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For ten (10) separate but consecutive yearly contracts, Cesar has been deployed as an able-bodied seaman by Meritt Shipping, through its local agent, Ace Maritime Services (agency), in accordance with the 2000 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract (2000 POEA-SEC), AMOSUP, and Meritt Shipping. Both the 2001 POEA-SEC and the CBA commonly provide that the same mode and procedures for claiming disability benefits. Cesar’s last contract (for nine months) expired on July 15, 2013.
Cesar disembarked from the vessel M/V Seven Seas on July 16, 2013 as a seaman on “finished contract”. He immediately reported to the agency and complained that he had been experiencing spells of dizziness, nausea, general weakness, and difficulty in breathing. The agency referred to him to Dr. Sales, a cardio-pulmonary specialist, who examined and treated him; advised him to take a complete rest for a while; gave him medications; and declared him fit to resume work as a seaman.
After a month, Cesar went back to the agency to ask for re-deployment. The agency rejected his application. Cesar responded by demanding total disability benefits based on the ailments that he developed and suffered while on board Meritt Shipping vessels. The claim was based on the certification of his physician (internist Dr. Reyes) that he could no longer undertake sea duties because of the hypertension and diabetes that afflicted him while serving on Meritt Shipping vessels in the last 10 years. Rejected once again, Cesar filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and the payment of total permanent disability benefits against the agency and its principal.
Assume that you are the Labor Arbiter deciding the case. Identify the facts and issues you would consider material in resolving the illegal dismissal and disability complaint. Explain your choices and their materiality, and resolve the case. (8%)