Bicolano seafarer wins P7.4 M labor settlement

By Ed G. Yu


A Bicolano seafarer working as able seaman aboard Singapore-registered container ship APL Dublin who met an accident and suffered injury while on duty was awarded US$ 146,000.00 or P7,411,106.00 as full and complete amicable settlement of his claims against his recruiter and employer.

Sulpicio A. Geronimo, the complainant, suffered low back pain as a result of an accident while working as able seaman on the ship from January to September 2019 filed the case for voluntary arbitration with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), Regional Conciliation Mediation Branch 5 of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Legazpi City against his recruiter and employer, respondent Diversified International Services, CMA Ships Singapore PTE. LTD., Southfield Agencies, Inc., and Capt. Sonny D. Valencia.


The NCMB docketed Geronimo’s complaint as Voluntary Arbitration Case (VAC) AC 669-RCMB-V-01-01-01-2021. The complainant and respondent were given a list of DOLE accredited voluntary arbitrators (AVAs) to choose from.


Both parties chose labor leader Jose Dialogo Jr. as the AVA to hear and decide the case, which centered on the issue whether the complainant suffered total and permanent disability as a result of the work-related accident. Thereafter, NCMB Regional Branch Director Reynaldo S. Foncardas officially assigned to Dialogo’s the case.


Dialogo, a Naga City-based veteran labor leader who has extensive experience in labor laws and practices, said he urged the parties to amicably settle the case during its initial hearing.


He said arbitration is the best alternative than a full-blast hearing on the merit of the case. Amicable settlement gives both parties a win-win solution because arbitration is a prompt labor justice.


Heeding Dialogo’s advice, the parties on the succeeding hearing of the case submitted their joint motion to dismiss the case on the ground that the complainant already received the full amount of settlement of his claims against the respondent in the amount of US$ 146,000.00 or P 7.4 million.


Dialogo expressed happiness that the case was amicably settled. You can say that an AVA is effective in his role if he is able to convince the parties to settle their dispute peacefully and amicably.


In support of the joint motion to dismiss, the parties submitted the following documents: release of all rights; pagpapaubaya ng lahat ng karapatan; affidavit of claimant; and receipt of payment, which were accepted and approved by Dialogo.


The dispositive portion of Dialogo’s order reads: “Wherefore, with the foregoing consideratios, the joint Motion to dismiss with prejudice is hereby granted and the release documents submitted hereby approved. Further, finding the amicable settlement to be not contrary to law, publicy policy, and good customs, the same is hereby granted. Consequently, let this case be considered closed, terminated and fully satisfied.”


Complainant Geronimo was represented by his counsel, Atty. Justiniano B. Panambo Jr., and Atty. Meighan E. Sembrano who represented the respondent.


AVAs of the NCMB are composed of retired justice, Regional Trial court judges and practicing lawyers with five years experience in labor-management relations.


In the Bicol region, AVAs include lawyers Milagros Ramin-Francia (Naga City), Leo Arnel M. Caayao (Iriga City), Julio A. Arcilla (Buhi, Camarines Sur), and Armand A. Duran (Legazpi City).


Dialogo is the only labor leader and non-lawyer among these AVAs.


Dialogo, who is already 86 years old, said the Office of the Arbitrator is considered as an honorable office. Once conferred upon private citizen by mutual agreement of the parties or by direct appointment of an administrative agency, it becomes an office of public trust and responsibility.