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GSIS vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.

124208, January 1, 2008 Facts: Abraham Cate complained of a mass on his left cheek which gradually increased in size. The histopath report revealed that he was suffering from Osteoblastic Osteosarcoma. He underwent an operation to remove the mass. After several months, another biopsy revealed the recurrence of the ailment. He underwent debulking of the recurrent tumor Abraham filed a claim for income benefits with Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). But GSIS denied the claim on the ground that Osteosarcoma is not considered an occupational disease under PD No. 626 and there is no showing that his duties as SPO4 in the Philippine National Police (PNP) had increased the risk of contracting said ailment. When Abraham died, his heirs appealed the decision of GSIS to the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC). The ECC affirmed the decision of the GSIS. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the ECC. Issue: Whether or not the ailment of Abraham is compensable under the present law on employees compensation. Held: Article 167 of Chapter 1, Title II, Book 4 of the Labor Code defines sickness as any illness definitely accepted as an occupational disease listed by the ECC, or any illness caused by employment, subject to proof that the risk of contracting the same is increased by working conditions. In this case, Osteosarcoma is not listed as an occupational disease in the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation. Hence, it is supposed to be upon the claimant or private respondent to prove by substantial evidence that the risk of contracting it was increased by the working condition of the late Abraham. The records show that Abraham failed to present evidence to establish that the development of his ailment was traceable to his working condition in the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Constabulary, and the PNP. Further, private respondents allegation in their petition for review with the Court of Appeals that Abraham, as a rifleman in the Philippine Navy, may have been exposed to elements like a virus which could have contributed to his ailment does not satisfy the requirement of substantial evidence. The rule is that awards of compensation cannot rest on speculations and presumptions as the claimant must prove a positive thing. However, in this particular case, the requirement is impossible to comply with, given the present state of scientific knowledge. The obligation to present such as an impossible evidence, must, therefore be deemed void. Respondent, therefore, is entitled to compensation, consistent with social legislations intended beneficial purpose. DOMINGA A. SALMONE, petitioner, vs. EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION and SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, respondents. DECISION PARDO, J.: The case before the Court is an appeal via certiorari from the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dismissing petitioner's appeal from the decision of the Employees' Compensation Commission[2] affirming the denial by the Social Security System of her claim for compensation benefits under P. D. No. 626, as amended. The Employees' Compensation Commission denied petitioner's claim because there was no substantial evidence showing that her illness--atherosclerotic heart disease, atrial fabrillation and cardiac arrhythmia--was occupational or work-connected in her position for fourteen (14) years as overall custodian and officer in charge of the sewing department (of her employer Paul Geneve Entertainment Corporation), in constant exposure to physical stress and emotional and psychological pressure causing chest pains and bouts of cardiac arrhythmia. The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows: "Sometime in 1982, the Petitioner was employed as sewer by the Paul Geneve Entertainment Corporation, a corporation engaged in the business of sewing costumes, gowns and casual and formal dresses. She was later promoted as the officer-in-charge and the over-all custodian in the Sewing Department, more particularly the procurement of all the materials needed by the Sewing Department as well as insuring the quality of the products from the sewing department. "Sometime in the early part of 1996, Petitioner started to feel chest pains. In April, 1996, she filed a leave of absence from work as the chest pains became unbearable. Per results of Petitioner's Medical examination conducted by Dr. Claudio Saratan, Jr., Medical Specialist I, holding clinic at the Manila Sanitarium in Pasay City, and in St. Claire's Hospital at Dian Street corner Boyle, Manila,

Petitioner was found suffering from Atherosclerotic heart disease, Atrial Fibrillation, Cardiac Arrhythmia (Annex "D", Petition). Upon recommendation of her doctor, Petitioner resigned from her work hoping that with a much-needed complete rest, she will be cured. "Petitioner later filed a disability claim with the SSS from the Employees' Compensation Fund, under Presidential Decree No. 626, as amended. The SSS denied Petitioner's claim. The Petitioner filed on August 27, 1998, a "Motion for Reconsideration" with the SSS but the latter denied Petitioner's motion. Dissatisfied, the Petitioner appealed from the said Decision to the Public Respondent. On January 15, 1999, the Public Respondent rendered a Decision denying her appeal, the decretal portion of which reads:

"WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent System appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED, and this case DISMISSED for want of merit." (at p. 28, Rollo) "Petitioner filed on March 9, 1999, a "PETITION FOR REVIEW" under Rule 43 of the 1997 Civil Procedure with a "MOTION TO LITIGATE AS PAUPER LITIGANT". On March 18, 1999, this Court granted the Petitioner's "Motion to Litigate as Pauper" and ordered the Public Respondent to file its Comment on the Petition. The Public Respondent did file its Comment on the Petition. "The Petitioner insists in her Petition at bench that the nature of her employment and the working conditions in her place of employment exacerbated the risks of contracting Atherosclerotic Heart disease, Atrial Fibrillation, Cardiac arrhythmia. Hence, the Public Respondent committed a reversible error in finding and declaring that Petitioner did not contract the disease that bedeviled her due to her work and working conditions and that Petitioner's nature of employment did not predispose her to contract the disease and, hence, the Petitioner was not entitled to her claim."[3] On October 25, 1998, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision dismissing the petition, ruling that petitioner's illness was not compensable because petitioner failed to adduce substantial evidence proving any of the conditions of compensability.[4] Hence, this appeal.[5] The issues in this appeal are whether petitioner's illness is compensable, as work-related, and whether there was sufficient evidence of compensability. We reverse the appealed decision. Petitioner's illness is compensable. "Under the Labor Code, as amended, the law applicable to the case at bar, in order for the employee to be entitled to sickness or death benefits, the sickness or death resulting therefrom must be or must have resulted from either (a) any illness definitely accepted as an occupational disease listed by the Commission, or (b) any illness caused by employment, subject to proof that the risk of contracting the same is increased by working conditions."[6] In other words, "for a sickness and the resulting disability or death to be compensable, the said sickness must be an occupational disease listed under Annex "A" of said Rules,[7] otherwise, the claimant or employee concerned must prove that the risk of contracting the disease is increased by the working condition."[8] The Court of Appeals ruled that "atherosclerotic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, cardiac arrhythmia" from which petitioner suffered falls under the classification "cardiovascular diseases" and under Resolution No. 432, dated July 20, 1977 of the Employees' Compensation Commission, cardiovascular disease is listed as compensable occupational disease provided that substantial evidence is adduced to prove any of the following conditions: "a) If the heart disease was known to have been present during employment there must be proof that an acute exacerbation clearly precipitated by the unusual strain by reason of the nature of his work. "b) The strain of work that brings about an acute attack must be of sufficient severity and must be followed within twenty four (24) hours by the clinical signs of a cardiac insult to constitute causal relationship. "c) If a person who was apparently asymptomatic before subjecting himself to strain of work showed signs and symptoms of cardiac injury during the

performance of his work and such symptoms and signs persisted, it is reasonable to claim a causal relationship."[9] In this case, petitioner has shown by uncontroverted evidence that in the course of her employment, due to work related stress, she suffered from severe chest pains which caused her to take a rest, per physician's advice, and ultimately to resign from her employment. She was diagnosed as suffering from "atherosclerotic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, cardiac arrhythmia" which, as heretofore stated, is included within the term cardiovascular diseases.[10] Indisputably, cardiovascular diseases, which, as herein above-stated include atherosclerotic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, cardiac arrhythmia, are listed as compensable occupational diseases in the Rules of the Employees' Compensation Commission, hence, no further proof of casual relation between the disease and claimant's work is necessary.[11] Consequently, the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that there was no substantial evidence supporting the finding that petitioner's illness was an occupational disease compensable under P. D. No. 626, as amended. The degree of proof required under P. D. No. 626, is merely substantial evidence, which means, "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."[12] The claimant must show, at least, by substantial evidence that the development of the disease is brought largely by the conditions present in the nature of the job. What the law requires is a reasonable work-connection and not a direct causal relation. It is enough that the hypothesis on which the workmen's claim is based is probable. Medical opinion to the contrary can be disregarded especially where there is some basis in the facts for inferring a work-connection. Probability, not certainty, is the touchtone.[13] WHEREFORE, the Court hereby GRANTS the petition for review on certiorari and REVERSES the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52027 dismissing the appeal from the denial of petitioner's claim by the Employees Compensation Commission. In lieu thereof, the Court SETS ASIDE the decision of the Employees' Compensation Commission and orders the Social Security System to pay petitioner full disability benefits as provided for under P. D. No. 626, as amended. No costs. SO ORDERED. LEGAL HEIRS OF THE LATE EDWIN B. DEAUNA, represented by his wife, MRS. ARLINA DEAUNA v. FIL-STAR MARITIME CORPORATION, GREGORIO ORTEGA, CAPT. VICTOR S. MILLALOS and GRANDSLAM ENTERPRISES CORPORATION Before us is a petition for review on certiorari,[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, filed by the legal heirs (collectively referred to as the petitioners) of the late Edwin Deauna (Edwin), represented by his wife, Arlina Deauna, to assail the Decision[2] dated July 15, 2009 and the Resolution[3] dated March 8, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 106199. The dispositive portion of the assailed decision reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated 28 October 2008 of Voluntary Arbitrator Rene Ofreneo in AC 94-NCMB-NCR, is hereby, REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and a new one entered absolving the petitioner[s] [herein respondents] from liability for the death benefits under the terms and conditions of the POEA Contract and Article 29 pf (sic) the AMOSUP/JSU-CBA. SO ORDERED. [4]

engine room for inspection by marine and safety authorities, and took charge of the engine room during maneuvering and emergency situations. Prior to Edwin's deployment, he underwent the customary Preemployment Medical Examination (PEME) and was found as fit to work as was repeatedly the case in the past 30 years since his first deployment by Fil-Star in 1975. Sometime in October 2004, Edwin experienced abdominal pains while onboard Sanko. He was promptly referred to a doctor in Paranagua, Brazil. An ultrasound examination revealed that he had kidney stones for which he was administered oral medications. Thereafter, he resumed his work on-board Sanko. On April 3, 2005 or more or less 8 months from deployment, Edwin was repatriated. There were, however, conflicting claims regarding the cause of his repatriation. The respondents claimed that Edwin requested for an early termination of his contract in order to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony. On the other hand, the petitioners averred that Edwin was repatriated due to the latter's body weakness and head heaviness.*5+ The petitioners likewise claimed that on April 4, 2005, they called Capt. Millalos to inform the latter that upon arrival at the airport, Edwin was very sick, weak, disoriented, and merely wanted to immediately go home to Daet, Camarines Norte.[6] Edwin can neither physically report in Fil-Star's office nor board his next vessel of assignment. On April 27, 2005, Dr. Eduardo R. Mercado (Dr. Mercado), a neurosurgeon at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center certified that: Mr. Edwin Deauna, 52 years of age, is presently under my care at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center. He presented with (sic) behavioral changes associated with a left-sided facial and upper extremity weakness. An MRI of the brain done [on] April 26, 2005 showed a large right-sided brain tumor with involvement of his right temporal lobe, basal ganglia, corona radiate and insular cortex. There is associated severe swelling and shift (mass effect) to the opposite side. He is undergoing medical decompression to relieve pressure intracranially. He will need stereotactic biopsy of his brain tumor for grading purposes. Thereafter, treatment options will be discussed with family but I can predict that he will need radiation treatment as well as chemotherapy. This is necessary for palliation purposes and prolongation of life with good quality.[7] (Citation omitted)

