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VOL.

473, OCTOBER 20, 2005

559

Crystal Shipping, Inc. vs. Natividad

G.R. No. 154798. October 20, 2005.*


CRYSTAL SHIPPING, INC., and/or A/S STEIN LINE BERGEN, petitioners, vs. DEO P.
NATIVIDAD, respondent.

Civil Procedure; Certiorari; Motions for Reconsideration; Jurisprudence abounds on


the subject that a motion for reconsideration is a prerequisite for the filing of a
special civil action for certiorari.Jurisprudence abounds on the subject that a
motion for reconsideration is a prerequisite for the filing of a special civil action for
certiorari. A literal interpretation of this prerequisite would require a motion for
reconsideration of the NLRC decision, which granted a previous motion for
reconsideration and reversed a prior decision. After all, the second decision is
considered as entirely new.

Same; On several occasions, the Supreme Court relaxed the rigid application of the
rules of procedure to afford the parties opportunity to fully ventilate the merits of
their cases.Indeed, on several occasions, we relaxed the rigid application of the
rules of procedure to afford the parties opportunity to fully ventilate the merits of
their cases. This is in line with the time-honored principle that cases should be
decided only after giving all parties the chance to argue their causes and defenses.
Technicality and procedural imperfection should thus not serve as basis of decisions.

Same; Motions for Reconsideration; The reason for requiring a motion for
reconsideration is to make sure that administrative remedies have been exhausted
before a case is appealed to a higher

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* FIRST DIVISION.

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Crystal Shipping, Inc. vs. Natividad

court.The reason for requiring a motion for reconsideration is to make sure that
administrative remedies have been exhausted before a case is appealed to a higher
court. It allows the adjudicator a second opportunity to review the case, to grapple
with the issues therein, and to decide anew a question previously raised. It is
presumed that an administrative agency, if afforded an opportunity to pass upon a
matter, will decide the same correctly, or correct any previous error committed in its
forum.

Labor Law; Labor Standards; Employees Compensation; The particular illness of the
respondent is not within those enumerated in Section 30 of the POEA Memorandum
Circular No. 55, Series of 1996. But, the same provision supplies us with the
guideline that any item in the schedule classified under grade 1 constitutes total
and permanent disability.In resolving the merits of the case, we find pertinent
Section 30 of the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 55, Series of 1996, which
provides the schedule of disability or impediment for injuries suffered and illness
contracted. The particular illness of the respondent is not within those enumerated.
But, the same provision supplies us with the guideline that any item in the schedule
classified under grade 1 constitutes total and permanent disability.

Same; Same; Same; Permanent Disability; Words and Phrases; Permanent disability
is the inability of a worker to perform his job for more than 120 days, regardless of
whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body.Permanent disability is the
inability of a worker to perform his job for more than 120 days, regardless of
whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body. As gleaned from the records,
respondent was unable to work from August 18, 1998 to February 22, 1999, at the
least, or more than 120 days, due to his medical treatment. This clearly shows that
his disability was permanent.

Same; Same; Same; Total Disability; Words and Phrases; Total disability, means the
disablement of an employee to earn wages in the same kind of work of similar
nature that he was trained for, or accustomed to perform, or any kind of work which
a person of his mentality and attainments could do.Total disability, on the other
hand, means the disablement of an employee to earn wages in the same kind of
work of similar nature that he was trained for, or accustomed to perform, or any
kind of work which a person of his mentality and

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attainments could do. It does not mean absolute helplessness. In disability


compensation, it is not the injury which is compensated, but rather it is the
incapacity to work resulting in the impairment of ones earning capacity.

Same; Same; Same; It is of no consequence that respondent was cured after a


couple of years. The law does not require that the illness should be incurable. What
is important is that he was unable to perform his customary work for more than 120
days which constitutes permanent total disability.It is of no consequence that
respondent was cured after a couple of years. The law does not require that the
illness should be incurable. What is important is that he was unable to perform his
customary work for more than 120 days which constitutes permanent total
disability. An award of a total and permanent disability benefit would be germane to
the purpose of the benefit, which is to help the employee in making ends meet at
the time when he is unable to work.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the resolutions of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Romulo Almores for respondent.

QUISUMBING, J.:

For review on certiorari are the Resolutions1 dated July 2, 2002 and August 15, 2002
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 71293 which denied petitioners motion for
extension of time to file a petition for certiorari and their motion for reconsideration,
respectively.

