PDI report based on high court’s decision | Inquirer Opinion

PDI report based on high court’s decision

09:03 PM January 10, 2013

We refer to the news article of Jerome Aning titled “PH seaman wins disability suit against shipping firm” (Inquirer, 12/23/12).

Our client and its principal have factual and legal grounds to deny the claim of Salvador Serna which unfortunately were not well taken:

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1. Serna signed off from the vessel due to a finished contract.

2. He had no medical incident while on board.

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3. He executed a Discharge Receipt and Release of Claim after his sign-off.

4. He applied for reemployment.

5. As there was no vacant position yet, he was not immediately redeployed. Hence, he decided to pull out his documents and he submitted a resignation letter.

Out of respect for the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), which as per it rules and regulations became final and executory after 10 days, our client and its principal voluntarily paid Serna on Nov. 9, 2005, the judgment award of $66,000 to cover disability benefits and attorney’s fees without prejudice to the pending petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals.

Unfortunately, the article failed to mention that the award of attorney’s fees in the sum of $6,000 was deleted by the Court of Appeals. We quote the Court of Appeals decision on the matter:

“Be that as it may, this Court finds the award of attorney’s fees in favor of private respondent Serna to be unwarranted as the basis for the same was not discussed in the decision of the Labor Arbiter nor in the decision of the NLRC. Consistently with the prevailing policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate, the Supreme Court has required a factual basis for the award of attorney’s fees. As such, the award of attorney’s fees in favor of private respondent Serna should therefore be deleted.”

The decision of the Court of Appeals deleting the award of attorney’s fees became final and executory. However, despite demands, Serna refused and continues to fail to return to our client and its principal the sum of $6,000.

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It is our client and its principal’s humble position that the article lacked transparency and was inaccurate. Our client and its principal have been unfairly depicted to have reneged from their obligations for so many years “while payment has been made as early as 09 November 2005” even as it exercised its right to challenge the ruling before the higher courts. On the contrary, it was Serna who defies and refuses to honor to date his obligation to return to our client and its principal the sum of $6,000.

We trust that the article should be clarified and should also be used “as a vehicle to educate seafarers” in general to equally honor their obligations under the law.

We hasten to add that our client and its principal are no longer manning the vessel “Hyde Park.” The management of the vessel was transferred to Trans-Global Maritime Agency Inc. and its principal as early as Oct. 15, 2002.

—DEL ROSARIO & DEL ROSARIO,

[email protected]

The article was based on the Supreme Court’s decision that ruled in Serna’s favor despite the “factual and legal grounds” that the petitioners raised before the NLRC and the Court of Appeals. The article never stated that Serna did not get anything prior to the ruling. It may be pointed out also that the only issue considered by the Supreme Court in its decision was the application of the provision in Serna’s POEA contract regarding disability benefits.

—JEROME ANING,

reporter, Inquirer

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TAGS: Jerome Aning, labor, Letters to the Editor, NLRC, opinion, PDI, Seaman, Shipping
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