses which almost brought it to total bankruptcy. PAL's precarious financial position immediately before it embarked on the controversial retrenchment program was not only directly attribute[d] to the crisis that plague the Asian economies which started in the middle of 1997 that continuous to be felt until today, but also partly due to the strike staged by the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) and by the Philippine Airlines Employees (PALEA), which crippled its operation for a considerable period of time.

The combination of the economic predicament in the Asian region and the crippling strike proved too much for PAL. Its assets almost levelled with its liabilities. Under tremendous pressure, PAL was placed under Rehabilitation Receiver and its Rehabilitation Plan was approved, as evidenced by the Order of the Securities and Exchange Commission, dated 23 June 1998 in SEC Case No. 06-98-6004 entitled: [I]n the Matter of the Petition for the Approval of Rehabilitation Plan and for Appointment of a Rehabilitation Receiver. There is, therefore, no doubt with respect to respondent's financial distress."

[106] Id. at 673; the NLRC also noted that the complainants did not dispute the financial reverses suffered by PAL (Rollo (Id. at 685).

[107] Id. at 60.

[108] See Rivera v. Espiritu, G.R. No. 135547, January 23, 2002, 374 SCRA 351.

[109] Antes, Brightening Philippine Airlines (PAL): Strategizing for the Future of Asia's Pioneer and Sunniest Air Transporter. Case Studies in Asian Management, Haghirian, P. (Ed.), World Scientific Publishing Co, Pte. Ltd. (2014), p. 189.

[110] Blue Eagle Management. Inc. v. Bonoan, G.R. No. 192488, April 19, 2016, 790 SCRA 328, 355.

[111] G.R. No. 164856, January 20, 2009, 576 SCRA 479, 496-497.

[112] In an earlier resolution in Philippine Airlines v. Zamora, G.R. No. 166996, February 6, 2007, 514 SCRA 584.

[113] Sec. 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court.

[114] G.R. No. 148372, June 27, 2005, 461 SCRA 272.

[115] Id. at 290-294.

[116] Beralde v. Lapanday Agricultural and Development Corporation (Guihing Plantation Operations), G.R. Nos. 205685-86, June 22, 2015, 760 SCRA 158, 175-176.

[117] Revidad v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 111105, June 27, 1995, 245 SCRA 356.

[118] Id. at 367-368.

[119] Pasig Agricultural Development and Industrial Supply Corporation v. Nievarez, G.R. No. 197852, October 19, 2015, 773 SCRA 52, 64.

[120] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2261-2264.

[121] Id. at 2266-2267, PAL reasoned that the primary component of the Rehabilitation Plan and Amended Rehabilitation Plan approved by the PAL creditors and the SEC, was the downsizing of the labor force by at least 5,000, which included the 1,400 flight attendants. The cutting-down of operations and consequent reduction of labor force together with the debt restructuring and capital infusion of US$200 million, were the key components in the rehabilitation.

[122] Id. at 2268.

[123] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. II, p. 1419.

[124] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. I, pp. 127-132; the meetings were held on February 17, February 20, March 6, March 10, and March 17, 1998.

[125] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, p. 2274.

[126] Dissenting Opinion, pp. 25-26.

[127] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2252-2253; PAL manifested that the strike had crippled almost 90% of its operations wherein the striking pilots abandoned the planes wherever they were; that with only 60 pilots and Jesser planes in operation, PAL's daily revenue losses reached P100 million while its fixed cost required P50 million daily to operate; that given the situation, it only had approximately eighteen (18) days to operate since it had no access to any tunher credit or other liquidity facilities.

[128] G.R. No. 135547, January 23, 2002, 374 SCRA 351, 355.

[129] The last paragraph of Section 3, Article XIII states: "The State shall regulate the relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right or labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns to investments, and to expansion and growth."

[130] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2255-2257.

[131] Id. at 2267.

[132] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. II, p. 1421 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis).

[133] Id. at 1395.

[134] Dissenting Opinion, pp. 27-28.

[135] Beralde v. Lapanday Agricultural and Development Corporation (Guihing Plantation Operations), supra, note 116, at 177-178.

[136] 559 SCRA, 252, 291-292.

[137] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. III, pp. 2401-2405.

[138] Id. at 2407.

[139] Id. at 2408-2409.

[140] Id. at 2412.

[141] Caltex (Phils.), Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 159641, October 15, 2007, 536 SCRA 175, 188.

[142] Talam v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 175040, April 6, 2010, 617 SCRA 408, 422.

[143] Saballa v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. Nos. 102472-84, August 22, 1996, 260 SCRA 697, 711.

[144] Bogo-Medellin Sugarcane Planters Association, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 97846, September 25, 1998, 296 SCRA 108, 123.

[145] Manila Hotel Corporation v. NLRC, G.R. No. L-53453, January 22, 1986, 141 SCRA 169, 177.

[146] Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Inc. v. National Labor Union, G.R. No. 115414, August 25, 1998, 294 SCRA 567, 576, 578.

[147] Oriental Petroleum and Minerals Corporation v. Fuentes, G.R. No. 151818, October 14, 2005, 473 SCRA 106, 118.

[148] Caltex (Phils.), Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 159641, October 15, 2007, 536 SCRA 175, 190.

[149] Shimizu Phils. Contractors, Inc. v. Callanta, (G.R. No. 165923, September 29, 2010, 631 SCRA 529, 542.

[150] Morales v. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, G.R. No. 182475, November 21, 2012, 686 SCRA 132, 146.

[151] Talam v. National Labor Relations Commission, supra, note 142.

[152] Coats Manila Bay, Inc. v. Ortega, G.R. No. 172628, February 13, 2009, 579 SCRA 300, 309.

[153] Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines. Inc. v. Molon, G.R. No. 175002, February 18, 2013, 691 SCRA 113, 134.

[154] Dissenting Opinion, p. 41.

[155] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), Vol. I, pp. 78-79 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis).

[156] G.R. No. 145587, October 26, 2007, 537 SCRA 409.

[157] Id. at 442.

[158] Sara Lee Philippines v. Macatlang, G.R. No. 180147, January 14, 2015 (Resolution); Radio Mindanao Network, Inc. v. Amurao III, G.R. No. 167225, October 22, 2014, 739 SCRA 64, 72.



DISSENTING OPINION

LEONEN, J.:

I dissent.

This is an extraordinary case. Like in the Book of Revelation,[1] it involves the miraculous resurrection of the dead: in this case, a dead case.

The ponencia recommends acting for respondent Philippine Airlines, Inc. (Philippine Airlines) on what amounts to a third motion for reconsideration. This is notwithstanding a unanimous decision of a Division in favor of petitioner, another unanimous decision of the same Division denying the motion for reconsideration and, again, another unanimous decision of another Division denying the second motion for reconsideration.

The reopening of a final case was done through a back door: an administrative matter docketed separately from this case.

The July 22, 2008 Decision[2] and the October 2, 2009 Resolution[3] denying Philippine Airlines' Motion for Reconsideration attained finality on November 4, 2009. They may not be set aside, even by this Court sitting en banc. The July 22, 2008 Decision and the October 2, 2009 Resolution have become immutable, and all proceedings subsequent to their issuance-the grant of leave to file a Second Motion for Reconsideration to Philippine Airlines; the September 7, 2011 Resolution denying Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration; the filing of mere letters questioning the internal procedures of this Court; the October 4, 2011 En Banc Resolution recalling the September 7, 2011 Resolution; and the March 13, 2012 Resolution of the Court En Banc confirming the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution, assuming jurisdiction over this case, and ordering there-raffle to either Justices Peralta or Bersamin-did not prevent the judgment in this case from becoming final.

I

To recall, the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) filed its Petition for Review on Certiorari questioning the legality of Philippine Airlines' retrenchment program implemented in 1998. The Petition was docketed as G.R. No. 178083.

In the Decision[4] dated July 22, 2008, the Third Division of this Court granted FASAP's Petition and declared the retrenchment program of Philippine Airlines illegal. The dispositive portion of the July 22, 2008 Decision read:
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87956 dated August 23, 2006, which affirmed the Decision of the NLRC setting aside the Labor Arbiter's findings of illegal retrenchment and its Resolution of May 29, 2007 denying the motion for reconsideration, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is rendered:
  1. FINDING respondent Philippine Airlines, Inc. GUILTY of illegal dismissal;

  2. ORDERING Philippine Airlines, Inc. to reinstate the cabin crew personnel who were covered by the retrenchment and demotion scheme of June 15, 1998 made effective on July 15, 1998, without loss of seniority rights and other privileges, and to pay them full backwages, inclusive of allowances and other monetary benefits computed from the time of their separation up to the time of their actual reinstatement, provided that with respect to those who had received their respective separation pay, the amounts of payments shall be deducted from their backwages. Where reinstatement is no longer feasible because the positions previously held no longer exist, respondent Corporation shall pay backwages plus, in lieu of reinstatement, separation pay equal to one (1) month pay for every year of service;

  3. ORDERING Philippine Airlines, Inc. to pay attorney's fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award.

    Costs against respondent PAL.
SO ORDERED.[5]
The Decision, penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, was concurred in by all the Members of the Third Division: Justices Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Minita Chico-Nazario, Antonio Eduardo Nachura, and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.

Philippine Airlines filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the July 22, 2008 Decision, which the Special Third Division denied with finality in the Resolution[6] dated October 2, 2009:
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED with FINALITY. The assailed Decision dated July 22, 2008 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the award of attorney's fees and expenses of litigation is reduced to P2,000,000.00. The case is hereby REMANDED to the Labor Arbiter solely for the purpose of computing the exact amount of the award pursuant to the guidelines herein stated.

No further pleadings will be entertained.

SO ORDERED.[7]
Justice Ynares-Santiago remained the ponente, and the October 2, 2009 Resolution was concurred in by Justices Chico-Nazario, Nachura, Peralta, and Bersamin. Justice Peralta replaced Justice Austria-Martinez who had already retired, and Justice Bersamin replaced Justice Leonardo-De Castro who had inhibited herself from participating in the deliberations of Philippine Airlines' Motion for Reconsideration.

Philippine Airlines, through counsel, received a copy of the October 2, 2009 Resolution on October 20, 2009.[8] On November 3, 2009, Philippine Airlines filed a Second Motion for Reconsideration of the July 22, 2008 Decision, contending that the Court did not resolve all of the issues it raised in its First Motion for Reconsideration.

This Second Motion for Reconsideration was denied with finality by the Second Division in the Resolution[9] dated September 7, 2011:
To conclude, the rights and privileges that PAL unlawfully withheld from its employees have been in dispute for a decade and a half. Many of these employees have since then moved on, but the arbitrariness and illegality of PAL's actions have yet to be rectified. This case has dragged on for so long and we are now more than duty-bound to finally put an end to the illegality that took place; otherwise, the illegally retrenched employees can rightfully claim that the Court has denied them justice.

WHEREFORE, the Court resolves to deny with finality respondent PAL's second motion for reconsideration. No further pleadings shall be entertained. Costs against the respondents. Let entry of judgment be made in due course.

SO ORDERED.[10]
A series of letters dated September 13, 16, 20, and 22, 2011 were then filed by Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, counsel for Philippine Airlines. The letters were all addressed to the Clerk of Court En Banc, not to the Justices of this Court, and questioned the transfer of the case among the Divisions. Instead of being filed under G.R. No. 178083, the letters were docketed as a separate administrative matter, A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC.

Still in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC, the Court En Banc assumed jurisdiction over G.R. No. 178083 on October 4, 2011 and resolved[11] to recall the September 7, 2011 Resolution of the Second Division. FASAP assailed this October 4, 2011 Resolution in a Motion for Reconsideration, arguing immutability of final judgments.

The Court En Banc then issued a Resolution[12] dated March 13, 2012. It confirmed its recall of the Second Division's September 7, 2011 Resolution and re-raffled G.R. No. 178083 to a new Justice.

II

The present ponencia resolves Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration of the July 22, 2008 Decision and FASAP's Motion for Reconsideration of the March 13, 2012 Resolution confirming the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution that initially denied Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration. The present ponencia exists on the premise that the grant of leave to file the Second Motion for Reconsideration and the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution prevented the July 22, 2008 Decision and the October 2, 2009 Resolution denying Philippine Airlines' First Motion for Reconsideration from becoming final and executory.[13]

This premise is false. The judgment in this case became final and executory as early as November 4, 2009.

