By Perfecto T. Raymundo
MANILA, Aug. 31 (PNA) — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) finding that Janet Lim Napoles’ JLN Corporation illegally dismissed its employees.
In a seven-page ruling dated Aug. 17, 2015 and written by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, the CA’s Ninth Division denied due course and dismissed the petition filed by JLN and Napoles against the NLRC ruling on the case of Mary Arlene B. Baltazar and Marina C. Sula.
Baltazar and Sula are some of the witnesses on the graft and plunder cases against Napoles and several private and public individuals in connection with the pork barrel fund scam.
The NLRC ordered Napoles and JLN on Feb. 27, 2015 to pay both Baltazar and Sula separation pay, backwages and unpaid salaries and 10 percent of the judgment award as attorney’s fees.
This prompted Napoles to seek redress with the CA.
In its Aug. 17, 2015 decision, the CA ruled that the petition assailing the NLRC decision must fail.
“Petitioners’ bare denial of the authenticity of the payslips and IDs presented by private respondents [employees]…cannot prevail over the probative value of these documents and the credence given them by the labor tribunals which had the opportunity of closely scrutinizing them. These documents clearly indicate that private respondents were regular employees of JLN Corporation,” the CA said.
The CA also ruled that when Baltazar testified before the Sandiganbayan that she was a freelance bookkeeper, she did not mean she was not an employee of JLN Corporation.
“After a judicious evaluation of the petition and its attachments, including the assailed issuances, this Court finds and so holds that the NLRC acted in accordance with law and evidence in finding that private respondents (employees) were illegally dismissed, and ordering payment of their separation pay, backwages and unpaid salaries,” the CA said.
The CA added that Sula’s post as president of a non-government organization (NGO) did not preclude her employment with JLN.
The CA stressed that in truth, it was Napoles herself who allegedly planned that Sula, at least on paper, should appear to have severed her employment with JLN “to pave the way to her assumption of the presidency of Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAPMFI), also on paper.”
“Since this arrangement was only good on paper, Sula continued to work as JLN Corporation’s employee, performing the same tasks she did in the past. She also continued to receive her salary as JLN’s [finance clerk],” the CA said.
Concurring in the ruling were Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Melchor Sadang. (PNA)