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[G.R. No. 138642.June 18, 2001]

PCP et al. vs. ROWENA A. BURDEN

SECOND DIVISION

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 18 2001.

G.R. No. 138642(Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), Adriano C. Deja Paz, M.D., FPCP, Joselynna Quimpo, M.D., et al. vs. Rowena A. Burden.)

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision dated February 12, 1999 of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the order of the trial court denying petitioners' motion to dismiss. In its Resolution dated April 26, 1999, the appellate court denied the petitioners' motion for reconsideration.

This case arose from the amended complaint for specific performance, damages and attorneys' fees filed by respondent against petitioners. Respondent alleges that she is a doctor of medicine. On March 17, 1996, after passing the written examinations, she took the oral certifying examinations of petitioner Philippine College of Physicians-Philippine Specialty Board of Internal Medicine (PCP-PSBIM) to qualify as a diplomate. The oral examinations covered five (5) sub-specialty subjects, namely, Gastroenterology, General Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Cardiology, and that for each sub-specialty subject, three (3) examiners graded the examinee.

On March 27, 1996, respondent learned from the PCP-PSBIM office, through Dr. Virginia Paradela, and later from Dr. Cecil Z. Tady, both petitioners herein and members of the Board of Examiners, that she failed in one (1) sub-specialty case, Pulmonary Medicine. Being of the impression that there was some misunderstanding and intending to contest the results of the oral examinations, respondent inquired from petitioners if she could look at her data and score sheets. Petitioners replied in the affirmative but respondent was told to file a written request for reconsideration before she could see the same.

On March 29, 1996, in response to her formal letter, PCP-PSBIM informed respondent that she failed in three (3) sub-specialty cases, namely, General Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine and Infectious Diseases, and advised her to take the next oral examinations. Thereafter, respondent insisted and exerted efforts to secure copies of her data and score sheets but petitioners refused to furnish her with the same on the ground that it is prohibited by a board resolution. Contending that the refusal of petitioners was contrary to law and in grave abuse of discretion, respondent filed an action in court to obtain copies of her score and data sheets. She further alleges that as a result of petitioners' acts, respondent suffered sleepless nights, anxiety, worries, embarrassment and similar injury, entitling her to an award of damages in the amount of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00).

On April 16, 1996, petitioners were ordered by the trial court to produce or deliver copies of respondent's score and data sheets, and so the petitioners complied. From said data and score sheets, respondent claims that she discovered that her scores in General Medicine and Infectious Diseases were above the passing score of 60%; that suggested answers prepared by the examiners were wrong, and that there were other material points not included in the list of problems which should have been stated in the score sheets. In Pulmonary Medicine, respondent asserts that her scores were altered, changed or falsified in order to pull her passing average to below 75%; and that the correct answers were also maliciously marked wrong. The respondent claims, that as a consequence, she was not able to apply with the hospitals of her choice; that said acts of petitioners violated the law on human relations, particularly Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code; and that she thereby suffered sleepless nights, wounded feelings, serious anxiety, social humiliation and the like for which an additional award of moral damages in the amount of Four Million Pesos (P4,000,000.00) is in order.

Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on the ground that it states no cause of action. The trial court denied the motion. With the denial of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the order of the trial court. Hence, this petition.

Except for the contention that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that respondent had sufficiently alleged a cause of action under Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code, the arguments raised by petitioners in the instant petition are essentially the same as those passed upon by the appellate court and by the trial court. Pointing out certain paragraphs of the amended complaint which allegedly constitute the ultimate facts of the case, petitioners contend that the allegations therein are mere suppositions and epithets of fraud which are inadequate to state a cause of action. Petitioners' arguments also focus on the second prayer of respondent: that the results of the oral examinations be reconsidered and that she be declared as having passed the same. Petitioners seek dismissal of the amended complaint because admission or non-admission of an applicant as a diplomate is the sole prerogative of petitioners, and cannot be supplanted by judicial fiat.

The Court, however, agrees with the appellate court that, hypothetically admitting the allegations of the amended complaint, private respondent has sufficiently shown the existence of a cause of action against petitioners. The Court of Appeals correctly held that:

When the ground for dismissal is that the complaint states no cause of action, it must appear on the face of the complaint. A complaint should not be dismissed on this ground unless it appears to a certainty from the face of the complaint, that plaintiff would be entitled to no relief under any state of facts which could be proved within the facts alleged therein. Stated otherwise, though the allegations of the complaint are ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain, but nevertheless, a cause of action can in any manner, be made out therefrom, and plaintiff would be entitled to recover in any aspect of the facts or combination of the facts alleged, if they were to be proved, then the motion to dismiss should be denied.

A cause of action is the reason why the litigation has come about. It is the act or omission of the defendant resulting in the violation of plaintiff's right. It is determined not by the prayer of the complaint but by the facts alleged. The elements of a cause of action are: (a) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or is created; (b) an obligation on the part of the defendant to respect and not violate such right; and (c) an act or omission of the defendant constituting a violation of plaintiffs' right or breach of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages.

xxx

In this case, the aforesaid allegations in the complaint tends (sic) to show that the requisites of a cause of action are extant. Private respondent claims a right emanating from Articles 19 and 21 of the New Civil Code, that petitioners are obliged to respect said right and that petitioners violate such right.

xxx

Private respondent alleges in her amended complaint that alterations and changes have been made on her score sheets and data sheets. She claims that such alterations and changes were effected to pull down her average to below 75%. She claims that she had passed the oral certifying examinations but was deliberately failed by PCP-PSBIM. In effect, private respondent alleges that PCP-PSBIM acted with injustice, dishonesty and bad faith in the conduct of the examination process that led to her failure. Thus, a cause of action exists and to resolve the same, a full dress trial is in order.

Petitioners likewise invoke the following cases as being applicable to their stand:

1. Felipe vs. Leuterio, 91 Phil 482, where a contestant who placed second in an oratorical contest protested the result;

2. Lions Club vs. Amores, 121 SCRA 621, 635, where a candidate for governor challenged the election;

3. DECS vs. San Diego, 180 SCRA 533, 538, where a student who has flunked the NMAT three times and was denied to take the NMAT for the fourth time challenged said rule on constitutional grounds; and

4. Garcia vs. The Faculty Admission Committee, Loyola School of Theology, 68 SCRA 277, 289, where a laywoman was denied enrollment in a degree program by the school for priesthood and where the school asserts academic freedom.

In the aforecited cases, it was ruled that the courts may not interfere with the internal affairs of private associations. However, it was also held that this non-interference rule is subject to exceptions, such as that the courts have and will exercise power to interfere in the internal affairs of the association where law and justice so require, and the proceedings of the association are subject to judicial review where there is fraud, oppression or bad faith or where the action complained of is capricious, arbitrary, or unjustly discriminatory.

Private respondent as aforestated anchors her action on Articles 19 and 21, and alleges injustice and bad faith to have been committed by petitioners. Clearly, private respondent implores the exception to the general rule of non-interference of courts. Hence, the reliance of the petitioners in the aforecited cases is misplaced.1 Decision of the Court of Appeals, Rollo, pp. 55-59. (Emphasis supplied)

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals committed no reversible error when it rendered its challenged Decision dated February 12, 1999 and Resolution dated April 26, 1999.

SO ORDERED.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) TOMASITA B. MAGAY-DRIS
Clerk of Court


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