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Web Alert: Philippines - Supreme Court upholds 3 Day Reporting Rule

03 June 2016

A seafarer employed under the POEA Standard Employment Contract has had a claim for disability benefits rejected by the Supreme Court in the Philippines because he failed to be examined by a company-designated physician within three days of repatriation, as required under his employement contract.

The seafarer suffered pain in his ears and was eventually repatriated. A week after repatriation the seafarer sought medical attention and was diagnosed with severe hearing loss. He was later diagnosed by a different doctor to have 'Permanent Medical Unfitness with a Disability Grade 1' due to a  'profound hearing loss'.

The seafarer filed an action against his employers claiming disability benefits, moral and exemplary damages, legal interest, and attorney's fees. The National Conciliation and Mediation Board submitted the claim to the Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators who granted the claim for disability benefits on the basis of the second doctor's diagnosis of permanent medical unfitness.

The award was overturned by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that for a seafarer's disability claim to succeed, it is mandatory that within three days of repatriation, he is examined by a company-designated physician. The only justification for failing to be examined by a company-designated physician within three days is if the seafarer was physically incapacitated.

Edren Ricasata vs.Cargo Safeway, Inc. and Evergreen Marine Corporation (Taiwan) Ltd., G.R. Nos. 208896-97, April 6, 2016.