Sunday, March 4, 2012

Quizora vs. Denholm Crew Management

G.R. No. 185412
November 16, 2011

Now this is why you should keep your feet up after a day's hard work...

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Facts:   Gilbert Quiroza was hired as a messman by Denholm Crew Management, a domestic  manning  agency  that  supplied  manpower  to Maritime  Services,  Ltd.  (Denklav),  a  foreign  maritime  corporation.  His contract was for nine (9) months and  his  contractual  work  as messman  was  considered  terminated  upon  the  expiration  of  each  contract. 

After  the  expiration  of  his  contract  with  “MV  Leopard,”  petitioner  was lined for to  be  suffering  from  varicose veins.  Quiroza then demanded from the company payment  of  disability  benefits,  separation  pay  and  reimbursement  of  medical expenses and damages.    His  demands,  however,  were  denied.  He  then  submitted  his  claim before  the Association  of  Marine Officers  and  Seamen  Union  of  the  Philippines  (AMOSUP) but it was also denied.

The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. The NLRC reversed the LA's ruling and order the payment of US$60,000.00.  The CA reinstated the LA's ruling, citing that having varicose veins was not one of those listed as occupational diseases under PD 626 and that Quiroza was not able to prove that his illness progressed due to the circumstances of his work, even if he had no other employer except Denholm Crew Management.

Issue: Whether or not having varicose veins is a compensable illness.

Ruling:  Considering  that  petitioner  executed  an  overseas  employment  contract  with Denholm in 1999, the 1996 POEA-SEC should govern. 

Petitioner  cannot  simply  rely  on  the  disputable  presumption provision  mentioned  in  Section  20  (B)  (4)  of  the  2000  POEA-SEC.      As  he  did  so  without  solid  proof  of  work-relation  and  work-causation  or  work-aggravation  of  his illness, the Court cannot provide him relief.

At  any  rate,  granting  that  the  provisions  of  the  2000  POEA-SEC  apply,  the disputable  presumption  provision  in  Section  20  (B)  does  not  allow  him  to  just  sit  down  and  wait  for  respondent  company  to  present  evidence  to  overcome the  disputable  presumption  of  work-relatedness  of  the  illness.  Contrary  to  his position, he still has to substantiate his claim in order to be entitled to disability compensation.
For disability to be compensable under Section 20 (B) of the 2000 POEA-SEC, two elements must concur: (1) the injury or illness must be work-related; and (2) the work-related injury or illness must have existed during the term of the seafarer’s employment contract. In other words, to be entitled to compensation
and benefits under this provision, it is not sufficient to establish that the seafarer’s illness or injury has rendered him permanently or partially disabled; it must also be shown that there is a causal connection between the seafarer’s illness or injury and the work for which he had been contracted.

His  sea  service  was  not  an  unbroken  service.  The fact that he never applied for a job with no other employer is of no moment. He enjoyed month-long sign-off vacations when his contract expired. It is possible that he acquired his varicose veins furing those sign-off periods.

Besides, it was not expressly stated in his medical diagnosis that his illness was  equivalent  to  a  total  and  permanent  disability.


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