Category: LATEST SUPREME COURT CASES


CASE 2019-0018: MAUNLAD TRANS, INC.; UNITED PHILIPPINE LINES, INC., SEACHEST ASSOCIATES; CARNIVAL CORPORATION; AND/OR RONALD MANALIGOD, PETITIONERS, V. ROMEO RODELAS, JR., RESPONDENT (G.R. NO. 225705, 01 APRIL 2019, DEL CASTILLO) (SUBJECT/S: DISABILITY BENEFITS) (BRIEF TITLE: MAUNLAD TRANS VS RODELAS)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The April 29, 2015 Decision and July 8, 2016 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 130412 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Judgment is hereby rendered DECLARING respondent Romeo Rodelas, Jr. entitled to disability benefits in the amount of US$16,795.00 only, equivalent to Grade 8 disability under the POEA Contract. The original award of attorney’s fees in respondent’s favor is DELETED.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

NOTE: IN THIS CASE, RESPONDENT REFUSED TO UNDERGO 120/240 DAY PERIODS FOR TREATMENT, THUS VIOLATING HIS CONTRACT AND THE LAW.

 

RESPONDENT REFUSED TO UNDERGO THE 120/240 TREATMENT. CAN HE STILL BE ENTITLED TO PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY?

 

NO, BECAUSE BY NOT UNDERGOING SUCH TREATMENT, HE VIOLATED HIS CONTRACT AND THE LAW.

 

The fact that respondent was not re-hired by petitioners has no bearing, considering that the former violated his contract and the law. Simply put, respondent may not be rewarded – for violating the law and his contract – with a grant of permanent and total disability benefits. This would set a wrong precedent for others to follow. While the Court looks at the cause of labor with a compassionate eye, it must not necessarily turn blind and completely ignore the rights of the employer; the law and justice should always prevail.

 

As for the argument that even surgery is not a guarantee that respondent’s condition will return to normal, this does not entitle him to the indemnity he seeks; the fact remains that he violated his contract and the law. His infraction erased any benefit he may have derived from such argument; besides, while this is a medical opinion shared by the company-designated physician, the Court is free to rely on it or discard it altogether.

 

WHY SHOULD RESPONDENT UNDERGO THE 120/240 PERIODS FOR TREATMENT?

 

SO HIS EMPLOYER WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASSIST HIM IN FINDING A CURE FOR HIS CONDITION AND THUS MINIMIZE ANY LEGAL AND PECUNIARY LIABILITY IT MAY BE HELD ANSWERABLE FOR.

 

Without the seafarer undergoing the prescribed 120/240-day periods for treatment, his employer is deprived of the opportunity to assist him in finding a cure for his condition and thus minimize any legal and pecuniary liability it may be held answerable for. At the same time, there is no way of assessing the seafarer’s medical condition with finality; without this assessment, no corresponding indemnity is forthcoming – understandably. That is why the seafarer must subject himself to treatment as prescribed by the law and the standard POEA contract; this requirement is patently for his benefit in all respects.

 

CAN HE STILL AVAIL OF ANY BENEFIT?

 

YES. HE IS ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION EQUIVALENT TO OR COMMENSURATE WITH HIS INJURY.

 

Thus, consistent with the ruling in the C.F. Sharp Crew Management, Inc. v. Orbeta case cited above, it must be held that respondent is entitled only to compensation equivalent to or commensurate with his injury. In the absence of an opinion from a physician of his own choice, or a third one as the case may be, respondent must abide by the findings of the company-designated physician, which in this case remains unrefuted precisely since respondent plainly abandoned his treatment. The Grade 8 assessment of the company-designated physician therefore stands, and for this, respondent is entitled only to the equivalent monetary benefit of US$16,795.00 pursuant to the schedule of disability benefits under the POEA Standard Employment Contract.

 

IS RESPONDENT ENTITLED TO ATTORNEY’S FEES?

 

NO BECAUSE THERE WAS NO GROUND FOR THE INSTITUTION OF THIS LABOR CASE.

 

On the issue of attorney’s fees, the Court finds that, since there was no ground for the institution of the instant labor case to begin with, respondent has no right to demand the payment of such fees. As was held in Pacific Ocean Manning, Inc. v. Penales,[12]

 

Under Article 2208 of the Civil Code, attorney’s fees can be recovered ‘when the defendant’s act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest.’ Considering the above pronouncements, this Court sees no reason why damages or attorney’s fees should be awarded to Penales. It is obvious that he did not give the petitioners’ company-designated physician ample time to assess and evaluate his condition, or to treat him properly for that matter. The petitioners had a valid reason for refusing to pay his claims, especially when they were complying with the terms of the POEA SEC with regard to his allowances and treatment.

