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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 146360. May 20, 2004]

AZUCENA O. SALALIMA, petitioner, vs. EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION COMMISSION an SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, respondents. !ECISION
YNARES"SANTIAGO, J.#

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated April 1 ! """ as well as its Resolution dated Dece#$er %! """! which affir#ed the &#plo'ees( Co#pensation Co##ission(s denial of petitioner(s clai# for co#pensation $enefits resultin) fro# the death of her hus$and! *uancho Salali#a! under +residential Decree No, % %! as a#ended, +etitioner(s hus$and! *uancho S, Salali#a! was e#plo'ed for twent'-nine 'ears as a route helper and su$se.uentl' as route sales#an for the /e'caua'an +lant of Coca-Cola Bottlers +hils,! Incorporated, In 1010! durin) an annual co#pan' #edical e2a#ination! *uancho was dia)nosed with #ini#al pul#onar' tu$erculosis, 3is illness re#ained stationar' until Octo$er 1004 when *uancho was confined at the /anila Doctor(s 3ospital to under)o section $iops', 3is $iops' revealed that he had 5Adenocarcino#a! poorl' differentiated! #etastatic6, 7 Conse.uentl'! he underwent che#otherap' at the /a8ati /edical Center, On Fe$ruar' 1! 1009! he was found to $e sufferin) fro# pneu#onia, 4 On Fe$ruar' 14! 1009! he was confined at the /a8ati /edical Center, 3e died two da's later on Fe$ruar' 1%! 1009 due to 5Adenocarcino#a of the :un)s with widespread #etastasis to Nec8! Brain! +eritoneal Cavit'! +aracaval :'#ph Nodes! A$scen; Acute Renal Failure; Septice#ia; <pper =astrointestinal Bleedin)6, 9 A clai# for co#pensation $enefits under +,D, % % as a#ended was filed $' his survivin) wife! A>ucena! petitioner herein! with the Social Securit' S'ste# ?SSS@, In a report dated Nove#$er 1 ! 1001! SSS Branch /ana)er &lnora /ontene)ro and Senior +h'sicians Cora>on Bondoc and Anna$elle Bonifacio reco##ended the denial of petitioner(s clai# on the )round that Adenocarcino#a of the :un)s ?Cancer of the :un)s@ had no causal relationship with *uancho(s Ao$ as a route sales#an, % +etitioner(s #otion for reconsideration was denied, 3ence! petitioner $rou)ht the case to the &#plo'ees( Co#pensation Co##ission ?&CC@! which affir#ed the decision of the SSS, In its DecisionB dated Octo$er B! 1000! the &CC relied upon the Cualit' Assurance /edical Report prepared $' Dr, /a, Victoria /, A$esa#is for the SSS statin)
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+enned $' Associate *ustice Ro#eo *, CalleAo! Sr, as concurred in $' Associate *ustices Cancio C, =arcia and /artin S, Villara#a! *r, Roent)enolo)ical Report dated 1% Dece#$er 1010! Court of Appeals Rollo! p, 1 ,

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SSS +h'sician(s /edical Report dated 1 Nove#$er 1001! Rollo! p, 91, Roent)enolo)ical Report dated 1 Fe$ruar' 1009! Rollo p, 4B, Supra! note 7, Id, Rollo! p, %",

that *uancho(s e2posure to s#o) and dust is not associated with the develop#ent of lun) cancer,1 +etitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals ar)uin) that *uancho(s route as a sales#an e2posed hi# to all 8inds of pollutants! not to #ention the dail' ha>ards and fati)ue that ca#e with his tas8s, She pointed out that the SSS and the &CC disre)arded *uancho(s #edical histor' and the fact that the ris8 of contractin) *uancho(s ail#ent was increased $' the nature of his wor8, 0 In its Co##ent! &CC averred that the presu#ption of co#pensa$ilit' and the theor' of a))ravation prevalent under the Dor8#en(s Co#pensation Act have $een a$andoned, <nder the i#ple#entin) rules of +,D, % %! as a#ended! for the sic8ness and the resultin) disa$ilit' or death to $e co#pensa$le! the sic8ness #ust $e the result of an occupational disease listed under Anne2 A of the Rules with the conditions set therein satisfied! otherwise! proof #ust $e shown that the ris8 of contractin) the disease is increased $' the wor8in) conditions, The &CC ar)ued that neither condition is present in *uancho(s case since lun) cancer is not an occupational disease nor is the ris8 of contractin) lun) cancer increased $' *uancho(s wor8in) conditions, 1" The SSS Aoined the ar)u#ents of the &CC and added that petitioner was not a$le to present su$stantial evidence to overco#e the conclusion reached $' the SSS that *uancho(s cause of death was not wor8-connected,11 In her Repl'! petitioner cited the raison dtre for the passa)e of Repu$lic Act No, 1B40! otherwise 8nown as the Clean Air Act, +etitioner stated that the Act provides for a co#prehensive pollution control polic' that #ainl' concentrates on the prohi$ition of leaded )asoline due to its scientificall' proven deleterious effect on the health of individuals,1 +etitioner li8ewise attached a clippin) fro# the newspaper /anila Standard17 containin) a report statin) that if the present level of diesel e2haust continues! the pollution could $e e2pected to cause #ore than 1 9!""" cases of lun) cancer in B" 'ears, On April 1 ! """! the Court of Appeals affir#ed the decision of the &CC! statin) that the factual findin)s of .uasi-Audicial a)encies! such as the &CC! if supported $' su$stantial evidence! are entitled to )reat respect in view of their e2pertise in their respective fields, 14 +etitioner(s /otion for Reconsideration 19 was denied for lac8 of #erit,1% 3ence! this petition for review on certiorari! raisin) the lone issueE
D3&T3&R OR NOT T3& D&CISION OF T3& 3ONORAB:& CO<RT OF A++&A:S D&NFIN= +&TITION&R(S C:AI/ <ND&R +,D, % %! AS A/&ND&D! IS IN ACCORDANC& DIT3 T3& R<:&S ON &/+:OF&&S( CO/+&NSATION AND &GISTIN= *<RIS+R<D&NC&,

