G.R. No. L-31195 June 5, 1973
Lessons Applicable: Nature and Definition of Human Rights, Human Right is superior to property rights, Social justice, jurisdiction over violation of constitutional right
Laws Applicable: Bill of Rights on rights of free expression, rights of free assembly and rights of petition
• March 2, 1969: Philippine Blooming Mills discovered that Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization (PBMEO) decided to stage a mass demonstration as a valid exercise of their constitutional right of freedom expression in general and of their right of assembly and petition for redress of grievances in particular before appropriate governmental agency, the Chief Executive, alleged abuses of the police officers of the municipality of Pasig at Malacañang on March 4, 1969 to be participated in by the workers in the first, second and third shifts (6am-2pm, 7am-4pm. and 8am-5pm respectively)
• March 3, 1969: Philippine Blooming Mills held 2 meetings in the morning and afternoon where PBMEO confirmed the demonstration which has nothing to do with the Company because the union has no quarrel or dispute with Management. That Management, thru Atty. C.S. de Leon, Company personnel manager, informed PBMEO that the demonstration is an inalienable right of the union guaranteed by the Constitution but emphasized, however, that any demonstration for that matter should not unduly prejudice the normal operation thus whoever fails to report for work the following morning shall be dismissed for violation of the existing CBA Article XXIV: NO LOCKOUT — NO STRIKE amounting to an illegal strike
• March 3, 1969 9:50 am: Wilfredo Ariston, adviser of PBMEO sent a cablegram to the Company: REITERATING REQUEST EXCUSE DAY SHIFT EMPLOYEES JOINING DEMONSTRATION MARCH 4, 1969
• The Company filed for violation of the CBA. PBMEO answered that there is no violation since they gave prior notice. Moreover, it was not a mass demonstration for strike against the company.
• Judge Joaquin M. Salvador: PBMEO guilty of bargaining in bad faith and PBMEO officers directly responsible for ULP losing their status as employees
• September 29, 1969: PBMEO motion for reconsideration – dismissed since 2 days late
1. W/N to regard the demonstration against police officers, not against the employer, as evidence of bad faith in collective bargaining and hence a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and a cause for the dismissal from employment of the demonstrating employees, stretches unduly the compass of the collective bargaining agreement, is an inhibition of the rights of free expression, free assembly and petition
HELD: YES. Set aside as null and void the orders of CFI and reinstate the petitioners.
• In a democracy, the preservation and enhancement of the dignity and worth of the human personality is the central core as well as the cardinal article of faith of our civilization. The inviolable character of man as an individual must be "protected to the largest possible extent in his thoughts and in his beliefs as the citadel of his person
• The Bill of Rights is designed to preserve the ideals of liberty, equality and security "against the assaults of opportunism, the expediency of the passing hour, the erosion of small encroachments, and the scorn and derision of those who have no patience with general principles.
• The freedoms of expression and of assembly as well as the right to petition are included among the immunities reserved by the sovereign people
• The rights of free expression, free assembly and petition, are not only civil rights but also political rights essential to man's enjoyment of his life, to his happiness and to his full and complete fulfillment. Thru these freedoms the citizens can participate not merely in the periodic establishment of the government through their suffrage but also in the administration of public affairs as well as in the discipline of abusive public officers. The citizen is accorded these rights so that he can appeal to the appropriate governmental officers or agencies for redress and protection as well as for the imposition of the lawful sanctions on erring public officers and employees.
• While the Bill of Rights also protects property rights, the primacy of human rights over property rights is recognized.
o Property and property rights can be lost thru prescription; but human rights are imprescriptible.
o a constitutional or valid infringement of human rights requires a more stringent criterion, namely existence of a grave and immediate danger of a substantive evil which the State has the right to prevent
o Rationale: Material loss can be repaired or adequately compensated. The debasement of the human being broken in morale and brutalized in spirit-can never be fully evaluated in monetary terms. The wounds fester and the scars remain to humiliate him to his dying day, even as he cries in anguish for retribution, denial of which is like rubbing salt on bruised tissues.
o injunction would be trenching upon the freedom expression of the workers, even if it legally appears to be illegal picketing or strike
• The pretension of their employer that it would suffer loss or damage by reason of the absence of its employees from 6 o'clock in the morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon, is a plea for the preservation merely of their property rights.
o There was a lack of human understanding or compassion on the part of the firm in rejecting the request of the Union for excuse from work for the day shifts in order to carry out its mass demonstration. And to regard as a ground for dismissal the mass demonstration held against the Pasig police, not against the company, is gross vindictiveness on the part of the employer, which is as unchristian as it is unconstitutional.
o The most that could happen to them was to lose a day's wage by reason of their absence from work on the day of the demonstration. One day's pay means much to a laborer, more especially if he has a family to support. Yet, they were willing to forego their one-day salary hoping that their demonstration would bring about the desired relief from police abuses. But management was adamant in refusing to recognize the superior legitimacy of their right of free speech, free assembly and the right to petition for redress.
o the dismissal for proceeding with the demonstration and consequently being absent from work, constitutes a denial of social justice likewise assured by the fundamental law to these lowly employees. Section 5 of Article II of the Constitution imposes upon the State "the promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all of the people," which guarantee is emphasized by the other directive in Section 6 of Article XIV of the Constitution that "the State shall afford protection to labor ...". Under the Industrial Peace Act, the Court of Industrial Relations is enjoined to effect the policy of the law "to eliminate the causes of industrial unrest by encouraging and protecting the exercise by employees of their right to self-organization for the purpose of collective bargaining and for the promotion of their moral, social and economic well-being."
• The respondent company is the one guilty of unfair labor practice defined in Section 4(a-1) in relation to Section 3 of Republic Act No. 875, otherwise known as the Industrial Peace Act. Section 3 of Republic Act No. 8 guarantees to the employees the right "to engage in concert activities for ... mutual aid or protection"; while Section 4(a-1) regards as an unfair labor practice for an employer interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise their rights guaranteed in Section Three."
• violation of a constitutional right divests the court of jurisdiction. Relief from a criminal conviction secured at the sacrifice of constitutional liberties, may be obtained through habeas corpus proceedings even long after the finality of the judgment. There is no time limit to the exercise of the freedoms. The right to enjoy them is not exhausted by the delivery of one speech, the printing of one article or the staging of one demonstration. It is a continuing immunity to be invoked and exercised when exigent and expedient whenever there are errors to be rectified, abuses to be denounced, inhumanities to be condemned. Otherwise these guarantees in the Bill of Rights would be vitiated by rule on procedure prescribing the period for appeal. The battle then would be reduced to a race for time. And in such a contest between an employer and its laborer, the latter eventually loses because he cannot employ the best an dedicated counsel who can defend his interest with the required diligence and zeal, bereft as he is of the financial resources with which to pay for competent legal services
• enforcement of the basic human freedoms sheltered no less by the organic law, is a most compelling reason to deny application of a Court of Industrial Relations rule which impinges on such human rights. It is an accepted principle that the Supreme Court has the inherent power to "suspend its own rules or to except a particular case from its operation, whenever the purposes of justice require."
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