Published 1 August 2022, The Daily Tribune

The Supreme Court, in the case of Sobrejuanite-Flores vs Comm. Teofilo S. Pilando, et. al., upheld the validity of Section 16(c) of Republic Act (RA) 10029 of the Philippine Psychology Act, highlighting the role of the State in taking care of the mental health of the Filipino people and safeguarding their well-being.

Before the enactment of the law, persons who studied and graduated from the academic discipline of psychology were not required to obtain a license to practice their profession. Corollarily, Section 16 of RA 10029 granted a window period for practitioners to register without examination and crafted sufficient standards on who may avail the exemption measured in terms of educational attainment and work experience. Specifically, the law provides that applicants who have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology may be registered without examination if they accumulated a “minimum of 10 years of work experience in the practice of psychology as a psychologist’’ and “updated their professional education in various psychology-related functions.”

In this case, petitioner assailed the validity of Sec. 16(c) of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 10029 on the ground that the completion of at least 100 hours of updating workshops and training programs is an additional condition not found in the law itself. Moreover, she contends that the requirement is likewise unfair, unreasonable and inequitable, which results in a denial of due process and violation of the equal protection clause.

The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the assailed provision. Other than the fact that said provision satisfied the completeness test and sufficient standard test, the Court emphasized that “Section 16(c) of the IRR of RA 10029 emanates from the valid exercise of police power to prescribe regulations that may interfere with personal liberty or property to promote the general welfare of the people.

This fundamental power is immense in relation to the principle of subordinate legislation. The exercise of police power should be given a wide latitude when delegated to administrative bodies with regulatory functions. The State through the implementing agencies should be able to exercise its police power with great flexibility when the need arises. Indeed, the Court has held that persons who desire to engage in the learned professions requiring scientific or technical knowledge may be subjected to reasonable and fair admission requirements.”

Indeed, the State has every right to scrutinize with more discerning eyes those people who will take care of their people. In the words of Justice Lopez, “public interest in mental health justifies the State’s interference in the practice of psychology because the well-being of the Filipino people deserves no less.”

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