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[ GR No. L-11722, Nov 28, 1959 ]



106 Phil. 591

[ G.R. No. L-11722, November 28, 1959 ]




Appeal from  an order  of the  Court of First Instance of Camarines  Norte, Hon. Melquiades G. Ilao,  presiding, dismissing the plaintiffs' complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the  action. On August  27, 1956 the Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions  (PAFLU) together with Domingo Bautista and some other employees of the Philippine  Iron  Mines, Inc. who are  at the same time  members of the National Miners  and Allied Workers Union (NAMAWU)  instituted this  action  designated as  "acounting and  recovery  of money with preliminary injunction" against Roy Padilla, Alicio Luison, and  Angel R. Paez,  president,  secretary treasurer and auditor, respectively,  of the  latter labor union  (NAMAWU)  which was  formerly a local member of the plaintiff (PAFLU),  but  disaffiliated on  August 4, 1956  and  joined the Philippine  Trade Union Council (PTUC), another labor union federation.  On September 6, 1956 the defendants filed  a motion to dismiss alleging four grounds, the most  important of which is that  the court lacks jurisdiction over  the  subject matter since it refers  to violations  of  internal  labor   organization procedures.
 During the  hearing the parties agreed, upon the  suggestion  of the  judge, that  inasmuch  as the  first  and principal ground of the  motion questioning the jurisdiction of  the court is  decisive and sufficient to dismiss  the plaintiffs' complaint, they confine  their  discussions  and arguments on  this ground alone.   On September 29, 1956 the lower court granted the defendants'  motion to dismiss 'without prejudice  to the filing of a new complaint before the  proper  court."   The  plaintiffs,  not  satisfied with the ruling of the court, filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was  denied.  Instead of filing a new complaint  in the  Court of Industrial Relations,  they immediately appealed to this Honorable Court.
 It is conceded by both parties that "the subject matter of any given case" is determined, not by the nature of the action which party is entitled under the facts and the law to bring, but by the nature  and character of the pleadings and issues submitted by the parties to  the court for trial and judgment"  (Belandres  vs.  Lopez  Sugar  Central Mill Co., 97  Phil,, 100; 51 Off. Gaz.  [6], 2881); that "jurisdiction over the subject  matter  means  the  nature of the cause of action and relief sought" (Perkins vs. Roxas, 72 Phil., 514); and to determine whether the court has or has no  jurisdiction  over the subject matter of the action, the provisions of the law should be inquired into (Moran, Comments on  the Rules of  Court, Vol. I, pp. 136-137, 1957 ed.)
 An examination of the causes of action, the 'allegations and the reliefs prayed for in the plaintiffs' complaint show that the defendants-officers failed to submit a monthly report of the income and  expenses; that  when pressed upon they submitted a statement of income and expenses covering the period from October 1955 to  June 1956,  omitting the month of September 1955 when they collected the sum of P453.60; that the expenses and disbursement submitted are not supported by vouchers,  invoices, and receipts; that the report has  a deficiency  of  P12,563.50.   The  plaintiffs  demand the submission of  a correct  or an amended statement of income and expenses supported by proper vouchers, invoices 'and receipts, or should the defendants  fail to do so, to order them to pay the NAMAWU the alleged deficiency out of  their own  personal  funds. The plaintiffs also denounce the allegedly unauthorized act of defendant Roy Padilla in alloting to himself and to his employees exorbitant salaries, allowances and expenses totalling to P2,180 a month; and they seek to annul such actuation in fixing his own salary and those of his employees, the same  being violative of the NAMAWU constitution and not having been approved by the PAFLU National Executive Council.

The  plaintiffs further  complain of  the affiliation  of NAMAWU with the PTUC without having  first  disaffiliated from the PAFLU,  thus violating the constitution and by-laws of  the  union;  that the  defendants Roy Padilla and Alicio  Luison are alleged to continue to hold their positions  as  President and Secretary-Treasurer, in spite of their having been suspended; that they refuse to surrender their  positions to  Getulio Arriola and Benito Bonao who were appointed to take their place; that they were withdrawing or about to withdraw  the  remaining funds  of the NAMAWU; that they incurred or  are about to  incur  additional  obligations, and are  determined  to commit further anomalies and irregularities to the further damage of the  plaintiffs and the NAMAWU.   Lastly the plaintiffs seek  to  declare as null and void the disaffiliation of the NAMAWU from the PAFLU and its affiliation with the PTUC, the  ousting of the defendants from their respective positions, and that they be restrained from the commission of further anomalies and irregularities.

