Freetelworkers vs Minister

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  Today is Sunday, December 02, 2012  Search Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT ManilaEN BANC G.R. No. L-58184 October 30, 1981FREE TELEPHONE WORKERS UNION, petitioner,vs. THE HONORABLE MINISTER OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONSCOMMISSION, and THE PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, respondents.  FERNANDO, C.J.: The constitutionality of the amendment to the Article of the Labor Code regarding strikes affecting the nationalinterest 1 is assailed in this petition which partakes of the nature of a prohibition proceeding filed by the FreeTelephone Workers Union. As amended, the Article now reads: In labor disputes causing or likely to cause strikesor lockouts adversely affecting the national interest, such as may occur in but not limited to public utilities,companies engaged in the generation or distribution of energy, banks, hospitals, and those within exportprocessing zones, the Minister of Labor and Employment may assume jurisdiction over the dispute and decide it or certify the same to the Commission for compulsory arbitration. Such assumption or certification shall have theeffect of automatically enjoining the intended or impending strike or lockout. If one has already taken place at thetime of assumption or certification, all striking or locked out employees shall immediately return to work and theemployers shall immediately resume operations and readmit all workers under the same terms and conditionsprevailing before the strike or lockout. The Minister may seek the assistance of law enforcement agencies toensure compliance with this provision as well as with such orders as he may issue to enforce the same. 2 It is thesubmission of petitioner labor union that Batas Pambansa Blg. 130 in so far as it amends article 264 of the Labor Code delegating to the Honorable Minister of Labor and Employment the power and discretion to assume jurisdiction and/or certify strikes for compulsory arbitration to the National Labor Relations Commission, and ineffect make or unmake the law on free collective bargaining, is an undue delegation of legislative powers. 3 Thereis likewise the assertion that such conferment of authority may also ran (sic) contrary to the assurance of theState to the workers' right to self-organization and collective bargaining. 4 On the CRUCIAL ISSUE PRESENTED; THE Court holds that petitioner was not able to make out a case of anundue delegation of legislative power. There could be, however, an unconstitutional application. For while theConstitution allows compulsory arbitration, it must be stressed that the exercise of such competence cannot ignorethe basic fundamentalprinciple and state policy that the state should afford protection to labor. 5 Whenever,therefore, it is resorted to in labor disputes causing or likely to cause strikes or lockouts affecting national interest,the State still is required to assure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of work. 6 At this stage of the litigation, however, in the absence of factualdetermination by the Ministry of Labor and the National Labor Relations Commission, this Court is not in a positionto rule on whether or not there is an unconstitutional application. There was not even a categorical assertion tothat effect by petitioner's counsel which was indicative of the care in his choice of words. He only assumed that theconferment of such authority may run counter to the right of the workers to self-organization and collectivebargaining. The petition then cannot prosper.The facts alleged in the petition relevant for the purpose of determining whether or not there is an unduedelegation of legislative power do not sustain the claim of petitioner union. On September 14, 1981, there was anotice of strike with the Ministry of Labor for unfair labor practices stating the following grounds 1) Unilateral andarbitrary implementation of a Code of Conduct, a copy of which is attached, to the detriment of the interest of our members; 2) Illegal terminations and suspensions of our officers and members as a result of the implementation of said Code of Conduct; and 3) Unconfirmation (sic) of call sick leaves and its automatic treatment as AbsenceWithout Official Leave of Absence (AWOL) with corresponding suspensions, in violation of our CollectiveBargaining Agreement. 7 After which came, on September 15, 1981, the notification to the Ministry that there wascompliance with the two-thirds strike vote and other formal requirements of the law and Implementing Rules. 8 Several conciliation meetings called by the Ministry followed, with petitioner manifesting its willingness to have arevised Code of Conduct that would be fair to all concerned but with a plea that in the meanwhile the Code of Conduct being imposed be suspended a position that failed to meet the approval of private respondent.Subsequently, respondent, 9 on September 25, 1981, certified the labor dispute to the National Labor RelationsCommission for compulsory arbitration and enjoined any strike at the private respondent's establishment. 10 Thelabor dispute was set for hearing by respondent National Labor Relations Commission on September 28,1981. 