Petitioner A/S Stein Line Bergen, through its local manning agent, petitioner Crystal
Shipping, Inc., employed respondent Deo P. Natividad as Chief Mate of M/V
Steinfighter for a period of ten months.2 Within the contract period, respondent
complained of coughing and hoarseness and was

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1 Rollo, pp. 30-31, 33.

2 Id., at pp. 44, 65.

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brought to shore for examination. He was diagnosed with swelling neck and
lymphatic glands right side in neck, declared unfit for duty, and advised to see an
ear-nose-throat specialist.3 He was repatriated to Manila on August 18, 1998.

Shortly after his arrival, respondent was referred to ClinicoMed Inc., the companydesignated clinic, for check-up and later thoroughly examined at the Manila Doctors
Hospital. He was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma, metastatic to lymphoid tissue
consistent with thyroid primary and reactive hyperplasis, lymph node. On
September 11, 1998, he underwent a total thyroidectomy with radial neck
dissection. After the operation, respondent developed chest complications and
pleural effusion, and had to undergo a thoracenthesis operation. On the basis of all
these, his attending physician diagnosed him permanently disabled with a grade 9
impediment, with grade 1 as the most serious.4

A second opinion by Marine Medical Services and Metropolitan Hospital attending


physician, Dr. Robert D. Lim, likewise concurred that respondent was disabled with a
grade 9 impediment.5 Under the care of Dr. Lim, respondent underwent various
treatments, one of which was the radioactive iodine therapy at the Philippine
General Hospital. While his treatment with Dr. Lim was ongoing, respondent sought
the opinion of Dr. Efren R. Vicaldo, who opined that he was totally and permanently
disabled for labor with a grade 1 impediment.6 On February 22, 1999, respondent
underwent a whole body scan which revealed no trace of radio iodine on his body to
indicate metastasis or residual thyroid tissue. The attending physician, Dr. Wilson D.
Lim, confirmed the earlier assessments of disability with a grade 9 impediment.7

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3 Id., at pp. 45, 66.

4 Grading is based on Section 30 of Memorandum Circular No. 55, Series of 1996.

5 Rollo, p. 71.

6 Id., at p. 50.

7 Id.,at p. 81.

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Crystal Shipping, Inc. vs. Natividad

All expenses incurred in respondents examination and treatments were shouldered


by the petitioners. Respondent was also paid the allowable illness allowances,
commensurate to a grade 9 impediment.

On June 25, 1999, petitioners offered US$13,060 as disability benefits which


respondent rejected. Respondent claimed that he deserves to be paid US$60,000
for a grade 1 impediment. Failing to reach an agreement, respondent filed, with the
Regional Arbitration Branch (RAB), a complaint for disability benefits, illness
allowance, damages and attorneys fees.

The Labor Arbiter ruled for respondent and ordered petitioners to pay respondent
US$60,000 as disability benefits, P100,000 as moral damages, and ten percent of
the total monetary award as attorneys fees.

On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) initially reversed the
ruling of the RAB on the ground that findings of the company-designated doctors
were binding, as stipulated in the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA)
Standard Employment Contract.8 However, upon respondents motion for
reconsideration, citing jurisprudence that findings of company-designated doctors
are self-serving, the NLRC affirmed the ruling of the RAB with respect only to the
award of disability benefits.

Petitioners seasonably filed a motion for extension of time to file their petition for
certiorari with the Court of Appeals. On July 2, 2002, the appellate court denied the
motion on the ground that pressure of work is not a compelling reason for the grant
of an extension.

In view of the foregoing, petitioners motion for extension is DENIED and the
instant case is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.9

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8 Id., at pp. 117-125.

9 Id., at p. 31.

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Crystal Shipping, Inc. vs. Natividad

Prior to the receipt of the appellate courts denial, petitioners filed the petition. It
was noted without action in view of the July 2, 2002 Resolution.10 Subsequently,
petitioners moved for reconsideration of the resolution, but it was denied.11

Hence, this appeal by certiorari ascribing error to the Court of Appeals,

I. WHEN IT DENIED PETITIONERS MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE


THEIR PETITION FOR CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65, FAILING TO GIVE DUE
CONSIDERATION TO THE ALLEGATIONS OF PETITIONERS THEREIN;
II. WHEN IT MERELY NOTED PETITIONERS PETITION FOR CERTIORARI UNDER
RULE 65 WITHOUT PERUSING THE ALLEGATIONS THEREIN AND THE ARGUMENTS IN
SUPPORT THEREOF WHICH, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IS CLEARLY INIQUITOUS
AND UNJUST.12

Here, we are asked to resolve the procedural issue of whether the Court of Appeals
erred when it denied petitioners motion for extension of time to file a petition; and
the substantive issue of the proper disability benefits that respondent is entitled to.

