As the saga of the “Unholy Alliance” (TNM November – December 2010) and “The Lawyer Who Raised a Seafarer from the Dead” (TNM March-April 2012) slowly unfolds, the maritime world watches in anticipation. The questions are now slowly being answered; the problems are starting to have solutions and the perpetrators and accessories are now nearly pinned down.
Without the efforts of people who dedicatedly pursue legal means, the Filipino seafarers might be generalized and stereotyped by the foreign shipowners as mobs and syndicates, which can affect the job market, shifting the economicconcentration from us to our neighbors. Efforts made have erased the perpetuating system of corruption in the maritime industry.
In 2010, Miguel Angel V. Rocha, vice president of CF Sharp Crew Management, one of the largest manning companies in the Philippines, shook the maritime industry when he revealed the dirty tricks being played by some lawyers and arbiters with seafarers on the front line.
Rocha shared a letter from a dismayed principal who was alarmed at the rate of seafarers using every possible opportunity to be granted permanent disability.
In the letter, the principalsaid they know for a fact thatthose seafarers who chose togo in that unfortunate directionwere coerced by their lawyerswho would eventually collect agood part of the compensation.
The story deepens when itwas discovered that the culture ofcorruption extends at the NLRC(National Labor Relations Commission),a quasi-judicial agencyattached to the Department ofLabor and Employment (DOLE).The NLRC which is mandated tomake formal judicial decisions onmanagement disputes involvingboth local and overseas workers,appear to be biased in favor ofseafarers mindlessly granting “totalpermanent disability” in eachand every case without checkingthe facts behind their cases.
One of the hallmark casespublished by TNM was the OblenaCase (TNM March- April 2012) entitled“The Lawyer Who Raised aSeafarer from the Dead” which isabout a lawyer who used a computer,a printer and several piecesof paper in bringing back a Filipinoseafarer from the dead. Atty. De laCruz abused his knowledge in law,technicality of proceedings and legalresources to forcefully substituteOblena’s wife to be able to getthe permanent disability claim. Thiscase is reportedly elevated at theCourt of Appeals.
Capt ReynaldoCasareo, presidentof CargoSafeway, has dedicatedlycontinuedin pursuing andinvestigating theanomalies hurtinghis own crewsbecause they areonly receiving theamount which isless than entitled tothem. Capt. Casareocited an exampleof a chief cookwho was rewardedPhp3.4 million but only receivedPhp900,000. Anotherone wasbosunEumendawho was awardedPhp5.2 millionbut only receivedPhp1.8 million.
CaptCasareoand their legalcounsel Atty. Balbin have presentedwith the P&I Representatives of Japan,who visited the Philippines inMarch 2012, the cases that are alreadysettled and near to be settled.
In an exclusive interview withCapt. Casereo by Tinig Ng Marinohe said, “We are now applying allthe legal steps and investigationsregarding the reported anomaliesto know who these culprits are andto formulate legal and justa c t i o n s against them.We have to end this for the benefit of all Filipinoseafarers so thatthe mari- t i m eindustry will n o tbe threatened.Thef e ww h oh a v ea l -l o w e dthemselves to beused should not affect theentire Filipino seafarers.”
The counsel presented theconnivance of a seafarer and the“Runners or Ambulant” chasinglawyers who are frequently inducingseafarers to file PermanentDisability Cases against their manningagents with the promise of receivingmillions of pesos. One ofthe several cases presented wasthe Munar Case. In a documentedinterview, he revealed that he wasapproached by the runner of Atty.Rebene Carrera and was madeto sign a contract for legalservices on July 26, 2011.He was told to file PermanentDisability Caseamounting to $20,900.
“The lawyers areusing this opportunityto use Filipino seafarers to feed their pocketsbecause for everyinjury and rankingor position ofthe seafarer, itamounts to hundredsof thousands and millions of pesos.
