MANILA—The Supreme Court has ordered an executive of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to pay P1.44 million to 57 workers.
The order reversed a Court of Appeals ruling that had absolved Ong King Guan from any liability stemming from a fire that hit a Kentex factory in Valenzuela and killed 72 people in May 2015.
In its investigation, the Department of Labor and Employment found that Kentex paid its workers P230 a day, an amount lowered further to P202.50 following deductions by subcontractor CJC Manpower Services.
The DOLE in 2015 ordered Kentex and CJC to pay P1.44 million to 57 of their workers.
The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the DOLE's order, saying Ong King Guan "could not be personally held liable for the debts of Kentex without a showing of bad faith or wrongdoing on his part for the whole corporation’s unlawful act."
The SC 1st Division, led by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, then reversed the CA’s ruling in a decision promulgated on July 8, reinstating the DOLE order.
The high court agreed with the DOLE, which filed the petition to reverse the CA ruling, that Ong did not follow the correct appeals process.
It said Ong should have elevated the matter with the DOLE secretary instead of filing a motion for reconsideration before the DOLE-National Capital Region.
“The June 26, 2015, order had already become final and executory in view of the failure of respondents Kentex and Ong to appeal therefrom to the Secretary of Labor,” the SC said.
“It is self-evident that the CA committed serious error when it ordered the discharge or release of Ong from obligations of Kentex."
The amount represents underpayment of basic wages, premium pay on rest day, non-payment of cost-of-living-allowance, non-payment of regular holiday pay, underpayment of overtime pay on regular day, underpayment of night shift differential pay on regular day, non-payment of 13th month pay, unauthorized deduction of cash bond, and non-payment of service incentive leave pay.
According to a 2015 news release by the DOLE on the matter, of the 57 workers, Jay-Ar Dayon has the biggest claim and is expected to receive P228,444.16, while Virgilio Raro has the smallest amount of claim of P557.65.