Gannapao v CSC G.R. No. 180141 May 31, 2011
United Workers Transport Corp. (UWTC) started operating MMTCs buses. At the same time, the petitioner was allegedly employed by Atty. Gironella, the general manager appointed by the BOD of UWTC, as his personal bodyguard. Respondents further alleged that upon orders of Atty. Gironella, the buses regularly driven by them, were confiscated by a group led by petitioner. Armed with deadly weapons, the petitioner and his group intimidated and harassed respondents. Barien, et al. thus prayed for the preventive suspension of petitioner, the confiscation of his firearm and his termination.
The complaint passed an investigation with The Inspector General, Internal Affairs Office (TIG-IAO) of the PNP. In his answer, petitioner denied the allegations of the complaint and averred that it was his twin brother, Reynaldo Gannapao, who worked as messenger at UWTC.
Subsequently, a NAPOLCOM Memorandum was issued, and a summary hearing on the complaint was conducted. Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint, where the same was denied. PNP Chief Sarmiento rendered his Decision finding petitioner guilty as charged and suspending him for three months from the police service without pay. Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied, thus, he elevated the case to the NAPOLCOM National Appellate Board. His appeal, however, was dismissed.
Aggrieved, the petitioner brought his case to the DILG but his appeal was denied. Petitioner then appealed to the CSC, it was dismissed but the penalty of suspension was increased to dismissal from service. Petitioner filed with the CA a Petition for Review but it was later on denied because petitioner cannot claim denial of due process since he was given ample opportunity to present his side. CA denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.
1. Whether or not petitioner was denied due process.
2. Whether or not the CA correctly affirmed the CSC decision modifying the penalty of petitioner from three months suspension to dismissal from the service.
1. No.. The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard or, as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. 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. As long as a party was given the opportunity to defend his interests in due course, he was not denied due process.
Petitioner had ample opportunity to present his side during the hearing and he was even advised by the hearing officer that he may file a supplemental answer or a counter affidavit until February 17, 1997 or he may adopt his answer filed with the TIG-IAO. Instead, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss, reiterating the ground of res judicata, based on his own assertion that the case against him had already been heard, tried and finally terminated. Petitioner, however, did not present proof of such dismissal. Indeed, he could not have presented such proof because, as correctly pointed out by the OSG, the undated memorandum of Atty. Casugbo, the hearing official who conducted the preliminary inquiry/pre-charge investigation, was merely recommendatory. Atty. Casugbo’s report and recommendation was not approved by the PNP Director General, the disciplinary authority to whom such report of investigation is submitted, pursuant to Section (D) 4.01 of Memorandum Circular No. 96-010. Consequently, when the Office of the Legal Service of the PNP found the complaint to be a proper subject of a summary hearing, and a further investigation was conducted pursuant to the rules, the recommendation to dismiss was deemed not adopted or carried out. Having been given a reasonable opportunity to answer the complaint against him, petitioner cannot now claim that he was deprived of due process.
Petitioner’s assertion that the complainants/witnesses against him have not been cross-examined by him, is likewise bereft of merit. While the right to cross-examine is a vital element of procedural due process, the right does not necessarily require an actual cross examination but merely an opportunity to exercise this right if desired by the party entitled to it. In this case, while Memorandum Circular No. 96-010 provides that the sworn statements of witnesses shall take the place of oral testimony but shall be subject to cross-examination, petitioner missed this opportunity precisely because he did not appear at the deadline for the filing of his supplemental answer or counter-affidavit, and accordingly the hearing officer considered the case submitted for decision. And even with the grant of his subsequent motion to be furnished with a copy of complaint and its annexes, he still failed to file a supplemental answer or counter-affidavit and instead filed a motion to dismiss reiterating the previous recommendation for dismissal made by Atty. Casugbo. Moreover, after the PNP Director General rendered his decision, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied. He was also able to appeal from the decision of the PNP Director General to the DILG Secretary, and eventually to the CSC. We have held that the fact that a party filed motions for reconsideration and appeals with the tribunals below, in which she presented her arguments and through which she could have proffered her evidence, if any, negates her claim that she was denied opportunity to be heard.
2. No. As to the second issue, The Court held that the CA did not err in affirming the CSC ruling which modified the penalty imposed by the PNP Director General as affirmed by the DILG Secretary, from three months suspension to dismissal.
As a rule, administrative agencies’ factual findings that are affirmed by the Court of Appeals are conclusive on the parties and not reviewable by this Court, except only for very compelling reasons. Where the findings of the administrative body are amply supported by substantial evidence, such findings are accorded not only respect but also finality, and are binding on this Court. It is not for the reviewing court to weigh the conflicting evidence, determine the credibility of witnesses, or otherwise substitute its own judgment for that of the administrative agency on the sufficiency of evidence. We find no cogent reason to deviate from the general rule in this case.
DISPOSITION: WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Decision dated April 27, 2007 and Resolution dated October 10, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 70605 are hereby AFFIRMED.