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ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | B2015

CASES

ASPREC v. ITCHON

copy.

April 30, 1966


SANCHEZ, J.
Dave Anastacio

The Board found for Hernandez and declared that no


actual survey of Hernandez' land was made but that money was
paid to Asprec; that Asprec was guilty of deceit and thus
violated
the Code of conduct
Ethics for
The Board's
SUMMARY: Jacinto Hernandez filed an administrative complaint
for unprofessional
withsurveyors.
the
unanimous
decision
revoked
Asprec's
certificate
of
Surveyors against Cleto Asprec. Hernandez alleged that Asprec promised to survey Hernandez' lot, deliver a planregistration
approved by the
a private
land
surveyor.
The Assistant
Executive
Secretary,
Director of Lands and, procure the issuance of a certificate of as
title.
However,
Asprec
delivered
a mere copy
not based
on an actual
byfinal
authority
of the
of the for
Philippines,
the ruled
survey. Hearings were conducted but Asprec was absent at the
one. The
casePresident
was submitted
decision, approved
and the Board
against Asprec. Asprec now alleges violation of his right to due Board's
process.decision.
SC rules that he was given ample opportunity to be heard.
Asprec, alleged
of discretion
onnotice
the part
of trial,
DOCTRINE: All that the law requires to satisfy adherence to this constitutional
preceptgrave
is thatabuse
the parties
be given
of the
the board and asked CFI of Camarines Sur to annul the orders
an opportunity to be heard.
revoking his surveyor's certificate of registration; mandamus to
compel
the Board
to conduct a formal hearing of the complaint
A rule so long respected, because it is buttressed upon reason and
authority,
is that
against him;
and
prohibition,
stop
execution
the orders to
evidence are not to be applied with rigidity in administrative proceedings.
We
should
have in to
mind
the
nature ofofadministrative
surrender
said for
certificate.
CFIare
dismissed,
bodies, the character of the duties they are required to perform,
the purposes
which they
organizedand
and so
theAsprec
personsnow
who
appeals.
compose them.
(Here, the board of surveyors are technical men, but not necessarily
trained law men, and so)
ISSUES:
proceedings may not be conducted with that degree of exactness or with such scrupulous observance of the complex technical rules
expected in a legal battle before a court of justice. Their acts should
notAsprec
be measured
by thedue
same
yardstickNO
exacted of a judge of a
I. WON
was denied
processcourt of law. So much leeway is given an investigating administrative body.
II. WON his absence resulted in the invalidity of the
proceedings, if they were quasi-criminal in nature- NO

FACTS: Jacinto Hernandez filed an administrative complaint for


unprofessional conduct with the Board of Examiners for
III. WON the Board had basis to rule on the controversySurveyors against Cleto Asprec. Hernandez alleged that
YES
Asprec promised to survey Hernandez' lot in Port Junction,
Ragay, Camarines Sur; deliver a plan approved by the Director
of Lands within 3 months, procure the issuance of a certificateIV. WON the Boards revocation had basis in law- YES
of title to the lot within 6 months. Hernandez paid the
consideration agreed upon but Asprec did not deliver theRATIO:
agreed plan, even after 4 years. Asprec alleges he complied by
executing and delivering plan Psu-148774 (Ap-2419) duly I. WON Asprec was denied due process- NO
approved, but Hernandez' replied that Psu-148774 is the plan
for a different person and that Ap-2419 is merely a certified
Asprec was given ample opportunity to be heard and
copy of sheet 2 of said plan Psu-148774; and that Asprec defend himself before the Board.. The ff. facts support this
shouldve delivered the plan of an original survey, not a mereconclusion: (a) Hearing of March 31, 1958: Asprec raised the

