Melchora Cabanas vs Francisco Pilapil
58 SCRA 94 – Political Law – Parens Patriae – Strengthening the Family
Florentino Pilapil insured himself and he indicated in his insurance plan that his child will be his beneficiary. He also indicated that if upon his death the child is still a minor; the proceeds of his benefits shall be administered by his brother, Francisco Pilapil. The child was only ten years of age when Florentino died and so Francisco then took charge of Florentino’s insurance proceeds for the benefit of the child.
On the other hand, the mother of the child Melchora Cabanas filed a complaint seeking the delivery of the insurance proceeds in favor and for her to be declared as the child’s trustee. Francisco asserted the terms of the insurance policy and that as a private contract its terms and obligations must be binding only to the parties and intended beneficiaries.
ISSUE: Whether or not the state may interfere by virtue of “parens patriae” to the terms of the insurance policy.
HELD: Yes. The Constitution provides for the strengthening of the family as the basic social unit, and that whenever any member thereof such as in the case at bar would be prejudiced and his interest be affected then the judiciary if a litigation has been filed should resolve that case according to the best interest of that person. The uncle here should not be the trustee, it should be the mother as she was the immediate relative of the minor child and it is assumed that the mother shall show more care towards the child than the uncle will. The application of parens patriae here is in consonance with this country’s tradition of favoring conflicts in favor of the family hence preference to the parent (mother) is observed.