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Dycaico vs. SSS, G.R. No.

161357, June 6, 2006


SEPTEMBER 19, 2018

FACTS:
Elena Dycaico seeks to reverse the Decision of the Court of Appeals that affirmed the
decision of Social Security Commission denying her claim for survivor’s pension which
accrues from the death of her husband, Bonifacio Dycaico.
Bonifacio Dycaico became a member of SSS and designated Elena Dycaico and their
eight children as beneficiaries therein. At that time, Bonifacio and Elena lived together
as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage.
Nine years after, Bonifacio was considered retired and began receiving his monthly
pension from the SSS. He continued to receive the monthly pension until he passed
away. A few months prior to his death, however, Bonifacio married the petitioner
Shortly after Bonifacio’s death, the petitioner filed with the SSS an application for
survivor’s pension. Her application, however, was denied on the ground that they were
not living under the benefit of marriage when Bonifacio became a member of SSS. The
basis was Section 12-B(d) of Republic Act (Rep. Act) No. 8282 which reads:
Sec. 12-B. Retirement Benefits. –
(d) Upon the death of the retired member, his primary beneficiaries as of the date of his
retirement shall be entitled to receive the monthly pension.
An appeal was made to the Court of Appeals but it was, likewise, denied. The same
Court ruled that that since the petitioner was merely the common-law wife of Bonifacio
at the time of his retirement, his designation of the petitioner as one of his beneficiaries
is void.
The petitioner claims that there is no merit to the decision of Court of Appeals as the
SSS law does is silent denying the beneficiary’s claim for survivor pension.
ISSUE:
Is there a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution? — YES.
RATIO:
The Court holds that the proviso “as of the date of his retirement” in Section 12-B(d) of
Rep. Act No. 8282, which qualifies the term “primary beneficiaries,” is unconstitutional
for it violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.
The proviso “as of the date of his retirement” which qualifies the term “primary
beneficiaries” results in the classification of dependent spouses as primary beneficiaries
into two groups: (1) those dependent spouses who were married with the SSS member
prior to the latter’s retirement; and those whose marriages were contracted after the
member’s retirement. The petitioner belongs to the second group and as such, she and
those similarly situated are undoubtedly discriminated against as the said proviso
disqualifies them from being considered as “primary beneficiaries” for the purpose of
entitlement to survivor’s pension.
If the said provision will be sustained, there will be an outright confiscation of benefits
due to the surviving spouse without giving her opportunity to be heard. There is,
therefore, a violation of due process.
There is also a violation of equal protection of the Constitution.
A statute, to be valid and reasonable, must satisfy the following requirements: must
satisfy the following requirements: (1) it must rest on substantial distinctions; (2) it
must be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) it must not be limited to existing
conditions only; and (4) it must apply equally to all members of the same class.
In the case of RA 8282, the concern is concededly valid since it intens to prevent sham
marriages just for the purpose of enabling one spouse to claim benefits upon the
anticipated death of the other spouse. However, the classification based on the date of
the marriage, i.e. whether before or after the retirement, bears no relation to the
achievement of the policy objective of the law, i.e., provide meaningful protection to
members and their beneficiaries against the hazard of disability, sickness, maternity,
old age, death and other contingencies resulting in loss of income or financial burden.
The nexus of the classification is vague and flimsy, not germane to the purpose of the
law. If it were the intention of Congress, to prevent sham marriages, in contemplation of
imminent death, then it should have prescribed a definite “duration-of-relationship” or
durational period of relationship as one of the requirements for entitlement to
survivor’s pension. RA No. 8282 unfairly lumps all marriages contracted after member’s
retirement as sham relationships or were contracted solely for the purpose of acquiring
benefits upon the death of the other spouse.
Classifying dependent spouses and determining their entitlement to survivor’s pension
based on whether the marriage was contracted before or after the retirement of the
other spouse bears no relation to the achievement of the policy objective of the law.
Indeed, the SC does not find substantial distinction between spouses whose assignment
as a beneficiary was made after the marriage and spouses whose assignment as a
beneficiary was made before the marriage. The statute violates equal protection clause
when it grants surviving pensions only to the spouses belonging to the former case and
not to than the latter.
There is also a violation of the due process clause.
The pronouncement that retirees enjoy a protected property interest in their
retirement benefits applies squarely to those in the private sector under RA No. 8282
since the mandatory contributions of both the employers and employees to the SSS do
not likewise make the retirement benfits under RA No. 8282 mere gratuity but form
part of the latter’s compensation. Under Ra. No. 8282, the surviving spouse is entitled to
survivor’s pension accruing on the death of the member; hence the surviving spouse’s
right to receive such benefit following the demise of the wife or the husband, as the case
may be, is also part of the latter’s contractual compensation.
Section 12-B9d) runs afoul of the due process clause as it outrightly deprives the
surviving spouses whose respective marriages to the retired SSS members were
contracted after the latter’s retirement of their survivor’s benefits. There is outright
confiscation of benefits due such surving spouses without giving them an opportunity
to be heard. The proviso created the conclusive presumption that all marriages after the
retirement of the SSS member are sham or are for the purpose of acquiring benefits.
This is unconstitutional because it presumes a fact which is not necessarily or
universally true (irrebuttable presumption). In the case at bar, the claim of the
petitioner is quite believable since they had been living together since 1980 and during
their marriage in 1997, their eledest son was already 24 years old. However, she was
not given an opportunity to prove her claim that she was Bonifacio’s bina fide legal
spuse as she was automatically disqualified from being considered as his primary
beneficiary. Standards of due process require that the petitioner be allowed to present
evidence to prove that her marriagr to Bonifacio was contracted in good faith and thus,
entitled to the survivor’s pension. Thus, Section 12-B(d) must be struck down.

Cena v CSC
G.R. No. 97419 July 3, 1992

Facts: Petitioner Gaudencio Cena entered the government service as Legal Officer of the
Law Department of Caloocan City where he stayed for 7 years until his transfer to the
Office of the Congressman where he worked for only 3 months as Supervising Staff
Officer until February 1987. On July 1987, he was appointed as the Registrar of the
Register of Deeds of Malabon, Metro Manila. He held such position until he reached the
compulsory retirement age of 65 years. Before reaching his birthday, he requested the
Secretary of Justice, through the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority
(LRA), for an extension of his service to complete the 15-year service requirement to
enable him to retire with full benefits of old-age pension under Sec. 11, par (b) of P.D.
1146, otherwise known as the “Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977.”

The LRA Administrator sought a ruling from the Civil Service Commission whether or
not to allow the extension of service of petitioner. The CSC denied petitioner’s request
for extension of service. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration to
which the CSC set aside its first resolution and allowed petitioner a 1 year extension of
his service, citing CSC Memorandum Circular No. 27, series of 1990. Petitioner’s second
motion for reconsideration was denied. Thus, this instant petition for review.

Issue: Whether or not a government employee who has reached the compulsory
retirement age of 65 years, but who has rendered 11 yrs, 9 mos, and 6 days of
government service, be allowed to continue in the service to complete the 15-year
service requirement to enable him to retire with the benefits of an old-age pension
under Section 11 par b. of the Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977

Held: Yes. Sec. 11 par (b) of the Revised Government Insurance Act of 1977 expressly
provides –
Sec. 11.Conditions for Old-Age Pension. – (a) Old-age pension shall be paid to a member
who:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) Unless the service is extended by appropriate authorities, retirement shall be
compulsory for an employee of 65 years of age with at least 15 years of service:
Provided, that if he has less than 15 years of service, he shall be allowed to continue in
the service to complete the 15 years.

Being remedial in character, a statute creating a pension or establishing a retirement


plan should be liberally construed and administered in favor of the persons intended to
be benefited thereby in order that the efficiency, security, and well-being of government
employees may be enhanced.

The SC has applied the liberal approach in cases involving officials of the Judiciary who
lacked the age and service requirement for retirement. It sees no reason to rule
otherwise in the case of ordinary employees of the executive branch.

The Civil Service Commission merely relied on CSC Memorandum Circular No. 27, series
of 1990 which reads:
1. Any request for the extension of service of compulsory retirees to complete the
15-year service requirement for the retirement shall be allowed only to
permanent appointees in the career service who are regular members of the
Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and shall be granted for a period
not exceeding 1 year.

By limiting the extension of service to only 1 year would defeat the beneficial
intendment of the retirement provisions of P.D. 1146.

In resolving the issue, there must be present an essential factor before an application
under Sec. 11 par. (b) of P.D. 1146 may be granted by the employer or government
office concerned, such as performing her duties without any adverse complaints from
his superior and that he is physically fit for work.

