Suicide is not compensable as death benefit of the seafarer. Likewise, parties can present evidence for the first time on appeal before the NLRC as held in the following case:

Unicol Management Services, Inc. Link Marine Pte. Ltd. and/or Victoriano B. Tirol III Vs. Delia Malipot, in behalf of Glicerio Malipot
G.R. No. 206562, January 21, 2015


Delia Malipot is the surviving spouse of the deceased seaman Glicerio Malipot (seaman Glicerio) with whom the latter has two minor children. Glicerio was processed for hiring by petitioner Unicol Management Services (Unicol, et al.), acting for and in behalf of its principal, petitioner Link Marine Pte. Ltd. (petitioner Link Marine) for the vessel Heredia Sea as Chief Engineer Officer for a contract duration of four (4) months.

Prior to his employment, seaman Glicerio was made to undergo a rigorous pre-employment medical examination conducted by Unicol et al.’ designated physicians and was found fit to work physically and mentally.

Delia Malipot alleged that seaman Glicerio suffered emotional strain when Unicol et al. refused to allow him to go home and be with his family. As early as November 16, 2008, seaman Glicerio already manifested his desire to end his contract and gave Unicol et al. enough time to secure his replacement. His request was relayed by the Master of Heredia Sea to Unicol et al.’ Port Captain. However, the Port Captain did not allow seaman Glicerio to leave the vessel. The Port Captain also allegedly threatened seaman Glicerio by telling him that once he leaves and sets his feet on Philippine soil, he will immediately be arrested and will never be employed by any vessel ever again, and he will be made to pay for all the expenses of his deployment.

Delia Malipot further contended that seaman Glicerio became depressed, especially when December came and he was still not allowed to go home. Seaman Glicerio called up and texted Delia Malipot, begging her to talk to the Port Captain and allow him to go home. He soon became ill and experienced chest pains and palpitations. He was seen by a physician at the Fujairah Port Medical Center in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates and was diagnosed with Muscoskeletal pain and Emotional trauma/illness.

Despite this, seaman Glicerio was not repatriated. Even when his 4-month contract expired on December 18, 2008, he was still not allowed to join his family for Christmas. Delia Malipot stressed that his death was compensable because his emotional trauma was caused by the conditions of his job and aggravated by the acts of the Port Captain.

For their part, Unicol et al. alleged that seaman Glicerio was hired for the first time by petitioner Unicol and seconded to one of its principals, petitioner Link Marine to board the vessel Heredia Sea. This employment was contained in the Contract of Employment approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The period of employment, as stipulated in said contract, was for a period of four to six months starting August 18, 2008 and ending February 18, 2009.

Regrettably, before the end of his employment contract, or on January 13, 2009, Unicol et al. received information that seaman Glicerio committed suicide by hanging in the store room of the Heredia Sea. This report was confirmed by the Certification of the Philippine Consulate General at Dubai, and the accompanying documents, namely: Medico Legal Report issued by the Ministry of Justice of the United Arab Emirates and the Death Certificate issued by the Ministry of Health of the United Arab Emirates.

As a result of the foregoing events, Delia Malipot filed a Complaint before the Labor Arbiter claiming death compensation under seaman Glicerio’s POEA contract.

LA Ruling:

Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision awarding death compensation in the amount of US$71,500.00. The Labor Arbiter ruled that Unicol et al. failed to satisfactorily prove by substantial evidence that seaman Glicerio committed suicide as it relied on the inconclusive report of the medico-legal consultant, which merely gave the cause of death

Unicol et al. appealed before the NLRC.

NLRC Ruling:

The NLRC reversed and set aside the decision of the Labor Arbiter and dismissed Delia Malipot’s complaint for lack of merit. It its Decision, the NLRC ruled that Unicol et al. have clearly shown that seaman Glicerio’s death was due to suicide and that the same is not compensable under the POEA Employment Contract.

Delia Malipot filed a Motion for Reconsideration. However, the same was denied and the dismissal of the claim for death benefits was affirmed by the NLRC in a Resolution.