+etitioner clai#s that the Aud)#ent of the Court of Appeals was pre#ised upon a #isapprehension of the relevant facts of the case at $ar, She anchors her petition on the fact that while the cause of her hus$and *uancho(s death was
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Court of Appeals Rollo! p, 4", +etition for Review filed with the Court of Appeals! Rollo! pp, 4-7 , Co##ent of the &CC! Rollo! pp, %%-B1, Co##ent of the SSS! Rollo! pp, B -B0, Repl'! Rollo! pp, 1"-14, Rollo! p, 19, Court of Appeals Decision! Rollo! pp, 1B-07, Rollo! p, 04, Rollo! p, 1 ,

Adenocarcino#a of the lun)s! he nonetheless suffered fro# two listed occupational diseases! na#el' pul#onar' tu$erculosis and pneu#onia! prior to his unti#el' de#ise! which she insists Austifies her clai# for death $enefits, De find #erit in the petition, +,D, No, % %1B a#ended Title II of Boo8 IV on the &CC and State Insurance Fund of the :a$or Code, <nder the provisions of the law as a#ended! for the sic8ness and resultin) disa$ilit' or death to $e co#pensa$le! the clai#ant #ust prove thatE ?a@ the sic8ness #ust $e the result of an occupational disease listed under Anne2 5A6 of the Rules on &#plo'ees( Co#pensation! or ?$@ the ris8 of contractin) the disease was increased $' the clai#ant(s wor8in) conditions, 11 This #eans that if the illness or disease that caused the death of the #e#$er is not included in the said Anne2 5A!6 then his heirs are entitled to co#pensation onl' if it can $e proven that the ris8 of contractin) the illness or disease was increased $' the #e#$er(s wor8in) conditions, <nder the present law! Adenocarcino#a of the lun)s ?cancer of the lun)s@ which was the i##ediate cause of *uancho(s death as stated in his death certificate! while listed as an occupational disease! is co#pensa$le onl' a#on) vin'l chloride wor8ers and plastic wor8ers, 10 This! however! would not auto#aticall' $ar petitioner(s clai# for as lon) as she could prove that *uancho(s ris8 of contractin) the disease was increased $' the latter(s wor8in) conditions, " In the case at $ar! there are two conflictin) #edical reports on the correlation $etween *uancho(s wor8 as a route sales#an and the illness he suffered which was the i##ediate cause of his de#ise, Dr, +a$lo S, Santos! Coca-Cola(s 3ead of /edical Services! stated in his report that while *uancho(s Ao$ does not e2pose hi# to an' che#ical #aterial used within the plant! consideration #ust $e )iven to s#o) and dust as factors in the develop#ent of his lun) cancer, 1 On the other hand! Dr, /a, Victoria /, A$esa#is of the Social Securit' S'ste# declared in her report that *uancho(s e2posure to s#o) and dust is not associated with the develop#ent of lun) cancer, Accordin) to #edical e2perts! Adenocarcino#a of the lun)s is one of the four #aAor histolo)ic varieties of $roncho)enic carcino#a! the characteri>ation $ein) $ased upon the cell t'pes that co#pose the carcino#a, Broncho)enic carcino#a! #ore co##onl' 8nown as lun) cancer! is the ter# used to desi)nate nearl' all t'pes of #ali)nant lun) tu#ors, /edical $oo8s list the etiolo)' of lun) cancers as followsE ci)arette s#o8in)! occupational e2posure! a$% &o''()$on! and other factors such as &%**+$,)$n- '(n- a.a-* and )enetic influences, 7 De a)ree with petitioner that the respondent )overn#ent a)encies failed to ta8e into consideration *uancho(s #edical histor' in their assess#ent of the clai# for $enefits filed $' petitioner, For a considera$le stretch of *uancho(s sta' at Coca-Cola! he was found to $e sufferin) fro# pul#onar' tu$erculosis, Several #onths $efore his de#ise! he was dia)nosed with Adenocarcino#a of the lun)s, A little over two wee8s $efore his death! *uancho was afflicted with pneu#onia, The o$vious deduction is that *uancho! fro# the ti#e he ac.uired
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+ro#ul)ated on B Dece#$er 10B4, A#ended Rules on &#plo'ees( Co#pensation! Rule III! Section 1?$@, A#ended Rules on &#plo'ees( Co#pensation Anne2 A ?1B@, :i#$o v, &#plo'ees( Co#pensation Co##ission and Social Securit' S'ste#! =,R, No, 14%101! 7" *ul' "" ! 719 SCRA 4%%, Court of Appeals Rollo! p, 70, Supra! note 9,

