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Persons Case Digest: SSS v. Aguas G.R. No. 165546 February 27, 2006

G.R. No. 165546  February 27, 2006.

Ø  Pablo Aguas, a member and pensioner of the SSS died.
Ø  Pablo’s surviving spouse, Rosanna H. Aguas, filed a claim with the SSS for death benefits on indicating in her claim that Pablo was survived by his minor child, Jeylnn
Ø  Her claim for monthly pension was settled.
Ø  SSS received a sworn from Leticia Aguas-Macapinlac, Pablo’s sister, contesting Rosanna’s claim for death benefits. She alleged that Rosanna abandoned the family abode approximately more than 6 years before, and lived with another man on whom she has been dependent for support. She further averred that Pablo had no legal children with Rosanna.
Ø  The SSC ruled that Rosanna was no longer qualified as primary beneficiary.
Ø  CA reversed the SSC deicision and favored the respondents.

W/N Rosanna, Jeylnn and Janet are entitled to the SSS death benefits accruing from the death of Pablo
Ø  It bears stressing that under Article 164 of the Family Code, children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate.
Ø  Jeylnn’s claim is justified by the photocopy of her birth certificate which bears the signature of Pablo. Petitioner was able to authenticate the certification from the Civil Registry showing that she was born on October 29, 1991. The records also show that Rosanna and Pablo were married on December 4, 1977 and the marriage subsisted until the latter’s death on December 8, 1996. It is therefore evident that Jeylnn was born during Rosanna and Pablo’s marriage.
Ø  Impugning the legitimacy of a child is a strictly personal right of the husband or, in exceptional cases, his heirs. In this case, there is no showing that Pablo challenged the legitimacy of Jeylnn during his lifetime.
Ø  The presumption that Jeylnn is a legitimate child is buttressed by her birth certificate bearing Pablo’s signature, which was verified from his specimen signature on file with petitioner. A birth certificate signed by the father is a competent evidence of paternity.
Ø  For  Rosanna, to qualify as a primary beneficiary, she must establish 2 qualifying factors: (1) that she is the legitimate spouse, and (2) that she is dependent upon the member for support.
Ø  A wife who is already separated de facto from her husband cannot be said to be "dependent for support" upon the husband, absent any showing to the contrary. If it is proved that the were  till living together at the time of his death, it is presumed that she was dependent on the husband for support, unless it is shown that she is capable of providing for herself.
Ø  Only Jeylnn is entitled to the SSS death benefits as it was established that she is his legitimate child. Records show that Janet was merely "adopted" by the spouses, but there are no legal papers to prove it. Rosanna was the legitimate wife of Pablo, she is likewise not qualified as a primary beneficiary since she failed to present any proof to show that at the time of his death, she was still dependent on him for support even if they were already living separately. NOTE: Legitimacy cannot be extended to other siblings.