The petitioners sent the respondents two letters requesting for the conduct of a medical examination and treatment of Edwin's brain tumor. The respondents averred that they provided Edwin with medical assistance for him to be able to promptly undergo a biopsy. On May 4, 2005, Dr. Mercado found out from the pathology report that Edwin was suffering from Glioblastoma WHO Grade 4 (GBM), a malignant and aggressive form of brain cancer. According to Dr. Mercado, it is logical/safe to surmise that the tumor has been existent and progressively growing for a number of months.*8+ On May 13, 2005, the company-designated physician, Dr. Nicomedes G. Cruz (Dr. Cruz), opined that the etiology of GBM is unknown. Further, Edwin's illness is work-related if he has history of exposure to radiation, vinyl products and the likes and working in near proximity of power line, otherwise, it is not, and that the tumor is already present even prior to embarkation but not detectable but (sic) ordinary PEME.*9+ On August 22, 2005, or about four months after Edwin's repatriation, Dr. Cruz sent Capt. Millalos a medical report stating that: The patient was repatriated because of body weakness and head heaviness since October 2004. He had his consultation in Brazil, where he was evaluated to have kidney stones after undergoing ultrasound. Patient then finished his contract. At the airport, upon his arrival last April 03, 2005, he was noted to be drowsy and disoriented. On April 05, 2005, he was seen by a physician in Daet. CT Scan was done and he was diagnosed to have hypertension and neurologic disease. He was seen at the Cardinal Santos

The assailed resolution denied the petitioners' motion for reconsideration. Antecedent Facts Respondent Fil-Star Maritime Corporation (Fil-Star) is a local manning agency, with respondent Captain Victor S. Millalos (Capt. Millalos) as its general manager. Respondent Grandslam Enterprise Corporation (Grandslam) is among Fil-Star's foreign principals. Grandslam owns and manages the vessel M/V Sanko Stream (Sanko) which Edwin boarded on August 1, 2004 for a nine-month engagement as Chief Engineer. As such, he was responsible for the operations and maintenance of the entire vessel's engineering equipment. He also determined the requirements for fuel, lube oil and other consumables necessary for a voyage, conducted inventory of spare parts, prepared the

Hospital and on April 30, 2005, he underwent biopsy of the brain mass and the pathology report revealed Glioblastoma Multiforme. He has completed his 1st period of radiotherapy. The MRI of the brain showed slight reduction in the size of the tumor. He has weakness of the left foot resulting to episodic foot drop. He also has facial edema secondary to steroid intake. He also complains of occasional doubling of vision but he has no headache. Submitting to you the monthly expenses for his chemotherapy. DIAGNOSIS: Glioblastoma Multiforme Advised to come back on September 23, 2005. [10]

From the foregoing facts and circumstances, it is abundantly clear that the ailment of EDWIN DEAUNA was work-related and manifested while he was on board in his last sailing. This ailment developed and progressed in the course of his employment, that is, during the long and continuous service EDWIN DEAUNA rendered to the same manning company, which spanned a period of over 25 years. His repatriation, recorded as made upon his request, was clearly unavoidable given his rapidly deteriorating health situation as proven no less by the series of medical tests and treatment EDWIN DEAUNA was subjected to with the help of private and Company physicians and eventually by his death.[12]

The respondents claimed that out of compassion and intent to avoid legal battles, they extended to Edwin an allowance of US$6,033.36. They also offered the payment of US$60,000.00 disability benefits despite having no obligation to do so on their part as GBM can only be considered as work-related if a person who suffers therefrom had exposures to radiation or vinyl products, or had worked in the vicinity of power lines.[11] The respondents claimed that Edwin did not have such exposure while under their employ. Two demand letters seeking disability benefits were thereafter sent by the petitioners to the respondents. The first, which was received by the respondents on November 21, 2005, sought the payment of US$125,000.00 as allegedly provided under the International Bargaining Forum/Associated Marine Officers and Seamens Union of the Philippines/International Mariners Management Association of Japan Collective Bargaining Agreement (IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA). The second letter, dated December 8, 2005, reiterated the petitioners' claims for disability benefits. The respondents replied that they had already aptly dealt with the illness under the respective employment agreement. Not long after, the petitioners again wrote the respondents informing the latter that Edwin's condition was already critical. Hence, the possibility that the claims for disability benefits would be converted to death benefits arose. The respondents denied the petitioners' demand. In December 2005, a complaint for disability benefits, medical and transportation reimbursements, moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees were filed before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Edwin died on April 13, 2006 during the pendency of the proceedings. He was substituted therein by the petitioners who sought the payment of death benefits. After finding that there was an arbitration clause in the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA, the Labor Arbiter (LA) rendered a decision referring the complaint to voluntary arbitration. The case was thereafter docketed with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) as AC 94-NCMB-NCR-3901-13-07. On October 28, 2008, Voluntary Arbitrator Rene Ofreneo (VA Ofreneo), invoking the provisions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract (POEA SEC) and the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA, awarded death benefits to the petitioners. VA Ofreneo ratiocinated that: This Office has also taken cognizance of the following facts that were not questioned or contested by the parties: One, that EDWIN DEAUNA was under the employ of the same company for roughly 25 years due to repeated re-hiring from 1975 to 2005, and Two, that the RESPONDENTS made an earlier settlement offer of US$60,000 as payment for disability benefits. On the repatriation of EDWIN DEAUNA and the relationship of his ailment to his work as Chief Engineer of the vessel Sanko Stream, the medical report dated 22 August 2005 by the company physician, DR. NICOMEDES G. CRUZ, to CAPTAIN VICTORIO S. MILLALOS, General Manager of Fil-Star Maritime Corporation, does not need any other interpretation other than observation that EDWIN DEAUNA's health status had been deteriorating on board. x x x xxxx

The respondents filed with the CA a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court to challenge VA Ofreneo's award. Before the CA could resolve the case, the petitioners filed a motion for execution[13] which was granted by VA Ofreneo over the respondents' vehement opposition.[14] Consequently, the respondents paid to the petitioners the sum of P5,603,026.00,[15] but the former manifested that their act was without prejudice to the outcome of the proceedings then pending with the CA.[16] On July 15, 2009, the CA rendered the now assailed decision reversing VA Ofreneo's award based on the following grounds: Under the Definition of Terms found in the Standard Contract, a workrelated illness is defined as any sickness resulting to disability or death as a result of an occupational disease listed under Section 32-A of this contract with the conditions set therein satisfied. An illness not otherwise listed in Section 32-A is disputably presumed work-related. Glioblastoma multiforme is the most aggressive of the gliomas, a collection of tumors arising from glia or their precursors within the central nervous system. Most glioblastoma tumors appear to be sporadic, without any genetic predisposition. No links have been found between glioblastoma and smoking, diet, cellular phones or electromagnetic fields. Recently, evidence for a viral cause has been discovered, possibly SV40 or cytomegalovirus. There also appears to be a small link between ionizing radiation and glioblastoma. Having one of the following genetic disorders is associated with an increased incidence of glomas: neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, Von Hippel-Lindau disease, LiFraumeni syndrome, turcot syndrome. These tumors manifest de novo, presenting after a short clinical history, usually less than 3 months. The presumption was disproved by petitioner[s] [herein respondents] in its (sic) arguments. Petitioner[s] presented the expert medical opinion of its (sic) company-designated doctor, opining that the deceased seaman's Glioblastoma Multiforme was not work-related considering that he was never exposed to factors that would cause the same during his employment with the petitioners. While opinions of petitioner's (sic) doctor should not be given evidentiary weight as they are palpably self-serving and biased in favor of the former, and certainly could not be considered independent, respondent[s] has (sic) used the medical report of the very same physician to support their arguments, and is (sic) thus considered in estoppel. Respondent's (sic) bare assertion, without any scientific or logical proof, that such employment of the deceased seaman in the vessel of the petitioner[s], is the cause of his illness and eventual death, cannot be upheld by this court. Under P.D. No. 626, if an ailment or sickness is not listed as an occupational disease, the claimant must prove that the risk of contracting the illness suffered was increased by his or her working conditions. The degree of proof required is substantial evidence. Jurisprudence defines substantial evidence as that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify the conclusion. It provides that to establish compensability of a non-occupational disease, reasonable proof and not direct proof of a causal connection between the work and the ailment is required. To require proof of actual causes or factors which lead to the ailment would not be consistent with the liberal interpretation of the social justice guarantee in favor of workers. Thus, death compensation benefits cannot be awarded unless there is substantial evidence showing that (a) the cause of Deauna's death was reasonably connected with his work; or (b) the sickness for which he died is an accepted occupational disease; or (c) his working conditions increased the risk of contracting the disease for which he died.

