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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Deceased PAF pilot’s kin can settle loan—SC

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The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to allow the lone heir of a Philippine Air Force combat pilot who died in the line of duty in 1980 to settle his deceased brother’s socialized housing loan to avoid foreclosure.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, the SC granted the petition filed by Felimon Torres, brother and sole heir of military pilot Dominador dela Cena Torres Jr., who assailed the Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed the order of the GSIS Board of Trustees which denied the housing loan restructuring and issued a notice of cancellation. 

“Forty-four years since Dominador’s death and 19 years since the GSIS Board’s issuance of the Notice of Cancellation, the Court makes this final note. That is, perhaps more than others, the socialized guarantee of security is most required by Filipinos who serve in the military and allied forces—they who stand in uniform, daily put their lives on the line and protect our lives and liberties, often at the cost of theirs,” the SC noted. 

“Perhaps the assurance of the dignity of a shelter to come home to is earned, even deserved, by those who all too often have to leave their lives behind and march towards the threat of their early graves at a moment’s notice, and who profess that ‘if their ashes are scattered in the four winds, that is all part and parcel of the job,” the SC said.

“Accordingly, the instant Petition is hereby granted. The Decision dated March 16, 2016 and the Resolution dated July 20, 2016 of the Court of Appeals Eleventh Division in CA-G.R. SP No. 136562 are hereby reversed and set aside,” the SC ruled.

With this ruling, the high court remanded the case to the respondent GSIS Board of Trustees for determination of the loan payment restructuring pursuant to Policy and Procedural Guidelines No. 232-13 and related remedies as may be proper in favor of herein petitioner Felimon Torres for the full payment of the outstanding obligations of the subject housing loan account in the name of Dominador C. Torres, Jr. in GSIS

A summary of the case records issued by the SC’s public information office (PIO) stated that in 1979, Dominador acquired, under a Deed of Conditional Sale, a low-cost housing unit in Soldiers’ Hills Village, Muntinlupa City, secured by a housing loan from the GSIS and payable through salary deductions. 

Less than a year later, Dominador died when his helicopter crashed while on a mission in Mindanao. Dominador, who was single and without children, died without a will. 

When his parents died in 1986 and 1997, his brother Felimon was left as his sole heir. The GSIS Quezon City Branch Office, uninformed of Dominador’s death, later sent a Notice of Foreclosure/Cancellation to his address for failure to pay the amortizations. 

Felimon challenged the notice as he pointed out that the property must be consolidated in his name under GSIS’s Sales Redemption Insurance (SRI) policy. The SRI guarantees the full settlement of the loan balance in case of the borrower’s death within the loan term. 

Also, Felimon manifested his willingness to pay the outstanding balance should the GSIS rule that the loan is not covered by the SRI. 

The GSIS denied Felimon’s claims and canceled the Deed of Conditional Sale, and demanded that the occupants vacate the property. This was affirmed by both the GSIS Board of Trustees (Board) and the Court of Appeals. 

Felimon elevated the issue before the SC on a petition for review.

“the Court here finds that consistent with the GSIS rules and its primary mandate vis-a-vis the facts of the case at bar, petitioner has the right to avail of a restructure option so that he may be able to preserve his right to the subject property which he inherited from his brother, Dominador,” the SC said, in ruling in favor of Felimon.

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