"A judgment becomes final and executory by operation of law,"[14] "not by judicial declaration."[15] A decision or resolution denying a motion for reconsideration of a decision becomes final and executory upon the lapse of 15 days[16] from the party's receipt of a copy of the decision or resolution.[17] After the lapse of the 15-day reglementary period, the finality of judgment becomes a matter of fact.[18]

Therefore, no motion for reconsideration of a resolution denying a motion for reconsideration of a decision may be filed by the same party. Allowing second and subsequent motions for reconsideration of the same decision prevents the resolution of judicial controversies. Rule 52, Section 2 of the Rules of Court explicitly prohibits second motions for reconsideration:
Section 2. Second motion for reconsideration. - No second motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained.
The rationale of the prohibition is further explained in Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership v. Judge Velasco:[19]
A second motion for reconsideration is forbidden except for extraordinarily persuasive reasons, and only upon express leave first obtained. The propriety or acceptability of such a second motion for reconsideration is not contingent upon the averment of "new" grounds to assail the judgment, i.e., grounds other than those theretofore presented and rejected. Otherwise, attainment of finality of a judgment might be staved off indefinitely, depending on the party's ingeniousness or cleverness in conceiving and formulating "additional flaws" or "newly discovered errors" therein, or thinking up some injury or prejudice to the rights of the movant for reconsideration. "Piece-meal" impugnation of a judgment by successive motions for reconsideration is anathema, being precluded by the salutary axiom that a party seeking the setting aside of a judgment, act or proceeding must set out in his motion all the grounds therefor, and those not so included are deemed waived and cease to be available for subsequent motions.

For all litigation must come to an end at some point, in accordance with established rules of procedure and jurisprudence. As a matter of practice and policy, courts must dispose of every case as promptly as possible; and in fulfillment of their role in the administration of justice, they should brook no delay in the termination of cases by stratagems or maneuverings of parties or their lawyers.[20]
As an exception, by leave of court,[21] a party may file a second motion for reconsideration of the decision. The second motion for reconsideration may be subsequently granted "in the higher interest of justice." Rule 15, Section 3 of our Internal Rules provides:
Section 3. Second motion for reconsideration. - The Court shall not entertain a second motion for reconsideration, and any exception to this rule can only be granted in the higher interest of justice by the Court en banc upon a vote of at least two-thirds of its actual membership. There is reconsideration "in the higher interest of justice" when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties. A second motion for reconsideration can only be entertained before the ruling sought to be reconsidered becomes final by operation of law or by the Court's declaration.

In the Division, a vote of three Members shall be required to elevate a second motion for reconsideration to the Court En Banc.[22]
Nothing in Rule 15, Section 3 of the Internal Rules, however, states that the resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of a decision will not lapse into finality. The grant of leave to file a second motion for reconsideration only means that the second motion for reconsideration is no longer prohibited.[23] Regardless of the grant of leave to file a second motion

for reconsideration, the resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of the decision becomes final and executory by operation of law. The grant of a second motion for reconsideration only means that the judgment, had it been entered in the book of entries of judgments, may be lifted.[24] In Aliviado v. Procter and Gamble Philippines, Inc.:[25]
[T]he issuance of the entry of judgment is reckoned from the time the parties received a copy of the resolution denying the first motion for reconsideration. The filing of . . . several pleadings after receipt of the resolution denying [the] first motion for reconsideration does not in any way bar the finality or entry of judgment. Besides, to reckon the finality of a judgment from the receipt of the denial of the second motion for reconsideration would be absurd. First, the Rules of Court and the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court prohibit the filing of a second motion for reconsideration. Second, some crafty litigants may resort to filing prohibited pleadings just to delay entry of judgment.[26] (Underscoring in the original; emphasis supplied)
Philippine Airlines received a copy of the October 2, 2009 Resolution denying its Motion for Reconsideration of the July 22, 2008 Decision on October 20, 2009.[27] By operation of law, the October 2, 2009 Resolution became final and executory on November 4, 2009, 15 days after Philippine Airlines received a copy of the October 2, 2009 Resolution. Though leave to file a Second Motion for Reconsideration was granted on January 20, 2010, the grant of leave only means that the Second Motion for Reconsideration is no longer prohibited under the Rules of Court. The grant of leave to file the Second Motion for Reconsideration did not, in any way, prevent the judgment on this case from becoming final and executory on November 4, 2009.

Contrary to the majority opinion, the grant of leave to file a second motion for reconsideration does not "deceive the movants by allowing them to revel in some hollow victory."[28] It does not follow that when leave to file is granted, the second motion for reconsideration shall likewise be granted. Litigants have no right to such expectation.

The Court's pronouncement in Belviz v. Buenaventura,[29] cited by the majority opinion, does not apply in this case. Belviz dealt with a second motion for reconsideration already granted by this court. Here, all that was granted was the leave to file. The second motion for reconsideration, however, was already denied on September 7, 2011. To contend "[t]hat a second motion for reconsideration based on an allowable ground suspends the running of the period for appeal from the date of the filing of the motion until such time that the same was acted upon and granted"[30] is unavailing.

Therefore, on January 20, 2010, the Court's action granting leave for the Second Motion for Reconsideration was irregular.

That the records of this case do not contain any notation that the October 2, 2009 Resolution had been entered in the book of entries of judgment is inconsequential. A judgment becomes final and executory by operation of law, with the date of finality of the judgment considered as the date of its entry.[31] The October 2, 2009 Resolution is already final, with November 4, 2009 being the date of its entry.

III

With the judgment having become final and executory as early as November 4, 2009, the validity of the October 4, 2011 En Banc Resolution recalling the Second Division's Resolution that denied Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration should no longer be at issue. Much issue has been made on who, under this Court's issuances on its internal procedures, is the Justice to have properly taken charge of resolving Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration on the first instance when this issue is not even jurisdictional. Under the Constitution, this case has been long been decided with finality by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The Court En Banc, as if an appellate court in relation to the Division that rendered judgment here, has no jurisdiction to resolve Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration for the second time.

Article VIII, Section 4 of the Constitution provides:
Section 4. (1) The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or, in its discretion, in divisions of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence thereof.

(2) All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, or law, which shall be heard by the Supreme Court en banc, and all other cases which under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc, including those involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations, shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.

(3) Cases or matters heard by a division shall be decided or resolved with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon, and in no case, without the concurrence of at least three of such Members. When the required number is not obtained, the case shall be decided en banc: Provided, that no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the court in a decision rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the court sitting en banc.
Article VIII, Section 4 was especially relevant in Fortich v. Corona.[32] The case involved the Sumilao farmers who staged a hunger strike in protest of the Office of the President's March 29, 1996 Decision that converted 144 hectares of land in Bukidnon from agricultural to agro-industrial/institutional area. In its Order dated June 23, 1997, the Office of the President declared its March 29, 1996 Decision final and executory because none of the parties seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision.

However, in a November 7, 1997 Resolution or the so-called "Win/Win" Resolution, the Office of the President modified its March 29, 1996 Decision. Forty-four hectares of the former 144 were declared converted to agro-industrial/institutional area and the remaining 100 hectares were, instead, ordered distributed to the farmer-beneficiaries. This prompted petitioners, led by then Bukidnon Governor Carlos O. Fortich, to file a petition for certiorari before this Court.

In the Decision[33] dated April 24, 1998, this Court granted Governor Fortich, et al.'s petition for certiorari and voided the "Win/Win" Resolution.[34] This Court held that the Office of the President had already lost jurisdiction to modify its March 29, 1996 Decision because it was already final and executory.[35]

The April 24, 1998 Decision in Fortich was unanimously voted by Members of the Second Division of the Court. Justice Antonio M. Martinez wrote[36] the Decision in which Justices Florenz D. Regalado, Jose A.R. Melo, Reynato S. Puno, and Vicente V. Mendoza concurred.[37]

The farmer-beneficiaries filed motions for reconsideration of the April 24, 1998 Decision, arguing that the "Win/Win" Resolution was correctly issued so as to modify the erroneous March 29, 1996 Decision of the Office of the President. In addition, they prayed that their motions for reconsideration be elevated to the Court En Banc because of the supposedly novel issue involved in the case.

In the November 17, 1998 Opinion[38] still penned by Justice Martinez,[39] the Court's Second Division denied the motions for reconsideration with finality.[40] The Court maintained that the March 29, 1996 Decision of the Office of the President was already final and executory, hence, unalterable even by this Court.[41]

Concurring in the November 17, 1998 Opinion was Justice Mendoza.[42] Justice Puno dissented and was joined by Justice Melo.[43] When the Second Division resolved the farmer-beneficiaries' first motions for reconsideration of the April 24, 1998 Decision, Justice Regalado had already retired.[44] Thus, only four (4) of the five (5) Justices who deliberated on the issues in the case and voted on the April 24, 1998 Decision voted on the first motions for reconsideration. The vote was two-two.

The farmer-beneficiaries filed motions for reconsideration of the November 17, 1998 Opinion, effectively the second motions for reconsideration filed in Fortich. Citing Article VIII, Section 4(3) of the Constitution, the farmer-beneficiaries argued that the two-two vote in the first motions for reconsideration fell short of the minimum of three (3) votes required to carry a decision or resolution of the Court. Since the required number of votes was not obtained, the case, insisted by the farmer­-beneficiaries, should be elevated to the en banc.

In the Resolution[45] dated August 19, 1999, the Court in Fortich rejected the farmer-beneficiaries' argument and denied the second motions for reconsideration. Examining the word choices in and syntax of Article VIII, Section 4(3) of the Constitution, the Court held that only "cases" that have not obtained the required number of votes may be elevated to and "decided" by the Court en banc. Using the statutory construction rule of reddendo singula singulis,[46] the Court said that "decided" in the first sentence of Section 4(3), Article VIII corresponded to "cases," and "resolved" corresponded to "matters." The word "matters," however, no longer appeared in the second sentence of Article VIII, Section 4(3). According to the Court, this omission was expressly made so that only a "case" that has not obtained the required number of votes in the Division, not "matters" such as motions for reconsideration, may be elevated to and "decided" by the Court En Banc. When a "matter" such as a motion for reconsideration does not obtain the required number of votes, it means that the motion for reconsideration must be denied for lack of the necessary votes, not elevated to the Court En Banc for resolution. The assailed decision previously rendered by the Division must, therefore, stand. In this Court's own words:
A careful reading of [Section 4(3), Article VIII of the Constitution], however, reveals the intention of the framers to draw a distinction between cases, on the one hand, and matters, on the other hand, such that cases are "decided" while matters, which include motions, are "resolved". Otherwise put, the word "decided" must refer to "cases"; while the word "resolved" must refer to "matters", applying the rule reddendo singula singulis. This is true not only in the interpretation of the above-quoted [Section 4(3), Article VIII], but also of the other provisions of the Constitution where these words appear.

With the aforesaid rule of construction in mind, it is clear that only cases are referred to the Court en banc for decision whenever the required number of votes is not obtained. Conversely, the rule does not apply where, as in this case, the required three votes is not obtained in the resolution of a motion for reconsideration. Hence, the second sentence of the aforequoted provision speaks only of "case" and not "matter".[47]
The reason for the rule, said this Court, is "simple."[48] Continued this Court:
The above-quoted [Article VIII, Section 4(3)] pertains to disposition of cases by a division. If there is a tie in the voting, there is no decision. The only way to dispose of the case is then refer it to the Court en banc. On the other hand, if a case has already been decided by the decision and the losing party files a motion for reconsideration, the failure of the division to resolve the motion because of a tie in the voting does not leave the case undecided. There is still the decision which must stand in view of the failure of the members of the division to muster the necessary vote for its reconsideration. Quite plainly, if the voting results in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is lost. The assailed decision is not reconsidered and must therefore be deemed affirmed.[49]
Voting two-two on the first motion for reconsideration, the Members of the Second Division failed to muster the minimum number of votes required to reconsider the April 24, 1998 Decision in Fortich. Therefore, the first motions for reconsideration were deemed denied for failure to obtain the required number of votes, and the case was not elevated en banc.[50] The April 24, 1998 Decision in Fortich, unanimously voted by the Members of the Second Division, was deemed affirmed.[51]

Fortich highlighted how a decision by any of the Divisions of this Court is a decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The Court En Banc is not an appellate court to which decisions of a Division of this Court may be appealed.[52] Fortich, thus, affirmed Supreme Court Circular No. 2-89 on the Guidelines and Rules in the Referral to the Court En Banc of Cases Assigned to a Division, the relevant portions of which provide:
SUPREME COURT CIRCULAR NO. 2-89

SUBJECT
:
Guidelines and Rules in the Referral to the Court En Banc of Cases Assigned to a Division



TO
:
Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, Shari'A District Courts and Shari'A Circuit Courts, All Members of the Government Prosecution Service, and All Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

1. The Supreme Court sits either en banc or in Divisions of three, five or seven Members (Sec. 4[1] Article VIII, 1987 Constitution). At present the Court has three Divisions of five Members each.

2. A decision or resolution of a Division of the Court, when concurred in by a majority of its Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in a case and voted thereon, and in no case without the concurrence of at least three of such Members, is a decision or resolution of the Supreme Court (Section 4[3], Article VIII, 1987 Constitution).