The deceased seaman's cause of death was not connected with his employment on board the vessel as a Chief Engineer. A Chief Engineer is someone qualified to oversee the entire engine department. He is also responsible for all operations and maintenance that has to do with any and all engineering equipment throughout the entire ship. He also determines the fuel, lube oil, and other consumables required for a voyage; [r]equired inventory for spare parts, oversees fuel, lube and slop oil transfers, prepares the engine room for inspection by local marine/safety authorities, oversees all major maintenance; is required to be in the engine room during maneuvering operations, and is in charge of the engine room during emergency situations. Glioblastoma Multiforme is not an accepted occupational disease of a Chief Engineer under the POEA-SEC, Art. 32-A. It does not arise from known occupational hazards, such as being a Chief Engineer as in this case, and its origin has not yet been pinpointed by any medical experts or organizations up to the present. Furthermore, to say that his earlier illness of kidney stones, even if such was proven to have been caused by the deceased seaman's occupation, lead to the development of the Glioblastoma Multiforme, which eventually caused his death, is stretching the facts too far. We are not medical experts to be able to connect such illness as the cause of GBM, which even the former has not yet discovered, and thus, warrant a new discovery in the field of medicine and grant the death benefits prayed for by the respondents. Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. The evidence must be real and substantial, and not merely apparent; for the duty to prove workcausation or work-aggravation imposed by law is real and not merely apparent. This Court finds that under the circumstances[,] respondents' bare allegations do not suffice to discharge the required quantum of proof of compensability. Awards of compensation cannot rest on speculations or presumptions, like the one made by herein respondents. The beneficiaries must present evidence to prove a positive proposition. For the second argument, petitioner[s] argues (sic) that when the deceased seaman was repatriated on April 3, 2005, whether it is due to finished contract or for medical reasons, this will have the effect of terminating the employment of the said seaman. When the seaman died on April 16, 2006, he was no longer under the employment of the petitioners. Petitioner[s] cited the case of Gau Sheng v. Joaquin, [through which] the Highest Tribunal ruled that in order to give effect to the benefits granted under the (sic) Memorandum Circular No. 41, Series of 1989, it must be shown that the employee died during the effectivity of the contract of employment. We rule in the affirmative. Art. 29 of the said IBF AMOSUP-JSU IMMAJ CBA provides, in part, that: If a seafarer dies of any cause whilst in the employment of the company including death from natural causes and death occurring whilst traveling to and from the vessel, or as a result of marine or other similar peril, but excluding death due to willful act, the Company shall pay the sums specified xxx to a nominated beneficiary and to each dependent child up to a maximum of four (4) under 21 years of age. The above compensation shall include those Seafarers who have been missing as a result of peril of the sea xxx and presumed to be dead three (3) months after the adversity xxx. It is clear from the above provision that in order to come under the operation of the said CBA agreement, it must be shown by the respondent[s] that the ailment must have been incurred while on the employment with the petitioner[s]. Respondent's (sic) contention that since the origin or cause of the illness was unknown, it is presumed to have been contracted during employment, is untenable. There is no such correlation between the two to give rise to such presumption. The issuance of a clean bill of health to the deceased seaman, made by the physicians selected/accredited by the petitioner[s] does not necessarily follow that the illness for which the former died of was acquired during his employment. Stated differently, for death of a seafarer to be compensable, the death must occur during the term of his contract of employment. It is the only condition for compensability of a seafarer's death. Once it is established that the seaman died during the effectivity of his employment contract, the employer is liable. By provision of Section 20 (A) of the POEA Standard Employment Contract, based on POEA Memorandum Circular No. 055, series of

1996, payment of death benefit pension is mandated in case of death of a seafarer during the term of his employment. Section 20 (A) (1) and (4) (A, B and C) of the POEA Standard Employment Contract provides: Section 20. COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS A. COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS FOR DEATH 1. In case of death of the seafarer during the term of his contract, the employer shall pay his beneficiaries the Philippine Currency equivalent to the amount of Fifty Thousand US dollars (US$50,000) and an additional amount of Seven Thousand US dollars (US$7,000) to each child under the age of twentyone (21) but not exceeding four (4) children, at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment. xxx xxx xxx

4. The other liabilities of the employer when the seafarer dies as a result of injury or illness during the term of employment are as follows: a. The employer shall pay the deceased's beneficiary all outstanding obligations due the seafarer under this Contract. b. The employer shall transport the remains and personal effects of the seafarer to the Philippines at employer's expense except if the death occurred in a port where local government laws or regulations do not permit the transport of such remains. In case death occurs at sea, the disposition of the remains shall be handled or dealt with in accordance with the master's best judgment. In all cases, the employer/master shall communicate with the manning agency to advice (sic) for disposition of seafarer's remains. The employer shall pay the beneficiaries of the seafarer the Philippine currency equivalent to the amount of One Thousand US dollars (US$1,000) for burial expenses at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment. This is a similar, if not exact, provision of the CBA aforementioned. The law demands the same requirements as it was in the latter. The death of a seaman during the term of employment makes the employer liable to his heirs for death compensation benefits. Once it is established that the seaman died during the effectivity of his employment contract, the employer is liable. However, if the seaman dies after the termination of his contract of employment, his beneficiaries are not entitled to the death benefits enumerated above. Finally, the Voluntary Arbitrator has erred in relying only on the medical report presented by the company physician Dr. Nicomedes G. Cruz in making his conclusion that the ailment of the deceased seaman was work-related and it manifested while he was on board of (sic) the vessel in his last sailing. He did not consider the other equally important points such as whether the death of the seaman was suffered during the term of his employment or that assuming arguendo, that he was indeed repatriated due to medical reasons, his death occurred after the term of his employment has already ceased. That administrative quasi-judicial bodies like the Voluntary Arbitrator are not bound by technical rules of procedure in the adjudication of cases, does not mean that the basic rules on proving allegations should be entirely dispensed with. A party alleging a critical fact must still support his allegation with substantial evidence. Any decision based on unsubstantiated allegation cannot stand as it will offend due process. The liberality of procedure in administrative actions is subject to limitations imposed by basic requirements of due process. As this Court said in Ang Tibay v. CIR, the provision for flexibility in administrative procedure does not go so far as to justify orders without a basis in evidence having rational probative value. Furthermore, as held in Uichico v. NLRC, this procedural rule should not be construed as a license to disregard certain fundamental evidentiary rules.[17] (Citations omitted)

The CA thereafter issued the assailed resolution denying the petitioners' motion for reconsideration to the foregoing. Hence, the instant petition.

The Issues The petitioners submit the following for resolution: THE FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS DO NOT CONFORM TO THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD. MOREOVER, THERE WAS A MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS AND THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FAILED TO NOTICE CERTAIN RELEVANT POINTS WHICH IF CONSIDERED WOULD JUSTIFY A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION. HENCE, THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS IS CONTRARY TO THE APPLICABLE LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE. A. THE SURVIVING SPOUSE AND LEGAL HEIRS OF THE DECEASED SEAFARER ARE ENTITLED TO DEATH COMPENSATION IN THE SUM OF US$121,000.00 UNDER THE AMOSUP/JSU-CBA; B. PETITIONER[S] [ARE] ENTITLED TO MORAL DAMAGES FOR (sic) Php1,000,000.00, EXEMPLARY DAMAGES [OF] Php200,000.00 AND TEN PERCENT (10%) OF THE AWARDS AS AND BY WAY OF ATTORNEY'S FEES.[18]

benefits under the POEA SEC. This clearly meant that the respondents recognized that Edwin's illness entitled him to benefits under the POEA SEC. The petitioners likewise aver their entitlement to moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees on account of the respondents' unjustified refusal to comply with their contractual obligations. The Respondents' Contentions In their Comment with Manifestation,[27] the respondents counter that Edwin's illness was not work-related and his death occurred not during the term of his employment. Thus, the petitioners are not entitled to the payment of any benefits. The mere circumstance that the manifestations of an illness appeared while the seafarer is on-board does not necessarily render it as work-related. In the POEA SEC, the words during the term of contract refer to the time when death occurs while work-related refers to the cause of death. The two requisites must both be proven especially in view of the Court's declaration in Rivera v. Wallem Maritime Services, Inc.,*28+ that in the absence of substantial evidence, working conditions cannot be presumed to have increased the risk of contracting the disease. In the case at bar, the petitioners' bare allegation, that GBM was workrelated as can be inevitably concluded from Edwin's lengthy and repeated employment with the respondents, deserves no probative value unless corroborated by substantial evidence. Dr. Cruz, who had attended to Edwin's medical needs for more than three months, opined that GBM was not workrelated as the latter, in the course of his employment with the respondents, was never exposed to factors which would have increased the risk of contracting the illness. Further, Articles 25 and 26 of the CBA provide for the entitlement of a seafarer to medical treatment and sick wages for a maximum period of 130 days from repatriation. In Edwin's case, he died on April 13, 2006 or more than a year after his repatriation. Hence, when he died, he was no longer under the respondents' employ. Moreover, his repatriation, regardless of its cause, already terminated his employment. This is in consonance with Section 18 of the POEA SEC, which in part expressly provides that a seafarer's employment ceases when he signs off from the vessel and arrives at the point of hire due to medical reasons. Besides, even Article 29 of the CBA states that death is only compensable if it occurs to the seafarer whilst in the employment of the company. The respondents likewise deny that in effect, they admitted their liability when they made repeated offers to pay the petitioners US$60,000.00. The respondents state that the offers were made sans prejudice to the defenses they were raising. Further, they withdrew the offers during the pendency of the proceedings before the LA and VA Ofreneo. In Escarcha v. Leonis Navigation Co., Inc.,[29] the heirs of a deceased seafarer were ordered to return the amount paid to them pursuant to the execution of an award favorable to them but which was subsequently reversed by the Court. In Edwin's case, equity dictates that the proper reimbursement be effected as well by the petitioners. Our Ruling While generally, only questions of law can be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the instant petition falls among the exceptions in the light of the conflicting factual findings of the VA and the CA.

The Petitioners' Arguments The petitioners emphasize that under the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA, a seafarer's death is compensable regardless of its cause and its non workrelatedness as long as it occurs during the term of the latter's employment. The only exception to compensability is when death is due to willful acts. In Edwin's case, he had been under the respondents' employment for the past 30 years. Prior to boarding Sanko, he passed the PEME but was thereafter medicallyrepatriated as stated in Dr. Cruz's report. He died of GBM, the origin of which is unknown. Hence, it can be presumed that GBM had been contracted during his employment with the respondents. The petitioners also point out that the dictum that death must occur during the term of a seafarer's employment is not even a hard and fast rule. In Carmelita C. Arambulo v. West Fleet Phil./Pandiman Phil., Inc./Pacific Maritime, Inc.,[19] the NLRC declared that for an illness to be compensable, it is not necessary for death to occur during the term of employment. What is merely required is for the connection between the cause of repatriation and the cause of death to be duly established. In Seagull Shipmanagement & Transport, Inc. v. NLRC,*20+ the Court similarly declared that if the disease is the proximate cause of the employee's death for which compensation is sought, the previous physical condition of the employee is unimportant, and recovery may be had for said death, independently of any pre-existing disease. The petitioners also refute in detail the applicability of the doctrines invoked by the respondents as the circumstances surrounding them do not obtain in the case at bar. In Gau Sheng Phils., Inc. v. Joaquin,[21] employment was terminated upon the parties' mutual consent and the seafarer's claim was anchored on the POEA SEC and not on the provisions of a CBA. In Hermogenes v. Osco Shipping Services, Inc.,[22] no evidence was offered to prove the cause of the early termination of the seafarer's contract. In Spouses Aya-ay, Sr. v. Arpaphil Shipping Corporation,[23] the seafarer was repatriated due to an eye injury but he died of cardiovascular arrest after his contract was already terminated. In Prudential Shipping and Management Corporation v. Sta. Rita,[24] the seafarer was repatriated due to umbilical hernia and he died ten days after with cardiopulmonary arrest as the immediate cause, acute renal failure as the antecedent cause and hepatocellular carcinoma as the underlying cause. In Klaveness Maritime Agency, Inc. v. Beneficiaries of the Late Second Officer Anthony S. Allas,[25] the seafarer was not medically repatriated. In the Estate of Posedio Ortega v. Court of Appeals,[26] the seafarer died of lung cancer and his heirs anchored their claim for death benefits on the POEA SEC, which unfortunately does not list the said illness as an occupational disease. The petitioners thus conclude that the contexts of the aforecited cases are different, hence, the doctrines enunciated therein find no application. The petitioners also allege that the respondents' prior actions indicated nothing less but an admission of the latter's legal and moral obligation to pay Edwin the amounts he was entitled to. For one, the expenses for the initial treatment administered to Edwin were shouldered by the respondents. Further, the respondents paid Edwin a full sickness allowance as provided for under POEA SEC. Moreover, the respondents repeatedly offered Edwin the amount of US$60,000.00 corresponding to the original claim for disability

