Political Law Part XIII: Article XIV – Education, Science, etc.
POLITICAL LAW PART XIII
ARTICLE XIV – EDUCATION, SCIENCE, ETC.
1. Secs. 1-19
a. Read: RA 6655-The Free Secondary Education Act of 1988
Section 5  Academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning.
b. What is academic freedom?
Very Important: (2007 Bar Question)
Under the 1973 Constitution, “Academic freedom shall by enjoyed BY ALL institutions of higher learning” while under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, “Academic freedom shall be enjoyed IN ALL institutions of higher learning.” In short, before, ON LY INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING ENJOY ACADEMIC FREEDOM WHILE UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, ACADEMIC FREEDOM IS ALSO ENJOYED BY THE TEACHERS AND PROFESSORS AS WELL AS STUDENTS, ASIDE FROM THE SCHOOL.
Academic freedom; due process in disciplinary actions involving students
DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY VS. COURT OF APPEALS, HON.WILFREDO D. REYES, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 36, Regional Trial Court of Manila, THE COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CULTURE AND SPORTS, ALVIN AGUILAR, JAMES PAUL BUNGUBUNG, RICHARD REVERENTE and ROBERTO VALDES, JR., G.R. No. 127980, December 19, 2007
REYES, R.T., J.:
PRIVATE respondents Alvin Aguilar, James Paul Bungubung, Richard Reverente and Roberto Valdes, Jr. are members of Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity who were expelled by the De La Salle University (DLSU) and College of Saint Benilde (CSB) Joint Discipline Board because of their involvement in an offensive action causing injuries to petitioner James Yap and three other student members of Domino Lux Fraternity.
On March 29, 1995, James Yap was eating his dinner alone in Manang’s Restaurant near La Salle, when he overheard two men bad-mouthing and apparently angry at Domino Lux. He ignored the comments of the two. When he arrived at his boarding house, he mentioned the remarks to his two other brods while watching television. These two brods had earlier finished eating their dinner at Manang’s. Then, the three, together with four other persons went back to Manang’s and confronted the two who were still in the restaurant. By admission of respondent Bungubung in his testimony, one of the two was a member of the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity. There was no rumble or physical violence then.
After this incident, a meeting was conducted between the two heads of the fraternity through the intercession of the Student Council. The Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity was asking for an apology. “Kailangan ng apology” in the words of respondent Aguilar. But no apology was made.
On March 25, 1995, Ten minutes before his next class at 6:00 p.m., James Yap went out of the campus using the Engineering Gate to buy candies across Taft Avenue. As he was about to re-cross Taft Avenue, he heard heavy footsteps at his back. Eight to ten guys were running towards him. He panicked. He did not know what to do. Then, respondent Bungubung punched him in the head with something heavy in his hands – “parang knuckles.” Respondents Reverente and Lee were behind Yap, punching him. Respondents Bungubung and Valdes who were in front of him, were also punching him. As he was lying on the street, respondent Aguilar kicked him. People shouted; guards arrived; and the group of attackers left. Yap could not recognize the other members of the group who attacked him. With respect to respondent Papio, Mr. Yap said “hindi ko nakita ang mukha niya, hindi ko nakita sumuntok siya.” What Mr. Yap saw was a long haired guy also running with the group.
The mauling incidents were a result of a fraternity war. The victims, namely: petitioner James Yap and Dennis Pascual, Ericson Cano, and Michael Perez, are members of the “Domino Lux Fraternity,” while the alleged assailants, private respondents Alvin Aguilar, James Paul Bungubung, Richard Reverente and Roberto Valdes, Jr. are members of “Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity,” a rival fraternity.
