Republic of the
BOARD OF MEDICINE,
G.R. No. 166097
DR. RAUL FLORES
(now DR. JOSE S. RAMIREZ),
in his capacity as Chairman of the
through its Chairman,
(now DR. ALCESTIS M. GUIANG),
July 14, 2008
x -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- x
D E C I S I O N
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari
assailing the Decision
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 84945
The facts are as follows:
Yasuyuki Ota (respondent) is a
Japanese national, married to a Filipina, who has continuously resided in the
Respondent submitted a duly notarized English translation
of the Medical Practitioners Law of Japan duly authenticated by the Consul
General of the Philippine Embassy to
In spite of all these, the Board of Medicine (Board) of the
PRC, in a letter dated
practice medicine in the Philippines on the ground that the Board believes that no genuine reciprocity can be found in the law of Japan as there is no Filipino or foreigner who can possibly practice there.
Respondent then filed a Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus
against the Board before the RTC of Manila on
In his petition before the RTC, respondent alleged that the Board and the PRC, in refusing to issue in his favor a Certificate of Registration and/or license to practice medicine, had acted arbitrarily, in clear contravention of the provision of Section 20 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 2382 (The Medical Act of 1959), depriving him of his legitimate right to practice his profession in the Philippines to his great damage and prejudice.
On October 19, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision finding
that respondent had adequately proved that the medical laws of Japan allow
foreigners like Filipinos to be granted license and be admitted into the practice
of medicine under the principle of reciprocity; and that the Board had a
ministerial duty of issuing the Certificate of Registration and license to
respondent, as it was shown that he had substantially complied with the
requirements under the law. The RTC then ordered the Board to issue in
favor of respondent the corresponding Certificate of Registration and/or
license to practice medicine in the
The Board and the PRC (petitioners) appealed the case to the CA, stating that while respondent submitted documents showing that foreigners are allowed to practice medicine in Japan, it was not shown that the conditions for the practice of medicine there are practical and attainable by a foreign applicant, hence, reciprocity was not established; also, the power of the PRC and the Board to regulate and control the practice of medicine is discretionary and not ministerial, hence, not compellable by a writ of mandamus.
The CA denied the appeal and affirmed the ruling of the RTC.
Hence, herein petition raising the following issue:
WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN FINDING THAT RESPONDENT HAD ESTABLISHED THE EXISTENCE OF
RECIPROCITY IN THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE BETWEEN THE
Petitioners claim that: respondent has not established by
competent and conclusive evidence that reciprocity in the practice of medicine
exists between the
Petitioners pray that the CA Decision dated
In his Comment, respondent argues that: Articles 2 and 11
of the Medical Practitioners Law of Japan and Section 9 of the Philippine
Medical Act of 1959 show that reciprocity exists between the
The Court denies the petition for lack of merit.
There is no question that a license to practice medicine is a privilege or franchise granted by the government. It is a right that is earned through years of education and training, and which requires that one must first secure a license from the state through professional board examinations.
[T]he 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.
It must be stressed however that the power to regulate the exercise of a profession or pursuit of an occupation cannot be exercised by the State or its agents in an arbitrary, despotic, or oppressive manner. A political body which regulates the exercise of a particular privilege has the authority to both forbid and grant such privilege in accordance with certain conditions. As the legislature cannot validly bestow an arbitrary power to grant or refuse a license on a public agency or officer, courts will generally strike down license legislation that vests in public officials discretion to grant or refuse a license to carry on some ordinarily lawful business, profession, or activity without prescribing definite rules and conditions for the guidance of said officials in the exercise of their power.
R.A. No. 2382 otherwise known as the Medical Act of 1959 states in Section 9 thereof that:
Section 9. Candidates for Board Examinations.- Candidates for Board examinations shall have the following qualifications:
1. He shall be a citizen of the Philippines or a citizen of any foreign country who has submitted competent and conclusive documentary evidence, confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, showing that his countrys existing laws permit citizens of the Philippines to practice medicine under the same rules and regulations governing citizens thereof;
x x x x
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 223 also provides in Section (j) thereof that:
j) The [Professional Regulation]
Commission may, upon the recommendation of the Board concerned, approve the
registration of and authorize the issuance of a certificate of registration
with or without examination to a foreigner who is registered under the laws of
his country: Provided, That the requirement for the registration or licensing
in said foreign state or country are substantially the same as those required
and contemplated by the laws of the Philippines and that the laws of such
foreign state or country allow the citizens of the Philippines to practice the
profession on the same basis and grant the same privileges as the subject or
citizens of such foreign state or country: Provided, finally, That the
applicant shall submit competent and conclusive documentary evidence, confirmed
by the Department of Foreign Affairs, showing that his country's existing laws
permit citizens of the Philippines to practice the profession under the rules
and regulations governing citizens thereof. The Commission is also hereby
authorized to prescribe additional requirements or grant certain privileges to
foreigners seeking registration in the
x x x x
As required by the said laws,
respondent submitted a copy of the Medical Practitioners Law of Japan, duly
authenticated by the Consul General of the Embassy of the
Article 2. Anyone who wants to be medical practitioner must pass the national examination for medical practitioner and get license from the Minister of Health and Welfare.
