IRIGA CITY — At least five former rank-and-file employees of the University of St. Anthony in this city have filed a joint complaint before the Sub-Regional Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Commission in Naga City for illegal dismissal, non-payment of salaries, holiday pay and other benefits, monetary claim, moral exemplary and nominal damages,
all in the sum of P8,959,293.08, excluding ten percent of whatever monetary awards the complainants are entitled to as attorney’s fees.
Susan M. Bance, Arlene C. Dimaiwat, Jean O. Velasco, Nancy M. Aguirre, and Hazel A. Lobetania who held the positions variedly as early as 1982 and 1994 as senior accounts officer and college instructor, accounting clerk, classroom teacher, accounts officers, and secretary in the office of the vice-president for finance and later as secretary to the president of the University of Saint Anthony (USANT), respectively, have filed their complaints against the university, its chairman and president Atty. Santiago Ortega, Jr., and Victoria SD. Ortega, wife of Santiago Jr, and VP for finance as respondents.
Insofar as respondent Victoria Ortega is concerned, the complaint said she was particularly impleaded in the complaint for being allegedly personally involved and responsible as well in the transactions that led to Lobetania’s dismissal from the service.
The complainants claimed that their dismissal was not only illegal, the same being both procedurally and substantially infirmed, but also done in bad faith and in an oppressive and humiliating manner.
In an interview with this reporter, Ortega Jr. said “we have documentary evidence to show that they (the complainants) committed estafa, to show that one of them stole millions of pesos.” In fact, he added, such documents have already been forwarded to the labor department.
Ortega also said that the accusation that the school administration refused to give the complainants their benefits is untrue. “May mga pinirmahan sinda diyan na pay slip kaya how can they deny that,” he asked adding that such matter has already been presented by him to the labor department.
In the case of Lobetania, it was alleged “that her separation from work is the result of the ugly marital conflict involving spouses Atty. Santiago Ortega Jr. and Mrs. Victoria SD Ortega that aggravated into serious money and family problems.” Caught in the crossfire, the joint complaint said, are complainant Lobetania and the other complainants who were subsequently dismissed from the service for allegedly baseless causes.
They also accused Ortega Jr. of subsequently filing various “unfounded criminal complaints” as an obvious afterthought, motivated by bad faith and ill-will.
They said it was Ortega Jr.’s alleged hideous manner of harassing and dissuading them from pursuing their labor cases because he could not accept the fact that ordinary persons like them would have the courage to stand up and fight for their rights by filing the consolidated labor case.
The complainants pray that judgment be rendered declaring their dismissal as illegal, holding the respondents responsible therefore, and commanding the respondents to reinstate them to their former work without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to pay their full back wages, and their other benefit or monetary equivalent computed from the date they were terminated up to their actual reinstatement.
On his alleged marital problem, the university president said he is not the only married man who faces such problem. “I do not see relevance of the issue on my misunderstanding with my wife with their (complainants’) estafa cases, getting money from my school, and stealing millions,” Ortega quipped.(BicolMail)