Accordingly, Delia Malipot filed a certiorari petition before the CA alleging that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion when it gave weight to the Medico-Legal Report issued by Dr. Osman Abdul Hameed Awad and the Death Certificate issued by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health as the same are inconclusive as to the cause of seaman Glicerio’s death.

CA Ruling:

The CA reversed the NLRC ruling and awarded death benefits holding that Unicol et al. failed to prove the cause or circumstances which lead to seaman Glicerio’s suicide.

Unicol et al. filed a Motion for Reconsideration against said Decision, but the same proved futile as it was denied by the CA. Hence, the present petition.


Whether or not the presentation of evidence for the first time before the NLRC is valid and binding to the Courts

Whether or not suicide of a seafarer is compensable

SC Ruling:

The SC found merit in the petition.

The NLRC may receive evidence submitted for the first time on appeal on the ground that it may ascertain facts objectively and speedily without regard to technicalities of law in the interest of substantial justice.

In Sasan, Sr. vs. National Labor Relations Commission, the SC held that jurisprudence is replete with cases allowing the NLRC to admit evidence, not presented before the Labor Arbiter, and submitted to the NLRC for the first time on appeal. The submission of additional evidence before the NLRC is not prohibited by its New Rules of Procedure considering that rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity are not controlling in labor cases. The NLRC and Labor Arbiters are directed to use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively, without regard to technicalities of law and procedure all in the interest of substantial justice. In keeping with this directive, it has been held that the NLRC may consider evidence, such as documents and affidavits, submitted by the parties for the first time on appeal.

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Moreover, among the powers of the Commission as provided in Section 218 of the Labor Code is that the Commission may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses or the production of such books, papers, contracts, records, statement of accounts, agreements, and others. In addition, the Commission may, among other things, conduct investigation for the determination of a question, matter or controversy within its jurisdiction, proceed to hear and determine the disputes in the absence of any party thereto who has been summoned or served with notice to appear, conduct its proceedings or any part thereof in public or in private, adjourn its hearings to any time and place, refer technical matters or accounts to an expert and to accept his report as evidence after hearing of the parties upon due notice. From the foregoing, it can be inferred that the NLRC can receive evidence on cases appealed before the Commission, otherwise, its factual conclusions would not have been given great respect, much weight, and relevance when an adverse party assails the decision of the NLRC via petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the CA and then to this Court via a petition for review under Rule 45.

From the Medico-Legal Report issued by the United Arab Emirates, Ministry of Justice, it can be inferred that there was no foul play regarding seaman Glicerio’s suicide considering that an external examination of his body shows no violence or resistance or any external injuries. In fact, the post-mortem examination conclusively established that the true cause of death was suicidal asphyxia due to hanging. All told, taking the Medico-Legal Report and the Death Certificate, together with the Investigation Report, log book extracts, and Master’s Report, we find that Unicol et al. were able to substantially prove that seaman Glicerio’s death was attributable to his deliberate act of killing himself by committing suicide.

Section 20 of the POEA “Standard Terms and Conditions Governing the Overseas Employment of Filipino Seafarers On-Board Ocean-Going Ships, provides that no compensation and benefits shall be payable in respect of any injury, incapacity, disability or death of the seafarer resulting from his willful or criminal act or intentional breach of his duties, provided however, that the employer can prove that such injury, incapacity, disability or death is directly attributable to the seafarer.


Clearly, the employer is liable to pay the heirs of the deceased seafarer for death benefits once it is established that he died during the effectivity of his employment contract. However, the employer may be exempt from liability if it can successfully prove that the seaman’s death was caused by an injury directly attributable to his deliberate or willful act. Thus, since Unicol et al. were able to substantially prove that seaman Glicerio’s death is directly attributable to his deliberate act of hanging himself, his death, therefore, is not compensable and his heirs not entitled to any compensation or benefits.

The rule is that justice is in every case for the deserving, to be dispensed with in the light of established facts, the applicable law, and existing jurisprudence.

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