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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 62354. March 22, 1984.]

ROSALINDA GODIZANO, Petitioner, v. EMPLOYEES’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION and GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (PHILIPPINE NAVY), Respondents.

Alfred L. Juntilla for Petitioner.

The Solicitor General for Respondents.


SYLLABUS


1. LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; LABOR CODE; COMPENSABILITY OF DISEASES; THEORY OF INCREASED RISK APPLIED IN CASE AT BAR. — The deceased was a Philippine Navy officer. His assignments and/or duties from the moment he entered the service on January 12, 1962 to the moment of his death on August 19, 1978, included underwater operations. These operations consisted of retrieving drowned persons, lifeguard duties, salvage duties, bottom hull scraping of Philippine Navy vessels, propeller inspection of Philippine Navy vessels, propeller changing of small craft and underwater demolition. Everytime the deceased herein came into contact with the water in the performance of his duties, there was present the risk of infection, more so if We consider the place of performance of said duties. The exposure then of the deceased to all of these, increased the risk of contracting the infection-associated glomerulonephritis. Having already established that the risk of contracting the ailment of glomerulonephritis was increased by the working conditions of the herein petitioner’s deceased husband, and in the light of the theory of increased risk as enunciated in the cases of Neri v. ECC and GSIS (L-60642, Feb. 20, 1984); Jarillo v. ECC (L-52058, Feb. 25, 1982, 112 SCRA 264); and Cristobal v. ECC (L-49280, Feb. 26, 1981, 103 SCRA 336), the petitioner is entitled to death benefits pursuant to P.D. 626, as amended by P.D. 1368, as amended by P.D. 1692.


D E C I S I O N


MAKASIAR, J.:


This is a petition for review on certiorari to set aside the decision of respondent Employees’ Compensation Commission dated October 1, 1981 (Annex "A", pp. 21-26, rec.) in ECC Case No. 1799, affirming the decision of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) denying the claim for death benefits under P.D. 626, as amended, to claimant Rosalinda Godizano, wife of the deceased Enrique Godizano.

The late Enrique B. Godizano, husband of the herein petitioner, was a Philippine Navy officer with the rank of Petty Officer I. His service history is as follows:" ‘SUN’ from June to July 15, 1962; ‘NS2’ from July 16, 1962 to February 8, 1966; ‘SN1’ from February 9, 1966 to November 1969; ‘PO3’ from December 1969 to December 14, 1972; ‘PO2’ from December 15, 1972 to November 1975 and ‘PO1’ from December 1975 up to the time of his death on August 19, 1978" (Annex "A-1", p. 22, rec.)

His record of assignment in the Philippine Navy is as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. Naval Training Command — January 12, 1962 to May 19, 1965;

2. Underwater Operation Unit — May 20, 1965 to August 1, 1966;

3. PHILCAG PA — Aug. 2, 1966 to Sept. 22, 1968;

4. Underwater Operations Unit — Sept. 23, 1968 to Dec. 4, 1969;

5. Mission to South Vietnam — Dec. 5, 1969 to Aug. 24, 1970; and 6. Underwater Operations Unit with Special Duty PHILNAVCON (Malacañang) — Aug. 25, 1970 to Aug. 19, 1978.

(Annex "B", pp. 27-28, rec.)

The duties of the late Enrique B. Godizano included the following: diving operations which involved retrieving of drowned persons, lifeguard duties, salvage operations, sea chest cleaning and inspection of Philippine Navy vessels, propeller changing of small craft and propeller inspection of Philippine Navy vessels, chief gunner’s mate, team leader of underwater demolition, team leader of explosive ordnance disposal, hydrographic reconnaissance, search and rescue operation, team leader of SEAL (Combat) operations, escort duties, ship to shore movement operations and such other duties as may be directed (Annex "B", pp. 27-28. rec.)

