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Sunday, July 15, 2012
The compulsory process of arbitration is a pre-condition for the filing of the complaint in court. Where the complaint (a) did not state that it is one of excepted cases, or (b) it did not allege prior availment of said conciliation process, or (c) did not have a certification that no conciliation had been reached by the parties, the case should be dismissed. - G.R. No. 183623
G.R. No. 183623
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3. Coming now to the DOJ's finding that the complaint fails to state a cause of action, the CA held that the DOJ committed no grave abuse of discretion in causing the dismissal thereof on the ground of non-compliance with the provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991, on the Katarungang Pambarangay conciliation procedure.
Undeniably, both petitioner Agbayani and respondent Genabe are residents of Las Piñas City and both work at the RTC, and the incident which is the subject matter of the case happened in their workplace. Agbayani’s complaint should have undergone the mandatory barangay conciliation for possible amicable settlement with respondent Genabe, pursuant to Sections 408 and 409 of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 which provide:
Sec. 408. Subject Matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception thereto. – The lupon of each barangayshall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes, except: x x x
Sec. 409. Venue. x x x (d) Those arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or x x x shall be brought in the barangay where such workplace or institution is located.
Administrative Circular No. 14-93, issued by the Supreme Court on July 15, 1993 states that:
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I. All disputes are subject to Barangay conciliation pursuant to the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law [formerly P.D. 1508, repealed and now replaced by Secs. 399-422, Chapter VII, Title I, Book III, and Sec. 515, Title I, Book IV, R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991], and prior recourse thereto is a pre-condition before filing a complaint in court or any government offices, except in the following disputes:
 Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
 Where one party is a public officer or employee and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;
 Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities and municipalities, unless the parties thereto agree to submit their difference to amicable settlement by an appropriate Lupon;
 Any complaint by or against corporations, partnerships or juridical entities, since only individuals shall be parties to Barangay conciliation proceedings either as complainants or respondents [Sec. 1, Rule VI, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules];
 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;
 Offenses for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of imprisonment exceeding one  year or a fine of over five thousand pesos ([
 Offenses where there is no private offended party;
 Disputes where urgent legal action is necessary to prevent injustice from being committed or further continued, specifically the following:
[a] Criminal cases where accused is under police custody or detention [See Sec. 412(b)(1), Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law];
[b] Petitions for habeas corpus by a person illegally deprived of his rightful custody over another or a person illegally deprived of or on acting in his behalf;
[c] Actions coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary injunction, attachment, delivery of personal property and support during the pendency of the action; and
[d] Actions which may be barred by the Statute of Limitations.
 Any class of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice;
 Where the dispute arises from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) [Secs. 46 & 47, R. A. 6657];
 Labor disputes or controversies arising from employer-employee relations [Montoya vs. Escayo, 171 SCRA 442; Art. 226, Labor Code, as amended, which grants original and exclusive jurisdiction over conciliation and mediation of disputes, grievances or problems to certain offices of the Department of Labor and Employment];
 Actions to annul judgment upon a compromise which may be filed directly in court [See Sanchez vs. [Judge] Tupaz, 158 SCRA 459].”
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The compulsory process of arbitration is a pre-condition for the filing of the complaint in court. Where the complaint (a) did not state that it is one of excepted cases, or (b) it did not allege prior availment of said conciliation process, or (c) did not have a certification that no conciliation had been reached by the parties, the case should be dismissed.
Here, petitioner Agbayani failed to show that the instant case is not one of the exceptions enumerated above. Neither has she shown that the oral defamation caused on her was so grave as to merit a penalty of more than one year. Oral defamation under Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is penalized as follows:
“Article 358. Slander. – Oral defamation shall be punished by arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period if it is of a serious and insulting nature; otherwise, the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.”
Apparently, the DOJ found probable cause only for slight oral defamation. As defined inVillanueva v. People, oral defamation or slander is the speaking of base and defamatory words which tend to prejudice another in his reputation, office, trade, business or means of livelihood. It is grave slander when it is of a serious and insulting nature. The gravity depends upon: (1) the expressions used; (2) the personal relations of the accused and the offended party; and (3) the special circumstances of the case, the antecedents or relationship between the offended party and the offender, which may tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time. In particular, it is a rule that uttering defamatory words in the heat of anger, with some provocation on the part of the offended party constitutes only a light felony.
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