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G.R. No.

L-56180 October 16, 1986


ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY, petitioner,
vs.
OURT O! A""EALS, #$% S"OUSES ROMEO G. GUAN&ON #$% TERESITA REGALADO,
respondents.
Ernesto P. Pangalangan for petitioner.
Mirano, Mirano & Associates for private respondents.
GUTIERRE&, 'R., J.:
In a letter-complaint dated December 13, 1967 addressed to Rev. William Welsh S.J., Dean o !en,
Dean o Resident St"dents, and #hairman o the $oard o Discipline, #olle%e o &rts and Sciences,
&teneo de !anila, #armelita !ateo, a 'aitress in the caeteria o #ervini (all inside the "niversit)
camp"s char%ed J"an Ramon *"an+on, son o private respondents Romeo *"an+on and ,eresita
Re%alado, and a boarder and irst )ear st"dent o the "niversit) 'ith "nbecomin% cond"ct committed
on December 1-, 1967 at abo"t ./1. in the evenin% at the #ervini (all0s caeteria, as ollo's/
111 111 111
!r. *"an+on, a boarder at #ervini 'ho I thin2 comes rom $acolod, 'as as2in% or
3siopao.3 I 'as at the co"nter and I told him that the 3siopao3 had still to be heated
and as2ed him to 'ait or a 'hile. ,hen !r. *"an+on started m"mblin% bad 'ords
directed to me, in the hearin% presence o other boarders. I as2ed him to stop
c"rsin%, and he told me that 'as none o m) b"siness. Since he seemed impatient, I
'as %oin% to %ive bac2 his mone) 'itho"t an) contempt. 4sic5 (e retorted that he did
not li2e to accept the mone). (e %ot madder and started to c"rse a%ain. ,hen he
threatened to stri2e me 'ith his ist. I tried to avoid this. $"t then he act"all) str"c2
me in m) let temple. $eore he co"ld stri2e a%ain, his ello' boarders held him and
Dr. $ella and 6e)es coa1ed him to stop7 I %ot hold o a bottle so I co"ld dod%e him. It
'as then that 8r. #ampbell arrived. ,he incident 'as hidden rom 8r. #ampbell b)
the boarders. I co"ld not tell him m)sel as I had %one into the 2itchen cr)in%
beca"se I 'as h"rt.
,he "niversit) cond"cted an investi%ation o the slappin% incident. 9n the basis o the investi%ation
res"lts, J"an Ramon 'as dismissed rom the "niversit).
,he dismissal o J"an Ramon tri%%ered o the ilin% o a complaint or dama%es b) his parents
a%ainst the "niversit) in the then #o"rt o 8irst Instance o :e%ros 9ccidental at $acolod #it). ,he
complaint states that J"an Ramon 'as e1pelled rom school 'itho"t %ivin% him a air trial in violation
o his ri%ht to d"e process and that the) are prominent and 'ell 2no'n residents o $acolod #it),
'ith the "nceremonio"s e1p"lsion o their son ca"sin% them act"al, moral, and e1emplar) dama%es
as 'ell as attorne)0s ees.
In its ans'er, the "niversit) denied the material alle%ations o the complaint and ;"stiied the
dismissal o J"an Ramon on the %ro"nd that his "nbecomin% behavior is contrar) to %ood morals,
proper decor"m, and civilit), that s"ch behavior s"b;ected him as a st"dent to the "niversit)0s
disciplinar) re%"lations0 action and sanction and that the "niversit) has the sole prero%ative and
a"thorit) at an) time to drop rom the school a st"dent o"nd to be "ndesirable in order to preserve
and maintain its inte%rit) and discipline so indispensable or its e1istence as an instit"tion o learnin%.
&ter d"e trial, the lo'er co"rt o"nd or the *"an+ons and ordered the "niversit) to pa) them
<9-.== as act"al dama%es7 <.=,===.== as moral dama%es7 <.,===.== as attorne)0s ees and to pa)
the costs o the s"it.
>pon appeal to the #o"rt o &ppeals b) the "niversit), the trial co"rt0s decision 'as initiall) reversed
and set aside. ,he complaint 'as dismissed.
(o'ever, "pon motion or reconsideration iled b) the *"an+ons, the appellate co"rt reversed its
decision and set it aside thro"%h a special division o ive. In the resol"tion iss"ed b) the appellate
co"rt, the lo'er co"rt0s decision 'as reinstated. ,he motion or reconsideration had to be reerred to
a special division o ive in vie' o the ail"re to reach "nanimit) on the resol"tion o the motion, the
vote o the re%"lar division havin% become - to 1.