The CSC Memorandum Circular aforementioned, being in the nature of an


administrative regulation, must be governed by the principle that administrative
regulations adopted under legislative authority by a particular department must be in
harmony with the provisions of law, and should be for the sole purpose of carrying into
effect its general provisions.

The power vested in the CSC was to implement the law, not to add to it; to carry the law
into effect, not to supply perceived omissions in it, and said regulations cannot amend
an act of Congress.

The governing retirement law in this instant case is P.D. 1146. The rule on limiting to
only 1 year the extension of service of an employee who has reached the compulsory
retirement age of 65 years, but has less than 15 yrs of service under the said Civil
Service Memorandum Circular, cannot be given validity because it has no relation with
any provision of P.D. 1146.

The completion of the 15-year requirement under Sec. 11 par (b) partakes the nature of
a privilege given to an employee who has reached the compulsory retirement age of 65
years, but has less than 15 years of service. If said employee opted to avail of said
privilege, he is entitled to the benefits of the old-age pension.

The right under Sec. 11 par (b) is open to all employees similarly situated, so it does not
offend the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law.

The Court grants the petition and the Land Registration Authority of the Department of
Justice has the discretion to allow herein petitioner to extend his government service to
complete the 15-year service so that he may retire with full benefits under Sec. 11 par
(b) of P.D. 1146.

3. RABOR vs CSC

FACTS:
Dionisio Rabor is a Utility worker in the Office of the Mayor in Davao city. Since he
already reached the age of 68, he is now advised to apply for retirement but then he
wishes for extension so he can avail the benefit s of the retirement laws given to the
employees of the Government by GSIS, in which one of the requirements is that you
have served for 15 years in the government; by that time, it is just his 13th year in the
government that’s why he requested for extension of service and he also presents a
GSIS certificate with a notation to the effect that his service is extended for him to
complete the 15-years requirement for retirement. The government of Davao City
wrote to the Regional Director of the Civil Service Commission, Region XI (CSRO-XI) and
Director Cawad states that Rabor’s request is contrary to Memorandum Circular No. 65
for it is stated to such memorandum that employees who have reached the compulsory
retirement age of 65 shall not be retained and, only in meritorious cases, may be extend
only for 6 months. Mayor Duterte then informed Rabor about the decision of CSRO-XI
and advised him to stop reporting starting August 16, 1991.
Then, he sent a letter to CSRO-XI asking for extension and asking for another 2
years so he could avail the benefits given to government employees. His request was
denied. Rabor next wrote to the Office of the President seeking for reconsideration of
CSRO-XI. The Office of the President referred it to the Civil Service Commission but
again, CSC dismissed his appeal and affirmed decision of CSRO-XI and stated CSC M.C No
27, s. 1990:
1. Any request for extension of service of compulsory retirees to complete the
fifteen years service requirement for retirement shall be allowed only to
permanent appointees in the career service who are regular members of the
Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and shall be granted for a period
of not exceeding one (1) year.
Plus the fact that as early as October 1988 Rabor already reached the retirement age.
On October 28, 1992, invoking the decision in Cena v. Civil Service Commission,
the petitioner sought for reconsideration and asked for reinstatement with back
salaries and benefits. And again, his reconsideration was denied. Then he filed a petition
to the Supreme Court appealing from CSC. Rabor contends that his case squarely falls
within the ruling in the case of Cena. Opposing, CSC stated that it is different for the
court gave the discretion to the Land Registration Authority.
CENA’s case
Gaudencio Cena was appointed Registrar of the Register of Deeds of Malabon,
Metropolitan Manila. Before reaching his 65th birthday, for his total years in the service
will just be 11 years and 9 months bythen, Cena requested the Secretary of Justice,
through the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority ("LRA") that he be
allowed to extend his service to complete the fifteen-year service requirement to enable
him to retire with the full benefit of an Old-Age Pension under Section 11 (b) of P.D. No.
1146. If Cena's request were granted, he would complete fifteen (15) years of
government service on 15 April 1994, at the age of sixty-eight (68) years. CSC affirmed
his request but for 1 year only so he filed an appeal to the SC and the SC granted his
request. Thus the court concluded:
Accordingly, the Petition is GRANTED. The Land Registration Authority (LRA)
and Department of Justice has the discretion to allow petitioner Gaudencio Cena to
extend his 11 years, 9 months and 6 days of government to complete the fifteen-year
service so that he may retire with full benefits under Section 11, paragraph (b) of P.D.
1146

The Court reached the above conclusion primarily on the basis of the "plain and
ordinary meaning" of Section 11 (b) of P.D. No. 1146. Section 11 may be quoted in its
entirety:

Sec. 11 Conditions for Old-Age Pension. — (a) Old-Age Pension shall be


paid to a member who
(1) has at least fifteen (15) years of service;
(2) is at least sixty (60) years of age; and
(3) is separated from the service.
(b) unless the service is extended by appropriate authorities, retirement
shall be compulsory for an employee at sixty-five-(65) years of age with
at least fifteen (15) years of service; Provided, that if he has less than
fifteen (15) years of service, he shall he allowed to continue in the service
to completed the fifteen (15) years.
While Section 11 (b) appeared cast in verbally unqualified terms, there were
(and still are) two (2) administrative issuances which prescribe limitations on the
extension of service that may be granted to an employee who has reached sixty-five
(65) years of age; the Civil Service Commission Circular No. 27, Series of 1990 and
Memorandum Circular No. 65 of the Office of the President. The former limits the
extension for only three years and the latter, only on meritorious reasons, limits up to 6
months only. And Medialdea, J. resolved the challenges posed by the above two (2)
administrative regulations by, firstly, considering as invalid Civil Service Memorandum
No. 27 and, secondly, by interpreting the Office of the President's Memorandum Circular
No. 65 as inapplicable to the case of Gaudencio T. Cena. Medialdea, J wrote:

The Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 27 being in the nature of
an administrative regulation, must be governed by the principle that administrative
regulations adopted under legislative authority by a particular department must be in
harmony with the provisions of the law, and should be for the sole purpose of carrying into
effect its general provisions . . . The rule on limiting to one the year the extension of
service of an employee who has reached the compulsory retirement age of sixty-five (65)
years, but has less than fifteen (15) years of service under Civil Service Memorandum
Circular No. 27, S. 1990, cannot likewise be accorded validity because it has no
relationship or connection with any provision of P.D. 1146 supposed to be carried into
effect. The rule was an addition to or extension of the law, not merely a mode of carrying it
into effect. The Civil Service Commission has no power to supply perceived omissions in
P.D. 1146.

ISSUE:
WON the ruling, regarding the validity of CSC M.C No. 27, in the case of Cena can be use
as basis for granting Rabor’s request.

HELD:
NO. Clearly, therefore, Cena when it required a considerably higher degree of detail in
the statute to be implemented, went against prevailing doctrine. It seems clear that if
the governing or enabling statute is quite detailed and specific to begin with, there
would be very little need (or occasion) for implementing administrative regulations. It
is, however, precisely the inability of legislative bodies to anticipate all (or many)
possible detailed situations in respect of any relatively complex subject matter, that
makes subordinate, delegated rule-making by administrative agencies so important and
unavoidable. All that may be reasonably; demanded is a showing that the delegated
legislation consisting of administrative regulations are germane to the general purposes
projected by the governing or enabling statute. This is the test that is appropriately
applied in respect of Civil Service Memorandum Circular No. 27, Series of 1990, and to
this test we now turn.

Like what Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes said in the ruling of People v. Exconde case:
It is well established in this jurisdiction that, while the making of laws is a
non-delegable activity that corresponds exclusively to Congress,
nevertheless, the latter may constitutionally delegate authority and
promulgate rules and regulations to implement a given legislation and
effectuate its policies, for the reason that the legislature often finds it
impracticable (if not impossible) to anticipate and provide for the
multifarious and complex situations that may be met in carrying the law
into effect. All that is required is that the regulation should be germane to
the objects and purposes of the law; that the regulation be not in
contradiction with it, but conform to standards that the law prescribes

Plus, not only P.D. No. 1146 is the statute that should appropriately be examined is the
present Civil Service law there is Administrative Code of 1987 which provides the
Commission was acting as "the central personnel agency of the government empowered
to promulgate policies, standards and guidelines for efficient, responsive and effective
personnel administration in the government."