The instant petition ascribes misappreciation of facts on the part of the CA, which if allegedly reconsidered, would yield a conclusion favorable to the petitioners. As a rule, only questions of law, not questions of fact, may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45.[30] The Court is thus generally bound by the CA's factual findings. There are, however, exceptions to the foregoing, among which is when the CA's factual findings are contrary to those of the trial court or administrative body exercising quasi-judicial functions from which the action originated.[31] The instant petition falls under the aforementioned exception in the light of the divergent factual findings of the VA and the CA.

Anent the substantive arguments, we find the instant petition partially impressed with merit. The petitioners insist their entitlement to the payment of death compensation benefits not pursuant to the provisions of the POEA SEC but under Article 29 of the CBA. According to them, the CBA merely focuses on the fact of death occurring during the term of a seafarer's employment, regardless of its cause. They further claim that even if death occurs beyond the term of a seafarer's employment, compensation should still be awarded as long as a connection can be established between the causes of repatriation and death. On the other hand, the respondents' denial of the petitioners' claims rests on the (1) circumstance that Edwin died after the termination of his employment contract or more than a year after he was already repatriated; and (2) argument that GBM was supposedly not work-related in the absence of proofs of exposure of a seafarer to vinyl, radiation or power lines while in the work place. The IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA provisions govern the relations of the parties especially since the issue of the VA's jurisdiction was never challenged in the proceedings below.

xxxx 26.1 When a seafarer is landed at any port because of sickness or injury, payment of their basic wages shall continue until they have been repatriated at the Company's expense. 26.2 Thereafter[,] the seafarers shall be entitled to sick pay at the rate equivalent to their basic wage while they remain sick up to a minimum of sixty (60) days and a maximum of one hundred and thirty (130) days. xxxx 26.4 Proof of continued entitlement to sick pay shall be by submission of satisfactory medical reports, endorsed where necessary, by a Company[-] appointed doctor. If a doctor appointed by or in behalf of the seafarer disagrees with the assessment, a third doctor may be nominated jointly between the Company and the Union and the decision of this doctor shall be final and binding on both parties. xxxx 29.1 If a Seafarer dies through any cause whilst in the employment of the Company including death from natural causes and death occurring whilst travelling to and from the vessel, or as a result of marine or other similar peril, but excluding death due to willful acts, the Company shall pay the sums specified in the attached APPENDIX 3 to a nominated beneficiary and to each dependent child up to a maximum of four (4) under 21 years of age. x x x xxxx 29.4 For the purpose of this clause*,+ a seafarer shall be regarded as in the employment of the company for so long as the provisions of Articles 25 and 26 apply and provided the death is directly attributable to sickness or injury that caused the seafarer's employment to be terminated in accordance with Article 22.1(b). Appendix 3 xxxx Loss of Life Death in Service Death in service benefits as provided in Article 29 of this Agreement shall, unless more favourable benefits are negotiated, be: To the nominated beneficiary .............. US$75,000.00 To each dependent child (maximum four (4) under 21 years of age) ...............................................................US$15,000.00 (Emphasis and underlining supplied)

It bears noting that the petitioners' complaint was initially filed with the NLRC which referred the same to the NCMB for voluntary arbitration. VA Ofreneo took cognizance and ruled on the complaint. Thereafter, the respondents assailed before the CA, through a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, the notice of award issued by VA Ofreneo. In the said petition, the parties never raised the issue of the VA's jurisdiction. In effect, it was an admission on the part of both the petitioners and the respondents that the controversy involves the interpretation of CBA provisions relative to the claims for death compensation benefits. Stated otherwise, in the proceedings below, the contending parties both impliedly acquiesced to the applicability of the CBA provisions and not of the POEA SEC over the claims of the petitioners. More importantly, the special clauses on collective bargaining agreements must prevail over the standard terms and benefits formulated by the POEA in its Standard Employment Contract. A contract of labor is so impressed with public interest that the more beneficial conditions must be endeavored in favor of the laborer. This is in consonance with the avowed policy of the State to give maximum aid and full protection to labor as enshrined in Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution.[32] We thus proceed to the inquiry on whether or not within the purview of the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA, Edwin's death on April 13, 2006, or more than a year from his repatriation, can be considered as one occurring while he was still in the employment of the respondents. Under the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA provisions, Edwin's death a little more than a year from his repatriation can still be considered as one occurring while he was still under the respondents' employ.

Articles 22 (Termination of Employment), 25 (Medical), 26 (Sick Pay) and 29 (Loss of Life Death in Service) and Appendix 3 of the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA state in part: 22.1 The employment shall be terminated: xxxx (b) when signing off owing to sickness or injury, after medical examination in accordance with Article 25, but subject to the provision of Article 29. xxxx 25.3 A seafarer repatriated to their port of engagement, unfit as a result of sickness or injury, shall be entitled to medical attention (including hospitalisation) at the Company's expense: (a) in the case of sickness, for up to a minimum of sixty (60) days and a maximum of one hundred and thirty (130) days after repatriation, subject to the submission of satisfactory medical reports.

Article 22.1(b) considers an employment as terminated if a seafarer signs off from the vessel due to sickness, but subject to the provisions of Article 29. Article 29.1 of the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA provides that the death of a seafarer, for any cause, is compensable when it occurs while he is in the employment of the company. Article 29.4, on the other hand, clarifies that the seafarer shall be considered as in the employment of the company for so long as the provisions of Articles 25 and 26 apply and provided the death is directly attributable to sickness or injury that caused the seafarer's employment to be terminated in accordance with Article 22.1(b). Under Article 25.3, a seafarer repatriated to the port of his engagement, unfit as a result of sickness, shall be entitled to medical attention at the company's expense for up to a maximum period of 130 days after repatriation, subject to the submission of satisfactory medical reports. Article 26.2 further states that a seafarer shall likewise be entitled to sick pay at the rate equivalent to his basic wage while he remains sick up to a maximum of 130 days. Article 26.4 allows continued entitlement to sick pay beyond the 130 day period, reckoned from repatriation, provided satisfactory medical reports shall be submitted and endorsed where necessary, by a company-appointed doctor.

We now apply the provisions of the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA to the circumstances surrounding Edwin's death. On August 22, 2005, or more or less 130 days from Edwin's arrival in the Philippines, the company-designated physician, Dr. Cruz, indicated in a medical report[33] addressed to Capt. Millalos that Edwin's repatriation was due to body weakness and head heaviness since October 2004. Dr. Cruz also stated that upon Edwin's arrival at the airport on April 3, 2005, the latter was noted to be drowsy and disoriented. Dr. Cruz diagnosed Edwin to be suffering from GBM and submitted the monthly expenses for the latter's chemotherapy to Capt. Millalos. Edwin was advised to come back on September 23, 2005. Edwin eventually died of GBM on April 13, 2006. We note that body weakness, head heaviness, drowsiness and disorientedness are among the symptoms associated with GBM. Dr. Cruz indicated that these symptoms were exhibited by Edwin since October 2004 while he was still on board Sanko and were notable even when the latter was repatriated on April 3, 2005. Prior to repatriation, Edwin had only been diagnosed in Brazil to be suffering from kidney stones, but no exhaustive examination was conducted on him and no finding was rendered declaring that he had GBM. Nonetheless, the symptoms previously referred to were the cause of Edwin's repatriation more or less than a month before his contract was about to expire. On May 4, 2005 or about a month after repatriation, Dr. Mercado found that Edwin was afflicted with GBM and that the tumor had been progressively growing for months.[34] Further, the medical report, dated August 22, 2005, addressed to Capt. Millalos, submitting to him the monthly expenses for Edwin's chemotherapy and advising the latter to come back on September 23, 2005, was an implied admission on the part of Dr. Cruz that medical assistance and sick pay should indeed be extended to Edwin even beyond the 130-day period prescribed by Articles 25 and 26 of the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA. From the foregoing, we can thus conclude that at the time of Edwin's death on April 13, 2006 due to GBM, he was still in the employment of the respondents. While it is true that Article 22.1 of the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA considers a seafarer as terminated when he signs off from the vessel due to sickness, the foregoing is subject to the provisions of Article 29. Under Article 29, a seafarer remains under the respondents' employ as long as the former is still entitled to medical assistance and sick pay, and provided that the death which eventually occurs is directly attributable to the sickness which caused the seafarer's employment to be terminated. As discussed above, the companydesignated physician, Dr. Cruz, in effect admitted that Edwin was repatriated due to symptoms which a person suffering from GBM normally exhibits. Further, he recommended to Capt. Millalos Edwin's entitlement to medical assistance and sick pay for a period beyond 130 days from repatriation. Edwin subsequently died of GBM, the symptoms of which were the cause of his earlier repatriation. Hence, since Edwin's death is reasonably connected to the cause of his repatriation, within the purview of the IBF/AMOSUP/IMMAJ CBA, he indubitably died while under the respondents' employ, thus, entitling the petitioners to death benefits as provided for in Appendix 3 of the said CBA. The petitioners are, however, not entitled to moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees.

no longer be imposed in view of the execution of the said decision already made on May 28, 2009. G.R. No. 148308 September 21, 2007

