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Jurisprudence: G.R. No. L-31195 June 5, 1973


G.R. No. L-31195 June 5, 1973


L.S. Osorio & P.B. Castillo and J.C. Espinas & Associates for petitioners.

Demetrio B. Salem & Associates for private respondent.


The petitioner Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization (hereinafter referred to as PBMEO) is a legitimate labor union composed of the employees of the respondent Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., and petitioners Nicanor Tolentino, Florencio Padrigano, Rufino Roxas, Mariano de Leon, Asencion Paciente, Bonifacio Vacuna, Benjamin Pagcu and Rodulfo Munsod are officers and members of the petitioner Union.

Petitioners claim that on March 1, 1969, they decided to stage a mass demonstration at Malacañang on March 4, 1969, in protest against alleged abuses of the Pasig police, to be participated in by the workers in the first shift (from 6 A.M. to 2 P.M.) as well as those in the regular second and third shifts (from 7 A.M. to 4 P.M. and from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., respectively); and that they informed the respondent Company of their proposed demonstration.

The questioned order dated September 15, 1969, of Associate Judge Joaquin M. Salvador of the respondent Court reproduced the following stipulation of facts of the parties — parties —

3. That on March 2, 1969 complainant company learned of the projected mass demonstration at Malacañang in protest against alleged abuses of the Pasig Police Department to be participated by the first shift (6:00 AM-2:00 PM) workers as well as those working in the regular shifts (7:00 A.M. to 4:00 PM and 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM) in the morning of March 4, 1969;

4. That a meeting was called by the Company on March 3, 1969 at about 11:00 A.M. at the Company's canteen, and those present were: for the Company: (1) Mr. Arthur L. Ang (2) Atty. S. de Leon, Jr., (3) and all department and section heads. For the PBMEO (1) Florencio Padrigano, (2) Rufino Roxas, (3) Mariano de Leon, (4) Asencion Paciente, (5) Bonifacio Vacuna and (6) Benjamin Pagcu.

5. That the Company asked the union panel to confirm or deny said projected mass demonstration at Malacañang on March 4, 1969. PBMEO thru Benjamin Pagcu who acted as spokesman of the union panel, confirmed the planned demonstration and stated that the demonstration or rally cannot be cancelled because it has already been agreed upon in the meeting. Pagcu explained further that the demonstration has nothing to do with the Company because the union has no quarrel or dispute with Management;

6. 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 of the Company. For which reason, the Company, thru Atty. C.S. de Leon warned the PBMEO representatives that workers who belong to the first and regular shifts, who without previous leave of absence approved by the Company, particularly , the officers present who are the organizers of the demonstration, who shall fail to report for work the following morning (March 4, 1969) shall be dismissed, because such failure is a violation of the existing CBA and, therefore, would be amounting to an illegal strike;

7. That at about 5:00 P.M. on March 3, 1969, another meeting was convoked Company represented by Atty. C.S. de Leon, Jr. The Union panel was composed of: Nicanor Tolentino, Rodolfo Munsod, Benjamin Pagcu and Florencio Padrigano. In this afternoon meeting of March 3, 1969, Company reiterated and appealed to the PBMEO representatives that while all workers may join the Malacañang demonstration, the workers for the first and regular shift of March 4, 1969 should be excused from joining the demonstration and should report for work; and thus utilize the workers in the 2nd and 3rd shifts in order not to violate the provisions of the CBA, particularly Article XXIV: NO LOCKOUT — NO STRIKE'. All those who will not follow this warning of the Company shall be dismiss; De Leon reiterated the Company's warning that the officers shall be primarily liable being the organizers of the mass demonstration. The union panel countered that it was rather too late to change their plans inasmuch as the Malacañang demonstration will be held the following morning; and

8. That a certain Mr. Wilfredo Ariston, adviser of PBMEO sent a cablegram to the Company which was received 9:50 A.M., March 4, 1969, the contents of which are as follows: 'REITERATING REQUEST EXCUSE DAY SHIFT EMPLOYEES JOINING DEMONSTRATION MARCH 4, 1969.' (Pars. 3-8, Annex "F", pp. 42-43, rec.)

Because the petitioners and their members numbering about 400 proceeded with the demonstration despite the pleas of the respondent Company that the first shift workers should not be required to participate in the demonstration and that the workers in the second and third shifts should be utilized for the demonstration from 6 A.M. to 2 P.M. on March 4, 1969, respondent Company prior notice of the mass demonstration on March 4, 1969, with the respondent Court, a charge against petitioners and other employees who composed the first shift, charging them with a "violation of Section 4(a)-6 in relation to Sections 13 and 14, as well as Section 15, all of Republic Act No. 875, and of the CBA providing for 'No Strike and No Lockout.' " (Annex "A", pp. 19-20, rec.). The charge was accompanied by the joint affidavit of Arthur L. Ang and Cesareo de Leon, Jr. (Annex "B", pp. 21-24, rec.). Thereafter, a corresponding complaint was filed, dated April 18, 1969, by Acting Chief Prosecutor Antonio T. Tirona and Acting Prosecutor Linda P. Ilagan (Annex "C", pp. 25-30, rec.)