,he petitioner no' as2s "s to revie' and reverse the resol"tion o the division o ive on the
ollo'in% %ro"nds/
9:?
,(? R?S96>,I9: 98 ,(? DI@ISI9: 98 8I@? #9!!I,,?D & S?RI9>S &:D
*R&@? ?RR9R 98 6&W I: R>6I:* ,(&, <RI@&,? R?S<9:D?:,S W?R?
:9, &889RD?D D>? <R9#?SS I: ,(? DIS#I<6I:? #&S? &*&I:S, ,(?IR
S9:, J>&: R&!9: *>&:A9:.
,W9
,(? R?S96>,I9: 98 ,(? DI@ISI9: 98 8I@? ?RR9:?9>S6B R>6?D ,(&,
,(? R?S9R, ,9 J>DI#I&6 R?!?DB $B <RI@&,? R?S<9:D?:,S DID :9,
@I96&,? ,(? R>6? 9: 8I:&6I,B 98 &D!I:IS,R&,I9: &#,I9: 9R
?C(&>S,I9: 98 &D!I:IS,R&,I@? R?!?DI?S.
,(R??
,(? 8I:DI:* &:D #9:#6>SI9:S 98 ,(? R?S96>,I9: 98 ,(? DI@ISI9: 98
8I@? &R? ,&I:,?D WI,( *R&@? &$>S? 98 DIS#R?,I9:, 9R &R?
#9:86I#,I:*, 9R #9:,R&RB ,9 ,(? ?@ID?:#? I: ,(? #&S?.
In reversin% its o'n decision, the appellate co"rt relied heavil) on the indin%s o the Director o
<rivate Schools airmed b) the !inister o ?d"cation and the indin%s o the lo'er #o"rt to the eect
that d"e process o la' 'as not observed b) the petitioner 'hen it dismissed the private
respondents0 son J"an Ramon. ,he resol"tion invo2ed the r"le that indin%s o acts b)
administrative oicers in matters allin% 'ithin their competence 'ill not %enerall) be revie'ed b) the
co"rts, as 'ell as the principle that indin%s o acts o the trial co"rt are entitled to %reat 'ei%ht and
sho"ld not be dist"rbed on appeal.
,he concl"sions o the #o"rt o &ppeals in its split decision are not s"stained b) the acts on record.
,he statement re%ardin% the inalit) %iven to act"al indin%s o trial co"rts and administrative
trib"nals is correct i treated as a %eneral principle. ,he %eneral principle, ho'ever, is s"b;ect to 'ell
established e1ceptions.
We disre%ard the act"al indin%s o trial co"rts 'hen-4l5 the concl"sion is a indin% %ro"nded on
spec"lations, s"rmises, and con;ect"res7 4-5 the inerences made are maniestl) mista2en, abs"rd,
or impossible7 435 there is a %rave ab"se o discretion7 4D5 there is a misapprehension o acts7 and
4.5 the co"rt, in arrivin% at its indin%s, 'ent be)ond the iss"es o the case and the same are contrar)
to the admissions o the parties or the evidence presented. 4*ome+ v. Intermediate &ppellate #o"rt,
13. S#R& 6-=7 Rep"blic v. #o"rt o &ppeals, 13- S#R& .1D7 #arolina Ind"stries, Inc. v. #!S Stoc2
$ro2era%e, Inc., 97 S#R& 73D7 and $aca)o v. *enato, 13. S#R& 66E5.
& similar r"le applies to administrative a%encies.
$) reason o their special 2no'led%e and e1pertise %ained rom the handlin% o speciic matters
allin% "nder their respective ;"risdictions, 'e ordinaril) accord respect i not inalit) to act"al
indin%s o administrative trib"nals. (o'ever, there are e1ceptions to this r"le and ;"dicial po'er
asserts itsel 'henever the act"al indin%s are not s"pported b) evidence7 'here the indin%s are
vitiated b) ra"d, imposition, or coll"sion7 'here the proced"re 'hich led to the act"al indin%s is
irre%"lar7 'hen palpable errors are committed7 or 'hen a %rave ab"se o discretion, arbitrariness, or
capricio"sness is maniest. 4International (ard'ood and @eneer #o., o the <hilippines v. 6eo%ardo,
117 S#R& 9677 $a%"io #o"ntr) #l"b #orporation v. :ational 6abor Relations #ommission, 11E
S#R& ..77 Sichan%co v. #ommissioner o Immi%ration, 9D S#R& 617 and ?"sebio v. Sociedad
&%ricola de $alarin, 16 S#R& .695.
