G.R. No. 230810. July 31, 2017


The petitioner's motion for an extension of thirty (30) days within which to file a petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED, counted from the expiration of the reglementary period; the notice of change of address of Atty. Christopher Lycurgus Q. Morania of Bantog and Andaya Law Offices, counsel for petitioner, requesting that all pleadings, resolutions, orders, and decisions be furnished at the new address to 7th Flr., Exchange Corner Building, 107 V.A. Rufino cor. Bolanos & Esteban Sts., Legazpi Village, 1223 Makati City, is NOTED and GRANTED; and the counsel for petitioner is required to SUBMIT within five (5) days from notice hereof, a verified declaration of the notice of change of address pursuant to A.M. Nos. 10-3-7-SC and 11-9-4-SC.

The Court further resolves to DENY the Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision dated November 23, 2016 and Resolution dated March 28, 2017 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 135564 for failure of petitioner to show that the appellate court committed any reversible error in its assailed decision and resolution.

A petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is a remedy limited to pure questions of law. In this mode of review, a decision or resolution of the Court of Appeals rendered in a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing a ruling rendered by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) shall then have to be examined from the prism of whether the appellate court correctly determined the presence or absence of grave abuse of discretion in the NLRC decision before it, not on the basis of whether the NLRC decision on the merits of the case was correct.[1]

Moreover, the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, particularly where it is in absolute agreement with that of the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter, are accorded not only respect but even finality and are deemed binding upon this Court so long as they are supported by substantial evidence. The function of this Court is limited to the review of the appellate court's alleged errors of law. It is not required to weigh all over again the factual evidence already considered in the proceedings below.[2] Even the question of intrinsic merits is an issue best left to the labor tribunals which are deemed to have mastery over the subject matter.[3]

In the present Petition, the Court of Appeals, the NLRC, and the Labor Arbiter are in absolute agreement that petitioner failed to present factual medical basis to support his claim for total and permanent disability benefits, and the Court finds no cogent reason to depart from such findings.

The Court, in Vergara v. Hammonia Maritime Services, Inc.,[4] laid down the procedure which must be followed for assessing a seafarer's disability:
[T]he seafarer, upon sign-off from his vessel, must report to the company-designated physician within three (3) days from arrival for diagnosis and treatment. For the duration of the treatment but in no case to exceed 120 days, the seaman is on temporary total disability as he is totally unable to work. He receives his basic wage during this period until he is declared fit to work or his temporary disability is acknowledged by the company to be permanent, either partially or totally, as his condition is defined under the POEA[-SEC] and by applicable Philippine laws. If the 120 days initial period is exceeded and no such declaration is made because the seafarer requires further medical attention, then the temporary total disability period may be extended up to a maximum of 240 days, subject to the right of the employer to declare within this period that a permanent partial or total disability already exists. The seaman may of course also be declared fit to work at any time such declaration is justified by his medical condition.
In the case at bar, petitioner deprived the company-designated physician, Dr. Paul M. Teves (Dr. Teves), the Medical Director of the First Medical Team, Multi-Specialty & Diagnostic Center, International Medical Services, the opportunity to conclude his medical examination. Petitioner arrived in Manila on October 23, 2012 and he submitted himself for examination to Dr. Teves on October 29, 2012. Petitioner returned for several doctor's visits and underwent excision biopsy of soft tissue mass on his right foot. After petitioner's check-up on January 7, 2013, Dr. Teves issued a medical report in which he opined that petitioner's medical condition would already normalize after undergoing physical therapy. During the same visit, Dr. Teves also advised petitioner to return for a check-up on January 18, 2013. However, petitioner did not undergo physical therapy nor did he appear before Dr. Teves for his scheduled check­up. Petitioner did not provide any explanation for his failure to follow through with his treatment under Dr. Teves. Petitioner, instead, consulted an independent physician on February 18, 2013 who diagnosed him with grade six disability. Soon after, on May 29, 2013, petitioner filed before the Labor Arbiter an amended complaint against respondents for total and permanent disability benefits, reimbursement of medical expenses, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees. Clearly, petitioner disregarded the medical treatment provided by respondents through Dr. Teves, and denied the latter the opportunity to make a definite assessment and recommendation on his medical condition within the prescribed 240-day period.

As for petitioner's assertion that the consideration he received for executing his quitclaim was unreasonable, the Court finds the same to be baseless considering petitioner's failure to establish his entitlement to any disability benefits.


[1] Career Philippines Shipmanagement, Inc. v. Serna, 700 Phil. 1, 9 (2012).

[2] Park Hotel v. Soriano, 694 Phil. 471, 482 (2012).

[3] Sunga v. Virjen Shipping Corporation, 734 Phil. 281, 290 (2014).

[4] 588 Phil. 895,912 (2008).