Administrative Due Process in Air Transportation Office

The issue of due process in the proceedings before the ATO had already been raised and passed upon by the CAB and the Court of Appeals. The petitioner merely reiterates the same arguments in support of this position. These arguments relate to the right to be informed of the charge, the requirements of administrative due process and the right to counsel and the nature of the license in relation to due process.

The tribunals below correctly concluded that the minimum requirements of administrative due process have been complied with. Due process, as a constitutional precept, does not always and in all situations require a trial-type proceeding. Due process is satisfied when a person is notified of the charge against him and given an opportunity to explain or defend himself. In administrative proceedings, the filing of charges and giving reasonable opportunity for the person so charged to answer the accusations against him constitute the minimum requirements of due process. The essence of due process is simply to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain ones side, or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.
Petitioners plaint that he did not fully appreciate the nature of the charges against him because the ATO even without an ostensible complainant against him failed to state or announce that petitioner was being charged with falsification, is incorrect. The subpoena issued to him clearly stated that petitioner should appear before the panel investigating his alleged falsification of the AEB examination results.

The absence of a complainant also did not affect the regularity of the investigation. As opposed to a regular trial court, an administrative agency, vested with quasi-judicial functions, may investigate an irregularity on its own initiative. Particularly in the instant case, the overriding considerations of public safety warranted the investigation of the falsification of the subject ATO-AEB certification, which allowed petitioner to undergo training despite his lack of qualifications.

Concerning the right to representation, it is sufficient that petitioner's counsel of choice was allowed to submit in writing his observations on the investigation. Petitioner's counsel even filed a memorandum before the CAB. What is frowned upon is the absolute deprivation of the right to counsel. The counsel's participation in a proceeding similar to that of a courtroom trial is not required. Administrative due process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial sense for it is enough that the party is given the chance to be heard before the case against him is decided. (G.R. No. 166780; December 27, 2007)