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G.R. No.

159887 April 12, 2006

BERNARDO REMIGIO, Petitioner,


vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, C.F. SHARP CREW MGT., INC. & NEW COMMODORE
CRUISE LINE, INC.,1 Respondents.

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the decision2 and resolution3 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. No. 67782 which affirmed the March 22, 2001 Resolution4 of the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), awarding sickness allowance of US$3,400.00 to petitioner
but denying his claim for disability benefits.

The facts are undisputed.

On November 27, 1997, petitioner Bernardo Remigio entered into a Contract of Employment5 with
respondent C.F. Sharp Crew Management, Inc. (respondent agency), for and in behalf of its foreign
principal, co-respondent New Commodore Cruise Line, Ltd. (respondent principal). The contract
provided that the terms and conditions of the standard employment contract governing the
employment of all seafarers, approved per Department of Labor and Employment's Department Order
No. 33 and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's Memorandum Circular No. 55, both
Series of 1996 (1996 POEA SEC), were to be strictly and faithfully observed.6 Under the contract,
petitioner was to work as Musician II on board SS "Enchanted Isle," a vessel owned and operated by
respondent principal, for ten (10) months, at a basic monthly salary of US$857.00, overtime rate of
US$257.00 per month and vacation leave with pay of three (3) days per month.

After petitioner passed the pre-employment medical examination, he joined the vessel and started
performing his job as a drummer in December 1997. On March 16, 1998, while the vessel was docked at
the port of Cancun, Mexico, petitioner went ashore to attend to some personal matters. While walking,
petitioner suddenly felt severe chest pain and shortness of breath. He returned to the vessel and
experienced another such episode on the same evening. When his chest pain recurred the following
day, he went to the vessel's infirmary where he again suffered from chest pain. Petitioner was brought
and confined for seven (7) days at the Grand Cayman Island Hospital. His pain worsened upon physical
exertion but improved with rest. Thus, he was instructed to refrain from performing any kind of physical
activity and to have a complete bed rest. He rejoined the vessel on March 24, 1998.

Upon the vessel's arrival at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A., petitioner was brought to the
West Jefferson Medical Center for a more thorough check-up and evaluation. Dr. S. Kedia's "impression"
was that petitioner's chest pains were "probable secondary to severe coronary artery disease."7 Dr.
Armengol Porta conducted a physical examination on petitioner, including a coronary angiogram,8 and
found that he had several blockages in his coronary arteries. A triple coronary artery bypass was
performed on petitioner on April 2, 1998 by a Dr. Everson.

On April 8, 1998, petitioner was transferred to the Marine Medical Unit for observation. After twelve
(12) days of confinement, petitioner's cardiologist found him "not fit for sea duty" and recommended
for him to be "[r]epatriated to home port for follow up with a cardiologist."9 He was repatriated to
Manila on April 23, 1998.

In a letter dated April 27, 1998, Henry P. Desiderio, the manager of the Crewing Administration and
Business Development Department of respondent agency, referred petitioner to the American
Outpatient Clinic for medical check-up.10

On May 13, 1998, petitioner, through counsel, sent a formal communication11 to respondent agency
demanding payment of unpaid wages, sickness allowance and permanent total disability benefits. The
demand, however, was refused.

In a letter dated June 25, 1998 addressed to the manager of respondent agency, Jose Enrique P.
Desiderio, the company-designated physician, Dr. Leticia C. Abesamis, of the American Outpatient Clinic
wrote, viz:

Mr. B. Remigio who had Coronary Bypass (6x) abroad last April 2, 1998 has completed his cardiac
rehabilitation here at the Phil. Heart Center. Stress done on June 23, 1998 shows functional capacity at 8
METS.

Lately he has been complaining of epigastric discomfort probably from Ecotrin. He has been on ulcer
regimen.

He may go back to sea duty as piano player or guitar player after 8-10 more months.

He was unfit from April 27, 1998 to June 25, 1998.12 (emphases supplied)

On November 12, 1998, petitioner filed the instant complaint13 for (a) recovery of permanent total
disability benefits amounting to US$60,000.00; (b) actual and compensatory damages for loss of earning
capacity in the amount of US$154,260.00; and (c) moral and exemplary damages and attorney's
fees.14 Private respondents made an offer to settle the case at US$30,000.00 as evidenced by fax letters,
to which petitioner made a counter-proposal of US$40,000.00.15 No agreement was reached as the
parties proceeded to submit their respective position papers and supporting evidence.

In support of his claims, petitioner submitted copies of: a) his Contract of Employment with private
respondents; b) communication of respondent principal to respondent agency informing the latter
about petitioner's "heart attack," repatriation and replacement; c) History and Physical Report of
petitioner and Procedure Report of his cardiac catheterization; d) receipts from a drugstore and the
Philippine Heart Center; e) 2D Echocardiogram-Color Doppler Report; f) filled up form of the Exercise
Testing and Cardiac Rehabilitation Laboratory of the Philippine Heart Center showing the results of the
tests done on petitioner; and g) the Discharge Summary of the Marine Medical Unit.16 On the other
hand, private respondents submitted copies of: a) the Contract of Employment; b) referral letter dated
April 27, 1998 of respondent agency to the American Outpatient Clinic; c) demand letter dated May 13,
1998 of petitioner's counsel; and d) medical report of Dr. Leticia C. Abesamis of the American Outpatient
Clinic addressed to the manager of respondent agency.17

On September 15, 1999, Labor Arbiter Manuel R. Caday rendered his decision,18 the dispositive portion
of which states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the respondents jointly and
severally to pay complainant, his sickness allowance in the amount of US$3,400.00.

All other claims are hereby dismissed for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.19

In ruling that petitioner is not entitled to disability benefits, Labor Arbiter Caday noted that the Schedule
of Disability or Impediment for Injuries Suffered and Diseases or Illness Contracted under Section 30 of
the 1996 POEA SEC does not provide for the payment of compensation benefits in cases of cardiac
catheterization or heart bypass. Even assuming that it was included, he held that no medical report was
presented to show that petitioner's disability was total and permanent as to be classified under Grade 1
of the said schedule of disability. Nonetheless, petitioner's claim for sickness allowance was granted as
there was no showing that private respondents paid petitioner's basic wages after his repatriation, as
provided under Section 20, B(3) of the 1996 POEA SEC. Petitioner was awarded US$3,400.00 as sickness
allowance, computed on the basis of his monthly wage of US$850.00 multiplied by four (4) months.

On appeal by petitioner, the NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter in toto.20 Petitioner filed a
motion for reconsideration of the NLRC's resolution, to no avail. Accordingly, he filed a petition for
certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining
order with the CA.21 On March 31, 2003, the CA dismissed the petition.22

The CA likewise did not find substantial evidence to prove that the heart ailment incurred by petitioner
during the term of his employment resulted to his disability, i.e., rendered him incapable of further
seeking employment as a musician or to follow a substantially gainful occupation. It noted that
petitioner's medical records abroad never mentioned that his heart ailment resulted to a disability.
Petitioner's reliance on Dr. Abesamis's letter dated June 25, 1998 that he (petitioner) was "unfit from
April 27, 1998 to June 25, 1998" was found as insufficient to prove that petitioner's earning capacity was
either lost or diminished. The statement that petitioner "may go back to sea duty as piano player or
guitar player after 8-10 more months" was likewise found as insufficient to prove that petitioner was
actually "sidelined" or that it was impossible for him to work and earn as a musician during the 8-10
months that he was not on board the vessel. Finally, it considered that heart ailment is not included
among the compensable sicknesses and injuries under the 1996 POEA SEC.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration with the CA was denied.23 Hence, this petition in which
petitioner prays that he be awarded US$60,000.00 as permanent total disability benefits, US$3,428.00
as sickness allowance, attorney's fees and costs of suit. He assigns as lone error, the following:

THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS DISMISSING PETITIONER'S PETITION FOR
CERTIORARI AND AFFIRMING IN TOTO THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT AND DENYING
PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS CONTRARY TO LAW.24

The main issue is whether petitioner is entitled to permanent total disability benefits.

At the outset, private respondents' contention that the instant petition must be dismissed outright for
being grounded on a question of fact must be rejected. The issue of whether petitioner is entitled to
permanent total disability benefits is a question of law as it calls for the correct application of the law
and jurisprudence on disability benefits to the established facts on record.25 It raises the following sub-
issues, to wit:

1. Whether heart ailment suffered during the term of the contract is compensable under the 1996 POEA
SEC even if there is no proof of work-connection; and

2. Whether the concept of permanent total disability under the Labor Code applies to the case of a
seafarer's claim for disability benefits under the 1996 POEA SEC.

First. In ruling that petitioner is not entitled to permanent total disability benefits, the Labor Arbiter and
the CA considered that "cardiac catheterization," "heart bypass," or "heart ailment" is not found in the
Schedule of Disability or Impediment for Injuries Suffered and Diseases or Illness Contracted under
Section 30 of the 1996 POEA SEC. Petitioner contends that the schedule of disability under Section 30 of
the 1996 POEA SEC is not exclusive. Heart ailment, though not listed in the schedule, is compensable.
Private respondents, on the other hand, concede that while petitioner's illness is not listed under the
1996 POEA SEC, "this does not mean that the same is not compensable."26 However, since "heart
ailment" is not listed under Section 30 of the 1996 POEA SEC, it is not an "occupational disease." It was
therefore incumbent upon petitioner to prove by substantial evidence that his illness was work-related.
Having failed to do so, he is not entitled to disability benefits.

We find merit in petitioner's argument.

Petitioner bases his claim for disability benefits under Section 20 in relation to Sections 30 and 30-A of
the 1996 POEA SEC, viz:

Sec. 20. Compensation and Benefits

xxx

B. Compensation and Benefits for Injury or Illness

The liabilities of the employer when the seafarer suffers injury or illness during the term of his contract
are as follows:
xxx

5. In case of permanent total or partial disability of the seafarer during the term of employment caused
by either injury or illness[,] the seafarer shall be compensated in accordance with the schedule of
benefits enumerated in Section 30 of [t]his Contract. Computation of his benefits arising from an illness
or disease shall be governed by the rates and the rules of compensation applicable at the time the
illness or disease was contracted.

Sec. 30. SCHEDULE OF DISABILITY OR IMPEDIMENT FOR INJURIES SUFFERED AND DISEASES OR ILLNESS
CONTRACTED

xxx

CHEST-TRUNK-SPINE

1. Fracture of four (4) or more ribs resulting to severe limitation of chest expansion - Gr. 6

2. Fracture of four (4) or more ribs with intercostal neuralgia resulting in moderate limitation of chest
expansion - Gr. 9

3. Slight limitation of chest expansion due to simple rib functional without myositis or intercostal
neuralgia - Gr. 12

4. Fracture of the dorsal or lumber spines resulting to severe or total rigidity of the trunk or total loss of
lifting power of heavy objects - Gr. 6

5. Moderate rigidity or two thirds (2/3) loss of motion or lifting power of the trunk - Gr. 8

6. Slight rigidity or one third (1/3) loss of motion or lifting power of the trunk - Gr. 11

7. Injury to the spinal cord as to make walking impossible without the aid of a pair of crutches - Gr. 4

8. Injury to the spinal cord as to make walking impossible even with the aid of a pair of crutches - Gr. 1

9. Injury to the spinal cord resulting to incontinence of urine and feces - Gr. 1

xxx

NOTE: Any item in the schedule classified under Grade 1 shall be considered or shall constitute total
and permanent disability.