In their answer, dated May 9, 1969, herein petitioners claim that they did not violate the existing CBA because they gave the respondent Company prior notice of the mass demonstration on March 4, 1969; that the said mass demonstration was a valid exercise of their constitutional freedom of speech against the alleged abuses of some Pasig policemen; and that their mass demonstration was not a declaration of strike because it was not directed against the respondent firm (Annex "D", pp. 31-34, rec.)

After considering the aforementioned stipulation of facts submitted by the parties, Judge Joaquin M. Salvador, in an order dated September 15, 1969, found herein petitioner PBMEO guilty of bargaining in bad faith and herein petitioners Florencio Padrigano, Rufino Roxas, Mariano de Leon, Asencion Paciente, Bonifacio Vacuna, Benjamin Pagcu, Nicanor Tolentino and Rodulfo Munsod as directly responsible for perpetrating the said unfair labor practice and were, as a consequence, considered to have lost their status as employees of the respondent Company (Annex "F", pp. 42-56, rec.)

Herein petitioners claim that they received on September 23, 1969, the aforesaid order (p. 11, rec.); and that they filed on September 29, 1969, because September 28, 1969 fell on Sunday (p. 59, rec.), a motion for reconsideration of said order dated September 15, 1969, on the ground that it is contrary to law and the evidence, as well as asked for ten (10) days within which to file their arguments pursuant to Sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Rules of the CIR, as amended (Annex "G", pp. 57-60, rec. )

In its opposition dated October 7, 1969, filed on October 11, 1969 (p. 63, rec.), respondent Company averred that herein petitioners received on September 22, 1969, the order dated September 17 (should be September 15), 1969; that under Section 15 of the amended Rules of the Court of Industrial Relations, herein petitioners had five (5) days from September 22, 1969 or until September 27, 1969, within which to file their motion for reconsideration; and that because their motion for reconsideration was two (2) days late, it should be accordingly dismissed, invoking Bien vs. Castillo, 1 which held among others, that a motion for extension of the five-day period for the filing of a motion for reconsideration should be filed before the said five-day period elapses (Annex "M", pp. 61-64, rec.).

Subsequently, herein petitioners filed on October 14, 1969 their written arguments dated October 11, 1969, in support of their motion for reconsideration (Annex "I", pp. 65-73, rec.).

In a resolution dated October 9, 1969, the respondent en banc dismissed the motion for reconsideration of herein petitioners for being pro forma as it was filed beyond the reglementary period prescribed by its Rules (Annex "J", pp. 74-75, rec.), which herein petitioners received on October 28, 196 (pp. 12 & 76, rec.).

At the bottom of the notice of the order dated October 9, 1969, which was released on October 24, 1969 and addressed to the counsels of the parties (pp. 75-76, rec.), appear the requirements of Sections 15, 16 and 17, as amended, of the Rules of the Court of Industrial Relations, that a motion for reconsideration shall be filed within five (5) days from receipt of its decision or order and that an appeal from the decision, resolution or order of the C.I.R., sitting en banc, shall be perfected within ten (10) days from receipt thereof (p. 76, rec.).

On October 31, 1969, herein petitioners filed with the respondent court a petition for relief from the order dated October 9, 1969, on the ground that their failure to file their motion for reconsideration on time was due to excusable negligence and honest mistake committed by the president of the petitioner Union and of the office clerk of their counsel, attaching thereto the affidavits of the said president and clerk (Annexes "K", "K-1" and "K-2", rec.).

Without waiting for any resolution on their petition for relief from the order dated October 9, 1969, herein petitioners filed on November 3, 1969, with the Supreme Court, a notice of appeal (Annex "L", pp. 88-89, rec.).


There is need of briefly restating basic concepts and principles which underlie the issues posed by the case at bar.

(1) 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." 2

(2) 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." 3

In the pithy language of Mr. Justice Robert Jackson, the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to withdraw "certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's rights to life, liberty and property, to free speech, or free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections." 4 Laski proclaimed that "the happiness of the individual, not the well-being of the State, was the criterion by which its behaviour was to be judged. His interests, not its power, set the limits to the authority it was entitled to exercise." 5

(3) The freedoms of expression and of assembly as well as the right to petition are included among the immunities reserved by the sovereign people, in the rhetorical aphorism of Justice Holmes, to protect the ideas that we abhor or hate more than the ideas we cherish; or as Socrates insinuated, not only to protect the minority who want to talk, but also to benefit the majority who refuse to listen. 6 And as Justice Douglas cogently stresses it, the liberties of one are the liberties of all; and the liberties of one are not safe unless the liberties of all are protected. 7

(4) 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.

