Thursday, March 15, 2012

ACCFA v CUGCO G.R. No. L-21484. November 29, 1969.

J. Makalintal

(ACCFA) was a government agency created under Republic Act No. 821, as amended. Its administrative machinery was reorganized and its name changed to Agricultural Credit Administration (ACA) under the Land Reform Code (Republic Act No. 3844). On the other hand, the ACCFA Supervisors' Association (ASA) and the ACCFA Workers' Association (AWA), referred to as the Unions, are labor organizations composed of the supervisors and the rank-and-file employees, respectively, in the ACCFA (now ACA).

On October 30, 1962 the Unions, together with its mother union, the Confederation of Unions in Government Corporations and Offices (CUGCO), filed a complaint with the Court of Industrial Relations against the ACCFA for having allegedly committed acts of unfair labor practice, namely: violation of the collective bargaining agreement in order to discourage the members of the Unions in the exercise of their right to self-organization, discrimination against said members in the matter of promotions, and refusal to bargain.

The ACCFA moved to reconsider but was turned down in a resolution dated April 25, 1963 of the CIR en banc. Hence this appeal.

During the pendency of the case, the union filed a petition for certification election with the Court of Industrial Relations praying that they be certified as the exclusive bargaining agents for the supervisors and rank-and-file employees, respectively, in the ACA.Trial court agreed with this move.

However, the ACA filed for a stay of execution which the trial court granted.

Issue: WON the CIR has jurisdiction to entertain the petition of the Unions for certification election given that the mother company (ACA) is engaged in governmental functions

Held: The Unions are not entitled. Decision modified

Under Section 3 of the Agricultural Land Reform Code the ACA was established, among other governmental agencies, to extend credit and similar assistance to agriculture.
According to the Land Reform Code, the administrative machinery of the ACCFA shall be reorganized to enable it to align its activities with the requirements and objective of this Code and shall be known as the Agricultural Credit Administration. These include powers non really accorded to non-government entities such as tax exemptions, registration of deeds, notarial services, and prosecution of officials.

The power to audit the operations of farmers' cooperatives and otherwise inquire into their affairs, as given by Section 113, is in the nature of the visitorial power of the sovereign, which only a government agency specially delegated to do so by the Congress may legally exercise.

Moreover, the ACA was delegated under the Land Reform Project Administration , a government agency tasked t implement land reform.

Moreover, the appointing authority for officials was the President himself.

The considerations set forth above militate quite strongly against the recognition of collective bargaining powers in the respondent Unions within the context of Republic Act No. 875, and hence against the grant of their basic petition for certification election as proper bargaining units. The ACA is a government office or agency engaged in governmental, not proprietary functions.

These functions may not be strictly what President Wilson described as "constituent" (as distinguished from "ministrant"), such as those relating to the maintenance of peace and the prevention of crime, those regulating property and property rights, those relating to the administration of justice and the determination of political duties of citizens, and those relating to national defense and foreign relations. Under this traditional classification, such constituent functions are exercised by the State as attributes of sovereignty, and not merely to promote the welfare, progress and prosperity of the people — these letter functions being ministrant, he exercise of which is optional on the part of the government.

The growing complexities of modern society, however, have rendered this traditional classification of the functions of government quite unrealistic, not to say obsolete. The areas which used to be left to private enterprise and initiative and which the government was called upon to enter optionally, and only "because it was better equipped to administer for the public welfare than is any private individual or group of individuals." continue to lose their well-defined boundaries and to be absorbed within activities that the government must undertake in its sovereign capacity if it is to meet the increasing social challenges of the times.

It was in furtherance of such policy that the Land Reform Code was enacted and the various agencies, the ACA among them, established to carry out its purposes. There can be no dispute as to the fact that the land reform program contemplated in the said Code is beyond the capabilities of any private enterprise to translate into reality. It is a purely governmental function, no less than, say, the establishment and maintenance of public schools and public hospitals.

Given these, the respondent Unions are not entitled to the certification election sought in the Court below. Such certification is admittedly for purposes of bargaining in behalf of the employees with respect to terms and conditions of employment, including the right to strike as a coercive economic weapon, as in fact the said unions did strike in 1962 against the ACCFA.

This is contrary to Section 11 of Republic Act No. 875, which provides:

"SEC. 11.        Prohibition Against Strike in the Government. — The terms and conditions of employment in the Government, including any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof, are governed by law and it is declared to be the policy of this Act that employees therein shall not strike for the purposes of securing changes or modification in their terms and conditions of employment. Such employees may belong to any labor organization which does not impose the obligation to strike or to join in strike: Provided, However, that this section shall apply only to employees employed in governmental functions of the Government including but not limited to governmental corporations."

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