Sec. 30-A. SCHEDULE OF DISABILITY ALLOWANCES

Impediment Grade Impediment

1 Maximum Rate x 120.00%


2 Maximum Rate x 88.81%

3 Maximum Rate x 78.36%

4 Maximum Rate x 68.66%

5 Maximum Rate x 58.96%

6 Maximum Rate x 50.00%

7 Maximum Rate x 41.80%

8 Maximum Rate x 33.59%

9 Maximum Rate x 26.12%

10 Maximum Rate x 20.15%

11 Maximum Rate x 14.93%

12 Maximum Rate x 10.45%

13 Maximum Rate x 6.72%

14 Maximum Rate x 3.74%

Maximum Rate: US$50,000

To be paid in Philippine Currency equivalent at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment.
(emphases supplied)

"Disability" is generally defined as "loss or impairment of a physical or mental function resulting from
injury or sickness."27 Clearly, "disability" is not synonymous with "sickness" or "illness," the former being
a potential effect of the latter. The schedule in Sec. 30 of the POEA SEC is a Schedule of Disability or
Impediment for Injuries Suffered and Diseases or Illness Contracted. It is not a list of compensable
sicknesses. Unlike the 2000 POEA SEC,28nowhere in the 1996 POEA SEC is there a list of "Occupational
Diseases."
The unqualified phrase "during the term" in Section 20(B) of the 1996 POEA SEC covers all injury or
illness occurring in the lifetime of the contract. The injury or illness need not be shown to be work-
related. In Sealanes Marine Services, Inc. v. NLRC, 29 we categorically held:

The argument of petitioners that since cancer of the pancreas is not an occupational disease it was
incumbent upon Capt. Arante to prove that his working conditions increased the risk of contracting the
same, is not meritorious. It must be noted that his claims arose from the stipulations of the standard
format contract entered into between him and SEACORP which, per Circular No. 2, Series of 198430 of
respondent POEA was required to be adopted and used by all parties to the employment of any Filipino
seamen (sic) on board any ocean-going vessel. His claims are not rooted from the provisions of the New
Labor Code as amended. Significantly, under the contract, compensability of the death or illness of
seam[e]n need not be dependent upon whether it is work connected or not. Therefore, proof that the
working conditions increased the risk of contracting a disease or illness, is not required to entitle a
seaman who dies during the term thereof by reason of such disease or illness, of the benefits stipulated
thereunder which are, under Section C(2) of the same Circular No. 2, separate and distinct from, and in
addition to whatever benefits which the seaman is entitled to under Philippine laws. (emphasis
supplied)

This principle was reiterated in the recent case of Seagull Shipmanagement and Transport, Inc. v.
NLRC.31

While indeed, the Labor Code's provisions on disability benefits under the Employees' Compensation
Commission (ECC) require the element of work-relation for an illness to be compensable, the 1996 POEA
SEC giving a more liberal provision in favor of the seafarer must apply. As a rule, stipulations in an
employment contract not contrary to statutes, public policy, public order or morals have the force of
law between the contracting parties.32 In controversies between a laborer and his master, doubts
reasonably arising from the evidence, or in the interpretation of agreements and writing should be
resolved in the former’s favor.33 The policy is to extend the doctrine to a greater number of employees
who can avail of the benefits under the law, in consonance with the avowed policy of the State to give
maximum aid and protection of labor.34

Second. Is the Labor Code's concept of permanent total disability applicable to the case at bar?
Petitioner claims to have suffered from permanent total disability as defined under Article 192(c)(1) of
the Labor Code, viz:

Art. 192 (c) The following disabilities shall be deemed total and permanent:

(1) Temporary total disability lasting continuously for more than one hundred twenty days, except as
otherwise provided in the Rules; x x x

Petitioner likewise cites Vicente v. ECC35 and Abaya, Jr. v. ECC,36 both of which were decided applying
the Labor Code provisions on disability benefits. Private respondents, on the other hand, contend that
petitioner erred in applying the definition of "permanent total disability" under the Labor Code and
cases decided under the ECC as the instant case involves a contractual claim under the 1996 POEA SEC.
Again, we rule for petitioner.

The standard employment contract for seafarers was formulated by the POEA pursuant to its mandate
under E.O. No. 247 to "secure the best terms and conditions of employment of Filipino contract workers
and ensure compliance therewith" and to "promote and protect the well-being of Filipino workers
overseas."37 Section 29 of the 1996 POEA SEC itself provides that "[a]ll rights and obligations of the
parties to [the] Contract, including the annexes thereof, shall be governed by the laws of the Republic of
the Philippines, international conventions, treaties and covenants where the Philippines is a signatory."
Even without this provision, a contract of labor is so impressed with public interest that the New Civil
Code expressly subjects it to "the special laws on labor unions, collective bargaining, strikes and
lockouts, closed shop, wages, working conditions, hours of labor and similar subjects."38 lawphil.net

Thus, the Court has applied the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability to the case of
seafarers. In Philippine Transmarine Carriers v. NLRC,39 seaman Carlos Nietes was found to be suffering
from congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy and was declared as unfit to work by the company-
accredited physician. The Court affirmed the award of disability benefits to the seaman, citing ECC v.
Sanico,40 GSIS v. CA,41 and Bejerano v. ECC42 that "disability should not be understood more on its
medical significance but on the loss of earning capacity. Permanent total disability means disablement of
an employee to earn wages in the same kind of work, or work of similar nature that [he] was trained for
or accustomed to perform, or any kind of work which a person of [his] mentality and attainment could
do. It does not mean absolute helplessness." It likewise cited Bejerano v. ECC,43that in a disability
compensation, it is not the injury which is compensated, but rather it is the incapacity to work resulting
in the impairment of one's earning capacity.

The same principles were cited in the more recent case of Crystal Shipping, Inc. v. Natividad.44 In
addition, the Court cited GSIS v. Cadiz45 and Ijares v. CA46 that "permanent disability is the inability of a
worker to perform his job for more than 120 days, regardless of whether or not he loses the use of any
part of his body."

Finally. Applying the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability to the facts on record, is
petitioner entitled to permanent total disability benefit?

Petitioner contends that the certification of the company-designated physician that he may go back to
sea duty as a piano or guitar player after 8-10 months even if his job was a drummer proves that he
suffered from permanent total disability and thus entitled to permanent total disability benefits of
US$60,000.00 under the 1996 POEA SEC. Private respondents, on the other hand, contend that: 1)
petitioner did not present any proof that he suffered from permanent total disability, i.e., that his
earning power is now reduced and that he is incapable of performing remunerative employment; 2)
petitioner did not present any medical certificate showing that he suffered any disability; 3) on the
contrary, the company-designated physician attested that petitioner could return to further sea duty; 4)
even if he could not go back to sea duty, this does not mean that his earning capacity is impaired since
as a musician, he may still perform on land; and 5) having admitted that he was a heavy smoker,
petitioner is disqualified under Section 20(d) of the 1996 POEA SEC from recovering compensation for
any incapacity or disability he suffered.

There are three kinds of disability benefits under the Labor Code, as amended by P.D. No. 626: (1)
temporary total disability, (2) permanent total disability, and (3) permanent partial disability. Section 2,
Rule VII of the Implementing Rules of Book V of the Labor Code differentiates the disabilities as follows:

Sec. 2. Disability.-- (a) A total disability is temporary if as a result of the injury or sickness the employee is
unable to perform any gainful occupation for a continuous period not exceeding 120 days, except as
otherwise provided for in Rule X of these Rules.

(b) A disability is total and permanent if as a result of the injury or sickness the employee is unable to
perform any gainful occupation for a continuous period exceeding 120 days, except as otherwise
provided for in Rule X47 of these Rules.

(c) A disability is partial and permanent if as a result of the injury or sickness the employee suffers a
permanent partial loss of the use of any part of his body. (emphasis supplied)

In Vicente v. ECC:48

x x x the test of whether or not an employee suffers from ‘permanent total disability’ is a showing of the
capacity of the employee to continue performing his work notwithstanding the disability he incurred.
Thus, if by reason of the injury or sickness he sustained, the employee is unable to perform his
customary job for more than 120 days and he does not come within the coverage of Rule X of the
Amended Rules on Employees Compensability (which, in more detailed manner, describes what
constitutes temporary total disability), then the said employee undoubtedly suffers from ‘permanent
total disability’ regardless of whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body. (emphases
supplied)

A total disability does not require that the employee be absolutely disabled, or totally paralyzed. What is
necessary is that the injury must be such that the employee cannot pursue her usual work and earn
therefrom.49 On the other hand, a total disability is considered permanent if it lasts continuously for
more than 120 days.50 Thus, in the very recent case of Crystal Shipping, Inc. v. Natividad,51 we held:

Permanent disability is inability of a worker to perform his job for more than 120 days, regardless of
whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body.52 x x x

Total disability, on the other hand, means the disablement of an employee to earn wages in the same
kind of work of similar nature that he was trained for, or accustomed to perform, or any kind of work
which a person of his mentality and attainments could do.53 It does not mean absolute helplessness. In
disability compensation, it is not the injury which is compensated, but rather it is the incapacity to work
resulting in the impairment of one's earning capacity.54

Applying the foregoing standards, we find that petitioner suffered from permanent total disability.
It is undisputed that petitioner started to suffer chest pains on March 16, 1998 and was repatriated on
April 23, 1998 after having been found as "not fit for duty." The medical report dated June 25, 1998 of
the company-designated physician, Dr. Abesamis, establishes the following facts, viz: a) petitioner
underwent a coronary bypass on April 2, 1998; b) petitioner was "unfit" from April 27, 1998 (date of
referral) to June 25, 1998 (date of medical report); c) petitioner may not return to sea duty within 8-10
months after June 25, 1998; and d) petitioner may return to sea duty as a piano or guitar player after 8-
10 months from June 25, 1998.

These facts clearly prove that petitioner was unfit to work as drummer for at least 11-13 months -- from
the onset of his ailment on March 16, 1998 to 8-10 months after June 25, 1998. This, by itself, already
constitutes permanent total disability. What is more, private respondents were well aware that
petitioner was working for them as a drummer, as proven by the communication of respondent
principal to respondent agency referring to petitioner as "drummer with our enchanted isle
quartet."55 Thus, the certification that petitioner may go back specifically as a piano or guitar player
means that the likelihood of petitioner returning to his usual work as a drummer was practically nil.
From this, it is pristine clear that petitioner's disability is total and permanent.

Private respondents' contention that it was not shown that it was impossible for petitioner to play the
drums during the 8-10 months that he was on land is specious. To our minds, petitioner's unfitness to
work attached to the nature of his job rather than to its place of performance. Indeed, playing drums
per se requires physical exertion, speed and endurance. It demands the performance of hitting strokes
and repetitive movements that petitioner, having undergone a triple coronary bypass, has become
incapacitated to do.

The possibility that petitioner could work as a drummer at sea again does not negate the claim for
permanent total disability benefits. In the same case of Crystal Shipping, Inc., we held:

Petitioners tried to contest the above findings [of permanent total disability] by showing that
respondent was able to work again as a chief mate in March 2001. (citation omitted) Nonetheless, this
information does not alter the fact that as a result of his illness, respondent was unable to work as a
chief mate for almost three years. The law does not require that the illness should be incurable. What is
important is that he was unable to perform his customary work for more than 120 days which
constitutes permanent total disability.56 (emphasis supplied)

That the company-designated physician did not specify that petitioner suffered from any disability
should not prejudice petitioner's claim for disability benefits. In the first place, it is well to note that it
was respondent agency which referred petitioner to the American Outpatient Clinic giving only the
specific instruction that the designated physician indicate in the medical report "the estimated
treatment period and the exam conducted."57 Moreover, what is important is that the facts stated in the
medical report clearly constitute permanent total disability as defined by law. It is well-settled that strict
rules of evidence are not applicable in claims for compensation and disability benefits.58 Disability
should not be understood more on its medical significance but on the loss of earning capacity.59 As in
the case of Crystal Shipping, Inc.,60 an award of permanent total disability benefits in the petition at bar
would be germane to the purpose of the benefit, which is to help the employee in making ends meet at
the time when he is unable to work.