Another thing, the SC find it very difficult to suppose that the limitation of
permissible extensions of service after an employee has reached sixty-five (65) years of
age has no reasonable relationship or is not germane to the foregoing provisions of the
present Civil Service Law. The physiological and psychological processes associated
with ageing in human beings are in fact related to the efficiency and quality of the
service that may be expected from individual persons. The policy considerations which
guided the Civil Service Commission in limiting the maximum extension of service
allowable for compulsory retirees, were summarized by Griño-Aquino, J. in her
dissenting opinion in Cena:

Worth pondering also are the points raised by the Civil Service
Commission that extending the service of compulsory retirees for longer
than one (1) year would: (1) give a premium to late-comers in the
government service and in effect discriminate against those who enter the
service at a younger age; (2) delay the promotion of the latter and of next-
in-rank employees; and (3) prejudice the chances for employment of
qualified young civil service applicants who have already passed the
various government examination but must wait for jobs to be vacated by
"extendees" who have long passed the mandatory retirement age but are
enjoying extension of their government service to complete 15 years so
they may qualify for old-age pension.

SC’s conclusion is that the doctrine of Cena should be and is hereby modified to this
extent: that Civil Service Memorandum Circular No. 27, Series of 1990, more specifically
paragraph (1) thereof, is hereby declared valid and effective. Section 11 (b) of P.D. No.
1146 must, accordingly, be read together with Memorandum Circular No. 27. We
reiterate, however, the holding in Cena that the head of the government agency
concerned is vested with discretionary authority to allow or disallow extension of the
service of an official or employee who has reached sixty-five (65) years of age without
completing fifteen (15) years of government service; this discretion is, nevertheless, to
be exercised conformably with the provisions of Civil Service Memorandum Circular No.
27, Series of 1990.

4. Canonizado vs Aguirre

Respondents are seeking a reconsideration of the Courts 25 January 2000 decision,


wherein we declared section 8 of Republic Act No. 8551 (RA 8551) to be violative of
petitioners constitutionally mandated right to security of tenure. As a consequence of
our ruling, we held that petitioners removal as Commissioners of the National Police
Commission (NAPOLCOM) and the appointment of new Commissioners in their stead
were nullities and ordered the reinstatement of petitioners and the payment of full
backwages to be computed from the date they were removed from office.[1]
Some of the errors assigned by the Solicitor General, acting in behalf of
respondents, in the motion for reconsideration have been more than adequately
discussed and disposed of by this Court and hence, do not merit further attention.
Respondents insist that the Court should take judicial notice of then President
Estradas appointment of Alexis C. Canonizado to the position of Inspector General of the
Internal Affairs Service (IAS) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on 30 June 1998,
and of Canonizados acceptance and of his having qualified for such position by taking
his oath on 2 July 1998 before then Department of Interior and Local Government
Undersecretary Ronaldo Puno and again, on 7 July 1998, this time before the President,
since these partake of official acts of the Executive Department, which are matters of
mandatory judicial notice, pursuant to section 1 of Rule 129 of the Rules of Court.[2] By
accepting such position, respondents contend that Canonizado is deemed to have
abandoned his claim for reinstatement to the NAPOLCOM since the offices of
NAPOLCOM Commissioner and Inspector General of the IAS are incompatible.
Although petitioners do not deny the appointment of Canonizado as Inspector
General, they maintain that Canonizados initiation and tenacious pursuance of the
present case would belie any intention to abandon his former office. Petitioners assert
that Canonizado should not be faulted for seeking gainful employment during the
pendency of this case. Furthermore, petitioners point out that from the time
Canonizado assumed office as Inspector General he never received the salary pertaining
to such position, annexing to their comment a certification issued by the Finance
Service Office of the PNP stating this fact.[3]
Abandonment of an office is the voluntary relinquishment of an office by the holder,
with the intention of terminating his possession and control thereof.[4]In order to
constitute abandonment of office, it must be total and under such circumstances as
clearly to indicate an absolute relinquishment.[5] There must be a complete
abandonment of duties of such continuance that the law will infer a
relinquishment.[6] Abandonment of duties is a voluntary act;[7] it springs from and is
accompanied by deliberation and freedom of choice.[8] There are, therefore, two
essential elements of abandonment: first, an intention to abandon and second, an overt
or external act by which the intention is carried into effect.[9]
Generally speaking, a person holding a public office may abandon such office by
nonuser or acquiescence.[10] Non-user refers to a neglect to use a right or privilege or to
exercise an office.[11] However, nonperformance of the duties of an office does not
constitute abandonment where such nonperformance results from temporary disability
or from involuntary failure to perform.[12] Abandonment may also result from an
acquiescence by the officer in his wrongful removal or discharge, for instance, after a
summary removal, an unreasonable delay by an officer illegally removed in taking steps
to vindicate his rights may constitute an abandonment of the office.[13] Where, while
desiring and intending to hold the office, and with no willful desire or intention to
abandon it, the public officer vacates it in deference to the requirements of a statute
which is afterwards declared unconstitutional, such a surrender will not be deemed an
abandonment and the officer may recover the office.[14]
By accepting the position of Inspector General during the pendency of the present
case - brought precisely to assail the constitutionality of his removal from the
NAPOLCOM - Canonizado cannot be deemed to have abandoned his claim for
reinstatement to the latter position. First of all, Canonizado did not voluntarily leave his
post as Commissioner, but was compelled to do so on the strength of section 8 of RA
8551, which provides

Upon the effectivity of this Act, the terms of office of the current Commissioners are
deemed expired which shall constitute a bar to their reappointment or an extension of
their terms in the Commission except for current Commissioners who have served less
than two (2) years of their terms of office who may be appointed by the President for a
maximum terms of two (2) years.

In our decision of 25 January 2000, we struck down the abovequoted provision for
being violative of petitioners constitutionally guaranteed right to security of tenure.
Thus, Canonizado harbored no willful desire or intention to abandon his official duties.
In fact, Canonizado, together with petitioners Edgar Dula Torres and Rogelio A. Pureza,
lost no time disputing what they perceived to be an illegal removal; a few weeks after
RA 8551 took effect on 6 March 1998, petitioners instituted the current action on 15
April 1998, assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of said law. The removal
of petitioners from their positions by virtue of a constitutionally infirm act necessarily
negates a finding of voluntary relinquishment.
The next issue is whether Canonizados appointment to and acceptance of the
position of Inspector General should result in an abandonment of his claim for
reinstatement to the NAPOLCOM. It is a well settled rule that he who, while occupying
one office, accepts another incompatible with the first, ipso facto vacates the first office
and his title is thereby terminated without any other act or proceeding. [15] Public policy
considerations dictate against allowing the same individual to perform inconsistent and
incompatible duties.[16] The incompatibility contemplated is not the mere physical
impossibility of one persons performing the duties of the two offices due to a lack of
time or the inability to be in two places at the same moment, but that which proceeds
from the nature and relations of the two positions to each other as to give rise to
contrariety and antagonism should one person attempt to faithfully and impartially
discharge the duties of one toward the incumbent of the other.[17]
There is no question that the positions of NAPOLCOM Commissioner and Inspector
General of the IAS are incompatible with each other. As pointed out by respondents, RA
8551 prohibits any personnel of the IAS from sitting in a committee charged with the
task of deliberating on the appointment, promotion, or assignment of any PNP
personnel,[18] whereas the NAPOLCOM has the power of control and supervision over
the PNP.[19] However, the rule on incompatibility of duties will not apply to the case at
bar because at no point did Canonizado discharge the functions of the two offices
simultaneously. Canonizado was forced out of his first office by the enactment of section
8 of RA 8551. Thus, when Canonizado was appointed as Inspector General on 30 June
1998, he had ceased to discharge his official functions as NAPOLCOM Commissioner. As
a matter of fact, it was on this same date that Leo S. Magahum and Cleofe M. Factoran
were appointed as NAPOLCOM Commissioners by then President Estrada, to join
Romeo L. Cairme and Jose Percival L. Adiong - who were earlier appointed and given a
term extension, respectively, by then President Ramos - thereby
completing the appointments of the four regular members of the NAPOLCOM, pursuant
to section 4[20] of the amendatory law. Thus, to reiterate, the incompatibility of duties
rule never had a chance to come into play for petitioner never occupied the two
positions, of Commissioner and Inspector General, nor discharged their respective
functions, concurrently.
At this juncture, two cases should be mentioned for their factual circumstances
almost nearly coincide with that of petitioners. The first is Tan v. Gimenez[21]wherein
petitioner Francisco Tan, a public school teacher, was required to resign by the
Commissioner of Civil Service for gross misconduct. Tan appealed to the Civil Service
Board of Appeals, which reversed the decision of the Commissioner and acquitted him
of the charge. During the pendency of Tans appeal, he worked as a clerk in the Office of
the Provincial Treasurer of Leyte. The Court held that accepting this second position did
not constitute abandonment of his former position because -

[h]e was ordered to resign from the service with prejudice to reinstatement pursuant to
the decision of the Commissioner of Civil Service and by virtue thereof was prevented
from exercising the functions of his position and receiving the corresponding
compensation therefor. While thus deprived of his office and emoluments thereunto
appertaining the petitioner had to find means to support himself and his family. The
fact that during the time his appeal was pending and was thus deprived of his office and
salary, he sought and found employment in another branch of the government does not
constitute abandonment of his former position. To deny him the right to collect his back
salaries during such period would be tantamount to punishing him after his
exoneration from the charge which caused his dismissal from the service. x x x

