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uR N0. 16SuS6, S }0LY 2u1u, BEL CASTILL0, }.

Petitioner took the accountancy licensure examinations (the Certified Public Accountant [CPA] Board Exams)
conducted by the Board of Accountancy (the Board) in October 1997. The examination results were released
on October 29, 1997; out of 6,481 examinees, only 1,171 passed. Unfortunately, petitioner did not make
it. When the results were released, she received failing grades in four out of the seven subjects.
Petitionei wiote to iesponuent Abelaiuo T. Bomonuon (Bomonuon), Acting Chaiiman of the
Boaiu of Accountancy, anu iequesteu that hei answei sheets be ie-coiiecteu.
S Novembei 1997- petitionei was shown hei answei sheets, but these consisteu meiely of shaueu
maiks, so she was unable to ueteimine why she faileu the exam
1u Novembei 1997- petitioner again wrote to the Board to request for copies of (a) the questionnaire in each of
the seven subjects (b) her answer sheets; (c) the answer keys to the questionnaires, and (d) an explanation of the
grading system used in each subject (collectively, the Examination Papers)
Acting Chairman Domondon denied petitioners request on two grounds: first, that Section 36, Article III of the
Rules and Regulations Governing the Regulation and Practice of Professionals, as amended by Professional
Regulation Commission (PRC) Resolution No. 332, series of 1994, only permitted access to the petitioners
answer sheet (which she had been shown previously), and that reconsideration of her examination result was only
proper under the grounds stated therein:
Sec. 36 An examinee shall be allowed to have access or to go over his/her test papers or answer sheets on a date not later than
thirty (30) days from the official release of the results of the examination. Within ten (10) days from such date, he/she may file his/her
request for reconsideration of ratings. Reconsideration of rating shall be effected only on grounds of mechanical error in the grading of
his/her testpapers or answer sheets, or malfeasance.

Seconu, Acting Chaiiman Bomonuon claiifieu that the Boaiu was piecluueu fiom ieleasing the
Examination Papeis (othei than petitionei's answei sheet) by Section 2u, Aiticle Iv of PRC
Resolution No. SS8, seiies of 1994, which pioviues:

Sec. 2u. Illegal, Immoial, Bishonoiable, 0npiofessional Acts - The heieunuei acts shall constitute
piejuuicial, illegal, giossly immoial, uishonoiable, oi unpiofessional conuuct:

A. Pioviuing, getting, ieceiving, holuing, using oi iepiouucing questions

x x x x

S. that have been given in the examination except if the test bank foi the subject has on ueposit at least two
thousanu (2,uuu) questions
Aftei a fuithei exchange of coiiesponuence,|8j the Boaiu infoimeu petitionei that an
investigation was conuucteu into hei exam anu theie was no mechanical eiioi founu in the
giauing of hei test papeis.
.#- ./01234 In an 0iuei uateu 0ctobei 16, 1998, the tiial couit gianteu iesponuent's Notion to
Bismiss Petitionei's Application foi a Wiit of Pieliminaiy Nanuatoiy Injunction (not the main
case), iuling that the mattei hau become moot since petitionei passeu the Nay CPA Licensuie
1998 Examination anu hau alieauy taken hei oath as a CPA.
o Petitionei fileu 2
amenueu petition
o Commanuing iesponuents to give petitionei all uocuments anu othei mateiials as
woulu enable hei to ueteimine whethei iesponuents faiily auministeieu the same
examinations anu coiiectly giaueu petitionei's peifoimance theiein anu, if waiianteu,
to make the appiopiiate ievisions on the iesults of hei examination.
o 21 }une 2uu2-Tiial Couit uismisseu the petition one the giounu that it hau become
moot anu acauemic. Petitionei passeu the 1998 CPA Exam.
o NR-The Couit agiees with the petitionei that the passing of the petitionei in the
subsequent CPA examination uiu not ienuei the petition moot anu acauemic because
the ielief "anu if waiianteu, to issue to hei a ceitificate of iegistiation as Ceitifieu
Public Accountant" was ueleteu fiom the oiiginal petition
o 0iueieu PRC to pieseive anu safeguaiu the uocuments iequesteu by the petitionei
-! ./01234 The RTC Becisions leu to the filing of thiee sepaiate petitions foi ceitioiaii befoie the
Couit of Appeals (CA):
(a) CA-uR SP No. 76498, a petition fileu by iesponuents Bomonuon, uangan, anu }osef on
Apiil 11, 2uuS;
(b) CA-uR SP No. 76S46, a petition fileu by iesponuent Ibe on Apiil Su, 2uuS; anu
(c) CA-uR SP No. 76S4S, a petition fileu by the Boaiu of Accountancy anu PRC.
It is the fiist two pioceeuings that aie penuing befoie us. In both cases, the CA set asiue the RTC
Becisions anu oiueieu the uismissal of Civil Case No. 98-8681.
o Petition has become moot in view of petitionei's eventual passing of the 1998 CPA Boaiu
o In CA-GR SP No. 76498, the CA found, in a Decision dated February 16, 2004,
(i) Section 20, Article IV of PRC Resolution No. 338 constituted a valid limitation on
petitioners right to information and access to government documents; (ii) the
Examination Documents were not of public concern, because petitioner merely sought
review of her failing marks; (iii) it was not the ministerial or mandatory function of the
respondents to review and reassess the answers to examination questions of a failing
examinee; (iv) the case has become moot, since petitioner already passed the May 1998
CPA Board Examinations and took her oath as a CPA; and (v) petitioner failed to exhaust
administrative remedies, because, having failed to secure the desired outcome from the
respondents, she did not elevate the matter to the PRC before seeking judicial
CA-GR SP No. 76498 and CA-GR SP No. 76546 were brought before us by the petitioner and
docketed as G.R. Nos. 165036 and 175705, respectively. The cases were then consolidated, in
view of the similarity of the factual antecedents and issues, and to avoid the possibility of
conflicting decisions by different divisions of this Court


