(Question IX, Labor Law, 2018 Bar Exam)
Sgt. Nemesis was a detachment non-commissioned officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Nueva Ecija. He and some other members of his detachment sought permission from their Company Commander for an overnight pass to Nueva Vizcaya to settle some important matters. The Company Commander orally approved their request and allowed them to carry their firearms as the place they were going to was classified as a “critical place.” They arrived at the place past midnight; and as they were alighting from a tricycle, one of his companions accidentally dropped his rifle, which fired a single shot, and in the process hit Sgt. Nemesis fatally. The shooting was purely accidental. At the time of his death, he was still legally married to Nelda, but had been separated de facto from her for 17 years. For the last 15 years of his life, he was living in with Narda, with whom he has two minor children. Since Narda works as a kasambahay, the two children lived with their grandparents, who provided their daily support. Sgt. Nemesis and Narda only sent money to them every year to pay for their school tuition.
Nelda and Narda, both for themselves and the latter, also on behalf of her minor children, separately filed claims for compensation as a result of the death of Sgt. Nemesis. The Line of Duty Board of the AFP declared Sgt. Nemesis’ death to have been “in line of duty”, and recommended that all benefits due to Sgt. Nemesis be given to his dependents. However, the claims were denied by GSIS because Sgt. Nemesis was not in his workplace nor performing his duty as a soldier of the Philippine Army when he died.
(a) Are the dependents of Sgt. Nemesis entitled to compensation as a result of his death? (2.5%)
(b) As between Nelda and Narda, who should be entitled to the benefits? (2.5%)
(c) Are the minor children entitled to the benefits considering that they were not fully dependent on Sgt. Nemesis for support? (2.5%)
(a) As to Nelda, she is not entitled to compensation. While legally married to Sgt. Nemesis, she was not living with him, which is a requirement to make a successful claim.
As to the children with Narda, they are entitled to compensation. They qualify as dependents since they children of the decedent and are minors. Their status as illegitimate children is irrelevant.
(b) Neither Nelda and Narda is entitled to the benefits. While the legal spouse, Nelda is not entitled since she was not living with him, which is a requirement. On the other hand, Narda is not the legal spouse, which is a requirement in addition to cohabitation.
(c) Yes. That the minor children are not fully dependent on Sgt. Nemesis for support is irrelevant. To be entitled, they only need to prove that they are his children and that they are minors. Both these requirements are present in favor of the minor children.
(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)
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