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | B2015


CASES

legal point that the complaint was not under oath. The Board
Asprec alleges that that no valid trial could proceed even
directed Hernandez to submit a verified complaint. Hearing was if he absented because the proceedings were quasi-criminal,
postponed to May 12, 1958. (b) Hearing of May 12, 1958: Upon but the rule applies even to quasi-criminal or criminal
the averment that the verified complaint sets forth "new facts", proceedings. The defendant's failure to appear with the counsel
Asprec asked for a 10-day period to answer. On June 6, instead of his choice at the trial, notwithstanding the warning that
of an answer, Asprecs counsel filed a motion to dismiss. (c) failure to appear would be deemed a waiver of the right to
Hearing of August 18, 1958. Asprec prayed that hearing be held present evidence in his defense and the case will be submitted
in abeyance until the board shall have resolved his motion to for decision on the evidence submitted by the prosecution, was
dismiss. The hearing was reset for March 11, 1959. (d) Hearing a sufficient justification for the court to proceed and render
of March 11, 1959: This did not pull through although both judgment upon the evidence before it. (People vs. Angco)
parties and their respective attorneys were present, because
Asprec's counsel was not feeling well. They all agreed to III. WON the Board had basis to rule on the controversytransfer the hearing to May 11, 1959. (e) Hearing of May 11, YES
1959: Hernandez and counsel appeared. But Asprec and
counsel were absent. The Board was not apprised by
Asprec alleges it was wrong for the Board to rule based
petitioner of the cause of his or his counsel's failure to on a judgment on the pleadings presented on the date of trial,
appear. Thus, counsel for Hernandez manifested to the Board May 11, 1959, and that there was no basis for the decision.
that "since all evidence available against the respondent has However, a rule so long respected, because it is buttressed
already been submitted he would now rest his case." He then upon reason and authority, is that technical rules of court
filed with the Board a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
practice, procedure and evidence are not to be applied with
rigidity in administrative proceedings. We should have in mind
Because Asprec and counsel did not appear at the lastthe nature of administrative bodies, the character of the duties
and stipulated date of bearing, he cannot look to the law or to a they are required to perform, the purposes for which they are
judicial tribunal to whipsaw the Board into giving him a new organized and the persons who compose them. Here, the board
one, moreso because without his absence was for no cause or of surveyors are technical men, but not necessarily trained law
reason, without any excuse at all. All that the law requires to men, and so it is reasonable to assume that their proceedings
satisfy adherence to this constitutional precept is that the may not be conducted with that degree of exactness or with
parties be given notice of the trial, an opportunity to be heard. such scrupulous observance of the complex technical rules
Asprec had notice of the trial, of which date both parties had expected in a legal battle before a court of justice. Their acts
previously agreed upon. He has forfeited his right to be heard in should not be measured by the same yardstick exacted of a
his defense. Furthermore, Asprec did not even inquire as to what judge of a court of law. So much leeway is given an
happened on May 11. He waited until April 16 the following investigating administrative body.
year. His patent inattention and gross negligence will not carry
the day for him.
In this case, Asprec admits that he executed the plan,
sent it to Hernandez, but this plan (Ap-2419) is not the plan of
II. WON his absence would have resulted in the invalidityan original survey, for it was merely copied from another plan.
of the proceedings, if they were quasi-criminal in nature- Asprec was paid to deliver a planplan drawn from a survey, not
NO
from a copy. The plans the original and copied ones were
before the Board.

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | B2015


CASES

(I dont understantd the CivPro aspect, but there was longer be authorized to practice surveying in the Philippine
technically something wrong with what counsel for Hernandez Islands" to mean that he has to be suspended thrice before his
did, but the court ruled that it was in consonance with fair play license could be revoked.
and with the leeway allowed to admin agencies, so they allowed
it.)When counsel for Hernandez manifested at the hearing of
However, this power has express statutory basis in
May 11, 1959 that all the evidence against petitioner was Section 10 of Act 3626 as amended by Act 3889 aforesaid, as
submitted to the Board and that for that reason he was resting follows:
his case, he evidently had in mind the admissions in the
pleadings and the plans and decision and report here noted. The Board of Examiners may suspend or revoke the license or
And, the motion for judgment on the pleadings was a mere certificate as practising surveyor granted to any person in case the
follow-up of the manifestation just adverted to. As the trial court same has been convicted by any court of a crime involving moral
well observed, counsel for respondent Hernandez did not turpitude, if he has been guilty of immoral and dishonest conduct, if he
present a motion for judgment on the pleadings in the strict is mentally incapacitated, or for unprofessional conduct. The decision
sense of the word, but "a motion which for lack of another of the Board shall be rendered after an investigation in which the
expression, he called a motion for judgment on the pleadings." accused shall be heard, and said accused may appeal to the
Lack of observance of this technicality which is not inconsistent Department head, whose decision shall be final administratively.
with a fair concept of justice should be overlooked. There was
3 prior suspensions is not required- there is ample
sufficient evidence before the Board and the Board ruled based
discretion given to the Board to suspend or revoke the license.
on these.
The Board elected to revoke. It acted within the law. A familiar
Furthermore, Asprec does not even advance a rule is that in a clash between statute and administrative order
substantial defense. The net result is that if there was an error issued in pursuance thereof, the former prevails.
of procedure, such error is reduced to the level of nonprejudicial. A reversal of the judgment below or a new hearing RULING: In the end, we say that the proceedings before the
before the Board would be an empty ceremony. Courts do not Board were not infused with such unfairness or tainted with so
demand the performance of the unnecessary. There is no grave an abuse of authority as to call for the exercise by this
reason why the machinery administrative or judicial should Court of its corrective powers.
be allowed to grind anew.
Upon the view we take of this case, the decision is hereby
affirmed. Costs against petitioner.
IV. WON the Boards revocation had basis in law- YES
Asprec interprets Surveyor's Administrative Order No. 1,
dated November 26, 1934 (which implemented Act 3626 as
amended by Act No. 3889), section 19 (g), providing that "Any
surveyor who has been suspended three (3) times shall no