,he #o"rt o &ppeals r"led that J"an Ramon *"an+on 'as not accorded d"e process. We ail to
see 'hat, in the records, made the respondent co"rt reverse its earlier and correct indin% that there
'as d"e process.
,he ori%inal decision, penned b) then &ssociate and no' <residin% J"stice ?milio &. *anca)co
revie's the acts on record to sho' that the proced"res in the e1p"lsion case 'ere air, open,
e1ha"stive, and adeF"ate.
,he decision states/
8irst, ater the slappin% incident 'hich happened on December 1-, 1967, 8r. Welsh
in his capacit) as #hairman o the $oard o Discipline "pon receipt o the letter-
complaint 4?1h. -5 o #armelita !ateo cond"cted a preliminar) inF"ir) b)
intervie'in% the companions and riends o J"an Ramon *"an+on 'ho 'ere also at
the caeteria. ,he) conirmed the incident in F"estion. 4?1hs. ., 6, 7 and 95.
Second, 8r. Welsh, indin% that there 'as probable ca"se a%ainst !r. *"an+on,
prepared a memorand"m to the members o the $oard o Discipline dated December
16, 1967 4?1h. E5 and delivered a cop) each to 8r. 8rancisco <ere+, Dr. &mada
#apa'an, !r. <iccio and Dr. Re)es.
,hird, on December 1D, 1967, !r. *"an+on 'as "ll) inormed o the acc"sation
a%ainst him 'hen 8r. Welsh read the letter-complaint o #armelita !ateo and he
admitted the tr"th o the char%e. 4tsn., pp. 3E-39, !a) 9, 197=7 ?1h. D5.
8o"rth, 8r. Welsh also sent separate letters to Rev. &ntonio #"na, St"dent
#o"nselor o the #olle%e o &rts and Sciences dated December 1E, 1967 and Rev.
James #"lli%an, Director o *"idance o the #olle%e o &rts and Sciences dated
December 1E, 1967 see2in% an) inormation or %"idance in the action o the $oard
o Discipline re%ardin% the case o !r. *"an+on. 4?1hs. 1=-115
8ith, notice o the meetin% o the $oard o Discipline set on December 19, 1967 'as
posted at the $"lletin $oard o the #olle%e o &rts and Sciences and also at
Dormitor) (alls 4tsn., pp. -1---, J"l) -1, 197=5 ,he Secretar) o the Dean o
Discipline personall) notiied !r. *"an+on o the meetin% o the $oard on December
19, 1967, he 'as told to see2 the help o his %"ardians, parents and riends incl"din%
the st"dent co"nsellors in the residence halls and #olle%e o &rts and Sciences.
4tsn., p. 1E, J"l) -1, 197=5
Si1th, despite notice o the $oard o Discipline on December 19, 1967, !r. *"an+on
did not care to inorm his parents or %"ardian 2no'in% "ll) 'ell the serio"sness o
the oense he had committed and instead he spo2e or himsel and admitted to have
slapped #armelita !ateo. (e then as2ed that he be e1c"sed as he 'anted to catch
the boat or $acolod #it) or the #hristmas vacation.
Seventh, the decision o the $oard o Discipline 'as "nanimo"s in droppin% rom the
rolls o st"dents !r. *"an+on 4?1h. 1-5 'hich 'as elevated to the oice o the Dean
o &rts and Sciences, Rev. Joseph &. *aldon, 'ho ater a revie' o the case o"nd
no %ro"nd to reverse the decision o the $oard o Discipline. 4?1h. 135 ,he case 'as
inall) elevated to the <resident o the &teneo >niversit) 'ho s"stained the decision
o the $oard o Discipline 4?1h. -1-&, p. 65 & motion or reconsideration 'as iled b)
the <resident o the St"dent #o"ncil in behal o !r. *"an+on 4?1h. 1.5 b"t the same
'as denied b) the <resident o the >niversit).
?i%hth, 'hen the decision o the $oard o Discipline 'as abo"t to be carried o"t, !r.
*"an+on vol"ntaril) applied or honorable dismissal. (e 'ent aro"nd to the oicials
o the "niversit) to obtain his clearance and this 'as approved on Jan"ar) E, 196E.
