By Rey Panaligan
The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which declared 96 talents – producers, editors, writers, researchers, production assistants – of GMA Network, Inc. (GMA-7) as regular employees and entitled to security of tenure and all benefits.
There were 142 original complaints in the case filed before the NLRC but some of them withdrew their complaints or have since resigned.
The CA decision written by Associate Justice Zenaida T. Galapate Laguilles denied the petition filed by GMA-7 which sought a reversal of the NLRC’s ruling handed down on Sept. 30, 2015.
There was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC in declaring that the talents are regular employees who are “entitled to security of tenure and all benefits and rights appurtenant to their status,” the CA said.
It junked GMA-7’s arguments that the NLRC failed to consider the history and peculiarity of the broadcast industry and its practice as well as the circumstances surrounding the payment of high fees to the so-called talents.
Also junked by the CA was the television station’s argument that its talents are considered independent contractors or fixed-term employees.
“In this case, it is not shown that the NLRC exercised its judgment whimsically, arbitrarily or despotically by reason of passion and hostility considering that its findings are supported by substantial evidence,” it said.
It pointed out in determining the existence of an employer-employee relationship, the law has consistently applied the four-fold test — selection and engagement of the employee; the payment of wages; the power of dismissal; and the employer’s power to control the employee on the means and methods by which the work is accomplished.
“After review of the records, we reach the conclusion that the private respondents are regular employees of petitioner GMA-7,” the CA ruled.
Declared regular employees of GMA-7 are Christian Bochee Cabaluna, Chloe Ben, Lora Queñano, Christine Aban, Elmer Cabarles, Jr., Eugene Lalaan, Mariet Cabral, Mary Rose Castro, James Arce, Eleazar Del Rosario, Philip Vincent Franco Sinco, Jayson Bernard Santos, Rosalee Timbad, Madeleine Zaide, Jobelyn Bonifacio, Nyorly Gail Montero.
Jennifer Basijan, Dandy Alandy, Anthony Macarayan, Simon Efraim Borromeo, Annalyn San Pedro, Jose Del Rosario III, Michael Manalaysay, Aubrey Dela Cruz, Ronelie Siervo, Gemmalyn Masanga, Rachelle Castillo, Fernanne Gulapa, Kristoffer James Dalusing, Rosanne Bernadette Chua, Allan Gregory Lazaro, Fearlly Loureen Tan, Antonio Chua, Ivy Suzette Gucilatar.
Socille Fuentes, Denice Mendiola, Archibald Formales, Marco Marcelo, Jeffrey Osoc, Axl Joffline Malonzo, Marishen Lyle Maluan, Marie Adelle Banta, Remanuel Bandiola, Dawnavie Dadis, Catherine Ann Marpuri, Emmanuel Escalona Jr., Meliza Gallian, Mariza Barral, Anne Pamela Fernandez, Sharon Rose Masula, John Michael Cristobal, Rouel Raymundo, Annabelle Gabuna.
Carmina Giezelle Mones, Zara Jane Misuela, Maria Crezelie Cruz, Jerome Avanzado, Mariel Daguman, Arla Fabella, Lian Nami Aloen Buan, Edmalynne Remillano, Stephen Patricio, Megan Luna, Ruby Rose Olermo, Jerica May Herga, John Gary Criel Candelaria, Samuel Austria, Anne Rose Gamboa, Dennis Lasala, Shera Teves, Elaine Mariel Magboo, Michael Del Rosario.
Dawn Jeffanie Vie Po Quimque, Irene Matta, Maria Ana Isabel Rodrigo, Chissa Cajigal, Julianne Rose Marquez, Rochelle Ann Marcelo, Richelle Ramirez, Jan Erik Miras, Marie Odessa Pacheco, Jiecel Ramirez, Neri Alden Carangalan, Alfredo Enoce, Jr., Maria Veronica Guingon.
Leonardo Leonor, Bryan Kristoffer Brazil, Winchelle Ochoa, Regit Adrian Antonio, Harvey Henryan Bayona, Jan Meynard Nualla, Lea Paz Torre, Serafin Camdido Gozon, Igal Jade San Andres, Rayla Marie Castillo, and Mark Anthony Norella.
The CA also affirmed the NLRC’s modification of the arbiter’s ruling, to wit:
“With respect to eight (8) complainants, namely: Elton Jun V. Veloria, Jobelyn O. Bonifacio, Raymond R. Bermeo, Carmela Joyce E. Pamiloza, Antonio Tiemsin, Jr., Kerwin Lawrence H. Octavio, Jevi Bryan D. Bilaos and Mary Grace Lalu-Depalubos, the appealed Decision of the Labor Arbiter is MODIFIED in that, these eight (8) complainants are declared regular employees of GMA and are entitled to security of tenure and all benefits and other rights appurtenant to their status as regular employees, but only up to the date immediately preceding their effective dates of resignation.”
The NLRC’s modification also stated that “the complaint of complainant Jerome M. Nebres is dismissed for having been withdrawn from the docket of this case.”