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G.R. No.

165546 February 27, 2006

!. AGUAS, re're(e#)e$ by *er Le+a, Guar$&a#, ROSANNA !. AGUAS
Pablo Aguas, a member of the Social Security System (SSS) and a pensioner, died on December 8,
1!. Pablo"s surviving spouse, #osanna $. Aguas, filed a claim %ith the SSS for death benefits on
December 1&, 1!. #osanna indicated in her claim that Pablo %as li'e%ise survived by his minor
child, (eylnn, %ho %as born on )ctober *, 11. $er claim for monthly pension %as settled on
+ebruary 1&, 1,. $o%ever, Pablo"s sister contested #osanna"s claim alleging that #osanna
abandoned the family abode more than si- years before Pablo"s death and lived %ith another man,
#omeo. She also presented a marriage certificate bet%een #omeo and #osanna sho%ing that the
t%o %ere married in 1.. As a result, the SSS suspended the payment of #osanna and (eylnn"s
monthly pension. SSS denied #osanna"s re/uest to resume the payment of their pensions. She %as
advised to refund to the SSS %ithin &. days the amount of P1.,&0. representing the total death
benefits released to her and (enelyn from December 1! to August 1, at P1,10.... per month.
1he SS2 ruled that #osanna %as no longer /ualified as primary beneficiary, it appearing that she
had contracted marriage %ith #omeo dela Pe3a during the subsistence of her marriage to Pablo.
1he SS2 concluded that #osanna %as no longer entitled to support from Pablo prior to his death
because of her act of adultery. As for (eylnn, the SS2 ruled that, even if her birth certificate %as
signed by Pablo as her father, there %as more compelling evidence that (eylnn %as not his
legitimate child. 1he SS2 deduced from the records that (eylnn %as the daughter of #osanna and
#omeo dela Pe3a. )n appeal, the 2A reversed the decision of the SSS. 1he 2A relied on the birth
certificate of (eylnn sho%ing that she %as the child of the deceased. According to the appellate
court, for 4udicial purposes, this record %as binding upon the parties, including the SSS. 1he entries
made in public documents may only be challenged through adversarial proceedings in courts of la%,
and may not be altered by mere testimonies of %itnesses to the contrary. As for #osanna, the 2A
found no evidence to sho% that she ceased to receive support from Pablo before he died. #osanna"s
alleged affair %ith #omeo dela Pe3a %as not properly proven. 5n any case, even if #osanna married
#omeo dela Pe3a during her marriage to Pablo, the same %ould have been a void marriage6 it
%ould not have ipso facto made her not dependent for support upon Pablo and negate the
presumption that, as the surviving spouse, she is entitled to support from her husband.
:;< #osanna and (eylnn are entitled to the SSS death benefits accruing from the death of Pablo
)nly the child, (eylnn, is entitled to the SSS death benefits accruing from the death of Pablo.
(eylnn"s claim is 4ustified by the photocopy of her birth certificate %hich bears the signature of Pablo.
Petitioner %as able to authenticate the certification from the 2ivil #egistry sho%ing that she %as born
on )ctober *, 11. 1he records also sho% that #osanna and Pablo %ere married on December >,
1,, and the marriage subsisted until the latter"s death on December 8, 1!. 5t is therefore evident
that (eylnn %as born during #osanna and Pablo"s marriage.
5t bears stressing that under Article 1!> of the +amily 2ode, children conceived or born during the
marriage of the parents are legitimate.
)n the claims of #osanna, it bears stressing that for her to /ualify as a primary beneficiary, she must
prove that she %as ?the legitimate spouse dependent for support from the employee.? 1he claimant@
spouse must therefore establish ).o /ua,&0y&#+ 0a1)or(9 (1) that she is the legitimate spouse, and
(*) that she is dependent upon the member for support. 5n this case, #osanna presented proof to
sho% that she is the legitimate spouse of Pablo, that is, a copy of their marriage certificate %hich
%as verified %ith the civil register by petitioner. Aut %hether or not #osanna has sufficiently
established that she %as still dependent on Pablo at the time of his death remains to be resolved.
5ndeed, a husband and %ife are obliged to support each other, but .*e)*er o#e &( a1)ua,,y
$e'e#$e#) 0or (u''or) u'o# )*e o)*er &( (o%e)*&#+ )*a) *a( )o be (*o.#2 &) 1a##o) be
're(u%e$ 0ro% )*e 0a1) o0 %arr&a+e a,o#e.
T*e ob3&ou( 1o#1,u(&o# )*e# &( )*a) a .&0e .*o &( a,rea$y (e'ara)e$ $e 0a1)o 0ro% *er
*u(ba#$ 1a##o) be (a&$ )o be 4$e'e#$e#) 0or (u''or)4 u'o# )*e *u(ba#$, absent any sho%ing
to the contrary. 2onversely, if it is proved that the husband and %ife %ere still living together at the
time of his death, it %ould be safe to presume that she %as dependent on the husband for support,
unless it is sho%n that she is capable of providing for herself.
+inally, .*&,e Ro(a##a .a( )*e ,e+&)&%a)e .&0e o0 5ab,o, (*e &( ,&6e.&(e #o) /ua,&0&e$ a( a
'r&%ary be#e0&1&ary (&#1e (*e 0a&,e$ )o 're(e#) a#y 'roo0 )o (*o. )*a) a) )*e )&%e o0 *&( $ea)*,
(*e .a( ()&,, $e'e#$e#) o# *&% 0or (u''or) e3e# &0 )*ey .ere a,rea$y ,&3&#+ (e'ara)e,y.
Dependents and primary beneficiaries of an SSS member defined9
Dependent. B T*e ,e+&)&%a)e, ,e+&)&%a)e$, or ,e+a,,y a$o')e$ 1*&,$ .*o &( u#%arr&e$, not
gainfully employed, and not over t%enty@one years of age provided that he is congenitally
incapacitated and incapable of self@support physically or mentally6 )*e ,e+&)&%a)e ('ou(e
$e'e#$e#) 0or (u''or) u'o# )*e e%',oyee6 and the legitimate parents %holly dependent upon the
covered employee for regular support.
Aeneficiaries. B 1he dependent spouse until he remarries and dependent children, %ho shall be the
primary beneficiaries. 5n their absence, the dependent parents and, sub4ect to the restrictions
imposed on dependent children, the legitimate descendants and illegitimate children %ho shall be
the secondary beneficiaries. 5n the absence of any of the foregoing, any other person designated by
the covered employee as secondary beneficiary.