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Macabenta vs. Davao Stevedore Terminal Co., G.R. No. L-2748 , !

"ril #$,% 7$ &b'ects and Met(ods o) Constr*ction+ Mens Le,islatoris-Misc(ie) R*le It is a principle of statutory construction that what is within the spirit of the law is as much a part of it as what is written. Otherwise the basic purpose discernible in such codal provision would not be attained. .acts+ Conrado Macabenta was a laborer in the sawmill of the Davao Stevedore Terminal Company. Although some sort of uarters were provided by the respondent to its employees at the sawmill! many of them apparently preferred to commute "the Company furnishes their transportation#! and the deceased in particular went home about three times a wee$. At the time that the decedent met the vehicular accident on September %&! %'(% which led to his death on September )'! %'(%! the claimant*widow! +eonora Tantoy ,da. de Macabenta! was not yet married to the decedent although they had already been living together as husband and wife for the past three months. -owever! on the day following the accident! they were lawfully wedded in a marriage ceremony solemni.ed in the hospital where the deceased was hospitali.ed up to his death. The claimant widow gave birth on April /! %'() to the posthumous daughter of the deceased who was given the name 0a uel Tantoy Macabenta. The 1or$men2s compensation Commission awarded to the claimant widow for herself and in behalf of her minor child the amount of 3)!45/.55 as compensation and the sum of 3)45./5 as attorney2s fees. /ss*e+ 1hether or not the widow of a deceased employee whose marriage occurred after the accident as well as the posthumous child could be considered dependents within the meaning of the 1or$men2s Compensation Act. 0eld+ 1es. 6rom the e2"ress lan,*a,e of the 1or$men2s Compensation Act! a widow living with the deceased or actually dependent upon

him totally or partly as well as her daughter! if under %/ years of age or incapable of supporting him or herself! and unmarried! whether or not actually dependent upon the deceased are considered de"endents. Ratio+ It is true that the marriage too$ place after the fatal accident but there was no uestion that at the time of his death she was married to him. She! therefore! comes entirely within the letter of the law. 7or can there be any doubt that the child! 0a uel Macabenta! also falls within the words the Act employs. Our Civil Code! in no uncertain terms! considers a conceived child born for all purposes that are favorable to her provided the birth is attended with the conditions specified! namely! that she is alive at the time she is completely delivered from the mother2s womb. Time and time again! we have stressed that where t(e la3 is clear, o*r d*t4 is e5*all4 "lain. 6e m*st a""l4 it to t(e )acts as )o*nd. 1hat is more! we have ta$en pains to defeat any evasion of its literal language by re8ecting an interpretation! even if not totally devoid of plausibility! but li$ely to attach to it a significance different from that intended by the lawma$ers. A paraphrase of an aphorism from -olmes is not inappropriate. There can always occur to an intelligence hostile to a piece of legislation a misinterpretation that may! without due reflection! be considered not too far*fetched. Our conclusion li$ewise finds support in the fundamental principle that once t(e "olic4 or "*r"ose o) t(e la3 (as been ascertained, e))ect s(o*ld be ,iven to it b4 t(e '*diciar4 . 9ven if honest doubts could be entertained! therefore! as to the meaning of the statutory provisions! still respect for such a basic doctrine calls for a re8ection of the plea of the Davao Stevedore Terminal Company. Assuming a choice is necessary between conflicting theories! t(at 3(ic( best con)orms to t(e lan,*a,e o) t(e stat*te and its "*r"ose s(o*ld "revail. To uote from the +ingad case anew: ;6or it is undeniable that ever4 stat*te! much more so

one arising from a legislative implementation of a constitutional mandate! m*st be so constr*ed t(at no 5*estion as to its con)ormit4 3it( 3(at t(e )*ndamental la3 re5*ires need arise.