ROBERTO D. DEBAUDIN, Petitioner, vs. SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM (SSS) and EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION COMMISSION (ECC), Respondents. DECISION AZCUNA, J.: This petition for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules on Civil Procedure seeks to review the August 17, 1999 Decision1 and May 18, 2001 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 44670 which affirmed respondents Social Security System (SSS) and Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) in denying petitioners claim for compensation benefits under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 626, as amended. Petitioner is a seaman by profession. He joined the United Philippine Lines (UPL) on April 13, 1975 and was separated from his employment on May 21, 1993 at the age of 62.3 During his eighteen (18) years of service with UPL, he boarded various foreign ocean-going vessels4 while performing his duties and responsibilities that included cleaning chemical-spill-oil on deck, slat dislodging, and spraying naphtha chemical and washing dirt and rusts inside the tank. Petitioners medical record shows that his illness started in May 1993 when he experienced episodes of bilateral blurring of vision. While in Singapore then, he consulted Dr. Richard F.T. Fan, an ophthalmic surgeon, and he was diagnosed to be suffering from advanced glaucoma.5 His condition recurred even after his separation from service, prompting him to seek further eye consultations and treatments in the Philippines.6 His eye disease was finally diagnosed as chronic open angle glaucoma.7 On account of his ailment, petitioner filed before the SSS a claim for compensation benefits under P.D. No. 626, as amended. The application, however, was denied on the ground that there is no causal relationship between the illness and his job as a seaman.8 When his motion for reconsideration was also denied, petitioner elevated the case to the ECC which later on affirmed the assailed decision. The ECC ratiocinated, thus: Following a careful review of the documents on record, the Commission is inclined to rule against the compensability of *petitioners+ ailment. The present employees compensation program, which is embodied in P.D. 626, as amended, requires[,] and we quote, that: "For the sickness and the resulting disability or death to be compensable, the sickness must be the result of an occupational disease listed under Annex "A" of these Rules with the conditions set therein satisfied, otherwise, proof must be shown that the risk of contracting the disease is increased by the working conditions" (Rule III, Section 1[b] of the Implementing Rules of P.D. 626, as amended) Definitely, *petitioners+ Chronic Open Angle Glaucoma is not an occupational disease under the law. Thus, he is required to show by substantial evidence that the nature of his job as a Seaman had increased the risk of contracting the disease. However, appellant failed to discharge the burden of proof required by the law. Based on medical findings, Open Angle Glaucoma arises as a complication of chronic obstruction of aqueous humor reabsorption in the trabecular meshwork. It is usually asymptomatic and only rarely causes ocular pain or corneal edema. The treatment is primarily medical. Surgery to prevent permanent visual loss is necessary in only a minority of patients (Ref.: Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine, 11th edition, p. 71). As suggested by the foregoing medical findings, the cleaning of chemical-spill-oil on deck and the spraying of [naphtha] chemical inside the tank were not predisposing factors in the contraction of Open Angle Glaucoma. Thus, we

We find that the acts of the respondents hardly indicate an intent on their part to evade the payment of their obligations so as to justify the award of moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees to the petitioners. The respondents extended medical assistance and allowances to Edwin while he went through his treatment. Further, the respondents offered an amount of US$60,000.00 as disability benefits even when the petitioners' claims had not been conclusively established yet. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision dated July 15, 2009 and Resolution dated March 8, 2010 of the Court of Appeals, absolving the respondents from liability for death benefits pertaining to the petitioners by reason of Edwin Deaunas death, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated October 28, 2008 of the Voluntary Arbitrator, awarding the amount of US$121,000.00 to the petitioners in accordance with Appendix 3 of the International Bargaining Forum/Associated Marine Officers and Seamens Union of the Philippines/International Mariners Management Association of Japan Collective Bargaining Agreement, is REINSTATED. However, interests on the award shall

believe that the respondent System correctly ruled against the compensability of *petitioners+ ailment.9 An appeal from the adverse decision was filed before the CA.10 On August 17, 1999, however, the petition was denied due course and the CA accordingly dismissed the case on the ground that petitioner failed to adduce substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that the working conditions as a seaman increased the risk of contracting his chronic open angle glaucoma.11 Petitioners motion for reconsideration was subsequently denied;12 hence, this recourse. The lone issue presented for consideration is whether the work of petitioner as a seaman contributed even in a small degree in or had increased the risk of contracting his chronic open angle glaucoma.13 While petitioner admits that chronic open angle glaucoma is not one of those listed as occupational diseases under the law he nonetheless maintains that the cause of glaucoma is still unknown and predisposition thereto is due to both physical and emotional factors. In his case, petitioner asserts that he had been exposed to these elements for 18 years during his employment. He claims that as a utility staff he performed odd jobs without fail such as cleaning chemicalspill-oil on deck, slat dislodging, and spraying naphtha chemical and washing dirt and rusts inside the tank. According to him, these strenuous tasks required climbing, bending over and running for so many times acts which a medical book considered as contributory factors that would increase intraocular pressure which causes glaucoma. Aside from the physical demands of the job, petitioner contends that he was also subjected to emotional strains of going through the perils of the sea and homesickness for being away from his family during the entire duration of the contracts. He, thus, alleges that his employment as a seaman contributed, even in a small degree, to the development of his ailment.1wphi1 In fine, petitioner stresses that, as a social legislation, P.D. No. 626, as amended, should be interpreted to give meaning and substance to the liberal and compassionate spirit of the 1987 Constitution and the Labor Code. The petition lacks merit. Under the Labor Code, as amended, an employee is entitled to compensation benefits if the sickness is a result of an occupational disease listed under Annex "A" of the Rules on Employees' Compensation; or in case of any other illness, if it is caused by employment, subject to proof that the risk of contracting the same is increased by the working conditions.14 This is as it should be because for an illness to be compensable, it must be (1) directly caused by such employment; (2) aggravated by the employment; or (3) the result of the nature of such employment.15 Jurisprudence provides that to establish compensability of a non-occupational disease, reasonable proof of work-connection and not direct causal relation is required.16 It is enough that the hypothesis on which the workmen's claim is based is probable.17 Probability, not the ultimate degree of certainty, is the test of proof in compensation proceedings18 since in carrying out and interpreting the provisions of the Labor Code and its implementing rules and regulations the primordial and paramount consideration is the employees' welfare. In the present case, petitioners chronic open angle glaucoma is not listed as an occupational disease; hence, he has the burden of proving by substantial evidence, or such relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion, that the nature of his employment or working conditions increased the risk of contracting the ailment or that its progression or aggravation was brought about thereby. Perusal of the records, however, regrettably reveals petitioners failure to adduce any proof of a reasonable connection between his work as a seaman and the chronic open angle glaucoma he had contracted. At the most, he merely claims that he performed odd jobs without fail cleaning chemical-spilloil on deck, slat dislodging, and spraying naphtha chemical and washing dirt and rusts inside the tank strenuous tasks which according to him required climbing, bending over and running for so many times. Adding thereto were the perils of the sea and the homesickness he said he experienced which allegedly caused emotional strains on his part.

Other than positing the foregoing, petitioner presented no competent medical history, records or physicians report to objectively substantiate the claim that there is a reasonable nexus between his work and his ailment. Without saying more, his bare allegations do not ipso facto make his illness compensable. Awards of compensation cannot rest on speculations or presumptions. The claimant must present concrete evidence to prove a positive proposition.19 The necessity of establishing the supposed work connection is all the more crucial in the face of the fact that the readily-available medical literature would appear to consistently indicate that open angle glaucoma is brought about by several factors other than the purported "physical and emotional strains," such as aging, race, family history, nearsightedness or farsightedness, prolonged corticosteroid use, nutritional deficiencies, brain chemical abnormalities, injuries, infection or abnormalities in the eye, and medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.20 Therefore, to easily attribute to the "physical and emotional strains" allegedly attendant in petitioners job as a seaman the chronic open angle glaucoma he is currently suffering is evidently to oversimplify an otherwise complex fact-finding process that should have taken place to determine the true cause of the ailment. In Sante v. Employees Compensation Commission,21 this Court ruled that " a claimant must submit such proof as would constitute a reasonable basis for concluding either that the conditions of employment of the claimant caused the ailment or that such working conditions had aggravated the risk of contracting that ailment. What kind and quantum of evidence would constitute an adequate basis for a reasonable man (not necessarily a medical scientist) to reach one or the other conclusion, can obviously be determined only on a caseto-case basis. That evidence must, however, be real and substantial, and not merely apparent; for the duty to prove work-causation or work-aggravation imposed by existing law is real not merely apparent." Moreover, petitioner cannot conveniently rely on the invocation that the Employees Compensation Act, as a social legislation, must be liberally construed in favor of the ordinary working person. While the sympathy of the law on social security is toward the employees or their beneficiaries, it is imperative to remember that such compassion must be balanced by the equally vital interest of denying undeserving claims for compensation benefits. Thus, GSIS v. CA22 held: x x x [T]here is a competing, yet equally vital interest to heed in passing upon undeserving claims for compensation. It is well to remember that if diseases not intended by the law to be compensated are inadvertently or recklessly included, the integrity of the State Insurance Fund is endangered. Compassion for the victims of diseases not covered by the law ignores the need to show a greater concern for the trust fund to which the tens of millions of workers and their families look to for compensation whenever covered accidents, diseases and deaths occur. This stems from the development in the law that no longer is the poor employee still arrayed against the might and power of his rich corporate employer, hence the necessity of affording all kinds of favorable presumptions to the employee. This reasoning is no longer good policy. It is now the trust fund and not the employer which suffers if benefits are paid to claimants who are not entitled under the law. The employer joins the employee in trying to have their claims approved. The employer is spared the problem of proving a negative proposition that the disease was not caused by employment. Moreover, the new system instituted by the new law has discarded, among others, the concept of "presumption of compensability and aggravation" and substituted one based on social security principles. The new system is administered by social insurance agencies the GSIS and the SSS under the ECC. The purpose of this innovation was to restore a sensible equilibrium between the employer's obligation to pay workmen's compensation and the employee's right to receive reparation for work-connected death or disability.23 WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The August 17, 1999 Decision and May 18, 2001 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED. [G.R. No. 146636. August 12, 2002] PABLO A. AUSTRIA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION COMMISSION (SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM), (CENTRAL AZUCARERA DE TARLAC), respondents. DECISION PUNO, J.:

