C.F. SHARP CREW MANAGEMENT, INC. v. PEREZ

G.R. No. 194885, January 26, 2015

C.F. SHARP CREW MANAGEMENT, INC. AND REEDEREI CLAUS PETER OFFEN, Petitioners, v. CLEMENTE M. PEREZ, Respondent.

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

FACTS:

Petitioners C.F. Sharp Crew Management hired respondent as Oiler on board the vessel M/V P&O Nedlloyd Rio Grande.

The parties signed the 10-month employment contract3 on May 22, 2000 and they agreed to comply with the 1996 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract (POEA-SEC).� Respondent�s employment is also covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

While the Rio Grande was in Singapore on November 1, 2000, respondent failed to report for duty.� But at 9:30 a.m., he showed up at the crewmess confused.� The crew got scared of him.� The Master of the Rio Grande decided that respondent will be a high risk for the safety of the ship and its crew and must be repatriated.4� Respondent was diagnosed to have acute psychosis at Gleneagles Maritime Medical Center and was declared unfit for sea duty.5chanRoblesvirtua

Respondent sued the petitioners for disability benefits, moral and exemplary damages, and attorneys fees . He claimed that while he was told that he is already fit to work as seaman, the doctor refused to issue a medical certificate on the ground that he has yet to fully recover from his illness. When he sought re-employment, petitioners rejected him because of his illness.� His claim for disability benefits under the CBA was also denied.

petitioners Accordingly, respondent concealed that he was previously repatriated in 1996 and 1997 for psychotic episodes.� They add that under Section 20(E) of the POEA-SEC respondent is disqualified from any compensation and benefit for wilfully and deliberately concealing his pre-existing medical condition.�

Labor Arbiter: favor of respondent and ordered petitioners to pay him disability benefits, sickness allowance and attorney�s fees
The NLRC reversed the Labor Arbiter�s ruling but ordered petitioners to pay respondent sickness allowance. respondent is not entitled to disability benefits since he concealed his psychotic features in his application form when he sought employment with petitioners.

CA reversed NLRC. Reinstated LA.

ISSUE: WON THE RESPONDENT IS ENTITLED TO disability benefits

HELD:

Entitled to disability benefits but not CBA benefits.

We have ruled that under the 1996 POEA-SEC, it is enough that the seafarer proves that his or her injury or illness was acquired during the term of employment to support a claim for disability benefits.17chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Here, it is not disputed that respondent became ill when the Rio Grande was in Singapore on November 1, 2000 or during the term of his 10-month employment contract signed on May 22, 2000.� The initial diagnosis at the Gleneagles Maritime Medical Center that respondent has acute psychosis confirmed the observation of the Rio Grande�s Master that respondent was confused when he showed up at the crewmess on November 1, 2000.� Respondent�s claim for disability benefits thus finds support from established facts.� The Labor Arbiter was therefore correct that respondent suffered a psychotic disorder during the term of his employment contract. We also note that respondent was not ill when he was hired by petitioners, as he passed the pre-employment medical examination. The CA also noted the Labor Arbiter�s finding that respondent passed another medical and mental examination in Germany which proved that he was fit for sea duty.

We disagree with petitioners that respondent is not entitled to disability benefits because he is guilty of fraud in concealing his pre-existing medical condition. THE provision states: When requested, the seafarer shall be furnished a copy of all pertinent medical reports or records at no cost to the seafarer. The above-quoted provision does not mention unconcealment.� It only requires that the seafarer be furnished a copy of all pertinent medical records upon request. On this point, the NLRC appears to have been misled in ruling that respondent is guilty of concealment.

As to CBA benefits:

We are unable to agree with the CA that respondent�s psychotic disorder is an injury as a result of an accident from any cause whatsoever which would entitle respondent to disability benefits amounting to US$125,000 under the CBA.� To stress, to be entitled to the compensation under Section 21(a) of the CBA, a seafarer must suffer an injury as a result of an accident.� But there is no proof that respondent met an accident and was injured, that he met an unintended and unforeseen injurious occurrence while on board the Rio Grande

 

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