4?1h. 3, tsn., p. .E, !a) 6, 197=5
:inth, !r. Romeo *"an+on, ather o J"an Ramon *"an+on arran%ed or "ll and
complete re"nd o his t"ition ee or the entire second semester o the school )ear
1967-6E. J"an Ramon 'as never o"t o school. (e 'as admitted at the De la Salle
#olle%e o $acolod #it) and later transerred to another Jes"it School.
8rom the above proceedin%s that transpired it can not be said that J"an Ramon
*"an+on 'as denied d"e proems o la'. 9n the contrar), 'e ind that he 'as %iven
the "ll opport"nit) to be heard to be "ll) inormed o the char%e a%ainst him and to
be conronted o the 'itnesses ace to ace. &nd since he chose to remain silent and
did not bother to inorm his parents or %"ardian abo"t the disciplinar) action ta2en
a%ainst him b) the deendant "niversit), neither he nor his parents sho"ld ind reason
to complain.
111 111 111
When the letter-complaint 'as read to J"an Ramon, he admitted the altercation 'ith the 'aitress
and his slappin% her on the ace. Rev. Welsh did not stop 'ith the admission. (e intervie'ed ?ric
,a%le, Dann) *o, Roberto $eriber, and Jose Re)es, riends o J"an Ramon 'ho 'ere present
d"rin% the incident.
,he $oard o Discipline 'as made "p o distin%"ished members o the ac"lt)-8r. 8rancisco <ere+,
$iolo%) Department #hairman7 Dr. &mando #apa'an, a #hemistr) proessor7 &ssistant Dean <iccio
o the #olle%e7 and Dr. Re)es o the same #olle%e. ,here is nothin% in the records to cast an) do"bt
on their competence and impartialit) insoar as this disciplinar) investi%ation is concerned.
J"an Ramon himsel appeared beore the $oard o Discipline. (e admitted the slappin% incident,
then be%%ed to be e1c"sed so he co"ld catch the boat or $acolod #it). J"an Ramon, thereore, 'as
%iven notice o the proceedin%s7 he act"all) appeared to present his side7 the investi%atin% board
acted airl) and ob;ectivel)7 and all reF"isites o administrative d"e process 'ere met.
We do not share the appellate co"rt0s vie' that there 'as no d"e process beca"se the private
respondents, the parents o J"an Ramon 'ere not %iven an) notice o the proceedin%s.
J"an Ramon, 'ho at the time 'as 1E )ears o a%e, 'as alread) a colle%e st"dent, intelli%ent and
mat"re eno"%h to 2no' his responsibilities. In act, in the intervie' 'ith Rev. Welsh, he even as2ed
i he 'o"ld be e1pelled beca"se o the incident. (e 'as "ll) co%ni+ant o the %ravit) o the oense
he committed. When inormed abo"t the December 19, 1967 meetin% o the $oard o Discipline, he
'as as2ed to see2 advice and assistance rom his %"ardian andGor parents.
In the nat"ral co"rse o thin%s, J"an Ramon is ass"med to have reported this serio"s matter to his
parents. ,he act that he chose to remain silent and did not inorm them abo"t his case, not even
'hen he 'ent home to $acolod #it) or his #hristmas vacation, 'as not the a"lt o the petitioner
"niversit).
!oreover, not'ithstandin% the non-participation o the private respondents, the "niversit), as stated
earlier, "ndertoo2 a air and ob;ective investi%ation o the slappin% incident.
D"e process in administrative proceedin%s also reF"ires consideration o the evidence presented
and the e1istence o evidence to s"pport the decision 4(alili v. #o"rt o Ind"strial Relations, 136
S#R& 11-5.
While it ma) be tr"e that #armelita !ateo 'as not entirel) blameless or 'hat happened to her
beca"se she also sho"ted at J"an Ramon and tried to hit him 'ith a cardboard bo1 top, this did not
;"sti) J"an Ramon0s slappin% her in the ace. ,he evidence clearl) sho's that the altercation started
'ith J"an Ramon0s "tterance o the oensive lan%"a%e 3bilat ni ba),3 an Ilon%o phrase 'hich means
se1 or%an o a 'oman. It 'as b"t normal on the part o !ateo to react to the nast) remar2.
!oreover, Roberto $eriber, a riend o J"an Ramon 'ho 'as present d"rin% the incident told Rev.
