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154. ELEAZAR PADILLO vs RURAL BANK OF NABUNTURAN INC. ET AL.

GR NO. 199338 JAN.21, 2013

ISSUE:
1. Whether or not petitioner is entitled to retirement benefits.
2. Whether or not respondents acted in bad faith when they did not acted upon petitioner's
claim for retirement benefits.

RULING:
1. No. Petitioner should have met the age and tenure requirements set forth under
Article 300 of the Labor Code to be entitled to the retirement benefits provided therein.
Unfortunately, petitioner was able to comply with the five (5) year tenure requirement- as
he served for 29 years- he however, fell short with respect to the sixty (60) year age
requirement given that he was only fifty-five (55) years old when he retired. Therefore,
without prejudice to the proceeds due under the Philam Life Plan, petitioner's claim for
retirement benefits must be denied.
2. No, there was no bad faith in any of respondents’ actuations as they were within their
right to ignore petitioner's misplaced claim for retirement benefits. Respondents' obstinate
refusal to accede to petitioner's request is precisely justified by the fact that there lies no
basis under any applicable agreement or law which accords the latter the right to demand
any retirement benefits from the Bank. Neither can the grant of an early retirement package
to Lusan show that petitioner was unfairly discriminated upon. Records show that the same
was merely an isolated incident and petitioners failed to show that any bad faith or motive
attended such disparate treatment between Lusan and petitioner. Also, there is no showing
that other Bank employees were accorded the same benefits as that of Lusan which thereby
dilutes the soundness of petitioners' imputation of discrimination and bad faith.

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155. NAZARENO vs MAERSK FILIPINAS CREWINGS INC.
GR NO. 168703 FEB 26, 2013

ISSUE:
Whether or not Nazareno is entitled to disability benefits based on the evaluation and
assessment made by the physician chosen by him?
RULING:
Yes, he is entitled to his disability benefits. In the present case, the petitioner timely questioned
the competence of the company-designated physician by immediately consulting two
independent doctors. Neither did he sign nor execute any document agreeing with the findings
of the company physician that he is already fit for work. The certification of the company-
designated physician would defeat petitioner’s claim while the opinion of the independent
physicians would uphold such claim. In such a situation, the Court adopts the findings favorable
to petitioner. The law looks tenderly on the laborer. Where the evidence may be reasonably
interpreted in two divergent ways, one prejudicial and the other favorable to him, the balance
must be tilted in his favor consistent with the principle of social justice. Anent the question of
whether or not petitioner is indeed entitled to disability benefits based on the findings and
conclusions, not only of his personal doctors, but also on the findings of the doctors whom he
consulted abroad, the Court rules in the affirmative.

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156. COASTAL SAFEWAY MARINE SERVICES vs ESGUERRA
GR NO. 185352 AUG 10, 2011

ISSUE:
Won strict rules of evidence are not applicable in claims for compensation?
RULING:
Granted that strict rules of evidence are not applicable in claims for compensation, and mere
probability and not the ultimate degree of certainty is regarded as the touchstone or test of
proof in compensation proceedings, it cannot be gainsaid that awards of compensation cannot
rest in speculations or presumptions. In the absence of showing of adequate tests and
reasonable findings to support the same, the divergent Impediment Grades assessed by Dr.
Vicaldo and Dr. Saguin cannot be expediently taken at face value. In Magsaysay Maritime
Corporation vs. Velasquez, this Court significantly brushed aside the evidentiary value of a
recommendation made by Dr. Vicaldo which was likewise "based on a single medical report
which outlined the alleged findings and medical history" of the claimant-seafarer. In Montoya
vs. Transmed Manila Corporation, a similar fate was dealt the same doctor's plain statement of
the supposed work-relation/work-aggravation of a seafarer's ailment which was "not supported
by any reason or proof submitted together with the assessment or in the course of the
arbitration."