On March 10, 1978, Enrique B. Godizano sought consultation at the Naval Station Hospital in Cavite City for pain associated with vomitting of previously taken food. Three days after, he noted bipedal edema. On March 31, 1978, his condition not having improved, he was brought to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center in Quezon City. In the brief clinical abstract (Annex "D", p. 30, rec.), it was recorded that he had a past history as a known hypertensive but the duration was not noted. In the course of his confinement, he was found to be afflicted with a kidney malady known as acute renal failure secondary to chronic glomerulonephritis. His condition failed to improve.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red

On August 19, 1978, at the age of 39, Enrique Godizano succumbed to pulmonary edema and uremia secondary to chronic glomerulonephritis while confined in a hospital. The cause of his death was diagnosed as confluent bronchopneumonia (Annex "C", p. 29, rec.)

On February 1, 1979, petitioner Rosalinda Godizano, in her behalf and in behalf of their two minor children, filed with respondent GSIS a claim seeking death benefits under P.D. 442, as amended by P.D. 626, as amended.

On January 29, 1980, the respondent System denied the petitioner’s claim stating that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"After a careful study and appraisal of the supporting documents submitted by you, the above-named claim cannot be favorably considered for the reason that the injury/sickness that caused his death is not due to circumstances of the employment or in the performance of the duties and responsibilities of the said employment.

"The Medical Evaluation undertaken shows that —

‘UREMIA — is a toxic clinical condition with renal insufficiency and retention in the blood of urinary waste products. In the case of your late husband, it was due to pyelonephritis which is almost always concomitantly present. Stones cause obstruction of urine from and predisposed to infection of the kidney (pyelonephritis) with subsequent renal failure’" (p. 13, ECC, rec.)

On May 13, 1980, petitioner requested for a reconsideration of the denial of her claim by respondent System alleging that the "decedent’s ailments could have developed as a result of his duties for there were times when he had to make a dip at sea to perform underwater operations, aside from being exposed to the elements. (She) also alleged that the deceased was in clean bill of health when he entered the service" (Annex "A-2", p. 23, rec.)

On May 14, 1980, LTJG Abundio Baybay, Morale and Discipline Officer, NDF-PN, recommended that the request for reconsideration by Rosalinda Godizano be given due course since:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"There is nothing to indicate that when the deceased entered the Service in 1962, he was already suffering from Uremia, otherwise he would have been disqualified or found unfit for military service considering the rigid and strict physical examination he had undergone prior to his enlistment.

"It goes without saying that it was during his employment where he developed his ailment; and that his employment had contributed even in a small degree, to the development or acceleration of the sickness" (p. 12, ECC rec.)

On November 11, 1980, the petitioner requested for a restudy of her case. She was required by the respondent System to submit her husband’s chest x-ray films prior to his death and an official post-mortem histopath report to which the petitioner complied.chanrobles law library : red

On February 4, 1981, the petitioner was granted permanent partial disability benefit for four months (from March 31, 1978 to April 30, 1978 and May 1, 1978 to July 30, 1978) amounting to P1,394.31 (p. 28, ECC rec.) because of his hypertension which was recognized as a work-connected ailment. The respondent System concluded that since hypertension merely caused the deceased’s disability and not his death, the amount awarded was merely for his disability from employment.

On March 25, 1981, the petitioner brought her case to the respondent Commission for review.

On October 1, 1981, the respondent Commission affirmed the decision of the respondent System ruling that "the decedent’s main ailment, glomerulonephritis, not being service-connected, appellant’s claim for death benefits under the provision of P.D. No. 626, as amended, has to fail" (Annex "A-5", p. 26, rec.)

On December 2, 1982, the petitioner, with the assistance of her counsel, filed the instant petition. The sole issue to be resolved is whether or not the death of Philippine Navy Officer Enrique B. Godizano due to pulmonary edema and uremia secondary to chronic glomerulonephritis is compensable under P.D. 626, as amended.

I


Article 167(m) of P.D. 626, as amended, defines death as "loss of life resulting from injury or sickness." And sickness is defined as "any illness definitely accepted as an occupational disease listed by the Commission, or any illness caused by employment, subject to proof by the employee that the risk of contracting the same is increased by working conditions" (Emphasis supplied).