Very similar to Tan is the case of Gonzales v. Hernandez.[22] In this 1961 case,
petitioner Guillermo Gonzales sought reinstatement to his former position as attorney-
general of the Investigation and Secret Service Division of the Department of Finance.
As in Tan, Gonzales was compelled to resign from office by the Commissioner of Civil
Service, who found him guilty of disreputable conduct. During the pendency of his
appeal with the Civil Service Board of Appeals, petitioner applied for and accepted
employment as an emergency helper in the Government Service Insurance System. The
Board of Appeals eventually modified the Commissioners finding by lowering the
penalty from removal from office to suspension of two months without pay. In response
to the question of whether Gonzales was deemed to have abandoned his position by
accepting another position in the GSIS, the Court held that

Plaintiffs position in the GSIS was temporary in nature, during the period of an
emergency only. He had the right to live during the pendency of his appeal and
naturally the right to accept any form of employment. In any case as the court below
found, this temporary employment is not incompatible with his old position; he could
resign this temporary position any time as soon as his case has been definitely decided
in his favor. x x x

Although the Court found that the second position accepted by Gonzales was only
temporary in nature, the rule on incompatibility of duties makes no such distinction
between a permanent or temporary second office. Moreover, the Court still invoked the
rationale previously cited in Tan - that petitioners right to live justified his acceptance
of other employment during the pendency of his appeal. The Court held that Gonzaless
second position was not incompatible with the first since he could resign from the
second position when the case is finally decided in his favor and before he re-assumes
his previous office.
As in the Tan and Gonzales cases, Canonizado was compelled to leave his position as
Commissioner, not by an erroneous decision, but by an unconstitutional provision of
law. Canonizado, like the petitioners in the above mentioned cases, held a second office
during the period that his appeal was pending. As stated in the Comment filed by
petitioners, Canonizado was impelled to accept this subsequent position by a desire to
continue serving the country, in whatever capacity.[23] Surely, this selfless and noble
aspiration deserves to be placed on at least equal footing with the worthy goal of
providing for oneself and ones family, either of which are sufficient to justify
Canonizados acceptance of the position of Inspector General. A contrary ruling would
deprive petitioner of his right to live, which contemplates not only a right to earn a
living, as held in previous cases, but also a right to lead a useful and productive life.
Furthermore, prohibiting Canonizado from accepting a second position during the
pendency of his petition would be to unjustly compel him to bear the consequences of
an unconstitutional act which under no circumstance can be attributed to him.
However, before Canonizado can re-assume his post as Commissioner, he should first
resign as Inspector General of the IAS-PNP.
Respondents also raise some questions regarding the execution of the Courts
decision. They cite the fact that because there are three petitioners who were ordered
reinstated and four persons currently acting as NAPOLCOM commissioners, namely
Romeo L. Cairme, Jose Percival L. Adiong,[24] Leo S. Magahum and Cleofe M.
Factoran,[25] it is unclear who of the current commissioners will be replaced by
petitioners. Respondents point out that the execution of the decision becomes
particularly complicated when it comes to Adiong, who was a member of the
NAPOLCOM under Republic Act No. 6975 (RA 6975), but was removed therefrom and
subsequently re-appointed for a two-year term, pursuant to RA 8551. According to
respondents, given Adiongs peculiar situation, it is unclear whether the latter should
also be entitled to reinstatement as a result of the assailed decision. [26] Adiong, on his
own behalf, filed a Motion for Clarification[27] with this Court contending that, if the
Court should uphold the declaration of nullity of section 8 of RA 8551, then he is also
entitled to reinstatement to the NAPOLCOM pursuant to his appointment under RA
6975.
An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights, imposes no duties, and
affords no protection.[28] Therefore, the unavoidable consequence of the Courts
declaration that section 8 of RA 8551 violates the fundamental law is that all acts done
pursuant to such provision shall be null and void, including the removal of petitioners
and Adiong from their positions in the NAPOLCOM and the appointment of new
commissioners in their stead. When a regular government employee is illegally
dismissed, his position does not become vacant and the new appointment made in
order to replace him is null and void ab initio.[29] Rudimentary is the precept that there
can be no valid appointment to a non-vacant position.[30] Accordingly, Adiongs
appointment on 11 March 1998 for a term of two years, pursuant to section 8 of RA
8551, is null and void. However, he should now be permitted to enjoy the remainder of
his term under RA 6975. Therefore, based on our foregoing disquisition, there should
no longer be any doubt as to the proper execution of our 25 January 2000 decision all
the Commissioners appointed under RA 8551 should be removed from office, in order
to give way to the reinstatement of petitioners and respondent Adiong.
Respondents insist that the present case is similar to a quo warranto proceeding
since petitioners prayed for the removal of the incumbent commissioners and for their
reinstatement. Therefore, they claim that Magahum and Factoran should have been
impleaded as respondents and given the opportunity to defend their positions. [31] We
disagree. First and foremost, the petition filed before this Court sought a ruling on the
constitutionality of sections 4 and 8 of RA 8551. The inevitable consequence of this
Courts declaration that section 8 of said law is unconstitutional is the removal of
Adiong, Cairme, Magahum and Factoran from the NAPOLCOM and the reinstatement
thereto of petitioners, including Adiong, although under his original appointment under
RA 6975. As discussed earlier, an unconstitutional law is not a law at all; it is in legal
contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed. There being no
vacancy created in the first place in the office of the NAPOLCOM, the appointments of
Magahum, Factoran, Cairme and Adiong pursuant to RA 8551 are legal nullities, which
cannot be the source of any rights.[32] It is noted that Magahum and Factoran were
appointed after more than two months from the time the present petition was filed with
the Court, which explains why they were originally not impleaded. Had they been
interested in defending the validity of their appointments, Magahum and Factoran
could have filed a motion to intervene with this Court. It is highly improbable that they
were not aware of the present petition since their colleagues, Cairme and Adiong, were
respondents therein. The fact that they did not intervene could only mean that they
were willing to be bound by the Courts decision in this case. In addition, it is noted that
respondents did not raise this issue when they filed their comment to the petition on 21
September 1998, even though at that time both Magahum and Factoran were already
appointed, albeit invalidly, to the NAPOLCOM. Only after the promulgation of our 25
January 2000 decision did respondents belatedly insist that Magahum and Factoran
should be made parties to this case. It is not for a party to participate in the
proceedings, submit his case for decision and accept the judgment if it is favorable to
him but attack it for any reason when it is adverse.[33]
In the event that the Court should affirm its decision, respondents pray that the
Court apply the ruling in Mayor v. Macaraig[34] which provided that

In G.R. No. 91547, and G.R. No. 91730, the removal of petitioners Rosario G. Encarnacion,
Daniel M. Lucas, Jr., Ceferino E. Dulay, and Conrado Maglaya as Commissioners of the
NLRC is ruled unconstitutional and void; however, to avoid displacement of any of the
incumbent Commissioners now serving, it not appearing that any of them is unfit or has
given cause for removal, and conformably to the alternative prayer of the petitioners
themselves, it is ORDERED that said petitioners be paid all salaries, benefits and
emoluments accruing to them for the unexpired portions of their six-year terms and
allowed to enjoy retirement benefits under applicable laws, pursuant to RA No. 910 and
this Courts Resolution in Ortiz v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 79857, 161 SCRA
812; x x x

We cannot grant respondents prayer for the application of the abovequoted


dispositive portion of Mayor in G.R. No. 91547 and G.R. No. 91730 to the case at bar
based on one crucial point of distinction unlike in Mayor, petitioners herein did not
make any alternative prayer for the payment of the salaries, benefits, and emoluments
accruing to them for the unexpired portions of their terms in lieu of reinstatement.
Contrary to respondents contention, the general prayer of petitioners for such other
reliefs just and equitable cannot be deemed as an alternative to their specific prayer for
reinstatement. We agree with petitioners view that any remedy necessarily included in
this general phrase should be consistent with the specific prayers of petitioners.
Finally, respondents contend that the re-appointment of petitioners under RA 6975
violates section 16[35] of such law.[36] Once again, respondents did not raise this issue in
their comment to the petition, and are therefore estopped from doing so at this late
stage. Moreover, the validity of the appointments under RA 6975 was never the issue in
this case and accordingly, the Court will not pass upon the same.
WHEREFORE, respondents motion for reconsideration is hereby DENIED.
However, it is hereby clarified that our 25 January 2000 decision mandates the
reinstatement of Jose Percival L. Adiong to the NAPOLCOM, together with petitioners
herein, pursuant to his appointment under RA 6975.