3. The Court en banc is not an Appellate Court to which decisions or resolutions of a Division may be appealed.[53]
Supreme Court Circular No. 2-89 would continue outlining the guidelines for referring a Division case to the Court En Banc:
4. At any time after a Division takes cognizance of a case and before a judgment or resolution therein rendered becomes final and executory, the Division may refer the case en consulta to the Court en banc which, after consideration of the reasons of the Division for such referral, may return the case to the Division or accept the case for decision or resolution.
4a. Paragraph [f] of the Resolution of this Court of 23 February 1984 in Bar Matter No. 209 [formerly item 6, en banc Resolution dated 29 September 1977], enumerating the cases considered as en banc cases, states:
"f. Cases assigned to a division including motions for reconsideration which in the opinion of at least three (3) members merit the attention of the Court en banc and are acceptable by a majority vote of the actual membership of the Court en banc."
5. A resolution of the Division denying a party's motion for referral to the Court en banc of any Division case, shall be final and not appealable to the Court en banc.

6. When a decision or resolution is referred by a Division to the Court en banc, the latter may, in the absence of sufficiently important reasons, decline to take cognizance of the same, in which case, the decision or resolution shall be returned to the referring Division.

7. No motion for reconsideration of the action of the Court en banc declining to take cognizance of a referral by a Division, shall be entertained.[54]
At present, Rule 2, Section 3[55] of the Internal Rules enumerates the cases and matters cognizable by Court En Banc:
Section 3. Court en banc matters and cases. - The Court en banc shall act on the following matters and cases:

(a)
cases in which the constitutionality of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, executive order, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question;


(b)
cases raising novel questions of law;


(c)
cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls;


(d)
cases involving decisions, resolutions, and resolutions, and orders of the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit;


(e)
cases where the penalty recommended or to be imposed is the dismissal of a judge, official or personnel of the Judiciary, the disbarment of a lawyer, the suspension of any of them for a period of more than one year, or a fine exceeding forty thousand pesos;


(f)
cases covered by the preceding paragraph involving the reinstatement in the judiciary of a dismissed judge, the reinstatement of a lawyer in the roll of attorneys, or the lifting of a judge's suspension or a lawyer's suspension from the practice of law;


(g)
cases involving the discipline of a Member of the Court, or a Presiding Justice, or any Associate Justice of the collegial appellate courts;


(h)
cases where a doctrine or principle laid down by the Court en banc or by a Division may be modified or reversed;


(i)
cases involving conflicting decisions of two or more divisions;


(j)
cases where three votes in a Division cannot be obtained;


(k)
Division cases where the subject matter has a huge financial impact on businesses or affects the welfare of a community;


(l)
subject to Section 11(b) of this rule, other division cases that, in the opinion of at least three Members of the Division who are voting and present, are appropriate for transfer to the Court en banc;


(m)
cases that the Court en banc deems of sufficient importance to merit its attention; and


(n)
all matters involving policy decisions in the administrative supervision of all courts and their personnel.[56]
The Court En Banc assumed jurisdiction over this case based on Section 3(m), then Rule 2, Section 3(n) of the Internal Rules.

The enumeration in Rule 2, Section 3 of the Internal Rules on Court en banc matters and cases is an "amalgamation of,"[57] hence based, on Supreme Court Circular No. 2-89 as amended by the Resolution dated November 18, 1993[58] and Resolution dated January 18, 2000 in A.M. No. 99-12-08-SC.[59] The Resolution dated November 18, 1993 is cited as basis for adding "all other cases as the Court en banc by a majority of its actual membership may deem of sufficient importance to merit its attention," now found in Rule 2, Section 3(m) of the Internal Rules, in the enumeration of cases cognizable by the en banc.[60] The Resolution dated November 18, 1993 wholly provide:
B.M. No. 209[61]

AMENDMENTS TO SECTIONS 15 AND 16, RULE 136 OF THE RULES OF COURT AND OTHER RESOLUTIONS

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated November 18, 1993

"Bar Matter No. 209 - In the Matter of the Amendment and/or Clarification of Various Supreme Court Rules and Resolutions. -

The Court motu proprio Resolved to further amend Sections 15 and 16, Rule 136 of the Rules of Court, as well as its Resolution of September 17, 1974 as amended by a Resolution dated February 11, 1975, its Resolution of February 23, 1984, and its Resolution of February 9, 1993, as follows:

Effective immediately and until further action of the Court, all pleadings, briefs, memoranda, motions, and other papers to be filed before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals shall either be typewritten on good quality unglazed paper, or mimeographed or printed on newsprint or mimeograph paper, 11 inches in length by 8-1/2 inches in width (commonly known as letter size) or 13 inches in length by 8-1/2 inches in width (commonly known as legal size). There shall be a margin at the top and at the left-hand side of each page not less than 1-1/2 inches in width. The contents shall be written double-spaced and only one side of the page shall be used.

In the Supreme Court, eighteen (18) legible copies of the petition shall be initially be filed, and eighteen (18) copies of subsequent pleadings, briefs, memoranda, motions and other papers shall be filed in cases for consideration of the Court en banc and nine (9) copies in cases to be heard before a division.

One (1) copy thereof shall be served upon each of the adverse parties in either case.

For said purpose, the following are considered en banc cases:
  1. Cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, executive order, or presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question;

  2. Criminal cases in which the appealed decision imposes the death penalty;

  3. Cases raising novel questions of law;

  4. Cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;

  5. Cases involving decisions, resolutions or orders of the Civil Service Commission, Commission on Elections, and Commission on Audit;

  6. Cases where the penalty to be imposed is the dismissal of a judge, officer or employee of the Judiciary, disbarment of a lawyer, or either the suspension of any of them for a period of more than one (1) year or a fine exceeding P10,000.00, or both;

  7. Cases where a doctrine or principle laid down by the Court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed;

  8. Cases assigned to a division which in the opinion of at least three (3) members thereof merit the attention of the Court en banc and are acceptable to a majority of the actual membership of the Court en banc; and

  9. All other cases as the Court en banc by a majority of its actual membership may deem of sufficient importance to merit its attention.
In the Court of Appeals, seven (7) legible copies of pleadings, briefs, memoranda, motions and other papers shall be filed and one (1) copy thereof shall be served on each of the adverse parties." (Internal Resolution - Not for release)

 
Very truly yours,
 

 
LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO
 
Clerk of Court
 
Supreme Court of the Philippines
 

 
By:
 

 
(SGD.) MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA
 
Assistant Clerk of Court
 
Supreme Court of the Philippines
As reflected above, the Resolution dated November 18, 1993 amended Bar Matter No. 209 which further amended Rule 136, Sections 15 and 16 of the Rules of Court then in effect, i.e., the 1964 Rules of Court. Rule 136 was entitled "Court Record and General Duties of Clerks and Stenographer" and Sections 15 and 16 dealt with "unprinted papers" and "printed papers." As the Resolution dated November 18, 1993 expressly stated, it amended the Resolution dated February 9, 1993 still on the form of unprinted papers and printed papers.

In issuing the Resolution dated November 18, 1993 to amend a bar matter that dealt with the form of unprinted and printed papers, the Court could not have intended to "lay down new guidelines or rules for referral to the court en banc of cases assigned to a Division."[62] The Resolution dated November 18, 1993 explicitly stated that the enumeration of en banc cases is only "for [the] said purpose" of determining the number of copies to file in the Court.

The basis of the supposed residual power[63] of the Court En Banc to, on its own, take cognizance of Division cases is, therefore, suspect.

Even assuming that the Court intended to amend Supreme Court Circular No. 2-89 through the Resolution dated November 18, 1993, there must be, at the very least, a consulta from the Division to which the case was assigned before the Court En Banc assumes jurisdiction over the Division case. This is consistent with Article VIII, Section 4(1) of the Constitution: a decision of the Division is a decision of the Supreme Court.

Therefore, the current Rule 2, Section 3(m) of the Internal Rules must be read with section 3(l). The Court En Banc, on its own, cannot take cognizance of a Division case unless at least three (3) Members of the Division to which the case is assigned vote to refer the case to the Court En Banc. The Court En Banc has no residual power to assume jurisdiction over a Division case just because it deems it "of sufficient importance or interest."

To summarize, a case is considered decided and a decision rendered by the Supreme Court of the Philippines when a majority of the Members of the Division who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case voted to concur in the decision. In no case shall the concurrence be less than three (3). When a Division already rendered a final decision or resolution in a case, the Court En Banc cannot set this final decision or resolution aside, even if it deems the case "of sufficient importance to merit its attention." The Court En Banc is not an appellate court to which decisions or resolutions rendered by a Division are appealed. Hence, when a decision or resolution of a Division is already final, the matter of referring the case to the Court En Banc must be favorably voted by at least three (3) Members of the Division who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case.

Applying the foregoing here, the Court En Banc has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the present case.

The July 22, 2008 Decision of the Third Division, unanimously voted by the Members of the Third Division, is a Decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The October 2, 2009 Resolution was likewise unanimously voted by the Members of the Special Third Division. The judgment in this case attained finality on November 4, 2009, 15 days from Philippine Airlines' receipt of the October 2, 2009 Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of the July 22, 2008 Decision.

Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration, the filing of which did not prevent the judgment in this case from attaining finality on November 4, 2009, was likewise unanimously denied by the Members of the Second Division in its September 7, 2011 Resolution. The judgment here having attained finality, the Court En Banc-as if an appellate court reviewing a case that the Supreme Court has already reviewed three (3) times-cannot now take cognizance of the case and review it for the fourth time because, suddenly, the case became of sufficient importance to merit the En Banc's attention.

In the October 4, 2011 Resolution issued in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC, the Court En Banc took cognizance of the case supposedly on the ground that the Members of the Second Division that resolved Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration deemed the case appropriate for transfer to the Court En Banc.[64] However, despite the meetings called to discuss "the implications of the successive retirements, transfers, and inhibitions"[65] affecting the membership of the Division to resolve Philippine Airlines' Motion to Vacate the September 7, 2011 Resolution that denied the Second Motion for Reconsideration, still, the required mode of referral to the En Banc is through a resolution.[66] No resolution by the Second Division can be found in the records of this case. As further declared by the Court En Banc in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC, it "acted on its own"[67] and assumed jurisdiction over this case by recalling the September 7, 2011 Resolution issued by the Second Division. This cannot be done.

To reiterate, the judgment assailed in this case is already final and executory by operation of law. The First Motion for Reconsideration was already denied with finality with the concurrence of all the Members of the Special Third Division of this Court. The Second Motion for Reconsideration, despite the grant of leave to file, was likewise denied by the Second Division. Not being an appellate court in relation to the Divisions, the Court En Banc has no authority to recall the Division's September 7, 2011 Resolution, assume jurisdiction over this case, then resolve anew Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration.

A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC was a matter docketed as an administrative matter. It could not be another means to resurrect a case. To do so is highly irregular, suspect, and violative of due process of law. To mask this as being in the interest of justice is to mask its intention to rob labor of a case decided three (3) times in its favor.

IV

Further, with the current ponencia, this Court will be resolving Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration for the second time. The Court En Banc effectively admitted a third motion for reconsideration from the same party, in violation of its own Rules.

In my view, a unanimous vote of this Court sitting en banc must be required to grant Philippine Airlines' third motion for reconsideration. Any vote less than unanimous must lead to a denial with finality of Philippines Airlines' motion.

A third motion for reconsideration is a disrespect to us and our rules of procedure. A third motion for reconsideration stifles the execution of a final and executory judgment of this Court. To truly prohibit the filing of further pleadings after the finality of our judgments, second and subsequent motions for reconsideration must be denied outright or, if they must be acted upon, they should be resolved with a standard stricter than that required in resolving first motions for reconsideration.

It is in this Court's interest to grant third and subsequent motions for reconsideration only with a unanimous vote. A unanimous court would debate and deliberate more fully compared with a non-unanimous court because unanimity makes the grant of third and subsequent motions for reconsideration more difficult. Greater debate must be required to allow a motion not sanctioned by our Rules.[68] Unanimity prevents flip-flopping. It will shield this Court from parties who perceive themselves above the justice system.

There is no violation of due process[69] in requiring a unanimous vote instead of the majority vote required under the Constitution[70] or the two-thirds (2/3) vote required under our Internal Rules.[71] A third motion for reconsideration is not a remedy under our existing rules of procedure. Under law or equity, a party has no vested right to file, much more, to a grant of a third or any subsequent motion for reconsideration by a mere majority vote.[72] Then, applying Fortich by analogy, a third motion for reconsideration that fails to muster a unanimous vote must be deemed denied. The decision, the resolution on the first motion for reconsideration, and the resolution on the second motion for reconsideration must be deemed affirmed.

The Chief Justice is on leave while Justices Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-de Castro, and Del Castillo inhibited themselves from participating in the deliberations and voting in this case. This leaves ten (10) Justices to deliberate and vote anew on Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration. It is in this Court's interest to require ten (10) votes to grant Philippine Airlines' second, effectively its third, motion for reconsideration. Any less than a unanimous vote will erode the reliability and credibility of this Court.

