Seafarers Get Over P9 M in Disability Benefits After Conciliation-Mediation


Three Filipino seafarers repatriated due to different injuries sustained while on board international vessels recently received an aggregate P9 million in disability claims following the settlement of their disputes through conciliation and mediation conducted by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

In a report to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, NCMB Executive Director Reynaldo R. Ubaldo said the three seafarers sought the intervention of NCMB on their complaints against their respective companies/establishments.

The shipping companies, Sea Power Shipping Enterprises Inc., KGJS Fleet Management, and North Sea Marine Service, all agreed to full and complete settlement of the claims of the complainants for disability benefits, illness allowances, reimbursement of medical expenses, attorney’s fees and other fees after exhaustive conciliation-mediation proceedings.

The first of the three cases involved Alexander S. Billones, who was hired as a bosun on 22 September 2010 by KGJS Fleet Management Manila, Inc. He was repatriated to the Philippines on 27 April 2011 because of chronic degenerative disc disease.

As boatswain, Billones was in charge of rigging, anchors, and cables. He also served as a deck crew. One day, while performing his duties on board, he met an accident resulting to the disease that caused his disability.

“Degenerative disc disease” is one of the most common causes of low back pain and loss of function of the spine.

On December 8, 2011, Billones assisted by Atty. Christopher Rey P. Valmores, filed with the NCMB-NCR a notice to arbitrate, claiming entitlement to full disability benefits, illness allowances, and reimbursement of medical expenses and attorney’s fees.

On 20 May 2012, after a series of conciliation-mediation meetings, the parties mutually agreed to the payment of US$75,000 or P 3,206,250.00 representing the full and complete settlement of Billones’ claim. Conciliator-mediator Gil G. Caragayan facilitated the settlement.

Meanwhile, Nestor G. Balbaboco Jr., an ordinary seaman employed by North Sea Marine Service Corporation was awarded P2,215,720 as settlement package following the resolution of his complaint against his former employer. Balbaboco suffered a spinal injury in October 2010 while on board M/V Albatros, resulting to his repatriation and hospital confinement.

Balbaboco sought the intervention of the NCMB-NCR on 08 December 2011 by filing a notice to arbitrate, claiming full disability benefits under CBA, illness allowance, and reimbursement of medical expenses and attorney’s fees. On 24 May 2012, the parties mutually agreed to the payment of P2,215,720 as full settlement of all Balbabocos’ claims. NCMB-NCR Chief LEO Ma. Delia Yu facilitated the settlement.

The third settlement involved Joel Floralde, who was hired as an able-bodied seaman for the M/V EFSTATHIOS of Sea Power Shipping Inc. He was medically repatriated when he suffered a mild stroke after a heavy and physically strenuous training. He has become disabled and is no longer fit to work.

On 05 January 2012, Floralde, with the assistance of Atty. Christopher Rey Valmores, sought the intervention of NCMB-NCR by filing a notice to arbitrate, claiming entitlement to disability benefits, sickness allowance and medical reimbursement as per CBA, refund of attorney’s fees and other damages.

After NCMB-NCR conciliator- mediator Ma. Yolanda P. Minoria conducted conciliation and mediation conferences and follow-up, the two parties agreed to settle on 22 June 2012, with Sea Power Shipping Enterprises, Inc. mutually agreeing on the amount of P3,636,600 as full and complete settlement of the former’s claims for disability benefits, illness allowances, reimbursement of medical expenses, and other fees.

The cases involving the aforementioned complainants are just 3 of the 112 notice to arbitrate (NTA) cases involving 381 workers lodged with the NCMB since January 2012. The successful resolution of NTA cases resulted in the facilitation of P 34.7 M in monetary benefits for eight workers.

Secretary Baldoz commended the NCMB conciliator-mediators for their focused and pro-active effort in facilitating the settlement of these disputes, saying their efforts mirror the DOLE’s intensified campaign to promote compliance to labor standards and uphold workers’ rights and welfare.

Reporting by William Calina, Diadema A. Aguirre