The investigation led to thediscovery of a leaked informationwhich revealed that on July 28,2010, the wife of a seafarer of CargoSafeway received a call from“Anna,” wife of Atty. Carrera whoproposed their filing of legal caseagainst Cargo Safeway and owners.The wife of the seafarer haslearned that the private informationwas being leaked by PANDIPHIL.
It was also learned that PANDIPHILhas been silently pressuringthe doctors to exaggeratetheir findings to prolong their treatments to the seafarers by delayingtheir collections. Mr. HPE (notreal name) was diagnosed of havingType I diabetes milletus andattended routine checkups at St.Lukes Hospital – Quezon City. Theinformation about the doctor’s feeamounting to Php1.7 million wasgiven to PANDIPHIL on November9, 2009 but was only approved byDel Rosario and Del Rosario onFebruary 16, 2012 after receiving ademand letter on February 3, 2012.“This amount of Php 1,705,000.00covers only doctor’s professionalfee, wala pa ditoang hospital fee atlaboratory fee. Dine-delay nilaangpag-approve ng findings ngmgadoktor”, added by Capt. Casareo.
Del Rosario Pandiphil is theparalegal affiliate of Del Rosario& Del Rosario Law Offices, whichfor more than three decades, hasbeen in the shipping and transportlaw practice in the Philippines. Itis a local correspondent of variousP&I Clubs and handling casesof seafarers where they areenrolled. Del Rosario Pandiphilwas established primarily to servethe needs of Protection & Indemnity(P&I) insurers and shipownersin handling insurance claimsof crews. It has expanded its expertiseto handle various marinerelatedclaims including surveys,protection, cargo, Hull & Machineryand other commercial matters.
It was discovered that PANDIPHILhas been using their influence in insurance transactions toAn unholy Alliance (Part 2)extend the treatment of the seafarers and reinforce their illnessas work related injury. Ex-OS AllanTabuerna (not real name) wasasked to report to his attendingphysician for 18 times for a periodof 295 days even though his evaluation and grade were already done.“They (Pandiphil) have been askingtheir client-seafarers to report totheir doctor as frequently as possiblekasipag beyond 240 days, nagigingconsidered na as PermanentDisability, which will give them higheramount,” Capt. Casareo.said.
In the Marasigan case it was shown that PANDIPHIL has forcefullyinserted “Grade 6 disability”even when the illness was already certified as non-work related.
PANDIPHIL settled the casefiled by the same seafarer withthe same lawyer for the several disability claims for different manningagencies. On October 25,2005, C. Philip Sarmiento filed acase of disability after barely twomonths on board. It was also reportedthat Sarmiento made anothersettlement with another manningagency for the same disability.Capt. Casareo filed a complaint toPANDIPHIL to stop his treatmentby NGC (P&I accredited clinic)but to his surprise, he was told tocontinue. Capt. Casareo did notagree, for he believed that Sarmiento’sclaim was bogus. He pursued the case through PANDIPHILlawyer, Atty. Florencio Aquino untilthe case was dismissed on March 31, 2006 with finality becausethe complainant did not appear.
The alleged lawyers who connivedand initiated the dirty transactionsare now facing disbarmentcase before the Supreme Court.
The P&I Representatives ofJapan have expressed their gratitudeafter receiving the reports attended FROM PAGE 39 by Capt. Casareo and Atty. Balbin.
The cases mentioned arenow officially filed in a Philippine trial court which is expected to befavorable and just for both parties.
The exposé by TINIG NG MARINO regarding Unholy Alliancehas helped to correct the unacceptablesystem and transactions in themaritime industry. This has affectedthe image of the entire Filipinomaritime community. The job markethas been jeopardized as foreignshipowners might go to China, Indonesia, Malaysia or Bangladeshfor their manning requirements.The culprit must have earned andenjoyed millions of pesos but itwon’t be long that these wouldbe converted to criminal liability.
The initiative and efforts byPhilippine maritime associationshave given us the chance to compensatethe damage it has producedand to restore the integrityand respect among the Filipino seafarers.It should not affect the majoritywho bring positive avenues of respectunlike these unholy alliances.