V

Even on the merits, this case is not of sufficient importance to have merited the Court En Banc's attention. There is no "higher interest of justice" to be satisfied in resolving Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration for the second time.

The then Article 283[73] of the Labor Code on retrenchment provides:
Article 283. Closure of Establishment and Reduction of Personnel. - The employer may also terminate the employment of any employee due to the installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless the closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by serving a written notice on the workers and the Ministry of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof. In case of termination due to the installation of labor-saving devices or redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least his one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. In case of retrenchment to prevent losses and in cases of closures or cessation of operations of establishment or undertaking not due to serious business losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay or at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be considered one (1) whole year.
In contrast with the "just causes" for terminating employment brought about by an employee's acts, "authorized causes" such as retrenchment are undertaken by the employer. Retrenchment or "lay-off" is the cessation of employment commenced by the employer, devoid of any fault on the part of the workers and without prejudice to them.[74] It is "resorted to by management during periods of business recession, industrial depression, or seasonal fluctuations or during lulls occasioned by lack of orders, shortage of materials, conversion of the plant for a new production program or the introduction of new methods or more efficient machinery, or of automation."[75]

Since retrenchment is commenced by the employer, the burden of proving that the termination was founded on an authorized cause necessarily rests with the employer.[76] The employer has the duty to clearly and satisfactorily prove the elements of a valid retrenchment, which, as established in Lopez Sugar Corp. v. Federation of Free Workers,[77] are the following:
Firstly, the losses expected should be substantial and not merely de minimis in extent. If the loss purportedly sought to be forestalled by retrenchment is clearly shown to be insubstantial and inconsequential in character, the bonafide nature of the retrenchment would appear to be seriously in question. Secondly, the substantial loss apprehended must be reasonably imminent, as such imminence can be perceived objectively and in good faith by the employer. There should, in other words, be a certain degree of urgency for the retrenchment, which is after all a drastic recourse with serious consequences for the livelihood of the employees retired or otherwise laid-off. Because of the consequential nature of retrenchment, it must, thirdly, be reasonably necessary and likely to effectively prevent the expected losses. The employer should have taken other measures prior or parallel to retrenchment to forestall losses, i.e., cut other costs than labor costs. An employer who, for instance, lays off substantial numbers of workers while continuing to dispense fat executive bonuses and perquisites or so-called "golden parachutes," can scarcely claim to be retrenching in good faith to avoid losses. To impart operational meaning to the constitutional policy of providing "full protection" to labor, the employer's prerogative to bring down labor costs by retrenching must be exercised essentially as a measure of last resort, after less drastic means - e.g., reduction of both management and rank-and-file bonuses and salaries, going on reduced time, improving manufacturing efficiencies, trimming of marketing and advertising costs, etc. - have been tried and found wanting.

Lastly, but certainly not the least important, alleged losses if already realized, and the expected imminent losses sought to be forestalled, must be proved by sufficient and convincing evidence. The reason for requiring this quantum of proof is readily apparent: any less exacting standard of proof would render too easy the abuse of this ground for termination of services of employees.[78] (Underscoring provided)
These "four standards of retrenchment"[79]-that the losses be substantial and not de minimis; that the substantial loss be imminent; that the retrenchment be reasonably necessary and would likely and effectively prevent the substantial loss; and that the loss, if already incurred, be proved by sufficient and convincing evidence-are reiterated in Central Azucarera De La Carlota v. National Labor Relations Commission,[80] Polymart Paper Industries, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission,[81] F.F. Marine Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission,[82] and Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Dawal.[83]

It is doctrine that the employer proves substantial losses by offering in evidence audited financial statements showing that it has been operating at a loss for a period of time sufficient for the employer "to [have] perceived objectively and in good faith"[84] that the business' financial standing is unlikely to improve in the future. "No evidence can best attest to a company['s] economic status other than its financial statement"[85] because "[t]he audit of financial reports by independent external auditors are strictly governed by the national and international standards and regulations for the accounting profession."[86] Auditing of financial statements prevents "manipulation of the figures . . . to suit the company's needs."[87]

In LVN Pictures Employees and Workers Association (NLU) v. LVN Pictures, Inc.,[88] decided in 1970, respondent corporation presented financial statements to prove a progressive pattern of loss from 1957 to 1961. By the time the corporation ceased from doing business, it incurred an aggregate loss of P1,560,985.14. This Court held that LVN had suffered serious business losses.[89]

In North Davao Mining Corporation v. NLRC,[90] decided in 1996, petitioner corporation presented financial statements to prove a progressive pattern of loss from 1988 until its closure in 1992. The company suffered net losses averaging P3,000,000,000.00 a year, with an aggregate loss of P20,000,000,000.00 by the time of its closure. This Court held that North Davao experienced serious business losses.[91]

In Manatad v. Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation,[92] decided in 2008, respondent corporation presented financial statements proving a progressive pattern of loss from 1995 to 1999. By the year 2000, the corporation had already incurred an aggregate loss of P2,169,000,000.00, constraining it to retrench some of its workers. This Court held that the employer was "fully justified in implementing a retrenchment program since it was undergoing business reverses, not only for a single fiscal year, but for several years prior to and even after the program."[93]

Unlike the employers in LVN Pictures Employees and Workers Association, North Davao Mining Corporation, and Manatad, Philippine Airlines plainly and miserably failed to discharge its burden of proving that it had suffered substantial losses for a period of time sufficient for it to have perceived objectively and in good faith that its business standing would unlikely improve in the future. Philippine Airlines did not submit any audited financial statements before the Labor Arbiter.[94] The belatedly[95] submitted audited financial statements for the years 2002 to 2004, copies of which were annexed to Philippine Airlines' Comment on FASAP's Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals, are irrelevant because they do not cover the years leading to Philippine Airlines' supposedly dire financial situation in 1998. The financial statement for the year ending March 1998 attached to Philippine Airlines' First Motion for Reconsideration before this Court was, again, belatedly filed and cannot be accepted on appeal.[96]

That FASAP failed to question Philippine Airlines' financial status during the retrenchment and in its pleadings before the Labor Arbiter, National Labor Relations Commission, and the Court of Appeals[97] does not excuse Philippine Airlines' failure to present the relevant financial statements. Regardless of FASAP's supposed recognition of Philippine Airlines' grave financial condition as Justice Caguioa outlined in his Concurring Opinion,[98] the members of FASAP have no professional training to determine their employer's financial standing. The burden is not on them to prove that Philippine Airlines was suffering from legitimate business reverses warranting retrenchment.

Further, contrary to Philippine Airlines'[99] and Justice Caguioa's[100] points of view, this Court did not take judicial notice of Philippine Airlines' supposedly dire financial status in Garcia v. Philippine Airlines, Inc.,[101] Philippine Airlines v. Kurangking,[102] Philippine Airlines v. PALEA,[103] Philippine Airlines v. NLRC[104] and Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Zamora.[105] In these cases, the courts merely recognized that Philippine Airlines was under corporate rehabilitation leading to the suspension of proceedings involving money claims against it.

Justice Caguioa cites Clarion Printing House, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission[106] where this Court considered the company's receivership status as proof of losses. The present case, however, is different from Clarion. For one, the employer in Clarion presented evidence before the Labor Arbiter and National Labor Relations Commission that it was placed under receivership, further proving its sustained business losses.[107] The company in Clarion was even liquidated and dissolved.[108] The employer in Clarion did not engage in any act that negated its claim of serious business losses as a ground for retrenchment. Therefore, the fact that it was on receivership sufficed to substantiate its claim of business reverses.

In this case, however, Philippine Airlines only made a "litany of woes"[109] before the Labor Arbiter and National Labor Relations Commission "without offering any evidence to show that [those woes] translated into specific and substantial losses."[110] Philippine Airlines even submitted a "stand-alone" rehabilitation plan to the Securities and Exchange Commission, undertaking recovery on its own, and thus, belying its claim of dire financial condition.[111] Philippine Airlines eventually exited rehabilitation.[112] Clarion, therefore, has no application in this case.

Contrary to Emco Plywood Corp. v. Abelgas,[113] Philippine Airlines did not even prove that retrenching its employees was the only remaining way to lessen its purported business losses. Though not explicitly required under the Labor Code as pointed out by Philippines Airlines,[114] retrenchment must and should remain a means of last resort of terminating employment,[115] consistent with the constitutional policy of full protection to labor.[116] An employee dismissed, even for an authorized cause, loses his or her means of livelihood.[117] Therefore, employers must show that they utilized other less drastic measures that proved ineffective for their business to financially recover.[118] The July 22, 2008 Decision underscored that there was no evidence on record confirming that Philippine Airlines resorted in cost-cutting measures apart from lessening its fleet and the retrenchment of its employees.[119] This Court said:
The only manifestation of PAL's attempt at exhausting other possible measures besides retrenchment was when it conducted negotiations and consultations with FASAP which, however, ended nowhere. None of the plans and suggestions taken up during the meetings was implemented. On the other hand, PAL's September 4, 1998 offer of shares of stock to its employees was adopted belatedly, or only after its more than 1,4000 cabin crew personnel were retrenched. Besides, this offer can hardly be considered to be borne of good faith, considering that it was premised on the condition that, if accepted, all existing CBA's between PAL and its employees would have to be suspended for 10 years. When the offer was rejected by the employees, PAL ceased its operations on September 23, 1998. It only resumed business when the CBA's suspension clause was ratified by the employees in a referendum subsequently conducted. Moreover, this stock distribution scheme does not do away with PAL's expenditures or liabilities, since it has for its sole consideration the commitment to suspend CBAs with its employees for 10 years. It did not improve the financial standing of PAL, nor did it result in corporate savings, vis-a-vis the financial difficulties it was suffering at that time.[120] (Emphasis provided)
Although, as pointed out by Justice Caguioa, an employer may resort to retrenchment on the basis of anticipated losses,[121] the employer must nevertheless present convincing evidence which, as jurisprudentially established, consists of the audited financial statements. Here, there was no basis for Philippine Airlines to claim that it was financially crippled by the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the massive strikes staged by its workers.[122] Assuming that Philippine Airlines sustained business losses due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it should have nevertheless corroborated its claim by showing how this occurrence affected its financial status. To readily accept this assertion, as stated in the ponencia,[123] provides a dangerous precedent. "Any employer desirous of ridding itself of its employees could . . . easily do so without need to adduce proof in support of its action."[124] Security of tenure is a constitutionally mandated right. It should not be "denied on the basis of mere speculation."[125]

That Philippine Airlines was placed under receivership did not excuse it from submitting to the labor authorities copies of its audited financial statements to prove the urgency, necessity, and extent of its retrenchment program.[126] "Employees almost always have no possession of the company's financial statements."[127] Hence, it is the "companies such as [Philippine Airlines] [that] are required by law to file their audited financial statements before the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Securities and Exchange Commission."[128] Considering that Philippine Airlines had the "heavy burden of proving the validity of retrenchment" and the immediate access to its own documents,[129] it should have presented the audited financial statements as to put to rest any doubt on the stated reason behind the disputed retrenchment.

I do not share the view that "to require a distressed corporation placed under rehabilitation or receivership to still submit its audited financial statements may become unnecessary or superfluous."[130] To dispense with the audited financial statements and immediately accept sheer assertions of business losses is far from the stringent substantiation requirement mandated to employers by law and jurisprudence.

It is undisputed that Philippine Airlines initially executed Plan 14 to lessen its operating losses "in the exercise of its management prerogative and sound business judgment."[131] From formerly flying 54 planes in its fleet, it then operated with 14 planes to save itself from a total breakdown.[132] Consequently, it had to allegedly reduce its manpower causing the retrenchment of 5,000 employees which included the 1,400 cabin crews who were also members of FASAP.[133]

Subsequently, however, Philippine Airlines admittedly abandoned Plan 14 and implemented Plan 22 after it had experienced "a degree of relief as a result of the suspension of payment and rehabilitation proceedings in the [Securities and Exchange Commission] and the suspension of the [Collective Bargaining Agreement]."[134] Allegedly, the choice of abandoning Plan 14 was a "business judgment . . . made in good faith and upon the advice of foreign airline industry experts."[135]

I disagree.

Implementing and executing Plan 22, when Plan 14 was already made known to the employees of Philippine Airlines, constitutes bad faith retrenchment.[136] The illegal retrenchment program was founded on a wrong premise. The supposed implementation of Plan 14, which subsequently turned out to be Plan 22, caused the retrenchment of more workers than what was necessary.[137] As this Court observed:
[Philippine Airlines] offered no satisfactory explanation why it abandoned Plan 14; instead, it justified its actions of subsequently recalling to duty retrenched employees by making it appear that it was a show of good faith; that it was due to its good corporate nature, that the decision to consider recalling employees was made. The truth, however, is that it was unfair for PAL to have made such a move; it was capricious and arbitrary, considering that several thousand employees who had long been working with PAL had lost their jobs, only to be recalled but assigned to lower positions (i.e. demoted), and worse, some as new hires, without due regard for their long years of service with the airline.