We do not agree that petitioner's admission that he was a heavy smoker is enough ground to disqualify
him from entitlement to disability compensation under Section 20(D) of the 1996 POEA SEC,
viz:1avvphil.net

Section 20.D. No compensation shall be payable in respect of any injury, incapacity, disability or death of
the seafarer resulting from his willful or criminal act, provided however, that the employer can prove
that such injury, incapacity, disability or death is directly attributable to the seafarer.

We have held that a worker brings with him possible infirmities in the course of his employment and
while the employer is not the insurer of the health of the employees, he takes them as he finds them
and assumes the risk of liability.61

In the case at bar, it is noteworthy that petitioner's habit of smoking was not a consideration when
private respondents hired petitioner. It was likewise not shown that petitioner suffered from any form
of ailment prior to the heart ailment he suffered during the course of his employment with private
respondents. While smoking may contribute to the development of a heart ailment, heart ailment may
be caused by other factors such as working and living under stressful conditions. Thus, private
respondents' peremptory presumption, that petitioner's habit of smoking heavily was the willful act
which caused his illness and resulting disability, without more, cannot suffice to bar petitioner's claim
for disability benefits. Ruling otherwise would run contrary to the constitutional mandate to extend full
protection to labor.

Having suffered from permanent total disability, petitioner is entitled to US$60,000.00 which is the
amount due for permanent total disability under Section 30-A of the 1996 POEA SEC.

As to the claim for sickness allowance, petitioner prays that private respondents be held jointly and
severally liable to pay him US$3,428.00, as opposed to the award of the Labor Arbiter, as affirmed by
the NLRC and the CA, of only US$3,400.00. We find this claim warranted by the undisputed fact on
record that petitioner's basic salary is US$857.00 per month.62 Multiplying the 120-day sickness
allowance due petitioner on the basis of the correct monthly rate of US$857.00, he should be awarded
US$3,428.00 as sickness allowance.

Under Article 2208 of the New Civil Code, attorney's fees can be recovered in actions for the recovery of
wages of laborers and actions for indemnity under employer's liability laws. Attorney's fees is also
recoverable when the defendant's act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to incur expenses to
protect his interest. Such conditions being present in the case at bar, we find that an award of attorney's
fees is warranted.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 67782 dated
March 31, 2003 and August 14, 2003, respectively, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Private respondents
are held jointly and severally liable to pay petitioner: a) permanent total disability benefits of
US$60,000.00 at its peso equivalent at the time of actual payment; b) sickness allowance of US$3,428.00
at its peso equivalent at the time of actual payment; and c) attorney's fees of ten percent (10%) of the
total monetary award at its peso equivalent at the time of actual payment. Costs against private
respondents.

SO ORDERED.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ
Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA ADOLFO S. AZCUNA


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

CANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairman

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairman’s Attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Also referred to as New Commodore Cruise Line, Ltd. in some parts of the record.
2
Dated March 31, 2003; rollo, pp. 28-35.
3
Dated August 14, 2003; Id. at 64.
4
CA rollo, pp. 33-41.
5
Id. at 293.
6
Note that said POEA SEC has been revised by DOLE Department Order No. 4, Series of 2000 (2000
POEA SEC).
7
CA rollo, p. 206.
8
Id. at 202-204.
9
Id. at 48.
10
Id. at 88.
11
Id. at 89-90.
12
Id. at 241.
13
Id. at 186-187.
14
Id. at 190.
15
Id. at 36.
16
Id. at 190-215.
17
Id. at 87-91.
18
Id. at 44-56.
19
Id. at 56.
20
Supra note 4.
21
Id. at 2-28.
22
Rollo, p. 88.
23
Id. at 116.
24
Id. at 17.
25
See Chiang Kai Shek College v. CA, G.R. No. 152988, August 24, 2004, 437 SCRA 171, citing Republic v.
Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 102508, January 30, 2002, 375 SCRA 145.
26
Memorandum (For the Private Respondents); rollo, p. 172.
27
Labor Code, Art. 167(n).
28
See Sec. 32-A of the 2000 POEA SEC titled "Occupational Diseases."
29
G.R. No. 84812, October 5, 1990, 190 SCRA 337, 346-347.
30
The 1984 POEA SEC and 1996 POEA SEC are similarly worded.
31
G.R. No. 123619, June 8, 2000, 333 SCRA 236, 242.
32
See Arts. 1306 and 1308 of the New Civil Code; Delos Santos v. Jebsen Maritime, Inc., G.R. No. 154185,
November 22, 2005, citing Lagunsad vs. Soto, No. L-32066, August 6, 1979, 92 SCRA 476.
33
Mayon Hotel and Restaurant v. Adana, G.R. No. 157634, May 16, 2005, 458 SCRA 609, citing Nicario v.
NLRC, G.R. No. 125340, September 17, 1998, 295 SCRA 619. (citation omitted)
34
Id., citing Sarmiento v. Employees’ Compensation Commission, No. L-68648, September 24, 1986, 144
SCRA 421.
35
G.R. No. 85024, January 23, 1991, 193 SCRA 190, 195.
36
G.R. No. 64255, August 16, 1989, 176 SCRA 507, 511.
37
E.O. No. 247, Sec. 3(i) and (j).
38
Art. 1700, New Civil Code. The relations between capital and labor are not merely contractual. They
are so impressed with public interest that labor contracts must yield to the common good. Therefore,
such contracts are subject to the special laws on labor unions, collective bargaining, strikes and lockouts,
closed shop, wages, working conditions, hours of labor and similar subjects.
39
G.R. No. 123891, February 28, 2001, 353 SCRA 47.
40
G.R. No. 134028, December 17, 1999, 321 SCRA 268, 270-271.
41
G.R. No. 117572, January 29, 1998, 285 SCRA 430, 436 and G.R. No. 116015, July 31, 1996, 260 SCRA
133, 138.
42
G.R. No. 84777, January 30, 1992, 205 SCRA 598, 602.
43
Ibid., citing Ulibas v. Republic, No. L-43320, June 30, 1978, 83 SCRA 819 and Roma v. WCC, No. L-
43675, October 28, 1977, 80 SCRA 170.
44
G.R. No. 154798, October 20, 2005.
45
G.R. No. 145093, July 8, 2003, 405 SCRA 450, 454.
46
G.R. No. 105854, August 26, 1999, 313 SCRA 141, 149-150.
47
Rule X. Temporary Total Disability
SECTION 2. Period of entitlement [to Temporary Total Disability Benefit]

(a) The income benefit shall be paid beginning on the first day of such disability. If caused by an injury or
sickness it shall not be paid longer than 120 consecutive days except where such injury or sickness still
requires medical attendance beyond 120 days but not to exceed 240 days from onset of disability in
which case benefit for temporary total disability shall be paid. However, the System may declare the
total and permanent status at any time after 120 days of continuous temporary total disability as may
be warranted by the degree of actual loss or impairment of physical or mental functions as determined
by the System; x x x1avvphil.net
48
Supra note 35.
49
Austria v. CA, G.R. No. 146636, August 12, 2002, 387 SCRA 216, 221, citing Gonzaga v. ECC, No. L-
62287, January 31, 1984, 127 SCRA 443.
50
Rule XI, Section 1(b) of the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation.
51
Supra note 44.
52
Ibid., citing GSIS v. Cadiz, supra note 45; Ijares v. CA, supra note 46.
53
Ibid., citing Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc. v. NLRC, supra Note 39.
54
Ibid., citing Bejerano v. ECC, supra note 43.
55
CA rollo, p. 64.
56
Citing GSIS v. Cadiz, supra note 45.
57
CA Rollo, p. 88.
58
Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc. v. NLRC, supra note 39, citing NFD International Manning Agents,
Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 107131, March 13, 1997, 269 SCRA 486, 494.
59
Supra note 39.
60
Supra note 44.
61
Seagull Shipmanagement and Transport, Inc. v. NLRC, supra, citing More Maritime Agencies, Inc. v.
NLRC, G.R. No. 124927, May 18, 1999, 307 SCRA 189.
62
Contract of Employment and the factual findings of the Labor Arbiter, NLRC and CA; CA rollo, pp. 34,
36, 45 and 63, rollo, p. 29.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

FIL-STAR MARITIME G.R. No. 192686


CORPORATION, CAPTAIN VICTORIO
S. MIGALLOS and
GRANDSLAM ENTERPRISE Present:
CORPORATION,

Petitioners,
VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,

PERALTA,
- versus -
ABAD,

PEREZ, and

MENDOZA, JJ.
HANZIEL O. ROSETE,

Respondent.

Promulgated:

November 23, 2011


x -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure assailing the March 23, 2010 Decision[2] and the June 8, 2010
Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. SP No. 103256, which
reversed the October 17, 2007 Resolution[4] of the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) and ordered the reinstatement of the May 21, 2007
Decision[5] of the Labor Arbiter (LA), awarding disability benefits to respondent
Hanziel Rosete (respondent).

In 2005, petitioner Fil-Star Maritime Corporation (Fil-Star), the local


manning agency of co-petitioner Grandslam Enterprise
Corporation (Grandslam), hired respondent as third officer on board the ocean-
going vessel M/V Ansac Asia. He was in charge of the loading and unloading
operations of the vessels cargo primarily consisting of soda ash in
bulk. Respondent stated that the nature of his work exposed him to minute
particles of soda ash during the loading and unloading operations. On November
22, 2005, respondent finished his contract and returned to the Philippines.

Thereafter, the petitioners re-hired respondent to work as second officer


on their vessel for a period of nine (9) months. On January 5, 2006, respondent
underwent a pre-employment medical examination (PEME) with First Medical
Team Health Care Specialist Group,[6] the company accredited physician, and was
pronounced fit to work. On board the vessel, he was tasked to make an inventory
of the vessels property for annual inspection. According to respondent, he
worked diligently and oftentimes worked odd hours just to familiarize himself
with his new job. He averred that overtime work and the violent motions of the
vessel due to weather inclemency caused undue strain to his eyes and his physical
well-being.

On February 14, 2006 or a little over a month from his embarkation,


respondent experienced an abrupt blurring of his left eye. He reported it to his
captain and was advised to do an eye wash to relieve his pain until they
reached Chiba, Japan. After the vessel arrived in Chiba, respondent was not able
to seek medical advice because he was tasked to man the ships navigation
equipment. Five days later, respondent was able to receive medical attention
in Kawasaki, Japan. Respondent was diagnosed with Central Retinal Vein
Occlusion and immediately underwent three rounds of laser surgery on February
28, 2006, March 2, 2006 and March 4, 2006.

On March 9, 2006, respondent was declared fit for travel and was
subsequently repatriated to the Philippines. Upon arrival in Manila, respondent
went to the MetropolitanHospital but could not get immediate
treatment. On March 19, 2006, he experienced severe pain in his left eye so he
insisted that he be admitted to the hospital. Respondent underwent another
series of laser surgery on March 22 and 25, April 6, 18, and 25, 2006.

On August 11, 2006, Dr. Antonio Say declared respondents left eye to be
legally blind with poor possibility of recovery. Relevant portions of the medical
certificate read:

A. Left eye is legally blind

B. Partial permanent disability

Partial because the visual activity of the right eye is 20/20.


It is permanent because the poor visual activity of the left eye,
hand movement, has poor prognosis for visual recovery.[7]

The petitioners denied his claim for permanent total disability and only
rated his incapacity as Grade 7. Respondent stressed that, under their Collective
Bargaining Agreement (CBA), he should be considered legally blind meriting
entitlement to permanent total disability benefits in the sum of US$105,000.00
for being unable to perform his job for more than 120 days from his repatriation.

Thus, on August 29, 2006, respondent filed a complaint against Fil-Star, Capt.
Victorio S. Migallos and Grandslam for disability benefits, damages and attorneys
fees.

