Case Digest: Lorenzo v. GSIS

G.R. No. 188385 : October 2, 2013




Petitioner is the surviving spouse of Rosario D. Lorenzo, a GSIS member who during her lifetime served as Elementary Teacher I at the DepEd for a period covering October 1984 to December 2001.

It appears that prior to her hospitalization, she was previously diagnosed by the same hospital for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia and was in fact confined therein on 31 July 2001 because of Pneumonia which was a result of immuno-compromise secondary to leukemia. Rosarios health condition was confirmed by means of a bone marrow examination which showed "hypercellular aspirate with marked myeloid hyperplasia."

On 27 December 2001, Rosario died of Cardio-Respiratory Arrest due to Terminal Leukemia.

Petitioner claimed for Employees Compensation death benefits from the GSIS. It was denied on the ground that the GSIS Medical Evaluation and Underwriting Department (MEUD) found Rosarios ailments and cause of death, Cardio-respiratory Arrest Secondary to Terminal Leukemia, a non-occupational diseases contemplated under P.D. No. 626, as amended.

The ECC denied petitioners claim stating that Leukemia is considered compensable among operating room personnel due to exposure to anesthetics.

The nature of the deceaseds occupation does not increase the risk of developing Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia because the work does not show frequent and sufficient exposure to substances established as occupational risk factors of the disease.

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for review of the decision of the ECC with the CA.

The CA affirmed the decision of ECC. The CA ruled that under the present law, leukemia, while listed as an occupational disease, is compensable only among operating room personnel due to exposure to anesthetics.Being a school teacher who is not exposed to anesthetics, Rosarios disease, though listed under Annex "A" may not be compensable, unless, petitioner could prove that his wifes risk of contracting the disease was increased by the latters working conditions, which the petitioner failed to do.

Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the ailment of the late Rosario Lorenzo is compensable under the present law on employees compensation.

HELD: The decision of the Court of Appeals is sustained.

LABOR LAW occupational disease

Sickness, as defined under Article 167(1) Chapter I, Title II, Book IV of the Labor Code of the Philippines refers to "any illness definitely accepted as an occupational disease listed by the Employees Compensation Commission, or any illness caused by employment, subject to proof that the risk of contracting the same is increased by working conditions.

In cases of death, such as in this case, Section 1(b), Rule III of the Rules Implementing P.D. No. 626, as amended, requires that for the sickness and the resulting disability or death to be compensable, the claimant must show : (1) that it is the result of an occupational disease listed under Annex "A" of the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation with the conditions set therein satisfied; or (2) that the risk of contracting the disease is increased by the working conditions.

Indeed, following the specific mandate of P.D. No. 626, as amended, and its Implementing Rules, the petitioner must have at least provided sufficient basis, if not medical information which could help determine the causal connection between Rosarios ailment and her exposure to muriatic acid, floor wax and paint as well as the rigors of her work. Instead, petitioner merely insists on the supposition that the disease might have been brought about by the harmful chemicals of floor wax and paint aggravated by the fact that the Manggahan Elementary School is just along the highway which exposed Rosario to smoke belched by vehicles, all contributing to her acquisition of the disease.

We find such factors insufficient to demonstrate the probability that the risk of contracting the disease is increased by the working conditions of Rosario as a public school teacher; enough to support the claim of petitioner that his wife is entitled to employees compensation. Petitioner failed to show that the progression of the disease was brought about largely by the conditions in Rosarios work. Not even a medical history or records was presented to support petitioners claim.

At most, petitioner solely relies on a possibility that the demands and rigors of Rosarios job coupled with exposure to chemicals in paint or floor wax could result or contribute to contracting leukemia. This is but a bare allegation no different from a mere speculation.

It is well to stress that the principles of "presumption of compensability" and "aggravation" found in the old Workmens Compensation Act is expressly discarded under the present compensation scheme. As illustrated in the said Raro case, the new principle being applied is a system based on social security principle; thus, the introduction of "proof of increased risk." As further declared therein.

The present system is also administered by social insurance agencies the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System under the Employees Compensation Commission. The intent was to restore a sensible equilibrium between the employers obligation to pay workmens compensation and the employees right to receive reparation for work-connected death or disability. Sarmiento v. Employees Compensation Commission, 244 Phil. 323 (1988).

The new law applies the social security principle in the handling of workmens compensation. The Commission administers and settles claims from a fired under its exclusive control. The employer does not intervene in the compensation process and it has no control, as in the past, over payment of benefits. The open ended Table of Occupational Diseases requires no proof of causation. A covered claimant suffering from an occupational disease is automatically paid benefits.