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Aquino backs PAL bid to restructure operations

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President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday recognized the need of Philippine Airlines, which he describes as the country’s only air carrier capable of reaching millions of distressed Filipino migrants, to restructure its operations to survive.

Mr. Aquino made the remarks amid protests by the PAL Employees’ Association (Palea) against the airline’s spin-off and outsourcing program which resulted in the layoff of more than 2,000 workers recently. The protests have since caused disruptions in PAL’s flights.

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“We would like to sympathize with those in Palea… but the interest of 10 million outweighs the 2,000 or so that is affected by Palea,” President Aquino said when asked what the government was doing to make PAL’s operations return to normal.

No perfect solution

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“There is no perfect solution to this mess but it is part and parcel of the changing realities of the economic situation in the entire world,” he said in a news forum with the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines.

President Aquino was referring to the estimated 10 million Filipinos working overseas.

He indicated that with the potential of global developments making their immediate repatriation necessary, PAL should remain capable of helping in the rescue efforts that only the airline can provide.

Malacañang recently upheld the Department of Labor and Employment’s decision finding it legal for PAL to outsource 2,600 jobs in its three noncore units to service providers.

“We could not allow the national flag carrier and the only other airline capable of reaching those destinations to become non-entities and lose that ability to, if there was a need, to repatriate our countrymen,” President Aquino said.

SC decision

President Aquino also hoped that the Supreme Court’s recent recall of its earlier decision ordering the reinstatement of more than 1,000 flight stewards belonging to the Flight Attendants and Stewards of the Philippines (Fasap) would not cause further disruptions at PAL.

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“We were not apprised that there would be really a recall of the decision with regards to Fasap. Hopefully we will not encounter more disruptions because of that,” President Aquino said.

“We will appeal to the Supreme Court perhaps to hasten the processes,” he added.

On Tuesday, Malacañang told the Supreme Court to be more careful in rendering its rulings after the court recalled a resolution ordering the reinstatement of PAL stewards due to a technicality.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang was interested in finding out the reasons behind the recall of the court’s ruling in the Fasap case after PAL’s lawyer pointed out the technicality.

“The Supreme Court must be sure not to make the same mistake again if ever this time the technicality was overlooked,” Lacierda said in Wednesday’s news briefing in Malacañang.

Lacierda said the Dole, through Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, initially upheld the case of the stewards against PAL management.

“Dole upheld the position of Fasap. But with this new turnaround, we do not wish to comment on the latest decision by the Supreme Court because it’s something that they should explain themselves,” Lacierda said.

On October 4, the Supreme Court recalled its earlier ruling ordering the reinstatement of 1,400 PAL flight attendants supposedly because a wrong court division decided the case.

The court en banc decided to recall the case after PAL lawyer Estelito Mendoza called the tribunal’s attention to the Second Division’s ruling.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCI), however, supported the court’s decision to recall the ruling.

In a statement, PCCI president Francis Chua said the high tribunal “displayed extraordinary courage and grit for owning up to its mistake.” With reports from Daxim L. Lucas and Marlon Ramos

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TAGS: Air Transportation, Aviation, Benigno Aquino III, Government, Labor Issue, PAL, PALEA
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