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106 Phil. 525

[ G.R. No. L-10362, November 27, 1959 ]




The  respondents  Estelita, Teresita, Norma and Ramon, all minors surnamed Dayao, are children of the deceased Antonio Dayao who from 1949 up to his death on 28 July 1952  was  a  laborer-carpenter  of the  petitioner  Luzon Brokerage Company, Inc.  The respondents children claim compensation  against the Company for the death of their father.

 At 8:00 o'clock in the morning of 28 July 1952 Antonio Dayao  together with  nine other  laborers of the Luzon Brokerage Company, Inc. rode  on the  firm's truck proceeding to Paranaque, Rizal, to perform a company's work of moving the household effects of one Karning or Cummins  to  a  new residence,  about  200  meters from his former, on the same Street.  The  effects which the workmen moved down were refrigerator, electric range, freezer, beds,  tables  and  other furnitures.  A  mechanical lifter "was used to  load  them  on  the  truck.  The  household effects were brought to the new dwelling and were unloaded from the truck by the  lifter  and carried upstairs by Dayao and his companions.  During  the hauling of that day, Dayao appeared normal.  The  group proceeded to Plaza Militar,  Malate, Manila, where they ate their lunch.  Afterwards, Dayao took a nap.  At  12:55 o'clock p.m., as Epitacio  Aguirre,  the supervising foreman, was waking the laborers for the afternoon  work, he noticed several of his  men agog over Dayao who apparently  in deep  slumber suddenly stood up gasping for air and wanted to jump.  After having been examined by  a doctor who was called to render  immediate  aid, Dayao was taken  in a taxicab to the Philippine General Hospital, but before arrival he died.
 On 29 July 1952 the Luzon Brokerage Company,  Inc. filed with  the Workmen's Compensation Commission the employer's report  of  accident on Dayao's  death (Annex A).   Likewise  on 11  August 1952  the Dayao  children, assisted by Arsenio Mariano, a relative, filed  with the Commission a formal notice of injury and claim for compensation (Annex B).  The case was assigned to a  referee of the Workmen's  Compensation  Commission  who, after hearing, rendered an  opinion holding  untenable the claim of the surviving children,  on the ground that their father's death was not an accident arising out of and in the course of his  employment but due to natural causes (Annex C). After receipt  of a copy of the opinion on 16 February 1954, on 31 March 1954 the claimants filed with the Workmen's Compensation Commission a petition for review thereof (Annex G). On the last mentioned day, the referee forwarded  the  entire record  of the case to the Commissioner  (Annex H). On 13 April  the Company moved for the dismissal of the petition  for review, it having been filed out of time according to the  Company (Annex  I).   The  motion  to dismiss  the  petition  was denied, so  also  its motion for reconsideration  (Annex K), for the reason that it had  been filed "within the  extensions granted for the filing thereof."   (Annexes J and L.) The Company filed an answer and objection  to the petition for review (Annex M). On 18 February 1956 the Workman's Compensation Commissioner rendered a decision reversing  that of the referee and  awarding death compensation to the Dayao  children in the sum of P3,900 and the further sum of P200 for burial expenses?  He also ordered the respondent Company  to pay to the Commission P40 as fees  (Annex N).

From the Commissioner's decision, the respondent Company  has appealed.

The four errors assigned by the  Company raise  only two issues, namely: the petition for review of the referee's. opinion was filed out of time and the death of Dayao was caused not by  overexertion in the  hauling  work but  by a natural disease known among Filipinos as "bangungot." Hence the Company  argues no  compensation may  be granted.