The next day, March 30, 1995, petitioner Yap lodged a complaint with the Discipline Board of DLSU charging private respondents with “direct assault.” Similar complaints were also filed by Dennis Pascual and Ericson Cano against Alvin Lee and private respondents Valdes and Reverente. Thus, cases entitled “De La Salle University and College of St. Benilde v. Alvin Aguilar (AB-BSM/9152105), James Paul Bungubung (AB-PSM/9234403), Robert R. Valdes, Jr. (BS-BS-APM/9235086), Alvin Lee (EDD/9462325), Richard Reverente (AB-MGT/9153837) and Malvin A. Papio (AB-MGT/9251227)” were docketed as Discipline Case No. 9495-3-25121.
The Director of the DLSU Discipline Office sent separate notices to private respondents Aguilar, Bungubung and Valdes, Jr. and Reverente informing them of the complaints and requiring them to answer. Private respondents filed their respective answers.
Said notices issued by De La Salle Discipline Board uniformly stated as follows:
Please be informed that a joint and expanded Discipline Board had been constituted to hear and deliberate the charge against you for violation of CHED Order No. 4 arising from the written complaints of James Yap, Dennis C. Pascual, and Ericson Y. Cano.
You are directed to appear at the hearing of the Board scheduled on April 19, 1995 at 9:00 a.m. at the Bro. Connon Hall for you and your witnesses to give testimony and present evidence in your behalf. You may be assisted by a lawyer when you give your testimony or those of your witnesses.
On or before April 18, 1995, you are further directed to provide the Board, through the Discipline Office, with a list of your witnesses as well as the sworn statement of their proposed testimony.
Your failure to appear at the scheduled hearing or your failure to submit the list of witnesses and the sworn statement of their proposed testimony will be considered a waiver on your part to present evidence and as an admission of the principal act complained of.
For your strict compliance.
During the proceedings before the Board on April 19 and 28, 1995, private respondents interposed the common defense of alibi.
On May 3, 1995, the DLSU-CSB Joint Discipline Board issued a Resolution finding private respondents guilty. They were meted the supreme penalty of automatic expulsion, pursuant to CHED Order No. 4. The dispositive part of the resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, considering all the foregoing, the Board finds respondents ALVIN AGUILAR (AB-BSM/9152105), JAMES PAUL BUNGUBUNG (AB-PSM/9234403), ALVIN LEE (EDD/94623250) and RICHARD V. REVERENTE (AB-MGT/9153837) guilty of having violated CHED Order No. 4 and thereby orders their automatic expulsion.
In the case of respondent MALVIN A. PAPIO (AB-MGT/9251227), the Board acquits him of the charge.
Private respondents separately moved for reconsideration before the Office of the Senior Vice-President for Internal Operations of DLSU. The motions were all denied in a Letter-Resolution dated June 1, 1995.
On June 5, 1995, private respondent Aguilar filed with the RTC, Manila, against petitioners a petition for certiorari and injunction under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with prayer for temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction. It was docketed as Civil Case No. 95-74122 and assigned to respondent Judge of Branch 36. The petition essentially sought to annul the May 3, 1995 Resolution of the DLSU-CSB Joint Discipline Board and the June 1, 1995 Letter-Resolution of the Office of the Senior Vice-President for Internal Affairs.
The following day, June 6, 1995, respondent Judge issued a TRO directing DLSU, its subordinates, agents, representatives and/or other persons acting for and in its behalf to refrain and desist from implementing Resolution dated May 3, 1995 and Letter-Resolution dated June 1, 1995 and to immediately desist from barring the enrollment of Aguilar for the second term of school year (SY) 1995.
On June 7, 1995, the CHED directed DLSU to furnish it with copies of the case records of Discipline Case No. 9495-3-25121, in view of the authority granted to it under Section 77(c) of the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools (MRPS).
On the other hand, private respondents Bungubung and Reverente, and later, Valdes, filed petitions-in-intervention in Civil Case No. 95-74122. Respondent Judge also issued corresponding temporary restraining orders to compel petitioner DLSU to admit said private respondents.
On June 19, 1995, petitioner Sales filed a motion to dismiss in behalf of all petitioners, except James Yap. On June 20, 1995, petitioners filed a supplemental motion to dismiss the petitions-in-intervention.
