Former union officials led by lawyer Eduardo Mariño Jr. have been ordered to return millions of pesos in “illegal” attorney’s fees obtained from salary increases granted to faculty members in 1992.
Implementing a July 7, 2009 Supreme Court decision, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a writ of execution last June 16 ordering Mariño’s group to turn over P8,232,000.
The decision written by Associate Justice Minita Chico-Nazario said the Mariño group illegally obtained a 10% cut from a P42-million compensation package granted by the University in 1992, ruling that the “fee” for successfully negotiating faculty pay hikes did not come from union dues or funds of the UST Faculty Union (USTFU).
Questions over the fee eventually led to the Mariño group’s ouster from the union in 1992, and the takeover by the “reformist alliance” of Dr. Gil Gamilla in heated union elections in 1996.
Mariño, who is listed as a member of the Commerce faculty, declined to comment.
The Supreme Court ruling castigated the Mariño group for seeking authorization for the negotiation fee along with the union membership’s ratification of the P42-million package.

“Such a situation militated against the legitimacy of the authorization for the P4.2 million check-off by a majority of USTFU membership,” it said.
“Viewed in this light, the Court does not hesitate to declare as illegal the check-off of P4.2 million, from the P42 million economic benefits package, for union dues and special assessments for the Labor Education Fund and attorney’s fees. Said amount rightfully belongs to and should be returned by [Mariño et. al.] to the intended beneficiaries thereof, i.e., members of the collective bargaining unit, whether or not members of USTFU,” the ruling said.
“This directive is without prejudice to the right of [Mariño et. al.] to seek reimbursement from the other USTFU officers and directors, who were part of the Mariño Group, and who were equally responsible for the illegal check-off of the aforesaid amount.”
The amount for reimbursement has doubled as the court had imposed a 6% interest per annum starting December 1994, when the group of incumbent USTFU chief Gamilla asked DOLE to expel Mariño’s group from the union for collecting the illegal fee.
DOLE’s June 16 order said the union could seize personal properties of Mariño and his group.
“Justice will take time, but it will [eventually] catch up with you. This is a very good lesson. They have to be true to their responsibility,” said Rene Tadle, one of the complainants who represented the Nursing Faculty Club in 1992.
In an interview, Fernando Pedrosa, one of Mariño’s fellow respondents, said he had yet to receive official communication on the court order.

Pag-aaral ng etika, napapanahon pa ba?

“The properties of the former officers cannot be forfeited in favor of the union because their personality is distinct from the union,” Pedrosa said.
“Besides, many of the [1992 union] officers have retired, and I think this is an ongoing battle,” he added. “This is already an issue of the past, but I don’t know where that money went. If I had a share of that [amount], I won’t be teaching anymore.”
The Supreme Court also upheld the legitimacy of Gamilla’s group, saying there was no more need to settle the row over the 1996 union elections.
“[Previous rulings did not take] into account the fact that an election of USTFU officers was already conducted on 14 January 2000, which was won by the Gamilla Group.  There is nothing in the records to show that the said election was contested or made the subject of litigation … The issue of who between the officers of the Mariño Group and of the Gamilla Group are the legitimate USTFU officers has been rendered moot by the succeeding events in the case,” it said.


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