A Seafarer taking Five Maintenance Medications may be Entitled to Total and Permanent Disability Benefits

Kennedy R. Quines Vs. United Philippines Lines, Inc. and/or Internatioal Trading and Shipping Co.

G.R. No. 248774 |  May 12, 2021


FACTS OF THE CASE

Petitioner had been working as a seafarer for respondent UPLI since 2002. Whenever he got assigned to board a vessel, he was always declared fit for sea duties.

On March 18, 2015, he signed a contract of employment with UPLI for and on behalf of its foreign principal Shell Shipping Co.

On July 22, 2015, while performing his usual duties, he experienced headache, nausea, muscle cramp, and pain in his stomach. On July 25, 2015, the Captain sent him to Corpus Cristi Medical Center in Texas, USA, where he was diagnosed with hypertension, neuropathy in the hands and feet, and nausea. He was medically repatriated the same day.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, UPLI referred him to its company-designated physician which was declared him “fit to work” and immediately advised to line up again for deployment.

Sometime during the first week of March 2016, he experienced chest pains, shivering legs and arms, dizziness, headaches, and tightness and shortness of breath. Despite his worsening condition, his superiors simply directed him to continue with his medication and return to work. But the same symptoms persisted. When his blood pressure was checked again, it  was 170/100 mm Hg. 15 The Captain thus immediately repatriated him for urgent treatment.

On November 15, 2016, Dr. Sia, a cardiologist of Marine Medical Services, prescribed four (4) new maintenance medications for his hypertension, chest pains, dizziness, and nausea.

On December 7, 2016, he was constrained to consult another cardiologist, Dr. Antonio C. Pascual, who diagnosed him with Ischemic Heart Disease and Hypertension Stage 2. Dr. Pascual issued a medical report stating he was “MEDICALLY UNFIT TO WORK AS A SEAMAN.

Due to his worsening condition and lack of any employment contract offer from respondents for more than two hundred forty (240) days, he asked for a grievance meeting with UPLI.

ISSUE

Whether or not petitioner is entitled to total and permanent disability benefits?


HELD

It cannot be denied that petitioner’s illness was work-related or work-aggravated and, therefore, compensable.

RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT

In this regard, we reckon with Department of Health Administrative Order No. 2007-0025 or the Revised Guidelines for Conducting Medical Fitness Examination for Seafarers, which provides that a seafarer taking more than two (2) maintenance oral medicines could no longer be declared fit for sea duties.

Surely, the fact that petitioner is taking five (5) maintenance medications for his hypertension alone,  already permanently incapacitates him from securing gainful employment as a seafarer. Too, there is no showing that he had been re-employed by respondents or engaged as a seaman by any other company ever since he got repatriated in 2016. Verily, his continuous unemployment until this very day indicates his total and permanent disability.

Further, without a valid final and definitive assessments from the company-designated doctors within the 120/240-day period, as in this case, the law already steps in to consider a seafarer’s disability as total and permanent. By operation of law, therefore, petitioner is already deemed to be totally and permanently disabled.

Published by Qairi

A perennial student in life, Qairi has been involved as a Legal Advocate in one of the top firms in the State of California. He has started publishing his works online with the intention of helping Filipino workers become aware of their rights, as well as their obligations, as employees.

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