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SC-2019-0018-G.R. NO. 225705 – MAUNLAD TRANS, INC ET AL VS ROMEO RODELAS, JR – 01 APRIL 2019 

 

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CASE 2019-0017: ROLANDO D. CORTEZ, PETITIONER, V. LUZ G. CORTEZ, RESPONDENT (G.R. NO. 224638, 10 APRIL 2019, PERALTA, J.) (SUBJECT/S: ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE; PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY) (BRIEF TITLE: CORTEZ VS CORTEZ)

 

 DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Decision dated November 5, 2015 and the Resolution dated May 13, 2016 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 100062 are hereby AFFIRMED.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

PETITIONER WAS NOT LOVING RESPONDENT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. IS THIS A MANIFESTATION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY?

 

IT IS NOT. MERE “DIFFICULTY,” “REFUSAL,” OR “NEGLECT” IN THE PERFORMANCE OF MARITAL OBLIGATIONS OR “ILL WILL” ON THE PART OF THE SPOUSE IS DIFFERENT FROM “INCAPACITY” ROOTED ON SOME DEBILITATING PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITION OR ILLNESS.

 

PETITIONER  HAS NO INTENTION IN THE BEGINNING TO DO THE DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS OF A HUSBAND AND FATHER. IS THIS PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY?

 

IT IS NOT. MERE “DIFFICULTY,” “REFUSAL,” OR “NEGLECT” IN THE PERFORMANCE OF MARITAL OBLIGATIONS OR “ILL WILL” ON THE PART OF THE SPOUSE IS DIFFERENT FROM “INCAPACITY” ROOTED ON SOME DEBILITATING PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITION OR ILLNESS.

 

PETITIONER LACKED REALIZATION THAT HE HAS MARITAL OBLIGATION TO PERFORM AS HUSBAND TO RESPONDENT. IT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY?

 

IT IS NOT. WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES IS A MENTAL ILLNESS THAT LEADS TO AN INABILITY TO COMPLY WITH OR COMPREHEND ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS.

 

RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT ON WHETHER PETITIONER WAS PSYCHOLOGICALL INCAPACITATED TO PERFORM MARITAL OBLIGATIONS:

 

Thus, the antecedence can be traced to his rearing and family environment making him a person with dependency inclination and passive-aggressive in traits. As said, his psychological incapacity stems from his traits and his not loving the respondent from the very beginning. That is where gravity comes in as that is obviously, solid evidence, that he, from the beginning had no intentions whatsoever to do the duties and obligations of a husband and a father.[25]

 

We find that the report failed to show how petitioner’s personality traits incapacitated him from complying with the essential obligations of marriage. On the contrary, the report established that because petitioner was forced to marry respondent without love, he had no intention to do his full obligations as a husband. Mere “difficulty,” “refusal,” or “neglect” in the performance of marital obligations or “ill will” on the part of the spouse is different from “incapacity” rooted on some debilitating psychological condition or illness.[26]

 

Notably, petitioner admitted that it was only when he learned in 1994 that respondent had a child prior to their marriage in 1990 that he stopped giving support to respondent and their two children; that because of the abandonment case filed against him and the threats coming from respondent’s brothers if he would stop supporting respondent and the children that he entered into a compromise agreement with respondent regarding the financial support for their children; that despite giving support, however, he refused to live with respondent. Petitioner’s showing of ill-will and refusal to perform marital obligations do not amount to psychological incapacity on his part.

 

Petitioner’s claim of lack of realization that he has marital obligation to perform as husband to respondent is not a consideration under Article 36 of the Family Code as what the law requires is a mental illness that leads to an inability to comply with or comprehend essential marital obligations.[27]

 

We, likewise, agree with the CA’s and the RTC’s findings that respondent was not shown to be psychologically incapacitated to comply with her marital obligations. As the CA found, respondent was shown to be a caring wife and a loving mother to her children. The findings and conclusions made by Dr. Soriano that respondent did not have the mind, will and heart to perform the obligations of marriage as she did not show concern for petitioner and was just contented to get money from the latter cannot be given credence. There was no other basis for Dr. Soriano to arrive at such finding other than the information supplied by petitioner. To make conclusions and generalizations on a spouse’s psychological condition based on the information fed by only one side is not different from admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness of the content of such evidence.[28] Moreover, such finding was contradicted by respondent’s letters[29] to petitioner which were attached to petitioner’s Reply filed with the RTC where she wrote how much she wished for petitioner’s good health and safety; that the money she received from petitioner’s allotment was used to pay for the house rental, children’s education and other incidental expenses; that she would like to save money to buy a house for the future of their children; and that she asked for forgiveness for nagging him because of jealousy and that she still loves him. Respondent had shown that she is capable of fulfilling her marital obligations and that she valued her marriage as she even opposed the petition for annulment of her marriage and participated in the trial of the case.