x x x x
Article 11. No one can take the National Medical Examination except persons who conform to one of the following items:
1. Persons who finished regular medical courses at a university based on the School Education Laws (December 26, 1947) and graduated from said university.
2. Persons who passed the preparatory test for the National Medical Examination and practiced clinics and public sanitation more than one year after passing the said test.
3. Persons who graduated from a foreign medical school or acquired medical practitioner license in a foreign country, and also are recognized to have the same or more academic ability and techniques as persons stated in item 1 and item 2 of this article.
Petitioners argue that while the Medical Practitioners Law of Japan allows foreigners to practice medicine therein, said document does not show that conditions for the practice of medicine in said country are practical and attainable by a foreign applicant; and since the requirements are practically impossible for a Filipino to comply with, there is no reciprocity between the two countries, hence, respondent may not be granted license to practice medicine in the Philippines.
The Court does not agree.
R.A. No. 2382, which provides who may be candidates for the medical board examinations, merely requires a foreign citizen to submit competent and conclusive documentary evidence, confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), showing that his countrys existing laws permit citizens of the Philippines to practice medicine under the same rules and regulations governing citizens thereof.
Section (j) of P.D. No. 223 also defines the extent of PRC's power to grant licenses, i.e., it may, upon recommendation of the board, approve the registration and authorize the issuance of a certificate of registration with or without examination to a foreigner who is registered under the laws of his country, provided the following conditions are met: (1) that the requirement for the registration or licensing in said foreign state or country are substantially the same as those required and contemplated by the laws of the Philippines; (2) that the laws of such foreign state or country allow the citizens of the Philippines to practice the profession on the same basis and grant the same privileges as the subject or citizens of such foreign state or country; and (3) that the applicant shall submit competent and conclusive documentary evidence, confirmed by the DFA, showing that his country's existing laws permit citizens of the Philippines to practice the profession under the rules and regulations governing citizens thereof.
The said provision
further states that the PRC is authorized to prescribe additional requirements
or grant certain privileges to foreigners seeking registration in the
Nowhere in said statutes
is it stated that the foreign applicant must show that the conditions for the
practice of medicine in said country are practical
and attainable by Filipinos. Neither is it stated that it must first be
proven that a Filipino has been granted license and allowed to practice his
profession in said country before a foreign applicant may be given license to
practice in the
[T]he applicant shall submit] competent and conclusive documentary evidence, confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, showing that his country's existing laws permit citizens of the Philippines to practice the profession [of medicine] under the [same] rules and regulations governing citizens thereof. x x x (Emphasis supplied)
It is enough that the laws in the foreign country permit a Filipino to get license and practice therein. Requiring respondent to prove first that a Filipino has already been granted license and is actually practicing therein unduly expands the requirements provided for under R.A. No. 2382 and P.D. No. 223.
While it is true that respondent failed to give details as to the conditions stated in the Medical Practitioners Law of Japan -- i.e., the provisions of the School Educations Laws, the criteria of the Minister of Health and Welfare of Japan in determining whether the academic and technical capability of foreign medical graduates are the same as or better than that of graduates of medical schools in Japan, and who can actually qualify to take the preparatory test for the National Medical Examination respondent, however, presented proof that foreigners are actually practicing in Japan and that Filipinos are not precluded from getting a license to practice there.