This is a petition for review of the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 29, 2000[1] and its Resolution dated September 8, 2000[2] in CA-G.R. No. 52688 entitled Pablo Austria vs. Employees Compensation Commission (Social Security System), Central Azucarera de Tarlac. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) denying petitioners request for conversion of his permanent partial disability benefit under PD 626 as amended[3] to permanent total disability benefit. The facts are as follows: Petitioner Pablo A. Austria was employed as bag piler at Central Azucarera de Tarlac from June 1, 1977 to July 20, 1997. As bag piler, his duties were to: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) carry and pile sacks of refined sugar; relocate and move stock piles for shifting or return to the refinery; assist the production checker in random weighing of production; clean the warehouse, piling conveyor and its surroundings; assist in the repair and maintenance work during off-season; and

avail of permanent total disability benefit. Under Section 2 Rule VII of the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation, 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; and 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. We held in Vicente vs. Employees Compensation Commission*9+ that: 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. Disability is intimately related to ones earning capacity. It should be understood less on its medical significance but more on the loss of earning capacity.*10+ In Gonzaga vs. Employees Compensation Commission,*11+ the Court characterized permanent total disability as: x x x disablement of an employee to earn wages in the same kind of work, or work of a similar nature that she was trained for, or accustomed to perform, or any kind of work which a person of her mentality and attainment could do. It does not mean an absolute helplessness but rather an incapacity to perform gainful work which is expected to be permanent. 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 she cannot pursue her usual work and earn therefrom. Applying the foregoing standards, we find petitioner entitled to permanent total disability benefit under the law. Petitioner has been employed as bag piler for twenty (20) years at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac. His duties require him to carry heavy loads of refined sugar and to perform other manual work. Since his work obviously taxes so much on his back, his illness which affects his lumbar spine renders him incapable of doing his usual work as bag piler. Hence, his disability to perform his regular duties may be considered total and permanent. Contrary to the assertion of the Court of Appeals, there is nothing in the law[12] that prohibits the conversion of permanent partial disability benefit to permanent total disability benefit if it is shown that the employees ailment qualifies as such. Furthermore, the grant of permanent total disability benefit to an employee who was initially compensated for permanent partial disability but is found to be suffering from permanent total disability would not be prejudicial to the government to give it reason to deny the claim. The Court has in fact allowed in the past the conversion of permanent partial disability benefit to permanent total disability benefit.[13] These rulings are consistent with the primary purpose of PD 626, that is, to provide meaningful protection to the working class against the hazards of disability, illness and other contingencies resulting in the loss of income,[14] as well as the Constitutional mandate to afford full protection to labor.[15] IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED.

(6) do other related work assigned to him from time to time by his superior.[4] In 1994, petitioner began to feel severe back pain. On November 18, 1994, petitioner underwent an MRI which revealed a small disc protrusion at L4 and L5 level. Petitioner underwent Laminectomy on March 17, 1995 at the Ramos General Hospital in Tarlac, Tarlac. The x-ray photographs taken on May 23, 1997, September 3, 1998, and September 28, 1998 revealed osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine. On account of his osteoarthritis, petitioner filed with the SSS a claim for compensation benefits under PD 626 as amended. The claim was granted and petitioner was awarded permanent partial disability benefits for eight (8) months starting September 1, 1995, a second release for seven (7) months starting May 10, 1996, and a third release for fifteen (15) months starting April 1, 1997. Petitioner thereafter requested the SSS for conversion of his permanent partial disability benefit to permanent total disability benefit. The SSS denied the request. It reasoned: Based on clinical records submitted, there is no progression of your illness which was already granted under previous EC disability. Granting of extension on your claim cannot be based solely on the findings on your lumbo-sacral X-ray hence they are not related to each other or of different disease entity.*5+ On appeal, the ECC affirmed the decision of the SSS. The ECC held that considering the degree of his disability at the time he was separated from the service, petitioner has already availed of the maximum benefits to which he is entitled on account of his osteoarthritis.[6] Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals via petition for certiorari. The appellate court dismissed the petition, ruling that the law does not allow the conversion of permanent partial disability to permanent total disability.[7] Petitioner filed a petition before this Court to review the decision of the CA. Petitioner raises the sole issue: Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in denying the claim for additional benefits in favor of the petitioner and not allowing the conversion of his (petitioner) permanent partial disability to permanent total disability.*8+ We find merit in the petition. PD 626 as amended provides three types of disability benefits to qualified employees: (1) temporary total disability, (2) permanent total disability, and (3) permanent partial disability. In the case at bar, petitioner was granted by the SSS, as affirmed by the ECC, permanent partial disability benefit, but he seeks to

SO ORDERED. Case Title: ALEXANDER B. GATUS (petitioner) vs. SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM (respondent) Date of Decision: January 26, 2011 GR No.: 174725 Topic: Grounds and Requisites for a Disease of Sickness to be Compensable under the SSS Law and Implementing Rules and Regulations. Sub-Topic/s: (1) Coronary Artery Disease a Compensable Disease under the SSS Law. (2) Quantum of Evidence to prove that the Disease/Sickness is Compensable. (3) Necessary Party to Prove the Compensability of the Disease/Sickness FACTS:

Gatus worked at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac for a period of 30 years. During his employment, he contracted disease and was diagnosed to be suffering from Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Triple Vessel and Unstable Angina. His medical records showed him to be hypertensive for 10 years and a smoker. He was given by the SSS the following EC/SSS Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits: (a) 8 monthly pensions effective September 1, 1994 and (b) 4 monthly pensions effective January 3, 1997. He became an SSS retirement pensioner on February 1, 2002. However, an SSS audit revealed the need to recover the EC benefits already paid to him on the ground that his CAD, being attributed to his chronic smoking, was not work-related. He was notified thereof through a letter dated July 31, 2003. Petitioner, believing he was entitled to such benefits, assailed the decision of the SSS. SSS denied the petition. He then elevated to the ECC ruled against the Petitioner. Further, CA ruled that the Petitioner is not entitled to the benefits under Presidential Decree No. 626. Hence, this Petition. ISSUE/S: (1) Whether or Not the Petitioner is entitled to the Benefits under Presidential Decree No. 626. DECISION: The Supreme Court held that the Petitioner is not entitled to the benefits under Presidential Decree No. 626 and upheld the ruling of the CA. In its decision, the Court mentioned of Section 1, Rule III of the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation states that the sickness must be the result of an occupational disease listed thereon otherwise proof must be shown that the risk of contracting the disease is increased by the working conditions. The Petitioner in this case failed to prove the compensability of his disease, thus, he was not able to prove with substantial evidence that indeed he is entitled to the benefits under PD 626. The burden of proof is thus on petitioner to show that any of the above conditions have been met in his case. The required proof is further discussed in Ortega v. Social Security Commission: The requisite quantum of proof in cases filed before administrative or quasijudicial 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. In this case, substantial evidence abounds. [G.R. No. 139455. March 28, 2003] REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES represented by EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION COMMISSION, petitioner, vs. PEDRO MARIANO, respondent. DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: Subject of this petition for review on certiorari is the decision,[1] dated July 26, 1999, of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR SP No. UDK-2898. It reversed the decision of the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC), dated October 23, 1998, in ECC Case No. MS-9677-498, which had affirmed the ruling of the Social Security System (SSS) denying herein respondent Pedro Marianos claim for compensation benefits under Presidential Decree No. 626.[2] The pertinent facts, as summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), are as follows: For an eleven-year period starting January 1983, respondent Pedro Mariano was an employee of LGP Printing Press. During his employment, Mariano worked in various capacities, including that of a machine operator, paper cutter, monotype composer, film developer, and supervisor of the printing press.[3] Sometime in February 1994, Marianos service abruptly ended when he could no longer perform any work due to a heart ailment. An electrocardiograph test revealed that he was suffering from Incomplete Right Bundle Branch Block.*4+ Mariano filed a claim for employees compensation benefit with the SSS. In its medical evaluation dated April 15, 1997, SSS denied his claim on the ground that there was no causal connection between his ailment and his job as film developer.[5]

On July 1, 1997, the SSS forwarded the record of respondents case to the ECC. In a letter dated September 12, 1997, the ECC remanded respondents case to the SSS for reception of additional documentary evidence. On February 9, 1998, the SSS directed respondent to submit the following: (1) complete clinical abstract if he was confined; and (2) records of consultation due to hypertension.[6] Meanwhile, respondent had consulted Dr. Rogelio Mariano, whose diagnosis showed he was suffering from Parkinsons disease and hypertension, as per the medical certificate dated April 20, 1998.[7] The SSS once again submitted respondents case records to the ECC for review. On October 23, 1998, the ECC, through Executive Director Teofilo E. Hebron, dismissed respondents claim. Hebron ruled that the respondent had failed to establish a causal connection between Parkinsons Disease and the working conditions at the printing press.*8+ On respondents claim for compensation for Essential Hypertension, the ECC found that respondent had failed to adduce sufficient evidence to establish that his ailment had caused impairment of any of his body organs, which in turn could permanently prevent him from engaging in a gainful occupation. Aggrieved, respondent elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. UDK-2898. On July 26, 1999, the appellate court rendered a judgment reversing the decision of the ECC, decreeing as follows: WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, respondents Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) and Social Security System (SSS) are ordered to pay petitioners claim for compensation benefits under P.D. 626.[9] In holding for the respondent, the Court of Appeals found that the nature of petitioners work at LGP resulted in his exposure to various toxic chemicals, which is a possible cause of Parkinsons Disease. As to his hypertension, the appellate court ruled that the respondents duties as machine operator and paper cutter involved physical pressure and restlessness, since he was required to meet urgent deadlines for rush print orders. This in turn caused respondent to suffer from stress and anxiety. In sum, the appellate court held that respondent had substantially established the connection between the cause of his ailments and the nature of his work. Hence, the instant petition, anchored on the following assignment of errors: I. THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS SOUGHT TO BE REVIEWED IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW, PARTICULARLY SECTION 1 (B), RULE III OF THE RULES IMPLEMENTING THE PROVISIONS OF TITLE II, BOOK IV OF THE LABOR CODE. II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THERE EXISTS A CAUSAL CONNECTION BETWEEN RESPONDENTS PARKINSONS DISEASE AND THE WORKING CONDITIONS AT THE PRINTING PRESS.[10] The sole issue for our resolution is: Did the Court of Appeals err in reversing the ECC decision and in ordering petitioner to pay respondent his claim for compensation benefits? For the petitioner, the OSG contends that the rule implementing P.D. No. 626 does not list Parkinsons Disease as an occupational ailment, hence, it is not compensable. The OSG takes the view that the evidence on record does not establish that the risk of contracting said ailment was increased by the nature of respondents work. Thus, said the OSG, it was error for the Court of Appeals to declare the ailment compensable. Additionally, the OSG avers that private respondent failed to submit the documents that the ECC required to support his claim for disability benefits. Respondent counters that the nature of his functions at LGP clearly brought about the onset of Parkinsons Disease. Moreover, assuming arguendo, that

