Petitioner is the Dean of the College of Education of said university, since January 1994 to the present. He has served the university as faculty member and as administrator for almost 13 years.
Respondent, Dr. Sixto O. Daleon, is a Professor 6 and officer-in-charge of the Graduate School of USP, with a salary grade of CS 29. The other respondents, Agulo, Tecson and Alaba, are faculty members of said university. They enrolled under Dr. Daleon in the subject Ed.D. 317, which is a Seminar in Curriculum Development, during the first semester of 1994-1995. At the end of the semester, Dr. Daleon gave the three final passing grades of 1.0, 1.25 and 1.5, respectively. They were graded without requiring them to attend regular classes. Instead, Dr. Daleon gave them a special program of self-study with reading materials, once a week tutorial meetings, quizzes, and term papers.
Sometime in June 1995, several doctoral students complained to petitioner that during the first semester of school year 1994-1995, there were “ghost students” in the Ed.D. 317 class of Dr. Daleon. According to them, these “ghost students”, namely Agulo, Alaba and Tecson were given passing grades despite their failure to attend classes.
On June 13, 1995, petitioner informed Dr. Daleon of the complaint. Petitioner requested the latter to furnish him with photocopies of exams, term papers, and record of attendance of the students involved. Dr. Daleon ignored the request.
On July 28, 1995, the matter was raised in a university council meeting where it was agreed that the University President, Dr. Edmundo Prantilla, would create a committee to investigate the complaint.
In a letter dated August 10, 1995, Dr. Daleon apologized for the delay in responding to petitioner’s letter-request dated June 15, 1995. Dr. Daleon admitted that he made special arrangements with Agulo, Alaba and Tecson regarding their course without petitioner’s approval.
Thereafter, petitioner wrote Dr. Prantilla recommending that Agulo, Tecson and Alaba be required to attend regular classes in school year 1995-1996 and comply with the course requirements in Ed.D. 317. Dr. Prantilla approved the recommendations. However, on December 1, 1995, Dr. Prantilla entertained the appeal of Agulo for the validation of the grades given by Dr. Daleon to the three of them. On December 23, 1995, the Board of Regents passed its Resolution No. 2432 Series of 1995, upholding the grade given by Dr. Daleon to Agulo.
Consequently, petitioner filed a Complaint-Affidavit against Dr. Daleon before the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao. The complaint for gross incompetence, insubordination and violation of R.A. 6770 was docketed as OMB-ADM-3-96-0132.
X X X X
Professor 2 of the College of Education, USP. These affidavits averred that during the graduate school orientation program sometime in July 1995, the university’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Luz D. Ancheta, declared that special arrangements between a professor and a graduate student may be allowed on a case-to-case basis. Dr. Ancheta made this statement in reply to Dr. Daleon’s query on the policy of USP on attendance of graduate school students and whether Dr. Daleon could give grades to students who do not attend classes. In her reply to Dr. Daleon’s query, the VPAA even cited her experience when she pursued her doctoral course at UP Los Baños. According to Dr. Ancheta, she was given a special arrangement by one of her professors. She added that she, too, had allowed the same special arrangement for her students at the USP Graduate School.
Public respondent also anchored his decision on Article 140 of the University Code, which provides that the rules on attendance of students shall be enforced in all classes subject to the modification by the Dean in the case of graduate students and other courses. It is undisputed that at the time that Dr. Daleon handled the graduate class in Ed.D. 317, he had already been duly designated Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Graduate School by the President of USP and was even entitled to the emoluments inherent to the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School. Accordingly, as OIC, performing the functions of the Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Daleon had the authority to modify the rule on attendance without seeking permission of petitioner.
Further, Dr. Daleon’s teaching style had the support of the members of the Board of Regents, the body with the authority to formulate university policies, fully knowing the policy on attendance of students in the graduate school. In passing Resolution No. 2432, S. 1995, not only did they validate the grade given by Dr. Daleon to Agulo, but they also gave an imprimatur on the propriety, regularity and acceptability of Dr. Daleon’s instructional approach. In said resolution, the BOR cited Article 155 and Article 3 of the University Code, thus:
The Board upheld the first grading sheet submitted by Dr. S. Daleon in the light of the following provisions of the University Code: (1) Article 155 which states that “no grade shall be changed after the report has been submitted” and (2) Article 3 which states that “Every member of the faculty shall enjoy academic freedom, which is the right of the professor to teach the subject of his specialization according to his best lights… nor shall any restraint be placed upon him in the choice of subjects for research and investigation.”
The Dean must promote unity in his unit and must ensure that the dignity of every professor in his unit is respected.
As held by the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao, the Resolution of the Board of Regents is clearly an exercise of its sound discretion as the final arbiter of issues affecting the internal operations of the university and as interpreter of the policies of the school.
Finally, we agree with respondents’ position on the primacy of academic freedom in regard to higher institutions of learning. Dr. Daleon’s teaching style, validated by the action of the USP Board of Regents, is bolstered by the constitutional guarantee on academic freedom. Academic freedom is two-tiered – that of the academic institution and the teacher’s.
Institutional academic freedom includes the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives and the methods on how best to attain them, free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint. It encompasses the freedom to determine for itself on academic grounds: who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.” The right of the school to confirm and validate the teaching method of Dr. Daleon is at once apparent in the third freedom, i.e., “how it shall be taught.”
Academic freedom also accords a faculty member the right to pursue his studies in his particular specialty. It is defined as a right claimed by the accredited educator, as teacher and as investigator, to interpret his findings and to communicate his conclusions without being subjected to any interference, molestation, or penalty because these conclusions are unacceptable to some constituted authority within or beyond the institution. As applied to the case at bar, academic freedom clothes Dr. Daleon with the widest latitude to innovate and experiment on the method of teaching which is most fitting to his students (graduate students at that), subject only to the rules and policies of the university. Considering that the Board of Regents, whose task is to lay down school rules and policies of the University of Southeastern Philippines, has validated his teaching style, we see no reason for petitioner to complain before us simply because he holds a contrary opinion on the matter.
In our view, petitioner failed to establish that Dr. Daleon and the Board of Regents of the University of Southeastern Philippines acted in evident bad faith or with manifest partiality in the performance of their official duties. Hence, there is no basis to hold that the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao committed any grave abuse of discretion in exonerating respondents below from both administrative and criminal charges. The resolution of that Office is in order for it accords with the facts and the law.
[ G.R. No. 134372, August 22, 2002 ]
MANUEL CAMACHO, PETITIONER, VS. ATTY. JOVITO A. CORESIS, JR., GRAFT INVESTIGATION OFFICER I AND/OR OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN - MINDANAO, SIXTO O. DALEON, AIDA AGULO, DESIDERIO ALABA, NORMA TECSON, AND THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHEASTERN PHILIPPINES; SECRETARY RICARDO GLORIA, ASSISTANT SECRETARY RENO CAPINPIN – OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS (DECS), DR. EDMUNDO B. PRANTILLA, AND NEDA REGIONAL DIRECTOR SANTIAGO ENGINCO, RESPONDENTS.