Anda di halaman 1dari 2

WALLEM MARITIME SERVICES INC, et al. v.

DONNABELLE
PEDRAJAS, et al.
GR. 192993; 11 August 2014, THIRD DIVISION, (Peralta, J.)

No compensation and benefits shall be payable in respect of any injury, incapacity,


disability, or death of a seafarer resulting from his wilful or criminal act or intentional breach of his
duties.

Hernani Pedrajas was employed with Wallem Maritime Services (WMS) as


an engine boy on board the ship M/V Crown Jade. While the vessel was on dock in
Italy, Hernani was found hanging on the Upper Deck of the vessel with a rope tied
to his neck. Hernani’s spouse, Donnabelle Pedrajas, then sought the assistance of
the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to probe
into the death of Hernani, wherein both departments concluded that homicide
could not be ruled out. Because of such, Donnabelle filed a claim for death
compensation benefits under the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency
Standard Employment Contract (POEA-SEC) and the Associates Marine Officer’s
and Seafarer’s Union of the Philippines Collective Bargaining Agreement
(AMOSUP-CBA).

However, WMS, argued that they have no obligation to award death


benefits to the heirs of Hernani because his death was self-inflicted, and therefore
exempt from the coverage of death benefits under the POEA-SEC and the
AMOSUP-CBA. The Italian Medical Examiner issued a medical report which
contained that the deceased did not have any lesions or bruises in a course of
struggle, and thus died by hanging. The Labor Arbiter (LA), seeing that suicide was
Hernani’s cause of death, denied the claims for compensation. When Pedrajas, et al.
appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), it reversed the LA's
decision and ruled that Hernani's death was not proven to be self-inflicted.

ISSUE:

Is the employer liable to give death compensation in cases when their


employee committed suicide?

RULING:

No. Section 20 (D) of the POEA-SEC provides:

“No compensation and benefits shall be payable in respect of any


injury, incapacity, disability, or death of a seafarer resulting from
his wilful or criminal act or intentional breach of his duties.”

The Court states that a death of a seaman during the term of his
employment makes the employer liable to the former’s heirs for death
compensation benefits. However, this rule is not absolute. The employer may be

UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015


exempt from liability if it can successfully prove that the seaman’s death was caused
by an injury directly attributable to his deliberate or wilful act. WMS, et al. were
able to prove that Hemani committed suicide.

In the case at bar, although both the NBI and PNP stated that they cannot
rule out any indications of homicide, such opinions are inconclusive as evidence
because an opinion should not be construed as a judgment. Moreover, the Court
declares that it is more logical to rely on the findings and observations of the Italian
Medical Examiner because they were made after he personally and carefully
examined the place immediately after the incident. The medical examiner had the
luxury of investigating the crime scene. Since there is conclusive evidence presented
by Wallem Maritime Services that Hernani committed suicide, the latter’s heirs are
not entitled to any compensation or benefits.

UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015