Anent the procedural issue, petitioners contend that the appellate court erroneously
applied the ruling in Velasco v. Ortiz,13 because the factual circumstances therein
were different from the present case. In Velasco, the parties sought for the
admission of their appeal that was filed beyond the reglementary period. In the
present case, however, petitioners filed their motion for extension of time within the
reglementary period. They maintain that they have a valid and compelling reason in
asking the appellate court for extension. More-

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10 Id., at p. 175.

11 Id., at p. 33.

12 Id., at p. 15.

13 G.R. No. 51973, 16 April 1990, 184 SCRA 303.

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over, petitioners posit that technical rules of procedure should give way to
substantive justice.

On the other hand, respondent argues that there should be more than a mere claim
of extreme pressure of work to justify an extension of time to file a petition for
certiorari. He calls attention to the fact that petitioners never moved for the
reconsideration of the NLRC decision, which is a prerequisite for the filing of a
petition for certiorari. Likewise, respondent counters petitioners plea for liberality
by indicating their failure to file a motion for reconsideration of the NLRC decision.

Jurisprudence abounds on the subject that a motion for reconsideration is a


prerequisite for the filing of a special civil action for certiorari.14 A literal
interpretation of this prerequisite would require a motion for reconsideration of the
NLRC decision, which granted a previous motion for reconsideration and reversed a
prior decision. After all, the second decision is considered as entirely new.

We cannot fault the appellate court for faithfully complying with the rules of
procedure which it has been mandated to observe.15 Save for the most persuasive
of reasons, strict compliance is enjoined to facilitate the orderly administration of
justice.16

Indeed, on several occasions, we relaxed the rigid application of the rules of


procedure to afford the parties opportunity to fully ventilate the merits of their
cases. This is in line with the time-honored principle that cases should be decided
only

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14 Pilipino Telephone Corporation v. National Telecommunications Commission, G.R.


No. 138295, 28 August 2003, 410 SCRA 82, 88; Republic v. Express
Telecommunication Co., Inc., G.R. Nos. 147096 & 147210, 15 January 2002, 373
SCRA 316, 343; Bernardo v. Abalos, Sr., G.R. No. 137266, 5 December 2001, 371
SCRA 459, 464.

15 Casim v. Flordeliza, G.R. No. 139511, 23 January 2002, 374 SCRA 386, 393.

16 El Reyno Homes, Inc. v. Ong, G.R. No. 142440, 17 February 2003, 397 SCRA 563,
570.

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after giving all parties the chance to argue their causes and defenses. Technicality
and procedural imperfection should thus not serve as basis of decisions.17

The reason for requiring a motion for reconsideration is to make sure that
administrative remedies have been exhausted before a case is appealed to a higher
court. It allows the adjudicator a second opportunity to review the case, to grapple
with the issues therein, and to decide anew a question previously raised.18 It is
presumed that an administrative agency, if afforded an opportunity to pass upon a
matter, will decide the same correctly, or correct any previous error committed in its
forum.19

With the first motion for reconsideration which the NLRC granted, there is no need
for the parties to file another motion for reconsideration before bringing up the
matter to the Court of Appeals. The NLRC was already given the opportunity to pass
upon and correct its mistakes. Moreover, it would be absurd to ask the NLRC to keep
on reversing itself.

Considering that property rights of both parties are involved here, we will give due
course to the instant petition. Remanding the case to the court a quo will only
frustrate speedy justice and, in any event, would be a futile exercise, as in all
probability the case would end up with this Court.20 Thus, we shall bring the
present controversy to rest by deciding on the appropriate disability benefits that
respondent is entitled to.

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17 Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 130118, 9 July 1998, 292 SCRA 243, 251252.

18 Salcedo II v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 135886, 16 August 1999, 312


SCRA 447, 461.

19 Gonzales v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106028, 9 May 2001, 357 SCRA 599, 604;
Diamonon v. Department of Labor and Employment, G.R. No. 108951, 7 March
2000, 327 SCRA 283, 291.