Allen R, /'ers! Medicine! 101%! pp, BB-B1,

pul#onar' tu$erculosis until his passin) awa'! was predisposed to varied lun) diseases, It is worth notin) that tu$erculosis is #ost co##onl' confused with carcino#a of the lun) $ecause the hi)hest incidence of $oth diseases is in the upper lo$e of the lun)s and in older #en, The s'#pto#s of $oth diseases include loss of wei)ht! chronic cou)h! $lood-strea8ed sputu# and #ild fever, 4 :i8ewise! nu#erous studies indicate that scars within the lun)s and diffuse pul#onar' fi$rosis are associated with a sli)htl' increased incidence of lun) cancer, 9 Tu$erculosis is a disease characteri>ed $' lesions in the lun)s as well as tu$erculous scars, % Thus! in li)ht of *uancho(s continued e2posure to detri#ental wor8 environ#ent and constant fati)ue! the possi$ilit' that *uancho(s Adenocarcino#a of the lun)s developed fro# the worsenin) of his pul#onar' tu$erculosis is not re#ote, The de)ree of proof re.uired under +,D, No, % % is #erel' su$stantial evidence! which #eans! 5such relevant evidence as a reasona$le #ind #i)ht accept as ade.uate to support a conclusion,6 Dhat the law re.uires is a reasona$le wor8-connection and not a direct causal relation, It is enou)h that the h'pothesis on which the wor8#enHs clai# is $ased is pro$a$le, /edical opinion to the contrar' can $e disre)arded especiall' where there is so#e $asis in the facts for inferrin) a wor8-connection, +ro$a$ilit'! not certaint'! is the touchstone, B In *uancho(s case! we $elieve that this pro$a$ilit' e2ists, *uancho(s Ao$ re.uired lon) hours on the streets as well as his carr'in) of cases of soft drin8s durin) sales calls, The co#$ination of fati)ue and the pollutants that a$ound in his wor8 environ#ent veril' contri$uted to the worsenin) of his alread' wea8 respirator' s'ste#, 3is continuous e2posure to these factors #a' have led to the develop#ent of his cancer of the lun)s, It escapes reason as well as one(s sense of e.uit' that *uancho(s heirs should now $e denied co#pensation ?death@ $enefits for the sole reason that his illness i##ediatel' $efore he died was not co#pensa$le in his line of wor8, The picture $eco#es #ore a$surd when we consider that had *uancho died a few 'ears earlier! when the dia)nosis on hi# revealed onl' pul#onar' tu$erculosis! his heirs would not perhaps $e )oin) throu)h this arduous path to clai# their $enefits, Den'in) petitioner(s clai# is tanta#ount to punishin) the# for *uancho(s death of a )raver illness, +,D, % %! as a#ended! is said to have a$andoned the presu#ption of co#pensa$ilit' and the theor' of a))ravation prevalent under the Dor8#en(s Co#pensation Act, Despite such a$andon#ent! however! the present law has not ceased to $e an e#plo'ees( co#pensation law or a social le)islation; hence! the li$eralit' of the law in favor of the wor8in) #an and wo#an still prevails! and the official a)enc' char)ed $' law to i#ple#ent the constitutional )uarantee of social Austice should adopt a li$eral attitude in favor of the e#plo'ee in decidin) clai#s for co#pensa$ilit'! especiall' in li)ht of the co#passionate polic' towards la$or which the 101B Constitution vivifies and enhances, 1 /0ERE1ORE! in view of the fore)oin)! the petition for review on certiorari is =RANT&D, The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-=,R, S+ No, 9%1B4
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3arrison(s +rinciples of Internal /edicine! 10B"! %th ed,! p, 1B , Supra! note 7, Supra! note 4! pp, 1B"-1B1, Sal#one v, &#plo'eesH Co#pensation Co##ission and Social Securit' S'ste#! =,R, No, 14 70 ! % Septe#$er """! 741 SCRA 19", &#plo'ees( Co#pensation Co##ission and =overn#ent Service Insurance S'ste# v, Court of Appeals! =,R, No, 1 1949! 14 Nove#$er 100%! %4 SCRA 41,

dated April 1 ! """ is R&V&RS&D and S&T ASID&, The Social Securit' S'ste# is ordered to pa' petitioner A>ucena Salali#a(s clai# for death $enefits under the &#plo'ees( Co#pensation Act, SO OR!ERE!. Panganiban, (Acting Chairman), Carpio, and A cuna, !!"! concur" #avide, !r", C"!", (Chairman), on official leave,

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