Parkinsons Disease is non-compensable, his other ailment - Essential Hypertension is covered by P.D. No. 626. He contends that the risk of contracting Essential Hypertension was increased by his job at LGP.[11] Workmens Compensation cases are governed by the law in force at the time the claimant contracted his illness.[12] In the instant case, the applicable rule is Section 1 (b),[13] Rule III, of the Rules Implementing P.D. No. 626. Under said Rule, for the sickness to be compensable, the same must be an occupational disease included in the list provided, with the conditions set therein satisfied; otherwise, the claimant must show proof that the risk of contracting it is increased by the working conditions.[14] What kind and quantum of evidence would constitute an adequate basis for a reasonable man (not necessarily a medical scientist) to reach one or the other conclusion, can obviously be determined only on a case-to-case basis.[15] For reasons herein elaborated, we agree with the appellate court that respondent Pedro Mariano has substantially proved his claim to compensability. First, as to Parkinsons disease, while it is true that this disease is not included in the list of compensable diseases under the law then prevailing, it was found by the Court of Appeals that the conditions prevailing at LGP largely led to the progression of the ailment. The respondents functions entailed constant exposure to hazardous or toxic chemicals such as carbon disulfate, carbon monoxide, or manganese. As the ECC itself admitted in its judgment, the exposure to these toxic substances is among the possible causes of this disease.*16+ Where it was established that the claimants ailment occurred during and in the course of his employment, it must be presumed that the nature of the claimants employment is the cause of the disease.*17+ Second, even if we were to assume that Parkinsons Disease is not compensable, there can be no question that Essential Hypertension is a compensable illness, following our ruling in Government Service Insurance System v. Gabriel,[18] that hypertension and heart ailments are compensable illnesses. The respondent herein was diagnosed to have developed Incomplete Right Bundle Branch Block,[19] a disease caused by a delay in the depolarization of the right ventricle.[20] Right Bundle Branch Block is an intraventricular conduction defect common in individuals with otherwise normal hearts as well as in many diseased processes, including ischemic heart disease, inflammatory disease, infiltrative disease, cardiomyopathy, and postcardiotomy.[21] We note that respondent was also diagnosed as having hypertension and a medical certification was issued to that effect. In Ijares v. Court of Appeals,[22] which involved a claim for disability benefits due to hypertension, this Court gave probative value to the medical findings of the examining physician. A doctors certification as to the nature of the claimants disability normally deserves full credence. No medical practitioner will, in the normal course of things, issue certifications indiscriminately, considering the doctors awareness of the serious and far-reaching effects that a false certification would have on a claim filed with a government agency and of its implications upon his own interests as a professional.[23] In upholding respondent Marianos claim, the Court of Appeals found that among the various jobs the respondent performed were those of a machine operator, paper cutter, monotype composer,[24] and later as supervisor, most of which are physical and stressful in character. In established cases of Essential Hypertension, the blood pressure fluctuates widely in response to emotional stress and physical activity.[25] Given the nature of his assigned job and the printing business, with its tight deadlines entailing large amounts of rush work, indeed the emotional and physical stress of respondents work at the printing press caused, and then exacerbated, his hypertension. On this score, we hold that the Court of Appeals did not err in liberally construing the rules implementing P.D. No. 626. In matters of labor and social legislation, it is well established that doubts in the interpretation and application of the law are resolved liberally in favor of the worker and strictly against the employer. While the SSS and ECC may be commended for their vigilance against sustaining unjustified claims that would only drain funds meant for deserving disabled employees, respondent Marianos case does not fall in that class. Said agencies ought to realize, in our view, that strict interpretation of the rules should not result in the denial of assistance to those in need and qualified therefor. Workers whose capabilities have been diminished, if not completely impaired, as a consequence of their service, ought to be given benefits they deserve under the law. Compassion for them is not a dole-out, but a right.[26]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals, dated July 26, 1999, in CA-G.R. SP No. UDK-2898 is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. MAGSAYSAY MARITIME CORPORATION and/or WASTFEL-LARSEN MANAGEMENT A/S, V. LOBUSTA Petitioners appeal the Decision1 dated August 18, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 74035 and its Resolution2 dated April 19, 2007, denying the motion for reconsideration thereof. The CA declared that respondent is suffering from permanent total disability and ordered petitioners to pay him US$2,060 as medical allowance, US$60,000 as disability benefits and 5% of the total monetary award as attorneys fees. The facts follow: Petitioner Magsaysay Maritime Corporation is a domestic corporation and the local manning agent of the vessel MV Fossanger and of petitioner WastfelLarsen Management A/S.3 Respondent Oberto S. Lobusta is a seaman who has worked for Magsaysay Maritime Corporation since 1994.4 In March 1998, he was hired again as Able Seaman by Magsaysay Maritime Corporation in behalf of its principal WastfelLarsen Management A/S. The employment contract5 provides for Lobusta's basic salary of US$515 and overtime pay of US$206 per month. It also provides that the standard terms and conditions governing the employment of Filipino seafarers on board ocean-going vessels, approved per Department Order No. 33 of the Department of Labor and Employment and Memorandum Circular No. 55 of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA Standard Employment Contract), both series of 1996, shall be strictly and faithfully observed. Lobusta boarded MV Fossanger on March 16, 1998.6 After two months, he complained of breathing difficulty and back pain. On May 12, 1998, while the vessel was in Singapore, Lobusta was admitted at Gleneagles Maritime Medical Center and was diagnosed to be suffering from severe acute bronchial asthma with secondary infection and lumbosacral muscle strain. Dr. C K Lee certified that Lobusta was fit for discharge on May 21, 1998, for repatriation for further treatment.7 Upon repatriation, Lobusta was referred to Metropolitan Hospital. The medical coordinator, Dr. Robert Lim, issued numerous medical reports regarding Lobustas condition. Lobusta was first seen by a Pulmonologist and an Orthopedic Surgeon on May 22, 1998.8 Upon reexamination by the Orthopedic Surgeon on August 11, 1998, he opined that Lobusta needs surgery, called decompression laminectomy,9 which was done on August 30, 1998.10 On October 12, 1998, Dr. Lim issued another medical report stating the opinion of the Orthopedic Surgeon that the prognosis for Lobustas recovery after the spine surgery is good. However, the Pulmonologist opined that Lobustas obstructive airway disease needs to be monitored regularly and that Lobusta needs to be on bronchodilator indefinitely. Hence, Lobusta should be declared disabled with a suggested disability grading of 10-20%.11 The suggestion was not heeded and Lobusta's treatment continued. On February 16, 1999, Lobusta was reexamined. Dr. Lim reported that Lobusta still complains of pain at the lumbosacral area although the EMG/NCV12 test revealed normal findings. Lobusta was prescribed medications and was advised to return on March 16, 1999 for re-evaluation.13 On February 19, 1999, Dr. Lim reported that Lobusta has been diagnosed to have a moderate obstructive pulmonary disease which tends to be a chronic problem, such that Lobusta needs to be on medications indefinitely. Dr. Lim also stated that Lobusta has probably reached his maximum medical care.14 Petitioners then faced the need for confirmation and grading by a second opinion and it took the parties time to agree on a common doctor, until they agreed on Dr. Camilo Roa.15Dr. Roas clinical summary states that Lobusta's latest follow-up check-up was on December 16, 1999; that Lobusta is not physically fit to resume his normal work as a seaman due to the persistence of his symptoms; that his asthma will remain chronically active and will be marked by intermittent exacerbations; and that he needs multiple controller medications for his asthma.16

As the parties failed to reach a settlement as to the amount to which Lobusta is entitled, Lobusta filed on October 2, 2000, a complaint17 for disability/medical benefits against petitioners before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Sometime in October 2000, Magsaysay Maritime Corporation suggested that Lobusta be examined by another company-designated doctor for an independent medical examination. The parties agreed on an independent medical examination by Dr. Annette M. David, whose findings it was agreed upon, would be considered final. On November 17, 2000, Dr. David interviewed and examined Lobusta.18 Pertinent portions of Dr. Davids report read: xxx Based on the Classes of Respiratory Impairment as described in the American Medical Association's Guidelines for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, this is equivalent to Class 2 or Mild Impairment of the Whole Person (level of impairment: 10-25% of the whole person). Given the persistence of the symptoms despite an adequate medical regimen, the impairment may be considered permanent. The determination of disability and fitness for duty/return-to-work is more complex. During asymptomatic periods, Mr. Lobusta could conceivably be capable of performing the duties and responsibilities of an Able Seaman as listed in the memos provided by Pandiman (Duties of an Able Seaman on board an average vessel, January 26, 2000; and Deck Crew general Responsibilities, 95.11.01). However, consideration needs to be given to the following: o During the personal interview, Mr. Lobusta reported the need to use a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for double bottom work. While the use of these devices may not appreciably increase the work of breathing, an individual who develops an acute asthmatic attack under conditions requiring the use of an SCBA (oxygen-poor atmospheres) may be at increased risk for a poor outcome. o When out at sea, the medical facilities on board an average vessel may not be adequate to provide appropriate care for an acute asthmatic exacerbation. Severe asthmatic attacks require life-sustaining procedures such as endotracheal intubation and on occasion, mechanical ventilation. Asthma can be fatal if not treated immediately. The distance from and the time required to transport an individual having an acute asthmatic attack on a vessel at sea to the appropriate medical facilities on land are important factors in the decision regarding fitness for duty. o Several of the duties listed for an Able Seaman require the use of a variety of chemical substances (e.g. grease, solvents, cleaning agents, degreasers, paint, etc.), many of which are known or suspected asthma triggers in sensitized individuals. The potential for an Able Seaman's exposure to these asthma triggers is considerable. Taken altogether, it is my opinion that Mr. Lobusta ought not to be considered fit to return to work as an Able Seaman. While the degree of impairment is mild, for the reasons stated above, it would be in the interest of all parties involved if he were to no longer be considered as capable of gainful employment as a seafarer. It is possible that he may perform adequately in another capacity, given a land-based assignment.19 (Stress in the original by Dr. David.) As no settlement was reached despite the above findings, the Labor Arbiter ordered the parties to file their respective position papers. On April 20, 2001, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision20 ordering petitioners to pay Lobusta (a) US$2,060 as medical allowance, (b) US$20,154 as disability benefits, and (c) 5% of the awards as attorneys fees. The Labor Arbiter ruled that Lobusta suffered illness during the term of his contract. Hence, petitioners are liable to pay Lobusta his medical allowance for 120 days or a total of US$2,060. The Labor Arbiter held that provisions of the Labor Code, as amended, on permanent total disability do not apply to overseas seafarers. Hence, he awarded Lobusta US$20,154 instead of US$60,000, the maximum rate for permanent and total disability under Section 30 and 30-A of the 1996 POEA Standard Employment Contract. The Labor Arbiter also awarded attorneys fees equivalent to 5% of the total award since Lobusta was assisted by counsel.21