The irregularity of PAL's implementation of Plan 14 becomes more apparent when it rehired 140 probationary cabin attendants whose services it had previously terminated, and yet proceeded to terminate the services of its permanent cabin crew personnel.[138] (Emphasis provided)
Additionally, the retrenchment program was based on unreasonable standards without any regard to each cabin crew's corresponding service record, thus discounting "seniority and loyalty in the evaluation of overall employee performance."[139]

There is no question that employers have the management prerogative to resort to retrenchment in times of legitimate business reverses. However, the "right to retrench" must be differentiated from the "actual retrenchment program."[140] The manner and exercise of this privilege "must be made without abuse of discretion" and must not be "oppressive and abusive since it affects one's person and property."[141]

Philippine Airlines' failure to strictly comply with the substantive requirements of a valid retrenchment casts doubt on the true reason behind it. "[T]hat a retrenchment is anchored on serious, actual, and real losses or reverses is to say that [it was] done in good faith and not merely as a veneer to disguise the illicit termination of employees. Equally significant is an employer's basis for determining who among its employees shall be retrenched."[142]

That the retrenchment affected ten (10) out of twelve (12) FASAP officers-seven (7) of them were dismissed while three (3) were demoted[143]-appears to be more than merely coincidental. As observed by the Labor Arbiter, the dismissal of the FASAP officers "virtually busted [FASAP] and rendered [it] ineffective to conduct its affairs."[144] This constitutes unfair labor practice by interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization.[145]

Philippine Airlines having exercised its right to retrench in bad faith, the quitclaims executed by the retrenched employees should be set aside. The reason for retrenchment was not "sufficiently and convincingly established."[146] The quitclaims should be deemed involuntarily entered into, with the employees' consent obtained through fraud or mistake.[147]

This Court is aware of the corporate sector's important function in our "country's economic and social progress."[148] Embedded in its business success "is the ethos of business autonomy which allows freedom of business determination with minimal government intrusion to ensure economic independence and development in terms defined by businessmen."[149] Management choices, however, cannot be an unrestrained privilege which can outweigh the constitutionally mandated protection given to labor.[150] Employment is one's way of livelihood.[151] One "cannot be deprived of his labor or work without due process of law."[152]

VI

Third motions for reconsideration must not be favored for they go against the public policy of immutability of final judgments. Final judgments must remain unalterable, regardless of perceived errors,[153] for reasons of economy and stability. Litigation must end at some point and prevailing parties should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their victory.[154]

The actions of the majority of this Court En Banc in a separate administrative matter, reviving a second motion for reconsideration already decided upon and reversing a decision decided in favor of the union three (3) times, creates an ominous cloud that will besmirch our legitimacy. The majority has created an exception to our canonical rules on immutability of judgments.

It is certainly not justice that this Court has done.

For these reasons, I dissent.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote to:

(a)
DENY WITH FINALITY Philippine Airlines, Inc.'s Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008;


(b)
GRANT the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines' Motion for Reconsideration dated October 17, 2011 and REINSTATE the Second Division's Resolution dated September 7, 2011; and


(c)
AFFIRM this Court's Decision dated July 22, 2008 and Resolution dated October 2, 2009.


[1] See Revelation 20, Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

[2] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), pp. 10-58.

[3] 617 Phil. 687 (2009) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, Special Third Division].

[4] 581 Phil. 228 (2008) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, Third Division].

[5] Id. at 271-272.

[6] 617 Phil. 687 (2009) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, Special Third Division].

[7] Id. at 723.

[8] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 2220, Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration.

[9] Id. at 3568-3571.

[10] Id. at 3569-3570.

[11] Rollo (A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC), pp. 16-17.

[12] 684 Phil. 55 (2012) [Per J. Brion, En Banc].

[13] Ponencia as of July 28, 2017, p. 13.

[14] City of Manila v. Court of Appeals, 281 Phil. 408, 413 (1991) [Per J. Cruz, En Banc].

[15] Commissioner on Internal Revenue v. Visayan Electric Company, 125 Phil. 1125, 1127 (1967) [Per J. Sanchez, En Banc].

[16] RULES OF COURT, Rule 52, sec. 1.

[17] S. CT. INT. RULES,, Rule 15, secs. 1 and 2.

[18] Commissioner on Internal Revenue v. Visayan Electric Company, 125 Phil. 1125, 1127 (1967) [Per J. Sanchez, En Banc].

[19] 324 Phil. 483 (1996) [Per C.J. Narvasa, Third Division].

[20] Id. at 489-490.

[21] Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership v. Judge Velasco, 324 Phil. 483, 489 (1996) [Per C.J. Narvasa, Third Division]; See McBurnie v. Ganzon, 719 Phil. 680 (2013) [Per J. Reyes, En Banc].

[22] S. CT. INT. RULES, Rule 15, sec. 3.

[23] See McBurnie v. Ganzon, 719 Phil. 680 (2013) [Per J. Reyes, En Banc].

[24] See Muñoz v. Court of Appeals, 379 Phil. 809 (2000) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].

[25] 665 Phil. 542 (2011) [Per J. Del Castillo, First Division].

[26] Id.

[27] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 2220, Philippine Airlines' Second Motion for Reconsideration.

[28] Ponencia, p. 19

[29] 83 Phil. 337 (1949) [Per J. Paras, First Division].

[30] Ponencia, p. 19.

[31] RULES OF COURT, Rule 51, sec. 10.

[32] 352 Phil. 461 (1998) [Per J. Martinez, Second Division]; 359 Phil. 210 (1998) [Per J. Martinez, Second Division]; 371 Phil. 672 (1999) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, Special Second Division].

[33] 352 Phil. 461 (1998) [Per J. Martinez, Second Division].

[34] Id. at 486.

[35] 1d. at 485.

[36] Id. at 464.

[37] Id. at 487.

[38] 359 Phil. 210 (1998) [Per J. Martinez, Second Division].

[39] Id. at 214.

[40] Id. at 230.

[41] Id. at 221-222.

[42] Id. at 230.

[43] Id. at pp. 230-238. Reviewing the records of the case, Justice Puno found that six (6) months past the issuance of the March 29, 1996 Decision of the Office of the President, then President Fidel V. Ramos constituted a Presidential Fact-Finding Task Force "to conduct a comprehensive review of the proper land use of the 144-hectare Sumilao property." President Ramos, according to Justice Puno, continued to treat the farmer-beneficiaries' case before the Office of the President as "still open," a power allegedly subsumed in the President's power of control over the executive branch. In effect, Justice Puno was of the opinion that the Office of the President may still resolve the motion for reconsideration filed by the farmer-beneficiaries, this despite the Office of the President's Order dated June 23, 1997 declaring its own March 29, 1996 Decision final and executory.

[44] Justice Regalado retired on October 13, 1998. The Resolution denying the first motions for reconsideration was issued on November 17, 1998.

[45] 371 Phil. 672 (1999) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, Special Second Division].

[46] Reddenda singula singulis is Latin for "referring each for each" and, as a rule of statutory construction, means that "words in different parts of statute must be referred to their appropriate connection, giving to each in its place, its proper force and effect, and, if possible, rendering none of them useless or superfluous, even if strict grammatical construction demands otherwise." See People v. Tamani, 154 Phil. 142, 147 (1974) [Per J. Aquino, Second Division] and City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., 495 Phil. 289, 336 (2005) [Per J. Tinga, En Banc].

[47] Fortich v. Corona, 371 Phil. 672, 679 (1999) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, Special Second Division].

[48] Id.

[49] Id. at 679-680.

[50] Id. at 683.

[51] Id. at 680.

[52] See Aboitiz Shipping Corporation v. New India Assurance Company, Ltd., 557 Phil. 679, 683 (2007) [Per J. Quisumbing, Second Division].

[53] SC Circ. No. 2-89 (1989).

[54] Id.

[55] S. CT. INT. RULES, Rule 2, sec. 3 as amended.

[56] Id.

[57] Lu v. Lu Ym, Sr. et al., 658 Phil. 156, 175 (2011) [Per J. Carpio Morales, En Banc].

[58] Firestone Ceramics, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 389 Phil. 810, 816 (2000) [Per J. Purisima, En Banc].

[59] Lu v. Lu Ym, Sr. et al., 658 Phil. 156, 175 (2011) [Per J. Carpio Morales, En Banc].

[60] Firestone Ceramics, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 389 Phil. 810, 816 (2000) [Per J. Purisima, En Banc].

[61] SC Bar Matter No. 209 (1993).

[62] J. Gonzaga-Reyes' Dissenting Opinion in Firestone Ceramics, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 389 Phil. 810, 825 (2000) [Per J. Purisima, En Banc].

[63] Firestone Ceramics, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 389 Phil. 810, 818 (2000) [Per J. Purisima, En Banc].

[64] Rollo, p. 16. The Court cited as bases Sections 3(m) and (n), now 3(l) and (m) of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court.

[65] Ponencia, p. 24-25.

[66] See Sections 3(l) and (m) in relation to section 11 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, thus:
Section 3. Court En banc Matters and Cases. - The Court en banc shall act on the following matters and cases:
. . . .

(l)
subject to Section 11(b) of this rule, other division cases that, in the opinion of at least three Members of the Division who are voting and present, are appropriate for transfer to the Court en banc;
(m)
cases that the Court en banc deems of sufficient important to merit its attention[.]

. . . .
Section 11. Actions on Cases Referred to the Court En Banc - The referral of a Division case to the Court en banc shall be subject to the following rules:

(a)
the resolution of a Division denying a motion for referral to the Court en banc shall be final and shall not be appealable to the Court en banc;
(b)
the Court en banc may, in the absence of sufficiently important reasons, decline to take cognizance of a case referred to it and return the case to the Division; and
(c)
No motion for reconsideration of a resolution of the Court en banc declining cognizance of a referral by a Division shall be entertained.
[67] In Re: Letters of Atty. Mendoza re: G.R. No. 178083-FASAP v. PAL, Inc. et al., 684 Phil. 55, 92 (2012) [Per J. Brion, En Banc].

[68] See J. Douglas' Dissenting Opinion in Johnson v. Louisiana, 406 U.S. 356, 383 (1972) [Per J. White, United States Supreme Court]. The issue in Johnson was whether a less than unanimous vote of the jury is sufficient to convict an accused under the Sixth Amendment. The United States Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative with Justice Douglas, among other Justices, dissenting. Justice Douglas was of the view that unanimity should be required for convictions because they involve the right to liberty the deprivation of which should be based on the same strict standard required for depriving the right to property, i.e., unanimous vote of a jury. Justice Douglas explained the reasons why a mere plurality vote "diminishes the reliability of a jury":
The plurality approves a procedure which diminishes the reliability of a jury. First, it eliminates the circumstances in which a minority of jurors (a) could have rationally persuaded the entire jury to acquit, or (b) while unable to persuade the majority to acquit, nonetheless could have convinced them to convict only a lesser included offense. Second, it permits prosecutors in Oregon and Louisiana to enjoy a conviction-acquittal ratio substantially greater than that ordinarily returned by unanimous juries.

The diminution of verdict reliability flows from the fact that nonunanimous juries need not debate and deliberate as fully as must unanimous juries. As soon as the requisite majority is attained, further consideration is not required either by Oregon or by Louisiana, even though the dissident jurors might, if given the chance, be able to convince the majority. . . .
Although Johnson involved jury voting, this Court, like a jury, is a collegial body that decides collectively through the votes of its Members. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of different electoral systems, such as plurarity or majoritarian systems, must equally apply to a collegial body such as this Court.

[69] CONST., art. III, sec. 1 provides:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

[70] CONST., art. VIII, sec. 4(2) provides:

Section 4.

. . . .

(2) All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, or law, which shall be heard by the Supreme Court en banc, and all other cases which under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc, including those involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations, shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.

[71] INTERNAL RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT, Rule 15, sec. 3.

[72] Concepcion v. Garcia, 54 Phil. 81, 83 (1929) [Per J. Street, En Banc].

[73] Now Article 289 of the Labor Code pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 442 (2015).

[74] Polymart Paper Industries, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 355 Phil. 592, 599 (1998) [Per J. Martinez, Second Division].

[75] Id.

[76] See Sanoh Fulton Phils., Inc. v. Bernardo, 716 Phil. 378 (2013) [Per J. Perez, Second Division].

[77] 267 Phil. 212 (1990) [Per J. Feliciano, Third Division].

[78] Id. at 221-222.

[79] Central Azucarera De La Carlota v. National Labor Relations Commission, 321 Phil. 989, 995 (1995) [Per J. Kapunan, First Division].

