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G.R. No. 82252 February 28, 1989 (PROHIBITED PRACTICES)
SEAGULL MARITIME CORP. AND PHILIMARE SHIPPING & EQUIPMENT SUPPLY, petitioners
NERRY D. BALATONGAN, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION AND PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION, respondents.
On November 2, 1982, a "crew Agreement" was entered into by private respondent Nerry D. Balatongan and Philimare Shipping and Equipment Supply (hereinafter called Philimare) whereby the latter employed the former as able seaman on board its vessel "Santa Cruz" (renamed "Turtle Bay") with a monthly salary of US $ 300.00. Said agreement was processed and approved by the National Seaman's Board (NSB) on November 3, 1982.
While on board said vessel and parties entered into a supplementary contract of employment on December 6, 1982 which provides among others: (1) The employer shall be obliged to insure the employee during his engagement against death or permanent invalidity caused by accident on board up to US $ 40,000 - for death caused by accident and US $ 50,000 - for permanent total disability caused by accident.
On October 6, 1983 Balatongan met an accident in the Suez Canal, Egypt as a result of which he was hospitalized at the Suez Canal Authority Hospital. Later, he was repatriated to the Philippines and was hospitalized at the Makati Medical Center from October 23, 1983 to March 27, 1984. On August 19, 1985 the medical certificate was issued describing his disability as "permanent in nature."
Balatongan demanded payment for his claim for total disability insurance in the amount of US $ 50,000.00 as provided for in the contract of employment but his claim was denied for having been submitted to the insurers beyond the designated period for doing so.
Thus, Balatongan filed on June 21, 1985 a complaint against Philimare and Seagull Maritime Corporation in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for non-payment of his claim for permanent total disability with damages and attorney's fees.
After the parties submitted their respective position papers with the corresponding documentary evidence, the officer-in-charge of the Workers Assistance and Adjudication Office of the POEA rendered for respondents to pay complainant the amount of US $ 50,000.00 representing permanent total disability insurance and attorney's fees at 10% of the award. Payment should be made in this Office within ten (10) days from receipt hereof at the prevailing rate of exchange. This Office cannot however rule on damages, having no jurisdiction on the matter.
Seagull and Philimare appealed said decision to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on June 4, 1986. Hence, Seagull and Philimare filed this petition for certiorari with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order.
W/N the supplementary contract of employment entered into between petitioners and respondent is a prohibited practice to afford greater benefits to the employee
This Court is not a trier of facts and the findings of the public respondents are conclusive in this proceeding. Public respondents found that petitioner Philimare and private respondent entered into said supplementary contract of employment on December 6, 1982. Assuming for the sake of argument that it was petitioners' principal which entered into said contract with private respondent, nevertheless petitioner, as its manning agent in the Philippines, is jointly responsible with its principal thereunder.
The Court finds that the respondent NLRC did not commit a grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioners, motion for leave to file third-party complaint and substitution inclusion of party respondent. Such motion is largely addressed to the discretion of the said Commission. Inasmuch as the alleged transfer of interest took place only after the POEA had rendered its decision, the denial of the motion so as to avoid further delay in the settlement of the claim of private respondent was well-taken. At any rate, petitioners may pursue their claim against their alleged successor-in-interest in a separate suit.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the temporary restraining order issued by this Court on March 21, 1988 is hereby LIFTED. No costs. This decision is immediately executory. SO ORDERED.