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V.

CAPACITY TO ACT
A. NATURAL PERSONS

G.R. No. 182836

October 13, 2009

CONTINENTAL STEEL MANUFACTURING CORPORATION, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. ACCREDITED VOLUNTARY ARBITRATOR ALLAN S. MONTAO and NAGKAKAISANG
MANGGAGAWA NG CENTRO STEEL CORPORATION-SOLIDARITY OF UNIONS IN THE
PHILIPPINES FOR EMPOWERMENT AND REFORMS (NMCSC-SUPER), Respondents.

Ponente: Chico-Nazario, J.

Facts:
1. In January 2006, the wife of Rolando Hortillano had a miscarriage which caused the death of their
unborn child.

2. Hortillano, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, then filed death benefits claim from
his employer, the Continental Steel Manufacturing Corporation which denied the claim.

3. Eventually, the issue was submitted for arbitration and both parties agreed to have Atty. Allan Montao
act as the arbitrator.
a. Montao ruled that Hortillano is entitled to his claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision
of Montao.

4. On appeal, Continental Steel insisted that Hortillano is not entitled because under the CBA, death
benefits are awarded if an employees legitimate dependent has died; but that in this case, no death has
occurred because the fetus died inside the womb of the mother, that a fetus has no juridical personality
because it was never born pursuant to Article 40 of the Civil Code which provides a conceived child

acquires personality only when it is born; that the fetus was not born hence it is not a legitimate
dependent as contemplated by the CBA nor did it suffer death as contemplated under civil laws.

Issues:
1. Whether or not the fetus is a legitimate dependent?
2. Whether or not a person has to be born before it could die?

Held:
1. Yes. In the first place, the fact of marriage between Hortillano and his wife was never put in question,
hence they are presumed to be married. Second, childrenconceived or born during the marriage of the
parents are legitimate. Hence, the unborn child (fetus) is already a legitimate dependent the moment it
was conceived (meeting of the sperm and egg cell).

2. No. Death is defined as cessation of life. Certainly, a child in the womb has life. There is no need to
discuss whether or not the unborn child acquired juridical personality that is not the issue here. But
nevertheless, life should not be equated to civil personality. 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. In this case, Hortillanos fetus had had life inside
the womb as evidenced by the fact that it clung to life for 38 weeks before the unfortunate miscarriage.
Thus, death occurred on a dependent hence Hortillano as an employee is entitled to death benefit claims
as provided for in their CBA.