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GSIS Cebu v Montesclaros

Carpio, J.

Case Doctrines:
A statute based on reasonable classification does not violate the constitutional
guaranty of equal protection of the law.
Requirements for valid and reasonable classification:
1.
2.
3.
4.

It
It
It
It

must
must
must
must

rest on substantial distinctions


be germane to the purpose of the law
not be limited to existing conditions only
apply equally to all member of the same class

The law may treat one class differently from another class provided there are real
and substantial difference to distinguish on class from another.

Nature:
Petition for review on certiorari of CA decision affirming Cebu RTC decision
which held that Milagros Orbiso Montesclaros is entitled to survivorship pension

Facts:
1. July 10, 1983, Nicolas Montesclaros (Nicolas, 72 year old widower) married
Milagros Orbiso (Milagros, 43 years old).
2. January 4, 1985, Nicolas files with GSIS an application for retirement benefits,
which he qualified for on February 18, 1985, under PD 1146.
3. April 22, 1992, Nicolas dies. Milagros filed with GSIS a claim for survivorship
pension under PD 1146. GSIS denied the claim because under Sec. 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 pension.
4. Milagros filed before RTC a special civil action for declaratory relief
questioning validity of Sec. 18, PD 1146 disqualifying her from receiving
survivorship pension.
5. RTC declared Milagros eligible for survivorship pension citing Art. 115 and
117 of the Family Code, stating that retirement benefits earned by
pensioner for services rendered are property the pensioner acquired through
labor and such benefits are conjugal property. RTC held that Sec. 118,

PD 1146 is deemed repealed for being inconsistent with the Family


Code.
6. Court of Appeals rules that pension is not gratuitous since it came from
pensioners salary deductions and is a deferred compensation for services
rendered.
7. January 10, 2003, Milagros informed the Court that she has accepted GSIS
decision and is no longer interested in pursuing the case. Court decided to
resolve the issue since social justice and public interest demand that the
Court resolve the constitutionality of the proviso.

Issues (which the Court provided but isnt really the issue):
1. WoN Sec. 16 of PD 1146 entitles Milagros to survivorship pension
2. WoN retirement benefits form part of conjugal property
3. WoN Art. 254 and 256 of the FC repealed Sec. 18 of PD 1146

Held:

Section 18 of PD 1146 is unconstitutional for violating the due process


clause.
Section 18. Death of a Pensioner. Upon death of a pensioner, the primary
beneficiaries shall receive the applicable pension mentioned under paragraph (b) of
section 17 of this act: Provided, that dependent spouse shall not be entitled to said
pensions if his marriage with the pensioner is contracted within three years before
the pensioner qualified for pension.

Retirement benefits as property interest


PD 1146 mandates monthly contributions from a government employee, and an
annual appropriation from the government for its employees. Employee salaries are
withheld, and these contributions are remitted to GSIS. The government also
provides its corresponding share to GSIS. Therefore, government pensions do
not constitute mere gratuity but form part of compensation.

Denial of due process


The proviso is unduly oppressive. There is confiscation of benefits due the surviving
spouse without giving the surviving spouse an opportunity to be heard. It also

undermines the purpose of PD 1146 (given in the whereas clauses) which is to


assure comprehensiveness and integrated social security and insurance benefits to
government employees and their dependents.

Violation of equal protection clause


A statute based on reasonable classification does not violate the constitutional
guaranty of equal protection of the law.
Requirements for valid and reasonable classification:
1.
2.
3.
4.

It
It
It
It

must
must
must
must

rest on substantial distinctions


be germane to the purpose of the law
not be limited to existing conditions only
apply equally to all member of the same class

The law may treat one class differently from another class provided there are real
and substantial difference to distinguish on class from another.
The proviso in question does not satisfy these requirements.
It discriminates against the spouse who contracts marriage to the pensioner within
three years before the pensioner qualified for pension. Even if the 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 means employed and the purpose intended. The law itself does
not provide any reason for purpose of such a prohibition. If the reason is to
prevent deathbed marriages, the classification does not rest on substantial
distinctions.
Aside from that RA 8291 or the Government Service Insurance Act of 1997 revised
the old charter of GSIS or PD 1146. Under its IRR, 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 spouse contracted the
marriage solely to receive the benefit. This law no longer prescribes a
sweeping classification that unduly prejudices the legitimate surviving spouse.