G.R. No. 138862. August 15, 2003.

FACTS

Camacho, petitioner is the Dean of the College of Education of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USP). In 1995, several doctorate students complained to petitioner of certain “ghost students” in the class of Dr. Sixto Daleon during the first semester of school year 1994-1995 who were given passing grades despite their unjustified failure to attend classes. Petitioner brought the matter to the attention of the University President and to the Board of Regents (BOR) where Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) Secretary Ricardo Gloria sat as chairman which uphold the grade given by Dr. Daleon.

Camacho filed a complaint against Dr. Daleon for gross incompetence and insubordination which include the University Board of Regents chaired by then DECS Secretary Gloria, DECS Legal Officer Reno Capinpin, and the three students who received passing marks, despite, numerous absences, namely Aida Agulo, Desiderio Alaba and Norma Tecson which was dismissed.

Dr. Ledesma, secretary of the BOR of the USP filed a complaint against petitioner before the Office of the USP President for grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a dean and falsification of public documents. Ledesma’s complaint alleged that petitioner rigged the results of the performance evaluation test taken by her students in order to justify petitioner in not giving her any teaching assignment. Secretary Gloria, in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Regents of USP, created a Special Investigation Committee (SIC) which petitioner moved for the inhibition of the committee members on the ground that the ones who formed the committee, were both respondents in the Ombudsman case he filed.

Petitioner filed a petition for prohibition with prayer for a temporary restraining order as that the Special Investigation Committee be restrained from hearing Admin. Case No. 001 as the creation of the committee violated his right to due process. It was later dismissed by the trial court for petitioner should have first exhausted his administrative remedies by undergoing investigation by the committee, and if its ruling is adverse, to appeal the same to the Secretary of Education, and, thereafter, to the Office of the President.

ISSUES

1)  Whether or not the Board of Regents of USP, through the Special Investigation Committee, has jurisdiction over Adm. Case No. 001 and

2) Whether or not petitioner’s right to due process was violated by the Special Investigation Committee of the university.

HELD

  1. YES. Board of Regents is the highest governing body of the university, it has the power to create investigating committees to act upon administrative complaints filed against its personnel pursuant to the USP Charter, Batas Pambansa Blg. 12. Consonant to its power to hire is the power to discipline its personnel. It is, therefore, in line with the BOR’s power of governance to create a Special Investigation Committee to probe into administrative complaints filed against its officers.
  2. NO. Petitioner’s allegations that Secretary Gloria and the Special Investigation Committee members were biased and partial are merely speculative. There is no showing that the Education Secretary and the Committee members had an interest, personal or otherwise, in the prosecution of the case against petitioner.

Generally a party must explore all remedies available in the administrative arena before seeking judicial relief. This doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is not without its practical and legal reasons. For one thing, availment of administrative remedy entails lesser expenses and provides for a speedier disposition of controversies.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The decision dated September 9, 1997 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42860 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

DOCTRINE

We must stress that generally a party must explore all remedies available in the administrative arena before seeking judicial relief. This doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is not without its practical and legal reasons. For one thing, availment of administrative remedy entails lesser expenses and provides for a speedier disposition of controversies. The administrative authority must be given an opportunity to act and correct the errors committed in the administrative forum. In this case, petitioner has no valid reason to block at the very outset the Board of Regents and the Special Investigation Committee from performing their functions. Only after administrative remedies are exhausted may judicial recourse be allowed.

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