Several senators also slammed the High Court's perceived flip-flop on the PAL case. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a former judge, called the decision "extremely unfortunate" that could undermine the court's credibility. She added that under Supreme Court rules, a party cannot file a second motion for consideration, or appeal, without leave from the court.
This is added to the fact that Supreme Court also retracted and even reversed its decision on the case between Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation versus Keppel Cebu Shipyard Inc. It seems that there are no such thing as “final and executory” at the our country's Supreme Court.
I though that if a decision of court is recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgment, it becomes a permanent evidence of the rendition by the court of a judgment and becomes a part of our statutes. I think I remembered that, under ordinary circumstances decisions that have reached entry of judgment are considered final and can no longer be challenged. What's happening?!
"So you file two documents. First, a motion pleading with the Court to allow for a second motion for reconsideration, then you file your second motion for reconsideration. My question is, was there an order from the Supreme Court allowing this second motion for reconsideration?" Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said, adding the appeal was not even a pleading but a letter.
Second appeals are only allowed in case the decision was "legally erroneous," patently unjust, or will cause irreparable damage or injury, Santiago said. "So, the Supreme Court only has to look into its own internal rules and see if these three requirements have been complied (with)," the lady Senator added.
She added that even if the decision was issued by the wrong division, "will that technicality now suffice to overturn 13 years of legislative research and analysis on this problem?"
"I am angry because, as a citizen, I fear that the citizenry might turn its back on the Supreme Court, the bulwark of our civil liberties. If the Supreme Court loses its credibility in this instance, it will be impossible to regain it in a number of years," she warned.
Senator Franklin Drilon, a former justice secretary, said the reversal "would appear to be not in the usual procedure." This is not the first time that the SC has gone back on a supposedly final decision.
It previously reversed itself on the cityhood of 16 towns that were declared cities despite opposition from the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP).
The LCP opposed the cityhood of the 16 towns, saying the 16 municipalities do not have large enough population or income to qualify as cities.
The SC ruled against the 16 towns in 2010, and then upheld their cityhood early this year. The LCP appealed the decision but lost.
"I am no longer surprised at the flip-flopping," Drilon said. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile refused to join the fray as he saw the court's move as valid and in good faith.
"Being seasoned lawyers and juries, they do not just throw out a decision if there is no reason for it," he said.
For his part, Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano said the SC committed severe injustice to workers due to this development.
"In the hierarchy of employees' rights, the right to security of tenure is high, if not the highest. The paramount value of that right is recognized and guaranteed under the 1987 Constitution. The other complementary rights are meaningless to an unemployed worker," he said.
Mariano added that the SC's reversal of its ruling on the Fasap case completes the "triple whammy of attack" against PAL pilots, cabin crew and airport workers by various courts, the Department of Labor and Employment and Malacanang.
Some 2,600 positions of ground workers were outsourced this month after President Benigno Aquino III authorized the airline's spinoff program.
On July 22, 2008, the SC ruled in favor of Fasap declaring as illegal the dismissal of 1,400 flight attendants in 1998.
A month later on August 20, PAL filed a motion for reconsideration but this was junked with finality in October 2, 2009.
However, on January 2, 2011, PAL filed a second motion for reconsideration, which the SC denied last September 7, saying "no further pleadings shall be entertained."
The airline was also ordered to reinstate the affected flight attendants with full back wages.