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Hon. Accredited Voluntary Arbitrator Allan S. Montano, GR No.

182836 October 13, 2009
Hortillano an employee of Continental Manufacturing Steel Corporation
and a member of respondent Nag kakaisang manggawa ng Centro Steel
Corporation Solidarity of Trade Unions in the Philippines for
Empowerment and Reforms (Union) filed a claim for Paternity Leave,
Bereavement Leave and Accident Insurance for dependent pursuant to the
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) concluded between continental
and the Union.
The claim was based on the death of Hortillianos unborn child.
Hortillianos wife. Marife V, Hortilliano had a premature delivery while
she was in the 38th week of pregnancy. According to the Death Certificate
the female fetus died during labor because of fetal Anoxia secondary to
uteri placemental insufficiency.
Continental Steel immediately granted Hortillianos claim for Paternity
Leave but denied his claims for bereavement Leave and other death
benefits, consisting of the death and accident insurance.
The union contended that Hortilliano was entitled to bereavement leave
and other death benefits pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement,
but the Continental contended that there are to requisites to be entitled to
disputed benefits first is death and the second is status as a legitimate
dependent. The continental relied on Art. 40, 41, and 42of the Civil Code
contending that only one who has civil personality can die hence the
unborn child never died because it never acquired a juridical personality
therefore Hortilliano is not entitled to claimed benefits
Whether or not the death of an unborn child is tantamount to the death
pertaining on the Civil Code thus only those who acquired juridical
personality may die.

No, Sections 40, 41, and 42 of the Civil Code do not provide at all a
definition of death. Moreover, while the Civil Code expressly provides that
civil personality may be extinguished by death, it does not explicitly state
that only those who have acquired Juridical personality could die.
Death has been defined as a cessation of life. Life is not synonymous with
civil personality. One need not to acquire civil personality before he or she
could die. Even a child inside the womb already has life. No less than the
Constitution recognizes the life of the unborn from conception, that the
State must protect equally with the life of the mother. If the unborn already
has life, then the cessation thereof even prior to the child being delivered,
qualifies as death.