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98 Phil. 301

[ G.R. No. L-6843, January 31, 1956 ]




This is a  petition for certiorari against an order of the Court of  Industrial Relations dated January  5, 1953, ordering the petitioner to readmit 51 employees and laborers in their former positions.  On June 11, 1952 the employees of the petitioner went oh strike and petitioner referred the matter to the  Court of  Industrial Relations.  The court enjoined the strikers to return to work the following day, June 12, 1952, with the understanding  "that should any worker  or  striker  fail or refuse  to return to  work, the Bank through its  management  is hereby authorized  to replace them."  A  trial of the question  of the legality of the strike was held and thereafter the Court of Industrial Relations  rendered  a  decision,  dated  January  5, 1953, declaring the  strike illegal and ordering the  dismissal of the leaders  of the  strike, but allowing for the return of the 51 employees that failed to return to work on June 12, 1952.  Petitioner moved  for reconsideration of this order, on the ground that the petitioner was not granted, opportunity to present evidence or  confront the witnesses.  An appeal to the. court  in  banc  was  made, but  the court affirmed the order. Hence,  this  petition.

The first ground  upon  which the invalidity of the order is assailed  is the fact that the court itself had expressly authorized  petitioner to  hire  new employees, in place of the strikers who did not return to work  on June 12, 1952. The argument cannot stand if we, consider that the order for the  replacement of the striking employees was a provisional order, which did not finally determine the right of the striking employees to  go  back to work or of the new recruits to continue therein as permanent employees. The order of  replacement was an.expedient to enable the petitioner to comply with its  duties and functions, which were very closely  related to the interests  of the public. It needs no argument to show  that  in the very future of things the right of the striking  employees to be readmitted to their old  position was to depend upon  the  results of the litigation or the finding of  the Court  of  Industrial Relations on the legality  or illegality of the strike.   On the other hand, the recruits as well as the Bank should have  understood that their employment was temporary in nature, because it was only a provisional  remedy calculated to minimize the injurious  effects of the strike on the petitioner and its clients as well as' on the public.  Certainly no permanent right to. the positions temporarily occupied could have been acquired by the recruits, or obligation on the part of the petitioner to retain  them therein implied therefrom.  The  modification thereof  by the decision of the court after trial, and. in accordance  with the results thereof,  must be  held to be perfectly  proper, just  and legal.

The second ground relied upon in the petition, is the fact that an agent  of the Court of Industrial  Relations  had made his own inquiries as to the reason why the strikers had not returned back to work,  in spite of the order of the court, at which inquiries  petitioner or its  representative was  not present and had no opportunity to cross-examine the persons investigated.   In answer to this claim we note that the court found that  the 51  employees ordered to be readmitted by the  petitioner failed to report for  duty on June  12, 1952, not because they  did not desire to report for work, but because they were unable to reach the premises of the petitioner because of the  picketing then in existence and the threats, made against them  by the  pickets.  This finding is  based  on  various circumstances  and evidence actually before the court,  not on the inquiries alone.
"The failure of those employees  who  are  still  out  of work to return on or before the deadline  specified in the order of the Court dated  June 11, 1952,  was due to the picket line and the presence thereat oi non-employees of the bank, which is not very easy to cross.  In fact, from the bank's report itself we read "that number of other employees  have  advised the petitioner  bank by telephone that they could not  report for work because they have been threatened."  (Report  of  the Bank dated  June 13, 1952);  that one A. Magpayo, who was  reemployed,  while on his way  to  the bank at Plaza  Moraga, was  assaulted  allegedly  by a striker named R. Silvestre and by an unidentified  picketer who is said to be a member of the Federation of Free Workers who is not an employee of the bank on  June 16, 1952) (Report of the bank dated  June 16, 1952). Considering further that  the time for the employees to report was barely twelve (12)  actual working hours, from the hour of issue of the Interlocutory Order on June 11, to the deadline on 12, and that the order  to replace is temporary,  it was unnecessary to race  with the time and  expos.e. themselves  to  danger.  A these show that the failure 'of the employees to report on  time was forced upon them by circumstances over which they have no control. Such failure to report on time, besides being  excusable  and reasonable, is merely a technical violation of the said Interlocutory Order."
The inquiries were made in the very premises of the petitioner at a time when the strike had just been declared, on the  very day of the order for their return to duty. The petitioner  cannot claim  that the inquiries  were made behind  its back.   The results of  the inquiries  were also so fresh that  no opportunity for falsification  could  have arisen.   Besides, the  conclusion  of the  court was also based upon letters  of  the petitioner itself, which, like the report  of  the Bank, is admissible  against the latter as an admission.

Lastly,  the  court is not  supposed to be bound by the strict rules of  evidence  in the  determination  of  facts. This  is the express injunction contained in the law (Commonwealth Act No. 103,  section 20)  as to  the form and manner in which it may arrive at the questions of fact in issue.

Failure  to  grant  opportunity  to  petitioner to  cross-examine the persons  from  whom inquiries  were  made is not a sufficient ground for the reversal  of the order of the court and its findings.  Petitioner has  never claimed .that the  persons examined did  not tell the truth,  or that  it has  evidence  to refute the court's findings that the  51 employees wanted to return to work but were impeded or prevented from doing so against their will.  In its motion to reconsider the order subject of the petition, we find that no mention  or claim of the falsity of the evidence gathered by the  representative of  the court, or that it had  in  its possession material evidence to disprove the findings.  The import of petitioner's contention, therefore, is that it should be granted  opportunity for a  new  trial  to  cross-examine the persons who were investigated  by the representatives of the court for the sake of the right alone.  But in the absence of  an express allegation that a  new hearing will change  the  facts found, the new trial or cross-examination demanded would be idle ceremony;  it  would not serve the ends of justice at all, especially so in a quasi-administrative body, like the  Court of  Industrial Relations, where the rules of confrontation and cross-examination have not been expressly granted  as in  a trial against an accused in a criminal case.  Under the circumstances we find that the court cannot be said  to have abused its discretion in setting aside  its provisional order.

The  petition is  hereby denied,  with  costs against the petitioner.

ParĂ¡s, C. J., Padilla, Reyes, A.,  Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J. B.  L., and Endencia, JJ.,  concur.