MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by employees of the National Power Corp. (Napocor) seeking the collection of about PHP8.5 billion in back payment of additional Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) and Amelioration Allowance (AA) for the period July 1, 1989 to March 16, 1999.

In a 13-page resolution dated Aug. 8, 2017, penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the high court affirmed its Feb. 7, 2017 decision thay denied an earlier plea filed by the Napocor Employees Consolidated Union (NECU) and Napocor Employees and Workers Union (NEWU).

The SC said the employees failed to raise new issues that would sway the court into abandoning its earlier ruling.

“Wherefore, the 16,500 Workers’ Solicitous Motion for Reconsideration is denied with finality as the basic issues have already been passed upon in this Court's February 7, 2017 Decision. No further pleadings or motions shall be entertained in this case. Let entry of final judgment be issued immediately,” read the resolution.

The SC, in the said ruling, reversed the Quezon City Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) decision that granted the petition for mandamus filed by NECU and NEWU seeking to direct the Napocor, its president and its Board of Directors to release the COLA and AA of the employees.

The court noted that NECU and NEWU were in a position to submit any pay slip or Notice of Position Allocation and Salary Adjustment showing an actual deduction of the COLA and AA from July 1, 1989 to March 19, 1999 but they failed to do so.

“As it stands, respondents NECU and NEWU have failed to prove that their COLA and AA were factually deducted from their basic pay,” the SC said.

“Respondents NECU and NEWU attempt to sway this Court by insisting that those hired after Republic Act No. 6758 took effect have never received their COLA and AA and that these allowances were deducted from their basic pay. This issue, however, has already been discussed and passed upon in this Court's February 7, 2017 Decision,” it added.

In its February 2017 ruling, the SC held that the Quezon City RTC should have been cautious in coming out with such a ruling since it would entail the release of billions in public funds.

The SC said the trial court “should have been more prudent in granting the immediate execution, considering that the execution of the judgment award involves the payment of almost PHP8.5 billion in public funds.”

The SC also ruled that the COLA and AA of the employees were integrated with the salaries of the employees, after the promulgation of RA 6758.

In their MR, Napocor employees insisted that law, jurisprudence, and evidence support their contention that their COLA and AA were deducted from their salaries from July 1, 1989 to March 19, 1999.

In particular, the NECU and NEWU distinguished Napocor workers into three categories.

The first category includes workers already employed when RA 6758 or the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 took effect and whose COLA and AA were integrated into their basic salaries only up to 1993.

The second category covers those hired after RA 6758 took effect and whose COLA and AA were allegedly deducted from 1989 to 1999.

The third category consists of employees hired after the effectivity of RA 6758 and whose COLA and AA were allegedly deducted from 1994 to 1999.

The employees noted that this only shows that their basic pay for the disputed period did not include salaries from July 1, 1989 to March 19, 1999.

It can be recalled that on Aug. 21, 1989, Congress enacted RA 6758 to standardize the compensation and benefits of public employees, effective July 1, 1989.

The law applied to all positions, whether appointive or elective, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations. (PNA)