Petitioner Garcia as President and General Manager of the GSIS filed separate charges against respondents Villaviza et.al, for Grave Misconduct and/or Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. Petitioner allege that respondent, together with other employees in utter contempt of the Omnibus Rules on Prohibited Concerted Mass Actions in the Public Sector caused alarm and heightened some employees and disrupted the work at the Investigation Unit during office hours.
The Manager of the GSIS Investigation Unit (GSIS-IU), Atty. Lutgardo Barbo, issued a memorandum to each of the seven (7) respondents requiring them to explain in writing and under oath within three (3) days why they should not be administratively dealt with.
Respondents Duque, Echavez, Rubio, Gracia, Layco, and Legarda, together with two others, submitted a letter-explanation to Atty. Barbo dated June 6, 2005. Denying that there was a planned mass action, the respondents explained that their act of going to the office of the GSIS-IU was a spontaneous reaction after learning that their former union president was there. Aside from some of them wanting to show their support, they were interested in that hearing as it might also affect them. For her part, respondent Villaviza submitted a separate letter explaining that she had a scheduled pre-hearing at the GSIS-IU that day and that she had informed her immediate supervisor about it, attaching a copy of the order of pre-hearing. These letters were not under oath.
PGM Garcia issued separate but similarly worded decisions finding all 7 respondents guilty of the charges and meting out the penalty of 1 year suspension plus the accessory penalties appurtenant thereto.
On appeal, the CSC found the respondents guilty of the lesser offense of Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and Regulations and reduced the penalty to reprimand.
PGM Garcia sought reconsideration but was denied. Thus, PGM Garcia went to the CA via a Petition for Review under Rule 43. The CA upheld the CSC.
Hence, this petition.
WHETHER AN ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL MAY APPLY SUPPLETORILY THE PROVISIONS OF THE RULES OF COURT ON THE EFFECT OF FAILURE TO DENY THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT AND FAILURE TO FILE ANSWER, WHERE THE RESPONDENTS IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS DID NOT FILE ANY RESPONSIVE PLEADING TO THE FORMAL CHARGES AGAINST THEM.
The Court finds no merit in the petition.
A perusal of said section readily discloses that the failure of a respondent to file an answer merely translates to a waiver of his right to file an answer. There is nothing in the rule that says that the charges are deemed admitted. It has not done away with the burden of the complainant to prove the charges with clear and convincing evidence.
It is true that Section 4 of the Rules of Court provides that the rules can be applied in a suppletory character. Suppletory is defined as supplying deficiencies. It means that the provisions in the Rules of Court will be made to apply only where there is an insufficiency in the applicable rule. There is, however, no such deficiency as the rules of the GSIS are explicit in case of failure to file the required answer. What is clearly stated there is that GSIS may render judgment as may be warranted by the facts and evidence submitted by the prosecution.
Even granting that Rule 8, Section 11 of the Rules of Court finds application in this case, petitioners must remember that there remain averments that are not deemed admitted by the failure to deny the same. Among them are immaterial allegations and incorrect conclusions drawn from facts set out in the complaint. Thus, even if respondents failed to file their answer, it does not mean that all averments found in the complaint will be considered as true and correct in their entirety, and that the forthcoming decision will be rendered in favor of the petitioners. We must not forget that even in administrative proceedings, it is still the complainant, or in this case the petitioners, who have the burden of proving, with substantial evidence, the allegations in the complaint or in the formal charges.