Due process is mere opportunity to be heard. - A.M. No. RTJ-10-2232

A.M. No. RTJ-10-2232

"x x x.

The sole issue in this case is whether Judge Indar is guilty of gross misconduct and dishonesty.

We agree with the findings of the Investigating Justice.

The Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, which govern the conduct of disciplinary and non-disciplinary proceedings in administrative cases, clearly provide that technical rules of procedure and evidence do not strictly apply to administrative proceedings. Section 3, Rule I of the Uniform Rules states:

Section 3. Technical Rules in Administrative Investigations. –Administrative investigations shall be conducted without necessarily adhering strictly to the technical rules of procedure and evidence applicable to judicial proceedings.
In Cornejo v. Gabriel,10 the Court held that notice and hearing are not indispensable in administrative investigations, thus:

The fact should not be lost sight of that we are dealing with an administrative proceeding and not with a judicial proceeding. As Judge Cooley, the leading American writer on constitutional Law, has well said, due process of law is not necessarily judicial process; much of the process by means of which the Government is carried on, and the order of society maintained, is purely executive or administrative, which is as much due process of law, as is judicial process. While a day in court is a matter of right in judicial proceedings, in administrative proceedings it is otherwise since they rest upon different principles. In certain proceedings, therefore, of an administrative character, it may be stated, without fear of contradiction, that the right to a notice and hearing are not essential to due process of law. x x x11 (Emphasis supplied; citations omitted)

It is settled that “technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied to administrative proceedings. Thus, administrative due process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial sense.”12 It is enough that the party is given the chance to be heard before the case against him is decided.13 Otherwise stated, in the application of the principle of due process, what is sought to be safeguarded is not lack of previous notice but the denial of the opportunity to be heard.14

The Court emphasized in Cornejo15 the Constitutional precept that public office is a public trust,16 which is the underlying principle for the relaxation of the requirements of due process of law in administrative proceedings, thus:

Again, for this petition to come under the due process of law prohibition, it would be necessary to consider an office as “property.” It is, however, well settled in the United States, that a public office is not property within the sense of the constitutional guaranties of due process of law, but is a public trust or agency.17 (Emphasis supplied)

In this case, Judge Indar was given ample opportunity to controvert the charges against him. While there is no proof that Judge Indar personally received the notices of hearing issued by the Investigating Justices, the first two notices of hearing were received by one MustaphaRandang of the Clerk of Court, RTC-Cotabato, while one of the notices was received by a certain Mrs. Asok, who were presumably authorized and capable to receive notices on behalf of Judge Indar.

Further, Judge Indar cannot feign ignorance of the administrative investigation against him because aside from the fact that the Court’s Resolution suspending him was mailed to him, his preventive suspension was reported in major national newspapers.18 Moreover, Judge Indarwas repeatedly sent notices of hearings to his known addresses. Thus, there was due notice on Judge Indar of the charges against him. However, Judge Indar still failed to file his explanation and appear at the scheduled hearings. Consequently, the investigation proceededex parte in accordance with Section 4, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court.19
Public office is a public trust.20 This constitutional principle requires a judge, like any other public servant and more so because of his exalted position in the Judiciary, to exhibit at all times the highest degree of honesty and integrity.21 As the visible representation of the law tasked with dispensing justice, a judge should conduct himself at all times in a manner that would merit the respect and confidence of the people.22
 x x x."
law and justice foundation,law and justice symbol,law justice and morality,law or justice 1988,relationship between law and justice,difference between law and justice,law and justice careers,law and justice essay law and justice foundation,law and justice symbol,law justice and morality,law or justice 1988,relationship between law and justice,difference between law and justice,law and justice careers,law and justice essay