I am writing this material for the benefit of foreign lawyers visiting this blog who might be interested to study how the Philippine village justice system (more specifically, village conciliation and mediation system) works.
A village is called “Barangay”. The village justice system is called the Katarungang Pambarangay”.
The governing law thereof is Republic Act No. 7160, or The Local Government Code of 1991.
Section 399 of R.A. 7160 created in each Barangay a Lupong Tagapamayapa, composed of the Punong Barangay (Barangay Chairman) as chairman and ten (10) to twenty (20) members. The lupon shall be constituted every three (3) years.
Section 402 provides that the lupon shall exercise administrative supervision over the conciliation panels; meet regularly once a month to provide a forum for exchange of ideas among its members and the public on matters relevant to the amicable settlement of disputes, and to enable various conciliation panel members to share with one another their observations and experiences in effecting speedy resolution of disputes; and exercise such other powers and perform such other duties and functions as may be prescribed by law or ordinance.
Section 403 provides that the Barangay secretary concurrently serves as the secretary of the lupon. He shall record the results of mediation proceedings before the Punong Barangay and shall submit a report thereon to the proper city or municipal courts. He shall also receive and keep the records of proceedings submitted to him by the various conciliation panels.
Section 404 constituted for each dispute brought before the lupon a conciliation panel to be known as the “pangkat ng tagapagkasundo”, consisting of three (3) members who shall be chosen by the parties to the dispute from the list of members of the lupon.
Should the parties fail to agree on the pangkat membership, the same shall be determined by lots drawn by the lupon chairman.
The three (3) members constituting the pangkat shall elect from among themselves the chairman and the secretary.
The secretary shall prepare the minutes of the pangkat proceedings and submit a copy duly attested to by the chairman to the lupon secretary and to the proper city or municipal court. He shall issue and cause to be served notices to the parties concerned.
The lupon secretary issues certified true copies of any public record in his custody that is not by law otherwise declared confidential.
Section 406 provides that the lupon members, while in the performance of their official duties or on the occasion thereof, are deemed as persons in authority, as defined in the Revised Penal Code.
The lupon or pangkat members serve without compensation, except as provided for in Section 393 and without prejudice to incentives as provided for in this Section and in Book IV of this Code.
Section 407 provides that provincial, city legal officer or prosecutor or the municipal legal officer shall render legal advice on matters involving questions of law to the Punong Barangay or any lupon or pangkat member whenever necessary in the exercise of his functions in the administration of the katarungang pamBarangay.
Section 408 provides for the jurisdiction of the lupon of each Barangay. Unde the said section the lupon shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes except:
(a) Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;
(c) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding Five thousand pesos (Php5,000.00);
(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;
(e) Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities or municipalities unless the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in Barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such Barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(c) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of justice or upon the recommendation of the secretary of Justice.
The court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the lupon under the Code are filed may, at any time before trial, motu proprio refer the case to the lupon concerned for amicable settlement.
Section 409 provides for the rule on venue.
Disputes between persons actually residing in the same Barangay shall be brought for amicable settlement before the lupon of said Barangay.
Those involving actual residents of different Barangays within the same city or municipality shall be brought in the Barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of the complainant.
All disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the Barangay where the real property or the larger portion thereof is situated.
Those arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or at the institution where such parties are enrolled for study, shall be brought in the Barangay where such workplace or institution is located.
Objections to venue shall be raised in the mediation proceedings before the Punong Barangay; otherwise, the same shall be deemed waived.
Section 410 provides for the conciliation/mediation proceedings.
Upon payment of the appropriate filing fee, any individual who has a cause of action against another individual involving any matter within the authority of the lupon may complain, orally or in writing, to the lupon chairman of the Barangay.
Upon receipt of the complaint, the lupon chairman shall within the next working day summon the respondent(s), with notice to the complainant(s) for them and their witnesses to appear before him for a mediation of their conflicting interests.
If he fails in his mediation effort within fifteen (15) days from the first meeting of the parties before him, he shall forthwith set a date for the constitution of the pangkat in accordance with the provisions of the Code.
While the dispute is under mediation, conciliation, or arbitration, the prescriptive periods for offenses and cause of action under existing laws shall be interrupted upon filing of the complaint with the Punong Barangay.
The prescriptive periods shall resume upon receipt by the complainant of the certificate of repudiation or of the certification to file action issued by the lupon or pangkat secretary: Provided, however, That such interruption shall not exceed sixty (60) days from the filing of the complaint with the Punong Barangay.
