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G.R. No. L-16600

December 27, 1961

Santiago Fabrigar had been employed as a janitor-messenger of the respondent Iloilo Chinese
Commercial School. His work includes sweeping and scrubbing the floors, cleaning the classrooms
and the school premises, and other janitorial chores. On March 11, 1956, in preparation for the
graduation, he carried desks and chairs from the classroom to the auditorium, set curtains and worked
harder and faster than usual. Although he felt shortness of breath and did not feel well, he continued
working. On March 13, he spat blood and stopped working. From April 29 to May 15, 1956, he
received treatment for far advanced pulmonary tuberculosis and for heart disease from Dr. Quirico
Villareal. On June 28, 1956, Santiago Fabrigar died of beriberi adult.
His common-law wife, Leonora Fabrigar with his heirs filed claim for compensation with the
Workmens Compensation Commission wherein it was alleged that the cause of death was
pulmonary tuberculosis contracted during and as a result of his employment as janitor. The hearing
officer denied the claim and dismissed the case. He concluded that there was no causal connection
between the cause of death and the said employment. The decision was appealed. The Workmens
compensation Commission concluded that he had been suffering from such disease and his
employment as a janitor aggravated his pre-existing illness. And although there was a discrepancy
between the cause of death beriberi adult and the testimony of Dr. Villareal, the latter was given
credence. The commission ordered Chinese Commercial School, Inc. to pay the claimant. The
decision was appealed. Petitioner contended that the Commission erred in finding that the cause of
death was tuberculosis and as a result of his employment; holding that the petitioner was the employer
of the deceased.
Whether there is an employee-employer relationship when the former is employed and paid by its
Board of Directors that would warrant the heirs of the deceased employer compensation under
Workmens compensation law?
Yes. There was an employee-employer relationship between the respondent school and the deceased.
Although it is true that the Board of Directors, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce was the one who
pays for the janitorial service of the school, it was still the latter who exercised supervision and
control over the performance of the deceased. And the court held that power to control employees
conduct is the most important test of employer-employee relation. The decision appealed from was