Supreme Court orders Kentex contractor to pay P1.4M to workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the contractor of  Kentex Manufacturing Corporation to pay P1.44 million to 57 workers found to be underpaid.

The SC 1st Division reversed an earlier ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) that excluded from the payment order CJC Manpower Services, who deployed workers to Kentex.

The Kentex factory was ravaged by fire on May 13, 2015, killing 72 people and injuring others. During the course of the investigation, inspectors found that CJC deployed 57 workers to Kentex without contracts, and that they were paid only P230 a day. 

From that amount, CJC further deducted administrative costs and contributions, leaving only P202.50 to each worker.

In June 2015, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered both Kentex and CJC  to pay P1.44 million to 57 workers. 

But the CA reversed DOLE and said that CJC's corporate officer Ong King Guan "could not be personally held be liable for the debts of Kentex without a showing of bad faith or wrongdoing on his part for the corporation's unlawful act."

The SC reversed the CA for not following the same appeal process.

The SC said that if CJC wanted to reverse the DOLE order, it should have filed a petition before the secretary of labor, which it did not do. Thus, the SC said, the DOLE order had become final and executory.

"The June 26, 2015 Order having become final, it could no longer be altered or modified by discharging or releasing Ong from his accountability," the SC said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo, with concurrences from Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and Associate Justices Francis Jardeleza, Alexander Gesmundo, and Rosmari Carandang.

"The June 26, 2015 Order of the Department of Labor and Employment, National Capital Region, finding respondent Ong King Guan solidarily liable to pay the employees named in the Order the amount of Phpl,440,641.39 is hereby reinstated," said the SC. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.