(5) While the Bill of Rights also protects property rights, the primacy of human rights over property rights is recognized. 8 Because these freedoms are "delicate and vulnerable, as well as supremely precious in our society" and the "threat of sanctions may deter their exercise almost as potently as the actual application of sanctions," they "need breathing space to survive," permitting government regulation only "with narrow specificity." 9

Property and property rights can be lost thru prescription; but human rights are imprescriptible. If human rights are extinguished by the passage of time, then the Bill of Rights is a useless attempt to limit the power of government and ceases to be an efficacious shield against the tyranny of officials, of majorities, of the influential and powerful, and of oligarchs — political, economic or otherwise.

In the hierarchy of civil liberties, the rights of free expression and of assembly occupy a preferred position as they are essential to the preservation and vitality of our civil and political institutions; 10 and such priority "gives these liberties the sanctity and the sanction not permitting dubious intrusions." 11

The superiority of these freedoms over property rights is underscored by the fact that a mere reasonable or rational relation between the means employed by the law and its object or purpose — that the law is neither arbitrary nor discriminatory nor oppressive — would suffice to validate a law which restricts or impairs property rights. 12 On the other hand, 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. So it has been stressed in the main opinion of Mr. Justice Fernando in Gonzales vs. Comelec and reiterated by the writer of the opinion in Imbong vs. Ferrer. 13 It should be added that Mr. Justice Barredo in Gonzales vs. Comelec, supra, like Justices Douglas, Black and Goldberg in N.Y. Times Co. vs. Sullivan, 14 believes that the freedoms of speech and of the press as well as of peaceful assembly and of petition for redress of grievances are absolute when directed against public officials or "when exercised in relation to our right to choose the men and women by whom we shall be governed," 15 even as Mr. Justice Castro relies on the balancing-of-interests test. 16 Chief Justice Vinson is partial to the improbable danger rule formulated by Chief Judge Learned Hand, viz. — whether the gravity of the evil, discounted by its improbability, justifies such invasion of free expression as is necessary to avoid the danger. 17


The respondent Court of Industrial Relations, after opining that the mass demonstration was not a declaration of strike, concluded that by their "concerted act and the occurrence temporary stoppage of work," herein petitioners are guilty bargaining in bad faith and hence violated the collective bargaining agreement with private respondent Philippine Blooming Mills Co., inc.. Set against and tested by foregoing principles governing a democratic society, such conclusion cannot be sustained. The demonstration held petitioners on March 4, 1969 before Malacañang was against alleged abuses of some Pasig policemen, not against their employer, herein private respondent firm, said demonstrate was purely and completely an exercise of their 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, again the police officers of the municipality of Pasig. They exercise their civil and political rights for their mutual aid protection from what they believe were police excesses. As matter of fact, it was the duty of herein private respondent firm to protect herein petitioner Union and its members fro the harassment of local police officers. It was to the interest herein private respondent firm to rally to the defense of, and take up the cudgels for, its employees, so that they can report to work free from harassment, vexation or peril and as consequence perform more efficiently their respective tasks enhance its productivity as well as profits. Herein respondent employer did not even offer to intercede for its employees with the local police. Was it securing peace for itself at the expenses of its workers? Was it also intimidated by the local police or did it encourage the local police to terrorize or vex its workers? Its failure to defend its own employees all the more weakened the position of its laborers the alleged oppressive police who might have been all the more emboldened thereby subject its lowly employees to further indignities.

In seeking sanctuary behind their freedom of expression well as their right of assembly and of petition against alleged persecution of local officialdom, the employees and laborers of herein private respondent firm were fighting for their very survival, utilizing only the weapons afforded them by the Constitution — the untrammelled enjoyment of their basic human rights. 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. Such apprehended loss or damage would not spell the difference between the life and death of the firm or its owners or its management. The employees' pathetic situation was a stark reality — abused, harassment and persecuted as they believed they were by the peace officers of the municipality. As above intimated, the condition in which the employees found themselves vis-a-vis the local police of Pasig, was a matter that vitally affected their right to individual existence as well as that of their families. 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.

As heretofore stated, the primacy of human rights — freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of petition for redress of grievances — over property rights has been sustained. 18 Emphatic reiteration of this basic tenet as a coveted boon — at once the shield and armor of the dignity and worth of the human personality, the all-consuming ideal of our enlightened civilization — becomes Our duty, if freedom and social justice have any meaning at all for him who toils so that capital can produce economic goods that can generate happiness for all. 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 "a potent means of inhibiting speech" and therefore inflicts a moral as well as mortal wound on the constitutional guarantees of free expression, of peaceful assembly and of petition. 19

The collective bargaining agreement which fixes the working shifts of the employees, according to the respondent Court Industrial Relations, in effect imposes on the workers the "duty ... to observe regular working hours." The strain construction of the Court of Industrial Relations that a stipulated working shifts deny the workers the right to stage mass demonstration against police abuses during working hours, constitutes a virtual tyranny over the mind and life the workers and deserves severe condemnation. Renunciation of the freedom should not be predicated on such a slender ground.

