Sunday, February 05, 2012

GSIS vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 124208, January 1, 2008

Facts: Abraham Cate complained of a mass on his left cheek which gradually increased in size. The histopath report revealed that he was suffering from Osteoblastic Osteosarcoma. He underwent an operation to remove the mass. After several months, another biopsy revealed the recurrence of the ailment. He underwent debulking of the recurrent tumor.

Abraham filed a claim for income benefits with Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). But GSIS denied the claim on the ground that Osteosarcoma is not considered an occupational disease under PD No. 626 and there is no showing that his duties as SPO4 in the Philippine National Police (PNP) had increased the risk of contracting said ailment.

When Abraham died, his heirs appealed the decision of GSIS to the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC). The ECC affirmed the decision of the GSIS. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the ECC.

Issue: Whether or not the ailment of Abraham is compensable under the present law on employees’ compensation.

Held: Article 167 of Chapter 1, Title II, Book 4 of the Labor Code defines sickness as any illness definitely accepted as an occupational disease listed by the ECC, or any illness caused by employment, subject to proof that the risk of contracting the same is increased by working conditions.

In this case, Osteosarcoma is not listed as an occupational disease in the Amended Rules on Employees’ Compensation. Hence, it is supposed to be upon the claimant or private respondent to prove by substantial evidence that the risk of contracting it was increased by the working condition of the late Abraham. The records show that Abraham failed to present evidence to establish that the development of his ailment was traceable to his working condition in the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Constabulary, and the PNP. Further, private respondent’s allegation in their petition for review with the Court of Appeals that Abraham, as a rifleman in the Philippine Navy, may have been exposed to elements like a virus which could have contributed to his ailment does not satisfy the requirement of substantial evidence. The rule is that awards of compensation cannot rest on speculations and presumptions as the claimant must prove a positive thing.

However, in this particular case, the requirement is impossible to comply with, given the present state of scientific knowledge. The obligation to present such as an impossible evidence, must, therefore be deemed void. Respondent, therefore, is entitled to compensation, consistent with social legislation’s intended beneficial purpose.

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