The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) granted EC disability benefits to a seafarer who suffered from a work-related Leukemia.

The seafarer worked as a second engineer by Skannfil Maritime Services, Inc. from December 10, 2016 until May 07, 2017. Prior to his employment at Skannfil, he was employed as a seafarer by various maritime agencies since 1995. During his employment, he was responsible for the cleanliness of the engine room and other related engine plants; organization and detailed supervision of maintenance work and repairs in the engine department, and other related tasks.

In July 2017, he was admitted at Metropolitan Medical Center in Manila due to blurred vision and skin rashes. On July 11, 2017, he underwent bone marrow, aspirate, and core biopsy at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. On July 18, 2017, he was diagnosed with B-Cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

The seafarer filed for EC disability benefits at the Social Security System (SSS) Victorias Branch in Negros Occidental. However, the EC disability claim was denied on the ground that his work or working conditions did not involve risk factors for the development of his illness as there was no history of exposure to chemicals during his employment. In April 2021, the SSS main office sustained the denial of the claim since there was no substantial proof that the risk of acquiring his illness was increased by exposure to his workplace.

On appeal, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) ruled in favor of the seafarer. The Commission declared that the nature of seafarer’s job and the length of his employment increased his risk of exposure to benzene and other agents present in petroleum products are associated with the development of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Furthermore, prior to his employment as second engr. at Skannfil, he was employed as a seafarer by various maritime agencies beginning in 1995. Hence, appellant’s Leukemia can be reasonably linked to his working conditions.

The ECC reversed the decision of the SSS and granted the claim for EC disability benefits of the seafarer.

The ECC, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), reviews appealed EC claims denied by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) or the SSS.


S. Mocorro – REU13