5. AGUJA vs GSIS

The petitioner, as a pauper litigant, seeks the review of the Employees' Compensation
Commission (ECC) decision dated November 10, 1987 denying his claim for additional
benefits under P.D. 626, as amended on account of his eye injury.

Jesus D. Aguja worked as a janitor in the Office of the Municipal Treasurer in Libmanan,
Camarines Sur. While he was cleaning the office toilet sometime in April, 1979, the
bottle of muriatic acid he was using suddenly fell to the floor, causing the contents to
splash all over. Some of the acid hit the petitioner's right eye which caused gradual loss
of vision, finally culminating in blindness. The petitioner's left eye was not blinded, but
it contracted pterygium nasal side with visions of 20/40", per certification of Dr. Delfin
M. Rosales, an eye, ear, nose and throat (EENT) specialist in Naga City causing a
disturbance of vision. Notwithstanding his blindness on the right eye, the petitioner
continued to work but retired finally from service on February 26, 1982.

On the basis of the accident in 1979, the petitioner claimed for compensation benefit
with the GSIS. He was awarded temporary total disability benefits from September 5 to
29, 1979 and was thereafter granted permanent partial disability benefit for a period of
twenty five (25) months.
After receipt of the corresponding monetary benefits from the System, the petitioner
asked for additional benefits on the ground of permanent total disability under PD 626,
claiming that he was also gradually losing vision of his left eye. This was denied by the
GSIS on the ground that he had already previously received the maximum which could
be awarded to him under the law. Furthermore, the condition of his left eye which
allegedly had normal vision did not satisfy the criteria for a grant of permanent total
disability benefits.

The petitioner then elevated his case to the ECC which later affirmed the decision of the
GSIS on November 10, 1988. (The petitioner was however notified of such decision only
on January 8. 1989).

Unaware of the denial of his claim, the petitioner sought the help of this Court praying
for the additional benefits.

Consequently, in a resolution dated February 10, 1988, the Court denied the petition for
being premature but at the same time directed the ECC to act speedily on the claim
pending with it.

Later, the petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the Court's resolution attaching to
it the decision of the ECC.

Thus, on June 15, 1988, the Court resolved to reconsider its February 10, 1988
resolution and revived the case. The respondents, ECC and GSIS were required to file
their comments.

On September 15, 1990, the Court issued another resolution, the pertinent portion of
which reads as follows:

Considering the foregoing, the Court Resolved to require petitioner Aguja to


submit satisfactory medical proof on the condition of his left eye and whether
the same is still capable of treatment and to what extent. Since he is a pauper
litigant who cannot even afford the services of a lawyer, he may go to the nearest
government hospital which has a competent eye doctor, present a copy of this
Court's resolution, and request for the necessary medical certificate. (Rollo, p.
95)

In a later resolution dated November 26, 1990, the Court directed the Public Attorney's
Office (PAO) to assist the petitioner in this case specifically in obtaining the required
medical certificate with respect to the condition of the petitioner's left eye necessary for
the resolution of the claim.
The issue now before the Court is whether or not the petitioner is entitled to the
additional compensation prayed for.

Petitioner Aguja is claiming for additional benefits because "his left eye with
PTERYGIUM is slowly and gradually losing sight. As of now, he can not recognize people
beyond one (1) meter. It is possible he may also totally lose his vision."

To be entitled to an income benefit for permanent total disability, the following


conditions must be satisfied:

Section 1. Condition of entitlement. (a) An employee shall be entitled to an


income benefit for permanent total disability if all of the following conditions are
satisfied:

1) He has been duly reported to the System;

2) He sustains the permanent total disability as a result of the injury or sickness;


and

3) The System has been duly notified of the injury or sickness which caused his
disability. (Sec. l(a) Rule XI, Amended Rules on Employees' Compensation)

The public respondents denied the petitioner's claim on the basis of the 1985 finding
that only the right eye was blind at the time while the left eye was not. The respondents
ruled that the petitioner is not qualified for permanent total disability benefits but only
permanent partial disability which the petitioner has already received.

It must be stressed that the petitioner is claiming for additional benefits because of the
gradual loss of vision of his left eye which the public respondents never considered
anymore in evaluating his claim.

From the records of the case, there is sufficient basis for granting the petition.

The medical certificate submitted to this Court with respect to the condition of the
petitioner's left eye reveals the following results:

- CATARACT IMMATURE O.S.

- OCCLUSIO-PUPILLAE O.D. WITH IRIDODIALYSIS

O.D. SECONDARY CHEMICAL BURNS

- PTERYGIUM (Rollo, p. 115)


Medical authorities disclose that:

CATARACT IMMATURE - is an opacity of the crystalline eye lens or of its capsule.

(DORLAND, Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 24th Edition, 1965)

- any cataract in the beginning stages, or one which affects only a part of the lens
or its covering.

(MALOY, Medical Dictionary for Lawyers, 2nd edition, 1951).

OCCLUSIO-PUPILLAE - is the closure of the opening in the iris of the eye by


formation of an opaque membrane.

IRIDODIALYSIS - is the separation or loosening of the iris from its attachment.

PTERYGIUM - a triangular fleshy mass of thickened conjunctiva occurring


usually at the inner side of the eyeball, covering part of the cornea and causing a
disturbance of vision. (Dorland, Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 24th edition,
1965)

Clearly, from the above findings, the petitioner's left eye is indeed gradually losing
vision. The left eye was found to be burned which only goes to show that the present
condition can be traced back to the accident which occurred in April, 1979 and no other.
There is no showing that there was any supervening event which may have caused the
blindness of the left eye. Undeniably, the injury was caused by the splashing of muriatic
acid while the janitor was cleaning the government building's toilet. This accident not
only blinded the right eye but also "compromised" the left eye. According to the medical
certificate issued in 1985, a pterygium was already growing on the nasal side of the left
eye. In such a case, the injury caused on the left eye is considered as work-connected;
hence, compensable.

The fact that the aggravation occurred after the petitioner's retirement does not
militate against his claim for additional benefits.1âwphi1 There is no question that the
proximate cause of the apparent but gradual loss of vision of the left eye was the
accidental fall of the bottle of muriatic acid. The presence of secondary chemical burns
on the left eye as stated in the medical certificate buttresses the assumption that the
injury of the left eye was also caused by the accident in 1979. The causal connection
between the resulting disability and the petitioner's work is beyond civil. In Belarmino
v. ECC, 185 SCRA 304 [1990], we stated that:

... Where the primary injury is shown to have arisen in the course of
employment, every natural consequence that flows from the injury likewise
arises out of the employment, unless it is the result of an independent
intervening cause attributable to claimant's own negligence or misconduct (I
Larson Workmen's Compensation Law 3279 [1972]. Simply stated, all the
medical consequences and sequels that flow from the primary injury are
compensable. (Ibid.)

A person's disability might not emerge at one precise moment in time but rather over a
period of time (See Jimenez v. ECC, G.R. No. 79193, November 28, 1989, En Banc Minute
Resolution). It is possible that an injury which at first was considered to be temporary
may later on become permanent or one who suffers a partial disability becomes totally
and permanently disabled from the same cause as in the case at bar. Unfortunately, the
petitioner's permanent disability has further deteriorated affecting also the vision of his
left eye. The aggravation of petitioner's condition arose from the same injury or
disability. The petitioner was compelled to retire from work on account of the blindness
of his right eye. With the gradual loss of vision of his left eye, it would even be more
difficult, if not impossible for the petitioner to be gainfully employed now. As stated in
numerous cases, "total disability does not mean a state of absolute helplessness, but
disablement of an employee to earn wages in the same kind of work or a work of similar
nature, that he was trained for or accustomed to perform, or any kind of work which a
person of his mentality and attachments could do. (Abaya v. ECC, 176 SCRA 507 [1989];
Orlino v. ECC, G.R. No. 85015, March 29,1990 En Banc Minute Resolution, Marcelino v.
Seven Up Bottling Co., 47 SCRA 343 [1972]; Landicho v. WCC and Canlubang Sugar
Estate, 89 SCRA 147 [1979]) To deny the petitioner, the benefits prayed for would
certainly be contrary to the liberal and compassionate spirit of the law as embodied in
Article 4 of the New Labor Code (Lazo v. ECC, 186 SCRA 569 [1990].

We hold, therefore, that the petitioner is entitled to a conversion of his disability


benefits from permanent partial to permanent total. The compensation benefits shall be
determined in accordance with Section 5, of Rule XI of the Amended Rules on
Employment's Compensation providing as follows:

For contingencies which occurred before May 1, 1979, the limitation of P12,000
or 5 years, whichever comes first, shall be enforced.

