{loadmoduleid ? string:? string:? string:? string:? string:? string:287 ? ? ? ? ? ?}

Supreme Court rules on proper contents of request letter for referral to a third doctor


Philippine Shipping Update – Manning Industry




Seafarer was engaged as Cook on board the ship under a POEA Contract.  While on-board, seafarer suffered from abdominal and lower back pain. He saw a shore doctor and was recommended for repatriation for further medical evaluation.
The seafarer was then endorsed to the company-designated physician (CDP) where he was noted to have esophagogastroduodenal muscosa, small hiatal hernia and mild lumbar spondylosis.  The neurologist suggested referral to neurosurgery to assess the degree of nerve compression and decompression of the spine.  However, the CDP issued a final medical report assessing the seafarer with a final disability of Grade 11.
Seafarer’s own doctor found him to be permanently disabled and permanently unfit to work in any capacity. Seafarer advised the company that he was declared unfit by his own doctor and to refer him for a third medical opinion.
Eventually, seafarer filed a complaint against the company for disability benefits.  The Labor Arbiter awarded disability benefits equivalent to grade 11 disability issued by the CDP which was sustained by the NLRC on appeal. However, the Court of Appeals reversed and awarded full disability benefits of US$60,000 to the seafarer as the assessment of the CDP was issued after 120 days without justifiable reason.
The 120/240 days issue
The Supreme Court explained the 120/240 days principle and noted that in this case, the final medical assessment was issued on the 156th day.  The company argued that the progress reports of the CDP would show why treatment needed to be extended beyond 120 days (up to 240 days) and as such, the extension of treatment was justified.
However, the Court noted that in the progress report of the CDP on the 106th day of treatment, the seafarer was still suffering from back pain.  Afterwards, the seafarer was suggested to be referred to neurosurgery to assess the degree of nerve compression and, if possible, the decompression of the spine.  This was not done and instead, the company-designated physician issued his final medical report on the 156th day of treatment.  Also, the Court noted that after the final assessment was issued by the CDP, they still issued another medical report which would mean that the assessment earlier issued was not final.  As no final assessment was issued, the seafarer should be awarded maximum disability benefits.
The contents of a request for third doctor referral
The company argued that the third doctor procedure was not properly initiated by the seafarer as he merely requested for a third doctor referral without presenting a second medical opinion which is contradictory to the findings of the CDP. 
The Court held that the POEA-SEC neither stated nor required that when the seafarer sends a request for a referral to a third doctor to the employer, the seafarer must attach the medical report of his own medical doctor to such request. It is not the employer who will assess the medical report of the seafarer's chosen physician as it will be the labor tribunals where the complaint for disability benefits is filed that would assess the medical report.
The seafarer's letter-request for a referral to a third doctor should only contain the seafarer's fitness to work or the disability rating for referral to a third doctor to constitute as adequate compliance. When the letter-request for referral to a third doctor indicates the seafarer's fitness to work or the disability rating according to his own physician, then the seafarer is deemed to have duly and fully disclosed the contrary assessment of his own doctor, and the seafarer can signify his intention to resolve the conflict through referral of the conflicting assessments to a  third doctor whose ruling, under the POEA-SEC, shall be final and binding on the parties.
Benhur Shipping Corporation vs. A. R., G.R. No. 229179, March 29, 2022, First Division, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, ponente (Attys. Joseph Rebano and Lovereal Ocampo of DRLaw handled for vessel interests).


DelRosarioLaw, through a Zoom virtual meeting enriched their relationship with Hydor AS in providing crew claims updates with the latter’s claims team last 29 September 2022. The learning session was given by Partners Joseph Rebano and Florencio Aquino who provided updates on the crew claims landscape in the Philippines.  An interactive session on related topics then ensued. We would like to thank Hydor for the productive meeting and looking forward to seeing you all again in the future.
DelRosarioLaw partner, Catherine Mangahas likewise conducted in-house seminars for NET Ship Management, Inc. last 26 September 2022 and for Britoil Offshore Phils., Inc. last 13 October 2022 to update claims handlers on the procedures for P& I Claims handling and proper monitoring of the 120/240 day rule.  They were also appraised of prevailing Supreme Court cases and guidelines on the matter.
DelRosarioLaw partner, Gina Guinto conducted the in-house seminar for MMSPhil Maritime Services, Inc. last 12 October 2022.   The training seminar was aimed at appraising claims handlers on the procedures for P& I Claims handling and Illegal Dismissal cases. Among the topics discussed were recent Supreme Court cases on seafarers’ claims as well as proper documentation and defenses for illegal dismissal claims.
DelRosarioLaw partner, Florencio Aquino was invited as a speaker in Swan Shipping Corporations Officers’ Training Seminar last 13 October 2022 at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila.  Florencio spoke about the importance of the pre-employment medical-examination, safety practices and the Seafarers Protection Act.  A very lively Q&A ensued with the gamely participation of the audience.  Our many thanks to Swan Shipping for the invitation and we wish to see you in your future seminars.
DelRosarioLaw partner, Herbert Tria was invited by Carnival Cruise Lines and the Holland America Group last 14 October 2022 to speak on the salient points of the POEA Standard Employment Contract and the POEA Sea-based Rules and Regulations. Herbert shared his insights on how to effectively and efficiently manage the claims of Filipino seafarers and cruise personnel. Our warmest thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America Group for the invitation.
DelRosarioLaw partners, Catherine Mangahas and Gina Guinto were invited to attend the 2022 MVA CESAVA/Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Consultation Dialogue last 26 October 2022. The activity was organized by the NCMB and was aimed at enhancing the knowledge and competency of the Maritime Voluntary Arbitrators in resolving maritime labor disputes. It was also aimed at updating the stakeholders on the developments in the maritime voluntary arbitration, and to elicit feedback and suggestions regarding the present issues and concerns surrounding the program.




Areas of Specialization:  Labour & personal injury, litigation and dispute resolution, corporate and commercial, shipping and admiralty, intellectual property, cargo claims and charter party, transport, insurance and reinsurance, arbitration and ADR, immigration

 “‘Outstanding’ shipping boutique Del Rosario & Del Rosario is regularly sought out by the international group of P&I clubs as well as insurance companies and cruise lines. The firm has expertise in all aspects of shipping matters including labour, personal injury, vessel arrest, collisions, salvage, oil pollution, damage of cargoes, bunker claims, protection and indemnity, and ship finance. Its notable IP group has also been engaged by global giants such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Sony”. 2021 AsiaLaw Profile
“Specialising in maritime law, Del Rosario & Del Rosario is best known for acting for multinational clients in disputes relating to oil pollution, damaged cargo, salvage and vessel arrest. The group also has an extensive labour practice which is active in a full range of disputes involving Filipino seafarers. Del Rosario advise a variety of noteworthy clients, including shipping companies, insurers and P&I clubs.” 2021 Legal 500 Asia Pacific.





This publication aims to provide commentary on issues affecting the manning industry, analysis of recent cases and updates on legislation.  It is meant to be brief and is not intended to be legal advice.  To subscribe or for further information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




Edmon Ruiz

Contact Details

Telephone: +63 2 5317 7888, +63 2 8810 1791 Fax:  63 2 5317 7890 24/7
Mobile: 63 917 83 8384

Useful Links

Send a Message

Your Cart

{loadmoduleid ? string:? string:? string:? string:? string:? string:285 ? ? ? ? ? ?}


{loadmoduleid ? string:? string:? string:? string:? string:? string:286 ? ? ? ? ? ?}