Leonen blasts SC ruling against DBP grant of bonuses to quell labor unrest
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen has taken exception to the majority’s decision to uphold the Commission on Audit’s (COA) disallowance of the P170.89-million bonuses granted by the Development Bank of the Philippines’ (DBP) to quell a labor unrest in 2003.
The SC in its recent en banc decision said the DBP board of directors’ power to fix the compensation of employees did not include the authority to settle the demands of its labor force.
However, Leonen, in a 12-page dissenting opinion, said the decision constituted “an abridgment of [the employees’] fundamental right and cause prejudice against them, besides being contrary to social justice.”
Disagreeing with the majority’s pronouncement that public sector employees have limited collective bargaining rights, Leonen said the right to labor and the right to form unions were “unassailable” and guaranteed under the 1987 Constitution.
He also pointed out that the state-owned DBM was exempted from the Salary Standardization Law to retain competent personnel and compete with the private sector.
For Leonen, the nature of the DBM’s business also meant that there should be no substantial distinction between its employees and that of private-sector banks and government corporations. Thus, he said DBM employees should enjoy full collective bargaining rights.
“Therefore, excluding economic benefits from the scope of collective bargaining rights of the Development Bank of the Philippines employees is a denial of their inherent and constitutionally protected right, a violation of the equal protection clause for lack of substantial basis, and is contrary to social justice,” he said.