Due process is a legal principle most people understand, or not. Perhaps most people have this idea that due process involves the adherence to a certain procedure in dealing or disposition of cases. Perhaps the common understanding that one must be heard before he or she is condemned is close enough to the legal definition of due process. We have the concepts of substantive due process and procedural due process but let us focus now on the latter. As the term implies, it involves the adherence to a promulgated process or requirements with respect to a case. It is very important that in coming up with the decision regarding one’s case, the perception that no bias, undue influence or advantage favors either party so that they will be able to accept the result or outcome. This is not necessary for the parties only, but also to the whole society as well. In order to have a peaceful and orderly society, it must be shown that the institutions in charge of making sure that justice is served, are indeed working and that the people can depend upon them to redress their grievances.
Vivo vs. PAGCOR Vivo was an employee of PAGCOR. He was administratively charged for some transgressions and after he was given the opportunity to answer the charges against him, he was meted the penalty of dismissal from service. After his motion for reconsideration was denied by the investigating committee of PAGCOR, Vivo appealed the decision to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) alleging that his right to due process was violated. The CSC ordered that the case be remanded to the investigating committee of PAGCOR but the latter elevated the case to the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA did not agree with the CSC and sustained the decision of PAGCOR to terminate the employment of Vivo. The case was elevated to the Supreme Court on the question of whether Vivo’s right to due process was violated.
No Violation The Supreme Court decreed that Vivio’s rights to due process was not violated. “Due process, as a constitutional precept, does not always and in all situations require a trial-type proceeding. Due process is satisfied when a person is notified of the charge against him and given an opportunity to explain or defend himself. In administrative proceedings, the filing of charges and giving reasonable opportunity for the person so charged to answer the accusations against him constitute the minimum requirements of due process. The essence of due process is simply 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.” (G.R. No. 187854, November 12, 2013) The SC said that Vivo was afforded due process since he was informed of the charges against him, he was given the opportunity to answer the charges, and was later informed of the decision of the board. The court type hearing is not required in administrative cases and the submission of pleadings will satisfy the requirement of being “heard”. As to the allegation that he was denied the right to be represented by a counsel, the Court said: “the right to counsel is not imperative because administrative investigations are themselves inquiries conducted only to determine whether there are facts that merit disciplinary measures against erring public officers and employees, with the purpose of maintaining the dignity of government service”. (Ibid)