G.R. No. 187854 November 12, 2013




Petitioner was employed by PAGCOR as its Managing Head of its Gaming Department. On February 21, 2002, he received a letter from Teresita S. Ela, the Senior Managing Head of PAGCORs Human Resources Department, advising that he was being administratively charged with gross misconduct, rumor-mongering, conduct prejudicial to the interest of the company, and loss of trust and confidence;that he should submit a written explanation of the charges; and that he was at the same time being placed under preventive suspension.

On March 14, 2002, the petitioner received the summons for him to attend an administrative inquiry, instructing him to appear before PAGCORs Corporate Investigation Unit (CIU) on March 15, 2002. At the petitioners request, however, the inquiry was conducted at his residence on said date.

He was also furnished the memorandum of charges that recited the accusations against him and indicated the acts and omissions constituting his alleged offenses. However, when his counsel requested to be furnished copies of the statements, PAGCOR rejected the request on the ground that he had already been afforded the sufficient opportunity to confront, hear, and answer the charges against him during the administrative inquiry.

The Adjudication Committee summoned the petitioner to appear before it on May 8, 2002 in order to address questions regarding his case. His counsel moved for the re-scheduling of the meeting because he would not be available on said date, but the Adjudication Committee denied the request upon the reason that the presence of counsel was not necessary in the proceedings.

The petitioner received the letter dated May 15, 2002 from Ela informing him of the resolution of the PAGCOR Board of Directors in its May 14, 2002 meeting to the effect that he was being dismissed from the service.

After the petitioners motion for reconsideration vis-vis the resolution of the PAGCOR Board of Directors dismissing him from the service was denied, he appealed his dismissal to the CSC. CSC found that petitioner was denied due process. PAGCOR elevated the case to the CA where it reversed and set aside CSCs decision.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner was denied due process

HELD: No. CA Decision affirmed.

Political Law - The essence of procedural due process is embodied in the basic requirement of notice and a real opportunity to be heard

The essence of due process is to be heard, and, as applied to administrative proceedings, this means a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain ones side, or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. Administrative due process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial sense, for in the former a formal or trial-type hearing is not always necessary, and technical rules of procedure are not strictly applied.

The petitioner actively participated in the entire course of the investigation and hearings conducted by PAGCOR. He received the letter from Ela apprising him of his being administratively charged for several offenses, and directing him to submit an explanation in writing. He was later on properly summoned to appear before the CIU, which conducted its proceedings in his own residence upon his request. During the administrative inquiry, the CIU served him a copy of the memorandum of charges, which detailed the accusations against him and specified the acts and omissions constituting his alleged offenses. He was also given the opportunity to appear before the Adjudication Committee to answer clarificatory questions. Lastly, he was informed through a memorandum of the decision of the Board of Directors dismissing him from the service.

As regards the supposed denial of the petitioners right to counsel, it is underscored that PAGCOR denied his request to re-schedule the conference before the Adjudication Committee because his counsel would not be available on the day fixed for that purpose. In an administrative proceeding like that conducted against the petitioner, a respondent has the option of engaging the services of counsel. As such, the right to counsel is not imperative because administrative investigations are themselves inquiries conducted only to determine whether there are facts that merit disciplinary measures against erring public officers and employees, with the purpose of maintaining the dignity of government service.

In administrative proceedings, such as in the case at bar, procedural due process simply means the opportunity to explain ones side or the opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. "To be heard" does not mean only verbal arguments in court; one may be heard also thru pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process.

In administrative proceedings, procedural due process has been recognized to include the following:

(1) the right to actual or constructive notice of the institution of proceedings which may affect a respondent's legal rights;

(2) a real opportunity to be heard personally or with the assistance of counsel, to present witnesses and evidence in ones favor, and to defend ones rights;

(3) a tribunal vested with competent jurisdiction and so constituted as to afford a person charged administratively a reasonable guarantee of honesty as well as impartiality; and

(4) a finding by said tribunal which is supported by substantial evidence submitted for consideration during the hearing or contained in the records or made known to the parties affected.