Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tablarin vs. Gutierrez [G.R. No. 78164, July 31, 1987]

Facts: The petitioners seek admission into colleges or schools of medicine. However the petitioners either did not take or did not successfully take the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT). Republic Act 2382 as amended by R.A. 4224 and 5946, known as the Medical Act of 1959 created, among others, the Board of Medical Education (BME) whose functions include "to determine and prescribe requirements for admission into a recognized college of medicine" (Sec. 5 (a). Section 7 of the same Act requires from applicants to present a certificate of eligibility for entrance (cea) to medical school from the BME. MECS Order No. 52, s. 1985, issued by the then Minister of Education, Culture and Sports, established a uniform admission test called National Medical Admission Test as additional requirement for issuance of a certificate of eligibility.

Petitioners then filed with the RTC a petition for Declaratory Judgment and Prohibition with a prayer Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction seeking to enjoin the Sec. of educ, BME from enforcing Sec. 5(a) and (f) of R.A. 4224 and MECS Order no. 2 and from requiring the taking and passing of the NMAT as condition for securing (cea).

Issue: Whether or not Sec. 5(a) and (f) of R.A. 4224 and MECS Order no. 2 violate the constitution as they prescribe an unfair, unreasonable and inequitable requirement

Held: The legislative and administrative provisions impugned in this case constitute a valid exercise of the police power of the state.

Perhaps the only issue that needs some consideration is whether there is some reasonable relation between the prescribing of passing the NMAT as a condition for admission to medical school on the one hand, and the securing of the health and safety of the general community, on the other hand. This question is perhaps most usefully approached by recalling that the regulation of the practice of medicine in all its branches has long been recognized as a reasonable method of protecting the health and safety of the public. That the power to regulate and control the practice of medicine includes the power to regulate admission to the ranks of those authorized to practice medicine, is also well recognized. Thus, legislation and administrative regulations requiring those who wish to practice medicine first to take and pass medical board examinations have long ago been recognized as valid exercises of governmental power. Similarly, the establishment of minimum medical educational requirements-i.e., the completion of prescribed courses in a recognized medical school-for admission to the medical profession, has also been sustained as a legitimate exercise of the regulatory authority of the state. What we have before us in the instant case is closely related: the regulation of access to medical schools. MECS Order No. 52, s. 1985, articulates the rationale of regulation of this type: the improvement of the professional and technical quality of the graduates of medical schools, by upgrading the quality of those admitted to the student body of the medical schools. That upgrading is sought by selectivity in the process of admission, selectivity consisting, among other things, of limiting admission to those who exhibit in the required degree the aptitude for medical studies and eventually for medical practice. The need to maintain, and the difficulties of maintaining, high standards in our professional schools in general, and medical schools in particular, in the current state of our social and economic development, are widely known.

The Court believes that the government is entitled to prescribe an admission test like the NMAT as a means of achieving its stated objective of "upgrading the selection of applicants into [our] medical schools" and of "improv[ing] the quality of medical education in the country."

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