The sickness which resulted to the death of Enrique Godizano was diagnosed as pulmonary edema and uremia secondary to chronic glomerulonephritis. Glomerulonephritis, as found by the respondent Commission, is as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . a disease characterized pathologically by diffuse inflammatory changes in the glomeruli of the kidney, lesser lesions in other small arteries throughout the body and an increase in the permeability of the systemic capillary bed; and clinically by edema; albuminaria, hematuria and hypertension. Etiology: Acute glomerulonephritis usually follows some form of infection. In about 85% of cases, this is an infection of the upper respiratory tract with certain nephrotic strains of Group AB hemolytic streptococci . . ." (ECC decision dated Oct. 1, 1981 citing Lyght E.C., Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, MSD, 11th ed., p. 245; p. 24. rec.; Emphasis supplied)

The deceased was a Philippine Navy officer. His assignments and/or duties from the moment he entered the service on January 12, 1962 to the moment of his death on August 19, 1978, included underwater operations. These operations consisted of retrieving drowned persons, lifeguard duties, salvage duties, bottom hull scraping of Philippine Navy vessels, propeller inspection of Philippine Navy vessels, propeller changing of small craft and underwater demolition. Everytime the deceased herein came into contact with the water in the performance of his duties, there was present the risk of infection, more so if We consider the place of performance of said duties.

Dockyards like the Naval Base in Cavite City where the deceased was assigned and those of Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union and that U.S. Naval Base, Olongapo City where the deceased had undergone training, are known for their polluted waters. In these waters, there is increased possibility of contracting infection.

We also appreciate the fact that the deceased was not only exposed to the waters of the Naval Base, Cavite City; Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union; and U.S. Naval Base, Olongapo City; but he was likewise exposed to those of South Vietnam where he was assigned from December 5, 1969 to August 24, 1970 and those at the Pasig River from August 25, 1975 to March 31, 1978.

Moreover, the transition from staying in the water to staying out of it and vice versa including the change from being under the sun to being submerged in cold water and vice-versa, predisposed the deceased to colds, not to mention other respiratory tract infections which have been found to cause glomerulonephritis (Lyght, C.E., Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, supra, and Harrison’s Internal Medicine, G.W. Thorn, Et Al., 8th ed., p. 1442)

The exposure then of the deceased to all of these, increased the risk of contracting the infection-associated glomerulonephritis.

With the glomerulonephritis, the deceased developed hypertension. This is most likely related to fluid overload (Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, G.W. Thorn, supra, p. 1443). It can also be related to the unusual stress and strain, excessive fatigue or physical stress to which the deceased was subjected, not only here in the Philippines while in the performance of his duties, but also when he was in South Vietnam where his duties included those of a chief gunner’s mate, explosive ordnance disposal, underwater demolition, SEAL combat operations, as well as search and rescue operation.

With the increasing difficulty on the part of the deceased’s heart to supply the necessary oxygen needed due to the failure of the deceased’s kidneys’ filter system, he developed cardiomegaly (Annex "E", p. 32, rec.). And with the retention of fluids, bipedal edema resulted.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

A malfunctioning renal system, when it further deteriorates, results in the weakening and failure of all other vital systems of the body. This is due to the accumulation of toxic substances which the kidney’s filter system cannot get rid of. From here, the condition of Enrique Godizano deteriorated into pulmonary edema and uremia which ultimately led to his death.

Considering the foregoing, there is no merit in the argument of respondents that pulmonary edema is distinct and separate from chronic glomerulonephritis and that the former is not "a complication of glomerulonephritis," It is.

As already pointed out, with the deterioration of the kidneys, there ensues complications involving all the vital systems of the body. One of such complications is pulmonary edema and the ultimate consequence before death is uremia.

