Enrile, Drilon oppose suggested gov’t takeover of PAL

August 4, 2010 10:51 am 

MANILA, Aug. 3 – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Franklin Drilon clarified on Tuesday that the government can only step in on the problem of Philippine Airlines (PAL) but it cannot take over the operation of the country’s flag carrier.

Enrile said the government has no qualified pilots to fly the PAL aircrafts, adding that not all Philippine Air Force pilots can replace the PAL pilots who abandoned their jobs in favor of higher-paying airlines abroad.

”If the government will take over, who are the pilots who will go there? The Air Force? I don’t think they are rated for those kinds of planes,” Enrile commented.

For his part, Drilon explained that he opposed any possible takeover of PAL because the government is never good in running private companies.

”I am not in favor of that (takeover),” Drilon said.

Drilon, meanwhile, warned the 25 pilots who left the PAL without any notice that they will be held liable for breach of contract and for damages.

However, Drilon said the pilots cannot be compelled to work “if they don’t want to work, that’s involuntary servitude.”

”As a matter of legal principle, you cannot force somebody to work if he does not want to work but they can be held liable for breach of contract,” Drilon said.

On Monday, Senator Francis Escudero said in a media interview that the government can take over the PAL operations if government fails to settle the PAL labor row.

The young lawmaker, however, clarified later that he did not say the government take over the operations but only the labor dispute of the PAL.

Escudero said the labor secretary can assume jurisdiction over the labor dispute if it shows that there won’t be any amicable agreement between the management and the pilots who resigned en masse that left a number of cancelled flights.

“The secretary of labor’s jurisdiction to mediate between a private company’s labor disputes is motu propio when it is imbued with national interest,” Escudero said.

Escudero said what the government can do at the onset is to act as arbitrator and mediator so that both parties can air their arguments judiciously.

Escudero is optimistic that this issue can be resolved fairly through dialogues so as not to affect the regular operation of the country’s tourism and other business sectors.

Like Escudero, Senator Pia Cayetano urged the government of President Benigno Aquino to mediate in the dispute so as not to hamper the operations of the PAL. (PNA)

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