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Filipino Student's Right to Due Process
« on: October 21, 2016, 11:03:59 AM »
A STUDENT’S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS
By Atty. Gee Biliran
Published on Oct 22, 2006 by The Bohol Standard Newspaper

The right to due process is a constitutional right. It applies not only to cases in court, but also to investigations in offices and schools.

Due process includes the right to be properly informed of the charges against the respondent or the investigated person.

Due process requires that before an investigating body conducts a hearing, the respondent should be furnished with copies of the complaint and ALL documents and statements forming part of the evidence of the complainant against the respondent.

Moreover, the complaint should clearly state the specific regulation/law violated by the respondent, as well as the acts of respondent which constituted such violation.

The investigating body should NOT proceed with the investigation unless the respondent is properly informed of the charges and their basis.

This requirement is meant to enable the respondent to properly answer the charges against her or him, to sufficiently confront the witnesses who testify against her or him, and to determine the evidence to present in her or his defense.

It would be in gross violation of the constitutional right to due process if an investigation is conducted and a decision is handed down without the respondent having been previously furnished with the complaint and all evidences against him or her.

Evidences against the respondent cannot and should not be kept in secret. Otherwise, how could the respondent properly defend himself or herself? How could he or she refute the allegations against him or her and assail the due execution, genuineness and truthfulness of the documents submitted by the complainant?

What would be the basis of the decision if the evidences of the complainant remain uncontroverted simply because respondent was not given copies of the documents submitted by the complainant?

Unless the respondent is given such copies, the issues of the case cannot be considered joined and the investigation should not commence.

The Supreme Court itself frowns upon surprise attacks in administrative and judicial investigations.

For the information of investigators in offices and schools, pleadings or documents cannot be submitted in court unless the opposing party is furnished with copies of such pleadings. Otherwise, the court would not accept the pleadings.

Copies of pleadings must be furnished the opposing party by personal delivery. It is only when such personal delivery is impracticable that pleadings may be furnished the other party by registered mail. Even then, the party mailing the pleading must explain in the document the reason for the impracticability of the personal delivery. Otherwise, the pleading is considered a mere scrap of paper.

It was, therefore, to my utter surprise when I was informed that a local school is conducting a purported “investigation” against a student without the student having been furnished with copies of the evidences against her. To my consternation, I was informed that the school refused the student’s request for such copies and had adamantly considered the investigation terminated.

The school even refused the student’s request for copies of the minutes of the proceedings during the supposed investigation.

The student was instead told to wait for the decision of the investigating body.

To make matters worse, the student was told by the school authorities that she would be given copies of the evidences against her only if she would submit her own evidences constituting her defense.

Such requirement not only abhorrently violates the student’s right to due process but also borders on stupidity. Sheer stupidity.

How on earth could the student submit her own evidences when she was never given copies of the evidences against her for her to intelligently rebut the same?

How on earth could the student submit her own evidences when her request for copies of the evidences against her was only met with stubborn refusal by the school?

How on earth could the student defend herself when she was not properly informed of the specific school regulation/s she had allegedly violated?

If there is any place where due process should be religiously followed, it should be the schools where students are supposedly “taught” and “molded” to become good citizens of the country.

Such arrogant high-handedness of the school very well reflects its double standard. While the school professes to be Christian, its treatment towards its own student shows otherwise.

How could the school teach and preach justice when it is not just?

How could the school teach and preach fairness when it is not fair?

How could the school teach and preach compassion when it is not compassionate?

My unsolicited advise would be for the school to strictly comply with the due process requirements before it dares hand down a decision against the student. Otherwise, the school would lose its moral standing in the community.

Worse, the school would be inviting litigations.

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Romans 10:9-10
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