The petitioners averred that after almost a month aboard the vessel,
respondent complained of a sudden blurring of his left eye. They referred him to
the Honmoku Hospitalwhere a Dr. Yasuhiko Tomita diagnosed him with Central
Retinal Vein Occlusion, left eye and Neo-Vascular Glaucoma, left eye, suspicion.
After his repatriation, they immediately referred him to
the Metropolitan Medical Center where he was treated and underwent a series of
Panretinal Photocoagulation Session to prevent further neovascular
formation. They shouldered the expenses for all these procedures. They,
however, argued that respondent was not qualified for disability benefits,
damages and attorneys fees because his illness was not an occupational disease
or work-related.

On May 21, 2007, Labor Arbiter Pablo C. Espiritu, Jr. (the LA) ruled in favor of
respondent.[8] The decretal portion reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondents Filstar Maritime Corporation and


Grandslam Enterprise Corp. are jointly and severally liable to pay complainant full
total and permanent disability benefits in the amount of US$105,000.00 or its
equivalent amount in Philippine currency at the time of payment.

Respondents are further ordered to pay 10% attorneys fees based on the total
judgment award.

All monetary claims are hereby dismissed.

SO ORDERED.[9]

The LA reasoned out that respondent left the Philippines in good condition, thus,
it could be logically inferred that he contracted the illness while on board the
vessel. As respondent was not able to perform his job for more than 120 days
since his repatriation, he became entitled to permanent disability benefits. Based
on their CBA, respondent should be awarded US$105,000.00.[10]

Not in conformity with the ruling, the petitioners appealed to the NLRC which, in
its October 17, 2007 Resolution, modified the L.A. Decision by reducing
respondents disability benefits from US$105,000.00 to US$20,900.00.[11] As
modified, the decretal portion reads:

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated 21 May 2007 is hereby MODIFIED by


ordering the respondents to pay jointly and severally complainant Hanziel O. Rosete
a disability benefit of US$20,900, the amount equivalent to Grade 7 under POEA
Standard Employment Contract.

The payment of ten percent (10%) attorneys fees based on the judgment award is
hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.[12]

The NLRC ruled that the grant of US$105,000.00 based on the provisions of
the CBA had no legal basis because disability benefits under Article 28 thereon
would refer only to permanent disability resulting from accident while in
employment.[13] The NLRC held respondent was entitled to disability benefits but
only up to Grade 7 as recommended by his own physician, Dr. George Pile.[14]

Both parties moved for reconsideration of said decision, but their


respective motions were denied by the NLRC in its Resolution dated January 15,
2008.[15]

Respondent elevated the case to the CA via petition for certiorari under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.[16] On March 23, 2010, the CA reversed the NLRCs
decision. Thefallo reads:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated October 17,


2007 and January 15, 2008 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC),
Quezon City, in NLRC-LAC (OFW-M) No. 07-000018-07(3) NLRC-OFW Case
No. 06-08-02629-00 are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The Labor Arbiters
Decision dated May 21, 2007 is REINSTATED in full.

SO ORDERED.[17]

The CA held that there was no doubt that respondent was unable to work
for more than one hundred twenty days (120) the requisite period for a grant of
total disability benefits. Although the petitioners claimed that their CBA provision
should be controlling, the CA clarified that the relevant provisions of the POEA-
SEC pertaining to permanent total disability remain essential parts of the parties
valid and binding contract.[18] The CA further stated that although respondents
Central Retinal Vein Occlusion was not listed as an occupational disease, he
successfully established a causal connection from his work as a seaman to his
illness. It stressed that compensability of a non-occupational disease, reasonable
proof and not direct proof of a causal connection between the work and the
ailment is required.[19]

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[20] was likewise denied by the CA in


its June 8, 2010 Resolution.

Hence, this petition.[21]

Petitioners submit the following issues for resolution:

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED PATENT AND REVERSIBLE


ERROR IN RULING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT HANZIEL O. ROSETE IS ENTITLED TO
TOTAL PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS

II

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED PATENT AND REVERSIBLE


ERROR RULING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT HANZIEL O. ROSETE IS ENTITLED TO
DISABILITY BENEFITS UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT

III
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED PATENT AND
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT HANZIEL O. ROSETE IS
ENTITLED TO ATTORNEYS FEES.[22]

The petitioners contend that the CA erred in ruling that respondent was
entitled to permanent and total disability benefits and for applying the provision of
their CBA to award respondent US$105,000.00. They aver that Article 28 of their
CBA only pertains to permanent disability suffered as a result of an accident.[23]

The petition is partly meritorious.

The first issue is whether respondent is entitled to claim disability benefits


from the petitioners.

There is no quibble that respondent is entitled to disability benefits. The


Standard Employment Contract (SEC) for seafarers was created by the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) pursuant to its mandate under
Executive Order (E.O.) No. 247[24] dated July 21, 1987 to secure the best terms and
conditions of employment of Filipino contract workers and ensure compliance
therewith and to promote and protect the well-being of Filipino workers
overseas.[25]

In this case, respondent was diagnosed with Central Retinal Vein Occlusion
of his left eye. Central retinal vein occlusion is medically defined as the blockage
of the central retinal vein by a thrombus. It causes painless vision loss which
is usually sudden, but it can also occur gradually over a period of days to
weeks.[26] This condition, despite numerous medical procedures undertaken,
eventually led to a total loss of sight of respondents left eye. Loss of one bodily
function falls within the definition of disability which is essentially "loss or
impairment of a physical or mental function resulting from injury or sickness."[27]
Although Central Retinal Vein Occlusion is not listed as one of the
occupational diseases under Section 32-A of the 2000 Amended Terms of POEA-
SEC,[28] the resulting disability which is loss of sight of one eye, is specifically
mentioned in Section 32 thereof (Schedule of Disability or Impediment for Injuries
Suffered and Diseases Including Occupational Diseases or Illness
Contracted). More importantly, Section 20 (B), paragraph (4) states that those
illnesses not listed in Section 32 of this Contract are disputably presumed as work-
related.[29]

The disputable presumption that a particular injury or illness that results in


disability, or in some cases death, is work-related stands in the absence of contrary
evidence. In the case at bench, the said presumption was not overturned by the
petitioners. Although, the employer is not the insurer of the health of his
employees, he takes them as he finds them and assumes the risk of
liability.[30] Consequently, the Court concurs with the finding of the courts below
that respondents disability is compensable.

Now, the Court shall determine whether respondent is entitled to be awarded


permanent total or permanent partial disability benefits.

It should be noted that the company-designated physician assessed the loss


of respondents left eye as a permanent partial disability while respondents own
physician indicated his disability as Grade 7.

The Court is more inclined to rule, however, that respondent is suffering from a
permanent total disability as he was unable to return to his job that he was trained to
do for more than one hundred twenty days already. The recent case of Valenzona v.
Fair Shipping Corporation, et al.,[31] citing Quitoriano v. Jebsens Maritime,
Inc.,[32] elucidated the concept of permanent total disability, in this wise:
Thus, Court has applied the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability to the case
of seafarers. x x x

xxxx

There are three kinds of disability benefits under the Labor Code, as amended by P.D.
No. 626: (1) temporary total disability, (2) permanent total disability, and (3) permanent
partial disability. Section 2, Rule VII of the Implementing Rules of Book V of the Labor
Code differentiates the disabilities as follows:

Sec. 2. Disability. - (a) A total disability is temporary if as a result


of the injury or sickness the employee is unable to perform any gainful
occupation for a continuous period not exceeding 120 days, except as
otherwise provided for in Rule X of these Rules.

(b) A disability is total and permanent if as a result of the injury or


sickness the employee is unable to perform any gainful occupation for a
continuous period exceeding 120 days, except as otherwise provided for in
Rule X of these Rules.

(c) A disability is partial and permanent if as a result of the


injury or sickness the employee suffers a permanent partial loss of the
use of any part of his body.

In Vicente v. ECC (G.R. No. 85024, January 23, 1991, 193 SCRA 190, 195):

x x x the test of whether or not an employee suffers from 'permanent


total disability' is a showing of the capacity of the employee to continue
performing his work notwithstanding the disability he incurred. Thus, if
by reason of the injury or sickness he sustained, the employee is unable
to perform his customary job for more than 120 days and he does not
come within the coverage of Rule X of the Amended Rules on
Employees Compensability (which, in more detailed manner, describes
what constitutes temporary total disability), then the said employee
undoubtedly suffers from 'permanent total disability' regardless of
whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body.

A total disability does not require that the employee be absolutely disabled or totally
paralyzed. What is necessary is that the injury must be such that the employee cannot
pursue his usual work and earn therefrom (Austria v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
146636, Aug. 12, 2002, 387 SCRA 216, 221). On the other hand, a total disability is
considered permanent if it lasts continuously for more than 120 days. Thus, in the very
recent case of Crystal Shipping, Inc. v. Natividad (G.R. No. 134028, December 17, 1999,
321 SCRA 268, 270-271), we held:

Permanent disability is inability of a worker to perform his job for more than 120 days,
regardless of whether or not he lose[s] the use of any part of his body. x x x

Total disability, on the other hand, means the disablement of an employee to earn wages
in the same kind of work of similar nature that he was trained for, or accustomed to
perform, or any kind of work which a person of his mentality and attainments could do.
It does not mean absolute helplessness. In disability compensation, it is not the injury
which is compensated, but rather it is the incapacity to work resulting in the impairment
of one's earning capacity.[33] [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]

A total disability does not require that the employee be completely disabled,
or totally paralyzed. What is necessary is that the injury must be such that the
employee cannot pursue his or her usual work and earn from it.[34] On the other
hand, a total disability is considered permanent if it lasts continuously for more
than 120 days.[35] What is crucial is whether the employee who suffers from disability
could still perform his work notwithstanding the disability he incurred. Evidently,
respondent was not able to return to his job as a seafarer after his left eye was declared
legally blind. Records show that the petitioners did not give him a new overseas
assignment after his disability. This only shows that his disability effectively barred his
chances to be deployed abroad as an officer of an ocean-going vessel.
Therefore, it is fitting that respondent be entitled to permanent total
disability benefits considering that he would not able to resume his position as a
maritime officer and the probability that he would be hired by other maritime
employers would be close to impossible. Indeed, a sight-impaired maritime
applicant cannot stand in the same footing as his healthy co-applicant.

The next issue to be resolved is whether respondents entitlement to


permanent total disability benefits should be based on the CBA or his POEA-SEC
which integrated the 2000 Amended Standard Terms and Conditions Governing
the Employment of Filipino Seafarers on Board Ocean-Going Vessels.

The Court holds that respondent is entitled to claim permanent total


disability benefits based on his POEA-SEC and not based on their CBA as earlier
ruled by the L.A. and later affirmed by the CA.

