Jade Arabejo was an engine fitter-welder in a shipping company when he was confined in a hospital in Belgium due to chest pain. He suffered from coronary artery disease, and was repatriated to the Philippines for continuous medication.
According to his pre-employment medical examination, Arabejo was fit for lookout duty and engine service. Although, it was noted that he was under maintenance medication for hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
Arabejo filed for EC claims but SSS denied it. SSS said that his illness has no causal relationship to the nature of his work and that his diabetic mellitus is a non-compensable disease. The diabetic condition of Arabejo caused the manifestation of his heart illness.
Arabejo, consequently, appealed to the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) and upon review, the ECC ruled that hypertension or high-blood pressure is a major risk factor in making a person vulnerable to atherosclerosis.
Annex A of the Amended Rules on Employees’ Compensation states that the heart ailment of the employee may be considered compensable under any of the following:
a. “If the heart disease was known to have been present during employment, there must be proof that an acute exacerbation was clearly precipitated by the unusual strain by reasons for the nature of his work.” xx
The ECC recognizes that the strenuous working conditions of Arabejo as engine fitter-welder in the engine room of a vessel entailed exposure to intense heat. This made him susceptible to fatigue and strain that weakened his resistance and triggered the manifestations of his heart ailment.
The ECC explained that although diabetes mellitus may have worsened the heart problem of Arabejo, it is not the sole risk factor. Physically exhausting working conditions as fitter placed too much unusual strain on his body. There is, thus, a probability that Arabejo’s working condition contributed to the manifestation of his heart ailment.
The ECC ordered SSS to grant Arabejo EC disability benefits and reimbursement of medical expenses in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 626, as amended.
The Employees’ Compensation Commission, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, is mandated to review EC claims denied by the SSS or the GSIS, on appeal.