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Montemayor vs. Bundalian
G.R. No. 149335
Edillio C. Montemayor assails the Decision of the Office of the President which ordered his dismissal as Regional Director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for unexplained wealth, as a result of an investigation conducted by the Philippine Commission against Graft and Corruption (PCAGC) which arrived at the conclusion that the real property he had acquired in California, U.S. was unlawfully acquired for it was manifestly out of proportion to his salary. His dismissal originated from the unverified complaint of the private respondent, Luis Bundalian addressed to the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, California, U.S.A which were later on indorsed to the PCAGC for investigation. Montemayor, represented by counsel, submitted his counter-affidavit before the PCAGC alleging that the real owner of the subject property was his sister-in-law Estela Fajardo. He likewise pointed out that the charge against him was the subject of similar cases filed before the Ombudsman which was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. The PCAGC conducted its own investigation of the complaint. While petitioner participated in the proceedings and submitted various pleadings and documents through his counsel, private respondent-complainant could not be located as his Philippine address could not be ascertained. After the investigation, the PCAGC, in its Report to the Office of the President, concluded that as petitioner’s acquisition of the subject property was manifestly out of proportion to his salary, it has been unlawfully acquired. Thus, it recommended petitioner’s dismissal from service.
Whether or not he was denied due process in the investigation before the PCAGC.
No, the essence of due process in administrative proceedings is the opportunity to explain one’s side or seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. As long as the parties are given the opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered, the demands of due process are sufficiently met. In the case at bar, the petitioner cannot argue that he was deprived of due process just because he failed to confront and cross-examine the complainant, the PCAGC exerted efforts to notify the complainant of the proceedings but his Philippine residence could not be located. The petitioner’s active participation in every step of the investigation effectively removed any badge of procedural deficiency, if there was any, and satisfied the due process requirement. He cannot now be allowed to challenge the procedure adopted by the PCAGC in the investigation.