Supreme Court rules claim premature as filed prior to final assessment by the company designated physician Change in OWWA Membership Fees

Philippine Shipping Update – Manning Industry

By:  Ruben Del Rosario, President, Del Rosario Pandiphil Inc., March 20, 2017 (Issue 2017/05)

In this issue:

Supreme Court rules claim premature as filed prior to final assessment by the company designated physician
Change in OWWA Membership Fees

Firm News

Supreme Court rules claim premature as filed prior to final assessment by the company designated physician            

The seafarer was engaged as Chief Officer.  During his employment, he experienced abdominal pains and was initially diagnosed with “Esophago-Gastritis-Duodenitis” by the shore doctor.  He was then recommended for repatriation.  While waiting for his return flight schedule, seafarer again experienced abdominal pains and had to seek medical consultation on his own.  Eventually, seafarer was repatriated and referred to the company-designated physician for examination and treatment.  Initial tests showed normal upper gastro-intestinal endoscopy and negative H. pylori test.  Seafarer was recommended to undergo further examinations which however were not administered.  About two months after his repatriation and while undergoing examination and treatment, seafarer filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint seeking for payment of disability benefits, reimbursement of medical expenses, damages and attorney’s fees.

The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint on the ground that the illness was not shown to be work-related.  On appeal, the NLRC sustained the dismissal of the claim for disability benefits but granted the claim for reimbursement of medical expenses when the seafarer sought medical consultation abroad.

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals awarded full disability compensation, sick wages, reimbursement of medical expenses, damages and attorney’s fees.  The appellate court held that the illness was considered work-related as it was suffered during employment.  Also, the seafarer was declared permanently and totally disabled as he was unable to perform his customary job for more than 120 days.

The company petitioned the Supreme Court which was granted and the NLRC decision was reinstated.

The Court held that the claim was premature and at the time it was filed, the seafarer had no cause of action against his employers.  

While the fact that seafarer suffered the disability during the term of his contract was undisputed, it was evident that he had filed his complaint for disability benefits before the company-designated physician could determine the nature and extent of his disability, or even before the lapse of the initial 120-day period. With the seafarer still undergoing further tests, the company-designated physician had no occasion to determine the nature and extent of his disability upon which to base seafarer's "fit to work" certification or disability grading. Consequently, seafarer had no cause of action for disability benefits and sickness allowance at the time of the filing of his complaint.

Status Maritime Corporation and Admibros Shipmanagement Co., Ltd. vs. Rodrigo Doctolero, G.R. No. 198968,January 18, 2017; Third Division, Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, ponente

Change in OWWA Membersip Fees
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will now be adopting a different scheme in the payment of OWWA membership fees for seafarers.

Previously, the US$25 membership fee of a seafarer is paid as follows: US$15 by the employer and US$10 by the seafarer.  This fee is paid on a per contract basis.  Now, the US$25 fee will be paid solely by the employer which is good for 2 years and no longer on a per contract basis.  The OWWA is yet to finalize the implementing guidelines for this to take effect.   
Firm News

DelRosario Law Partners Herbert Tria and Catherine Mangahas-Soliven together with DelRosario-Pandiphil’s Veronica Del Rosario-Aguinaldo visited Miami-based cruise companies last 13 – 15 February 2017.  They visited Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines and discussed the latest developments and trends in Filipino crew claims.  

DelRosario Law Partners Charles Dela Cruz and Florencio Aquino visited the offices of all the P&I Clubs in Singapore and NYK Shipmanagement last 6 – 9 March 2016.  They likewise kept the Clubs abreast of the latest developments regarding Filipino crew claims and had interactive discussions.

Our sincerest thanks to our friends from RCCL, CCL and NCL in Miami and the Singapore offices of Gard, Japan P&I, North of England, Shipowners, Skuld, Standard, Steamship, UKPI and NYKSM  for the fruitful discussions and warm reception during our visit.  See you all again soon!


2017 AsiaLaw Profiles:  Outstanding in Shipping, Maritime & Aviation; Recommended in Dispute Resolution  & Litigation, Insurance, Intellectual Property, Labour & Employment

“Del Rosario & Del Rosario is more or less unrivalled when it comes to maritime work in the Philippines” from Asia-Pacific, The Legal 500, 2014, p. 497

“Del Rosario & Del Rosario is often first port of call for employment law within the maritime industry, where it represents shipowners, agents, insurers and port owners.” Asia-Pacific, The Legal 500, 2014, p. 494

“Offers comprehensive shipping expertise. Maintains an excellent reputation for representing P&I firms and handling collision and crew casualties.  A strong team that is well known in the market.” Chambers Asia Pacific, 2014 p. 949


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