Death of the seafarer occurring after the expiration of contract must be proved to be connected to his work to be compensable.

Re-numbered Labor Code (2017)

This is the holding of the Court in the following case:

Flor G. Dayo vs. Status Maritime Corporation, et al.
G.R. No. 210660, January 21, 2015


Eduardo P. Dayo (Eduardo) was hired by Status Maritime Corporation for and on behalf of Nafto Trade Shipping Commercial S.A. He was hired as a bosun on board the “MV Naftocement l” for a period of 10 months. Prior to embarkation, he underwent a pre-employment medical examination and was declared fit to work.

Eduardo embarked on June 8, 2008. On September 5, 2008, he “experienced severe pain on his hips and both knees, and total body weakness.” He was given medical attention in Bridgetown, Barbados, where he was diagnosed with hypertension.

He was repatriated on September 7, 2008. The next day, Eduardo went to Status Maritime Corporation’s office, but he was informed that it was waiting for Nafto Trade Shipping Commercial S.A.’s notification. He was also told that he could seek medical attention and that his expenses would be reimbursed.

On September 9, 2008, he went to the Lucena United Doctors Hospital. Dr. Olitoquit, Eduardo’s private physician, found the results of his 2D echocardiogram as normal.         Eduardo repeatedly requested for medical assistance, but it was only in November 2008 when he was referred to a company-designated physician. Dr. Bolanos of the Metropolitan Hospital diagnosed him with diabetes mellitus.

Status Maritime Corporation stopped giving Eduardo medical assistance in February 2009. He died on June 11, 2009 due to cardiopulmonary arrest.

Flor G. Dayo (Flor), Eduardo’s wife, requested for death benefits to no avail. Thus, she filed a complaint.

On the other hand, Status Maritime Corporation alleges that Eduardo was examined by the company-designated physician on September 24, 2008. His medical history showed that he had been suffering from diabetes mellitus and hypertension since the 1990s. He underwent an electromyography and nerve conduction velocity (EMG-NCV) testing, and the results showed that he had diffused “sensimotor polyneuropathy as seen in diabetes mellitus.” He was also examined by a neurologist and an orthopedic surgeon. The company-designated physician noted that the illness was pre-existing.

LA Ruling:

The Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of Flor and awarded death benefits, burial expenses, and attorney’s fees. Status Maritime Corporation appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission.

NLRC Ruling:

The National Labor Relations Commission First Division reversed the Labor Arbiter’s Decision. Flor filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was denied by the National Labor Relations Commission. She then filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals.

CA Ruling:

The Court of Appeals denied the petition, ruling that since Eduardo died after the term of his contract with Status Maritime Corporation, “his beneficiaries are not entitled to the death benefits.

Flor moved for the reconsideration of the Court of Appeals Decision that was denied. Flor Dayo filed this Petition for Review on Certiorari, arguing that the Court of Appeals erred in denying her Petition, considering that Eduardo’s death was brought about by a work-related illness.


Whether or not a seafarer who was declared fit to work in a pre-employment medical exam (PEME) and died after the contract has ended is entitled to death benefit due to work-related illness

Whether or not the fit-to-work finding in the PEME is conclusive proof that illness was contracted and developed during employment

Whether or not the list of illnesses in the PEOA SEC is exhaustive

SC Ruling:

Magsaysay Maritime Services vs. Laurel also recognized that the nature of employment can possibly aggravate a pre-existing illness. However, the causation between the nature of employment and the aggravation of the illness must still be proven before compensation may be granted.

In this case, Flor Dayo does not dispute the fact that her husband died after the term of his contract. Instead, she emphasizes that her husband died due to a work-related illness.

The 2000 POEA SEC recognizes that the list of illnesses under Section 32 is not exhaustive.

Magsaysay Maritime Services vs. Laurel also recognized that the nature of employment can possibly aggravate a pre-existing illness. However, the causation between the nature of employment and the aggravation of the illness must still be proven before compensation may be granted.

Flor Dayo was unable to fulfill these requirements. She did not allege how the nature of Eduardo’s work as a bosun contributed to the development or the aggravation of his illness.

Further, he himself admitted that he had diabetes and hypertension prior to his embarkation. Considering that diabetes mellitus is not listed as an occupational disease under the 2000 POEA SEC and considering that Flor Dayo did not prove how Eduardo’s occupation contributed to the development of his illness, no error can be attributed to the Court of Appeals when it affirmed the National Labor Relations Commission’s Decision and Resolution.

Indeed, it is quite possible that a work-related illness may progress at a slow pace such that a seafarer’s death will happen beyond the term of the employment contract. In such cases, the provisions of the POEA SEC should not limit the rights of seafarers to be compensated.

However, Flor Dayo did not allege facts that would sway this court to grant the Petition. She did not present evidence to show how Eduardo’s diabetes mellitus was aggravated by his work and how his illness caused his death. On the contrary, Flor Dayo’s allegations further convinced this court that the Court of Appeals did not err in its Decision.

From Flor Dayo’s allegations, it is clear that Eduardo’s physician found him to have a “normal 2D echocardiogram study.” This disproves Flor Dayo’s allegation that Eduardo’s illness and death were work-related.

Regarding Eduardo’s “fit to work” certification, this court has previously ruled that the pre-employment medical examination (PEME) is not exploratory and while the PEME merely determines whether one is “fit to work” at sea or “fit for sea service,” it does not state the real state of health of an applicant. In short, the “fit to work” declaration in the PEME cannot be a conclusive proof to show that the seafarer was free from any ailment prior to his deployment.

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