Case Digest: Gabunas, Sr. v. Scanmar Maritime, Brillantes & Ium Ship

G.R. No. 188637: December 15, 2010

ARNALDO G. GABUNAS, SR., Petitioner v. SCANMAR MARITIME SERVICES INC., MR. VICENTE BRILLANTES AND IUM SHIP MANAGEMENT, Respondents.

SERENO, J.:


FACTS:

Petitioner Gabunas, Sr. was a seafarer registered with the POEA and also with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

On 22 December 2000, Gabunas signed a contract with Scanmar Maritime Services, Inc. (Scanmar) to work as 2nd Assistant Engineer for its principal, IUM Ship Management, on board the ocean vessel M/V Chaiten for nine months. Prior to boarding his assigned vessel, Gabunas was subjected to a pre-employment medical examination, on the basis of which he was declared by the company-designated physician "fit to work." During the period of his contract, Gabunas experienced a throbbing pain in his left leg while on board his vessel of assignment which he reported but subsequently ignored. After the expiration of his contract, Gabunasreported to Scanmar to receive his final wages and to set his next deployment and further requesting for a medical check-up, but said request was ignored. With the persistent pain to his leg, Gabunas sought medical attention at the Philippine Heart Center, where he was diagnosed with "Critical Limb Ischemia." Gabunas sought medical assistance from respondent Scanmar, but he was ignored. Because his condition did not improve, Gabunas underwent a below-knee amputation of his leg.

Due to the amputation of his leg, Gabunas was prevented from engaging in his line of work. Hence, Gabunas demanded sickness allowance and permanent disability benefits from Scanmar. CA upheld the NLRCs decision denying Gabunas claims.

Hence, this instant Petition for certiorari assailing the appellate courts Decision.

ISSUE:

I. Whether or not Gabunas Sr., is entitled to Permanent Disability Benefit. (resolution of the issue hinges on)

II. Whether or not his illness was work-related.


HELD: Petition is denied.

REMEDIAL LAW; QUESTIONS OF LAW

The Court have no compelling reason to deviate from the factual findings of the NLRC stating that Gabunas has failed to establish that his illness was work-related. Hence, he is not entitled to claim permanent disability benefits. This Court has, time and again, held that the factual findings of quasi-judicial agencies like the NLRC, when affirmed by the CA, are conclusive upon the parties and binding on this Court. This dictum is consistent with the settled rule that under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only questions of law may be raised before this Court.

LABOR LAW; ILLNESS

To establish whether the illness is work-related, probability not certainty is the touchstone. However, the probability referred to must be founded on facts and reason.

In the instant case, it is apparent that Gabunas allegations in his supplications are bereft of any substantial proof that his illness was contracted while working as a 2nd Assistant Engineer on board the vessel, or that his illness was aggravated by his working conditions then. At best, his allegations were mere conjectures.

The Court in citing, GSIS v. Cuntapay, ruled that - Probability, not the ultimate degree of certainty, is the test of proof in compensation proceedings. And probability must be reasonable; hence it should, at least, be anchored on credible information. Moreover, a mere possibility will not suffice; a claim will fail if there is only a possibility that the employment caused the disease.

CA AFFIRMED.

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