NAGA CITY --- A woman was convicted by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) here for misrepresenting herself as the dependent mother of a deceased member to claim death benefit and by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Naga for pretending to be the legal wife of her common-law husband, to claim funeral and death benefits under the Social Security System (SSS).
SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said that Merly Solano Balquin first misrepresented herself as Rosita S. Buena, dependent mother of Cesar S. Buena Jr., who died in 2001. The second misrepresentation was committed in 2003, when Balquin pretended again to be Rosita, wife of deceased Cesar Buena Sr, to file funeral and death benefits.
“It was very clear that Balquin intended to defraud SSS by misrepresenting herself not only once but twice just to qualify as a beneficiary to claim SSS benefits. We are saddened that there are people who would do such act for their benefit but at the expense of the SSS and the real beneficiaries,” said Dooc.
According to Dooc, by misrepresenting herself as the dependent mother of the younger Buena, Balquin was convicted for violating Republic Act 8282 otherwise known as Social Security Act of 1997. She was ordered to serve a jail term of six years and to pay a fine amounting to P5,000.
On the other hand, for pretending to be the wife of the older Buena to claim funeral and death benefits, she was convicted for violating RA 8282 in relation to Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code. She was ordered to serve a jail term of six months and to pay a fine of P500.
Based on the decision from the RTC, Balquin pretended to be Rosita per instruction of Buena Sr. She signed the necessary documents including the Sinumpaang Salaysay, a requirement that both parents will sign and file the death claim application.
During the pendency of the case, Balquin refunded to the SSS the death benefit she received in the amount of P6,000 in three installments.
“While we understand that the family has financial needs due to the death of Buena Jr., that did not justify the act of Balquin in misrepresenting herself to qualify as the beneficiary. Despite returning the money she received, she was still liable since she already committed the misrepresentation before the case was filed against her,” said Dooc.
On the second case, Balquin pleaded guilty to both charges of fraudulent funeral benefit claim and fraudulent death claim filed in MTC. No objection was raised by the SSS, hence, the court ruled against Balquin.
“May this serve as a warning to everyone that misrepresenting yourself as someone else to qualify for SSS benefits is punishable under the SS Act. We do not tolerate such fraudulent act and we make sure that those who commit it, will be punished accordingly,” said Dooc.
At present, Balquin appealed the case which was decided by the RTC.