• Illegal dismissal raps vs musicians’ group canned

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    THE Court of Appeals (CA) has turned down illegal dismissal charges filed by a ranking staff of the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Inc. (Filscap) against its officers led by singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon.

    In a 20-page decision penned by Associate Justice Mariflor Punzalan Castillo and concurred in by Associate Justices Amy Lazaro-Javier and Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles, the CA’s 14th Division granted a petition for certiorari filed by Cabangon, Arturo Lui Pio, Alvin de Vera, Leocadio Ernesto Sanchez III, Adoracion Saturno and Ceasar Apostol, both officers and members of Filscap, a collecting society in the Philippines, which undertakes collective rights management for public performances and use of songs on screen and in radio broadcasts.

    The ruling effectively set aside the October 29, 2013 decision and the December 18, 2013 resolution of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)’s Sixth Division, which sided with former Filscap general manager Debra Ann Gaite.

    “Accordingly, [Gaite’s] complaint for constructive and/or illegal dismissal is dismissed. The labor tribunals are forthwith enjoined from implementing the [decision and resolution]of public respondent NLRC,” the ruling read.

    The Filscap officers discovered that in June 2012, Gaite, Genor Kasiguran and accounting manager Rosanna Roque, supposedly took out the amount of P17,720,455.77 from the special accounts of the company to cover a shortfall in its operating expenses.

    The firm terminated Gaite, Roque and Kasiguran for serious misconduct and loss of trust, among others.

    The three employees separately filed their complaints for illegal dismissal with the NLRC.

    The CA previously held that Kasiguran, former manager of Filscap’s distribution and documentation department, was validly dismissed.

    The commission ruled that Gaite was illegally dismissed, prompting the Filscap to bring the case to the appellate court.

    In its November 24, 2014 decision that was released to the media just recently, the court ruled that “the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in holding that [she]was constructively dismissed and in not holding that [she]was validly dismissed for serious misconduct and loss of trust and confidence.”

    The appellate court also held that the NLRC erred in awarding Gaite backwages, separation pay, damages and attorney’s fees, as well as in holding the individual petitioners solidarily liable with Filscap.

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