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98 Phil. 340

[ G.R. No. L-7496, January 31, 1956 ]




On  June 24, 1953 the Court  of  Industrial Relations received a  petition  of the Katipunan Labor  Union dated June 8, 1953 entitled "Caltex Cebu Branch vs. Katipunan Labor Union" and docketed as Case No. 430-V (1), alleging that employee Florencio Alforque of the respondent labor union has been dismissed by the petitioner without sufficient or valid cause and without an investigation, in violation of the order of the Court of Industrial Relations dated March 18, 1950,  and praying that  said Alforque be reinstated in his position with full  pay from May 1,  1953, the date of his dismissal, to the date of his reinstatement.   This petition was received in the Court of Industrial Relations after the approval of Republic Act No. 875 on June 17, 1953, although it was mailed prior to the said date of approval. The  Caltex (Philippines)  Inc. filed an  answer  alleging that Alforque lacks judgment, initiative  and ability in his work  as  a mechanic; that the branch in  which he worked is  over-staffed  and the  services  of Alforque  were  not needed; that case  No. 430-V was  terminated long before the petition was filed; and that the petition does not  state facts  to merit an exercise of jurisdiction by the Court of Industrial Relations.   After hearing the Court declared it has jurisdiction over the case and ordered the  provisional reinstatement of Alforque to  his former position,  pending hearing on the merits of the dismissal.  A motion to reconsider the same was denied, so this present petition was filed in this  court  alleging that the Court of  Industrial Relations  has no jurisdiction over  the case first,  because the court lacks jurisdiction to order the reinstatement after the enactment of Republic Act  No. 875; second,  because only one employee, not 31 members,  is involved; and, third, there is no labor dispute between  the employer and  the workers.

It appears that sometime in 1950, a labor dispute arose between the Katipunan Labor Union and the Caltex (Philippines) Inc.  The case was  docketed in the Court of Industrial Relations as case No. 430-V, "Caltex Cebu Branch vs.  Katipunan Labor Union."  The case was amicably settled on June  29, 1950, the court approving the settlement in an order issued on July 28, 1950.  Among  the terms of the amicable settlement was an agreement that "the company prior to any dismissal, lay-off or suspension should give the union opportunity  to be  heard and  the union should be given not less than  three (3) days notice before any hearing or investigation" is conducted.  Failure of the Court of Industrial Relations for the reinstatement to comply with this agreement was the basis for the order of Alforque.

One of  the reasons given why the Court of  Industrial Relations  is alleged to have no  jurisdiction over the case is that the petition was received in the Court of Industrial Relations  after  Republic Act No.  875 was  approved on June 17, 1953.  In answer to this  contention  it is to be noted that it is the  practice before courts of  justice to consider the mails as  an agent of the Government so the date of mailing  is always considered as the date of filing any petition,  motion or  paper.  As the petition  in  the present case was mailed before the approval of Republic Act No. 875, it may not be considered filed after the new law had become effective.

The next contention is that the dismissal of the employee is not a labor dispute.  This is without merit.  The term labor dispute is defined as including
"*   *  *  any controversy concerning terms, tenure or  conditions of employment *  *  *"  (Sec. 2[j], Republic Act No. 875).
The existing agreement between the Katipunan Labor Union and the  petitioner, that no employee should be dismissed without notice and an  opportunity for hearing, is a condition  or  term  of the employment agreement.  The enforcement of the  agreement  is not the concern  of  the employee affected alone, but that of the whole labor union to which he belongs; there is labor dispute because there is controversy  between  the  union and the employer regarding it.

Another argument of petitioner is that the agreement in question, entered  into in the year 1950, .only terminated the  case then  existing,  and it or the  decision  rendered thereon is not applicable three  (3) years thereafter.  This contention is not justified by the very terms of the agreement itself, which clearly  contemplate future  relationship between the parties.  As the relationship of employer and employee continued to exist without  any change  or modification of the agreement, the parties are presumed to have continued under its terms.

We find no merit  in the petition and we hereby deny it with  costs against the petitioner.

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