Oops! SC flip-flops on bus wage orderBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Supreme Court on Wednesday recalled an injunction order it issued the previous day which temporarily stopped the government from implementing a fixed salary scheme for bus conductors and drivers in Metro Manila.
Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra, the high court’s acting spokesperson, said the tribunal voted 12-0 in a special en banc session yesterday to defer the enforcement of the status quo ante (SQA) order on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“Since there is no TRO (temporary restraining order) or SQA, the DOLE can implement its department order for a fixed salary scheme for bus drivers and conductors,” Guerra said in a press briefing.
On Tuesday, Guerra said the court voted unanimously to grant the petition filed by the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines, the Southern Luzon Bus Operators Association Inc., the Inter-City Bus Operators Association and the City of San Jose del Monte Bus Operators Association, which sought the issuance of a TRO.
This earlier ruling stopped the DOLE and LTFRB orders which compelled over 150 bus companies to set a regular salary system for some 20,000 drivers and conductors in lieu of the traditional “boundary” or commission system.
“Upon further discussion by the court en banc … (it) resolved to defer the issuance of the status quo ante order and to require (DOLE and LTFRB) to comment within 10 days … on the prayer for a TRO,” Guerra said.
“This resolution supersedes the action taken by the court en banc on July 10, 2012, on the same matter,” she said.
Guerra disclosed that acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio called for the special full-court session on his own or even without the DOLE and LTFRB filing any motion questioning the court’s previous resolution.
Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Roberto Abad did not participate in the discussions since they were still on official leave, she said.
Guerra explained that the tribunal merely wanted to hear the arguments of the DOLE and LTFRB on the bus operators’ petition before deciding if it would enjoin the government from enforcing the new wage system.
In the briefing, a reporter used the term “flip-flop” to phrase a question, to which Guerra replied: “That’s a very loaded question.”
“I’d like to think that the court wants to make sure that its actions are based on (what would be discussed) after hearing both sides. I don’t think you can fault the court for that,” she stressed. “The court thought it is better … to get first the comment from the respondents.”
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz welcomed Wednesday’s ruling, saying her agency will press on “with the serious implementation of (its) order because we believe its reformist provisions will result in a win-win outcome for the bus companies, drivers, conductors and the riding public.” With a report from Jerome Aning