We are well aware of the principle that, consistent with the purposes underlying the
formulation of the POEA-SEC, its provisions must be applied fairly, reasonably and liberally in
favor of the seafarers, for it is only then that its beneficent provisions can be fully carried into
effect. This exhortation cannot, however, be taken to sanction the award of disability benefits
and sickness allowance based on flimsy evidence and/or even in the face of an unjustified non-
compliance with the mandatory reporting requirement under the POEA-SEC. When the
language of the contract is explicit and leaves no doubt as to the intention of its drafters, the
rule is settled that courts may not read into it any other intention that would contradict its plain
import. While we sympathize with Esguerras plight, we are, therefore, constrained to deny his
claims for disability benefits and sickness allowance absent proof of compliance with the
requirements set forth in Section 20 (B), paragraph (3) of the POEA-SEC.

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157. ROLANDO L. CERVANTES vs PAL MARITIME CORPORATION AND OR WESTERN SHIPPING
AGENCIES PTE. LTD.
GR NO. 175209 JAN. 16, 2013

ISSUE:
Whether or not Cervantes resigned or was terminated from his employment?

RULING:
Cervantes resigned from his employment. Resignation is the voluntary act of an employee who
finds himself in a situation where he believes that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor
of the exigency of the service, such that he has no other choice but to disassociate himself from
his employment. This is precisely what obtained in this case. The statements in Cervantes’ telex
message is plain and straightforward.

Cervantes also failed to substantiate his claim that he and the Filipino crew members were
being subjected to racial discrimination on board.

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158. DM CONSUNJI CORP. vs BELLO
GR NO. 159371 JULY 29, 2013

ISSUE:
Won project employees and regular employees are the same?
RULING:
A project employee is, therefore, one who is hired for a specific project or undertaking, and the
completion or termination of such project or undertaking has been determined at the time of
engagement of the employee. In the context of the law, Bello was a project employee of DMCI
at the beginning of their employer-employee relationship. The project employment contract
they then entered into clearly gave notice to him at the time of his engagement about his
employment being for a specific project or phase of work. He was also thereby notified of the
duration of the project, and the determinable completion date of the project.
It is settled that the extension of the employment of a project employee long after the
supposed project has been completed removes the employee from the scope of a project
employee and makes him a regular employee. In this regard, the length of time of the
employee's service, while not a controlling determinant of project employment, is a strong
factor in determining whether he was hired for a specific undertaking or in fact tasked to
perform functions vital, necessary and indispensable to the usual business or trade of the
employer. On the other hand, how DMCI chose to categorize the employment status of Bello
was not decisive of his employment status. What were of consequence in that respect were his
actual functions and the length of his stay with DMCI. Verily, the principal test for determining
whether an employee is a project employee, as distinguished from a regular employee, is
whether or not he is assigned to carry out a specific project or undertaking, the duration and
scope of which are specified at the time he is engaged for the project.

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158-A. BANCO FILIPINO SAVINGS AND MORTGAGE BANK vs LAZARO

ISSUE:
Won Art 287 of the Labor Code would apply in the absence of an applicable retirement
agreement?
RULING:
Indeed, as found in the Implementing Rules of the Retirement Pay Law and in
jurisprudence, only in the absence of an applicable retirement agreement shall Article 287 of
the Labor Code apply. There is a proviso however, that an employee's retirement benefits
under any agreement shall not be less than those provided in the said article.
It cannot be gainsaid that the Rules of the Banco Filipino Retirement Fund provide for benefits
lower than those in the Labor Code. In fact, the bank offers a retirement pay equivalent to
one and one-half month salary for every year of service, a rate over and above the one-half
month salary threshold provided by the law.
Moreover, although the Rules of the Banco Filipino Retirement Fund do not grant a rounding
off scheme, they nonetheless provide that prorated credit shall be given for incomplete years,
regardless of the fraction of months in the retirees’ length of service. Hence, even if the retiree
rendered only a fraction of five months, the retiree shall still be credited with retirement
benefits based on the fraction of five months of service actually rendered.
Notwithstanding the lack of a rounding-up provision, still, the higher retirement pay, together
with the prorated crediting, cannot be deemed to be less favorable than that provided for by
the law. Ultimately, the more important threshold to be considered in construing whether the
retirement agreement provides less benefits, compared to those provided by the Retirement
Pay Law, is that the retirement benefits in the said agreement should at least amount to one-
half of the employees monthly salary.
Therefore, considering that Lazaro is bound by the terms of the Rules of the Banco Filipino
Retirement Fund, it follows that he cannot claim his 27 years and 10 months of work to be
rounded off to 28 years in order to obtain a higher retirement pay.