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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS (DECS) and DIRECTOR OF

CENTER FOR EDUCATIONAL MEASUREMENT, petitioners, vs.


ROBERTO REY C. SAN DIEGO and JUDGE TERESITA DIZON-CAPULONG, in her capacity
as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 172,
respondents.
G.R. No. 89572 December 21, 1989, CRUZ, J.
180 SCRA 533 (1989)

Topic: State Principles and Policies


Case No. 19: The right to quality education is not absolute. The Constitution provides that
“every citizen has the right to choose a profession or course of study, subject to fair, reasonable
and equitable admission and academic requirements.”
Prepared by: Suzanne Ysabel M. Eustaquio

FACTS

Respondent Robert Rey San Diego took but flunked the National Medical Admission Test
(NMAT) thrice and applied to take it again 1 , but the Department of Education, Culture and
Sports (DECS) rejected his application on the basis of the rule that a student shall be allowed
only three chances to take the NMAT and after 3 successive failures, the student shall not be
allowed to take it again.

He then filed a Petition for Mandamus2 before the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela,
Branch 172, invoking his rights to academic freedom and quality education, and questioned the
constitutionality of MECS Order No. 12, series of 1972, which contained the three-flunk rule. On
July 4, 1989, RTC Judge Teresita Capulong declared the Order invalid and granted San Diego's
petition.

ISSUE

The issue to be resolved is whether or not San Diego should be allowed to take the
NMAT beyond the allowed three chances rule.

RULING

NO. The right to quality education invoked by San Diego is not absolute. The
Constitution provides that “every citizen has the right to choose a profession or course of study,
subject to fair, reasonable and equitable admission and academic requirements.”

The three-flunk rule is not arbitrary or oppressive, but it insulates the medical schools
and ultimately, the medical profession, from the intrusion of those who are not qualified to be
doctors. The medical profession affects the very lives of the people, thus it needs a more vigilant
regulation. It is not enough to invoke the right to quality education: one must show he is entitled

1
A check with the Department of Education showed that the private respondent had actually taken and
flunked four tests already and was applying to take a fifth examination. He also failed this fifth test.
2
A Petition for Mandamus is made to compel a judicial or government officer to perform a duty owed to
the petitioner.
to it because of his preparation and promise.

It is the duty of the State to regulate and enrich our system of education by directing the
student to the course for which he is best suited as determined by initial tests and evaluations.
Otherwise, we may be "swamped with mediocrity," in the words of Justice Holmes, not because
we are lacking in intelligence but because we are a nation of misfits.