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NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, LABOR ARBITER ARIEL C

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THIRD DIVISION
STOLT-NIELSEN MARINE SERVICES, INC.
(now STOLT-NIELSEN TRANSPORTATION
GROUP, INC.),
Petitioner,
- versus -
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION,
LABOR ARBITER ARIEL C. SANTOS, RICARDO
O. ATIENZA and RAMON ALPINO,
Respondents.
G.R. No. 147623
Present:
PANGANIBAN, J., Chairman
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES, and
GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated:
December 13, 2005
D E C I S I O N
GARCIA, J.:
Before the Court is this petition for review under Rule 45 seeking the reversal of the decision
[1]
dated March 29, 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 51046 and its Resolution dated March 2, 2001,
denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
The assailed decision affirmed the resolution
[2]
dated August 29, 1997 of the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) denying petitioner’s Urgent Motion to Reduce or be Exempted from Filing an Appeal Bond.
The factual background of the case may be stated, as follows:
In 1978, herein private respondent Ramon Alpino was employed as motorman by petitioner Stolt Nielsen
Marine Services, Inc., a corporation based in Connecticut, U.S.A., for the latters vessel “M/T Stolt Sincerity.”
Respondent’s employment with petitioner, albeit not continuous, lasted until 1984 when he was repatriated to the
Philippines after being diagnosed with Cardiac Enlargement, Pulmonary Hypertension and Acute Psychotic Reaction
and declared unfit for sea duty.
In early 1985, respondent filed a complaint before the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency (POEA),
docketed as POEA Case No. (M) 85-01-039, for recovery of sickness and disability benefits and claim for personal
belongings and underpayment of wages against petitioner. Petitioner offered to amicably settle the money claims of
respondent, which offer was accepted by respondent’s sister and attorney-in-fact Anita Alpino by virtue of a Special
Power of Attorney (SPA). Thus, on March 21, 1985, respondent, through his sister and attorney-in-fact, executed a
“Receipt and Release” whereby he acknowledged receipt of the sum of P130,000.00 representing disability benefits,
medical and hospitalization expenses, and damages. On the basis of said “Receipt and Release,” POEA dismissed
Case No. (M) 85-01-039.
In December 1987, another complaint against petitioner was lodged by respondent before the POEA for the
same causes of action (recovery of sickness and disability benefits and claim for personal belongings and
underpayment of wages). The case, docketed as POEA Case No. (M) 87-12-997, was dismissed by the POEA on
ground of res judicata.

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On March 14, 1989, respondent filed another complaint against petitioner, this time with the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) at Quezon City, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-2009, for the Annulment of the Receipt and Release. In
his complaint, respondent alleged that he was mentally incapacitated to execute the SPA in favor of his sister Anita
Alpino. In an Order dated July 16, 1993, the RTC dismissed Civil Case No. Q-89-2009 for insufficiency of evidence.
Therefrom, respondent went to the Court of Appeals which affirmed
[3]
the RTC’s judgment of dismissal. In time,
respondent moved for a reconsideration but his motion was denied by the appellate court.
[4]
Undaunted, on July 26, 1994, respondent filed a case against petitioner with the POEA for recovery of
sickness and disability benefits, allegedly arising from his sickness while under the latter’s employ. The case was
docketed as POEA Case No. (M) 94-07-2223.
By reason of the passage of Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas
Filipinos Act of 1995,
[5]
POEA Case No. (M) 94-07-2223 was transferred to the NCR-Arbitration Branch of the NLRC
and assigned to herein public respondent, Labor Arbiter Ariel Santos.
On May 6, 1997, Labor Arbiter Santos rendered a decision declaring “invalid and ineffectual” the SPA
executed by respondent in favor of his sister Anita and the subsequent Receipt and Release signed by the latter in
behalf of her brother. In resolving the case, Labor Arbiter Santos ratiocinated as follows:
The principal issue to be resolved is whether or not the special power of attorney executed by
[respondent] in favor of [his] sister and the subsequent Receipt and Release are valid documents to
forestall any claim by [respondent].
After a careful and judicious study of the respective pleadings and pieces of evidence
submitted by both parties, undersigned finds that the documents adverted and relied upon by
[petitioner] to negate [respondent’s] claim are shot with loopholes that would render it voidable and
unenforceable.
First, it is to be noted that [petitioner] did not controvert the merit of [respondent’s] claim for
sickness and disability benefits but relied mainly on the invalid Receipt and Release signed by
[respondent’s] sister as the basis for dismissing [respondent’s] claim.
A cursory look at the documents Receipt and Release and the Special Power of Attorney
marked as Annex “1” and Annex “2,” respectively, would readily indicate that they were prepared with
haste and haphazardly to render it valid and lawful. Both documents were prepared on the same day.
In fact, the Receipt and Release was not even executed under oath so that its due execution is put
under a cloud of doubt.
Secondly, even gratia argumenti that the documents adverted to are valid and were entered
into voluntarily, the consideration thereof is oppressive, unreasonable and unconscionable. It is a
public policy that where the consideration in a public document is disproportionately unconscionable
to the claims of [respondent] who was declared to be mentally unfit, the State should step in to protect
the rights of the aggrieved party and declare the same document to be invalid and without force and
effect.
Thirdly, the consideration of P130,000.00 paid by [petitioner] to [respondent’s] attorney-in-fact
corresponds only to [respondent’s] claim for lost luggages and should not extinguish [respondent’s]
right to claim for sickness and disability benefits as recognized under insurance health cover before
any seaman can board any foreign vessel.
[6]
The dispositive portion of Labor Arbiter Santos’ decision states:
WHEREFORE, finding the subject documents Annex “1” and Annex “2” of [petitioner’s]
Answer to be invalid and ineffectual, [petitioner] is hereby directed to pay [respondent’s] claim for
sickness and disability benefits.

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THIRD DIVISION? ? ? STOLT-NIELSEN MARINE SERVICES, INC. (now STOLT-NIELSEN TRANSPORTATION GROUP, INC.), ????????????????????????????????? Petitioner, ? ? ? - versus - ? ? ? NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, LABOR ARBITER ARIEL C. SANTOS, RICARDO O. ATIENZA and RAMON ALPINO, ????????????????????????????? Respondents. ? G.R. No. 147623 ? Present: ? ???? PANGANIBAN,?J.,?Chairman ???? SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, ???? CORONA, ???? CARPIO MORALES, and ???? GARCIA,?JJ. ? ? ? Promulgated: ? December 13, 2005 ?D E C I S I O N ? GARCIA,?J.: ? ? Before?? the?? Court? is? this? petition? for? review? under? Rule 45? seeking? the? reversal? of? the? decision[1]? dated? March 29, 2000 of? the?? Court?? of?? Appeals?? in?CA-G.R. No. 51046?and its Resolution dated March 2, 2001, denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration. The assailed decision affirmed the resolution[2]?dated August 29, 1997 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) denying petitioner's?Urgent Motion to Reduce or be Exempted from Filing an Appeal Bond. ? The factual background of the case may be stated, as follows: ? In 1978, herein private respondent Ramon Alpino was employed as motorman by petitioner Stolt Nielsen Marine Services, Inc., a corporation based in Connecticut, U.S.A., for the latter's vessel "M/T Stolt Sincerity." Respondent's employment with petitioner, albeit not continuous, lasted until 1984 when he was repatriated to the Philippines after being diagnosed with Cardiac Enlargement, Pulmonary Hypertens ...
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