The claimants  received a copy of the referee's decision on 16 February  1954.  Pursuant  to and under  section 3 of Rule 10 of the Rules of the  Workmen's Compensation Commission, which provides that
All  petitions for  review must be filed  within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of notice of any  referee's order or award of  the Commissioner unless further time is granted by the referee or  the Commissioner within said  fifteen days (Italics supplied).
the claimants could seek review of the referee's opinion until  3 March  1954.  On claimants' motion, the Commission extended the period to 17 March  (Annex E).   On 16  March or  one day  before  the expiration  date,  the claimants moved  for a second extension of time to file the petition for review  (Annex D); on 27 March  they filed a third motion for a  4-day extension or until  31  March (Annex F);  and finally, on 31 March 1954 the petition for review was filed (Annex  G).
 The petitioner Company claims that the petition  for review was out of time, it having been filed 44 days from the claimants'  receipt of the referee's  opinion.  It  contends that a  petition for review may be filed only within an extension of time which the referee or Commissioner must grant within the  original reglementary  period  of 15 days  and that the  referee  or  Commissioner has  no power  or jurisdiction to allow any extension beyond the said  15  days.  Under the  petitioner's theory,  only one extension can be  granted  and such  extension  must  be asked for and granted within the  original  15-day  period, i.e., if  the  15-day reglementary period is extended to  20 days and the first 15 days have already lapsed, no further extension could be granted  within  the  last  5 days.  This is an erroneous  interpretation  of section 3  of Rule 10 of the  Ruled  of the  Workmen's Compensation  Commission, because any additional period of time allowed or granted forms  part of the whole period within which  a petition for extension of time or for review  of the referee's opinion may be filed; it fails to take into  consideration the view that the workmen's compensation  law must be liberally. (Construed in favor of  the  laborer or  his  dependents to achieve its purpose;[1]  such interpretation  is too narrow and  impractical, for very often not only one or two but three or more extensions of time are necessary, depending upon many factors and grounds which the referee  or  the Commissioner in the exercise of his discretion  may consider valid and justifiable.  In the instant case, the ground for the second motion for  extension was the death of  the father of  the claimants' lawyer  in Palauan,  Occidental Mindoro, the attendance of said  counsel at the  funeral and  the  arrangement of family affairs  (Annex  D).  The reason for the  third  was  the  fact that counsel  himself was sick of  influenza,  duly supported by  a medical certificate.  These  motions were filed before the extended periods expired.  And according to the referee  and Commissioner the motions for extension were filed "within  the extensions  granted for the  filing thereof."   (Annex J.)
 That Antonio Dayao  died of heart  failure is not disputed.  The  point of controversy is:  what caused such  failure?  Was it as the petitioner Company claims a natural disease locally called "bangungot" where the victim dies in his sleep allegedly due to bad  dreams or nightmares?  If this be the cause then the death is not  compensable.   Or, was it as maintained by the respondents the overexertion or undue fatigue  their deceased father suffered in helping lift, carry and transfer from one place to another the heavy  household effects belonging to  Mr. Kerning or Cummins?  If this be the cause then the death is compensable.
 Two  medical  expert  witnesses testified.   Dr.  Angelo Singian,  assistant chief medical examiner of  the Manila Police Department, who autopsied the deceased, stated that the cause of the cardiac failure of Dayao was the strenuous work he  did before he died to which a fibrocaseous tuberculosis the late  Dayao had been  suffering for two years greatly contributed.  This is contradicted "by Dr.  Juan Z. Santa Cruz, a private practising physician, who, testifying for the petitioner  Company, stated that  Dayao  died of "bangungot." However,  both  agree that  the workman's death was  caused by the dilatation  of  the right ventricle the heart.
 There  are good and valid  grounds and reasons to sustain the conclusion  that Dayao's heart failure was  due to  physical  strain  or  overexertion  which  the deceased laborer underwent  in  the Company's hauling  work just before he died.
Although the enlightening points  that Dr. Santa Cruz brought out about the  dreaded  disease are worthy of note, still the inescapable conclusion  is that "bangungot" is still a theoretical disease whose  remote and immediate cause, pathology  and  cure  have  not  as  yet been  accurately determined and scientifically established and  confirmed.  Whether it is a natural phenomenon  that by itself  can destroy or snuff the life out of a human being is still a question to which medical science has yet  to give a more definite and conclusive answer.  That "bangungot"  is  still veiled in its own mystery is openly admitted by Dr.  Santa Cruz who, on the witness stand,  declared  that "until now,  the real cause of 'bangungot' is  not known and that its pathology cannot be found in any textbook on medicine." And the referee who  denied  death  compensation  to Dayao's surviving children  shares the  same view  when  in  his opinion he says partly that
On the other hand, the undersigned (the  referee)  is more inclined to believe that the opinion, of Dr. Juan Z. Sta.  Cruz as explained in detail  *  * *  to the effect that  the immediate cause of the acute cardiac failure was the "bangungot", a mysterious disease the  cure is which is undiscovered as yet. * * * And  since medical sciencehas not up to now discovered the main cause of "bangungot" *  * * the undersigned cannot in conscience attribute  the death of Antonio Dayao as directly due to the nature of his employment as laborer-carpenter.  (Italics supplied.)
On the other hand, the government  doctor who autopsied the demised laborer testified on  the witness stand that the cause of the heart failure of Dayao was  his excessive  exertion and  undue fatigue in hauling and moving from one place to another the heavy pieces of household effects  of Mr. Karning or Cummins; that the tuberculosis from which Dayao  was suffering for  about two years reduced his bodily resistance; and that  his lung condition contributed in no small degree to the  fatal aftermath of Dayao's. over-exertion and strain.  Upon the above categorical testimony of an expert witness based on facts  and not upon mere unconfirmed theories, there is little room for doubt that his death arose out  of  and in the course of  his employment.  Such  being  the case, the victim's surviving heirs, are entitled to receive death compensation from the company for which he was working as laborer-carpenter when  he died.

The decision under review is affirmed with costs against the petitioner.

Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J. B.  L.,  Endencia,  Barrera, and  Gutierrez David, concur.

[1] Malate Taxicab & Garage,  Inc.  vs. Del  Villar, G. R. No. L-7489, 29 February 1956.