before the trial court a Japanese Government publication, Physician-Dentist-Pharmaceutist Survey, showing that there are a number
of foreign physicians practicing medicine in
S i r :
With reference to your letter dated 12 January 1993, concerning your request for a Certificate of Confirmation for the purpose of establishing a reciprocity with Japan in the practice of medical profession relative to the case of Mr. Yasuyuki Ota, a Japanese national, the Embassy wishes to inform you that inquiries from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Welfare as well as Bureau of Immigration yielded the following information:
They are not aware of
a Filipino physician who was granted a license by the Japanese Government to
practice medicine in
However, the Japanese Government allows a foreigner
to practice medicine in
Accordingly, the Embassy is not aware of a single Filipino physician who was issued by the Japanese Government a license to practice medicine, because it is extremely difficult to pass the medical board examination in the Japanese language. Filipino doctors here are only allowed to work in Japanese hospitals as trainees under the supervision of a Japanese doctor. On certain occasions, they are allowed to show their medical skills during seminars for demonstration purposes only. (Emphasis supplied)
Very truly yours,
Jesus I. Yabes
Minister Counsellor &
From said letter, one
can see that the Japanese Government allows foreigners to practice medicine
therein provided that the local requirements are complied with, and that it is
not the impossibility or the prohibition against Filipinos that would account
for the absence of Filipino physicians holding licenses and practicing medicine
in Japan, but the difficulty of passing the board examination in the Japanese
language. Granting that there is still
no Filipino who has been given license to practice medicine in
Petitioners next argue that as held in De Guzman, its power to issue licenses is discretionary, hence, not compellable by mandamus.
The Court finds that the factual circumstances of De Guzman are different from those of the case at bar; hence, the principle applied therein should be viewed differently in this case. In De Guzman, there were doubts about the integrity and validity of the test results of the examinees from a particular school which garnered unusually high scores in the two most difficult subjects. Said doubts called for serious inquiry concerning the applicants satisfactory compliance with the Board requirements. And as there was no definite showing that the requirements and conditions to be granted license to practice medicine had been satisfactorily met, the Court held that the writ of mandamus may not be granted to secure said privilege without thwarting the legislative will.
Indeed, to be granted the privilege to practice medicine, the applicant must show that he possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications. It must also appear that he has fully complied with all the conditions and requirements imposed by the law and the licensing authority.
In De Guzman itself, the Court explained that:
A careful reading of Section 20 of the Medical Act of 1959 discloses that the law uses the word shall with respect to the issuance of certificates of registration. Thus, the petitioners [PRC] 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 physician's license, the Board is obliged to administer to him his oath and register him as a physician, pursuant to Section 20 and par. (1) of Section 22 of the Medical Act of 1959.
In this case, there is
no doubt as to the competence and qualifications of respondent. He finished his medical degree from
In fine, the only matter
being questioned by petitioners is the alleged failure of respondent to prove
that there is reciprocity between the laws of
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
RUBEN T. REYES
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
Chairperson, Third Division
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
 Penned by Associate Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria and concurred in by Associate Justices Bienvenido L. Reyes and Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente.
 Rollo, pp. 28-36.
 Penned by Judge Marino M. Dela Cruz, Jr.
 Rollo, pp. 38-54.
 Rollo, p. 30; records, p. 21.
 Records, pp. 71-82, 92.
 CA rollo, pp.11-16.
 Rollo, pp. 34-35.
 Rollo, pp. 16-22.
 Rollo, p. 23.
 Rollo, pp. 75-81.
 It states that x x x the Board of Medicine Examiners shall sign and issue certificates of registration to those who have satisfactorily complied with the requirements of the Board.
 Rollo, pp. 83-84.
 Professional Regulation Commission v. De Guzman, supra note 18, at 523.
 Reyes v. Sisters
 Tablarin v. Gutierrez, G.R. No. L-78164,
 Professional Regulation Commission v. De Guzman, supra note 18, at 524.
 Creating the Professional Regulation Commission and
Prescribing Its Powers and Functions,
 See records, pp. 221, 224.
 Exhibits D, D-1, D-2, D-3 and E-1, E-2, E-3, E-4; records, pp. 230-237.
 Exhibit C, id. at 228.
 Professional Regulation Commission v. De Guzman, supra note 18, at 521.
 Section 20. Issuance of Certificate of Registration, grounds for refusal of same. The Commissioner of Civil Service and the secretary of the Board of Medical Examiners shall sign jointly and issue certificates of registration to those who have satisfactorily complied with the requirements of the Board. They shall not issue a certificate of registration to any candidate who has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of any criminal offense involving moral turpitude, or has been found guilty of immoral or dishonorable conduct after he due investigation by the Board of Medical Examiners, or has been declared to be of unsound mind.
 Professional Regulation Commission v. De Guzman, supra note 18, at 520.