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ANTOLIN v. ABELARDO R. DOMONDON, ET.AL.

G.R. No. 165036 / JULY 5, 2010 / DEL CASTILLO, J. / LIMITATIONS OF RIGHT TO


INFORMATION / KJMSTA.ANA

NATURE
PETITIONERS
RESPONDENTS

Petition for Mandamus


HAZEL MA. C. ANTOLIN
ABELARDO T. DOMONDON, JOSE. A. GANGAN, and
VIOLETA J. JOSEF

SUMMARY. Petitioner failed the CPA Board Exams. Believing she passed,
she is now invoking her right to information to to get hold of the
questionnaire, her answer documents, the answer key, and explanation of
the grading system. The Supreme Court held that there are valid reasons
with regard to the limited access to the Examination Papers.
DOCTRINE. Like all the constitutional guarantees, the right to information
is not absolute. The people's right to information is limited to "matters of
public concern," and is further "subject to such limitations as may be
provided by law." Similarly, the State's policy of full disclosure is limited to
"transactions involving public interest," and is "subject to reasonable
conditions prescribed by law".
FACTS.

Petitioner failed the CPA Board Exams.

Believing she passed, she wrote to the Board to request for the
following documents: (a) the questionnaire in each of the seven
subjects (b) her answer sheets; (c) the answer keys to the
questionnaires, and (d) an explanation of the grading system used in
each subject (collectively, the Examination Papers).

Respondent Domondon denied the request, stating that the only


permitted access to the petitioner was the answer sheet, which she
had been shown previously.

Domondon further clarified that the Board was precluded from


releasing the Examination Papers (other than petitioners answer
sheet) pursuant to Sec. 20, Article IV of PRC Resolution No. 338, series
of 1994.

Petitioner filed a Petition for Mandamus with Damages against the


Board of Accountancy and its members. The trial court granted
respondents motion to dismiss on the ground that the case was mood
and academic since the petitioner subsequently passed. This was
affirmed by the CA; hence, this petition.

ISSUES & RATIO.

Whether such is covered by the constitutional right to


information - No.

Like all the constitutional guarantees, the right to information is not


absolute. The people's right to information is limited to "matters of public
concern," and is further "subject to such limitations as may be provided by
law." Similarly, the State's policy of full disclosure is limited to "transactions
involving public interest," and is "subject to reasonable conditions
prescribed by law".
There may be valid reasons to limit access to the Examination
Papers in order to properly administer the exam. More than the mere
convenience of the examiner, it may well be that there exist inherent
difficulties in the preparation, generation, encoding, administration, and
checking of these multiple choice exams that require that the questions
and answers remain confidential for a limited duration.
DECISION.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petitions are GRANTED. The December
11, 2006 and February 16, 2004 Decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR
SP No. 76546 and CA-GR SP No. 76498, respectively, are hereby SET
ASIDE. The November 11, 2002 and January 30, 2003 Orders of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33, in Civil Case No. 98-86881 are
AFFIRMED. The case is remanded to the Regional Trial Court for further
proceedings.
Note: It was remanded so PRC may be given an opportunity to explain the
reasons behind their regulations or articulate the justification for keeping
the Examination Documents confidential.