Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1976 > June 1976 Decisions > G.R. No. L-40658 June 30, 1976 - CRISOSTOMO ARANZANSO v. EUGENIO I. SAGNIT:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. L-40658. June 30, 1976.]

CRISOSTOMO ARANZANSO, Petitioner, v. HONORABLE ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER EUGENIO I. SAGNIT, in his capacity as Associate Commissioner of Workmen’s Compensation Commission and GAMI MACHINERIES, INC., Respondents.

Luis N. Fernandez, for Petitioner.

Bengzon, Villegas, Zarraga, Narciso & Cudala, for private

respondent.

Ernesto H. Cruz & Victorio A. Miguel for respondent WCC.

SYNOPSIS


Petitioner, an employee of respondent company suffered a stroke as a result of which he was totally disabled to work from September 16, 1971 to February 20, 1973. Disability benefits under the Workmen’s Compensation Act were granted by the acting referee. However, upon review respondent Commission reversed the same on the theory that "an injury sustained while in leave is not compensable." A motion to reconsider the decision was denied. Hence, the instant petition.

The Supreme Court set aside the decision of respondent commission and affirmed the award made by the acting referee on the ground that vacation is part of the period of employment and that respondent company failed to overcome the presumption that the illness arose out of or was aggravated by the employment.


SYLLABUS


1. WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION; EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP; VACATION, PART OF THE PERIOD OF EMPLOYMENT. — The days that employees are on vacation are considered part of the period of their employment and if during this period an employee suffers injury, or illness, such injury or illness will be deemed as having arisen out of his employment, and, therefore, compensable.

2. ID.; CLAIM FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS; PRESUMPTION. — Well established is the doctrine that an illness is presumed to have arisen out of employment or aggravated by the same once shown to have intervened during the employment. And the statutory presumption is that the claim is compensable unless the employer proves the contrary.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; BURDEN OF PROOF. — The burden of proof that illness did not arise out of employment or at least aggravated by his employment shifts to the employer, and the employee is relieved of the burden to show causation.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — Where the records do not show that the employer has proven by substantial evidence that the illness of the petitioner could have arisen out of factors other than the nature of his employment, such as activities engaged in by petitioner in the two days he was on vacation before he became ill which might have caused or contributed to the development or acceleration of his illness which finally culminated into a cerebrovascular attack, such illness is compensable. Even granting that there are indeed such other factors, that fact alone is not sufficient to affect the compensability of his claim.


D E C I S I O N


MARTIN, J.:


Petition for review of the decision of the Workmen’s Compensation Commission in R04-WC Case No. 19174, entitled Crisostomo Aranzanso, claimant v. G. A. Machineries, respondent, which reversed the award made by the Acting Referee, Regional Office No. 4, Manila, granting the claim of the petitioner for compensation benefits under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.

Petitioner started with the respondent Company in 1968 as carpenter, working eight (8) hours a day for six days a week, and almost everyday including Sundays. On September 5, 1971, while on vacation he suffered a stroke as a result of which he was taken to the Galauran Memorial Clinic and Laboratory where he was treated by Dr. Illuminada Hernandez. He was also treated by Dr. Manuel de Asis of the National Orthopedic Hospital from November 11, 1971 up to 1973. For his hospitalization he spent the amount of P871.15. The findings and evaluation of the Compensation Rating Medical Officer of the Workmen’s Compensation Section, Regional office No. 4, Manila, show that the petitioner was totally disabled for labor from September 16, 1971 up to February 20, 1973 and that he was suffering from 60% N.S.S. (Annex A. Decision of Acting Referee).

As a result of his illness, the petitioner filed his claim against the respondent for disability benefits compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. The respondent controverted the claim claiming that the petitioner was on vacation at the time he suffered a stroke and that his employment did not cause nor aggravate his ailment.

