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Lack of details belies allegation of seafarer that he complied with the three day reportorial requirement

Philippine Shipping Update – Manning Industry

By:  Ruben Del Rosario, President, Del Rosario Pandiphil Inc., 13 June 2018 (Issue 2018/08)
Lack of details belies allegation of seafarer that he complied with the three day reportorial requirement

The seafarer was a carpenter who was repatriated due to finished contract and eventually filed a claim for disability benefits more than a year after.  He argues that after repatriation, he immediately reported to the company to ask for medical assistance but was denied which prompted him to seek consult with his own doctor.  He was then diagnosed with congestive heart failure for which he was hospitalized.    On the other hand, the company maintains that the seafarer never voiced any medical concern upon his repatriation.  The company did not have further contact with the seaman from that time until they received the complaint which was more than one year from the date of repatriation.
In deciding the claim, the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, while both determining that seafarer did not comply with the three day rule, had conflicting rulings.
The Labor Arbiter awarded full disability benefits to the seafarer despite the fact that it was established at that stage that seafarer did not comply with the three day rule reportorial requirement.  The reason of the Labor Arbiter in awarding the claim was because the proximity of the date of repatriation and the time the complainant was admitted to the hospital for his illness (about three weeks) is too close that it leads to the conclusion that complainant's ailment was work-aggravated during the term of his contract.  The Labor Arbiter also ruled that the seafarer was justified in not complying with the mandatory reporting requirement within three days from repatriation because he was not medically repatriated.
On the other hand, the NLRC dismissed the claim for failure of the seafarer to comply with the three day reportorial requirement.  It brushed aside the allegations of the seafarer that he reported to the company for medical assistance as mere self-serving assertions without any evidence to back them up.
The matter was elevated to the Court of Appeals who reinstated the award of benefits and found that the seafarer tried to comply with the three day reportorial requirement but was refused and ignored by the company.
In evaluating the different findings and decisions of the Labor Arbiter, NLRC and the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court examined the evidentiary facts of the case and chose to uphold the findings of the NLRC.
The Court held that the Labor Arbiter erred in not applying the three day rule just because the seafarer was not medically repatriated.  The Court noted that the only exception under the POEA Contract for a seafarer to be exempted from the rule is that when he is physically incapacitated to do so and that he submits a written letter to the company within the same period.
In the same manner, the Court disagreed with the findings of the Court of Appeals that the seafarer requested from the company that he be referred to medical examination.   The Court noted that the seafarer presented no witnesses that would support his allegations. He did not even bother to mention whom he talked with in the company's office. He did not even relay how his request for medical treatment was supposedly refused, and by whom. No date was even alleged as to when the refusal was made.  The lack of details on the part of the seafarer did not speak well of the truthfulness of his allegations which the Supreme Court considered as self-serving.  As such, the claim of the seafarer was denied for his failure to comply with the three day reportorial requirement under the POEA Contract.
Manila Shipmanagement & Manning Inc., and/or Hellespont Hammonia GmbH & Co. K.G. et al. vs. R. A., G.R. No. 217135, January 31, 2018, Second Division, Associate Justice Andres Reyes, ponente
MARINA requests information on seafarers who were granted medical claims
On 25 May 2018, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) sent a letter to all manning agencies in the Philippines requesting for a list of seafarers who were granted medical claims with corresponding description and date of issuance as well as necessary details that it may use in the evaluation of medical certificates as one of the requirements for the issuance a Certificate of Competency (COC), Certificate of Endorsement (COE) and Certificate of Proficiency (COP).  The request of the MARINA was prompted by complaints from various shipping companies, principals and manning agents of seafarers who were issued with said certificates despite the fact that they were considered disabled and already paid medical/disability benefits.
In reply to a query, MARINA clarified that they are referring to disabilities that will warrant the non-issuance of a COC/COE and those that will be in violation of Regulation I/9 of the STCW Convention such as a “full disability”.  MARINA has also requested the manning agencies to put in the “remarks” section the factors that may limit a seafarer’s ability to perform his duties for a specific period for their evaluation.  The amount of benefits provided to the seafarer is not required to be given to MARINA.
As to the interplay of MARINA’s request with the Data Privacy Act, MARINA justified that they have the authority to make this request under the law as said information is necessary for them to carry out their regulatory functions.
Firm News
Del Rosario Pandiphil’s Edgardo Antonio A. Del Rosario, MD, Ruth F. Manalo, RN and Irish C. Villafuerte, RN participated as resource speakers in the Officers Dialogue of Multinational Maritime Inc, MMSPhil Maritime Services Corp. and Phil-Crewing Maritime Services Inc. held at their newly inaugurated office located in Cavite City last April 21, 2018.
Their topic is “The Issue on the Increasing Trend of Suicide Onboard”, followed by an actively participated open forum.
We would like extend our sincerest thanks to the organizers for their invitation and warm reception during this event and we hope to see you all again soon.

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