G.R. No. 117565. November 18, 1997 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
Lumiqued v. Exevea, et al.

### Facts:
Arsenio P. Lumiqued, then Regional Director of the Department of Agrarian Reform – Cordillera Autonomous Region (DAR-CAR), was dismissed following President Fidel V. Ramos’s issuance of Administrative Order No. 52 on May 12, 1993. This dismissal was the culmination of three complaints filed by Jeannette Obar-Zamudio, a DAR-CAR Regional Cashier, accusing Lumiqued of malversation through falsification of official documents, violation of Commission on Audit (COA) rules, and oppression and harassment.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) formed an investigating committee through Department Order No. 145 on May 20, 1992, to probe into these allegations. Despite Lumiqued’s motions for deferment and for additional hearing due to health issues, the committee, after conducting hearings without Lumiqued’s legal representation, recommended his dismissal for dishonesty and grave misconduct. Acting on this recommendation, Justice Secretary Franklin M. Drilon advised President Ramos to dismiss Lumiqued.

Despite motions for reconsideration and an appeal to President Ramos, citing denial of right to counsel during the administrative hearing, Lumiqued’s dismissal was upheld. This dismissal led to the forfeiture of his retirement and other benefits. Lumiqued’s subsequent death prompted his heirs to continue the legal battle, culminating in this petition for certiorari and mandamus, challenging the legality of the dismissal and its procedures, particularly the denial of Lumiqued’s right to legal representation during the administrative hearings.

### Issues:
1. Whether the due process clause encompasses the right to be assisted by counsel during an administrative inquiry.
2. Whether the investigating committee violated Lumiqued’s due process rights by proceeding with the hearing in his absence and without informing him of his right to counsel.
3. Whether Lumiqued’s motion for reconsideration and appeal cured the perceived procedural deficiencies.
4. Whether Lumiqued’s dismissal and the subsequent forfeiture of benefits were valid under the circumstances.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court dismissed the petition for certiorari and mandamus, affirming Administrative Order No. 52. It ruled that:
1. The right to counsel, while non-waivable during criminal investigations, does not strictly apply to administrative inquiries. Thus, Lumiqued’s administrative hearing did not necessitate mandatory legal representation.
2. The investigating committee’s failure to suspend the hearing for Lumiqued to secure counsel did not infringe on his due process rights. Lumiqued was competent enough to represent himself and had been given ample opportunity to secure counsel if he so wished.
3. Any procedural deficiencies were cured by Lumiqued’s motion for reconsideration and his subsequent appeal, allowing him ample opportunity to present his case.
4. Lumiqued’s dismissal for the offenses charged, followed by the forfeiture of his retirement and other benefits, was justified and based on substantial evidence.

### Doctrine:
This case reiterated the principle that the right to counsel is not absolute in administrative proceedings and that due process is satisfied as long as the parties are given the opportunity to be heard and submit evidence in their favor.

### Class Notes:
– **Right to Counsel**: Not absolute in administrative inquiries; mandatory only in criminal investigations.
– **Due Process in Administrative Inquiries**: Satisfied by the opportunity to explain one’s side, not necessarily through an oral hearing.
– **Substantial Evidence**: The quantum of proof necessary in administrative cases.
– **Administrative Dismissal**: Can lead to the forfeiture of benefits and disqualification from government service without violating due process, provided the dismissal is based on substantial evidence.

### Historical Background:
The decision underscores the balance between an individual’s rights during administrative processes against the need for public accountability and integrity within the government service. It reflects the judiciary’s stance on administrative law concerning procedural rights and the standards of evidence required to uphold administrative actions.


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