ECC recognizes parental duties of separated partners as basis for EC claims

Employees’ Compensation Commission’s Executive Director Stella Z. Banawis yesterday reported to Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz that the ECC has recently ruled in favor of a deceased member who has been exercising his parental duties over his children from a former marriage before he met his death in an accident on his way to work.

At dawn of 8 April last year, 40-year old Mindanao Trucking Corporation’stank truck driver Jeremias D. Joven left his former residence in Talisay, Gingoog City, to report for work in Cagayan de Oro City after visiting his children from his first marriage.

At around 7:30 in the morning, Joven’s vehicle collided with another vehicle at National Highway Zone 2, Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City. He died due to severe head injuries.

The victim’s common-law wife, Rochelle V. Cabanada, filed an Employees’ Compensation (EC) claim for death benefits at the Cagayan de Oro Branch of the Social Security System, but her claim was denied because the documents she submitted stated that the residence of Joven is in Magting, Mambajao, Camiguin, yet he came from Gingoog City at the time of the fatal accident.

Cabanada sought reconsideration of her EC claim. But the SSS sustained the denial because Joven did not come from his residence in Camiguin, where his live-in partner lives, but from his previous residence in Gingoog City when he met the fatal accident.

On appeal, the ECC ruled partial reversal of the SSS decision. According to the ECC, Joven’s act of continuously visiting his children at Talisay, Gingoog City cannot be considered a diversion from his usual route.

“While the deceased had maintained an illicit relationship with the appellant, as the father of the children by his legal wife, the deceased was just complying with his obligations as a father to them. His act of visiting his children in Talisay, Gingoog City from time to time to see their conditions, to give support, financially or otherwise, or just to exercise parental authority over them, cannot be denied to him. Nor it should be considered a fault to prejudice the right of his beneficiaries under the law,” the ECC said.

Furthermore, the SSS claimed residence of the deceased in Mambajao, Camiguin cannot be considered a residence both in fact and in law as it is a place maintained by relationship which is not recognized under Philippine law, and there is nothing from the records of the case that would show that deceased marriage with his first wife had been legally dissolved.

However, appellant Cabanada is not considered as a qualified beneficiary under the law and thus, cannot file or receive benefits under the Presidential Decree No. 626. The ECC decision ordered the SSS to determine Joven’s qualified beneficiaries under PD 626.

Nevertheless, the funeral expenses Cabanada has paid for Joven’s wake can be enforced in a proper proceeding as a claim against the estate of the deceased.

“Injuries or death of workers in the course of their performance of duties truly disheartens us, that is why we study cases like these meticulously so that, as much as possible, we can give our members, or their qualified dependents, the right and sufficient amount of benefits under the law,” Executive Director Banawis said.

End/rhev

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