The mass demonstration staged by the employees on March 4, 1969 could not have been legally enjoined by any court, such an injunction would be trenching upon the freedom expression of the workers, even if it legally appears to be illegal picketing or strike. 20 The respondent Court of Industrial Relations in the case at bar concedes that the mass demonstration was not a declaration of a strike "as the same not rooted in any industrial dispute although there is concerted act and the occurrence of a temporary stoppage work." (Annex "F", p. 45, rec.).

The respondent firm claims that there was no need for all its employees to participate in the demonstration and that they suggested to the Union that only the first and regular shift from 6 A.M. to 2 P.M. should report for work in order that loss or damage to the firm will be averted. This stand failed appreciate the sine qua non of an effective demonstration especially by a labor union, namely the complete unity of the Union members as well as their total presence at the demonstration site in order to generate the maximum sympathy for the validity of their cause but also immediately action on the part of the corresponding government agencies with jurisdiction over the issues they raised against the local police. Circulation is one of the aspects of freedom of expression. 21 If demonstrators are reduced by one-third, then by that much the circulation of the issues raised by the demonstration is diminished. The more the participants, the more persons can be apprised of the purpose of the rally. Moreover, the absence of one-third of their members will be regarded as a substantial indication of disunity in their ranks which will enervate their position and abet continued alleged police persecution. At any rate, the Union notified the company two days in advance of their projected demonstration and the company could have made arrangements to counteract or prevent whatever losses it might sustain by reason of the absence of its workers for one day, especially in this case when the Union requested it to excuse only the day-shift employees who will join the demonstration on March 4, 1969 which request the Union reiterated in their telegram received by the company at 9:50 in the morning of March 4, 1969, the day of the mass demonstration (pp. 42-43, rec.). 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.


The respondent company is the one guilty of unfair labor practice. Because the refusal on the part of the respondent firm to permit all its employees and workers to join the mass demonstration against alleged police abuses and the subsequent separation of the eight (8) petitioners from the service constituted an unconstitutional restraint on the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom petition for redress of grievances, the respondent firm committed an 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."

We repeat that the obvious purpose of the mass demonstration staged by the workers of the respondent firm on March 4, 1969, was for their mutual aid and protection against alleged police abuses, denial of which was interference with or restraint on the right of the employees to engage in such common action to better shield themselves against such alleged police indignities. The insistence on the part of the respondent firm that the workers for the morning and regular shift should not participate in the mass demonstration, under pain of dismissal, was as heretofore stated, "a potent means of inhibiting speech." 22

Such a concerted action for their mutual help and protection deserves at least equal protection as the concerted action of employees in giving publicity to a letter complaint charging bank president with immorality, nepotism, favoritism an discrimination in the appointment and promotion of ban employees. 23 We further ruled in the Republic Savings Bank case, supra, that for the employees to come within the protective mantle of Section 3 in relation to Section 4(a-1) on Republic Act No. 875, "it is not necessary that union activity be involved or that collective bargaining be contemplated," as long as the concerted activity is for the furtherance of their interests. 24

As stated clearly in the stipulation of facts embodied in the questioned order of respondent Court dated September 15, 1969, the company, "while expressly acknowledging, that the demonstration is an inalienable right of the Union guaranteed by the Constitution," nonetheless emphasized that "any demonstration for that matter should not unduly prejudice the normal operation of the company" and "warned the PBMEO representatives that workers who belong to the first and regular shifts, who without previous leave of absence approved by the Company, particularly the officers present who are the organizers of the demonstration, who shall fail to report for work the following morning (March 4, 1969) shall be dismissed, because such failure is a violation of the existing CBA and, therefore, would be amounting to an illegal strike (;)" (p. III, petitioner's brief). Such threat of dismissal tended to coerce the employees from joining the mass demonstration. However, the issues that the employees raised against the local police, were more important to them because they had the courage to proceed with the demonstration, despite such threat of dismissal. 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.

Because the respondent company ostensibly did not find it necessary to demand from the workers proof of the truth of the alleged abuses inflicted on them by the local police, it thereby concedes that the evidence of such abuses should properly be submitted to the corresponding authorities having jurisdiction over their complaint and to whom such complaint may be referred by the President of the Philippines for proper investigation and action with a view to disciplining the local police officers involved.