The pangkat shall convene not later than three (3) days from its constitution, on the day and hour set by the lupon chairman, to hear both parties and their witnesses, simplify issues, and explore all possibilities for amicable settlement.
For this purpose, the pangkat may issue summons for the personal appearance of parties and witnesses before it. In the event that a party moves to disqualify any member of the pangkat by reason of relationship, bias, interest, or any other similar grounds discovered after the constitution of the pangkat, the matter shall be resolved by the affirmative vote of the majority of the pangkat whose decision shall be final.
The pangkat shall arrive at a settlement or resolution of the dispute within fifteen (15) days from the day it convenes in accordance with this section. This period shall, at the discretion of the pangkat, be extendible for another period which shall not exceed fifteen (15) days, except in clearly meritorious cases.
Section 411 provides that all amicable settlements shall be in writing, in a language or dialect known to the parties, signed by them, and attested to by the lupon chairman or the pangkat chairman, as the case may be.
Section 412 imposes a pre-condition in filing a complaint in court.
No complaint, petition, action, or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the lupon shall be filed or instituted directly in court or any other government office for adjudication, unless there has been a confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon secretary or pangkat secretary as attested to by the lupon or pangkat chairman or unless the settlement has been repudiated by the parties thereto.
The parties may go directly to court in the following instances:
(1) Where the accused is under detention;
(2) Where a person has otherwise been deprived of personal liberty calling for habeas corpus proceedings;
(3) Where actions are coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary injunction, attachment, delivery of personal property, and support pendente lite; and
(4) Where the action may otherwise be barred by the statute of imitations.
The customs and traditions of indigenous cultural communities shall be applied in settling disputes between members of the cultural communities.
Section 413 provides that the parties may, at any stage of the proceedings, agree in writing that they shall abide by the arbitration award of the lupon chairman or the pangkat.
Such agreement to arbitrate may be repudiated within five (5) days from the date thereof for the same grounds and in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the Code.
The arbitration award shall be made after the lapse of the period for repudiation and within ten (10) days thereafter.
The arbitration award shall be in writing in a language or dialect known to the parties.
Section 414 provides that all proceedings for settlement shall be public and informal: Provided, however, That the lupon chairman or the pangkat chairman, as the case may be, may motu proprio or upon request of a party, exclude the public from the proceedings in the interest of privacy, decency, or public morals.
Section 415 provides that in all katarungang pambarangay proceedings, the parties must appear in person without the assistance of counsel or representative, except for minors and incompetents who may be assisted by their next-of-kin who are not lawyers.
Section 416 provides for the legal effect of amicable settlement or arbitration award.
The amicable settlement and arbitration award shall have the force and effect of a final judgment of a court upon the expiration of ten (10) days from the date thereof, unless repudiation of the settlement has been made or a petition to nullify the award has been filed before the proper city or municipal court.
For non-criminal cases referred by the a local court to the barangay for mediation which has been successful settled in the Barangay, under the last paragraph of section 408 of the Code, supra, the compromise settlement agreed upon by the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat chairman shall be submitted to the court and upon approval thereof, have the force and effect of a judgment of said court.
Section 417 provides for the execution of the amicable settlement or arbitration award.
The amicable settlement or arbitration award may be enforced by execution by the lupon within six (6) months from the date of the settlement.
After the lapse of such time, the settlement may be enforced by action in the appropriate city or municipal court.
Section 418 provides that any party to the dispute may, within ten (10) days from the date of the settlement, repudiate the same by filing with the lupon chairman a statement to that effect sworn to before him, where the consent is vitiated by fraud, violence, or intimidation.
Such repudiation shall be sufficient basis for the issuance of the certification for filing a complaint as hereinabove provided.
Section 419 provides that the secretary of the lupon shall transmit the settlement or the arbitration award to the appropriate city or municipal court within five (5) days from the date of the arbitration award or from the lapse of the ten-day period to repudiate the settlement and shall furnish copies thereof to each of the parties to the settlement and the lupon chairman.
Section 420 provides that the Punong Barangay, as chairman of the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and the members of the pangkat are hereby authorized to administer oaths in connection with any matter relating to all proceedings in the implementation of the katarungang pamBarangay.
Atty. Manuel J. Laserna Jr.
May 31, 2008