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G.R. No.

173582 January 28, 2008

YOLANDA SIGNEY, petitioner, vs. SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, EDITHA


ESPINOSA-CASTILLO, and GINA SERVANO, representative of GINALYN and
RODELYN SIGNEY, respondents.

Facts:

Rodolfo Signey Jr. a member of the SSS, died on May 21, 2001. In his members
records, he had designated petitioner Yolanda Signey as primary beneficiary and his four
children with her as secondary beneficiaries. Petitioner filed a claim for death benefits
with the public respondent SSS. She revealed in her SSS claim that the deceased had a
common-law wife, Gina Servano, with whom he had two minor children. Petitioner's
declaration was confirmed when Gina herself filed a claim for the same death benefits
which she also declared that both she and petitioner were common-law wives of the
deceased and that Editha Espinosa was the legal wife. In addition, in October 2001,
Editha also filed an application for death benefits with the SSS stating that she was the
legal wife of the deceased. SSS denied the death benefit claim of the petitioner and
found that the marriage between the deceased and the petitioner is null and void
because of a prior subsisting marriage contracted between the deceased and Editha as
confirmed by the local civil registry of Cebu. However, it recognized Ginalyn and
Rodelyn, the minor children of the deceased with Gina, as the primary beneficiaries
under the SSS Law. Thereafter, petitioner filed a petition with the SSC in which she
attached a waiver of rights executed by Editha whereby the latter waived any/all claims
from Social Security System (SSS), among others due to the deceased RodolfoSigney
Sr. SSC affirmed the decision of the SSS. The SSC gave more weight to the SSS field
investigation and the confirmed certification of marriage showing that the deceased was
married to Editha, than to the aforestated declarations of Editha in her waiver of rights.

Issue:
Is the petitioner has a superior legal right over the SSS benefits as against the
illegitimate minor children of the deceased?

Law:
Section 8(e) and (k) of R.A. No. 8282 provides:

SEC. 8. Terms Defined.—For the purposes of this Act, the following terms shall, unless
the context indicates otherwise, have the following meanings:

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(e) Dependents — The dependent shall be the following:


(1) The legal spouse entitled by law to receive support from the member;
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2) The legitimate, legitimated, or legally adopted, and illegitimate child who is unmarried,
not gainfully employed and has not reached twenty-one years (21) of age, or if over
twenty-one (21) years of age, he is congenitally or while still a minor has been
permanently incapacitated and incapable of self-support, physically or mentally; and

3) The parent who is receiving regular support from the member.

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(k) Beneficiaries — The dependent spouse until he or she remarries, the dependent
legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted, and illegitimate children, who shall be the
primary beneficiaries of the member: Provided, That the dependent illegitimate children
shall be entitled to fifty percent (50%) of the share of the legitimate, legitimated or legally
adopted children: Provided, further, That in the absence of the dependent legitimate,
legitimated or legally adopted children of the member, his/her dependent illegitimate
children shall be entitled to one hundred percent (100%) of the benefits. In their
absence, the dependent parents who shall be the secondary beneficiaries of the
member. In the absence of all of the foregoing, any other person designated by the
member as his/her secondary beneficiary.

SEC. 13. Death Benefits. — Upon the death of a member who has paid at least thirty-six
(36) monthly contributions prior to the semester of death, his primary beneficiaries shall
be entitled to the monthly pension: Provided, That if he has no primary beneficiaries, his
secondary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit equivalent to thirty-six
(36) times the monthly pension. If he has not paid the required thirty-six (36) monthly
contributions, his primary or secondary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum
benefit equivalent to the monthly pension times the number of monthly contributions paid
to the SSS or twelve (12) times the monthly pension, whichever is higher.

Case History:
·0 The SSS, through a letter dated 4 December 2001,denied the death benefit claim
of petitioner.
·1 Thereafter, petitioner filed a petition with the SSC in which she attached a waiver
of rights.
·2 In a Resolution dated 29 January 2003, the SSC affirmed the decision of the
SSS.
·3 Petitioner appealed the judgment of the SSC to the Court of Appeals by filing a
Petition for Review
·4 The appellate court affirmed the decision of the SSC in its 31 March 2004
Decision.
·5 The Court of Appeals then denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner in a
Resolution..
·6 Petitioner filed before the Supreme Court a petition for review on certiorari.

Ruling:

The Court agreed with SSS, stating that the two minor children of the deceased with
Gina was entitled 100% of the benefits as provided by the SSS Law. The SSS Law was
clear in stating that for a minor child to qualify as a dependent entitled the benefit, the
only requirement was that the child must be below 21 years of age, not married nor
gainfully employed. Though Editha waived her claim for the rights to the claim of
benefits, it was not a strong ground for Yolanda's claim because she did not even try to
allege and prove any infirmity in the marriage between the deceased and Editha, after
having been proven that her marriage with Rodolfo was null and void. She was
disqualified because they did not have a legitimate child or children. Under the SSS Law,
it follows that the dependent illegitimate minor children of the deceased shall be entitled
the death benefits as the primary beneficiaries.

Opinion:
Yolanda must not have any claim with the SSS death benefits of the deceased since she
is not the legal wife. To allow the claim of common law wives, aside from the legal wife,
is to tolerate the infidelity of men. These would violate the exclusivity and the sanctity of
marriage. However, I would agree with the SSS Law in granting benefits as to the
illegitimate children since these children has nothing to do with the acts of their parents.
They must be given the same rights as with the legitimate ones because they also
deserve the benefit from their parents. It is not their fault to become an illegitimate.