Having already established that the risk of contracting the ailment of glomerulonephritis was increased by the working conditions of the herein petitioner’s deceased husband, and in the light of the theory of increased risk as enunciated in the cases of Neri v. ECC and GSIS (L-60642, Feb. 20, 1984); Jarillo v. ECC (L-52058, Feb. 25, 1982, 112 SCRA 264); and Cristobal v. ECC (L-49280, Feb. 26, 1981, 103 SCRA 336), the petitioner is entitled to death benefits pursuant to P.D. 626, as amended by P.D. 1368, as amended by P.D. 1692.

II


The respondent GSIS was clearly in error when it granted permanent partial disability benefits instead of death benefits.

It must be remembered that the petitioner herein was not claiming for permanent partial disability benefits, but for death benefits. Her husband, the deceased Enrique Godizano, was already dead when she filed her claim for death benefits.

Furthermore, in the computation for monthly income benefits, notwithstanding that the ailment of Enrique Godizano had its inception before March 31, 1978, which is prior to the effectivity of P. D. 1368 on May 1, 1978, it should be the death of the petitioner’s husband on August 19, 1978, which should be considered for such contingency occurred after the effectivity of P. D. 1368 (Sec. 4, Rule XIII, Amended Roles on Employees’ Compensation, effective May 1, 1978). Hence, pursuant to Section 8(b) of the Amended Rules on Employees’ Compensation, P. D. No. 1146 is herein applied.

Applying the New Income Benefit in P. D. No. 1146, the computation should be as follows:chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

Average Month Compensation (AMC)

1978 8 months x P360.00 = P2,880.00

1977 12 months x 360.00 = 4,320.00

1976 12 months x 360.00 = 4,320.00

1975 3 months x 242.00 = 726.00

plus

P242.00/mo.

——— x 11 days = 88.73

30 days

plus

P360.00/mo.

——— x = 19 days = 220.64

31 days

—————

P12,555.37

—————

Total compensation for

3 years prior to death P12,555.37 P348.76

AMC = ————————— = ———— = ———

No. of months he received 36 mos.

said compensation.

Revalued Average Monthly Compensation (RAMC)

RAMC = 170% of 1st P200 of AMC = P340.00

plus

P100% of AMC in excess of P200 = 148.76

———

P488.76

Basic Monthly Pension (BMP)

BMP = 37.5% of RAMC = 183.28

plus

2.5% of RAMC = 12.22

———

= P195.50

———

Monthly Income Benefit (MIB).

MIB = BMP = P195.50

plus

15% of BMP = 29.32

Death Benefits (DB).

DB = MIB = 224.82

plus

10% of MIB for each child 22.48

(There are 2 children) 22.48

———

P269.78

———

From August 19, 1978 to March 19, 1984 - P269.78 x 67 months = P18,075.26

The petitioner herein received P1394.31 as permanent partial disability benefits; hence.

P18,075.26 minus P1,394.31 = P16,680.95

WHEREFORE, THE DECISION APPEALED FROM IS HEREBY REVERSED AND THE RESPONDENT GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM IS HEREBY ORDERED.

1. TO PAY HEREIN PETITIONER AND HER TWO CHILDREN THE SUM OF SIXTEEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED EIGHTY PESOS AND NINETY-FIVE CENTAVOS (P16,680.95) FOR DEATH BENEFITS FROM AUGUST 19, 1978 TO MARCH 19, 1984; AND THEREAFTER A MONTHLY PENSION OF P224.82 FOR THE PETITIONER AND FOR EACH OF THE TWO DEPENDENTS, A MONTHLY PENSION OF TWENTY-TWO PESOS AND FORTY-EIGHT CENTAVOS (P22.48) UNTIL EACH REACHES THE AGE OF 21 YEARS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

2. TO PAY ONE THOUSAND PESOS (P1,000.00) FOR FUNERAL EXPENSES;

3. TO REFUND PETITIONER’S MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL EXPENSES DULY SUPPORTED BY PROPER RECEIPTS; AND 4. TO PAY ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P1,600.00) FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES.

SO ORDERED.

Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro and Escolin, JJ., concur.

Aquino, J., took no part.

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