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SC-2019-0017-G.R. No. 224638-10 APRIL 2019-ROLANDO CORTEZ VS LUZ G. CORTEZ

 

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CASE 2019-0015:  ALYANSA PARA SA BAGONG PILIPINAS, INC. (ABP), REPRESENTED BY EVELYN V. JALLORINA AND NOEL VILLONES, PETITIONER, VS. ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, REPRESENTED BY ITS CHAIRMAN, JOSE VICENTE B. SALAZAR, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, REPRESENTED BY SECRETARY ALFONSO G. CUSI, MERALCO, CENTRAL LUZON PREMIERE POWER CORPORATION, ST. RAPHAEL POWER GENERATION CORPORATION, PANAY ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, MARIVELES POWER GENERATION CORPORATION, GLOBAL LUZON ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ATIMONAN ONE ENERGY, INC., REDONDO PENINSULA ENERGY, INC., AND PHILIPPINE COMPETITION COMMISSION, RESPONDENTS (G.R. NO. 227670, 03 MAY 2019, 03 MAY 2019, CARPIO, J.) (BRIEF TITLE: ALYANSA VS ERC).

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is GRANTED. The first paragraph of Section 4 of Energy Regulatory Commission Resolution No. 13, Series of 2015 (CSP Guidelines), and Energy Regulatory Commission Resolution No. 1, Series of 2016 (ERC Clarificatory Resolution), are hereby declared VOID ab initio. Consequently, all Power Supply Agreement applications submitted by Distribution Utilities to the Energy Regulatory Commission on or after 30 June 2015 shall comply with the Competitive Selection Process in accordance with Department of Energy Circular No. DC2018-02-0003 (2018 DOE Circular) and its Annex “A.” Upon compliance with the Competitive Selection Process, the power purchase cost resulting from such compliance shall retroact to the date of effectivity of the complying Power Supply Agreement, but in no case earlier than 30 June 2015, for purposes of passing on the power purchase cost to consumers.

 


SO ORDERED.”

  

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

“Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9209 provides that “[t]he retail rates to [Meralco’s] captive market and charges for the distribution of electric power by [Meralco] to its end-users shall be regulated by and subject to the approval of the ERC.” As the holder of a distribution franchise, Meralco is obligated to provide electricity at the least cost to its consumers. The ERC, as Meralco’s rate regulator, approves the retail rates – comprising of power and distribution costs – to be charged to end-users. As we have demonstrated above, both Meralco and the ERC have been remiss in their obligations. Going through competitive public bidding as prescribed in the 2015 DOE Circular is the only way to ensure a transparent and reasonable cost of electricity to consumers.

Lest we forget, the ERC is expressly mandated in Section 43(o) of the EP1RA of “ensuring that the x x x pass through of bulk purchase cost by distributors is transparent.” The ERC’s postponement of CSP twice, totaling 305 days and enabling 90 PSAs in various areas of the country to avoid CSP for at least 20 years, directly and glaringly violates this express mandate of the ERC, resulting in the non-transparent, secretive fixing of prices for bulk purchases of electricity, to the great prejudice of the 95 million Filipinos living in this country as well as the millions of business enterprises operating in this country. This ERC action is a most extreme instance of grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, warranting the strong condemnation by this Court and the annulment of the ERC’s action.

Absent compliance with CSP in accordance with the 2015 DOE Circular, the PSAs shall be valid only as between the DUs and the power generation suppliers, and shall not bind the DOE, the ERC, and the public for purposes of determining the transparent and reasonable power purchase cost to be passed on to consumers.

On 1 February 2018, the DOE issued Circular No. DC2018-02-0003 entitled “Adopting and Prescribing the Policy for the Competitive Selection Process in the Procurement by the Distribution Utilities of Power Supply Agreements for the Captive Market” (2018 DOE Circular). The DOE prescribed, in Annex “A” of this 2018 DOE Circular, the DOE’s own CSP Policy in the procurement of power supply by DUs for their captive market (2018 DOE CSP Policy). Section 16.1 of the 2018 DOE CSP Policy expressly repealed Section 4 of the 2015 DOE Circular authorizing ERC to issue supplemental guidelines to implement CSP.

In short, the DOE revoked the authority it delegated to the ERC to issue supplemental guidelines to implement CSP, and the DOE itself issued its own guidelines, the 2018 DOE CSP Policy, to implement CSP under the 2015 DOE Circular. This means that the CSP Guidelines issued by the ERC have become functus officio and have been superseded by the 2018 DOE CSP Policy. Under its Section 15, the 2018 DOE CSP Policy is expressly made to apply to “all prospective PSAs.” The 2018 DOE Circular, including its Annex “A,” took effect upon its publication on 9 February 2018. Thus, the 90 PSAs mentioned in this present case must undergo CSP in accordance with the 2018 DOE Circular, in particular the 2018 DOE CSP Policy prescribed in Annex “A” of the 2018 DOE Circular.”

 

 TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SC-2019-0016-G.R. N0. 227670-03 MAY 2019- ALYANSA PARA SA BAGONG PILIPINAS, INC. VS ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION ET AL

 

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