Requisites of Due Process Involving School Discipline

Ang mga private respondents ay nabigyan ng tamang proseso ng batas. The Due Process Clause in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution embodies a system of rights based on moral principles so deeply imbedded in the traditions and feelings of our people as to be deemed fundamental to a civilized society as conceived by our entire history. The constitutional behest that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law is solemn and inflexible.

In administrative cases, such as investigations of students found violating school discipline, [t]here are withal minimum standards which must be met before to satisfy the demands of procedural due process and these are: that (1) the students must be informed in writing of the nature and cause of any accusation against them; (2) they shall have the right to answer the charges against them and with the assistance if counsel, if desired; (3) they shall be informed of the evidence against them; (4) they shall have the right to adduce evidence in their own behalf; and (5) the evidence must be duly considered by the investigating committee or official designated by the school authorities to hear and decide the case.
Where a party was afforded an opportunity to participate in the proceedings but failed to do so, he cannot complain of deprivation of due process. Notice and hearing is the bulwark of administrative due process, the right to which is among the primary rights that must be respected even in administrative proceedings. The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain ones side or an opportunity to seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. So long as the party is given the opportunity to advocate her cause or defend her interest in due course, it cannot be said that there was denial of due process.

A formal trial-type hearing is not, at all times and in all instances, essential to due process it is enough that the parties are given a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their respective sides of the controversy and to present supporting evidence on which a fair decision can be based. To be heard does not only mean presentation of testimonial evidence in court one may also be heard through pleadings and where the opportunity to be heard through pleadings is accorded, there is no denial of due process.

Private respondents were duly informed in writing of the charges against them by the DLSU-CSB Joint Discipline Board through petitioner Sales. They were given the opportunity to answer the charges against them as they, in fact, submitted their respective answers. They were also informed of the evidence presented against them as they attended all the hearings before the Board. Moreover, private respondents were given the right to adduce evidence on their behalf and they did. Lastly, the Discipline Board considered all the pieces of evidence submitted to it by all the parties before rendering its resolution in Discipline Case No. 9495-3-25121.

Private respondents cannot claim that they were denied due process when they were not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses against them. This argument was already rejected in Guzman v. National University where the Supreme Court held that x x x the imposition of disciplinary sanctions requires observance of procedural due process. And it bears stressing that due process in disciplinary cases involving students does not entail proceedings and hearings similar to those prescribed for actions and proceedings in courts of justice. The proceedings in student discipline cases may be summary; and cross examination is not, x x x an essential part thereof. (G.R. No. 127980; December 19, 2007)