On the other hand, while the respondent Court of Industrial Relations found that the demonstration "paralyzed to a large extent the operations of the complainant company," the respondent Court of Industrial Relations did not make any finding as to the fact of loss actually sustained by the firm. This significant circumstance can only mean that the firm did not sustain any loss or damage. It did not present evidence as to whether it lost expected profits for failure to comply with purchase orders on that day; or that penalties were exacted from it by customers whose orders could not be filled that day of the demonstration; or that purchase orders were cancelled by the customers by reason of its failure to deliver the materials ordered; or that its own equipment or materials or products were damaged due to absence of its workers on March 4, 1969. On the contrary, the company saved a sizable amount in the form of wages for its hundreds of workers, cost of fuel, water and electric consumption that day. Such savings could have amply compensated for unrealized profits or damages it might have sustained by reason of the absence of its workers for only one day.


Apart from violating the constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly as well as the right to petition for redress of grievances of the employees, the dismissal of the eight (8) leaders of the workers 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 ...". Respondent Court of Industrial Relations as an agency of the State is under obligation at all times to give meaning and substance to these constitutional guarantees in favor of the working man; for otherwise these constitutional safeguards would be merely a lot of "meaningless constitutional patter." 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." It is most unfortunate in the case at bar that respondent Court of Industrial Relations, the very governmental agency designed therefor, failed to implement this policy and failed to keep faith with its avowed mission — its raison d'etre — as ordained and directed by the Constitution.


It has been likewise established that a violation of a constitutional right divests the court of jurisdiction; and as a consequence its judgment is null and void and confers no rights. 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. Thus, habeas corpus is the remedy to obtain the release of an individual, who is convicted by final judgment through a forced confession, which violated his constitutional right against self-incrimination; 25 or who is denied the right to present evidence in his defense as a deprivation of his liberty without due process of law, 26 even after the accused has already served sentence for twenty-two years. 27

Both the respondents Court of Industrial Relations and private firm trenched upon these constitutional immunities of petitioners. Both failed to accord preference to such rights and aggravated the inhumanity to which the aggrieved workers claimed they had been subjected by the municipal police. Having violated these basic human rights of the laborers, the Court of Industrial Relations ousted itself of jurisdiction and the questioned orders it issued in the instant case are a nullity. Recognition and protection of such freedoms are imperative on all public offices including the courts 28 as well as private citizens and corporations, the exercise and enjoyment of which must not be nullified by mere procedural rule promulgated by the Court Industrial Relations exercising a purely delegate legislative power, when even a law enacted by Congress must yield to the untrammelled enjoyment of these human rights. 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. 28-a


The Court of Industrial Relations rule prescribes that motion for reconsideration of its order or writ should filed within five (5) days from notice thereof and that the arguments in support of said motion shall be filed within ten (10) days from the date of filing of such motion for reconsideration (Sec. 16). As above intimated, these rules of procedure were promulgated by the Court of Industrial Relations pursuant to a legislative delegation. 29

The motion for reconsideration was filed on September 29, 1969, or seven (7) days from notice on September 22, 1969 of the order dated September 15, 1969 or two (2) days late. Petitioners claim that they could have filed it on September 28, 1969, but it was a Sunday.

Does the mere fact that the motion for reconsideration was filed two (2) days late defeat the rights of the petitioning employees? Or more directly and concretely, does the inadvertent omission to comply with a mere Court of Industrial Relations procedural rule governing the period for filing a motion for reconsideration or appeal in labor cases, promulgated pursuant to a legislative delegation, prevail over constitutional rights? The answer should be obvious in the light of the aforecited cases. To accord supremacy to the foregoing rules of the Court of Industrial Relations over basic human rights sheltered by the Constitution, is not only incompatible with the basic tenet of constitutional government that the Constitution is superior to any statute or subordinate rules and regulations, but also does violence to natural reason and logic. The dominance and superiority of the constitutional right over the aforesaid Court of Industrial Relations procedural rule of necessity should be affirmed. Such a Court of Industrial Relations rule as applied in this case does not implement or reinforce or strengthen the constitutional rights affected,' but instead constrict the same to the point of nullifying the enjoyment thereof by the petitioning employees. Said Court of Industrial Relations rule, promulgated as it was pursuant to a mere legislative delegation, is unreasonable and therefore is beyond the authority granted by the Constitution and the law. A period of five (5) days within which to file a motion for reconsideration is too short, especially for the aggrieved workers, who usually do not have the ready funds to meet the necessary expenses therefor. In case of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, a period of fifteen (15) days has been fixed for the filing of the motion for re hearing or reconsideration (See. 10, Rule 51; Sec. 1, Rule 52; Sec. 1, Rule 56, Revised Rules of Court). The delay in the filing of the motion for reconsideration could have been only one day if September 28, 1969 was not a Sunday. This fact accentuates the unreasonableness of the Court of Industrial are concerned.