The CBA provisions on disability are not applicable to respondents case


because Article 28 thereon specifically refers to disability sustained after an
accident.Article 28 of the ITF-JSU/AMOSUP CBA specifically states that:

Article 28: Disability

28.1 A seafarer who suffers permanent disability as a result of an


accident whilst in the employment of the Company regardless of fault,
including accidents occurring while travelling to or from the ship, and
whose ability to work as a seafarer as a result thereof, but excluding
permanent disability due to wilful acts, shall be in addition to sick pay, be
entitled to compensation according to the provisions of this
Agreement. [Emphasis supplied]

Respondent failed to show that the blurring of his left eye was caused by an
accident on board the ship. Thus, Article 28 of the CBA cannot be used to compute
his disability benefits.
Accordingly, what should govern the computation of his disability benefits
is the POEA-SEC incorporating the 2000 POEA Amended Standard Terms and
Conditions.Under Section 20 (B), paragraph 6, of the 2000 POEA Amended
Standard Terms and Conditions, to wit:

SECTION 20. COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS

xxxx

B. COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS FOR INJURY OR ILLNESS

The liabilities of the employer when the seafarer suffers work-related injury
or illness during the term of his contract are as follows:

xxxx

6. In case of permanent total or partial disability of the seafarer caused by


either injury or illness the seafarer shall be compensated in accordance
with the schedule of benefits enumerated in Section 32 of this Contract.
Computation of his benefits arising from an illness or disease shall
be governed by the rates and the rules of compensation applicable
at the time the illness or disease was contracted. [Emphases and
underscoring supplied]

Based on the schedule of disability under Section 32 of the 2000 POEA


Amended Standard Terms and Conditions, permanent total disability is classified
as Grade 1. Thus, respondents disability benefit should be computed as follows:

Grade 1: US$50,000.00 x 120% = US$60,000.00

As to the award of attorneys fees, the Court likewise affirms the ruling that
respondent is entitled to it as provided under Article 2208 of the Civil Code:
Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorneys fees and
expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, cannot be recovered,
except:

xxxx

(8) In actions for indemnity under workmens compensation and


employers liability laws;

xxxx

In the case at bench, respondent was compelled to litigate in order to claim


disability benefits from the petitioners. Thus, the award of attorneys fees is
justified pursuant to Article 2208 (8) of the Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The March 23,


2010 Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby MODIFIED in the sense that
petitioners Fil-star Maritime Corporation and Grandslam Enterprise Corp. are
jointly and severally liable to pay respondent Hanziel O. Rosete full total and
permanent disability benefits in the amount of US$60,000.00 or its equivalent
amount in Philippine currency at the time of payment. All other aspects of the CA
Decision stand.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

Chairperson

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

A T T E S T A T IO N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice


Designated as additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, per Special Order No.
1152 dated November 11, 2011.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 3-27.
[2]
Id. at 29-40. Penned by Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, with Associate Justice Mario L. Guaria III and
Associate Justice Sesinando E. Villon, concurring.
[3]
Id. at 42.
[4]
Id. at 163-174.
[5]
Id. at 219-228.
[6]
Id. at 165.
[7]
Id.
[8]
Id. at 219-228.
[9]
Id. at 227-228.
[10]
Id. at 226-227.
[11]
Id. at 163-173.
[12]
Id. at 172.
[13]
Id. at 171.
[14]
Id. at 172.
[15]
Id. at 175-176.
[16]
Id. at 132-148.
[17]
Id. at 39.
[18]
Id. at 35.
[19]
Id. at 33-38.
[20]
Id. at 42-74.
[21]
Id. at 3-27.
[22]
Id. at 371-372.
[23]
Id. at 11.
[24]
Reorganizing the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and for Other Purposes.
[25]
E.O. No. 247, Sec. 3(i) and (j).
[26]
<http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye_disorders/retinal_disorders/central_retinal_vein_occlu
sion.html> (visited November 8, 2011).
[27]
Labor Code, Article 167(n).
[28]
Also known as Memorandum Circular No. 09, Series of 2000.
[29]
Italics supplied.
[30]
Seagull Shipmanagement and Transport, Inc. v. NLRC, 388 Phil. 906, 914 [2000], citing More Maritime
Agencies, Inc. v. NLRC, 366 Phil. 646, 654-655 [1999].
[31]
G.R. No. 176884, October 19, 2011.
[32]
G.R. No. 179868, January 21, 2010, 610 SCRA 529.
[33]
Id. at 534-536.
[34]
Austria v. CA, 435 Phil. 926, 932 [2002], citing Gonzaga v. ECC, 212 Phil. 405, 414 [1984].
[35]
Rule XI, Section 1(b) of the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Baguio City

THIRD DIVISION

ALEN H. SANTIAGO, G.R. No. 194677


Petitioner,

Present:

- versus -
VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,

PERALTA,
PACBASIN SHIPMANAGEMENT,
INC. and/or MAJESTIC ABAD,
CARRIERS, INC.,
MENDOZA, and
Respondents.
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated:

April 18, 2012

X ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- X

DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing
the February 11, 2010 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. SP.
No. 108035, which affirmed the April 25, 2008 Decision[2] of the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC). The NLRC affirmed with modification
the December 29, 2006 Decision[3]of the Labor Arbiter (LA) in NLRC OFW Case
No. (M) 06-01-00057-00, entitled Alen H. Santiago v. Pacbasin ShipManagement,
Inc./Esteban Salonga/Majestic Carriers, Inc.

The Factual and Procedural Antecedents

Petitioner Alen H. Santiago (Santiago) entered into a contract of


employment[4] with respondent Pacbasin ShipManagement, Inc. (Pacbasin), the
local manning agent of its foreign principal, Majestic Carriers, Inc. Under said
contract, Santiago shall work as a riding crew cleaner with a monthly salary of
US$162.00 for two months.

On February 2, 2005, Santiago boarded the vessel M/T Grand Explorer. During his
stint, he figured in an accident. On March 9, 2005, he was accidentally hit by two
falling scaffolding pipes while performing a task, and his head, neck and shoulder
were injured. He was rushed to Rashid Hospital in Dubai where he underwent a
series of examination and treatment. Despite the treatment he received, his
condition did not improve. He continued to have headaches with severe pain in his
nape and shoulder. For this reason, it was advised that he be repatriated to
the Philippines.

On March 17, 2005, two days after his repatriation, Santiago was referred to the
company-designated doctor, Dr. Robert Lim (Dr. Lim) of the Marine Medical
Services at the Metropolitan Medical Center, to undergo some tests. He underwent
cervical spine and skull x-ray. His neck injury was diagnosed to be a contusion,
nape area and left, C5, C6, C7 radiculopathy, mild sensorineural hearing loss,
bilateral probably secondary to cochlear concussion. On April 8, 2005, he was
referred to a neurologist and EMG/NCV was conducted. On August 13, 2005, after
several sessions of treatment and evaluation from March 17, 2005 to July 2005, Dr.
Lim, in coordination with the clinics orthopedic surgeon and EENT specialists,
pronounced that his hearing problem was cured and gave him a disability
assessment of Grade 12.
On October 10, 2005, Santiago underwent a CT scan of the head at his own
expense. On the 23rd of the same month, he was seen by Dr. Epifania
Collantes (Dr. Collantes), a neurologist. He was diagnosed to have cerebral
concussion, C5-C7 Radiculopathy secondary to trauma. In the clinical
summary,[5] it was stated, among others, that his motor exam was 5/5 on all
extremities and reflexes were normal; that there was no note of sensory deficits and
the neck was supple; that cranial CT scan showed no skull fractures and no brain
parenchymal lesions; that there was a showing of bilateral sclerosis of mastoids;
and that he was ambulatory and able to perform his daily chores, although
experiencing neck pains and headaches.

Despite medical treatment, his condition showed minimal improvement. He


continued to experience a lingering pain in his nape, headaches and mixed type
deafness. On February 16, 2006, he consulted Dr. Efren Vicaldo (Dr. Vicaldo) of
the Philippine Heart Center, who was not a company-designated physician. After
checking on his condition, Dr. Vicaldo issued a medical certificate[6] assessing his
disability as Grade 7. He was also declared to be unfit to resume work as a seaman.
His medical state would require regular medication and that it would take a
considerable length of time before he would be considered symptom-free.

Subsequently, Santiago demanded payment from Pacbasin for disability benefits


pursuant to the provisions of the POEA Standard Employment Contract. This
demand, however, was not heeded. Consequently, he filed a complaint for
disability benefit, illness allowance, and reimbursement of medical expenses,
damages and attorneys fees.

In its defense, Pacbasin averred that during the time that Santiago was under
medication, it shouldered all the expenses; that it even paid him a total of one
hundred twenty (120) days of sickness allowance; that the findings of Dr. Vicaldo
should not be given more weight than that of Dr. Lim; and that since Dr. Lim
categorized his disability to be Grade 12, then the amount that he was entitled to
receive was only $5,225.00 and not the maximum amount of $60,000.00.
In its decision dated December 29, 2006, the LA adopted the findings of Dr.
Vicaldo that he was totally and permanently disabled, entitling him to full
disability benefits. Thus, it disposed:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered


ordering the respondents PacBasin ShipManagement, Inc./Esteban
Salonga/Majestic Carriers, Inc. to pay complainant Alen H. Santiago the
amount of SIXTY SIX THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWELVE US
DOLLARS & 80/100 (US$66,712.80) or its equivalent in Philippine Peso at
the prevailing rate of exchange at the time of actual payment representing
his disability benefits, sickness wages and attorneys fees.

All other claims are DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[7]

Dissatisfied with the ruling of the LA, Pacbasin appealed the decision to the
NLRC. On April 25, 2008, the NLRC partially granted its prayer. It ruled
that Santiago was only entitled to partial permanent disability equivalent to grade
12 or the amount of $5,225.00 plus 10% as attorneys fees. Thus, the claim for total
permanent disability benefit and sickness allowance was disallowed. The decretal
portion reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondents appeal is


partially GRANTED. The Decision of the Labor Arbiter
is AFFIRMED subject to MODIFICATIONS in that complainant is entitled
only to partial permanent disability equivalent to grade 12 or the amount
of US$5,225.00 plus 10% thereof as attorneys fees. The award of total
permanent disability benefit (US$60,000.00) and sickness allowance (of
US$648.00) are vacated and set aside for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[8]
A motion for reconsideration was filed by Santiago but the same was denied.

Aggrieved, Santiago elevated the case to the CA. He insisted that he was entitled to
the maximum disability benefit of $60,000.00 because he was unable to perform
his customary work for more than 120 days. His basis for said position was the
ruling in the case of Crystal Shipping v. Natividad.[9]
Pacbasin countered that the case of Crystal Shipping v. Natividad was already
abandoned and superseded by the case of Jesus Vergara v. Hammonia Maritime
Services.[10] In said case, the Court ruled that a temporary total disability only
becomes permanent when so declared by the company-designated physician within
the period he is allowed to do so, or upon the expiration of the maximum 240-day
medical treatment period without the declaration of either fitness to work or the
existence of a permanent disability.[11]

The CA, in its February 11, 2010 Decision, dismissed Santiagos appeal and
affirmed the NLRC decision and resolution. The dispositive portion of said
decision is quoted below as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is


hereby DISMISSED. Accordingly, the decision dated April 25, 2008 and
resolution dated November 28, 2008both issued by public respondent
commission are perforce affirmed in toto.

SO ORDERED.[12]

The CA applied the case of Vergara where it was held that if the 120-day
initial period was exceeded and no declaration was made with respect to disability
or fitness because the seaman required further medical treatment, then treatment
should continue up to a maximum of 240 days. At any time within the 240-day
period, the seaman may be declared fit or disabled. If, however, the 240-day period
lapsed without any declaration that the seaman was fit or disabled to work, the
temporary total disability becomes a permanent total disability, which would
entitle the seaman for maximum disability benefits.

The CA also wrote that since Santiago was assessed by the company- designated
physician to be suffering a Grade 12 disability within the 240- day period, then he
was merely suffering from a permanent partial disability and not a permanent total
disability which would entitle him to a maximum disability benefit of $60,000.00.

A motion for reconsideration was filed but the CA denied it in its resolution
dated November 12, 2010.

Hence, this petition.


Santiago presents for evaluation the following errors allegedly committed by the
CA, to wit:

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT


APPLYING THE RULE OF PERMANENT TOTAL DISABILITY UNDER
ARTICLE 291 OF THE LABOR CODE AND SEVERAL
JURISPRUDENCE SUPPORTING THE SAME.

II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN


MISAPPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF THE POEA STANDARD
EMPLOYMENT REGARDING THE OPTION OF THE PARTIES TO
SECURE THE OPINION OF A THIRD DOCTOR.

III.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT


SUSTAINING THE AWARD OF ATTORNEYS FEES IN FAVOR OF
PETITIONER.[13]

The core issue in this case is the question of whether or not Santiago is entitled to a
maximum disability benefit of US$60,000.00 on account of his being unable to
perform work as a seaman for more than 120 days.