On September 20, 1995, respondent Judge issued an Order denying petitioners’ (respondents there) motion to dismiss and its supplement, and granted private respondents’ (petitioners there) prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction.
Despite the said order, private respondent Aguilar was refused enrollment by petitioner DLSU when he attempted to enroll on September 22, 1995 for the second term of SY 1995-1996. Thus, on September 25, 1995, Aguilar filed with respondent Judge an urgent motion to cite petitioners (respondents there) in contempt of court. Aguilar also prayed that petitioners be compelled to enroll him at DLSU in accordance with respondent Judge’s Order dated September 20, 1995. On September 25, 1995, respondent Judge issued a writ of preliminary injunction, ordering d\De La Salle not to implement its decision expelling private respondents. On October 16, 1995, petitioner DLSU filed with the CA a petition for certiorari (CA-G.R. SP No. 38719) with prayer for a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the enforcement of respondent Judge’s September 20, 1995 Order and writ of preliminary injunction dated September 25, 1995.
On April 12, 1996, the CA granted petitioners’ prayer for preliminary injunction.
On May 14, 1996, the CHED issued its questioned Resolution No. 181-96, summarily disapproving the penalty of expulsion for all private respondents. As for Aguilar, he was to be reinstated, while other private respondents were to be excluded. The Resolution states:
RESOLVED THAT THE REQUEST OF THE DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY (DLSU), TAFT AVENUE, MANILA FOR THE APPROVAL OF THE PENALTY OF EXPULSION IMPOSED ON MR. ALVIN AGUILAR, JAMES PAUL BUNGUBUNG, ROBERT R. VALDES, JR., ALVIN LEE AND RICHARD V. REVERENTE BE, AS IT IS HEREBY IS, DISAPPROVED.
RESOLVED FURTHER, THAT THE COMMISSION DIRECT THE DLSU TO IMMEDIATELY EFFECT THE REINSTATEMENT OF MR. AGUILAR AND THE LOWERING OF THE PENALTY OF MR. JAMES PAUL BUNGUBUNG, MR. ROBER R. VALDEZ, JR., (sic) MR. ALVIN LEE AND MR. RICHARD V. REVERENTE FROM EXPULSION TO EXCLUSION.
Despite the directive of CHED, petitioner DLSU again prevented private respondent Aguilar from enrolling and/or attending his classes, prompting his lawyer to write several demand letters to petitioner DLSU. In view of the refusal of petitioner DLSU to enroll private respondent Aguilar, CHED wrote a letter dated June 26, 1996 addressed to petitioner Quebengco requesting that private respondent Aguilar be allowed to continue attending his classes pending the resolution of its motion for reconsideration of Resolution No. 181-96. However, petitioner Quebengco refused to do so, prompting CHED to promulgate an Order dated September 23, 1996 which states:
Acting on the above-mentioned request of Mr. Aguilar through counsel enjoining De La Salle University (DLSU) to comply with CHED Resolution 181-96 (Re: Expulsion Case of Alvin Aguilar, et al. v. DLSU) directing DLSU to reinstate Mr. Aguilar and finding the urgent request as meritorious, there being no other plain and speedy remedy available, considering the set deadline for enrollment this current TRIMESTER, and in order to prevent further prejudice to his rights as a student of the institution, DLSU, through the proper school authorities, is hereby directed to allow Mr. Alvin Aguilar to provisionally enroll, pending the Commission’s Resolution of the instant Motion for Reconsideration filed by DLSU.
Notwithstanding the said directive, petitioner DLSU, through petitioner Quebengco, still refused to allow private respondent Aguilar to enroll. Thus, private respondent Aguilar’s counsel wrote another demand letter to petitioner DLSU.
Meanwhile, on June 3, 1996, private respondent Aguilar, using CHED Resolution No. 181-96, filed a motion to dismiss in the CA, arguing that CHED Resolution No. 181-96 rendered the CA case moot and academic.
On July 30, 1996, the CA issued its questioned resolution granting the motion to dismiss of private respondent Aguilar.