[80] 321 Phil. 989, 996 (1995) [Per J. Kapunan, First Division].

[81] 355 Phil. 592, 600-601 (1998) [Per J. Martinez, Second Division].

[82] 495 Phil. 140, 152-153 (2005) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].

[83] G.R. Nos. 173921 & 173952, February 24, 2016 [Per J. Leonen, Second Division].

[84] Philippine Tobacco Flue-Curing & Redrying Corp. v. NLRC, 360 Phil. 218, 236-237 (1998) [Per J. Panganiban, First Division], citing Somerville Stainless Steel Corporation v. NLRC, 350 Phil. 859, 869 (1998) [Per J. Panganiban, First Division].

[85] Manatad v. Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp., 571 Phil. 494, 508 (2008) [Per J. Chico­-Nazario, Third Division].

[86] Hyatt Enterprises of the Philippines, Inc. v. Samahan ng Mga Manggagawa sa Hyatt, 606 Phil. 490, 507 (2009) [Per J. Nachura, Third Division].

[87] Id. at 510

[88] 146 Phil. 153 (1970) [Per J. Ruiz Castro, En Banc].

[89] Id. at 157 and 166.

[90] 325 Phil. 202 (1996) [Per J. Panganiban, En Banc].

[91] Id. at 212.

[92] 571 Phil. 494 (2008) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third Division].

[93] Id. at 509.

[94] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 1534, Decision dated July 22, 2008.

[95] Id. at 1537.

[96] Id. at 2046, Resolution dated October 2, 2009.

[97] Id. at 1552-1553, Motion for Reconsideration of July 22, 2008 Decision.

[98] J. Caguioa's Concurring Opinion, p. 10, citing Alfelor v. Halasan, 520 Phil. 982 (2006) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., First Division].

[99] See Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 2240, PAL's Second MR

[100] Justice Caguioa's Concurring Opinion, p. 13.

[101] 558 Phil. 328 (2007) [Per J. Quisumbing, Second Division]. This Court ruled that Philippine Airlines was justified in not reinstating the employees pending the appeal before the NLRC due to the fact that it was under corporate rehabilitation.

[102] 438 Phil. 375 (2002) [Per J. Vitug, First Division]. The money claims for the missing luggage of respondent Spouses Kurangking and Spouses Dianalan were held to be "a financial demand that the law requires to be suspended during rehabilitation proceedings."

[103] 552 Phil. 118 (2007) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third Division]. This Court suspended the proceedings involving the award of 13th month pay to PALEA members because PAL was under corporate rehabilitation.

[104] 648 Phil. 238 (2010) [Per J. Leonardo-De Castro, First Division]. The proceedings involving the dismissal of respondent Quijano and her claim for separation pay was suspended because PAL was under corporate rehabilitation.

[105] 543 Phil. 546 (2007) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third Division]. The proceedings involving the dismissal of respondent Zamora and his money claims was suspended because PAL was under corporate rehabilitation.

[106] 500 Phil. 61 (2005) [Per J. Carpio Morales, Third Division].

[107] Id. at 69.

[108] Id. at 80.

[109] FASAP v. PAL, 581 Phil. 228, 258 (2008) [Per J. Carpio Morales, Third Division].

[110] Id.

[111] Id. at 262.

[112] Id. at 245.

[113] 471 Phil. 460, 476 (2004) [Per J. Panganiban, First Division].

[114] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 2281.

[115] Emco Plywood Corp. v. Abelgas, 471 Phil. 460,476 (2004) [Per J. Panganiban, First Division].

[116] CONST., art., XIII, sec. 3 provides:

Section 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.

It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law.

The State shall promote the principle of shared responsibility between workers and employers and the preferential use of voluntary modes in settling disputes, including conciliation, and shall enforce their mutual compliance therewith to foster industrial peace.

The State shall regulate the relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth.

[117] Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Co., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 244 Phil. 280, 284 (1988) [Per J. Gancayco, First Division].

[118] Emco Plywood Corp. v. Abelgas, 471 Phil. 460, 476 (2004) [Per J. Panganiban, First Division].

[119] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 1536, Decision dated July 22, 2008.

[120] Id.

[121] J. Caguioa's Concurring Opinion, p. 12, citing Blue Eagle Management v. Naval, G.R. No. 192488, April 19, 2016, <http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/2016/april2016/192488.pdf> [Per J. Leonardo-De Castro, First Division].

[122] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 1557, Motion for Reconsideration of July 22, 2008 Decision.

[123] Ponencia as of July 28, 2017, p. 25 states:

Besides, we take notice of the fact that airline operations are capital intensive earnings are volatile because of their vulnerability to economic recession, among others. The Asian financial crisis in 1997 had wrought havoc among the Asian air carriers, PAL included. The peculiarities existing in the airlines business made it easier to believe that at the time of the Asian Financial crisis, PAL incurred liabilities amounting to P90,642,933,919.00, which were way beyond the value of its assets that only stood at P85,109,075,351.

[124] Indino v. National Labor Relations Commission, 258 Phil. 792, 800 (1989) [Per J. Sarmiento, Second Division].

[125] Id.

[126] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 1535, Decision dated July 22, 2008.

[127] Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Dawal, G.R. Nos. 173921 & 173952, February 24, 2016, <http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/2016/february2016/173921.pdf> 21 [Per J. Leonen, Second Division].

[128] Id. at 22.

[129] Id. at 23.

[130] Ponencia as of July 28, 2017, p. 27.

[131] Rollo (G.R. No. 178083), p. 1569, Motion for Reconsideration of July 22, 2008 Decision.

[132] Id.

[133] Id.

[134] Id. at 1571-1572.

When PAL ceased its operations on September 23, 1998, President Joseph Estrada intervened through the request of PAL employees. PALEA made another offer which was ratified by the employees on October 2, 1998 and consequently accepted by PAL. On October 7, 1998, PAL partially began with domestic operation hoping "that the mutually beneficial terms of the suspension of the agreement could possibly redeem PAL."

[135] Id. at 1572.

[136] Id. at 1540, Decision dated July 22, 2008.

[137] Id. at 1544.

[138] Id. at 1540-1541.

[139] Id. at 513, Labor Arbiter's Decision.

[140] Id. at 1539, Decision dated July 22, 2008.

[141] Remerco Garments Manufacturing v. Minister of Labor and Employment, 219 Phil. 681, 689 (1985) [Per J. Cuevas, Second Division].

[142] Am-Phil Food Concepts, Inc. v. Padilla, 744 Phil. 674, 690 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Second Division].

[143] Rollo, G.R. No. 178083, p. 510, Labor Arbiter's Decision.

[144] Id.

[145] LABOR CODE, art. 248(a) (renumbered as art. 258). See Lopez Sugar Corp. v. Franco, 497 Phil. 806 (2005) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division].

[146] F.F. Marine Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 495 Phil. 140, 158 (2005) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].

[147] Id.

[148] Id. at 151.

[149] Id.

[150] Id.

[151] Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Co., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 244 Phil. 280, 284 (1988) [Per J. Gancayco, First Division].

[152] Id.

[153] Apo Fruits Corporation v. Land Bank of the Philippines, 647 Phil. 251, 288 (2010) [Per J. Brion, En Banc].

[154] See Sacdalan v. Court of Appeals, 472 Phil. 652 (2004) [Per J. Austria-Martinez, Second Division].



CONCURRING OPINION

CAGUIOA, J.:

I concur with the ponencia.

More often than not, judicial decisions, in determining compliance with legal requirements, fall prey to the technicalities created by statutory text and jurisprudential pronouncements, often denying recognition to even the most reasonable and most commonplace of exceptions. This is precisely what the case at bar presents, as the Court is yet again faced with the dilemma of whether or not requirements historically perpetuated as indispensable could reasonably be put aside in light of the factual circumstances surrounding the controversy.

Yet, before one delves into the factual circumstances and the merit of the Second Motion for Reconsideration (2nd MR) filed by Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL), it is but necessary that the procedural issues raised by the Petitioner and J. Leonen's dissent be sufficiently addressed.

Procedural Issues

As summarized by the ponencia, Petitioner argues that the October 4, 2011 Resolution of the Court is void for failure to comply with Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. More importantly, Petitioner submits that PAL's 2nd MR is a prohibited pleading considering that the July 22, 2008 Decision (2008 Decision) of the Court has already attained finality.

In a similar vein, the dissent posits that (a) the judgment in this case has become final and executory as early as November 4, 2009;[1] (b) "[t]he judgment here having attained finality, the Court En Banc - as if an appellate court reviewing a case that the Supreme Court has already reviewed three (3) times - cannot now take cognizance of the case and review it for the fourth time because, suddenly, the case became of sufficient importance to merit the Banc's attention[;]"[2] and (c) the Court en banc effectively admitted a third motion for reconsideration from the same party and hence a unanimous vote of this Court sitting en banc must be required to grant PAL's third motion for reconsideration.[3]

At the outset, and to address Petitioner's preliminary procedural issue, I express my concurrence with the conclusion of the ponencia that the October 4, 2011 Resolution of the Court is a valid issuance and is not violative of Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. As the ponencia explained "any doubt on the validity of the recall order was removed because the Court upheld its issuance through the March 13, 2012 resolution"[4] of the Court en banc.

a. Timeline

The specific dates and incidents that led to the Court en banc assuming jurisdiction over this case are narrated and clarified in the Resolution[5] dated March 13, 2012 (March 2012 Resolution) of the Court en banc in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC. These dates and incidents are no longer in dispute as they have already been settled and discussed by the Court en banc through its March 2012 Resolution, which highlighted the following incidents:

(1) On July 22, 2008, the Court's Third Division ruled to grant the petition for review on certiorari filed by the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP), finding PAL guilty of illegal dismissal (July 2008 Decision). PAL subsequently filed a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) seeking to reverse the July 2008 Decision rendered by the Court's Third Division.[6]

(2) Due to the inhibition and retirement of several justices, PAL's MR was handled by the Court's Special Third Division which, in turn, denied the MR with finality in a Resolution dated October 2, 2009 (October 2009 Resolution).[7]

(3) On November 3, 2009, PAL filed a Motion for Leave to File and Admit Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated 2 October 2009 and 2nd Motion for Reconsideration of Decision dated 22 July 2008 (Motion for Leave).[8]

(4) On January 20, 2010, PAL's Motion for Leave was granted by a newly constituted regular Third Division.[9] As noted by the Court's March 2012 Resolution, "[t]his grant [by the regular Third Division] opened both the [July 2008] Decision and the [October 2009] Resolution xxx for review [and] effectively opened the whole case for review on the merits."[10]

(5) After the inhibition of Justice Velasco on January 17, 2011, the case was raffled to the Second Division. As narrated in the March 2012 Resolution, "[o]n September 7, 2011, the Court - through its Second Division as then constituted-resolved to deny with finality PAL's 2nd MR through an unsigned resolution."[11]

(6) Because of the series of changes and movement from one division to the other, PAL's counsel, Atty. Estelito Mendoza, wrote four letters addressed to the Clerk of Court specifically inquiring about which division acted on PAL's 2nd MR, the identity of the ponente and the rationale/basis for the designation of the ponente and the handling division - in view of the retirement of the previous ponente and the members of the Second Division and Special Second Division.[12]

(7) The legal considerations and issues raised as a result of Atty. Mendoza's letter are, to reiterate, extensively discussed in the March 2012 Resolution. As the Court en banc noted therein, the "unresolved questions were even further compounded in the course of the deliberations of the Members of the ruling Division when they were informed that the parties received the ruling on September 19, 2011, and this ruling would lapse to finality after the 15th day, or after October 4, 2011."[13] Thus, out of prudence, the Members of the ruling Division on September 30, 2011 recommended to the Chief Justice that (a) the September 7, 2011 Resolution (September 2011 Resolution) be recalled; and (b) the case be referred to the Court en banc.[14]

(8) On October 4, 2011, the Court en banc issued a Resolution (October 2011 Resolution) recalling the September 2011 Resolution and ordering the re-raffle of the case. As explained by the Court en banc in the March 2012 Resolution:
As the narration in this Resolution shows, the Court acted on its own pursuant to its power to recall its own orders and resolutions before their finality. The October 4, 2011 Resolution was issued to determine the propriety of the September 7, 2011 Resolution given the facts that came to light after the ruling Division's examination of the records. xxx[15]
With the foregoing narration serving as the backdrop and context, it is easier now to see that the procedural issues raised by J. Leonen in his dissent have all been amply addressed by the March 2012 Resolution of the Court en banc.

b. Nature of the March 2012 Resolution in A.M No. 11-10-1-SC

One of the preliminary objections that has been raised with respect to the March 2012 Resolution is that this was docketed as an administrative matter. Being an administrative matter, it is somewhat argued that such cannot affect and override whatever disposition the Court may have in a regular case. This argument, however, is belied by the March 2012 Resolution itself.

