Thursday, March 15, 2012

De Leon v NLU G.R. No. L-7586 January 30, 1957

J. Padilla

The plaintiff Narcisa B. de Leon is the owner of a parcel of land in which stands the Dalisay Theater at Manila;
Prior to April 14, 1949, the theater was operated jointly by the motion picture firms known as the plaintiffs LVN Pictures, Inc., Premier Productions and the Sampaguita Pictures, Inc., as lessees.
De Leon leased the parcel of land to the Filipino Theatrical Enterprises, Inc., who on that date had become the owners of the building, known as Dalisay Theater; that the lease contract provided that the lessor of the land, Narcisa B. de Leon would become the owner of the building, together with all the equipment and accessories, at the expiration of the lease. During the terms of the lease, the Filipino Theatrical Enterprises, Inc., operated the theater.
Defendants, except the National Labor Union, Eulogio Lerum and Jose Hernandez, were all employees of the Filipino Theatrical Enterprises Inc., April 1949 to August 14, 1951, and said employees work at the Dalisay Theater during this period by reason of such employment.
On July 12, 1951, short before the expiration of the aforesaid lease, Filipino Theatrical Enterprises, Inc., notified its employees of the termination of their employment with it.
On August 15, 1951, after the expiration of said lease, the full and complete possession of the theater building was delivered the turned over to the plaintiff Narcisa B. de Leon who immediately demolished the building and on the same site she constructed and finished the new Dalisay Theater Building;
De Leon executed a contract with the theater companies for the operation the new Dalisay Theater as a joint venture among them, where the latter would exhibit their picture in said theater;
Plaintiffs opened the new Dalisay Theater and begun exhibiting films with the new set of personnel, retaining only the services of four old employees.
 About thirty persons among whom where the herein defendants, all members of the National Labor Union, picketed the plaintiffs the said theater from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., more or less, by walking to and from on the side walk fronting the lobby of the theater and displaying placards which for the slogans: "Do not patronize the Dalisay Theater," "Dalisay Theater is unfair to labor." "Have mercy on the picketeers" "and sympathize with us," and others
The defendant during the picketing tried to persuade patrons or customers of the Dalisay Theater to refrain from buying tickets or seeing the show because the cine's managment is unfair to its employees, and to sympathize with the picketeers.
After the defendants Jose Ramos and Enrique Montoya had left the lobby of the theater; the iron grill door which separates the theater lobby from the sidewalk was closed, thereby confining the picketing in the side walk
The picketing was done by defendants so that they might re-employed in the Dalisay Theater. Due to this, the box-office receipts of said theater for January 10, 1952 amounted only to about P1,250; and that a premiere showing of such a film like" DIMAS" would ordinarily earned a P2,500 gross receipt for the theater.
In the trial court, the decision was that the defendants’walking slowly and peacefully back and forth on the public sidewalk in front of the premises of the Dalisay Theater and displaying placards publicizing the dispute between the theater and the management did not disturb the public peace at the place. There was no clear and present danger of destruction to life of property or of other forms of breach of the peace.
In this case, it is undisputed that after defendants were dismissed or laid off from their work at the old Dalisay Theater by the Filipino Theatrical Enterprises, Inc., the showhouse came under a totally different management when it was reopened on January 10, 1952. There was no existence of a relationship of employees between plaintiffs and defendants, although defendants purpose in picketing plaintiffs was for the defendants' reinstatement of their services in the new Dalisay Theater under the new management.
In the same court, De Leon and other plaintiffs sought to recover damages and an injunctive relief in the court for the picketing.  The defendants filed a cross-claim for damages estimated at P200 daily which was denied by the plaintiffs in their reply.
After hearing the trial court dismissed the plaintiffs complaint and defendants cross-claim and dissolved the writ of preliminary injunction issued.
From this judgment the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court for the reason by the appeal would raised on the questions of law.

Issue: Did the employees picket illegally?

Held: No. Judgment affirmed

Picketing peacefully carried out is not illegal even in the absence of employer-employee relationship for peaceful picketing is a part of a freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

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