Even before the release of the decision for NLRC CASE NO. NCR-00-06-05501-07 (John Dale Bacar, etc. vs. Gamepal International Corporation), I was repeatedly told by Arbiter Felipe Patti and his aides that we cannot hope to collect from Gamepal International Corporation regardless of the documentation we presented detailing the assets of the company and the fact that the only thing standing in our way was the refusal of Board Members Michelle Marin and Kristine Rodrigo to prepare a board resolution to reopen the company account. I was told that “Malabo ang kaso kasi empleyado nga lang naman si Marin.” To which I retorted that if they did read the evidence we presented then they would know that Marin and Rodrigo has the power to help up liquidate the assets or simply reopen the company account so we may be able to encash a check that is being kept by Daisy Bongais.
Luckily for us, even the Arbiter could not deny the barrage of facts and data that we submitted. And so the decision was released to our favor restoring my faith in the NLRC. I told myself that good guys do prevail in this world and no unjust court can turn a blind eye if you just present a strong case and back it up with all the needed evidence. I was wrong.
Having won the case apparently wasn’t the end of it all. I then had to go through weeks of going back and forth just to get the decision executed. I was repeatedly told by the aid of Arbiter Patti that she does not know how to execute the case since the company is already closed and that I needed to talk to the Arbiter himself. She even went as far as telling me that this case is nothing more than a victory on paper since there is no way that we can collect. I gave her the summary of the entire case and told her that we already have one board member waiting for Marin and Rodrigo if only they can be compelled by this court to prepare a board resolution. Heck, we weren’t after their money, just cooperation. All I got in reply was a scoff and a replay of, “Si Arbiter nalng kausapin mo, d ko alam yan e. Malabo yan.”
Now, meeting up with the Arbiter would have been an easy task if only he wasn’t an epic presence in his office that has either gone home at 10 o’clock in the morning or has gone off to somebody else’s office - never to be back for the rest of the day leaving the very amiable (this is where I shoot my head) manangs/aids to facilitate labor conferences, prepare writs of execution and offer optimistic words of support to people like me. My Arbiter hunt went on for at least three weeks, and ended with what seemed like a badly-scripted/badly acted exchange between the Arbiter and his aid that went - Arbiter: Tagal ko na pinapagawa sa’yo to a. Aid: D ko po alam ang ilalagay. Arbiter: Diba sinabi ko na sayo. Basta igawa mo na. And easy as that, I got assigned to a Labor Sheriff and got a straight-off the template writ of execution.
In his blog called La Vida Lawyer, business litigator and advisor Marvin Aceron wrote a six part entry detailing why the National Labor Relations Commission should be abolished based on grounds that it is biased towards the common employee and thus unfair to small and medium businesses that have the burden of proof in every case filed against them… I would have been grateful if this was at least even a bit true. But in John Dale Bacar, etc. vs. Gamepal International Corporation, no matter how I spelled out the step by step process that we needed to do in order to secure payment, no matter how much evidence were submitted and even if all we needed was an appearance by a Labor representative (in this case, Labor Sheriff Tejada) to simply serve the writ of execution to compel the Board Members to cooperate or even just secure the re-release of funds in a form of a refund check from Greenhills Properties Corporation who only needed to meet up with a labor representative to make sure that the claim is legit and a copy of the previously released, stale refund check… to this date, all we got is a collective (from Sheriff Tejada and the infamous aid), “ Wala tayo magagawa jan unless kayo kumuha ng check para parefund,” or “Ayoko pumunta kina Marin kasi d naman sigurado na nasa Pilipinas pa sya.”
I don’t know until today if this would have been easier had I offered Labor Sheriff Tejada a percentage of the money that we would have collected or if I dragged her ass and just told her that IT IS HER JOB and she needs to at least serve the writ to the remaining board members in the country. I don’t know how they could have thought that it was okay for Marin and Rodrigo to have possible fled the country and that there was nothing that the Labor office could do even with a guilty verdict on our side.
If the NLRC who has the supreme power to decide and effect judgments on cases like ours can do nothing but shrug off perpetrators of Labor violations like Michelle Marin and Kristine Rodrigo, then what the hell is the NLRC for? If all they do is tell complainants that their case can be won but only on paper since there is no freaking way that they would be willing to do their job and collect for you… then what the hell are they for?
I am sure that Marvin Aceron has a strong basis for his claim that the NLRC is unfair to employers but I see a different view from where I’m standing. I can lodge a complaint against the office of the arbiter and his aides and against Labor Sheriff Tejada who refused to do her job… but what the hell for? As I would only file the said complaint under the same Office and to the people whom they work with.
In the end, Marin and Rodrigo ends up free. Smith and Lien can come back to the country without any tainted record. We ended up spending money we didn’t have to pursue a useless case. But oh yeah, we did win on paper as Manang Aid pointed out. Yipee.
- end of series-