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G.R. No. 114683 January 18, 2000
JESUS C. OCAMPO
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
This petition for certiorari seeks to nullify the Resolutions of the Ombudsman which dismissed petitioner from the service, with forfeiture of benefits and special perpetual disqualification to hold office in the government or any government-owned or controlled corporation, and which denied the motion for reconsideration thereof, respectively.
Petitioner is the Training Coordinator of NIACONSULT, INC., a subsidiary of the National Irrigation Administration.
On March 21, 1988, K.N. Paudel of the Agricultural Development Bank of Nepal (ADBN) Mote a letter to NIACONSULT requesting a training proposal on small-scale community irrigation development.
On November 17, 1988, petitioner as the training coordinator of the NIACONSULT, sent a letter-proposal requested by ABDN. Another letter was sent by petitioner confirming the availability of NIACONSULT to conduct the training program and formally requesting advance payment of thirty (30%) percent of the training fees in the amount of US $9,600.00 or P204,960.00.
NIACONSULT conducted the training program for six Nepalese Junior Engineers. ADBN, thru its representative, paid to the petitioner the agreed training fee in two installments of P61,488.00 and P143, 472.00.
NIACONSULT, through its president, Wilfredo S. Tiongco, wrote a letter to petitioner demanding the turn-over of the total training fee paid by ADBN which petitioner personally received. Despite receipt of the letter, petitioner failed to remit the said amount prompting NIACONSULT through its president, Maximino Eclipse, to file an administrative case before respondent OMBUDSMAN for serious misconduct and/or fraud or willful breach of trust.
A year later, respondent OMBUDSMAN issued another order giving petitioner another chance to file his counter-affidavit and controverting evidence. Again, petitioner failed.
Thereafter, respondent OMBUDSMAN issued the assailed Resolution, the decretal portion of which reads:
Withal, for such dishonesty, untrustworthiness, and conduct prejudicial to the service as established by overwhelming evidences, it is respectfully recommended that respondent Jesus C. Ocampo be discharged from the service, with forfeiture of benefits and special perpetual disqualification to hold office in the government or any government-owned or controlled corporation; without prejudice to any civil action NIACONSULT, Inc., may institute to recover the amount so retained by the respondent.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration and to re-open the case claiming that he was denied due process in that the administrative case was resolved on the basis of the complainant's evidences, without affording him the opportunity to file a counter-affidavit and to present his evidence. Petitioner likewise contends that he was not given access to the records of the subject transaction vital to his defense and in the preparation of his counter-affidavit despite his verbal requests to the graft investigator.
The respondent OMBUDSMAN denied the motion petitioner motion.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed the instant petition basically reiterating his arguments in his motion for reconsideration.
Whether or not petitioner was denied the opportunity to be heard.
Petitioner has been amply accorded the opportunity to be heard. He was required to answer the complaint against him. In fact, petitioner was given considerable length of time to submit his counter-affidavit. The dismissal of the criminal case will not foreclose administrative action filed against petitioner or give him a clean bill of health in all respects. The Regional Trial Court, in dismissing the criminal complaint, was simply saying that the prosecution was unable to prove the guilt of petitioner beyond reasonable doubt, a condition sine qua non for conviction. The lack or absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean an absence of any evidence whatsoever for there is another class of evidence which, though insufficient to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt, is adequate in civil cases; this is preponderance of evidence.