The respondents, in their Comment,[14] state that both the NLRC and the CA were
correct in ruling that Santiago was not permanently and totally disabled but was
merely suffering from a Grade 12 disability under the POEA contract. They claim
that the prevalent rule now, as enunciated in Vergara, is that the company-
designated doctor overseeing the seafarers treatment is given a maximum of 240
days to assess a seafarer with a disability or declare him fit to work. It is only after
the lapse of 240 days when the company-designated doctor could not yet render a
final assessment of the seafarers medical condition that the latter shall be
automatically considered permanently and totally disabled and, as such, entitled to
the maximum disability benefit.

Santiago, in his Reply,[15] argues that the 120-day Presumptive Disability Rule is
the prevailing jurisprudence in this jurisdiction. According to him, this rule is not a
novel one because as early as in the case of GSIS v. Court of Appeals,[16] the Court
has ruled that if an employee is unable to perform his customary job for more than
120 days then said employee suffers permanent total disability regardless of
whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body.

The Court finds no merit in the petition.

The contention of Santiago, that he was entitled to a permanent total disability


benefit as he was unable to perform his job for more than 120 days, is not totally
correct. This issue has been clarified in Vergara where it was ruled that the
standard terms of the POEA Standard Employment Contract agreed upon are
intended to be read and understood in accordance with Philippine laws,
particularly, Articles 191 to 193 of the Labor Code, as amended, and the applicable
implementing rules and regulations in case of any dispute, claim or grievance.

In the recent case of Magsaysay Maritime Corp. v. Lobusta,[17] this Court also
referred to, and applied, the ruling in Vergara in this manner:

Article 192(c)(1) under Title II, Book IV of the Labor Code, as amended,
reads:

ART. 192. Permanent total disability. x x x

xxx

(c) The following disabilities shall be deemed total and


permanent:

(1) Temporary total disability lasting continuously for more than


one hundred twenty days, except as otherwise provided in
the Rules;

xxxx
Section 2(b), Rule VII of the Implementing Rules of Title II,
Book IV of the Labor Code, as amended, or the Amended
Rules on Employees Compensation Commission (ECC
Rules), reads:

Sec. 2. Disability. x x x

(b) A disability is total and permanent if as a result of the injury


or sickness the employee is unable to perform any gainful
occupation for a continuous period exceeding 120 days,
except as otherwise provided for in Rule X of these Rules.
xxxx

Section 2, Rule X of the ECC Rules reads:

SEC. 2. Period of entitlement. (a) The income benefit shall be


paid beginning on the first day of such disability. If caused by
an injury or sickness it shall not be paid longer than 120
consecutive days except where such injury or sickness still
requires medical attendance beyond 120 days but not to
exceed 240 days from onset of disability in which case
benefit for temporary total disability shall be paid. However,
the System may declare the total and permanent status at
any time after 120 days of continuous temporary total
disability as may be warranted by the degree of actual loss or
impairment of physical or mental functions as determined by
the System.

xxxx

According to Vergara, these provisions of the Labor Code, as amended,


and implementing rules are to be read hand in hand with the first
paragraph of Section 20(B)(3) of the 2000 POEA Standard Employment
Contract which reads:

Upon sign-off from the vessel for medical treatment,


the seafarer is entitled to sickness allowance equivalent to his
basic wage until he is declared fit to work or the degree of
permanent disability has been assessed by the company-
designated physician[,] but in no case shall this period
exceed one hundred twenty (120) days.

Vergara continues:

As these provisions operate, the seafarer, upon sign-off from his vessel,
must report to the company-designated physician within three (3) days
from arrival for diagnosis and treatment. For the duration of the treatment
but in no case to exceed 120 days, the seaman is on temporary total
disability as he is totally unable to work. He receives his basic wage during
this period until he is declared fit to work or his temporary disability is
acknowledged by the company to be permanent, either partially or totally,
as his condition is defined under the POEA Standard Employment
Contract and by applicable Philippine laws. If the 120 days initial period is
exceeded and no such declaration is made because the seafarer requires
further medical attention, then the temporary total disability period may
be extended up to a maximum of 240 days, subject to the right of the
employer to declare within this period that a permanent partial or total
disability already exists. The seaman may of course also be declared fit to
work at any time such declaration is justified by his medical condition.

xxx

As we outlined above, a temporary total disability only becomes permanent


when so declared by the company physician within the periods he is allowed
to do so, or upon the expiration of the maximum 240-day medical treatment
period without a declaration of either fitness to work or the existence of a
permanent disability.

To be sure, there is one Labor Code concept of permanent total disability,


as stated in Article 192(c)(1) of the Labor Code, as amended, and the ECC
Rules. We also note that the first paragraph of Section 20(B)(3) of the
2000 POEA Standard Employment Contract was lifted verbatim from the
first paragraph of Section 20(B)(3) of the 1996 POEA Standard
Employment Contract, to wit:

Upon sign-off from the vessel for medical treatment,


the seafarer is entitled to sickness allowance equivalent to his
basic wage until he is declared fit to work or the degree of
permanent disability has been assessed by the company-
designated physician, but in no case shall this period exceed
one hundred twenty (120) days.
[Emphasis supplied]

In said Magsaysay Maritime Corp. case, the employee (Oberto Lobusta) was
eventually awarded the maximum disability benefit of $60,000.00. Applying
the Vergara case, the Court ruled that he was suffering from permanent total
disability because the maximum 240-day (8 months) medical treatment period
expired with no declaration from the attending physician that he was already fit to
work. Neither was there a declaration that Lobusta was afflicted with a permanent
disability. From May 22, 1998, his initial examination, to February 16, 1999, when
he was still prescribed medications for his lumbosacral pain and was even advised
to return for reevaluation, the number of days would be 264 days or 6 days short of
9 months,[18] way beyond the prescribed 240 day period.

In contrast, in the case at bench, two days after repatriation on March 17,
2005, Santiago underwent several tests and treatment. On April 8, 2005, a
neurologist conducted EMG/NCV on him. On August 13, Dr. Lim, the company-
designated physician, opined that he was suffering from a Grade 12 disability only,
not a permanent total one. Counting the days from March 17 to August 13, this
assessment by Dr. Lim was made on the 148th day, more or less, and, therefore,
within the 240-day period. Thus, Santiagos condition cannot be considered a
permanent total disability that would entitle him to the maximum disability benefit
of $60,000.00. To stress, the rule is that a temporary total disability only becomes
permanent when the company-designated physician, within the 240 day period,
declares it to be so, or when after the lapse of the same, he fails to make such
declaration.

Santiago relies too much on the Crystal Shipping case for his permanent
total disability claim. Unfortunately, his reliance on the ruling in said case is
misplaced. In the Vergara case, this Court held in resolving the seeming conflict
between the two cases by stating:

x x x This declaration of permanent total disability after the initial


120 days of temporary total disability cannot, however, be simply lifted
and applied as a general rule for all cases in all contexts. The specific
context of the application should be considered, as we must do in the
application of all rulings and even of the law and of the implementing
regulations.

Crystal Shipping was a case where the seafarer was completely


unable to work for three years and was indisputably unfit for sea duty due
to respondents need for regular medical check-up and treatment which
would not be available if he were at sea. While the case was not clear on
how the initial 120-day and the subsequent temporary total disability
period operated, what appears clear is that the disability went beyond 240
days without any declaration that the seafarer was fit to resume work. Under
the circumstances, a ruling of permanent and total disability was called for,
fully in accordance with the operation of the period for entitlement that we
described above.[19] (Emphases supplied)
Furthermore, the Court takes note that even after Santiago was informed by
Dr. Lim of his finding, he sought the opinion of independent doctors. First he went
to see Dr. Collantes, a neurologist, who diagnosed him to have cerebral
concussion, C5-C7 Radiculopathy secondary to trauma. It is interesting to note,
however, that the clinical summary stated, among others, that his reflexes were
normal and he was ambulatory and able to perform his daily chores although he
still experienced neck pains and headaches. These findings negate a claim for total
disability.

Finally, Santiago went to see Dr. Vicaldo of the Philippine Heart Center,
whose findings also belied his claim for permanent total disability. The doctor,
after only a single session, gave him a disability grading of 7, which would not
entitle him to a permanent total disability compensation.

At any rate, said finding ought not to be given more weight than the
disability grading given by the company-designated doctor. The POEA Standard
Employment Contract clearly provides that when a seafarer sustains a work-related
illness or injury while on board the vessel, his fitness or unfitness for work shall be
determined by the company-designated physician. However, if the doctor
appointed by the seafarer makes a finding contrary to that of the assessment of the
company-designated physician, the opinion of a third doctor may be agreed jointly
between the employer and the seafarer as the decision final and binding on both of
them.[20] In this case, Santiago did not avail of this procedure. There was no
agreement on a third doctor who shall examine him anew and whose finding shall
be final and binding. Thus, this Court is left without choice but to uphold the
certification made by Dr. Lim with respect to Santiagos disability.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the February 11,


2010 Decision of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. SP. No.
108035, is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

Chairperson

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice


ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts
Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 233-244. Penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes (now member of this Court) with Associate
Justice Celia C. Librea-Leagogo and Associate Justice Francisco P. Acosta, concurring.
[2]
Id. at 159-167. Penned by Commissioner Romeo L. Go with Presiding Commissioner Gerardo C. Nograles and
Commissioner Perlita B. Velasco, concurring.
[3]
Id. at 100-110. Penned by Executive Labor Arbiter for Adjudication Fatima Jambaro-Franco.
[4]
Id. at 35.
[5]
Id. at 17.
[6]
Id. at 50.
[7]
Id. at 109-110.
[8]
Id. at 166.
[9]
510 Phil. 332 (2005).
[10]
G.R. No. 172933, October 6, 2008, 567 SCRA 610.
[11]
Id. at 629.
[12]
Rollo, p. 243.
[13]
Id. at 19.
[14]
Id. at 296-325.
[15]
Id. at 333-345.
[16]
363 Phil. 585 (1999).
[17]
G.R. No. 177578, January 25, 2012.
[18]
Id.
[19]
Vergara v. Hammonia Maritime Service, Inc. ,G.R. No. 172933, October 6, 2008, 567 SCRA 610, 631-632.
[20]
Section 20 [50]. Compensation and Benefits for Injury or Illness
XXX
3. Upon sign-off from the vessel for medical treatment, the seafarer is entitled to sickness allowance equivalent to
his basic wage until he is declared fit to work or the degree of his permanent disability has been assessed by the
company-designated physician, but in no case shall this period exceed one hundred twenty (120) days.
For this purpose, the seafarer shall submit himself to a post-employment medical examination by a company-
designated physician within three working days upon his return except when he is physically incapacitated to do so,
in which case, a written notice to the agency within the same period is deemed as compliance. Failure of the seafarer
to comply with the mandatory reporting requirement shall result in his forfeiture of the right to claim the above
benefits.
If a doctor appointed by the seafarer disagrees with the assessment, a third doctor may be agreed jointly
between the Employer and the seafarer. The third doctors decision shall be binding on both
parties. (Emphasis supplied)
SECOND DIVISION

IBARRA P. ORTEGA, G.R. No. 176150


Petitioner,
Present:

- versus - QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


CARPIO MORALES,
SOCIAL SECURITY TINGA,
COMMISSION, and VELASCO, JR., and
SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, DE CASTRO,* JJ.
Respondents.
Promulgated:
June 25, 2008
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Petitioner Ibarra P. Ortega assails the Court of Appeals August 7, 2006


Decision[1] dismissing his petition for review and upholding the denial by
respondent Social Security Commission (SSC) of his application for total
permanent disability benefits, and the Resolution[2] of January 16, 2007 denying
his motions for reconsideration and inhibition.