1. WoN the petition has become moot in view of petitionei's having passeu the 1998 CPA examination.
S. WoN the petitionei may compel access to the Examination Bocuments tiough manuamus. 76+ 8/9
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CD An issue becomes moot anu acauemic when it ceases to piesent a justiciable contioveisy, so that a
ueclaiation on the issue woulu be of no piactical use oi value. In this juiisuiction, any citizen may
challenge any attempt to obstiuct the exeicise of his oi hei iight to infoimation anu may seek its
enfoicement by manuamus. Anu since eveiy citizen possesses the inheient iight to be infoimeu by the
meie fact of citizenship, we finu that E=9191B2=>F< 8=0;9=@ E;<<123 BG 9H= -I! JB;>@ 6K;?< @B=< 2B9
;/9B?;91:;00L ?=;2 9H;9 H=> 129=>=<9 12 9H= 6K;?12;91B2 I;E=>< H;< 8=:B?= ?=>= </E=>G0/19L.
0nuoubteuly, the constitutional question piesenteu, in view of the likelihoou that the issues in this case
will be iepeateu, waiiants ieview.

2.. At the veiy outset let us be cleai of oui iuling. Any claim foi ie-coiiection oi ievision of hei 1997
examination cannot be compelleu by manuamus. This much was maue eviuent by oui iuling in Agustin-
Ramos v. Sanuoval.

Foi a wiit of manuamus to issue, the applicant must have a well-uefineu, cleai, anu ceitain legal iight to
the thing uemanueu. The coiiesponuing uuty of the iesponuent to peifoim the iequiieu act must be
equally cleai. No such claiity exists heie; neithei uoes petitionei's iight to uemanu a ievision of hei
examination iesults. Anu uespite petitionei's asseitions that she has not maue any uemanu foi ie-
coiiection, the most cuisoiy peiusal of hei Seconu Amenueu Petition anu hei piayei that the
iesponuents "make the appiopiiate ievisions on the iesults of hei examination" belies this claim.

Sec.7. The iight of the people to infoimation on matteis of public concein shall be iecognizeu. Access to official iecoius, anu
to uocuments, anu papeis peitaining to official acts, tiansactions, oi uecisions, as well to goveinment ieseaich uata useu as
basis foi policy uevelopment, shall be affoiueu the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be pioviueu by law.

Togethei with the guaiantee of the iight to infoimation, Section 28, Aiticle II piomotes full uisclosuie
anu tianspaiency in goveinment, viz:

Sec. 28. Subject to ieasonable conuitions piesciibeu by law, the State auopts anu implements a policy of full public
uisclosuie of all its tiansactions involving public inteiest.

Like all the constitutional guaiantees, the iight to infoimation is not absolute. The people's iight to
infoimation is limiteu to "matteis of public concein," anu is fuithei "subject to such limitations as may be
pioviueu by law." Similaily, the State's policy of full uisclosuie is limiteu to "tiansactions involving public
inteiest," anu is "subject to ieasonable conuitions piesciibeu by law". The Couit has always giappleu
with the meanings of the teims "public inteiest" anu "public concein."

We aie piepaieu to conceue that national boaiu examinations such as the CPA Boaiu Exams aie matteis
of public concein. 0n the othei hanu, we uo iealize that theie may be valiu ieasons to limit access to the
Examination Papeis in oiuei to piopeily auministei the exam. Bowevei, the PRC is not a paity to these
pioceeuings. They have not been given an oppoitunity to explain the ieasons behinu theii iegulations oi
aiticulate the justification foi keeping the Examination Bocuments confiuential. In view of the fai-
ieaching implications of this case, which may impact on eveiy boaiu examination auministeieu by the
PRC, anu in oiuei that all ielevant issues may be ventilateu, we ueem it best to iemanu these cases to the
RTC foi fuithei pioceeuings.

&" (&6M $, #N6 ,$.6O$&"O, the petitions aie O.!"#6). The Becembei 11, 2uu6 anu Febiuaiy 16,
2uu4 Becisions of the Couit of Appeals in CA-uR SP No. 76S46 anu CA-uR SP No. 76498, iespectively, aie
heieby +6# !+&)6. The Novembei 11, 2uu2 anu }anuaiy Su, 2uuS 0iueis of the Regional Tiial Couit of
Nanila, Bianch SS, in Civil Case No. 98-86881 aie !,,&.*6). The case is iemanueu to the Regional Tiial
Couit foi fuithei pioceeuings.