To be sure, while the March 2012 Resolution was docketed as an administrative matter, the whole intent behind it - as established through its narration and discussion - was precisely to extensively explain the circumstances under which the Court en banc (a) recalled the September 2011 Resolution; and (b) assumed jurisdiction over the case through the issuance of the October 2011 Resolution. And, in connection with the latter, it should be emphasized that this October 2011 Resolution was promulgated in relation to this present case or under G.R. No. 178083 - and not through a resolution of an administrative matter.

Stated otherwise, it is inaccurate to assert that the Court en banc assumed jurisdiction over the case via a disposition made in an administrative matter. To the contrary, the Court en banc already assumed jurisdiction through the October 2011 Resolution that was promulgated in G.R. No. 178083 and which recalled the September 2011 Resolution denying PAL's 2nd MR. Thus, there is no mystery nor was it anomalous for the Court en banc to issue its March 2012 Resolution as this administrative matter was but an avenue to explain the Court en banc's actions in the present case. This is patently evident from the dispositive portion of the March 2012 Resolution, which provides:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby confirm that the Court en banc has assumed jurisdiction over the resolution of the merits of the motions for reconsideration of Philippine Airlines, Inc., addressing our July 22, 2008 Decision and October 2, 2009 Resolution; and that the September 7, 2011 ruling of the Second Division has been effectively recalled. xxx[16]
Clearly, based on the March 2012 Resolution and its detailed narration of the events that transpired within the Court, the Court's disposition in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC did not override, but merely clarified, the Court en banc's actions and issuances in the present case (i.e., G.R. No. 178083).

c. Finality of the 2008 Decision and 2009 Resolution

The primordial procedural concern, however, appears to be whether or not PAL's 2nd MR should be entertained considering that the Court's 2008 Decision and 2009 Resolution already attained finality (as insisted by the Petitioner and the dissent) and hence can no longer be entertained, modified, annulled or vacated by the Court en banc. This concern has been clearly addressed by the foregoing Timeline - meaning, that the Court en banc had already unequivocally declared and confirmed in the March 2012 Resolution that it had "assumed jurisdiction over the resolution of the merits of the motions for reconsideration of Philippine Airlines, Inc., addressing our July 22, 2008 Decision and October 2, 2009 Resolution; and that the September 7, 2011 ruling of the Second Division has been effectively recalled."[17]

As admitted by the dissenting opinion, "[a]s an exception, by leave of court, a party may file a second motion for reconsideration of the decision. The second motion for reconsideration may be subsequently granted 'in the higher interest of justice'"[18] This has long been affirmed by the Supreme Court in a long line of cases as exemplified by the Court en banc's pronouncement in McBurnie v. Ganzon[19]:
At the outset, the Court emphasizes that second and subsequent motions for reconsideration are, as a general rule, prohibited. Section 2, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court provides that "[n]o second motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained." The rule rests on the basic tenet of immutability of judgments. "At some point, a decision becomes final and executory and, consequently, all litigations must come to an end."

The general rule, however, against second and subsequent motions for reconsideration admits of settled exceptions. For one, the present Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, particularly Section 3, Rule 15 thereof, provides:
Sec. 3. Second motion for reconsideration. - The Court shall not entertain a second motion for reconsideration, and any exception to this rule can only be granted in the higher interest of justice by the Court En Banc upon a vote of at least two-thirds of its actual membership. There is reconsideration "in the higher interest of justice" when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties. A second motion for reconsideration can only be entertained before the ruling sought to be reconsidered becomes final by operation of law or by the Court's declaration.

xxxx (Emphasis ours)
In a line of cases, the Court has then entertained and granted second motions for reconsideration "in the higher interest of substantial justice," as allowed under the Internal Rules when the assailed decision is "legally erroneous," "patently unjust" and "potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties." In Tirazona v. Philippine EDS Techno-Service, Inc. (PET, Inc.), we also explained that a second motion for reconsideration may be allowed in instances of "extraordinarily persuasive reasons and only after an express leave shall have been obtained." In Apo Fruits Corporation v. Land Bank of the Philippines, we allowed a second motion for reconsideration as the issue involved therein was a matter of public interest, as it pertained to the proper application of a basic constitutionally-guaranteed right in the government's implementation of its agrarian reform program. In San Miguel Corporation v. NLRC, the Court set aside the decisions of the LA and the NLRC that favored claimants-security guards upon the Court's review of San Miguel Corporation's second motion for reconsideration. In Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine Services, Inc. v. NLRC, et al., the Court en banc reversed on a third motion for reconsideration the ruling of the Court's Division on therein private respondents' claim for wages and monetary benefits.[20]
In this instance, PAL received a copy of the October 2009 Resolution denying its Motion for Reconsideration of the 2008 Decision on October 20, 2009. On November 3, 2009, PAL asked for leave of court to file (a) an MR of the October 2009 Resolution; and (b) a 2nd MR of the 2008 Decision. On January 20, 2010, the Court, through the Third Division, granted PAL's Motion for Leave.

The fact that the Court granted PAL's motion for leave to file its 2nd MR means exactly that -that the 2nd MR is no longer prohibited and may be granted "in the higher interest of substantial justice" and for "extraordinarily persuasive reasons." Thus, with the Court admitting the 2nd MR, this meant that the 2008 Decision and the 2009 Resolution were not rendered executory and could not have been implemented. To hold otherwise would be to render nugatory and illusory the Court en banc's action of allowing and accepting the 2nd MR.

I am not unaware that there has been an instance where the Court has declared that the "grant of leave to file the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration xxx did not prevent [a] Resolution from becoming final and executory."[21] I do not share the same view and believe that this declaration runs counter to the logic and very rationale of the Court's action of allowing the filing of a 2nd MR. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Court in the same case admits that a second motion for reconsideration may still be granted and an entry of judgment lifted notwithstanding that the resolution has been deemed final and executory.[22] Thus, the lone fact that a decision and/or a resolution has attained finality does not negate the Court's power, in the higher interest of substantial justice, to entertain and grant subsequent motions for reconsideration filed by the parties. In fact, as this Court, in an en banc Resolution, lengthily explained:
As a rule, a final judgment may no longer be altered, amended or modified, even if the alteration, amendment or modification is meant to correct what is perceived to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law and regardless of what court, be it the highest Court of the land, rendered it. In the past, however, we have recognized exceptions to this rule by reversing judgments and recalling their entries in the interest of substantial justice and where special and compelling reasons called for such actions.

Notably, in San Miguel Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, Galman v. Sandiganbayan, Philippine Consumers Foundation v. National Telecommunications Commission, and Republic v. de los Angeles, we reversed our judgment on the second motion for reconsideration, while in Vir-Jen Shipping and Marine Services v. National Labor Relations Commission, we did so on a third motion for reconsideration. In Cathay Pacific v. Romillo and Cosio v. de Rama, we modified or amended our ruling on the second motion for reconsideration. More recently, in the cases of Munoz v. Court of Appeals, Tan Tiac Chiong v. Hon. Cosico, Manotok IV v. Barque, and Barnes v. Padilla, we recalled entries of judgment after finding that doing so was in the interest of substantial justice. In Barnes, we said:
xxx Phrased elsewise, a final and executory judgment can no longer be attacked by any of the parties or be modified, directly or indirectly, even by the highest court of the land.

However, this Court has relaxed this rule in order to serve substantial justice considering (a) matters of life, liberty, honor or property, (b) the existence of special or compelling circumstances, (c) the merits of the case, (d) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules, (e) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (f) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.

Invariably, rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. Even the Rules of Court reflects this principle. The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself had already declared to be final. [Emphasis supplied.]
That the issues posed by this case are of transcendental importance is not hard to discern from these discussions. A constitutional limitation, guaranteed under no less than the all-important Bill of Rights, is at stake in this case: how can compensation in an eminent domain be "just" when the payment for the compensation for property already taken has been unreasonably delayed? To claim, as the assailed Resolution does, that only private interest is involved in this case is to forget that an expropriation involves the government as a necessary actor. It forgets, too, that under eminent domain, the constitutional limits or standards apply to government who carries the burden of showing that these standards have been met. Thus, to simply dismiss this case as a private interest matter is an extremely shortsighted view that this Court should not leave uncorrected.[23]
Thus, the power of the Court to entertain PAL's 2nd MR (and even a Third Motion for Reconsideration) and to grant such motion should the interest of substantial justice so warrant is undoubtedly clear and unequivocal. Accordingly, even on the assumption that this is PAL's Third Motion for Reconsideration (which, as explained, it is not), the power of the Court to grant PAL's motion is not negated.

d. Jurisdiction of the Court en banc to assume jurisdiction of the case

The next crucial issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not the Court en banc has the jurisdiction to resolve PAL's 2nd MR. Again, the answer has already been answered and explained in the March 2012 Resolution to be in the affirmative.

In this case, the dissent questions the transfer of this case to the Court en banc considering that no formal resolution was issued by the Second Division referring PAL's 2nd MR to the Court en banc pursuant to the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court (IRSC). However, as already stated, this issue regarding the Court en banc's jurisdiction was already directly traversed by the Court en banc in its March 2012 Resolution in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC.

First, as highlighted in the March 2012 Resolution, the Court en banc may act on matters and cases that it deems of sufficient importance to merit its attention as provided in Section 3(m), Rule 2 of the IRSC. PAL's 2nd MR and the interpretation of the conflicting provisions of the IRSC appears to have been considered by the Court en banc to be of sufficient importance - such that the Court en banc assumed jurisdiction over the case.

In assailing Section 3(m), Rule 2 of the IRSC, the dissent relies on the dissenting opinion of J. Gonzaga-Reyes in Firestone Ceramics v. Court of Appeals,[24] in concluding that the residual power of the Court en banc to, on its own, take cognizance of Division cases is suspect. However, and with all due respect to J. Leonen, the dissenting opinion of J. Gonzaga-Reyes finds no application here. In Firestone, the Court en banc relied on a Resolution dated November 18, 1993 which, as pointed out by J. Gonzaga-Reyes, is an amendment to Sections 15 and 16, Rule 136 of the Rules of Court which deals with the form ("unglazed paper," margins, number of copies, etc.) of unprinted and printed papers to be filed with this Court. Thus, as concluded by J. Gonzaga-Reyes, the Resolution dated November 18, 1993 was clearly not intended to lay down new guidelines or rules for referral to the court en banc of cases assigned to a Division.[25]

However, in the case at hand, Section 3, Rule 2 of the IRSC was clearly meant to lay down and establish the instances when a Court en banc may act on any case or matter - unlike in Firestone where the Resolution relied upon essentially deals with the format of the pleadings filed before the Supreme Court. As explicitly provided in Section 3(m), Rule 2, the Court en banc may act on cases that it deems of sufficient importance to merit its attention. And at the risk of belaboring the point, the March 2012 Resolution rendered six (6) years ago clearly established that the Court en banc had made a judicious determination at that time that PAL and FASAP's case was of sufficient importance for it to assume jurisdiction.

More importantly, the March 2012 Resolution likewise establishes that it was the members of the Division (which rendered the recalled September 7, 2011 Resolution[26] that referred the matter to the Court en banc - albeit no formal resolution was issued. As explicitly narrated in the March 2012 Resolution, since there was "[n]o unanimity among the Members of the ruling Division xxx on the unresolved legal questions[,] they concluded that the matter is best determined by the Court en banc."[27] It should be noted that the members of the Second Division, which issued the recalled September 7, 2011 ruling, unanimously concurred in the March 2012 Resolution and did not dispute the categorical declaration that they referred the matter on hand to the Court en banc. Such referral by the members of the Ruling Division coupled with the Court en banc's decision to exercise its power to assume jurisdiction of a case with sufficient importance should be sufficient legal basis for the Court en banc of today to decide the merits of the case now.

Finally, it should be stressed anew that the Court en banc already assumed jurisdiction through the October 2011 Resolution that was promulgated in G.R. No. 178083 (i.e., recalling the September 2011 Resolution denying PAL's 2nd MR). This was "confirmed" by the Court en banc's March 2012 Resolution, the dispositive portion of which is again quoted below:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby confirm that the Court en banc has assumed jurisdiction over the resolution of the merits of the motions for reconsideration of Philippine Airlines, Inc., addressing our July 22, 2008 Decision and October 2, 2009 Resolution; and that the September 7, 2011 ruling of the Second Division has been effectively recalled. xxx[28] (Emphasis in the original omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Thus, for the Court of today, or more specifically, the dissent, to question what has clearly and already been resolved at least six (6) years ago, is to second guess the wisdom of what, for all intents and purposes, is already a final disposition of this issue. In this sense, it can be rightly said that the October 2011 Resolution and March 2012 Resolution have become immutable.

e. Unanimous vote of the Court en banc

Anent the assertion that the unanimous vote of the Court sitting en banc must be required to grant PAL's motion for reconsideration (whether second or third), there is absolutely no legal or jurisprudential basis for such. Moreover, even applying Fortich v. Corona[29] by analogy as the dissent suggests[30] will not lead one to the conclusion that a unanimous vote is required. As the dissent itself narrated, it was only because the voting for the motion for reconsideration amounted to a tie (two-two) that the Decision of the Division was deemed upheld. Nowhere in Fortich did the Court even allude to requiring a unanimous vote.