11 There was in the main an admission of the above relevant facts by public respondents. Privaterespondent, following the lead of petitioner labor union, explained its side on the controversy regarding the Codeof Conduct, the provisions of which as alleged in the petition were quite harsh, resulting in what it deemedindefinite preventive suspension apparently the principal cause of the labor dispute. At this stage, as mentioned, itwould be premature to discuss the merits, or lack of it, of such claim, the matter being properly for the Ministry of Labor to determine.The very next day after the filing of the petition, to be exact on September 29, 1981, this Court issued the followingresolution: Considering the allegations contained, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition for certiorari with prayer for a restraining order, the Court Resolved to (a) require the respondents to file an [answer],not a motion to dismiss, on or before Wednesday, October 7, 1981; and (b) [Set] this case for hearing on lawphil converted by  Thursday, October 8, 1981 at 11:00 o'clock in the morning. 12 After the parties were duly heard, Solicitor GeneralEstelito P. Mendoza 13 appearing for the public respondents, the case was considered ripe for decision. 14 To repeat, while the unconstitutionality of the amendatory act has not been demonstrated, there is no ruling on thequestion of unconstitutional application, especially so as to any alleged infringement in the exercise of the power of compulsory arbitration of the specific modes provided in the Constitution to assure compliance with theconstitutional mandate to afford protection to labor being at this stage premature.1. The allegation that there is undue delegation of legislative powers cannot stand the test of scrutiny. The power which he would deny the Minister of Labor by virtue of such principle is for petitioner labor union within thecompetence of the President, who in its opinion can best determine national interests, but only when a strike is inprogress. 15 Such admission is qualified by the assumption that the President can make law, an assertion whichneed not be passed upon in this petition.'What possesses significance for the purpose of this litigation is that it isthe President who Shall have control of the ministries. 16 It may happen, therefore, that a single person mayoccupy a dual position of Minister and Assemblyman. To the extent, however, that what is involved is the executionor enforcement of legislation, the Minister is an official of the executive branch of the government. The adoption of certain aspects of a parliamentary system in the amended Constitution does not alter its essentially presidentialcharacter. Article VII on the presidency starts with this provision: The President shall be the head of state andchief executive of the Republic of the Philippines. 17 Its last section is an even more emphatic affirmation that it is apresidential system that obtains in our government. Thus: All powers vested in the President of the Philippinesunder the 1935 Constitution and the laws of the land which are not herein provided for or conferred upon anyofficial shall be deemed and are hereby vested in the President unless the Batasang Pambansa providesotherwise. 18 There is a provision, of course, on the Prime Minister, but the Constitution is explicit that while heshall be the head of the Cabinet, it is the President who nominates him from among the members of the BatasangPambansa, thereafter being elected by a majority of all the members thereof. 19 He is primarily, therefore, aPresidential choice. He need not even come from its elected members. He is responsible, along with the Cabinet,to the Batasang Pambansa for the program of government but as approved by thePresident. 20 His term of office as Prime Minister shall commence from the date of his election by the BatasangPambansa and shall end on the date that the nomination of his successor is submitted by the President to theBatasang Pambansa. Any other member of the Cabinet or the Executive Committee may be removed at thediscretion of the President. 21 Even the duration of his term then depends on the Presidential pleasure, not onlegislative approval or lack of it. During his incumbency, he exercises supervision over all ministries, 22 arecognition of the important role he plays in the implementation of the policy of the government, the legislation dulyenacted in pursuance thereof, and the decrees and orders of the President. To the Prime Minister can thus bedelegated the performance of the administrative functions of the President, who can then devote more time andenergy in the fulfillment of his exacting role as the national leader. 23 As the only one whose constituency isnational it is the President who, by virtue of his election by the entire electorate, has an indisputable claim to speakfor the country as a whole. Moreover, it is he who is explicitly granted the greater power of control of suchministries. He continues to be the Executive, the amplitude and scope of the functions entrusted to him in theformulation of policy and its execution leading to the apt observation by Laski that there is not one aspect of whichthat does not affect the lives of all. The Prime Minister can be of valuable assistance indeed to the President in thedischarge of his awesome responsibility, but it is the latter who is vested with powers, aptly characterized by JusticeLaurel in Planas v. Gil    24 as broad and extraordinary [being] expected to govern with a firm and steady handwithout vexation or embarrassing interference and much less dictation from any source. 25 It may be said thatJustice Laurel was referring to his powers under the 1935 Constitution. It suffices to refer anew to the last sectionof the article of the present Constitution on the presidency to the effect that all powers vested in the President of the Philippines under the 1935 Constitution remain with him. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that under the1935 Constitution. The Executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines. 26 2. A later decision, Villena v. Secretary of Interior  27 greater relevance to this case. The opinion of Justice Laurel,again the  ponente , made clear that under the presidential system, all executive and administrative organizationsare adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the various executive departments are assistants andagents of the Chief Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or the law to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executiveand administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, andthe acts of the secretaries of such departments, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business,are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive, presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive. 28 Atthe time of the adoption of the present Constitution on January 17, 1973, this Court had cited with approval theabove ruling of Villena in twelve cases. 29 It is particularly noteworthy that the first decision promulgated under thepresent Constitution reiterating the above doctrine is Philippine  American Management Co. v. Philippine AmericanManagement Employees Association.   30 For the question therein involved, as in this case, is the statutory grant of authority to the then Secretary of Labor, now Minister of Labor, by the Minimum Wage Law to refer to the thenexisting Court of Industrial Relations for arbitration the dispute that led to a strike. It is indisputable, according tothe opinion, that in the very petition, the Secretary of Labor on January 6, 1972, pursuant to the Minimum WageLaw, endorsed the controversy on the precise question of whether or not petitioner Philippine AmericanManagement Company was complying with its mandatory terms. What was done by him, as a department head, inthe regular course of business and conformably to a statutory provision is, according to settled jurisprudence thatdates back to an authoritative pronouncement by Justice Laurel in 1939 in Villena v. Secretary of the Interior  ,presumptively the act of the President, who is the only dignitary who could, paraphrasing the language of thedecision, disapprove or reprobate it. What other response could be legitimately expected from respondent Courtthen? It could not just simply fold its hands and refuse to pass on the dispute. 31 The Villena doctrine was stressedeven more in denying a motion for reconsideration by a more extensive citation from the ponencia of JusticeLaurel: Without minimizing the importance of the heads of the various departments, their personality is in realitybut the projection of that of the President. Stated otherwise, and as forcibly characterized by Chief Justice Taft of the Supreme Court of the United States, each head of a department is, and must be, the President's alter ego inthe matters of that department where the President is required by law to exercise authority. ... Secretaries of departments, of course, exercise certain powers under the law but the law cannot impair or in any way affect theconstitutional power of control and direction of the President. As a matter of executive policy, they may be granteddepartmental autonomy as to certain matters but this is by mere concession of the executive, in the absence of valid legislation in the particular field. If the President, then, is the authority in the Executive Department, he converted by  assumes the corresponding responsibility. The head of a department is a man of his confidence; he control anddirects his acts; he appoints him and can remove him at pleasure; he is the executive, not any of his secretaries. Itis therefore logical that he, the President, should be answerable for the acts of administration of the entireExecutive Department before his own conscience no less than before that undefined power of public opinionwhich, in the language of Daniel Webster, is the last repository of popular government. 32 So it should be in thiscase.3. Even on the assumption, indulged in solely because of the claim earnestly and vigorously pressed by counselfor petitioner, that the authority conferred to the Minister of Labor partakes of a legislative character, still no caseof an unlawful delegation of such power may be discerned. That is the teaching from Edu v. Ericta   33 Thus: Whatcannot be delegated is the authority under the Constitution to make laws and to alter and repeal them; the test isthe completeness of the statute in all its term and provisions when it leaves the hands of the legislature, Todetermine whether or riot there is an undue delegation of legislative power, the inquiry must be directed to thescope and definiteness of the measure enacted. The legislature does not abdicate its functions when it describeswhat job must be done, who is to do it, and what is the scope of his authority. For a complex economy, that mayindeed be the only way in which the legislative process can go forward. A distinction has rightfully been madebetween delegation of power to make the laws which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, whichconstitutionally may not be done, and delegation of authority or discretion as to its execution to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law, to which no valid objection can be made. The Constitution is thus not to be regardedas denying the legislature the necessary resources of flexibility and practicability. To avoid the taint of unlawfuldelegation, there must be a standard, which implies at the very least that the legislature itself determines mattersprinciple and lays down fundamental policy. Otherwise, the charge of complete abdication may be hard to repel. Astandard thus defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps out its boundaries and specifies the public agency toapply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative command is to be effected. It is the criterion bywhich legislative purpose may be carried out. Thereafter, the executive or administrative office designated may