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G.R. No. 166809 – 552 SCRA 320 – Political Law – Due Process – Administrative Bodies
Atty Erece was the Regional Director CHR Region 1. Macalingay et al were Erece’s subordinates. Macalingay et al were complaining that Erece had continuously denied them from using the company vehicle. That Erece had been receiving his Representation and Transportation Allowance yet he prioritizes himself in the use of the vehicle. The issue reached the CSc proper which found Erece guilty as charged. Erece contends that he was denied due process as he was not afforded the right to cross-examine his accusers and their witnesses. He stated that at his instance, in order to prevent delay in the disposition of the case, he was allowed to present evidence first to support the allegations in his Counter-Affidavit. After he rested his case, respondents did not present their evidence, but moved to submit their position paper and formal offer of evidence, which motion was granted by the CSC over his objection. Macalingay et al then submitted their Position Paper and Formal Offer of Exhibits. Erece submits that although he was allowed to present evidence first, it should not be construed as a waiver of his right to cross-examine the complainants. Although the order of presentation of evidence was not in conformity with the procedure, still Erece should not be deemed to have lost his right to cross-examine his accusers and their witnesses. This may be allowed only if he expressly waived said right.
ISSUE: Whether or not Erece had been denied due process.
HELD: The SC agrees with the CA that petitioner was not denied due process when he failed to cross-examine the complainants and their witnesses since he was given the opportunity to be heard and present his evidence. In administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply the opportunity to explain one’s side.
Judicial Due Process vs Administrative Due Process
Due process of law in administrative cases is not identical with “judicial process” for a trial in court is not always essential to due process. While a day in court is a matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in administrative proceedings since they rest upon different principles. The due process clause guarantees no particular form of procedure and its requirements are not technical. Thus, in certain proceedings of administrative character, the right to a notice or hearing are not essential to due process of law. The constitutional requirement of due process is met by a fair hearing before a regularly established administrative agency or tribunal. It is not essential that hearings be had before the making of a determination if thereafter, there is available trial and tribunal before which all objections and defenses to the making of such determination may be raised and considered. One adequate hearing is all that due process requires. . . .
The right to cross-examine is not an indispensable aspect of due process. Nor is an actual hearing always essential. . . .