The Regional Trial Court of Batangas Branch 3 issued an order asking Steel Corporation of the Philippines (SCP) to undergo liquidation proceedings. As a result, about 300 employees of the said corporation are now in danger of losing their jobs.
Aggrieved, the employees protest about what the decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court. According to them, it is a clear violation of Labor Code of the Philippines. Aside from this, the employees of SCP stressed that the rehab court disregarded the earlier orders of the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court where there are still pending cases filed by the group in connection with the issue.
Just recently, about 50 workers of Steel Corporation of the Philippines went to Batangas Hall of Justice to express their protest about the decision rendered by Judge Ruben Galvez of RTC Branch 3. They alleged that said judge has lack of knowledge about the real state of their company. They fear losing their jobs espeically that the Christmas season is approaching.
“Magkano ang perang involved Judge?!” (How much money is involved Judge?!), the angry employees voiced out in front of Batangas City Hall of Justice of Justice as they asked Judge Galvez to inhibit from the case. The legal counsel of SCP has already filed a Motion to Intervene with Motion to Suspend Execution of the Order of Liquidation.
According to Atty. Herman Nicdao, the implementation of the order will lead to failure of SCP workers to receive their wages. More than 300 employees will not be able to get what is due to them. Atty. Nicddao called on Judge Galvez to resolve the dispute as soon as possible for the sake the families of SCP employees.
“Although BDO assured that if the liquidation proceedings is carried out, they will take care of the financial aspect of the affected workers, what assurance can they give that they are talking about the continuous employment of the workers and not talking about the separation pay of the workers?” Nicdao asked.
He also reiterated that implementation of the liquidation proceedings can be considered a court blunder without the issuance of a 30-day prior notice to the employees for work stoppage as stated in the Labor Code.
“As I stressed earlier, the SCP was in full operation prior to the issuance of the liquidation proceedings. There is no reason to cease operation. So under the law, a 30-day prior notice is required before an employee may be terminated,” he added.
Atty. Nicdao also said that the whole workforce of Steel Corporation of the Philippines is not fully and formally informed of the reasons why the company will cease operation. While there are ongoing debate by the counsels from both parties, it was noted that BDO has yet to give an assurance that employees of SCP will be absorbed once they take over the company.
Moreover, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, another counsel for SCP, shared that it is indicated in the corporation code that in cases of liquidation proceedings, the baseline of loans and credits should be made clear to every stake holders.
“In the present case, the baseline has not yet been accurately determined… There are several entities whose interests also have to be considered by the court… There are the labor force, the unsecured creditors, and the stockholders.”
Atty. Topacio explained that there are other creditors who are part of the case aside from BDO who agreed to defer the liquidation for the meantime to determine accurately the loan amount SCP got from each creditor.
“Since the properties are in custodia legis anyway, election of a liquidator is not yet necessary,” he pointed out. “We implore the court to have a second look.”
Same with the other counsel of SCP, Atty. Topacio hopes that justice will be served not only for the interest of the company but also for the welfare of the 300 employees who are in peril of losing a source of living.
It was earlier reported that the order for liquidation proceedings transpired after SCP loaned an amount of P1.3-B from different creditors that includes Banco De Oro (BDO) which is owned by business tycoon Henry Sy of SM.
Reports say that BDO immediately filed a petition to place SCP under corporate rehabilitation after the later failed to pay for the loan on time which led to the liquidation proceedings as directed by Judge Galvez. Once the proceedings are completed, BDO can easily take control of SCP and all its assets.
It was also revealed that court-appointed receiver Atty. Norma Singson De Leon recently issued a report that SCP is no longer operating rather it was placed under “maintained” and “padlocked” status. This was then followed by the issuance of the liquidation order from Galvez.
SCP Employees Union President Ruben Rodriguez denied the allegations and stated that their company is 100% fully operational. “Hindi kailanman tumigil ang operasyon ng aming kumpanya. Baka ang sinasabi nila ay yung pagpapahinto ng operation ng isa sa aming linya na bihira din namang nangyayari. Pero kapag hininto ang isang linya, ay tuloy pa rin ang trabaho ng lahat dahil inililipat ang ilan sa amin sa ibang linya kaya’t walang nababakanteng trabahador sa min!” Rodriguez emphasized.
The court must immediately act on the issues involving the Steel Corporation of the Philippines and its workers. Failure of the Judiciary to solve the legal issues will result to bigger problems and concerns It is necessary for the Regional Trial Court to check the different facts of the case and decide according to the principles of the law. Without proper resolution, the aggrieved parties may elevate the case to the Court of Appeals. When this happens, every corner of the suit will be rechecked in order to render a new judgment. The RTC decision may be reversed and set aside or it may be affirmed depending on how the review is made.
As of the moment, there is nothing that we can do but to hope that justice will be served to more than three hundred employees of SCP. May they receive what is rightfully due to them.