Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dear Finals,

I really, really, really want to still be an Ateneo law student next sem. Universe, work with me ;)

Anyway, I just want to share my favorite case so far: DECS v. San Diego. Attached below is a digest of that case, which I made :) It's about a student who failed the NMAT five times. My future doctor friends would appreciate this much, I suppose ;) But like Justice Cruz said in that case, "this is true of any other calling in which public interest in involved." So I guess, this goes for all my friends who are still pursuing a degree at the moment ;) For the non-law schoolers, I promise this is worth reading :)

DECS V. SAN DIEGO (1989)
The issue before us is mediocrity. That is the opening line of Justice Cruz as the ponente of this case.
• The question is whether a person who has thrice failed the National Medical Admission Test is entitled to take it again.
• DECS contend that he may not, under its 3-flunk rule. Private respondent insists that he can on constitutional grounds.
• So who is the private respondent in the first place? He is a graduate of the University of the East with a degree in BS Zoology. After failing the NMAT thrice, he applied to take it again but petitioner rejected his application.
• Pending his original petition invoking his constitutional right to academic freedom and quality education, he was allowed to take the NMAT again, subject to the outcome of his petition. Actually, according to a footnote in the said case, he had taken the exam four times and is actually applying for his fifth exam, which he also failed.
• In his amended petition, he challenged the constitutionality of the 3-flunk rule.
• The respondent judge ruled in favour of private respondent, stating that he was deprived of his right to pursue a medical education.
• The Supreme Court reversed that decision.
• It noted that in Tablarin v. Gutierrez, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the NMAT as a measure intended to limit the admission to medical schools only to those who have proved their competence and preparation for a medical education.
• It noted that the question is most usefully approached by recalling that the regulation of the practice of medicine has long been recognized as a method of protecting the health and safety of the public. Thus, legislation and administrative regulations requiring those who wish to practice medicine must first take and pass board examinations have long ago been recognized as a valid exercise of governmental power.
• The regulation of access to medical schools is closely related to that.
• Hence, in Tablarin, the Court ruled that the government is entitled to prescribe the NMAT as a means of “upgrading the selection of applicants into medical schools” and of “improving the quality of medical education in the country.”
• So anyway, going back to the case at bar, the Court said that there is no reason why the rationale in the Tablarin case cannot apply to the case at bar. The issue raised in both cases is the academic preparation of the applicant.
• As earlier discussed in this class, the proper exercise of police power requires the concurrence of a lawful subject and a lawful method.
• As to the subject, it is undeniably the right of the State to insure that the medical profession is not infiltrated by incompetents to whom patients may unwarily entrust their lives.
• As to the method, the challenged rule is not irrelevant to the purpose of the law. It is intended to insulate medical schools and the medical profession from the intrusion of those not qualified to be doctors.
• The Court, thus, made an important distinction: while every person is entitled to aspire to be a doctor, he does not have a constitutional right to be a doctor. This is true of any other calling in which the public interest is involved. The closer the link, the longer the bridge to one’s ambition.
• The right to quality education is not absolute, but is, rather, subject to fair, reasonable and equitable admission and academic requirements
• As to the issue that the rule violates the equal protection clause, the Court also held that contention to be untenable, there being a substantial distinction between medical students and other students not subjected to the NMAT and the three-flunk rule. This is because the medical profession directly affects the very lives of the people, unlike other careers which do not require more vigilant regulation.
• Also, the Court feels that it is not enough to simply invoke the right to quality education: one must show that he is entitled to it because of his preparation and promise.
• Quotable, also, is the Justice Cruz’s comparison which goes like this: While his persistence is noteworthy, to say the least, it is certainly misplaced, like a hopeless love.
The Court stressed that it is for the appropriate calling that he is entitled to quality education for the full harnessing of his potentials. Otherwise, as Justice Malcolm notes, we may be swamped with mediocrity, not because we are lacking in intelligence but because we are a nation of misfits.

DISCLAIMER: That is not the proper way of making a case digest haha but I structured that in such a way that that is what I plan to exactly recite if I do get called to recite on that case. (I didn't, unfortunately.)

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Reading the quotables from that case never fails to remind me why I'm here in the first place. Some might see that case as having a discouraging tone but to me, it's something that keeps me on my toes ;)

HAPPY STUDYING! :)

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