An  inquiry into the provisions of Republic Act No. 875 more particularly Sections 17 and 2, the pertinent portions of which  are quoted  below, will  also  reveal, to wit:
"SEC.  17. Rights and  Conditions  of Membership in Labor Organizations. It is hereby declared  to be the public policy of the Philippines  to encourage the following internal labor  organization procedures.  A  minimum of ten percent  of the members of  a labor organization may  report  an alleged  violation of these  procedures  in  their  labor  organization to the Court. If the Court finds, upon  investigation, evidence to substantiate the alleged violation and that efforts to correct the alleged violation through the procedures  provided  by the  labor  organization's constitution or by-laws have been exhausted, the Court shall  dispose of the complaint as  in 'unfair  labor practice'.            

 *        *      *       *        *        *        *      *
 (b)  The members shall be  entitled  to  full and  detailed reports from their officers and representatives of all financial transactions as provided  in the constitution and by-laws of the organization.
 (c)  They  shall also have  the right to elect officers  by secret ballot  at  intervals of not more than two years and to  determine and  vote  upon the question  of striking  or  not striking or upon any  other question of major-policy affecting4 the entire membership of the organization.

*        *      *       *        *        *        *      *
(f)  No officer, agent or member of a legitimate labor organization shall collect any fees,  dues,  or other contributions in  behalf of the  organization or make  any disbursement of  its  money or funds unless he is provided with  the necessary authority pursuant to its constitution or by-laws.

(g)  Every' payment of fees,  dues,  or  other contributions by  a member shall be  evidenced  by a  receipt  signed by the officer or agent making the collection and  entered  upon  the  record of the  organization to be kept  and maintained for that purpose.

(h)  The funds of the organization shall not be  applied  for  any purpose or  object other than those expressly stated  in  its  constitution or  by-laws or those expressly authorized by a resolution of the majority of the  members.

(i)  Every  expenditure  of  the funds  of the organization shall be evidenced by a receipt from the person  to  whom the payment was made,  which shall state  the  date, place and  purpose of  such payment.   Such  receipts shall form part of the financial records of the organization.

(j)  The  officers of a legitimate labor  organization  shall  not be paid any other compensation, in addition  to the salaries  and expenses  of  their positions  which shall be  specifically provided for in its constitution or by-laws, except  in  pursuance of a resolution approved in  a  meeting by  a majority vote.

(k)  The  treasurer  of a legitimate labor organization  and every officer thereof who is  responsible for the accounts of such organization  or for the collection,  disbursement,  custody  or  control of the  funds, moneys and other properties of the organization, shall render to the organization and to its members at the times  specified hereunder,  a  true  and  correct account  of all  moneys  received and paid by him since he  assumed office or  since the last  date on which he rendered such  account and  of  the balance  remaining in his, hands  at  the  time of rendering  such  account,  and of all bonds,  securities,  and other  properties  of the organization  entrusted to his custody  or under his control.  The rendering  of such account  shall be made

(1) at  least once a year within  thirty days of the close  of its  fiscal  year;

(2) at  such other  times as may  be required by  a resolution of the majority of the members of the  organization; and

(3) upon vacating  his office. The account shall be verified by affidavit and copy thereof shall be  furnished  the  Secretary of  Labor.  The  organization  shall cause such account to  be audited by  a  qualified person."

"Sec. 2. Definitions. As used  in  this Act

(a) 'Court' means the  Court of Industrial  Relations established by  Commonwealth  Act  Numbered  One hundred and  three, as amended, unless another  Court  shall be specified.

*      *       *        *       *        *        *
It  is  apparent that  the  anomalies  and irregularities allegedly committed by the defendants-officers were violations against the union constitution,  this  fact being admitted  by  the  appellants themselves.  It  is  also clear that the said  anomalies and  irregularities consist of violations of  internal labor  organization procedures  as expressly outlined  in Section  17 of  Republic Act No. 875 otherwise  known as the Industrial Peace Act  and the remedies sought are for the  corrections  of such violations. Since,  under Section  2  of  Republic Act  No. 875, the court vested with Jurisdiction to take judicial  cognizance of actions involving violations of, internal labor organization  procedures  is  the  Court of Industrial  Relations, the  lower court correctly dismissed  the  complaint presented  by the plaintiffs.

Finding no error in the order appealed from, the  same is hereby  affirmed, with  costs against  the appellants.

Paras C. J.,  Bengzon,  Padilla,  Montemayor,  Bautista Angela, Endencia, Barrera, and  Gutierrez David,  JJ., concur.