Lobusta appealed. The NLRC dismissed his appeal and affirmed the Labor Arbiters decision. The NLRC ruled that Lobustas condition may only be considered permanent partial disability. While Dr. David suggested that Lobustas prospects as seafarer may have been restricted by his bronchial asthma, Dr. David also stated that the degree of impairment is mild. Said qualification puts Lobusta's medical condition outside the definition of total permanent disability, said the NLRC.22 Later, the NLRC also denied Lobustas motion for reconsideration. Unsatisfied, Lobusta brought the case to the CA under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. As aforesaid, the CA declared that Lobusta is suffering from permanent total disability and increased the award of disability benefits in his favor to US$60,000, to wit: WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The challenged resolution of the NLRC dated 20 June 2002 is MODIFIED, declaring [Lobusta] to be suffering from permanent total disability. [Petitioners] are ORDERED to pay [Lobusta] the following: a) US$2,060.00 as medical allowance, b) US$60,000.00 as disability benefits, and c) 5% of the total monetary award as attorneys fees x x x x23 The CA faulted the NLRC for plucking only particular phrases from Dr. Davids report and said that the NLRC cannot wantonly disregard the full import of said report. The CA ruled that Lobusta's disability brought about by his bronchial asthma is permanent and total as he had been unable to work since May 14, 1998 up to the present or for more than 120 days, and because Dr. David found him not fit to return to work as an able seaman. Hence, this petition which raises two legal issues: I. WHETHER OR NOT THE POEA CONTRACT CONSIDERS THE MERE LAPSE OF MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED TWENTY (120) DAYS AS TOTAL AND PERMANENT DISABILITY. II. WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS LEGAL BASIS TO AWARD RESPONDENT LOBUSTA ATTORNEYS FEES.24 Petitioners argue that the CA erred in applying the provisions of the Labor Code instead of the provisions of the POEA contract in determining Lobustas disability, and in ruling that the mere lapse of 120 days entitles Lobusta to total and permanent disability benefits. The CA allegedly erred also in holding them liable for attorneys fees, despite the absence of legal and factual bases. The petition lacks merit. Petitioners are mistaken that it is only the POEA Standard Employment Contract that must be considered in determining Lobusta's disability. In Palisoc v. Easways Marine, Inc.,25 we said that whether the Labor Codes provision on permanent total disability applies to seafarers is already a settled matter. In Palisoc, we cited the earlier case of Remigio v. National Labor Relations Commission26 where we said (1) that the standard employment contract for seafarers was formulated by the POEA pursuant to its mandate under Executive Order No. 24727 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; (2) that Section 29 of the 1996 POEA Standard Employment Contract itself provides that all 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; and (3) that even without this provision, a contract of labor is so impressed with public interest that the 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.28 In affirming the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability, Remigio further stated:

Thus, the Court has applied the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability to the case of seafarers. In Philippine Transmarine Carriers v. NLRC, seaman Carlos Nietes was found to be suffering from congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy and was declared as unfit to work by the companyaccredited physician. The Court affirmed the award of disability benefits to the seaman, citing ECC v. Sanico, GSIS v. CA, and Bejerano v. ECC 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, that 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 ones earning capacity. The same principles were cited in the more recent case of Crystal Shipping, Inc. v. Natividad. In addition, the Court cited GSIS v. Cadiz and Ijares v. CA 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. xxxx 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. x x x29

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 companydesignated 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. xxxx 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.32 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 companydesignated physician, but in no case shall this period exceed one hundred twenty (120) days. Applying the foregoing considerations, we agree with the CA that Lobusta suffered permanent total disability. On this point, the NLRC ruling was not in accord with law and jurisprudence. Upon repatriation, Lobusta was first examined by the Pulmonologist and Orthopedic Surgeon on May 22, 1998. The maximum 240-day (8-month) medical-treatment period expired, but no declaration was made that Lobusta is fit to work. Nor was there a declaration of the existence of Lobustas permanent disability. On February 16, 1999, Lobusta was still prescribed medications for his lumbosacral pain and was advised to return for reevaluation. May 22, 1998 to February 16, 1999 is 264 days or 6 days short of 9 months. On Lobustas other ailment, Dr. Roas clinical summary also shows that as of December 16, 1999, Lobusta was still unfit to resume his normal work as a seaman due to the persistence of his symptoms. But neither did Dr. Roa declare the existence of Lobustas permanent disability. Again, the maximum 240-day medical treatment period had already expired. May 22, 1998 to December 16, 1999 is 19 months or 570 days. In Remigio, unfitness to work for 11-13 months was considered permanent total disability. So it must be in this case. And Dr. Davids much later report that Lobusta ought not to be considered fit to return to work as an Able Seaman validates that his disability is permanent and total as provided under the POEA Standard Employment Contract and the Labor Code, as amended. In fact, the CA has found that Lobusta was not able to work again as a seaman and that his disability is permanent as he has been unable to work since 14 May 1998 to the present or for more than 120 days. This period is more than eight years, counted until the CA decided the case in August 2006. On the CA ruling that Lobustas disability is permanent since he was unable to work for more than 120 days, we have clarified in Vergara that this temporary total disability period may be extended up to a maximum of 240 days.

In Vergara v. Hammonia Maritime Services, Inc.,30 we also said 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. Thus, the CA was correct in applying the Labor Code provisions in Lobustas claim for disability benefits. The Labor Arbiter erred in failing to apply them. Article 192(c)(1) under Title II, Book IV of the Labor Code, as amended, reads: ART. 192. Permanent total disability. x x x xxxx (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,31 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:

Thus, we affirm the award to Lobusta of US$60,000 as permanent total disability benefits, the maximum award under Section 30 and 30-A of the 1996 POEA Standard Employment Contract. We also affirm the award of US$2,060 as sickness allowance which is not contested and appears to have been accepted by the parties. On the matter of attorneys fees, under Article 220833 of the Civil Code, attorneys fees can be recovered in actions for recovery of wages of laborers and actions for indemnity under employers liability laws. Attorneys fees are also recoverable when the defendants act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to incur expenses to protect his interest.34 Such conditions being present here, we affirm the award of attorneys fees, which we compute as US$3,103 or 5% of US$62,060. Before we end, we note petitioners repeated failure to comply with our resolutions, as well as the orders issued by the tribunals below. We remind petitioners and their counsels that our resolutions requiring them to file pleadings are not to be construed as mere requests, nor should they be complied with partially, inadequately or selectively. Counsels are also reminded that lawyers are called upon to obey court orders and willful disregard thereof will subject the lawyer not only for contempt but to disciplinary sanctions as well.35 We may also dismiss petitioners appeal for their failure to comply with any circular, directive or order of the Supreme Court without justifiable cause.36 In fact, we actually denied the instant petition on July 9, 2008 since petitioners failed to file the required reply to the comment filed by Lobusta.37 On reconsideration, however, we reinstated the petition.38 But when we required the parties to submit memoranda, petitioners again did not comply.39 As regards the proceedings below, they did not file their position paper on time, despite the extensions granted by the Labor Arbiter.40 Nor did they file the comment and memorandum required by the CA.41 Finally, we note that the Labor Arbiter improperly included Miguel Magsaysay as respondent in his decision.42 It should be noted that Lobusta sued Magsaysay Maritime Corporation and/or Wastfel-Larsen Management A/S in his complaint.43 He also named them as the respondents in his position paper.44 Petitioners are the proper parties. WHEREFORE, we DENY the present petition for review on certiorari and AFFIRM the Decision dated August 18, 2006 of the Court of Appeals and its Resolution dated April 19, 2007 in CA-G.R. SP No. 74035. We ORDER petitioners Magsaysay Maritime Corporation and/or Wastfel-Larsen Management A/S to pay respondent Oberto S. Lobusta US$65,163 as total award, to be paid in Philippine pesos at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment. QUITORIANO vs. JEBSENS MARITIME, INC. Facts: Petitioner was hired by Jebsens Maritime, Inc. (represented by Ma. Theresa Gutay), on behalf of its foreign principal co-respondent Atle Jebsens Management A/S, hired2 on January 13, 2001 Rizaldy M. Quitoriano (petitioner) as 2nd Officer aboard the vessel M/V Trimnes for a period of six months with a basic monthly salary of US$936. On May 23, 2001, petitioner complained of dizziness with severe headache, "general body weakness, chest pains, easy fatigability," "weak grip strength," and "numbness on the left side of his body" and was observed to be "dragging his left foot," "his mouth slightly down to one side," and his speech "slurred." On May 26, 2001 petitioner was diagnosed in Port Huelva, Spain as suffering from "hypertension arterial" or "mild stroke and was repatriated to the Philippines on May 30, 2001 to undergo further medical examination and treatment. Upon arrival in Manila, petitioner underwent several tests at the Medical Center Manila. At that time, petitioner "still complain[ed] of chest pain and easy fatigability". Petitioner was diagnosed as suffering from hypertension and transient ischemic attack. On November 16, 2001 or 169 days after petitioners repatriation, the physician issued a medical report declaring him "fit to work". Petitioner later sought the opinion of an independent internist-cardiologist from the Philippine Heart Center, who diagnosed him as suffering from "hypertension cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia." Another physician of the same hospital also found him to have "cerebral infarction, R, basal ganglia area."

Petitioner thereupon repeatedly asked respondents for full permanent disability compensation but was unsuccessful. He thus filed on February 26, 2002 a complaint to recover permanent total disability compensation of US$80,000, as provided for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) forged with respondents, and attorneys fees before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Arbitration Office in Quezon City. The Labor Arbiter dismissed petitioners complaint based on the companydesignated physicians fit-to-work certification. On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the decision with modification by ordering respondents to allow petitioner to resume sea duty. His Motion for Reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed a Certiorari to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the NLRC decision and also denied his Motion for Reconsideration. Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari before the Supreme Court. Issue: Whether or not petitioners disability is considered permanent and total to entitle him to recover permanent total disability compensation of US$80,000, as provided for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Decision: Yes. The Court held that petitioners disability being then permanent and total, he is "entitled to 100% compensation, i.e., US$80,000 for officers," as stipulated in par. 20.1.7 of the parties CBA. Ratio Decidendi: In accordance with the avowed policy of the State to give maximum aid and full protection to labor, the Court has applied the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability to Filipino seafarers,19 it holding that the notion of disability is intimately related to the workers capacity to earn, what is compensated being not his injury or illness but his inability to work resulting in the impairment of his earning capacity; hence, disability should be understood less on its medical significance but more on the loss of earning capacity. 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." 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" (Art. 1700). 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 loses the use of any part of his body. x x x. Applying the standards reflected in the immediately quoted ruling of the Court vis--vis the fact that it was only on November 16, 2001 that the "fit to work" certification was issued by physician or more than five months from the time petitioner was medically repatriated on May 30, 2001, petitioners disability is considered permanent and total.