Dear PAO,

The government agency where I worked as a clerk suspended me for committing an offense. I believe that the agency's decision was based merely on the statement of the complainant or his evidence, and they may not have considered the pieces of evidence which I submitted to support my defense. What evidence is required to justify my suspension?

Horace

Dear Horace,

Substantial evidence is the quantum of evidence required in an administrative case. This is in consonance with Section 6, Rule 133, of the 2019 Amendments to the 1989 Revised Rules on Evidence (AM 19-08-15-SC), which provides that: "In cases filed before administrative or quasi-judicial bodies, a fact may be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion." Correlative thereto, in Miro v. Vda. de Erederos, et al., GR 172532 172544-45, Nov. 20, 2013, the Supreme Court through Associate Justice Arturo Brion stated that:

"Substantial evidence is defined as such amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. It is more than a mere scintilla of evidence. The standard of substantial evidence is satisfied when there is reasonable ground to believe, based on the evidence submitted, that the respondent is responsible for the misconduct complained of. It need not be overwhelming or preponderant, as is required in an ordinary civil case, or evidence beyond reasonable doubt, as is required in criminal cases, but the evidence must be enough for a reasonable mind to support a conclusion."

The quantum of evidence required in administrative cases may not have been satisfied if the agency just based their decision on the statement or evidence of the complainant and failed to consider the evidence you have presented. This finds support in the case of Baylon v. Fact-Finding Intelligence Bureau and the Office of the Ombudsman, GR 150870, Dec. 11, 2002, where the Supreme Court speaking through Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales stated that:

"What appears from the questioned Memorandum Reviews of the Ombudsman is that they merely relied on the singular circumstance that certain medical institutions were allowed to purchase the blood bags at lower prices, without taking into account petitioner's countervailing evidence.

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"While substantial evidence, which is more than a mere scintilla but is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, suffices to hold one administratively liable, the substantial evidence rule does not authorize any finding to be made just as long as there is any evidence to support it; it does not excuse administrative agencies from taking into account countervailing evidence which fairly detracts from the evidence supporting a finding. The evidence in support of the Ombudsman's findings does not amount to substantial evidence."

Applying the above-quoted decision in your situation, a decision based on substantial evidence or such amount of relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion is enough to make one liable in an administrative case. However, such finding must also take into account countervailing evidence. Thus, if it is true that the government agency you are working for suspended you without considering the evidence you presented, there could be a violation of the Rules on Evidence. This is especially so if the countervailing evidence which you presented fairly detracts from the evidence supporting the finding of the agency. To emphasize, your agency is not excused from taking into account the evidence you presented in order to arrive with a decision which is supported by substantial evidence.

We hope that we were able to answer your query. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor's note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney's Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to [email protected]