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In General
Whether if a statute is to be construed as
mandatory and imposing a duty, or merely as
permissive and conferring discretion, is to be
determined in each case from the apparent
intention of the statute as gathered from the
context, as well as from the language of the
particular provision. The question in each case is
whether, taken as a whole or viewed in the light
of surrounding circumstances, it can be said that
a purpose existed on the part of the legislator to
enact a law mandatory in its character. If it can,
then it should be given a mandatory effect; if
not, then it should be given its ordinary
permissive effect. (Federation of Free Workers vs
Inciong, 161 SCRA 295)

Rules on the words MAY, MUST and SHALL

Where the provision reads may, this word shows
that it is not mandatory but discretional (US vs
Sanchez, 13 Phil 337)
The word may is usually permissive not
mandatory (Luna vs Abaya, 86 Phil 475, Capati
vs Ocampo, 113 SCRA 794, Gold Loop Properties
Inc vs CA, 106 SCAD 270)
The word must connotes an imperative act or
operates to impose a duty which may be
enforced. It is synonymous with ought which
connotes compulsion or mandatoriness (Loyola
Grand Villas Homeowners [South] Association,
Inc vs CA, 85 SCAD 420)
Shall in a statute commonly denotes an
imperative obligation and is inconsistent with
the idea of discretion and in the presumption is
that the word shall when used in a statutes is
mandatory (Codoy vs Calugay, 312 SCRA 333)

It is true that the word may ordinarily
indicates potestative condition, but it may and
should be read as shall when the apparent
intention of the parties demands such
construction. (Gonzales v La Previsora Filipina,
74 Phil 174)
Must in a statute is not always imperative, buy
may be consistent with an exercise of discretion.
(Diokno vs Rehabilitation Finance Corp, 91 Phil
The word shall does not always denote an
imperative duty (Montecer v CA, 308 SCRA 642)