inpursuance of the above guidelines promulgate supplemental rules and regulations. The standard may be either express or implied. If the former, the non-delegation objection is easily met. The standard though does not have tobe spelled out specifically. It could be implied from the policy and purpose of the act considered as a whole. ... Thisis to adhere to the recognition given expression by Justice Laurel in a decision [Pangasinan Transportation v.Public Service Commission] announced not-too-long after the Constitution came into force and effect that theprinciple of non-delegation 'has been made to adapt itself to the complexities of modem governments giving rise tothe adoption, within certain limits, of the principle of subordinate legislation not only in the United States andEngland but in practically all modern governments He continued: 'Accordingly, with the growing complexity of modern life, the multiplication of the subjects of governmental regulation, and the increased difficulty of administering the laws, there is a constantly growing tendency toward the delegation of greater powers by thelegislature and toward the approval of the practice by the courts.' Consistency with the conceptual approachrequires the reminder that what is delegated is authority non-legislative in character, the completeness of thestatute when it leaves the hands of Congress being assumed. Our later decisions speak to the same effect. Thusfrom Justice J.B.L. Reyes in People v. Exconde ; 'It is well established in this jurisdiction that, while the making of laws is a non-delegable activity that corresponds exclusively to Congress, nevertheless the latter mayconstitutionally delegate authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement a given legislation andeffectuate its policies, for the reason that the legislature often finds it impracticable (if not impossible) to anticipateand provide for the multifarious and complex situations that may be met in carrying the law into effect. All that isrequired is that the regulation should be germane to the objects and purposes of the law; that the regulation benot in contradiction with it; but conform to the standards that the law prescribes.' 34 Batas Pambansa Blg. 130cannot be any clearer, the coverage being limited to strikes or lockouts adversely affecting the national interest. 4. The strict rule on non-delegation was enunciated by Justice Laurel in People v. Vera , 35 Which declaredunconstitutional the then Probation Act. 36 Such an approach, conceded, by some constitutionalists to be bothscholarly and erudite nonetheless aroused apprehension for being too rigid and inflexible. While no doubtappropriate in that particular case, the institution of a new mode of treating offenders, it may pose difficulty for social and economic legislation needed by the times. Even prior to the above-cited Pangasinan Transportationdecision, Justice Laurel himself in an earlier decision, People v. Rosenthal  in 1939, promulgated less than twoyears after Vera, pointed out that such doctrine of non-delegation has been made to adopt itself to thecomplexities of modern governments, giving rise to the adoption, within certain limits, of the principle of 'subordinate legislation' not only in the United States and England but in practically all modern governments. Thedifficulty lies in the fixing of the limit and extent of the authority. While courts have undertaken to lay down generalprinciples, the safest is to decide each case according to its peculiar environment, having in mind the wholesomelegislative purpose intended to be achieved. 37 After which, in came the even more explicit formulation inPangasinan Transportation appearing in the quoted excerpt from Edu v. Ericta. There is no question therefore thatthere is a marked drift in the direction of a more liberal approach. It is partly in recognition of the ever increasingneeds for the type of legislation allowing rule-making in accordance with standards, explicit or implicit, discerniblefrom a perusal of the entire enactment that in  Agricultural Credit and Cooperative Financing Administration v.Confederation of Unions in Government Corporations and Offices 38 the then Justice, now the retired Chief Justice and presently Speaker, Makalintal had occasion to refer to the growing complexities of society as well as the increasing social challenges of the times. 39 It would be self-defeating in the extreme if the legislation intendedto cope with the grave social and economic problems of the present and foreseeable future would founder on therock of an unduly restrictive and decidedly unrealistic meaning to be affixed to the doctrine of non-delegation.Fortunately with the retention in the amended Constitution of some features of the 1973 Constitution as srcinallyadopted leading to an appreciable measure of concord and harmony between the policy-making branches of thegovernment, executive and legislative, the objection on the grounds of non- delegation would be even lesspersuasive. It is worth repeating that the Prime Minister, while the choice of the President, must have the approvalof all members of the Batasang Pambansa. 40 At least the majority of the cabinet members, the Ministers beingappointed by the President, if heads of ministries, shall come from its regional representatives. 41 So, also, whilethe Prime Minister and the Cabinet are responsible to the Batasang Pambansa for the program of government, itmust be one approved by the President. 