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Acuzar v. Jorolan | G.R. No. 177878 | April 7, 2010 | J.

Villarama

Petitioner: SPO1 Leonito Acuzar


Respondent: Apropriano Jorolan; Hon. Eduardo Apresa (People’s Law Enforcement Board Chairman)
Topic: Judicial and Administrative Proceedings Arising from the Same Facts

Summary: Jorolan filed an Administrative Case against Acuzar with the PLEB, charging him of Grave
Misconduct for allegedly having an illicit relationship with Jorolan’s minor daughter. Later, a criminal
case was also instituted for violation of the Child Abuse Act. He was found guilty by PLEB and was
dismissed from service. Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with the RTC. RTC ruled in his favor but
this was overturned by the CA, because the earlier petition for certiorari with the RTC was not the
proper remedy. The Court agreed with the CA. First, it clarified that the PLEB had validly acquired
jurisdiction over the case. There was no need to wait for a final judgment in the criminal case because
administrative cases may proceed independently of criminal proceedings, as evidenced by the quantum
of proof required in the two proceedings. Second, the proper appeal from the decision of the PLEB was
an appeal to the Regional Appellate Board. This availability of the right of appeal is antithetical to the
availment of the special civil action of certiorari. The principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies
requires that before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a precondition that he
should have availed of the means of administrative processes afforded to him.

FACTS:

 May 2000: Jorolan filed an Administrative Case against petitioner Acuzar before the People’s
Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) charging the latter of Grave Misconduct. The allegation was that
Acuzar was having an illicit relationship with Jorolan’s minor daughter.
 Respondent also instituted a criminal case against petitioner before MTC for violation of RA
7610, the Child Abuse Act
 July 2000: Petitioner filed a motion to suspend the proceedings before the PLEB pending the
resolution of the criminal case
 PLEB denied the motion, and a hearing for the administrative case was conducted
 August 2000: PLEB issued a decision. Petitioner was found guilty of grave misconduct and was
subsequently dismissed
 Petitioner filed a petition for Certiorari with the RTC. RTC annulled the decision of PLEB for lack
of due process, since it ruled that Petitioner was not given an opportunity to be heard
 Respondent then elevated the case to the CA. CA reversed the ruling of RTC, because the
petition for certiorari filed by petitioner before the RTC was not the proper remedy, since the
remedy of appeal was still available to him

WON CA erred in ruling that petitioner’s resort to certiorari was not warranted—NO

Petitioner Acuzar: petition filed was appropriate because the instant case falls under the exceptions to
the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies. The decision was patently illegal. PLEB did not have
jurisdiction because a conviction should have first been obtained in the criminal case filed against him
1. PLEB did not have to await the prior decision in the criminal case before it could validly acquire
jurisdiction
a. Petitioner Acuzar: Offense charged was actually for “Violation of Law,” which requires
prior conviction before a hearing on the administrative case can proceed
b. The Court disagrees. The affidavit-complaint was clearly one for grave misconduct.
i. Administrative cases may proceed independently of criminal proceedings.
Criminal and administrative cases are separate and distinct from each other. In
criminal cases, proof beyond reasonable doubt is needed whereas in
administrative proceedings, only substantial evidence is required. The PLEB,
being the administrative body tasked to hear complaints against erring PNP
members, has jurisdiction over the case.
2. The proper appeal from the decision of the PLEB was an appeal to the Regional Appellate
Board. This availability of the right of appeal is antithetical to the availment of the special civil
action of certiorari.
a. The principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies requires that before a party is
allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a precondition that he should have
availed of the means of administrative processes afforded to him. If a remedy is
available within the administrative machinery of the administrative agency, then this
alternative should first be utilized before resort can be made to the courts. This is to
enable such body to review and correct any mistakes without the intervention of the
court.
3. [Minor Issue] Petitioner’s claim that he was not afforded due process fails to impress the court.
In administrative proceedings, procedural due process has been recognized to include the
following: (1) the right to actual or constructive notice of the institution of proceedings which
may affect a respondent’s legal rights; (2) a real opportunity to be heard personally or with the
assistance of counsel, to present witnesses and evidence in one’s favor, and to defend one’s
rights; (3) a tribunal vested with competent jurisdiction and so constituted as to afford a person
charged administratively a reasonable guarantee of honesty as well as impartiality; and (4) a
finding by said tribunal which is supported by substantial evidence submitted for consideration
during the hearing or contained in the records or made known to the parties affected The
petitioner was given an opportunity to be heard.
a. The records of the proceedings clearly show that he 1) was notified of the complaint
against him 2) submitted his counter-affidavit and the affidavits of his witnesses 3)
attended hearings together with his counsel.

Disposition: The petition is denied.