20 Reyes v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 154448, 15 August 2003, 409 SCRA 267, 278
citing Fernandez v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 105892, 28
January 1998, 285 SCRA 149, 170.

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On the substantive issue, petitioners assert that the NLRC erred when it said that
findings of company-designated doctors are self-serving. They point out that there
were three doctors who came up with the same findings. They argue that these
findings were more credible than the findings of respondents doctor. In addition,
petitioners claim that the award of a grade 1 impediment/disability benefit was
wrong considering that respondent subsequently gained employment as chief mate
of another vessel.

In resolving the merits of the case, we find pertinent Section 30 of the POEA
Memorandum Circular No. 55, Series of 1996,21 which provides the schedule of
disability or impediment for injuries suffered and illness contracted. The particular
illness of the respondent is not within those enumerated. But, the same provision

supplies us with the guideline that any item in the schedule classified under grade 1
constitutes total and permanent disability.

Permanent disability is the inability of a worker to perform his job for more than 120
days, regardless of whether or not he loses the use of any part of his body.22 As
gleaned from the records, respondent was unable to work from August 18, 1998 to
February 22, 1999, at the least, or more than 120 days, due to his medical
treatment. This clearly shows that his disability was permanent.

Total disability, on the other hand, means the disablement of an employee to earn
wages in the same kind of work of similar nature that he was trained for, or
accustomed to perform, or any kind of work which a person of his mentality and

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21 REVISED STANDARD EMPLOYMENT TERMS AND CONDITIONS GOVERNING THE


EMPLOYMENT OF FILIPINO SEAFARERS ON BOARD OCEAN-GOING VESSELS.

22 Government Service Insurance System v. Cadiz, G.R. No. 154093, 8 July 2003,
405 SCRA 450, 454; Ijares v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 105854, 26 August 1999,
313 SCRA 141, 149-150.

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attainments could do.23 It does not mean absolute helplessness. In disability


compensation, it is not the injury which is compensated, but rather it is the
incapacity to work resulting in the impairment of ones earning capacity.24

Although the company-designated doctors and respondents physician differ in their


assessments of the degree of respondents disability, both found that respondent
was unfit for sea-duty due to respondents need for regular medical checkups and
treatment which would not be available if he were at sea. There is no question in
our mind that respondents disability was total.

Petitioners tried to contest the above findings by showing that respondent was able
to work again as a chief mate in March 2001.25 Nonetheless, this information does
not alter the fact that as a result of his illness, respondent was unable to work as a
chief mate for almost three years. It is of no consequence that respondent was
cured after a couple of years. The law does not require that the illness should be
incurable. What is important is that he was unable to perform his customary work
for more than 120 days which constitutes permanent total disability.26 An award of
a total and permanent disability benefit would be germane to the purpose of the
benefit, which is to help the employee in making ends meet at the time when he is
unable to work.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Resolutions dated July 2,
2002 and August 15, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 71293, as well
as the Resolution dated April 9, 2002 of the National Labor Rela-

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23 Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R.


No. 123891, 28 February 2001, 353 SCRA 47, 53.

24 Ibid., citing Bejerano v. Employees Compensation Commission, G.R. No. 84777,


30 January 1992, 205 SCRA 598, 602.

25 Rollo, p. 223.

26 Government Service Insurance System v. Cadiz, supra, note 22.

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tions Commission in NLRC NCR CA No. 23333-2000 are AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr. (C.J., Chairman), Ynares-Santiago, Carpio and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Petition denied, resolutions affirmed.

Notes.Permanent total disability means disablement of an employee to earn


wages in the same kind of work, or work of similar nature that (he) was trained for
or accustomed to perform, or any kind of work which a person of (his) mentality and
attainment could do. It does not mean absolute helplessness. (Employees
Compensation Commission vs. Sanico, 321 SCRA 268 [1999])

Compensable sickness is defined as any illness definitely accepted as an


occupational disease listed by the Commission, or any illness caused by
employment subject to proof by the employee that the risk of contracting the same
is increased by the working conditions. (Bonilla vs. Court of Appeals, 340 SCRA 760
[2000])

There is nothing in the law that prohibits the conversion of permanent partial
disability benefit to permanent total disability benefit if it is shown that the
employees ailment qualifies as such. (Austria vs. Court of Appeals, 387 SCRA 216
[2002])

o0o

[Crystal Shipping, Inc. vs. Natividad, 473 SCRA 559(2005)]