Petitioner, a member of respondent Social Security System (SSS), filed claims


for partial permanent disability benefits on account of his condition of Generalized
Arthritis and Partial Ankylosis,[3] which claims the SSS granted for a total monthly
pension of 23 months.[4]

After the expiration of his disability pension, petitioner filed with the SSS
Malabon Branch Office on April 26, 2000 a claim for total permanent disability
benefits.[5] His application, docketed as BO-0000-1755, was denied, however, on
the ground that he was already granted disability benefits for the same illness and
physical examination showed no progression of illness. [6] Dr. Juanillo Descalzo III,
SSS Malabon Branch senior physician, observed that petitioner merely had a slight
limitation of grasping movement for both hands.[7]

Aggrieved, petitioner filed before the SSC an unverified Petition of June 19,
[8]
2000, alleging that the SSS denied his application despite the fact that his
attending physician, Dr. Rafael Recto, Jr., diagnosed him to be suffering
from Trigger finger 4th (L) and thumb (L)[9] while another private medical
practitioner, Dr. Flo dela Cruz, diagnosed him to be also suffering from Bronchial
Asthma, Hypertension and Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease.[10]

Further claiming to be afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis of both hands


affecting all fingers and both palms,[11] petitioner contended that the medical
opinion of the SSS physician who interviewed him for less than three minutes
cannot prevail over the findings of his physicians who have been treating him over
a long period of time.
Before taking cognizance of his appeal, the SSC directed the exhaustion of
administrative remedies, by letter of June 30, 2000. The matter was thus referred
to the SSS Office of the Medical Program Director for review of petitioners
disability claim.[12]

Meanwhile, by letter of July 17, 2000, the SSS Legal Department denied a
reconsideration of the denial of his claim,[13] prompting petitioner to submit a
letter-opposition of August 15, 2000.[14]

Upon referral of the SSC, the SSS Medical Program Department, through Dr.
Carlota A. Cruz-Tutaan and Dr. Jesus S. Tan, confirmed that, upon examination of
petitioner, there was no progression of his illness,[15] prompting petitioner to
submit a letter-opposition of November 11, 2000 charging the SSS medical
officers of issuing fraudulent medical findings.[16] Unperturbed, the SSS Medical
Program Department stood its ground and denied with finality petitioners claim,
by letter of November 22, 2000.[17]
On January 29, 2001, SSC finally docketed petitioners June 19, 2000 petition as
SSC Case No. 1-15115-2001,[18] after petitioner complied with SSCs
directives[19] to verify the petition and submit certain document-annexes. SSS then
filed its Answer of May 31, 2001,[20] to which petitioner submitted a Reply of June
25, 2001.[21] After the August 10, 2001 pre-hearing conference,[22] the SSS filed its
Position Paper of September 7, 2001 while petitioner submitted his Reply
of October 19, 2001.

By Resolution of April 3, 2002,[23] the SSC denied petitioners claim for entitlement
to total permanent disability for lack of merit. And it opined that, considering that
he had reached the retirement age of 60, on March 19, 1998, with 41 contributions
to his name, petitioner may opt:

(a) [t]o continue paying to the SSS monthly contributions (including employers
share) on his own to complete the required 120 monthly contributions in
order to avail of the retirement pension benefit;

(b) [to] leave his monthly contributions with the SSS for his and his familys future
benefits; or

(c) [to a]vail of the lump sum retirement benefit.[24]

Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the Resolution. The SSC thus directed the
SSS to file its comment[25] and, by a subsequent order, to conduct a domiciliary
visit and physical examination on petitioner to ascertain whether he could already
qualify for such benefit.[26] In compliance therewith, Dr. Rebecca Sison, SSS
senior physician, examined petitioner on August 29, 2002 and found no sufficient
basis to warrant the granting of total permanent disability benefits to him.[27]

Petitioners motion for reconsideration having been denied by Order[28] of January


29, 2003, petitioner appealed via Rule 43 to the Court of Appeals [29] which
promulgated in CA-G.R. SP No. 75653 the assailed issuances affirming in toto the
SSC Resolution and Order.

There is at the outset a need to thresh out procedural issues attending the
petition drafted by petitioner himself, apparently without the aid of counsel. While
the petition was admittedly filed as a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, it
contains a rider averring that it was filed also as a petition for review on certiorari
under Rule 45.[30]

In not granting imprimatur to this type of unorthodox strategy, the Court ruled, in a
similar case,[31] that a party should not join both petitions in one pleading. A
petition cannot be subsumed simultaneously under Rule 45 and Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court, nor may it delegate upon the court the task of determining under
which rule the petition should fall.[32] It is a firm judicial policy that the remedies
of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive.[33]

Palpably, petitioner crafted this unconventional two-headed petition under no other


pretext but to second-guess at the appropriate remedy. His apparent bewilderment
led him to later rectify a supposed typographical error in the caption such that
instead of petition for review, the title be read as a petition for certiorari.[34] The
subsequent filing of the Correction of Clerical Errors served no redeeming purpose
as it only evinced petitioners decision to consider the petition as a special civil
action for certiorari, which is an improper remedy.

It bears stressing that Rule 45 and Rule 65 pertain to different remedies and
have distinct applications.[35] It is axiomatic that the remedy of certiorari is not
available where the petitioner has the remedy of appeal or some other plain,
speedy and adequate remedy in the course of law.[36] The petition for review under
Rule 45 covers the mode of appeal from a judgment, final order, resolution or one
which completely disposes of the case, like the herein assailed Decision and
Resolution of the appellate court. There being already a final judgment at the time
of the filing of the petition, a petition for review under Rule 45 is the appropriate
remedy.

Petitioner failed to carve out an exception to this rule, as he did not and could not
illustrate the inadequacy of an appeal as a remedy that could promptly relieve him
from the injurious effects of the assailed judgment.[37] In fact, by seeking the same
kind of reliefs via two remedies rolled into one pleading, he implicitly admits that
an appeal suffices.Moreover, the probability of divergent rulings, a scenario
transpiring in G & S Transport Corp. v. CA,[38] is far from obtaining in this case
since the assailed issuances emanated from only one court and cannot be elevated
separately in different fora.
While the Court may dismiss a petition outright for being an improper
remedy,[39] it may, in certain instances where a petition was filed on time both
under Rules 45 and 65 and in the interest of justice, proceed to review the
substance of the petition and treat it as having been filed under Rule 45. [40] Either
way, however, the present petition just the same merits dismissal since it puts to
issue questions of fact rather than questions of law which are appropriate for
review under a Rule 45 petition.

It is settled that the Court is not a trier of facts and accords great weight to the
factual findings of lower courts or agencies whose function is to resolve factual
matters.[41] It is not for the Court to weigh evidence all over again.[42] Moreover,
findings of fact of administrative agencies and quasi-judicial bodies, which have
acquired expertise because their jurisdiction is confined to specific matters, are
generally accorded not only respect but finality when affirmed by the Court of
Appeals.[43]

The requisite quantum of proof in cases filed before administrative or quasi-


judicial bodies is neither proof beyond reasonable doubt nor preponderance of
evidence. In this type of cases, a fact may be deemed established if it is supported
by substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.[44] In this case, substantial
evidence abounds.

The conclusion that petitioner is not entitled to total permanent disability benefits
under the Social Security Law was reached after petitioner was examined not just
by one but four SSS physicians, namely, Dr. Juanillo Descalzo III, Dr. Carlota A.
Cruz-Tutaan, Dr. Jesus S. Tan and Dr. Rebecca Sison.

The initial physical examination and interview revealed that petitioner had slight
limitation of grasping movement for both hands. According to Dr. Descalzo, this
finding was not enough to grant an extension of benefit since petitioner had
already received benefits equivalent to 30% of the body. Responding to the
allegation that the April 2000 physical examination was performed in a short
period of time, the doctor credibly explained that petitioners movements were
already being monitored and evaluated from a distance as part of the examination
of his extremities in order to minimize malingering and overacting.[45]

Meanwhile, the medical findings of Dr. Carlota A. Cruz-Tutaan and Dr. Jesus S.
Tan in August and September 2000 were summarized as follows:

Heart:
- manifest regular rhythm
- no murmurs
Lungs:
- on ausculation showed no evidence of wheezing
- breath sounds are normal and;
- he is not in a state of respiratory distress
Hypertension:
- Blood Pressure is 140/80, hence, under control
Extremities: (Hands)
- No deformities noted except for the right small finger, the distal
interphalangeal joint is bent at about 30. No abnormal limitation of
movement noted on all the fingers, grasping has improved.[46]

Contrary to petitioners asseverations, the SSC did not ignore the certifications of
petitioners attending physicians as, in fact, it ordered the SSS in June 2001 to
conduct an investigation as to the medical findings and final diagnosis by his
attending physicians.[47] It was surfaced that petitioners medical records in the
custody of Dr. Flo dela Cruz could not be found as they were allegedly destroyed
by inundation.[48] And it was found that the July 10, 2001 letter-certification by Dr.
Rafael Recto, Jr. only narrated the recurring condition of petitioners trigger finger,
the administration to him of local steroid injections, and the performance of
surgical release on his left 4th trigger finger on June 16, 1998; and that he was
diagnosed on August 28, 2000 with mallet finger (R, 5th), for which he was
advised to undergo reconstructive surgery.[49]

Adopting a liberal attitude and exercising sound discretion, the SSC even
directed the conduct of another physical examination on petitioner to judiciously
resolve his motion for reconsideration. Pursuant thereto, Dr. Sison physically
examined petitioner in August 2002, the results of which were reflected in a
medical report, viz:

Physical Examination:

General Survey: well nourished, well developed, conscious, coherent but talks
with sarcasm and arrogance.
EENT: normocephalic, pinkish conjunctiva, anicteric sclerae; negative tonsillo-
pharyngeal congestion
C/L: clear breath sounds, no wheezes; (-) dyspnea
Heart: normal rate, regular rhythm.
Abdomen: negative tenderness
Extremeties: no neurological and sensory deficit
no gross deformity, (+) scar, 4th finger (L)
no loss of grasping power for large and small objects
no loss of opposition between thumb and forefingers
can bend fully to reach toes
can bend both knees fully without pain or difficulty
can raise both arms above shoulder level without pain and difficulty
can bend both elbows without limitation

The member was requested to submit recent ECG, x-rays and other laboratory
work-up results but he could not locate them during visit and would still look for
the said medical documents and mail them to SSS.

He was then advised to come to SSS, Diliman Branch for ECG and x-ray,
however he refused.

He also refused to affix his signature on the medical field service form to confirm
the visit of our Medical Officer.