Since the petitioner has already received income benefits under permanent partial
disability the public respondent shall pay only the difference between the two.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Employees' Compensation Commission


decision dated November 10, 1988 is SET ASIDE and REVERSED. The respondents are
ordered to pay compensation benefits as stated above.
6. GSIS vs Montesclaros

FACTS:
Nicolas Montesclaros, a 72-year-old widower married Milagros Orbiso, who was then
43 years old, on 10 July 1983. Nicolas filed with the GSIS an application for retirement
benefits under the Revised Government Insurance Act of 1977.
In his retirement application, he designated his wife as his sole beneficiary. GSIS
approved Nicolas’application for retirement effective 17 February 1984, granting a
lump sum payment of annuity for the first five years and a monthly annuity after.
Nicolas died on 22 April 1992. Milagros filed with the GSIS a claim for survivorship
pension under PD 1146 but was denied the claim because, under section 18 of PD 1146,
the surviving spouse has no right to survivorship pension if the surviving spouse
contracted the marriage with the pensioner within three years before the pensioner
qualified for the pension.
Nicolas wed Milagros on 10 July 1983, less than one year from his date of retirement on
17 February 1984. Milagros filed with the trial court a special civil action for
declaratory relief questioning the validity of Sec. 18 of PD 1146.
The trial court rendered judgment declaring Milagros eligible for survivorship pension
and ordered GSIS to pay Milagros the benefits including interest. Citing Articles 115and
117 of the Family Code, the trial court held that retirement benefits, which the
pensioner has earned for services rendered and for which the pensioner has
contributed through monthly salary deductions, are onerous acquisitions. Since
retirement benefits are property the pensioner acquired through labor, such benefits
are conjugal property. The trial court held that the prohibition in Section 18 of PD 1146
is deemed repealed for being inconsistent with the Family Code, a later law. The Family
Code has retroactive effect if it does not prejudice or impair vested rights.
The trial court held that Section 18 of PD 1146 was repealed by the Family Code, a later
law. GSIS appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s decision.
Hence, this appeal.
In a letter dated 10 January 2003, Milagros informed the Court that she has accepted
GSIS’ decision disqualifying her from receiving survivorship pension and that she is no
longer interested in pursuing the case. However, the Court will still resolve the issue
despite the manifestation of Milagros because social justice and public interest demand
the resolution of the constitutionality of the proviso.
ISSUE:
Whether the proviso in Section 18 of PD 1146 is constitutional.
HELD:
NO. The sole proviso Sec. 18 of PD 1146 is unconstitutional. Under Section 18 of PD
1146, it prohibits the dependent spouse from receiving survivorship pension if such
dependent spouse married the pensioner within three years before the pensioner
qualified for the pension. The Court holds that such proviso is discriminatory and
denies equal protection of the law.
The proviso is contrary to Section 1, Article III of the Constitution, which provides that
[n]o person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor
shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
The proviso is unduly oppressive in outrightly denying a dependent spouses claim for
survivorship pension if the dependent spouse contracted marriage to the pensioner
within the three-year prohibited period.
There is outright confiscation of benefits due the surviving spouse without giving the
surviving spouse an opportunity to be heard.
The proviso undermines the purpose of PD 1146, which is to assure comprehensive and
integrated social security and insurance benefits to government employees and their
dependents in the event of sickness, disability, death, and retirement of the government
employees.
A statute based on reasonable classification does not violate the constitutional
guaranty of the equal protection of the law. The requirements for a valid and reasonable
classification are:
(1) it must rest on substantial distinctions;
(2) it must be germane to the purpose of the law;
(3) it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
(4) it must apply equally to all members of the same class. Thus, the law may treat and
regulate one class differently from another class provided there are real and substantial
differences to distinguish one class from another.
The proviso in question does not satisfy these requirements. The proviso discriminates
against the dependent spouse who contracts marriage to the pensioner within three
years before the pensioner qualified for the pension. Under the proviso, even if the
dependent spouse married the pensioner more than three years before the pensioners
death, the dependent spouse would still not receive survivorship pension if the
marriage took place within three years before the pensioner qualified for pension. The
object of the prohibition is vague. There is no reasonable connection between the
means employed and the purpose intended. The law itself does not provide any reason
or purpose for such a prohibition. If the purpose of the proviso is to prevent deathbed
marriages, then we do not see why the proviso reckons the three-year prohibition from
the date the pensioner qualified for pension and not from the date the pensioner died.
The classification does not rest on substantial distinctions. Worse, the classification
lumps all those marriages contracted within three years before the pensioner qualified
for pension as having been contracted primarily for financial convenience to avail of
pension benefits.
Indeed, the classification is discriminatory and arbitrary. This is probably the reason
Congress deleted the proviso in Republic Act No. 8291 (RA 8291), otherwise known as
the Government Service Insurance Act of 1997, the law revising the old charter of GSIS
(PD 1146). Under the implementing rules of RA 8291, the surviving spouse who
married the member immediately before the members death is still qualified to receive
survivorship pension unless the GSIS proves that the surviving spouse contracted the
marriage solely to receive the benefit.
Thus, the present GSIS law does not presume that marriages contracted within three
years before retirement or death of a member are sham marriages contracted to avail of
survivorship benefits. The present GSIS law does not automatically forfeit the
survivorship pension of the surviving spouse who contracted marriage to a GSIS
member within three years before the members retirement or death. The law
acknowledges that whether the surviving spouse contracted the marriage mainly to
receive survivorship benefits is a matter of evidence. The law no longer prescribes a
sweeping classification that unduly prejudices the legitimate surviving spouse and
defeats the purpose for which Congress enacted the social legislation.
Wherefore, the proviso in Section 18 of Presidential Decree No. 1146 is void for being
violative of the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection of the law.

7. GSIS vs De Leon

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court. Petitioner Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) seeks the nullification of
the Decision1 dated October 28, 2008 and the Resolution2 dated February 18, 2009 of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 101811.

Respondent Fernando P. de Leon retired as Chief State Prosecutor of the Department of


Justice (DOJ) in 1992, after 44 years of service to the government. He applied for
retirement under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 910, invoking R.A. No. 3783, as amended by
R.A. No. 4140, which provides that chief state prosecutors hold the same rank as judges.
The application was approved by GSIS. Thereafter, and for more than nine years,
respondent continuously received his retirement benefits, until 2001, when he failed to
receive his monthly pension.3

Respondent learned that GSIS cancelled the payment of his pension because the
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) informed GSIS that respondent was not
qualified to retire under R.A. No. 910; that the law was meant to apply only to justices
and judges; and that having the same rank and qualification as a judge did not entitle
respondent to the retirement benefits provided thereunder. Thus, GSIS stopped the
payment of respondent’s monthly pension.4

Respondent wrote GSIS several letters but he received no response until November 9,
2007, when respondent received the following letter from GSIS:

Dear Atty. De Leon:

This is in response to your request for resumption of pension benefit.

It appears that you retired under Republic Act No. 910 in 1992 from your position as
Chief State Prosecutor in the Department of Justice. From 1992 to 2001, you were
receiving pension benefits under the said law. Beginning the year 2002, the Department
of Budget and Management through then Secretary Emilia T. Boncodin already refused
to release the funds for your pension benefit on the ground that Chief State Prosecutors
are not covered by R.A. 910. This conclusion was later on affirmed by Secretary Rolando
G. Andaya, Jr. in a letter dated 6 June 2006.

In view of these, you now seek to secure benefits under Republic Act No. 660 or any
other applicable GSIS law.

We regret, however, that we cannot accede to your request because you have chosen to
retire and in fact have already retired under a different law, Republic Act No. 910, more
than fifteen (15) years ago. There is nothing in the GSIS law which sanctions double
retirement unless the retiree is first re-employed and qualifies once again to retire
under GSIS law. In fact, Section 55 of Republic Act No. 8291 provides for exclusivity of
benefits which means that a retiree may choose only one retirement scheme available
to him to the exclusion of all others.

Nonetheless, we believe that the peculiarities of your case is a matter that may be
jointly addressed or threshed out by your agency, the Department of Justice, and the
Department of Budget and Management.

Very truly yours,

(signed)

CECIL L. FELEO
Senior Vice President
Social Insurance Group5

Respondent then filed a petition for mandamus before the CA, praying that petitioner be
compelled to continue paying his monthly pension and to pay his unpaid monthly
benefits from 2001. He also asked that GSIS and the DBM be ordered to pay him
damages.6

In the assailed October 28, 2008 Decision, the CA resolved to grant the petition, to wit:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The GSIS is hereby ordered to pay without
delay petitioner Atty. Fernando de Leon, his monthly adjusted pension in accordance
with other applicable law not under RA 910. It is also ordered to pay the back pensions
which should also be adjusted to conform to the applicable law from the time his
pension was withheld.

