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Vetyard Terminals & Shipping Services, Inc./ Miguel s. Perez, Seafix, Inc., v.

Bernardino D. Suarez
G.R. No. 199344.

March 5, 2014.

Abad, J.:

FACTS:
Petitioners Vetyard Terminals and Shipping Services, Inc., Miguel S.
Perez, and Seafix, Inc. (collectively referred to here as the Company) hired respondent
Bernardino Suarez to work as welder/fitter for 12 months on board a vessel. For four
months working, respondent was repatriated on May 2007. At the Medical City, he was
found to be suffering from posterior cataract and pseudophakia. Upon certification of Dr.
Caparas, such ailment was not associated with his claim that paint injured his eye while
working but it commonly occurs after a cataract operation. Thus, he signed a release
and quitclaim in favor of the company. Thereafter, he filed a complaint for total and
permanent disability benefits, sickness allowance and reimbursement of medical
expenses claiming that he was painting the vessels ceiling when accidentally the paint
hit his eye and suffered pain which causes blurred vision yet the company refused to
give him medical and financial assistance.
On the other hand, the company alleged that respondent was not entitled for disability
benefits as his illness was not work-related and that he deliberately concealed his prior
cataract operation. Hence, the LA dismissed respondents claim holding that cataract
was the primary cause of his ailment as he failed to prove that such illness was workrelated.
The NLRC affirmed the LAs ruling and held that Suarezs alleged incapacity for work
did not render his illness due to his work. Thus, he is not entitled to reimbursement for
medical expenses as it was the company who paid for them.
On appeal, the CA set aside the ruling of NLRC and held that respondent was exposed
to dangers and hazards in his work. That while doing repairs in the vessel, paint hit his
eye, injuring it independent of his cataract. As such, the ailment was work related
hence, compensable. It added that respondent was entitled to permanent and total
disability benefits. Petitioners MR was denied and respondent was awarded attorneys
fees. Hence, this petition.
ISSUE: WON respondents ailment is compensable.
HELD: No, it was not compensable. Section 32(A) of the 2000 POEA Amended
Standard Terms Condition provides that for an occupational disease and the resulting
disability to be compensable, the following must concur: (1) the seafarer's work must
involve the risks described; (2) the disease was contracted as a result of the seafarer's

exposure to the described risks; (3) the disease was contracted within a period of
exposure and under such other factors necessary to contract it; and (4) there was no
notorious negligence on the part of the seafarer. Therefore, to be compensable, it must
be work-related and the illness or injury existed during the term of the seafarers
employment contract.
In the present case, respondent did not to prove that his eye ailment was work-related
and that the paint droppings caused his blindness. He failed to present any record of
some medical check-up, consultation or treatment that he undergone.
Hence, the court adopted the findings of Dr. Caparas, the company physician, that it
was the cataract operation that caused his ailment which plainly does not indicate workrelatedness. By the nature of his ailment, those were the result of eye disease than of
ones kind of work. Even to assume that it was work-related, respondent still cannot
claim disability benefits since he concealed his true medical condition.
The records show that when he underwent Pre-Employment Medical Examination
(PEME), he represented that he was merely wearing corrective lens. He concealed the
fact that he had a cataract operation in 2005 and told the truth only when he was being
examined at the Medical City. This willful concealment of a vital information in his PEME
disqualifies him from claiming disability benefits pursuant to Section 20(E) of the POEASEC which provides that "a seafarer who knowingly conceals and does not disclose
past medical condition, disability and history in the pre-employment medical
examination constitutes fraudulent misrepresentation and shall disqualify him from any
compensation and benefits."
A PEME is generally not exploratory in nature, nor is it a totally in-depth and thorough
examination of an applicant's medical condition. 16 It does not reveal the real state of
health of an applicant. Since it is not exploratory, its failure to reveal or uncover Suarez's
eye disability cannot shield him from the consequences of his willful concealment.
Therefore, the petition is granted. The Supreme Court reversed and set aside the
decision and resolution of the CA and reinstates the resolution of NLRC in favor of
petitioners.