Appeal of the VA decision to the CA must be filed within 10 days since Article 262-A of the Labor Code expressly provides that the award or decision of the voluntary arbitrator shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the decision by the parties.
Thus, the SC held in the September 13, 2017 as follows:
Nyk-Fil Ship Management, Incorporated vs. Gener G. Dabu
G.R. No. 225142, Sepember 13, 2017
Petitioner NYK-Fil Ship Management, Inc. (NYK) a local manning agent acting for and in behalf of its foreign principal NYK Ship Management Pte. Ltd. Singapore, hired Respondent Gener G. Dabu (Dabu) to work as oiler for nine months on board the vessel M/V Hojin.
Their contract of employment was covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement known as “IBF JSU/AMOSUP-IMMAJ CBA. Dabu underwent a pre-employment medical examination (PEME) where he disclosed that he has diabetes mellitus. The doctor who conducted the PEME noted that Dabu has diabetes mellitus type 2, controlled with medications.
Dabu embarked the vessel and discharged his duty as oiler. Later on, he had palpitations, pains all over the body, numbness of hands and legs, lack of sleep and nervousness. He consulted a doctor in Sri Lanka who found him with elevated blood sugar level and was suffering from diabetes mellitus, and declared him unfit for sea duty.
Dabu was repatriated to Manila on April 12, 2013. Upon his arrival, he was immediately referred to the company-designated physician at NGC Medical Specialist Clinic, Inc. who examined him. Dabu was asked to undergo a series of laboratory tests where the results showed that he has diabetes mellitus, poorly controlled. Dabu had undergone many follow up examinations with corresponding laboratory tests as he continued to complain of palpitations, pains all over his body with easy fatigability, and was prescribed medicines and eventually placed on insulin treatment.
On July 18, 2013, the company-designated physician declared that Dabu’s diabetes mellitus is not work-related. However, Dabu’s treatment was continued for a maximum period of 130 days. Dabu continued his follow-up consultations as he still complained of body pains and weakness and was prescribed medicines. On August 22, 2013, the company-designated physician reiterated her findings that Dabu’s diabetes mellitus is not work-related. Dabu wrote letters to NYK appealing for the continuation of his treatment since his sickness was work-related taking into account his 23 years of working in NYK’s various vessels.
Dabu then consulted Dr. Efren R. Vicaldo of the Philippine Heart .Center who found him suffering from diabetes mellitus, insulin requiring, Impediment Grade VII ( 41.80%) and declared him permanently unfit to resume work as a seaman in any capacity and his illness is considered work-aggravated/related. He also consulted Dr. Czarina Sheherazade Mae A. Miguel, an Internal Medicine Specialist, whose finding was the same as with Dr. Vicaldo’s.
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Dabu sought payment of disability benefits, damages and attorney’s fees from NYK, but was denied. He requested for a grievance proceedings in accordance with the CBA, however, the parties did not reach any settlement. He then filed a notice to arbitrate with the National Conciliation Mediation Board (NCMB), and the parties were required to submit their position papers.
The NCMB-Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators (PVA) rendered a Decision granting disability compensation in the amount of US$60,000.00 plus 12% interest thereon.
NYK received a copy of the PVA decision on February 9, 2015 and filed with the CA a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court on February 24, 2015 alleging that the PVA committed serious errors in rendering its decision and sought to enjoin the PVA from enforcing its decision.
Dabu filed its Comment and NYK filed its Reply. The parties also filed their respective memoranda. The NCMB-PVA issued a Writ of Execution directing the satisfaction of the judgment award of the PVA, which NYK had complied without prejudice to the outcome of their petition for review.
The CA granted the petition and reversed and set aside the assailed decision of the PVA and dismissed Dabu’s complaint for lack of merit.
Aggrieved, Dabu filed a motion for reconsideration wherein he reiterated his argument raised in his memorandum that the petition should be dismissed for being filed out of time.
The CA issued its Amended Decision recalling and setting aside its earlier decision and new one entered dismissing the petition for having been filed out of time.
NYK moved for reconsideration, however, the CA denied the same. Hence, the Petition with the CA
Whether or not the 10-day period to appeal the decision of the NCMB and not the 15-day period provided in the Rules of Court is controlling.
The SC did not find merit in the petition.
The SC held that Article 262-A of the Labor Code provides that the award or decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator or Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators shall contain the facts and the law on which it is based. It shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties.
Section 6, Rule VII of the NCMB Procedural Guidelines in the conduct of voluntary arbitration proceedings provides that the awards or decisions of voluntary arbitrator become final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of copies of the award or decision by the parties.
The decision of the voluntary arbitrator becomes final and executory after 10 days from receipt thereof. The proper remedy to reverse or modify a voluntary arbitrators’ or panel of voluntary arbitrators’ decision is to appeal the award or decision via a petition under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. And under Section 4 of Rule 43, the period to appeal to the CA is 15 days from receipt of the decision.
Notwithstanding, since Article 262-A of the Labor Code expressly provides that the award or decision of the voluntary arbitrator shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the decision by the parties, the appeal of the VA decision to the CA must be filed within 10 days.
In Philippine Electric Corporation (PHILEC) vs. Court of Appeals, the SC held that It is true that Rule 43, Section 4 of the Rules of Court provides for a 15-day reglementary period for filing an appeal. Despite Rule 43 providing for a 15-day period to appeal, we rule that the Voluntary Arbitrator’s decision must be appealed before the Court of Appeals within 10 calendar days from receipt of the decision as provided in the Labor Code.
In said case, the SC further ruled that Article 262-A of the Labor Code allows the appeal of decisions rendered by Voluntary Arbitrators. Statute provides that the Voluntary Arbitrator’s decision “shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties.” Being provided in the statute, this 10-day period must be complied with; otherwise, no appellate court will have jurisdiction over the appeal. This absurd situation occurs when the decision is appealed on the 11th to 15th day from receipt as allowed under the Rules, but which decision, under the law, has already become final and executory.
Furthermore, under Article VIII, Section 5(5) of the Constitution, this court “shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights” in promulgating rules of procedure in courts. The 10-day period to appeal under the Labor Code being a substantive right, this period cannot be diminished, increased, or modified through the Rules of Court.
Citing Shioji v. Harvey, the SC held that the “rules of court, promulgated by authority of law, have the force and effect of law, if not in conflict with positive law.” Rules of Court are “subordinate to the statute.” In case of conflict between the law and the Rules of Court, “the statute will prevail.” The rule, therefore, is that a Voluntary Arbitrator’s award or decision shall be appealed before the Court of Appeals within 10 days from receipt of the award or decision.
In this case, NYK received the PVA decision on February 9, 2015, and filed the petition for review 15 days after receipt thereof, i.e., on February 24, 2015.
The CA, upon Dabu’s motion for reconsideration, rendered its Amended Decision dated March 3, 2016 dismissing the petition and vacating the earlier decision it made granting the petition. The CA dismissed the petition for being filed out of time, citing the PHILEC case above-quoted.
The SC did not find error committed by the CA in dismissing the petition for being filed out of time as the petition was not filed within the 10 day period . Since the timely perfection of an appeal is jurisdictional, the CA has no more authority to act on the appeal filed by NYK. The CA correctly held that inasmuch as the PVA decision had lapsed into finality, the same may no longer be modified in any respect.
This is so because any amendment or alteration made which substantially affects the final and executory judgment would be null and void for lack of jurisdiction.