The dissolution of NWRHLU, a supervening event, is a matter which appellate courts can take judicial notice of even though the same is raised for the first time on appeal. For such dissolution deprives these courts of judicial authority to resolve the case, there being no longer any actual case or controversy since one of the parties, a real party in interest, has ceased to be.
Thus, the Supreme Court (SC) held as follows:
New World International Development (Phil.), Inc., vs. New World Renaissance Hotel Labor Union
G.R. No. 197889, July 28, 2021
Moot and academic; A case becomes moot when it ceases to present a justiciable controversy such that its adjudication would not yield any practical value or use; It can no longer grant any relief or enforce any right, and anything it says on the matter will have no practical use or value; Without any legal relief that may be granted, courts generally decline to resolve moot cases, lest the ruling result in a mere advisory opinion; Indeed, the power of the Court to adjudicate is limited to actual ongoing controversies; Dissolution of a union; The dissolution of NWRHLU by its own members is a supervening event which rendered the case moot.
In NLRC-NCR Case No. 02-01243-05, respondent New World Renaissance Hotel Labor Union (NWRHLU/Union) filed with the NLRC a complaint for unfair labor practice against New World Hotel, et al. New World International Development (Phil.), Inc. (“hotel”), Stephan Stoss (owner), and Geuel Auste (Director of Human Resources) for unfair labor practice (New World Hotel, et al.).
Following the certification election held on July 10, 2002, NWRHLU was certified as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of all rank and file employees of the hotel. On September 3, 2002, it submitted its proposal for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to the hotel management but failed to get a response from the latter. For this reason and considering the incidents of harassment against its officers and members, it was constrained to resort to preventive mediation proceeding before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) on September 25, 2002.
On March 4, 2003, NWRHLU submitted to New World Hotel, et al. its amended CBA proposal. New World Hotel, et al.’ counsel replied that since a petition for cancellation of the union’s certification as bargaining agent then pended before the Department of Labor and Employment – National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR), it was more prudent to await the outcome of the aforesaid petition.
The petition for cancellation was filed by a certain Diwa Dadap and 197 employees of the hotel on September 1 7, 2002, a week after the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) denied the appeal of the hotel against the dismissal of its petition for cancellation and a day after the opposition of the hotel to the conduct of certification election also got denied. On May 8, 2003, DOLE-NCR dismissed the petition for cancellation. Diwa Dadap appealed to the BLR under BLR0A-C-73-8-15-03.
By Resolution dated December 17 2003, the BLR dismissed the appeal and subsequently entered judgment on January 16, 2004. On February 26, 2004, Diwa Dadap assailed this Resolution before the Court of Appeals via a special civil action for certiorari, docketed CA-G.R. SP No. 82428.
Meantime, the union filed a similar complaint, followed by an amended complaint, for unfair legal practice, as in here, docketed as NLRC Case No. 00-07-07978-2003. Both complaint and amended complaint were anchored on the alleged failure of the hotel to consider the September 2002 CBA proposal and the March 2003 Amended CBA proposal submitted by the union.
By Decision dated March 22, 2004 in NLRC Case No. 00-07-07978-2003, the labor arbiter dismissed the complaint for unfair labor practice on ground of prematurity. The labor arbiter held that the cause of action of the union would accrue only after the assailed BLR Resolution dated December 17, 2003 shall have been affirmed with finality by the Court of Appeals.
On November 16, 2004, it submitted to the hotel its third amended CBA proposal dated November 8, 2004, informing the latter that the BLR Resolution December 17, 2003 had already attained finality on January 16, 2004. By Letter dated November 22, 2004, the hotel asserted that contrary to this statement, the Court of Appeals had yet to resolve its petition for certiorari against the BLR Resolution December 17, 2003. In truth, however, the Court of Appeals had already promulgated its Decision dated November 17, 2004, dismissing the aforesaid petition. Though it was possible that the hotel had not yet received a copy of the decision at the time they sent their letter to the union.
Meantime, the hotel started discriminating against the union officers. Union Secretary Joselito Santillana, who was before given a positive rating as Receiving Clerk – Store Room Department, was demoted to Bellman, albeit without diminution of benefits. Thereafter, the hotel hired two (2) casuals to perform his former task. Union officers Ramil Elnar and Norberto De Villa, both Public Area Attendants, were demoted
to Stewards, though likewise without diminution of benefits. Two (2) casuals were hired to perform their former tasks.
Consequently, the union got constrained to revive the earlier complaint for unfair labor practice through the present complaint. New World Hotel, et al. alleged that it was correct in refusing to negotiate with NWRHLU since the resolution of the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No. 82428 is a prejudicial question. Also, the petition for cancellation of certification filed by Diwa Dadap and 197 employees casts doubt on NWRHLU’s status as collective bargaining agent. The hotel cannot be faulted for being cautious and prudent.