It should be stressed here that the motion for reconsideration dated September 27, 1969, is based on the ground that the order sought to be reconsidered "is not in accordance with law, evidence and facts adduced during the hearing," and likewise prays for an extension of ten (10) days within which to file arguments pursuant to Sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Rules of the Court of Industrial Relations (Annex "G", pp. 57-60, rec.); although the arguments were actually filed by the herein petitioners on October 14, 1969 (Annex "I", pp. 70-73, rec.), long after the 10-day period required for the filing of such supporting arguments counted from the filing of the motion for reconsideration. Herein petitioners received only on October 28, 1969 the resolution dated October 9, 1969 dismissing the motion for reconsideration for being pro forma since it was filed beyond the reglementary period (Annex "J", pp. 74-75, rec.)

It is true that We ruled in several cases that where a motion to reconsider is filed out of time, or where the arguments in suppf such motion are filed beyond the 10 day reglementary period provided for by the Court of Industrial Relations rules, the order or decision subject of 29-a reconsideration becomes final and unappealable. But in all these cases, the constitutional rights of free expression, free assembly and petition were not involved.

It is a procedural rule that generally all causes of action and defenses presently available must be specifically raised in the complaint or answer; so that any cause of action or defense not raised in such pleadings, is deemed waived. However, a constitutional issue can be raised any time, even for the first time on appeal, if it appears that the determination of the constitutional issue is necessary to a decision of the case, the very lis mota of the case without the resolution of which no final and complete determination of the dispute can be made. 30 It is thus seen that a procedural rule of Congress or of the Supreme Court gives way to a constitutional right. In the instant case, the procedural rule of the Court of Industrial Relations, a creature of Congress, must likewise yield to the constitutional rights invoked by herein petitioners even before the institution of the unfair labor practice charged against them and in their defense to the said charge.

In the case at bar, 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. 30-a

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." 30-b Mr. Justice Barredo in his concurring opinion in Estrada vs. Sto. Domingo. 30-c reiterated this principle and added that

Under this authority, this Court is enabled to cove with all situations without concerning itself about procedural niceties that do not square with the need to do justice, in any case, without further loss of time, provided that the right of the parties to a full day in court is not substantially impaired. Thus, this Court may treat an appeal as a certiorari and vice-versa. In other words, when all the material facts are spread in the records before Us, and all the parties have been duly heard, it matters little that the error of the court a quo is of judgment or of jurisdiction. We can then and there render the appropriate judgment. Is within the contemplation of this doctrine that as it is perfectly legal and within the power of this Court to strike down in an appeal acts without or in excess of jurisdiction or committed with grave abuse of discretion, it cannot be beyond the admit of its authority, in appropriate cases, to reverse in a certain proceed in any error of judgment of a court a quo which cannot be exactly categorized as a flaw of jurisdiction. If there can be any doubt, which I do not entertain, on whether or not the errors this Court has found in the decision of the Court of Appeals are short of being jurisdiction nullities or excesses, this Court would still be on firm legal grounds should it choose to reverse said decision here and now even if such errors can be considered as mere mistakes of judgment or only as faults in the exercise of jurisdiction, so as to avoid the unnecessary return of this case to the lower court for the sole purpose of pursuing the ordinary course of an appeal. (Emphasis supplied). 30-d

Insistence on the application of the questioned Court industrial Relations rule in this particular case at bar would an unreasoning adherence to "Procedural niceties" which denies justice to the herein laborers, whose basic human freedoms, including the right to survive, must be according supremacy over the property rights of their employer firm which has been given a full hearing on this case, especially when, as in the case at bar, no actual material damage has be demonstrated as having been inflicted on its property rights.

If We can disregard our own rules when justice requires it, obedience to the Constitution renders more imperative the suspension of a Court of Industrial Relations rule that clash with the human rights sanctioned and shielded with resolution concern by the specific guarantees outlined in the organic law. It should be stressed that the application in the instant case Section 15 of the Court of Industrial Relations rules relied upon by herein respondent firm is unreasonable and therefore such application becomes unconstitutional as it subverts the human rights of petitioning labor union and workers in the light of the peculiar facts and circumstances revealed by the record.

The suspension of the application of Section 15 of the Court of Industrial Relations rules with reference to the case at is also authorized by Section 20 of Commonwealth Act No. 103, the C.I.R. charter, which enjoins the Court of Industrial Relations to "act according to justice and equity and substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms ..."

