Almirante: Legal dependent-A A +A
Labor case Digest
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Respondent Michael Alfante was hired by petitioner Philippine Journalists, Inc., as computer technician for the management information system under manager Neri Torrecampo, starting last May 16, 2000. Sometime in 2001, Rico Pagkalinawan replaced Torrecampo, which Alfante and three other co-employees opposed. Pagkalinawan took offense of their objection and addressed to the respondent a series of memoranda for alleged infractions. Respondent was dismissed from the service on the ground of “poor performance” effective July 28, 2003.
Subsequently, Alfante filed a case for illegal dismissal and money claims.
When the case reached the Court of Appeals (CA), it modified the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) by granting funeral or bereavement aid to respondent but imposing, among others, the condition that he should present conclusive proof that the deceased was his parent. Did the CA err?
Social legislations contemporaneous with the execution of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) have given a meaning to the term legal dependent. First of all, Section 8(e) of the Social Security Law provides that a dependent shall be the following, namely: (a) the legal spouse entitled by law to receive support from the member; (b) the legitimate, legitimated, or legally adopted, and illegitimate child who is unmarried, not gainfully employed and has not reached 21 of age, or, if over 21 years of age, is congenitally or while still a minor has been permanently incapacitated and incapable of self-support, physically or mentally; and (c) the parent who is receiving regular support from the member.
Secondly, Section 4(f) of Republic Act 7875, as amended by RA 9241, enumerates who are the legal dependents, to wit: (a) the legitimate spouse who is not a member; (b) the unmarried and unemployed legitimate, legitimated, illegitimate, acknowledged children as appearing in the birth certificate; legally adopted or step-children below 21 years of age; (c) children who are 21 years old and older but suffering from congenital disability, either physical or mental, or any disability acquired that renders them totally dependent on the member of our support; and (d) the parents who are 60 years old or older whose monthly income is below an amount to be determined by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. in accordance with the guiding principles set forth in Article 1 of RA 7875.
And, thirdly, Section 2(f) of Presidential Decree 1146, as amended by RA 8291, describes a dependent as someone who depends for support upon the member or pensioner; (b) the legitimate, legitimated, legally adopted child, including the illegitimate child, who is unmarried, not gainfully employed, not over the age of majority, or is over the age of majority but incapacitated and incapable of self-support due to a mental or physical defect acquired prior to age of majority; and (c) the parents dependent upon the member for support.
It is clear from these statutory definitions of dependent that the civil status of the employee as either married or single is not the controlling consideration in order that a person may qualify as the employee’s legal dependent. What is rather decidedly controlling is the fact that the spouse, child, or parent is actually dependent for support upon the employee (Philippine Journalists, Inc. vs. Journal Employees Union (JEU), for its Union Member Michael Alfante, G.R. No. 192601, June 3, 2013).
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 27, 2013.