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SEAGULL MARITIME CORP v BALATONGAN approval and verification under Art.

approval and verification under Art. 34(i) of the Labor Code is to ensure that the
employee shall not be placed in a disadvantageous position and that the same are
Petitioner/s: Seagull Maritime Corp. and Philimare Shipping & Equipment Supply (Seagull) within the minimum standards of the terms and conditions of such employment
Respondent/s: Nerry Balatongan, NLRC, POEA (Balatongan) contract set by the POEA. This is why a standard format for employment has been
adopted by the DOLE. However, there is no prohibition against stipulating in a
Facts: contract more benefits to the employee than those required by law. Thus, in this
1. A Crew Agreement was entered into by Balatongan and Philimare Shipping, whereby case, wherein a supplementary contract was entered into affording greater
Philimare employed Balatongan as a seaman on board its vessel Santa Cruz (renamed to benefits to the employee, and although the same was not submitted for approval
Turtle Bay). Said agreement was processed and approved by the National Seamans Board of the POEA, the POEA properly considered it to be valid and enforceable, and
(NSB). their pronouncements have the effect of an approval of such contract. Moreover,
2. While on board, the parties entered into a supplementary contract of employment, which as said contract was voluntarily entered into by the parties the same is binding
provides that: between them. Not being contrary to law, morals, good customs, public policy or
a. The employer shall be obliged to insure the employee during his engagement against public order, its validity must be sustained. (Provision on insurance benefit of $50,000
death or permanent invalidity caused by accident on board up to $40,000 for death is valid.)
and $50,000 for permanent total disability.
b. The supplementary contract provide that, notwithstanding his claim against insurers, The provision in the supplementary contract whereby Balatongan waives any
the employee expressly waives all claims of his own or his heirs for compensation claim against Seagull for damages arising from death or permanent disability is
of damages due to death or permanent disability, which he suffered during his against public policy, oppressive, and inimical to the rights of Balatongan as it
engagement against employersunless caused by willful acts of employers. defeats the duty of Seagull to insure Balatongan against said contingencies stipulated
3. In 1983, Balotongan met an accident in Suez Canal, Egypt, resulting to his hospitalization in the contract. Hence, it is void.
at the Suez Canal Authority Hospital. He was repatriated to the Philippines and hospitalized
at Makati Med. In 1985 a medical certificate was issued describing his disability as 2. Issue on liability
permanent in nature. Petitioners argued that Philimare was a mere manning agent, hence could not be bound
4. Balatongan demanded payment for total disability insurance of $50,000, as provided in the by the supplementary contract entered into by Balatongan with Philimares principal,
supplemental contract. This was denied as it was allegedly filed beyond the designated Navales Shipping.
period.
5. Hence, Balatongan filed a complaint in the POEA against Philimare and Seagull Maritime SC: Facts and findings of POEA are conclusive. Even if it was Navales that entered
for non-payment of his claim for permanent total disability. into said contract with Balatongan, Philimare as manning agent, was still jointly
6. POEA: Ordered Seagull to pay Balatonganthe amount of US$50,000.00 representing responsible with the principal.
permanent total disability insurance and attorneys fees at 10% of the award.
NLRC: Affirmed. 3. Issue on prescription
POEA did not err when it considered the second contract of employment as valid The claim has not yet prescribed as it was only in 1985 when the medical certificate
without any verification or approval by the NSB was issued describing disability to be permanent in nature. Hence, it was not possible
Intention of the law when Art. 34 LC was enacted is to provide for the prohibited and to file a claim with the insurance company within the 1 year period, from the time of
unlawful practices relative to recruitment and placement. injury, as disability was ascertained to be permanent in nature only thereafter.
The purpose of having the contracts approved by NSB (POEA) is to determine
whether or not the contracts conform to the minimum terms and conditions prescribed. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the temporary
But it did not prohibit any alteration, which provided for increases in wages or other restraining order issued by this Court on March 21, 1988 is hereby LIFTED. No costs. This
benefits voluntarily granted by employer. decision is immediately executory. SO ORDERED.
7. Seagull:The supplementary contract of employment entered into on board the vessel Turtle
Bay which provides for the insurance benefit was not approved or verified by POEA. Such
violates Art. 34(i) of the LC.1

Issue: Whether the provisions of the supplementary contract are valid? (Provision on insurance
benefit valid; Provision on waiver void.)

Held: Affirmed.
1. The supplemental contract of employment was entered into between Seagull and
Balatongan to modify the original contract of employment. The reason for POEA

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Art. 34(i) to substitute or alter employment contracts approved and verified by the DOLE from the time of actual signing
thereof by the parties up to and including the period of expiration of the same without the approval of the DOLE.