Based on these recent physical examination findings and functional


assessment and the medical certificate (Form MMD 102) with final diagnosis of
Trigger Finger, there is no sufficient basis that warrants the granting of Total
Permanent disability.[50] (Underscoring supplied)

Dr. Sison subsequently noted that petitioners Electrocardiograph, Chest X-


ray, Kidney and Urinary Bladder Ultrasound indicated his condition
as normal,[51] which conclusion was arrived at by going through the same medical
documents presented by petitioner following a series of tests conducted on him by
hospitals of his choice.
From the foregoing recital of petitioners medical history, the SSC concluded that
petitioner is not entitled to total permanent disability benefits under the Social
Security Law, the pertinent provisions of which read:

xxxx

(d) The following disabilities shall be deemed permanent total:

1. Complete loss of sight of both eyes;


2. Loss of two limbs at or above the ankle or wrists;
3. Permanent complete paralysis of two limbs;
4. Brain injury resulting to incurable imbecility or insanity; and
5. Such cases as determined and approved by the SSS.

xxxx
(f) If the disability is permanent partial and such disability occurs after thirty-six
(36) monthly contributions have been paid prior to the semester of disability, the
benefit shall be the monthly pension for permanent total disability payable not
longer than the period designated in the following schedule:
COMPLETE
AND PERMANENT NUMBER OF
LOSS OF USE OF MONTHS
One thumb 10
One index finger 8
One middle finger 6
One ring finger 5
One little finger 3
One big toe 6
One hand 39
One arm 50
One foot 31
One leg 46
One ear 10
Both ears 20
Hearing of one ear 10
Hearing of both ears 50
Sight of one eye 25
(g) The percentage degree of disability which is equivalent to the ratio that the
designated number of months of compensability bears to seventy-five (75),
rounded to the next higher integer, shall not be additive for distinct, separate and
unrelated permanent partial disabilities, but shall be additive for deteriorating and
related permanent partial disabilities to a maximum of one hundred percent
(100%), in which case, the member shall be deemed as permanently totally
disabled.[52]
Indeed, the evidence indicates that petitioners condition at the time material to the
case does not fall under the enumeration in the above-quoted provisions of the
Social Security Law. Moreover, as correctly held by the appellate court, the
proviso of such provisions on the percentage degree of disability applies when
there is a related deterioration of the illness previously considered as partial
permanent disability. In this case, there is dearth of evidence on the proposition
that petitioners array of illnesses is related to Generalized Arthritis and Partial
Ankylosis of the specific body parts.

Petitioners reliance on jurisprudence[53] on work-connected disability claims


insofar as it relates to a demonstration of disability to perform his trade and
profession[54] is misplaced.

Claims under the Labor Code for compensation and under the Social
Security Law for benefits are not the same as to their nature and purpose. On the
one hand, the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code govern compensability of
work-related disabilities or when there is loss of income due to work-connected or
work-aggravated injury or illness.[55] On the other hand, the benefits under the
Social Security Law are intended to provide insurance or protection against the
hazards or risks of disability, sickness, old age or death, inter alia, irrespective of
whether they arose from or in the course of the employment.[56] And unlike under
the Social Security Law, a
disability is total and permanent under the Labor Code if as a result of the injury or
sickness the employee is unable to perform any gainful occupation for a
continuous period exceeding 120 days regardless of whether he loses the use of
any of his body parts.[57]

The Court notes that the main issue petitioner proffers is whether he is entitled to
total permanent disability benefits from the SSS given his angioplasty operation of
the heart, coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease, severe hypertension and
a host of other serious illnesses filed with the SSS[.][58]

A perusal of the records shows that when the case was already submitted for
decision before the appellate court, petitioner manifested that he suffered a heart
attack on February 25, 2004,[59] for which he claimed to have undergone a
coronary angiogram on March 9, 2005 and a coronary angioplasty on September
27, 2005 at the Philippine Heart Center.[60]

Unfortunate as these events were, the appellate court correctly ruled that it could
not consider such allegation of subsequent events since a factual question may not
be raised for the first time on appeal[,] and documents forming no part of the
proofs before the appellate court will not be considered in disposing of the issues
of an action.[61]

The issues in every case are limited to those presented in the pleadings. The
object of the pleadings is to draw the lines of battle between
the litigants and to indicate fairly the nature of the claims or defenses of

both parties.[62] A change of theory on appeal is not allowed.[63] In this case, the
matter of petitioners serious heart condition was not raised in his application
before the SSS or in his June 19, 2000 petition before the SSC.

Fair play dictates that the SSS be afforded the opportunity to properly meet the
issue[64] with respect to the new ailments besetting petitioner, in line with the actual
practice that only qualified government physicians, by virtue of their oath as civil
service officials, are competent to examine persons and issue medical certificates
which will be used by the government for a specific official purpose.[65] This holds
greater significance where there exist differences or doubts as to the medical
condition of the person.

In this case, the SSS medical examiners are tasked by law to analyze the
extent of personal incapacity resulting from disease or injury. Oftentimes, a
physician who is adequately versed in the knowledge of anatomy and physiology
will find himself deficient when called upon to express an opinion on the
permanent changes resulting from a disability. Unlike the general practitioner who
merely concerns himself with the examination of his patient for purposes of
diagnosis and treatment, the medical examiner has to consider varied factors and
ascertain the claimants related history and subjective complaints. [66] The members
of this Court cannot strip their judicial robe and don the physicians gown, so to
speak, in a pretense to correlate variances in medical findings.
Finding no cogent reason to discuss the ancillary issues, the Court dismisses
the petition, without prejudice to the filing of a new application by petitioner who
is not left without any recourse in his legal bout respecting his supervening claims
anchored mainly on Coronary Artery Disease 1VD and Diabetes Mellitus Type 2,
these illnesses having been found to be dissimilar from the subject matter of the
present action.[67]

WHEREFORE, the petition is, in light of the foregoing


disquisitions, DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

DANTE O. TINGA PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above
Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of
the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
*
Additional member per Raffle dated April 16, 2008 pursuant to Administrative Circular No. 84-2007 in lieu of
Justice Arturo D. Brion who inhibited.
[1]
Penned by Justice Arturo G. Tayag with the concurrence of Justices Elvi John S. Asuncion and Jose Catral
Mendoza, rollo, pp. 55-71;
[2]
Id. at 72-77.
[3]
Illness coded as 1373 (General Arthritis) and as 1414, 1416 and 1418 (Partial Ankylosis) based on the Manual on
Ratings of Physical Impairments; records, Vol. I, pp. 133-134.
[4]
Id. at 132. Petitioner received partial permanent disability benefits twice: first, on February 10, 1998 for 15
months; and second, on August 25, 1999 for eight months or for a total monthly pension of 23 months or a cash
equivalent of P66,700.00.
[5]
Id. at 14.
[6]
Id. at 13, 61-62 on the letter-reports of April 23, 2001 and May 29, 2001.
[7]
Letter-reports of April 23, 2001 and May 29, 2001; id. at 61-62.
[8]
Id. at 2-10.
[9]
Medical Certificate of March 6, 2000; id. at 87.
[10]
Medical Certificate of April 5, 2000; id. at 15.
[11]
Id. at 6.
[12]
Signed by Merceditas G. Caculitan, SSC Corporate Secretary; id. at 39.
[13]
Signed by Amador M. Monteiro, SSS Senior Vice President - Legal and Collection; id. at 36.
[14]
Id. at 29-35.
[15]
Medical Report of August 3, 2000; id. at 63, 137. Medical Fieldwork Service Request Form of September 14,
2000; id. at 138.
[16]
Id. at 40-51.
[17]
Id. at 140, signed by Dr. Vicente A. Curimao, Jr.
[18]
Id. at 85.
[19]
CA rollo, p. 68.
[20]
Records, Vol. I, pp. 58-60.
[21]
Id. at 70-84.
[22]
Petitioner adopted his complaint/petition and other pleadings as his Position Paper but reserved to file a Reply
and additional evidence; id. at 116, 122.
[23]
Rollo, pp. 78-83; penned by Commissioner Efren P. Aranzamendez.
[24]
Id. at 82.
[25]
Order of May 17, 2002; records, Vol. I, p. 214.
[26]
Order of July 31, 2002; id. at 221.
[27]
Memorandum of September 2, 2002 with attached Medical Report; id. at 242-244.
[28]
Rollo, pp. 84-87; penned by Commissioner Efren P. Aranzamendez.
[29]
The appellate court initially dismissed outright his petition for having been filed out of time as it only granted an
extension of 15 days instead of the requested 45 days. Upon motion, the appellate reconsidered its earlier
resolution and reinstated the petition; CA rollo, pp. 7, 145, 199-200.
[30]
Rollo, pp. 1-2.
[31]
Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa PICOP Resources, Inc.- Southern Philippines Federation of Labor v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 148839-40, November 2, 2006, 506 SCRA 542.
[32]
Ybaez v.Court of Appeals, 323 Phil. 643 (1996).
[33]
Young v. Sy, G.R. No. 157745, September 26, 2006, 503 SCRA 151.
[34]
Rollo, p. 11.
[35]
In Mackay v. Judge Angeles, 458 Phil. 1031, 1037-1038 (2003), it was held that [c]ertiorari as a mode of appeal
under Rule 45 should be distinguished from certiorari as an original action under Rule 65. In an appeal by
certiorari, the petition is based on questions of law which the appellant desires the appellate court to resolve. In
certiorari as an original action, the only question that may be raised is whether or not the lower court acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. x x x (Italics omitted)
[36]
Vide RULES OF COURT, Rule 65, Sec. 1.
[37]
Cf. Bristol Myers Squibb, (Phils.), Inc. v. Viloria, G.R. No. 148156, September 27, 2004, 439 SCRA 202 for
instances where certiorari may be granted despite the availability of appeal after trial, which presupposes that an
appeal is not available until after trial.
[38]
432 Phil. 7 (2002).
[39]
Vide Mercado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 150241, November 4, 2004, 441 SCRA 463-470 which states that
the liberality of construction of the rules should not be a panacea for all procedural maladies as it is not invoked
to cover up a partys neglect or sheer ignorance of procedure.
[40]
Vide Nuez v. GSIS Family Bank, G.R. No. 163988, November 17, 2005, 475 SCRA 305; Republic v. Court of
Appeals, 379 Phil. 92 (2000).
[41]
Lazaro v. Social Security Commission, 479 Phil. 384 (2004).
[42]
Chua v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125837, October 6, 2004, 440 SCRA 121.
[43]
Reyes v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 160233, August 8, 2007, 529 SCRA 487.
[44]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 133, Sec. 5.
[45]
Records, Vol. I, p. 61.
[46]
Memorandum of September 20, 2000 signed by senior physician, Dr. Vicente A. Curimao, Jr.; id. at 52-53.
[47]
Order of June 19, 2001; id. at 65.
[48]
Id. at 103.
[49]
Id. at 96-97.
[50]
Id. at 243-244; after presenting the conditions as alleged by [petitioner].
[51]
Memorandum of November 19, 2002 with attachments; id. at 245-248.
[52]
Id., Sec. 13-A (d), (f)-(g).
[53]
Vicente v. Employees Compensation Commission, G.R. No. 85024, January 23, 1991, 193 SCRA 190 and other
cases cited in the petition; rollo, pp. 41-42.
[54]
Petitioners occupations include consultant, security consultant, security officer, and investigator.
[55]
Vide Candano Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Sugata-on, G.R. No. 163212, March 13, 2007, 518 SCRA 221.
[56]
Valencia v. Manila Yacht Club, Inc., 138 Phil. 761, 764-765 (1969).
[57]
Vide LABOR CODE, Arts. 173, 192; Amended Rules on Employees Compensation, Rule VII, Sec. 2
(b); Palisoc v. Easways Marine, Inc., G.R. No. 152273, September 11, 2007, 532 SCRA 585.
[58]
Rollo, pp. 19-20.
[59]
CA rollo, pp. 278.
[60]
Id. at 287, 299.
[61]
Rollo, p. 76 citing F.F. Marine Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, Second Division, G.R. No.
152039, April 8, 2005, 455 SCRA 154 which adds that the rule also applies to decisions elevated for review
which originated from a quasi-judicial body.
[62]
Lianga Lumber Co. v. Lianga Timber Co, Inc., 166 Phil. 661-686 (1977).
[63]
Drilon v. CA, 336 Phil. 949-956 (1997).
[64]
Vide Bank of the Philippine Islands v. ALS Management and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 151821, April
14, 2004, 427 SCRA 564, 578-579.
[65]
People v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 144332, June 10, 2004, 431 SCRA 610, 621.
[66]
SSS Medical Departments Manual on Disability Rating; records, Vol. I, pp. 142-143. Varied factors come into
play in the proper analysis of a disability the anatomical alterations involved, the permanent residual effects, the
date when the permanency of the condition has set in, the occupation of the claimant, and foremost of all is the
problem of ascertaining how the resulting depreciated physique could presently adapt to the circumstances of
the environment.
[67]
Rollo, pp. 76-77.