Welsh d"rin% the investi%ation o the case that J"an Ramon made threatenin% %est"res at !ateo
promptin% her to pic2 "p a cardboard bo1 top 'hich she thre' at J"an Ramon. ,he incident 'as in
p"blic th"s addin% to the h"miliation o #armelita !ateo. ,here 'as 3"nbecomin% cond"ct3 and
p"rs"ant to the R"les o Discipline and #ode o ?thics o the "niversit), speciicall) "nder the 1967-
1969 #atalo% containin% the r"les and academic re%"lations 4?1hibit 195, this oense constit"ted a
%ro"nd or dismissal rom the colle%e. ,he action o the petitioner is sanctioned b) la'. Section 1=7
o the !an"al o Re%"lations or <rivate Schools reco%ni+es violation o disciplinar) re%"lations as
valid %ro"nd or re"sin% re-enrollment o a st"dent 4,an%onan v. <ano, 137 S#R& -D.5.
$eore J"an Ramon 'as admitted to enroll, he received 415 the #olle%e o &rts and Sciences
(andboo2 containin% the %eneral re%"lations o the school and the 1967-1969 catalo% o the #olle%e
o &rts and Sciences containin% the disciplinar) r"les and academic re%"lations and 4-5 a cop) o the
R"les and Re%"lations o the #ervini-?li+o (alls o the petitioner "niversit) one o the provisions o
'hich is as ollo's/ "nder the title 3Dinin% Room3-3,he 2itchen help and server sho"ld al'a)s be
treated 'ith civilit).3 !iss !ateo 'as emplo)ed as a 'aitress and precisel) beca"se o her service to
boarders, not to mention her se1, she deserved more respect and %racio"s treatment.
,he petitioner is correct in statin% that there 'as a serio"s error o la' in the appellate co"rt0s r"lin%
on d"e process.
,he petitioner raises the iss"e o 3e1ha"stion o administrative remedies3 in vie' o its pendin%
appeal rom the decision o the !inistr) o ?d"cation to the <resident o the <hilippines. It ar%"es
that the private respondents0 complaint or recover) o dama%es iled in the lo'er co"rt 'as
premat"re.
,he iss"e raised in co"rt 'as 'hether or not the private respondents can recover dama%es as a
res"lt o the dismissal o their son rom the petitioner "niversit). ,his is a p"rel) le%al F"estion and
nothin% o an administrative nat"re is to or can be done. 4*on+ales v. (echanova, 9 S#R& -3=7
,apales v. >niversit) o the <hilippines, 7 S#R& ..37 6imoico v. $oard o &dministrators, 4<@&5, 133
S#R& D37 !alabanan v. Ramonte, 1-9 S#R& 3.95. ,he case 'as bro"%ht p"rs"ant to the la' on
dama%es provided in the #ivil #ode. ,he ;"risdiction to tr) the case belon%s to the civil co"rts.
,here 'as no need to a'ait action rom !alacaHan%.
,his brin%s "s to the inal iss"e 'hich is 'hether or not the private respondents are entitled to
dama%es. ,here is no basis or the recover) o dama%es. J"an Ramon 'as aorded d"e process o
la'. ,he penalt) is based on reasonable r"les and re%"lations applicable to all st"dents %"ilt) o the
same oense. (e never 'as o"t o school. $eore the decision co"ld be implemented, J"an Ramon
as2ed or an honorable dismissal 'hich 'as %ranted. (e then enrolled at the De la Salle >niversit)
o $acolod #it) and later transerred to another Jes"it school !oreover, his "ll and complete t"ition
ees or the second semester 'ere re"nded thro"%h the representation o !r. Romeo *"an+on,
J"an Ramon0s ather.
It is "nort"nate o the parents s"ered some embarrassment beca"se o the incident. (o'ever,
their predicament arose rom the miscond"ct o their o'n son 'ho, in the e1"berance o )o"th and
"nort"nate loss o sel control, did somethin% 'hich he m"st have, later, re%retted. ,here 'as no
bad aith on the part o the "niversit). In act, the colle%e a"thorities deerred an) "nd"e action "ntil
a deinitive decision had been rendered. ,he 'hole proced"re o the disciplinar) process 'as set "p
to protect the privac) o the st"dent involved. ,here is absol"tel) no indication ot malice,. ra"d, and
improper or 'ill"l motives or cond"ct on the part o the &teneo de !anila >niversit) in this case.
W(?R?89R?, the instant petition is hereb) *R&:,?D. ,he appellate co"rt0s resol"tion dated
Jan"ar) -6, 19E1 is R?@?RS?D and S?, &SID?. ,he appellate co"rt0s decision dated !arch 1.,
1979 is R?I:S,&,?D.
S9 9RD?R?D.