On several occasions, We emphasized this doctrine which was re-stated by Mr. Justice Barredo, speaking for the Court, in the 1970 case of Kapisanan, etc. vs. Hamilton, etc., et. al., 30-e thus:

As to the point that the evidence being offered by the petitioners in the motion for new trial is not "newly discovered," as such term is understood in the rules of procedure for the ordinary courts, We hold that such criterion is not binding upon the Court of Industrial Relations. Under Section 20 of Commonwealth Act No. 103, 'The Court of Industrial Relations shall adopt its, rules or procedure and shall have such other powers as generally pertain to a court of justice: Provided, however, That in the hearing, investigation and determination of any question or controversy and in exercising any duties and power under this Act, the Court shall act according to justice and equity and substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms and shall not be bound by any technical rules of legal evidence but may inform its mind in such manner as it may deem just and equitable.' By this provision the industrial court is disengaged from the rigidity of the technicalities applicable to ordinary courts. Said court is not even restricted to the specific relief demanded by the parties but may issue such orders as may be deemed necessary or expedient for the purpose of settling the dispute or dispelling any doubts that may give rise to future disputes. (Ang Tibay v. C.I.R., G.R. No. 46496, Feb. 17, 1940; Manila Trading & Supply Co. v. Phil. Labor, 71 Phil. 124.) For these reasons, We believe that this provision is ample enough to have enabled the respondent court to consider whether or not its previous ruling that petitioners constitute a minority was founded on fact, without regard to the technical meaning of newly discovered evidence. ... (Alonso v. Villamor, 16 Phil. 315; Chua Kiong v. Whitaker, 46 Phil. 578). (emphasis supplied.)

To apply Section 15 of the Court of Industrial Relations rules with "pedantic rigor" in the instant case is to rule in effect that the poor workers, who can ill-afford an alert competent lawyer, can no longer seek the sanctuary of human freedoms secured to them by the fundamental law, simply because their counsel — erroneously believing that he received a copy of the decision on September 23, 1969, instead of September 22, 1969 - filed his motion for reconsideration September 29, 1969, which practically is only one day late considering that September 28, 1969 was a Sunday.

Many a time, this Court deviated from procedure technicalities when they ceased to be instruments of justice, for the attainment of which such rules have been devised. Summarizing the jurisprudence on this score, Mr. Justice Fernando, speaking for a unanimous Court in Palma vs. Oreta, 30-f Stated:

As was so aptly expressed by Justice Moreland in Alonso v. Villamor (16 Phil. 315 [1910]. The Villamor decision was cited with approval in Register of Deeds v. Phil. Nat. Bank, 84 Phil. 600 [1949]; Potenciano v. Court of Appeals, 104 Phil. 156 [1958] and Uy v. Uy, 14243, June 30, 1961, 2 SCRA 675.), decided as far back as 1910, "technicality. when it deserts its proper-office as an aid to justice and becomes its great hindrance and chief enemy, deserves scant consideration from courts." (Ibid., p, 322.) To that norm, this Court has remained committed. The late Justice Recto in Blanco v. Bernabe, (63 Phil. 124 [1936]) was of a similar mind. For him the interpretation of procedural rule should never "sacrifice the ends justice." While "procedural laws are no other than technicalities" view them in their entirety, 'they were adopted not as ends themselves for the compliance with which courts have organized and function, but as means conducive to the realization the administration of the law and of justice (Ibid., p.,128). We have remained steadfastly opposed, in the highly rhetorical language Justice Felix, to "a sacrifice of substantial rights of a litigant in altar of sophisticated technicalities with impairment of the sacred principles of justice." (Potenciano v. Court of Appeals, 104 Phil. 156, 161 [1958]). As succinctly put by Justice Makalintal, they "should give way to the realities of the situation." (Urbayan v. Caltex, L-15379, Aug. 31, 1962, 5 SCRA 1016, 1019). In the latest decision in point promulgated in 1968, (Udan v. Amon, (1968, 23 SCRA citing McEntee v. Manotok, L-14968, Oct. 27, 1961, 3 SCRA 272.) Justice Zaldivar was partial to an earlier formulation of Justice Labrador that rules of procedure "are not to be applied in a very rigid, technical sense"; but are intended "to help secure substantial justice." (Ibid., p. 843) ... 30-g

Even if the questioned Court of Industrial Relations orders and rule were to be given effect, the dismissal or termination of the employment of the petitioning eight (8) leaders of the Union is harsh for a one-day absence from work. The respondent Court itself recognized the severity of such a sanction when it did not include the dismissal of the other 393 employees who are members of the same Union and who participated in the demonstration against the Pasig police. As a matter of fact, upon the intercession of the Secretary of Labor, the Union members who are not officers, were not dismissed and only the Union itself and its thirteen (13) officers were specifically named as respondents in the unfair labor practice charge filed against them by the firm (pp. 16-20, respondent's Brief; Annexes "A", "B" and "C", pp. 20-30, rec.). Counsel for respondent firm insinuates that not all the 400 or so employee participated in the demonstration, for which reason only the Union and its thirteen (13) officers were specifically named in the unfair labor practice charge (p. 20, respondent's brief). If that were so, then many, if not all, of the morning and regular shifts reported for work on March 4, 1969 and that, as a consequence, the firm continued in operation that day and did not sustain any damage.