42 While conceptually, there still exists a distinction between theenactment of legislation and its execution, between formulation and implementation, the fundamental principle of separation of powers of which non-delegation is a logical corollary becomes even more flexible and malleable.Even in the case of the United States, with its adherence to the Madisonian concept of separation of powers,President Kennedy could state that its Constitution did not make the Presidency and Congress rivals for power but partners for progress [with the two branches] being trustees for the people, custodians of their heritage. 43 With the closer relationship provided for by the amended Constitution in our case, there is likely to be converted by  even more promptitude and dispatch in framing the policies and thereafter unity and vigor in their execution. Arigid application of the non-delegation doctrine, therefore, would be an obstacle to national efforts at developmentand progress. There is accordingly more receptivity to laws leaving to administrative and executive agencies theadoption of such means as may be necessary to effectuate a valid legislative purpose. It is worth noting that ahighly-respected legal scholar, Professor Jaffe as early as 1947, could speak of delegation as the dynamo of modern government. 44 He then went on to state that the occasions for delegating power to administrative offices[could be] compassed by a single generalization. 45 Thus: Power should be delegated where there is agreementthat a task must be performed and it cannot be effectively performed by the legislature without the assistance of adelegate or without an expenditure of time so great as to lead to the neglect of equally important business.Delegation is most commonly indicated where the relations to be regulated are highly technical or where their regulation requires a course of continuous decision. 46 His perceptive study could rightfully conclude that even ina strictly presidential system like that of the United States, the doctrine of non-delegation reflects the American political philosophy that insofar as possible issues be settled [by legislative bodies], an essentially restrictiveapproach may ignore deep currents of social force. 47 In plainer terms, and as applied to the Philippines under the amended Constitution with the close ties that bind the executive and legislative departments, certain featuresof parliamentarism having been retained, it may be a deterrent factor to much needed legislation. The spectre of the non-delegation concept need not haunt, therefore, party caucuses, cabinet sessions or legislative chambers.5. By way of summary, this Court holds that Batas Pambansa Blg. 130 insofar as it empowers the Minister of Labor to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes causing or likely to cause strikes or lockouts adversely affecting thenational interest and thereafter decide it or certify the same the National Labor Relations Commission is not on itsface unconstitutional for being violative of the doctrine of non-delegation of legislative power. To repeat, there isno ruling on the question of whether or not it has been unconstitutionally applied in this case, for being repugnantto the regime of self-organization and free collective bargaining, as on the facts alleged, disputed by privaterespondent, the matter is not ripe for judicial determination. It must be stressed anew, however, that the power of compulsory arbitration, while allowable under the Constitution and quite understandable in labor disputes affectedwith a national interest, to be free from the taint of unconstitutionality, must be exercised in accordance with theconstitutional mandate of protection to labor. The arbiter then is called upon to take due care that in the decisionto be reached, there is no violation of the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of work. 48 It is of course manifest that there is such unconstitutionalapplication if a law fair on its face and impartial in appearance (is) applied and administered by public authoritywith an evil eye and an unequal hand. 49 It does not even have to go that far. An instance of unconstitutionalapplication would be discernible if what is ordained by the fundamental law, the protection of labor, is ignored or disregarded.WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed for lack of merit. During the pendency of the compulsory arbitrationproceedings, both petitioner labor union and private respondent are enjoined to good faith compliance with theprovisions of Batas Pambansa Blg. 130. No costs. Barredo, Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez, Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ.,concur.Teehankee, Aquino, JJ., concurs in the result.  Footnotes 1 Article 264, Batas Pambansa Blg. 130.2 Ibid  .3 Petition, 3.4 Ibid  .5 The first sentence of Article 11, Sec. 9 of the Constitution reads as follows: The State shall affordprotection to labor, promote full employment and equality in employment, ensure equal workopportunities regardless of sex, race, or creed, and regulate the relations between workers andemployers. 6 Ibid  , second sentence.7 Petition, par. 9.8 Ibid  , par. 9, obviously a failure to number the paragraph correctly.9 Ibid  , par.10[11].10 Ibid  , par. 11 [121.11 Ibid  , par.12 [13].12 Resolution dated September 29, 1981.13 He was assisted by Assistant Solicitor General Reynato S. Puno and Solicitor Jesus V. Diaz.14 Subsequently in view of an ex-parte motion which was for the issuance of a temporary restrainingorder by private respondent with an opportunity granted to the petitioner to comment, this Court onOctober 22, 1981 issued a temporary restraining order limited to en-joining the union, its officers,directors, stewards and members from engaging and/or continuing to engage in the above-describedconcerted activities or in any and all forms of work stoppages, slowdowns, mass leaves, sit downs andsimilar or analogous concerted activities; ... 15 Petition, Argument, IV b. converted by
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