THE 16-year-long wait is almost over for former workers of the National Power Corporation (NPC) who were illegally dismissed in 2003 after it was privatized.
In an 11-page decision dated September 23, 2019, the Commission on Audit (COA) granted the claim of the displaced workers for payment of compensation based on the resolution of the Supreme Court issued on November 21, 2017.
COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc ordered the NPC and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) to submit the updated list of affected workers and the amount due them and to set a date for such payment releases.
The supervising auditor for the NPC was likewise instructed to validate the list and the computations of the NPC and to finish the work as quickly as possible.
“The Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Government Sector (CGS) and the Director CGS-Cluster 3… shall provide the [supervising auditor] with the necessary support and additional personnel in order to complete the validation with utmost dispatch,” the COA Commissioner Proper said.
In its ruling, the COA-CP noted that the Supreme Court had declared National Power Board (NPB) Resolution No. 2002-124 which set the guidelines for the Separation Program of the NPC, and NPB Resolution No. 2002-125 which created the transition team to implement the Separation Program, were both void, hence, the termination from service of all NPC employees under the same resolutions was illegal.
Likewise, the COA said the amount due them will be increased by 12 percent yearly as interest from October 2008 to June 30, 2013, and six percent from July 2013 onwards.
However, the COA-CP stressed that based on the same SC ruling, only those NPC employees who were dismissed in 2003 and were not subsequently rehired by PSALM are entitled to separation pay in lieu of reinstatement to their former posts, back wages, and other adjustments after deduction of compensation already received under the original separation plan.
Those who were rehired, even if they joined the filing of the claim, were deemed not entitled to receive the same recompense. Even their claim for differential based on lower salaries after being rehired was denied.
“While it would not seem equitable for such employees to receive less than other employees who were not rehired or employed elsewhere, nevertheless, they are likewise not entitled to receive salary differentials, since, as SC ruled, they cannot benefit from the nullified NPB resolution… and at the same time be allowed to benefit from the award of full back wage,” the COA said.
Counsels for the illegally dismissed employees, Cornelio P. Aldon and Victoriano V. Orocio, were also held to be entitled to a 10 percent charging lien from each individual worker-claimant.
Based on a list submitted by the NPC to the SC in March 2015, there were 9,272 former workers who were affected by the privatization. However, the number is expected to be trimmed down substantially during validation by the COA auditors.