G.R. No. 234128. January 22, 2018

SECOND DIVISION: [G.R. No. 234128, January 22, 2018] MAERSK-FILIPINAS CREWING, INC. AND A.P. MOLLER A/S V. ROMEO M. REGUSACION.

After a judicious study of the case, the Court resolves to DENY the instant petition and AFFIRM the April 17, 2017 Decision[1] and August 22, 2017 Resolution[2]of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 148728 for failure of petitioners Maersk-Filipinas Crewing, Inc. and A.R Moller A/S (petitioners) to sufficiently show that the CA committed any reversible error in upholding the grant of permanent and total disability benefits amounting to US$60,000.00 and sickness allowance of US$2,432.00, plus attorney's fees equivalent to 10% of the total judgment award in favor of respondent Romeo M. Regulacion (respondent).

As correctly ruled by the CA, respondent had substantiated the causal connection of his illness, i.e., cervical and lumbar spondylosis, and his work as motorman on board the vessel, stressing the nature of his work which entirely involved the lifting of heavy equipment. Moreover, the certification of Dr. Melissa Co Sia, the company-designated physician, did not contain a definitive assessment on respondent's illness and fitness to work within the required 120 or 240-day period. As such, respondent is deemed totally and permanently disabled.[3] It is settled that "[a] final and definite disability assessment is necessary in order to truly reflect the true extent of the sickness or injuries of the seafarer and his or her capacity to resume work as such. Otherwise, the corresponding disability benefits awarded might not be commensurate with the prolonged effects of the injuries suffered,"[4] as in this case.

SO ORDERED.

[1] Rollo, pp. 88-108. Penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando with Associate Justices Mario V. Lopez and Eduardo B. Peralta, Jr. concurring.

[2] Id. at 110-112.

[3] It is settled that the "company-designated physician must arrive at a definite assessment of the seafarer's fitness to work or permanent disability within the period of 120 or 240 days, pursuant to Article 192 (c) (1) of the Labor Code and Rule X, Section 2 of the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation. If he fails to do so and the seafarer's medical condition remains unresolved, the latter shall be deemed totally and permanently disabled." (Belchem Philippines, Inc./United Philippine Lines v. Zafra, Jr., 759 Phil. 514, 528-529 [2015], citing Fil-Pride Shipping Company, Inc. v. Balasta, 728 Phil. 297, 312 [2014])

[4] See Sunit v. OSM Maritime Services, Inc., G.R. No. 223035, February 27, 2017.

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