The Supreme Court (SC) has granted a prayer of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. to lift and quash a demand for immediate payment of P62 billion issued against it and the National Power Corp. in connection with a class-action suit filed by dismissed NPC employees.
A full-court decision penned by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro denied petitioners’ request to immediately execute the judgment award as it directed them “to file a claim against the government before the Commission on Audit [CoA], pursuant to its rules, which shall be resolved in accordance with the guidelines herein set forth.”
The petitioners include NPC Drivers and Mechanics Association, represented by its president Roger San Juan Sr.; and NPC Employees and Workers Union-Northern Luzon, Regional Center, represented by its president Jimmy Salman.
The SC ruling came in the wake of motions filed subsequent to the entry in the Book of Entries of the Judgment of the Court’s decision in the case–the NPC’s manifestation and motion dated August 22, 2014; Psalm’s omnibus motion dated August 22, 2015; petitioners’ motion to expunge dated September 1, 2014; and Meralco’s special appearance with urgent motion for clarification dated September 4, 2014.
The ruling held that the NPC had illegally terminated its employees on January 31, 2003 when the government-owned power firm was transferred to PSALM.
As the successor company and receiver of Napocor’s assets and liabilities, PSALM was also impleaded in the class suit.
Because of the illegal dismissal, as a general rule, the SC said, “the petitioners are entitled to reinstatement.
However, reinstatement has become impossible because NPC was still able to proceed with its reorganization prior to the promulgation of the decision dated September 26, 2006.”
Thus, it added, the petitioners are entitled to separation pay in lieu of reinstatement, based on a validly approved separation program of the NPC and back wages together with wage adjustments and all other benefits that they would have received had it not been for the illegal dismissal, computed from January 31, 2003 until actual reinstatement or payment of separation pay.
The High Court, however, said any amount of separation benefits already received by the petitioners under NPB Resolutions 2002-124 and 2002-125 shall be deducted from their total entitlement.
The SC deferred the computation of the actual amounts due the petitioners and the enforcement of payment thereof by execution to the proper forum, as it is not a trier of facts.
It also held that it is not equipped to receive evidence and determine the truth of the factual allegations of the parties on the matter.
In its November 21, 2017 ruling that was released just recently, the SC reiterated that the terminations pursuant to its resolutions were illegal dismissals.
The SC ordered that the interest on the judgment award shall be computed as follows: (1) 12 percent per annum from October 8, 2008, 113 until June 30, 2013 and (2) 60 per annum from July l, 2013 onward.
The court said “petitioners who were neither rehired by the NPC or absorbed by PSALM or Transco pursuant to the 2003 reorganization and subsequently employed in the private sector shall be entitled to full back wages.”