Thursday, December 12, 2013

Right to counsel in administrative cases

"x x x.

As regards the supposed denial of the petitioner’s right to counsel, it is
underscored that PAGCOR denied his request to re-schedule the conference
before the Adjudication Committee because his counsel would not be
available on the day fixed for that purpose. In its letter denying the request,
the Adjudication Committee asserted that the presence of counsel was not
indispensable in the conduct of its proceedings. We find nothing
objectionable in the denial of the request. In an administrative proceeding
like that conducted against the petitioner, a respondent has the option of
engaging the services of counsel. As such, 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.21

It is noteworthy, however, that the petitioner was actually assisted by
his counsel from the outset of the administrative case against him. That
counsel, Atty. Cesar B. Jimenea Jr. of the Jimenea and Associates, ensured
that the petitioner’s every concern reached PAGCOR, and that he was
clarified of any matter affecting his rights all throughout the investigation
and hearings. As the records indicate, his counsel sent to Ela a letter calling
attention to supposedly palpable violations of his client’s right to due
process, and objecting to Ela’s right to place his client under preventive
suspension. The same counsel filed in behalf of the petitioner the letterrequests
to be furnished certain documents and records of the investigation,22  his answer to the memorandum of charges,23 the letter-request for the resetting
of the conference before the Adjudication Committee,24 the
reconsideration of the letter denying the request,25 and the motion to
reconsider the decision of the Board of Directors to dismiss him from the

x  x x."

See -


G.R. No. 187854
NOVEMBER 12, 2013