SO ORDERED.7
The CA found that GSIS allowed respondent to retire under R.A. No. 910, following
precedents which allowed non-judges to retire under the said law. The CA said that it
was not respondent’s fault that he was allowed to avail of the benefits under R.A. No.
910; and that, even if his retirement under that law was erroneous, respondent was,
nonetheless, entitled to a monthly pension under the GSIS Act. The CA held that this was
not a case of double retirement, but merely a continuation of the payment of
respondent’s pension benefit to which he was clearly entitled. Since the error in the
award of retirement benefits under R.A. 910 was not attributable to respondent, it was
incumbent upon GSIS to continue defraying his pension in accordance with the
appropriate law which might apply to him. It was unjust for GSIS to entirely stop the
payment of respondent’s monthly pension without providing any alternative
sustenance to him.8

The CA further held that, under R.A. No. 660, R.A. No. 8291, and Presidential Decree
(P.D.) No. 1146, respondent is entitled to a monthly pension for life. He cannot be
penalized for the error committed by GSIS itself. Thus, although respondent may not be
qualified to receive the retirement benefits under R.A. No. 910, he is still entitled to a
monthly pension under R.A. No. 660, P.D. No. 1146, and R.A. No. 8291.9

Petitioner GSIS is now before this Court, assailing the Decision of the CA and the
Resolution denying its motion for reconsideration.

GSIS admits that respondent received monthly pensions from August 1997 until
December 2001. Thereafter, the DBM refused to remit the funds for respondent’s
pension on the ground that he was not entitled to retire under R.A. No. 910 and should
have retired under another law, without however specifying which law it was. 10 It
appears that the DBM discontinued the payment of respondent’s pension on the basis of
the memorandum of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel that Chief Prosecutors of the
DOJ are not entitled to the retirement package under R.A. No. 910.

Because of the discontinuance of his pension, respondent sought to convert his


retirement under R.A. No. 910 to one under another law administered by
GSIS.11 However, this conversion was not allowed because, as GSIS avers, R.A. No. 8291
provides that conversion of one’s retirement mode on whatever ground and for
whatever reason is not allowed beyond one year from the date of retirement.

GSIS assails the CA’s Decision for not specifying under which law respondent’s
retirement benefits should be paid, thus making it legally impossible for GSIS to comply
with the directive.12 It then raises several arguments that challenge the validity of the
appellate court’s decision.
GSIS argues, first, that the CA erred in issuing a writ of mandamus despite the absence
of any specific and clear right on the part of respondent, since he could not even specify
the benefits to which he is entitled and the law under which he is making the claim.13

Second, GSIS alleges that it had refunded respondent’s premium payments because he
opted to retire under R.A. No. 910, which it does not administer. Thus, GSIS posits that
the nexus between itself and respondent had been severed and, therefore, the latter
cannot claim benefits from GSIS anymore.14

Third, GSIS contends that the CA erred in concluding that respondent would not be
unjustly enriched by the continuation of his monthly pension because he had already
benefited from having erroneously retired under R.A. No. 910. GSIS points out that it
had refunded respondent’s premium contributions. When the Chief Presidential Legal
Counsel concluded that respondent was not entitled to retire under R.A. No. 910, it was
implicit recognition that respondent was actually not entitled to the ₱1.2 million lump
sum payment he received, which he never refunded.15

Fourth, GSIS points out that the CA erred in concluding that respondent was not seeking
conversion from one retirement mode to another. It reiterates that R.A. No. 8291
expressly prohibits conversion beyond one year from retirement. To compel GSIS to
release respondent’s retirement benefits despite the fact that he is disqualified to
receive retirement benefits violates R.A. No. 8291, and would subject its officials to
possible charges under R.A. No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Fifth, GSIS contends that respondent is not entitled to the retirement benefits under
R.A. No. 8291 because, when he retired in 1992, the law had not yet been enacted. The
retirement laws administered by GSIS at that time were R.A. No. 660, R.A. No. 1616, and
P.D. No. 1146.

Lastly, GSIS argues that the writ of mandamus issued by the CA is not proper because it
compels petitioner to perform an act that is contrary to law.

Respondent traverses these allegations, and insists that he has a clear legal right to
receive retirement benefits under either R.A. No. 660 or P.D. No. 1146.16 He claims that
he has met all the conditions for entitlement to the benefits under either of the two
laws.17 Respondent contends that the return of his contributions does not bar him from
pursuing his claims because GSIS can require him to refund the premium contributions,
or even deduct the amount returned to him from the retirement benefits he will
receive.18 He also argues that resumption of his monthly pension will not constitute
unjust enrichment because he is entitled to the same as a matter of right for the rest of
his natural life.19
Respondent accepts that, contrary to the pronouncement of the CA, he is not covered by
R.A. No. 8291. He, therefore, asks this Court to modify the CA Decision, such that instead
of Section 13 of R.A. No. 8291, it should be Section 12 of P.D. No. 1146 or Section 11 of
R.A. No. 660 to be used as the basis of his right to receive, and the adjustment of, his
monthly pension.

Furthermore, respondent argues that allowing him to retire under another law does not
constitute "conversion" as contemplated in the GSIS law. He avers that his application
for retirement under R.A. No. 910 was duly approved by GSIS, endorsed by the DOJ, and
implemented by the DBM for almost a decade. Thus, he should not be made to suffer
any adverse consequences owing to the change in the interpretation of the provisions of
R.A. No. 910. Moreover, he could not have applied for conversion of his chosen
retirement mode to one under a different law within one year from approval of his
retirement application, because of his firm belief that his retirement under R.A. No. 910
was proper – a belief amply supported by its approval by GSIS, the favorable
endorsement of the DOJ, and its implementation by the DBM.20

The petition is without merit.

Initially, we resolve the procedural issue.

GSIS contends that respondent’s petition for mandamus filed before the CA was
procedurally improper because respondent could not show a clear legal right to the
relief sought.

The Court disagrees with petitioner. The CA itself acknowledged that it would not
indulge in technicalities to resolve the case, but focus instead on the substantive issues
rather than on procedural questions.21 Furthermore, courts have the discretion to relax
the rules of procedure in order to protect substantive rights and prevent manifest
injustice to a party.

The Court has allowed numerous meritorious cases to proceed despite inherent
procedural defects and lapses. Rules of procedure are mere tools designed to facilitate
the attainment of justice. Strict and rigid application of rules which would result in
technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than to promote substantial justice must
always be avoided.22

Besides, as will be discussed hereunder, contrary to petitioner’s posture, respondent


has a clear legal right to the relief prayed for. Thus, the CA acted correctly when it gave
due course to respondent’s petition for mandamus.

This case involves a former government official who, after honorably serving office for
44 years, was comfortably enjoying his retirement in the relative security of a regular
monthly pension, but found himself abruptly denied the benefit and left without means
of sustenance. This is a situation that obviously cries out for the proper application of
retirement laws, which are in the class of social legislation.

The inflexible rule in our jurisdiction is that social legislation must be liberally
construed in favor of the beneficiaries.23 Retirement laws, in particular, are liberally
construed in favor of the retiree24 because their objective is to provide for the retiree’s
sustenance and, hopefully, even comfort, when he no longer has the capability to earn a
livelihood. The liberal approach aims to achieve the humanitarian purposes of the law
in order that efficiency, security, and well-being of government employees may be
enhanced.25 Indeed, retirement laws are liberally construed and administered in favor
of the persons intended to be benefited, and all doubts are resolved in favor of the
retiree to achieve their humanitarian purpose.26

In this case, as adverted to above, respondent was able to establish that he has a clear
legal right to the reinstatement of his retirement benefits.

In stopping the payment of respondent’s monthly pension, GSIS relied on the


memorandum of the DBM, which, in turn, was based on the Chief Presidential Legal
Counsel’s opinion that respondent, not being a judge, was not entitled to retire under
R.A. No. 910. And because respondent had been mistakenly allowed to receive
retirement benefits under R.A. No. 910, GSIS erroneously concluded that respondent
was not entitled to any retirement benefits at all, not even under any other extant
retirement law. This is flawed logic.

Respondent’s disqualification from receiving retirement benefits under R.A. No. 910
does not mean that he is disqualified from receiving any retirement benefit under any
other existing retirement law.

The CA, however, incorrectly held that respondent was covered by R.A. No. 8291. R.A.
No. 8291 became a law after respondent retired from government service. Hence,
petitioner and even respondent agree that it does not apply to respondent, because the
law took effect after respondent’s retirement.

Prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 8291, retiring government employees who were not
entitled to the benefits under R.A. No. 910 had the option to retire under either of two
laws: Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended by R.A. No. 660, or P.D. No. 1146.

In his Comment, respondent implicitly indicated his preference to retire under P.D. No.
1146, since this law provides for higher benefits, and because the same was the latest
law at the time of his retirement in 1992.27
Under P.D. No. 1146, to be eligible for retirement benefits, one must satisfy the
following requisites:

Section 11. Conditions for Old-Age Pension.

(a) Old-age pension shall be paid to a member who:

(1) has at least fifteen years of service;

(2) is at least sixty years of age; and

(3) is separated from the service.

Respondent had complied with these requirements at the time of his retirement. GSIS
does not dispute this. Accordingly, respondent is entitled to receive the benefits
provided under Section 12 of the same law, to wit:

Section 12. Old-Age Pension.

(a) A member entitled to old-age pension shall receive the basic monthly pension for
life but in no case for a period less than five years: Provided, That, the member shall
have the option to convert the basic monthly pensions for the first five years into a
lump sum as defined in this Act: Provided, further, That, in case the pensioner dies
before the expiration of the five-year period, his primary beneficiaries shall be entitled
to the balance of the amount still due to him. In default of primary beneficiaries, the
amount shall be paid to his legal heirs.

To grant respondent these benefits does not equate to double retirement, as GSIS
mistakenly claims. Since respondent has been declared ineligible to retire under R.A.
No. 910, GSIS should simply apply the proper retirement law to respondent’s claim, in
substitution of R.A. No. 910. In this way, GSIS would be faithful to its mandate to
administer retirement laws in the spirit in which they have been enacted, i.e., to provide
retirees the wherewithal to live a life of relative comfort and security after years of
service to the government. Respondent will not receive --- and GSIS is under no
obligation to give him --- more than what is due him under the proper retirement law.

It must be emphasized that P.D. No. 1146 specifically mandates that a retiree is entitled
to monthly pension for life. As this Court previously held:

Considering the mandatory salary deductions from the government employee, the
government pensions do not constitute mere gratuity but form part of compensation.
In a pension plan where employee participation is mandatory, the prevailing view is
that employees have contractual or vested rights in the pension where the pension is
part of the terms of employment. The reason for providing retirement benefits is to
compensate service to the government. Retirement benefits to government employees
are part of emolument to encourage and retain qualified employees in the government
service. Retirement benefits to government employees reward them for giving the best
years of their lives in the service of their country.

Thus, where the employee retires and meets the eligibility requirements, he acquires a
vested right to benefits that is protected by the due process clause. Retirees enjoy a
protected property interest whenever they acquire a right to immediate payment under
pre-existing law. Thus, a pensioner acquires a vested right to benefits that have become
due as provided under the terms of the public employees’ pension statute. No law can
deprive such person of his pension rights without due process of law, that is, without
notice and opportunity to be heard.28

It must also be underscored that GSIS itself allowed respondent to retire under R.A. No.
910, following jurisprudence laid down by this Court.

One could hardly fault respondent, though a seasoned lawyer, for relying on petitioner’s
interpretation of the pertinent retirement laws, considering that the latter is tasked to
administer the government’s retirement system. He had the right to assume that GSIS
personnel knew what they were doing.

Since the change in circumstances was through no fault of respondent, he cannot be


prejudiced by the same.1avvphi1 His right to receive monthly pension from the
government cannot be jeopardized by a new interpretation of the law.

GSIS’ argument that respondent has already been enormously benefited under R.A. No.
910 misses the point.

Retirement benefits are a form of reward for an employee’s loyalty and service to the
employer, and are intended to help the employee enjoy the remaining years of his life,
lessening the burden of having to worry about his financial support or upkeep. A
pension partakes of the nature of "retained wages" of the retiree for a dual purpose: to
entice competent people to enter the government service; and to permit them to retire
from the service with relative security, not only for those who have retained their vigor,
but more so for those who have been incapacitated by illness or accident.29

Surely, giving respondent what is due him under the law is not unjust enrichment.

As to GSIS’ contention that what respondent seeks is conversion of his retirement mode,
which is prohibited under R.A. No. 8291, the Court agrees with the CA that this is not a
case of conversion within the contemplation of the law. The conversion under the law is
one that is voluntary, a choice to be made by the retiree. Here, respondent had no
choice but to look for another law under which to claim his pension benefits because
the DBM had decided not to release the funds needed to continue payment of his
monthly pension.

Respondent himself admitted that, if the DBM had not suspended the payment of his
pension, he would not have sought any other law under which to receive his benefits.
The necessity to "convert" was not a voluntary choice of respondent but a circumstance
forced upon him by the government itself.

Finally, GSIS would like this Court to believe that because it has returned respondent’s
premium contributions, it is now legally impossible for it to comply with the CA’s
directive.

Given the fact that respondent is ineligible to retire under R.A. No. 910, the refund by
GSIS of respondent’s premium payments was erroneous. Hence, GSIS can demand the
return of the erroneous payment or it may opt to deduct the amount earlier received by
respondent from the benefits which he will receive in the future. Considering its
expertise on the matter, GSIS can device a scheme that will facilitate either the
reimbursement or the deduction in the most cost-efficient and beneficial manner.

The foregoing disquisition draws even greater force from subsequent developments.
While this case was pending, the Congress enacted Republic Act No. 10071, 30 the
Prosecution Service Act of 2010. On April 8, 2010, it lapsed into law without the
signature of the President,31 pursuant to Article VI, Section 27(1) of the Constitution.32

Section 24 of R.A. No. 10071 provides:

Section 24. Retroactivity. - The benefits mentioned in Sections 14 and 16 hereof shall
be granted to all those who retired prior to the effectivity of this Act.

By virtue of this express provision, respondent is covered by R.A. No. 10071. In


addition, he is now entitled to avail of the benefits provided by Section 23, that "all
pension benefits of retired prosecutors of the National Prosecution Service shall be
automatically increased whenever there is an increase in the salary and allowance of
the same position from which he retired."

Respondent, as former Chief State Prosecutor, albeit the position has been renamed
"Prosecutor General,"33should enjoy the same retirement benefits as the Presiding
Justice of the CA, pursuant to Section 14 of R.A. No. 10071, to wit:
Section 14. Qualifications, Rank and Appointment of the Prosecutor General. - The
Prosecutor General shall have the same qualifications for appointment, rank, category,
prerogatives, salary grade and salaries, allowances, emoluments, and other privileges,
shall be subject to the same inhibitions and disqualifications, and shall enjoy the same
retirement and other benefits as those of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals
and shall be appointed by the President.34

Furthermore, respondent should also benefit from the application of Section 16 of the
law, which states:

Section 16. Qualifications, Ranks, and Appointments of Prosecutors, and other


Prosecution Officers. – x x x.

Any increase after the approval of this Act in the salaries, allowances or retirement
benefits or any upgrading of the grades or levels thereof of any or all of the Justices or
Judges referred to herein to whom said emoluments are assimilated shall apply to the
corresponding prosecutors.

Lastly, and most importantly, by explicit fiat of R.A. No. 10071, members of the National
Prosecution Service have been granted the retirement benefits under R.A. No. 910, to
wit:

Section 25. Applicability. - All benefits heretofore extended under Republic Act No. 910,
as amended, and all other benefits that may be extended by the way of amendment
thereto shall likewise be given to the prosecutors covered by this Act.

Hence, from the time of the effectivity of R.A. No. 10071, respondent should be entitled
to receive retirement benefits granted under R.A. No. 910.

Consequently, GSIS should compute respondent’s retirement benefits from the time the
same were withheld until April 7, 2010 in accordance with P.D. No. 1146; and his
retirement benefits from April 8, 2010 onwards in accordance with R.A. No. 910.

A final note. The Court is dismayed at the cavalier manner in which GSIS handled
respondent’s claims, keeping respondent in the dark as to the real status of his
retirement benefits for so long. That the agency tasked with administering the benefits
of retired government employees could so unreasonably treat one of its beneficiaries,
one who faithfully served our people for over 40 years, is appalling. It is well to remind
GSIS of its mandate to promote the efficiency and welfare of the employees of our
government, and to perform its tasks not only with competence and proficiency but
with genuine compassion and concern.
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Decision dated October 28, 2008
and the Resolution dated February 18, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
101811 are hereby AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. Government Service Insurance
System is ORDERED to (1) pay respondent’s retirement benefits in accordance with P.D.
No. 1146, subject to deductions, if any, computed from the time the same were withheld
until April 7, 2010; and (2) pay respondent’s retirement benefits in accordance with
R.A. No. 910, computed from April 8, 2010 onwards.

In order that respondent may not be further deprived of his monthly pension benefits,
this Decision is IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.