The appropriate penalty — if it deserves any penalty at all — should have been simply to charge said one-day absence against their vacation or sick leave. But to dismiss the eight (8) leaders of the petitioner Union is a most cruel penalty, since as aforestated the Union leaders depend on their wages for their daily sustenance as well as that of their respective families aside from the fact that it is a lethal blow to unionism, while at the same time strengthening the oppressive hand of the petty tyrants in the localities.

Mr. Justice Douglas articulated this pointed reminder:

The challenge to our liberties comes frequently not from those who consciously seek to destroy our system of Government, but from men of goodwill — good men who allow their proper concerns to blind them to the fact that what they propose to accomplish involves an impairment of liberty.

... The Motives of these men are often commendable. What we must remember, however, is that preservation of liberties does not depend on motives. A suppression of liberty has the same effect whether the suppress or be a reformer or an outlaw. The only protection against misguided zeal is a constant alertness of the infractions of the guarantees of liberty contained in our Constitution. Each surrender of liberty to the demands of the moment makes easier another, larger surrender. The battle over the Bill of Rights is a never ending one.

... The liberties of any person are the liberties of all of us.

... In short, the Liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected.

... But even if we should sense no danger to our own liberties, even if we feel secure because we belong to a group that is important and respected, we must recognize that our Bill of Rights is a code of fair play for the less fortunate that we in all honor and good conscience must be observe. 31

The case at bar is worse.

Management has shown not only lack of good-will or good intention, but a complete lack of sympathetic understanding of the plight of its laborers who claim that they are being subjected to indignities by the local police, It was more expedient for the firm to conserve its income or profits than to assist its employees in their fight for their freedoms and security against alleged petty tyrannies of local police officers. This is sheer opportunism. Such opportunism and expediency resorted to by the respondent company assaulted the immunities and welfare of its employees. It was pure and implement selfishness, if not greed.

Of happy relevance is the 1967 case of Republic Savings Bank vs. C.I.R., 32 where the petitioner Bank dismissed eight (8) employees for having written and published "a patently libelous letter ... to the Bank president demanding his resignation on the grounds of immorality, nepotism in the appointment and favoritism as well as discrimination in the promotion of bank employees." Therein, thru Mr. Justice Castro, We ruled:

It will avail the Bank none to gloat over this admission of the respondents. Assuming that the latter acted in their individual capacities when they wrote the letter-charge they were nonetheless protected for they were engaged in concerted activity, in the exercise of their right of self organization that includes concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, (Section 3 of the Industrial Peace Act ...) This is the view of some members of this Court. For, as has been aptly stated, the joining in protests or demands, even by a small group of employees, if in furtherance of their interests as such, is a concerted activity protected by the Industrial Peace Act. It is not necessary that union activity be involved or that collective bargaining be contemplated. (Annot., 6 A.L.R. 2d 416 [1949]).

xxx xxx xxx

Instead of stifling criticism, the Bank should have allowed the respondents to air their grievances.

xxx xxx xxx

The Bank defends its action by invoking its right to discipline for what it calls the respondents' libel in giving undue publicity to their letter-charge. To be sure, the right of self-organization of employees is not unlimited (Republic Aviation Corp. vs. NLRB 324 U.S. 793 [1945]), as the right of the employer to discharge for cause (Philippine Education Co. v. Union of Phil. Educ. Employees, L-13773, April 29, 1960) is undenied. The Industrial Peace Act does not touch the normal exercise of the right of the employer to select his employees or to discharge them. It is directed solely against the abuse of that right by interfering with the countervailing right of self organization (Phelps Dodge Corp. v. NLRB 313 U.S. 177 [1941])...

xxx xxx xxx

In the final sum and substance, this Court is in unanimity that the Bank's conduct, identified as an interference with the employees' right of self-organization or as a retaliatory action, and/or as a refusal to bargain collectively, constituted an unfair labor practice within the meaning and intendment of section 4(a) of the Industrial Peace Act. (Emphasis supplied.) 33

If free expression was accorded recognition and protection to fortify labor unionism in the Republic Savings case, supra, where the complaint assailed the morality and integrity of the bank president no less, such recognition and protection for free speech, free assembly and right to petition are rendered all the more justifiable and more imperative in the case at bar, where the mass demonstration was not against the company nor any of its officers.

WHEREFORE, judgement is hereby rendered:

(1) setting aside as null and void the orders of the respondent Court of Industrial Relations dated September 15 and October 9, 1969; and

(2) directing the re instatement of the herein eight (8) petitioners, with full back pay from the date of their separation from the service until re instated, minus one day's pay and whatever earnings they might have realized from other sources during their separation from the service.

With costs against private respondent Philippine Blooming Company, Inc.

Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando and Esguerra, JJ., concur.

Makalintal, C.J, took no part.