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SC ruling: Legal wife, all kids can get benefits of deceased seafarer

SC ruling: Legal wife, all kids can get benefits of deceased seafarer
July 3, 2024

The Supreme Court (SC) has declared that the benefits of a deceased seafarer can only be received by his legitimate wife and his children including those who are illegitimate.

“Faced with the uncommon question of who between the long estranged legal spouse and the subsequent spouse by a bigamous marriage may claim rights to the compensation and benefits for a seafarer’s death, the Court finds, pursuant to the relevant POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) rules and their cross-reference to the rules on succession, that only the surviving legitimate spouse may receive the proceeds of the death benefits alongside the deceased spouse’s children from both marriages,” ruled the SC Third Division that was penned by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and promulgated last April 3.

The case concerns deceased seafarer Pedrito Macalinao who died in 2015 aboard the vessel of Excel Marine Co. Ltd./Fair Shipping Corporation and left behind death benefits amounting to P4,506,309.52.

Pedrito married Cerena Negapatan Macalinao in 1981 and had a daughter with her named Cindy.

However, the couple separated in 1990 and Padrito married Elenita Macalinao with whom he had two children, Kenneth and Kristel.

Cerena later married in 1992.

The SC said “the benefits for the death of a seafarer cannot be awarded to a spouse with whom he has shared 25 years of his life, but whose union is illegal in the eyes of the law; and that said benefits instead belong to the legal spouse and the three children who survive him who, regardless of the marital circumstances they were born into, are unqualifiedly entitled to the benefit provided by law for their unquantifiable loss of a father.”

With this, the high court modified the previous rulings of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Court of Appeals (CA) to award from the benefits of the seafarer P1,126,577.39 to Cerena and P2,253,154.76 to their daughter Cindy.

The SC said Kenneth and Kristel will also receive P563,288.69 each.