Considering the foregoing, I agree with the ponencia that PAL's 2nd MR is not a prohibited pleading. Moreover, and as underscored by him, PAL's arguments in its 2nd MR sufficiently show that the assailed decision might have contravened established jurisprudence - clearly highlighting that the higher interests of substantial justice will be served if the 2008 Decision and the 2009 Resolution were to be revisited.

Substantial Issue: PAL's financial losses

There appears to be a question on the sufficiency of PAL's compliance with the substantiation requirements imposed by law for a valid retrenchment. To recall, PAL invoked substantial business losses as the reason behind its decision to downsize. To this end, it presented its petition for suspension of payments, as well as the June 23, 1998 Order of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approving the said petition for suspension of payments as proof of the same.

I agree with the ponencia when he points out that Petitioner's categorical admission of PAL's dire financial condition had discharged the burden to prove financial losses. As has been consistently held by this Court, a judicial admission no longer requires proof. An admission made in a pleading cannot be controverted by the party making such admission, and is conclusive as to such party. As succinctly explained by the Court in Alfelor v. Halasan[31]:
xxx To the Court's mind, this admission constitutes a "deliberate, clear and unequivocal" statement; made as it was in the course of judicial proceedings, such statement qualifies as a judicial admission. A party who judicially admits a fact cannot later challenge that fact as judicial admissions are a waiver of proof; production of evidence is dispensed with. A judicial admission also removes an admitted fact from the field of controversy. Consequently, an admission made in the pleadings cannot be controverted by the party making such admission and are conclusive as to such party, and all proofs to the contrary or inconsistent therewith should be ignored, whether objection is interposed by the party or not. The allegations, statements or admissions contained in a pleading are conclusive as against the pleader. A party cannot subsequently take a position contrary of or inconsistent with what was pleaded.[32] (Underscoring supplied)
The records amply show that Petitioner had categorically admitted PAL's grave financial condition during this time, as follows:
[A.]
At the outset, it must be pointed out that complainant was never opposed to the retrenchment program itself, as it understands respondent PAL's financial troubles. In fact, complainant religiously cooperated with respondents in their quest for a workable solution to the company-threatening problem. xxx[33]


[B.]
It must be stressed that complainant was never opposed to respondent['s] retrenchment program as it truly understands respondent PAL's financial position. As a matter of fact, when it became apparent that the company was already in the brink of bankruptcy, complainant actively participated in fashioning out some workable solutions to the problem. xxx[34]


[C.]
xxx The Philippines likewise incurred immense business misfortune affecting a multitude of industries, including respondent airline. Losses aggravated when concerted activities of the other unions, namely the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), were held xxx FASAP did not believe that a strike would be beneficial to both parties and was of the opinion that the same would cause further losses on the part of the respondent airline to the detriment of both parties. xxx[35]


[D.]
xxx It is worthy to note that complainant is not questioning the reason for adopting retrenchment. Complainant knows the financial woes of respondent airline. xxx[36]


[E.]
PAL encountered massive losses. This is beyond question. FASAP, in fact, is not questioning the business reverses PAL met. xxx[37]


[F.]
In 1997, a severe massive economic crisis hit the whole of Asia and the Pacific region. Philippine businesses incurred immense losses. PAL was not spared from the harsh effects of the crisis as it too fell prey to financial reverses, xxx.[38]
The foregoing express, positive and categorical statements of Petitioner in its pleadings as regards the severe losses incurred by PAL qualify as judicial admissions, which dispense with proof or evidence.

In any event, I submit that PAL has sufficiently shown and established the financial losses that it incurred which resulted in the implementation of the retrenchment program.

I am aware of decisions which state that in cases where retrenchment is premised on substantial business losses, proof of such losses becomes the determining factor in proving the legitimacy of retrenchment;[39] and that the presentation of financial statements audited by independent auditors is required, as they best attest to a company's economic status and stand as the most authentic proof of losses.[40] However, I submit that these financial statements cannot be recognized as the sole proof of financial distress. This has been amply discussed in the case of Blue Eagle Management, Inc. v. Naval,[41] citing Revidad v. National Labor Relations Commission,[42] where it was declared that "proof of actual financial losses incurred by the company is not a condition sine qua non for retrenchment," and retrenchment may be undertaken by the employer to prevent even future losses. Said the Court:
In its ordinary connotation, the phrase "to prevent losses" means that retrenchment or termination of the services of some employees is authorized to be undertaken by the employer sometime before the anticipated losses are actually sustained or realized. It is not, in other words, the intention of the lawmaker to compel the employer to stay his hand and keep all his employees until after losses shall have in fact materialized. If such an intent were expressly written into the law, that law may well be vulnerable to constitutional attack as unduly taking property from one man to be given to another.[43] (Emphasis supplied)
Given the foregoing, it would truly be derisive of this Court to maintain the necessity of presenting financial statements showing actual loss prior to a valid exercise of retrenchment.

Inasmuch as financial statements paint a clear picture of a company's finances, other clear indicators of substantial losses - if not more compelling evidence thereof - exist. Verily, as clearly as financial statements demonstrate financial distress, a company's submission to corporate rehabilitation and receivership equally attests to, if not represents a more tangible manifestation of, financial reverses.

The Court has, in fact, recognized corporate receivership and rehabilitation as a veritable indicator of substantial business losses that justifies retrenchment of employees. In Clarion Printing House Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission,[44] for instance, the Petitioners therein argued that when a company is under receivership and a receiver is appointed to take control of its management and corporate affairs, one of the evident reasons is to prevent further losses of said company and protect its remaining assets from being dissipated; and that the submission of financial reports/statements prepared by independent auditors had been rendered moot and academic, the company having shut down its operations and having been placed under receivership by the SEC due to its inability to pay or comply with its obligations.[45]

The Court, in deciding the issue of whether undergoing receivership suffices as acceptable proof of financial losses, ruled as follows:
From the above-quoted provisions of P.D. No. 902-A, as amended, the appointment of a receiver or management committee by the SEC presupposes a finding that, inter alia, a company possesses sufficient property to cover all its debts but "foresees the impossibility of meeting them when they respectively fall due" and "there is imminent danger of dissipation, loss, wastage or destruction of assets of other properties or paralization of business operations."

That the SEC, mandated by law to have regulatory functions over corporations, partnerships or associations, appointed an interim receiver for the EYCO Group of Companies on its petition in light of, as quoted above, the therein enumerated "factors beyond the control and anticipation of the management" rendering it unable to meet its obligation as they fall due, and thus resulting to "complications and problems ... to arise that would impair and affect [its] operations..." shows that CLARION, together with the other member-companies of the EYCO Group of Companies, was suffering business reverses justifying, among other things, the retrenchment of its employees.[46] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In finding that receivership suffices as proof of severe financial reverses, it was therefore decided that retrenchment was justified and that there was no illegal dismissal despite Clarion's failure to present the necessary financial statements before the Labor Arbiter.

Given the foregoing, it is therefore clear that proof of losses is not exclusively limited to the presentation of financial statements, as equally compelling evidence such as having undergone rehabilitation is similarly acceptable. In this light, it should be noted that, in the current case, PAL has proffered similar evidence on its behalf, as it has more than once asserted and proved that the SEC has approved its petition for rehabilitation and has in fact appointed a receiver on two occasions by virtue of its financial condition, not to mention that Petitioner has similarly judicially admitted and recognized PAL's financial losses at that time. All these show that PAL had indeed been besieged by and suffered severe financial losses, which justify its resort to drastic cuts in personnel.

In addition, the Court has, in fact, recognized PAL's financial conditions on various occasions, and it has consequently ruled in the latter's favor, as it recognized that PAL was undergoing receivership. Consequently, claims filed against it were either rejected or shelved in view thereof, as in the cases of Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Philippine Airlines Employees Association,[47] Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission,[48] Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[49] Philippine Airlines v. Court of Appeals and Koschinger,[50] Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Sps. Kurangking,[51] Garcia v. Philippine Airlines, Inc.[52] and Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Zamora.[53]

The Court likewise recognized the urgency and gravity of PAL's financial distress in Rivera v. Espiritu[54] where it recognized that the carrier was financially beleaguered and faced with bankruptcy, as a result of its pilots' three-week strike and the subsequent four-day employee-wide strike involving 1,899 union members, requiring it to resort to downsizing and to seek rehabilitation.

Premises considered, PAL's substantial business losses therefore stand amply substantiated, despite the failure to timely present its financial statements. Disregarding such facts and blindly insisting on the timely presentation of financial statements would only be a superfluity given the confluence of all the above. This Court should not be so unreasonable as to turn a blind eye to the factual circumstances surrounding the controversy, if only to uphold the "general rule." With all these, PAL's claims of substantial financial losses should be upheld and PAL's 2nd MR should be granted.

On the basis of the foregoing, I vote to GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008 filed by respondents Philippine Airlines, Inc. and Patria Chiong. Accordingly, I concur with the ponencia in denying the Motion for Reconsideration (Re: The Honorable Court's Resolution dated March 13, 2012) filed by the Petitioner Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines, setting aside the Decision dated July 22, 2008 and Resolution dated October 2, 2009, and affirming the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 23, 2006.


[1] J. Leonen, Dissenting Opinion, p. 5.

[2] Id. at 18.

[3] Id. at 19.

[4] Resolution, p. 16. Emphasis and underscoring supplied.

[5] In re: Letters of Atty. Mendoza re: G.R. No. 178083 - FASAP v. PAL, Inc., et al., 684 Phil. 55 (2012).

[6] Id. at 74-75.

[7] Id. at 76-77.

[8] Id. at 77, 79.

[9] For a detailed explanation regarding the changes in the membership of the Third Division that rendered the relevant Decision and Resolution, please refer to the Court en banc's March 2012 Resolution in A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC. See id. at 74-85.

[10] Id. at 79.

[11] Id. at 85. Emphasis omitted.

[12] Id. at 86-87.

[13] Id. at 91. Emphasis omitted.

[14] Id. at 91-92.

[15] Id. at 92. Emphasis omitted.

[16] Id. at 99. Emphasis in the original omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied.

[17] Id. Emphasis omitted.

[18] J. Leonen, Dissenting Opinion, p. 6.

[19] 719 Phil. 680 (2013).

[20] Id. at 700-702.

[21] Club Filipino, Inc. v. Bautista, 750 Phil. 599, 616 (2015); penned by J. Leonen.

[22] See id. at 616.

[23] Apo Fruits Corporation v. Land Bank of the Phils., 647 Phil. 251, 288-290 (2010).

[24] 389 Phil. 810 (2000).

[25] Id. at 825.

[26] The September 7, 2011 Resolution denied with finality PAL's second motion for reconsideration.

[27] In re: Letters of Atty. Mendoza re: G.R. No. 178083 - FASAP v. PAL, Inc., et al., supra note 5, at 93. Emphasis omitted.

[28] Id. at 99.

[29] 352 Phil. 461 (1998); 359 Phil. 210 (1998); 371 Phil. 672 (1999).

[30] J. Leonen, Dissenting Opinion, p. 21.

[31] 520 Phil. 982 (2006).

[32] Id. at 990-991.

[33] Rollo, Vol. I, pp. 113-114.

[34] Id. at 164-165.

[35] Id. at 176.

[36] Id. at 196.

[37] Id. at 549

[38] Id. at 550.

[39] See Precision Electronics Corporation v. NLRC, 258-A Phil. 449, 451-452 (1989).

[40] See Lambert Pawnbrokers and Jewelry Corporation v. Binamira, 639 Phil. 1, 12 (2010). See also Manatad v. Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, 571 Phil. 494, 508-509 (2008).

[41] 785 Phil. 133, 156 (2016).

[42] 315 Phil. 372, 390 (1995).

[43] Blue Eagle Management, Inc. v. Naval, supra note 41, at 156.

[44] 500 Phil. 61 (2005).

[45] Id. at 75-76.

[46] Id. at 79.

[47] 552 Phil. 118 (2007).

[48] 648 Phil. 238 (2010).

[49] G.R. No. 123238, July 11, 2005 (Unsigned Resolution).

[50] 596 Phil. 500 (2009).

[51] 438 Phil. 375 (2002).

[52] 558 Phil. 328 (2007).

[53] 543 Phil. 546 (2007).

[54] 425 Phil. 169 (2002).

© Supreme Court E-Library 2019
This website was designed and developed, and is maintained, by the E-Library Technical Staff in collaboration with the Management Information Systems Office.