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Supreme Court rules cancer compensable work-related illness in seaman's case

SC rules cancer compensable work-related illness in seaman's case
Benjamin Pulta March 23, 2022

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the claim of a seafarer's widow that lung cancer is a compensable work-related illness in the case of her husband.

In a 19-page resolution uploaded online on March 21, the SC’s First Division affirmed the 2016 decision of the Court of Appeals ordering MOT Barko Manila Inc. and Mitsubishi Ore Transport Co. Inc. to pay Nerissa V. Delamide the amount of US$65,528 (around PHP3.4 million) in total and permanent disability benefits and sickness allowance and PHP577,938 as reimbursement for medical and transportation expenses and attorney’s fees.

The CA ruling had set aside the May 31, 2015 decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and instead reinstated the March 25, 2015 decision of the labor arbiter granting his claim for these benefits.

Nerissa substituted for his husband Rolando Delamide in the suit following his death due to cancer in 2016, while the case was pending.

The SC upheld the CA’s findings that as a ship engineer, Rolando had been exposed to carcinogens.

“It is highly probable that his constant exposure to hazardous chemicals, toxins, and substances inside the engine room have caused, increased, or at the very least contributed even to a small degree to his lung cancer,” the SC said.

The SC also noted that the labor arbiter held that Rolando’s lung cancer is work-related and gave credence to the medical certificate of his doctor that he was exposed to asbestos inhalation for several years in the engine room, which is a highly cancerous substance.

The seafarer was hired by MOT Barko for its foreign principal Mitsubishi Ore Transporte as the first engineer on board the vessel, MV Dalo Austral when he suffered back injuries in May 2013 while at work at the port of Singapore, prompting him to be repatriated for medical attention.

In September 2013, MOT Barko instructed him to undergo pre-employment medical examination for his redeployment but a CT scan showed pulmonary chest nodules. Subsequent tests later revealed that he has metastatic adenocarcinoma or cancer of the lungs.

He then underwent surgery for his injured spine and also underwent six cycles of chemotherapy.

Following MOT Barko and Mitsubishi’s refusal to pay his disability benefits, Rolando filed a complaint against them for the payment of his disability. (PNA)