After the hearing, the Acting Referee of Regional Office No. 4, Manila, made an award, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondent, Gami Machineries, Inc.:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. To pay claimant thru this Office the sum of ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY ONE PESOS AND SIXTY CENTAVOS (1,461.60) as temporary total disability compensation benefits and the sum of TWO THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FORTY SIX PESOS AND FORTY CENTAVOS (P2,246.40) as permanent partial disability compensation benefits for the total amount of THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED EIGHT PESOS (P3,708.00) PLUS A WEEKLY COMPENSATION OF P19.60 beginning February 20, 1973 until claimant’s illness shall have been cured or until he shall have received the total amount of P6,000.00 as disability compensation benefits;

2) To pay claimant the sum of P871.25 as medical expenses reimbursement;

3) To pay claimant’s counsel of record, Atty. Luis Fernandez, the sum of P185.40 as partial attorney’s fee;

4) And, to pay this Office the sum of P38.00 plus P1.00 for every P100.00 that claimant shall receive beginning February 20, 1973, as administrative fees pursuant to Section 55 of the Act.

SO ORDERED."cralaw virtua1aw library

In due time, the respondent moved to elevate the case for review by the respondent Commission. Finding no merit in the award made by the Acting Referee, the respondent Commission reversed the same and dismissed the claim of petitioner. A motion to reconsider the decision was denied.

Hence this petition for review.

Petitioner makes capital of the respondent Commission’s alleged error in holding that the illness of petitioner is not work-connected or work-aggravated and therefore not compensable under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. In resolving against the claim of the petitioner, respondent Commission adheres to the doctrine laid down by this court in A.L. Ammen Transportation Co. v. WCC 1 that "an injury sustained while on leave of absence is not compensable." In said case it was held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The requirement that to be compensable the death must occur while the worker is performing some work in the course of or arising out of his employment requires three things: (1) the injury must be received during the period covered by the employment; (2) the worker must be shown to have been injured at the time and place where the performance of his work requires him to be, and (3) the worker must have been doing something in pursuance of his work."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the opinion of the respondent commission, the foregoing requirements were not met in the case of the petitioner because his illness came while he was on vacation leave, that is, he was not at the time and place where the performance of his work requires him to be and that he was not doing something in pursuance of his work. True it is, that the petitioner was not actually at the time and at the place of work when he suffered the stroke because he was on vacation — but it must be noted that when the petitioner went on vacation, it did not mean that he ceased to be under the employ of the Respondent. He still was. An employee as a matter of public policy is entitled to vacation and sick leave in order to improve their health and physical well-being. The days that they are on vacation are considered part of the period of their employment and if during this period an employee suffers injury, or illness, such injury or illness will be deemed as having arisen out of his employment, and therefore compensable. It is interesting to note that the petitioner here became ill only two days after he went on vacation to rest. It would have been worse for him had he not taken his vacation because then the physical force he used to exert in his work as a carpenter would have hastened the attack. Well-established is the doctrine that an illness is presumed to have arisen out of employment or aggravated by the same once shown to have intervened during employment. 2 And the statutory presumption is that the claim is compensable unless the employer proves the contrary. 3 The burden of proof that said illness did not arise out of employment or at least aggravated by his employment shifts to the employer, and the employee is relieved of the burden to show causation. 4 The records do not show that the respondent has proven by substantial evidence that the illness of the petitioner could have arisen out of factors other than the nature of his employment, such as activities engaged in by petitioner in the two days he was on vacation before he became ill which might have caused or contributed to the development or acceleration of his illness which finally culminated into a cerebrovascular attack. But even if there are such other factors, that fact alone is not sufficient to affect the compensability of his claim.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red

In Abana v. Quisumbing, supra, this Court held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The mere fact that factors other than the claimant’s employment may have also contributed to the aggravation of his illness, the same is not a drawback to its compensability For, under the law, it is not required that the employment be the sole factor in the growth, development or acceleration of claimant’s illness to entitle him to the benefits provided for. It is enough that his employment had contributed, even in a small degree, to the development of the disease. Under the Workmen’s Compensation Law, it is not necessary for a claimant to carry the burden of proof to establish his case to the point of demonstration. It is sufficient to show that the hypothesis on which he bases his claim is probable."cralaw virtua1aw library

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the respondent Commission is reversed and set aside and the award made by the Acting Referee of Regional Office No. 4, Manila, is hereby affirmed. With costs against private Respondent.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Muñoz Palma and Aquino, JJ., concur.

Aquino, J., was designated to sit in the First Division.

Endnotes:



1. 12 SCRA. 27.

2. Maria Cristina Fertilizer Corp. v. WCC, 60 SCRA 228.

3. Agustin v. WCC, 12 SCRA, 55. .

4. Abana v. Quisumbing, 22 SCRA, 1278.




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