On October 28, 1996, petitioners requested transfer of case records to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) from the CHED. Petitioners claimed that it is the DECS, not CHED, which has jurisdiction over expulsion cases, thus, necessitating the transfer of the case records of Discipline Case No. 9495-3-25121 to the DECS.
On November 4, 1996, in view of the dismissal of the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No. 38719 and the automatic lifting of the writ of preliminary injunction, private respondent Aguilar filed an urgent motion to reiterate writ of preliminary injunction dated September 25, 1995 before respondent RTC Judge of Manila.
On January 7, 1997, respondent Judge issued its questioned order granting private respondent Aguilar’s urgent motion to reiterate preliminary injunction. The pertinent portion of the order reads:
In light of the foregoing, petitioner Aguilar’s urgent motion to reiterate writ of preliminary injunction is hereby granted, and respondents’ motion to dismiss is denied.
The writ of preliminary injunction dated September 25, 1995 is declared to be in force and effect.
Hence, this case.
I S S U E S:
Can petitioner DLSU invoke its right to academic freedom in support of its decision to expel the private respondents?
H E L D:
Since De La Salle University is an institution of higher learning, it enjoys academic freedom which includes the right to determine whom to admit as its students.
Section 5(2), Article XIV of the Constitution guaranties all institutions of higher learning academic freedom. This institutional academic freedom includes the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives, and how best to attain them free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public interest calls for some restraint. According to present jurisprudence, academic freedom encompasses the independence of an academic institution to determine for itself (1) who may teach, (2) what may be taught, (3) how it shall teach, and (4) who may be admitted to study.
While La Salle is entitled to invoke academic freedom in its actions against its students, the penalty of expulsion imposed by DLSU on private respondents is disproportionate to their misdeed.
It is true that schools have the power to instill discipline in their students as subsumed in their academic freedom and that “the establishment of rules governing university-student relations, particularly those pertaining to student discipline, may be regarded as vital, not merely to the smooth and efficient operation of the institution, but to its very survival.” This power, however, does not give them the untrammeled discretion to impose a penalty which is not commensurate with the gravity of the misdeed. If the concept of proportionality between the offense committed and the sanction imposed is not followed, an element of arbitrariness intrudes. That would give rise to a due process question.
We agree with respondent CHED that under the circumstances, the penalty of expulsion is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the acts committed by private respondents Bungubung, Reverente, and Valdes, Jr. Each of the two mauling incidents lasted only for few seconds and the victims did not suffer any serious injury. Disciplinary measures especially where they involve suspension, dismissal or expulsion, cut significantly into the future of a student. They attach to him for life and become a mortgage of his future, hardly redeemable in certain cases. Officials of colleges and universities must be anxious to protect it, conscious of the fact that, appropriately construed, a disciplinary action should be treated as an educational tool rather than a punitive measure.
Accordingly, petitioner DLSU may exclude or drop the names of the said private respondents from its rolls for being undesirable, and transfer credentials immediately issued, not EXPEL.
1.THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. COURT OF APPEALS, February 9, 1993
1-a. THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. HON. RUBEN AYSON, August 17, 1989
1-c. UP BOARD OF REGENTS VS. CA, August 31, 1999
Academic Freedom includes the power of a University to REVOKE a degree or honor it has conferred to a student after it was found out that the student’s graduation was obtained through fraud.
Academic freedom is given a wide sphere of authority. If an institution of higher learning can decide on who can and cannot study in it, it certainly can also determine on whom it can confer the honor and distinction of being its graduates.
It is an atmosphere in which there prevail the four essential freedom of a university to determine for itself on academic grounds
a. who may teach,
b. what may be taught,
c. how it shall be taught, and
d. who may be admitted to study”‘ (Emphasis supplied; citing Sinco, Philippine Political Law, 491, (1962) and the concurring opinion of Justice Frankfurter in Sweezy v. New Hampshire (354 US 234 ).
