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PRC vs.

GR No. 144681 June 21, 2004
SUBJECT: Mandamus

Respondents are all graduates of the Fatima College of Medicine. They passed the Physician
Licensure Examination conducted in Feb. of 1993 by the Board of Medicine. Petitioner PRC
then released their names as successful examinees in the medical licensure examination.

Shortly, the Board observed that the grades of the 79 successful examinees from Fatima college
in the 2 most difficult subjects in the medical licensure exam (Bio-chem & OB-Gyne), were
unusually and exceptionally high: 11 Fatima examinees scored 100% in Bio-Chem and 10 got
100% in OB-Gyne; and another 11 got 99% in Bio-Chem, and 21 scored 99& in OB-Gyne. The
Board also observed that many of those who passed from Fatima got marks of 95% or better in
both subjects, and no one got marks of lower than 90%. This was a record-breaking phenomenon
in the history of the Physician Licensure Examination.

In June 1993, the Board issued Resolution No. 19, withholding the registration as physician of all
the examinees from the Fatima College. The PRC asked the Fr. Beinvenido Nebres, an expert
mathematician and authority in statistics and the NBI to conduct a statistical analysis of the
results in the subjects and to investigate whether any anomaly or irregularity marred the Feb.
1993 examination, respectively.

Fr. Nebres reported that the scores of Fatima College examinees were not only incredibly high
but unusually clustered close to each other. He concluded that there must be some unusual reason
creating the clustering of scores in the 2 subjects. On the other hand, the NBI reported the
questionable passing rate of Fatima examinees leads to the conclusion that they gained early
access to the test questions.

On July 5, 1993, respondents filed a special civil action (SCA) for mandamus, with prayer for
Preliminary Mandatory Injunction (PMI) with the RTC. Meanwhile, the Board issued Resolution
No. 26, charging respondents with immorality, dishonest conduct, fraud, and deceit in
connection with the 2 subjects. It recommended that the tests results of respondents be nullified.

The RTC issued granted the PMI and ordered the petitioners to administer the physicians oath to
respondents and enter their names in the rolls of the PRC. Petitioners then filed a SCA for
certiorari with the CA. The CA granted the petition and nullified and set aside the writ of PMI.
Respondents then elevated the case to the SC.

To prevent the PRC from proceeding with the administrative case, the respondents moved for the
issuance of a TRO, which the lower court granted. The petitioners then filed with the SC, which
referred the matter to the CA, a petition for certiorari to annul the orders of the trial court. The
CA granted the TRO. The appellate court rationated that the respondents complied with all the
statutory requirements for admission in to the licensure examination for physicians in Feb. 1993.
ISSUE: WON the respondents are entitled to a writ of mandamus.

Mandamus is a command issuing from a court of competent jurisdiction, in the name of the state
or the sovereign, directed to some inferior court, tribunal or board, or to some corporation or
person requiring the performance of a particular duty therein specified, which duty results from
the official station of the party to whom the writ is directed, or from operation of law.

Sec. 3, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure outlines 2 situations when a writ of
mandamus may issue, when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully
(1) neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting
from an office, trust, or station; or
(2) excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a rights or office to which the other is

On the existence of a duty of the Board of Medicine to Issue Certificates of Registration as

Physicians under RA 2382.
For mandamus to prosper, there must be a showing that the officer, board, or official concerned,
has a clear legal duty, not involving discretion. Moreover, there must be statutory authority for
the performance of the act, and the performance of the duty has been refused. The question now
is whether the petitioners have the duty to administer the Hipprocratic Oath and register
respondents as physicians?

The SC answered on the affirmative.

To determine whether the petitioner had the ministerial obligation to administer the Hippocratic
Oath to respondents and register them as physicians, recourse must be to the entirety of the
Medical Act of 1959.

A careful reading of Sec. 20 of the Act discloses that the law uses the word shall with respect
to the issuance of certificates of registration. Thus, the petitioners shall sign and issue
certificates of registration to those who have satisfactorily complied with the requirements of the
Board. In statutory construction the term shall is a word of command. It is given imperative
meaning. Thus, when an examinee satisfies the requirements for the grant of his physicians
license, the Board is obliged to administer to him his oath and register him as a physician
pursuant to such law.

Moreover, 2nd par. of Sec. 22 of the Act vested the Board with the power to conduct
administrative investigation and disapprove applications for examinations or registrations. In
this case, after the investigation, the Board filed before the PRC an administrative case against
respondents to ascertain their moral and mental fitness to practice medicine, wherein the Board
ordered the cancellation the respondents examinations papers and further debars them from
taking any licensure examination for a period of 1 year.

Until the moral and mental fitness of the respondents could be ascertained, according to
petitioners, the Board has discretion to hold in abeyance the administration of the Hippocratic
Oath and the issuance of the certificates to them. The writ of mandamus does not lie to compel
performance of an act which is not duly authorized.

On the Right of the Respondents to be Registered as Physicians

The function of mandamus is not to establish a right but to enforce one that has been established
by law. If no legal right has been violated, there can be no application of a legal remedy, and the
writ of mandamus is a legal remedy for a legal right. There must be a well-defined, clear and
certain legal right to the thing demanded. It so long established rule that a license to practice
medicine is a privilege or franchise granted by the government.

Every citizen has a constitutional right to select a profession or course of study subject to a fair,
reasonable, and equitable admission and academic requirements. However, their exercise of this
right may be regulated pursuant to the police power of the State to safeguard health, morals,
peace, education, order, safety, and general welfare of the people. This regulation takes particular
pertinence in the filed of medicine, to protect the public from the potentially deadly effects of
incompetence and ignorance among those who would practice medicine. It must be stressed,
nevertheless, that this power to regulate cannot be exercised in an arbitrary, despotic, or
oppressive manner.

In the present case, the regulations prescribes by the Board can be seen it the guidelines provided
for in RA 2382, which prescribes the requirements for admission to the practice of medicine, the
qualifications of candidates for the board examinations, the scope and conduct of the
examinations, the ground for denying the issuance of a physicians license, or revoking a license
that has been issued. Thus, without a definite showing that the aforesaid requirements and
conditions have satisfactorily met, the court may not grant the writ of mandamus to secure said
privilege without thwarting the legislative will.

On the Ripeness of the Petition for Mandamus

Petitioners argue that the administrative remedies had not been exhausted; hence, the CA should
have dismissed the petition for mandamus for being premature.

As a rule, mandamus will not live when administrative remedies are still available. However, the
doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply where, as in this case, a pure
question of law is raised.

WHEREFORE the instant petition is granted. The decisions of the RTC and the CA are
reversed and set aside and the writ of mandamus is nullified and set aside.