The transfer of the aforenamed employees was a valid exercise of management prerogative in good faith. The transfer was done in good faith and in furtherance of the hotel’s operational needs and legitimate business reasons. In fact, they were even consulted prior to their transfer. They accepted it though without hesitation and only months later did they raise their objections.
Labor Arbiter (LA) Veneranda C. Guerrero found New World Hotel, et al. not liable for unfair labor practice. She ruled that New World Hotel, et al. had a valid reason not to negotiate with NWRHLU in light of the petition for cancellation of NWRHLU’s certification.
New World Hotel, et al. were only observing judicial courtesy, thus, they were not guilty of unfair labor practice for refusing to negotiate with NWRHLU. Additionally, NWRHLU failed to adduce documentary evidence to show that there was in fact demotion, not merely transfer, of union officers. There can be no demotion if there was non-diminution of benefits.
NWRHLU appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The NLRC affirmed the LA Decision. NWRHLU sought a reconsideration which the NLRC denied.
Thus, NWRHLU filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA).
The Court of Appeals reversed and ruled that: a) the pendency of a cancellation proceedings against a union is not a bar to set in motion the mechanics of collective bargaining: b) New World Hotel, et al.’ refusal to negotiate, despite the final and executory BLR Resolution dated December 17, 2003 demonstrated New World Hotel, et al.’ utter lack of interest in bargaining with NWRHLU, amounting to bad faith and unfair labor practice; and c) NWRHLU is entitled to attorney’s fees because it was compelled to litigate in order to protect its interest.
New World Hotel, et al. filed a Motion for Reconsideration reiterating that the labor arbiter and the NLRC did not commit grave abuse of discretion when they dismissed the complaint. At any rate, there was no basis for the award of attorney’s fees.
In New World Hotel, et al.’s Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration, they sought to dismiss the case on ground of mootness, citing the following supervening event: on December 27, 2005, twenty-four (24) resolutions were passed by the rank and file employees (members) who grouped themselves in accordance with their respective stations or departments in the hotel.
Through these resolutions, the rank-and-file employees (members) decreed the dissolution of the union. Through Letters dated December 27, 200527 and January 17, 2006, the members (employees) officially relayed this development to BLR Director Atty. Henry Parel and Assistant Regional Director of DOLE-NCR Atty. Agatha Ann Daquigan, respectively.
The CA affirmed its Decision. As for the issue of mootness, the Court of Appeals ruled that having been belatedly raised for the first time on appeal, the same cannot be resolved in the appellate proceedings.
Whether or not the dissolution of the members of the union of their union mooted the case the union filed against the employer
Whether or not a moot case still requires adjudication
A case becomes moot when it ceases to present a justiciable controversy such that its adjudication would not yield any practical value or use.34 It can no longer grant any relief or enforce any right, and anything it says on the matter will have no practical use or value. Without any legal relief that may be granted, courts generally decline to resolve moot cases, lest the ruling result in a mere advisory opinion.35 Indeed, the power of the Court to adjudicate is limited to actual ongoing controversies. Thus, and as a general rule, this Court will not decide moot questions, or abstract propositions, or declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the result as to the thing in issue in the case before it.
Here, the dissolution of NWRHLU by its own members is a supervening event which rendered the case moot. Abrigo v. Flores explains the concept of ‘supervening event’ as an event consists of facts that transpire after the judgment became final and executory, or of new circumstances that develop after the judgment attained finality, including matters that the parties were not aware of prior to or during the trial because such matters were not yet in existence at that time.
Verily, the dissolution of NWRHLU, a supervening event, is a matter which appellate courts can take judicial notice of even though the same is raised for the first time on appeal. For such dissolution deprives these courts of judicial authority to resolve the case, there being no longer any actual case or controversy since one of the parties, a real party in interest, has ceased to be. A real party in interest is a component of the concept of ‘justiciable controversy’ as explained in AMCOW v. GCC, whether a case actually exists depends on the pleaded allegations, as affected by the elements of standing (translated in civil actions as the status of being a “real-party-in-interest,” in criminal actions as “offended party” and in special proceedings as “interested party”).
Any decision rendered for or against a person who is not a real party in interest in the case cannot be executed. Here, it would be pointless to adjudicate the case because there is no way NWRHLU can still benefit from the judgment being prayed for here precisely because NWRHLU had long ceased to be. A bare accusation that the members were allegedly forced or coerced to dissolve the union does not negate the fact of dissolution which the members themselves promptly relayed to the concerned labor agencies. So must it be.