1-b) GARCIA VS. FACULTY ADMISSION, 68 SCRA 277
“What is academic freedom? Briefly put, it is the freedom of professionally qualified persons to inquire, discover, publish and teach the truth as they see it in the field of their competence. It is subject to no control or authority except the control or authority of the rational methods by which truths or conclusions are sought and established in these disciplines.”
“The personal aspect of freedom consists in the right of each university teacher recognized and effectively guaranteed by society to seek and express the truth as he personally sees it, both in his academic work and in his capacity as a private citizen. Thus the status of the individual university teacher is at least as important, in considering academic freedom, as the status of the institutions to which they belong and through which they disseminate their learning.”‘
2) MONTEMAYOR VS. ARANETA UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION
3) VILLAR VS. TIP, April 17, 1985
4) MALABANAN VS. RAMENTO,129 SCRA 359
5) BELENA VS. PMI
6) ALCUAZ VS. PSBA, May 2, 1988
6-a) ALCUAZ VS. PSBA, September 29, 1989 (Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration) Read also the dissenting opinion of Justice Sarmiento
7) TONGONAN VS. PANO, 137 SCRA 246
8) ATENEO VS. CA, 145 SCRA 100
9) GUZMAN VS. NU, 142 SCRA 706
10) ANGELES VS. SISON, 112 SCRA 26
11. Tan vs. CA, 199 SCRA 212
12. Colegio del Sto. Nino vs. NLRC, 197 SCRA 611
13. Dean Reyes vs. CA,
14. UP vs. CA, February 9, 1993
15. Ateneo vs. Judge Capulong, May 27, 1993
Political Law Reviewer by Atty. Larry D. Gacayan
College of Law, University of the Cordilleras
 College of Saint Benilde is an educational institution which is part of the De La Salle System.
 Id. at 127.
 Id. at 128-129.
 Id. at 130-133.
 Id. at 134.
 Id. at 139-150.
 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools (1992), Sec. 77(c) provides that expulsion is “an extreme penalty of an erring pupil or student consisting of his exclusion from admission to any public or private school in the Philippines and which requires the prior approval of the Secretary. The penalty may be imposed for acts or offenses constituting gross misconduct, dishonesty, hazing, carrying deadly weapons, immorality, selling and/or possession of prohibited drugs such as marijuana, drug dependency, drunkenness, hooliganism, vandalism, and other serious school offenses such as assaulting a pupil or student or school personnel, instigating or leading illegal strikes or similar concerned activities resulting in the stoppage of classes, preventing or threatening any pupil or student or school personnel from entering the school premises or attending classes or discharging their duties, forging or tampering with school records or school forms, and securing or using forged school records, forms and documents.”
 Rollo, pp. 151-153.
 Id. at 150.
 Id. at 1284-1304.
 Id. at 172-178.
 Id. at 180.
 Id. at 208.
 Id. at 210-236.
 Id. at 237-246.
 Id. at 247-275.
 Id. at 1116-1124.
 Id. at 1563-1571.
 Id. at 114-115.
 Id. at 336-392.
 Manual of Regulations for Private Schools (1992), Sec. 77(b) provides that exclusion is “a penalty in which the school is allowed to exclude or drop the name of the erring pupil or student from the school rolls for being undesirable, and transfer credentials immediately issued.”
 Rollo, pp. 125-126.
 Id. at 1599-1606.
 Id. at 1605-1606.
 Id. at 435-438.
 Id. at 518-522.
 Id. at 523-530.
 Miriam College Foundation, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 401 Phil. 431, 455-456 (2000), citing Tangonan v. Paño, G.R. No. L-45157, June 27, 1985, 137 SCRA 245, 256-257.
 Regino v. Pangasinan Colleges of Science and Technology, G.R. No. 156109, November 18, 2004, 443 SCRA 56. The “four essential freedoms of a university” were formulated by Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter of the United States Supreme Court in his concurring opinion in the leading case of Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 US 234, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1311, 77 S. Ct. 1203.
 See note 87, at 663-664.
 Malabanan v. Ramento, 214 Phil. 319, 330 (1984).
 Rollo, p. 515.