Statutory Construction Cases

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Statutory Construction: Case Digests

Statutory Construction – it is the various methods and tests used by the courts for determining the meaning of law.

I. General Principles in defining Statutory Construction
Whether the promotional scheme is a lottery or a gift that violates the provisions of the Postal Law (Caltex v. Palomar)

In the case at bar, there is no requirement in the rules that any fee be paid, any merchandise be bought, any service be rendered, or any value whatsoever be given for the privilege to participate. The scheme is merely a gratuitous distribution of property by chance which does not violate the provisions of the Postal Law. Construction is used where there is rendered doubtful, amongst others, by reason of the fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law. Hence, the Court is tasked to look beyond the fair exterior, to the substance, in order to unmask the real element and pernicious tendencies that the law is seeking to prevent.

What is Statutory Construction?
It is the art or process of discovering and expounding the meaning and the intention of the authors of the law with respect to its application to a given case, where that intention is rendered doubtful, amongst others, by reason of the fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law. (Caltex v. Palomar)

II. When does statutory construction come in?

The first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law. Construction and interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate without them. (National Federation of Labor v. Eisma; Paat v. CA; People v. Mapa; Paras v. Comelec; Daoang v. Municipal Judge of San Nicolas)

1. National Federation of Labor v. Eisma
Construction is required to determine jurisdiction.

The first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law. Construction and interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate without them. However, jurisdiction over the subject matter in a judicial proceeding is conferred by the sovereign authority, which organizes the court; and it is given only by law. Jurisdiction is never presumed; it must be conferred by law in words that do not admit of doubt. Since the jurisdiction of courts and judicial tribunals is derived exclusively from the statutes of the forum, the issue should be resolved on the basis of the law or statute in force.

2. Paat v. CA
Whether construction admits that the authority confiscates conveyances belonging to the court.

The construction that conveyances are subject of confiscation by the courts exclusively (pursuant to Section 28, paragraph 2) unduly restricts the clear intention of the law and inevitably reduces the other provision of Section 68-A, aside to the fact that conveyances are not mentioned nor included in the former provision. In the case at bar, the phrase “to dispose of the same” is broad enough to cover the act of forfeiting conveyances in favor of the government. The only limitation is that it should be made “in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter.” Therefore, in the construction of statutes, it must be read in such a way as to give effect to the purpose projected in the statute.

3. People v. Mapa
Prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition of appointed secret agent of a public official.

The law is explicit that it is unlawful for any person to possess any firearm or any instrument, intended to be used in the manufacture of firearms, parts of firearms, or ammunition except when such firearms are in possession of such public officials and public servants for use in the performance of their official duties. It is the first and fundamental duty of courts to apply the law. It was decided that construction and interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or...
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