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Vol. VII, No. 11      April 22- 28, 2007      Quezon City, Philippines











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Making Alternative Dispute Resolution Work in Highlands and Lowlands

Under the alternative dispute resolution program, which is hoped to declog Philippine courts, mediators are tasked to bring the parties together and to neutrally arrive at settlements of the cases out of court. This program was introduced in Benguet recently.

Contributed to Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) – Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez led the inauguration of the Philippine Mediation Center at the third floor of the Hall of Justice on Friday signaling perhaps alternative dispute resolution working here and even in the lowlands.

Thirty-eight mediators from Baguio-Benguet and La Union under the Court-Annexed Mediation (CAM) program of the Justice Reform Initiatives Support (JURIS) project also took their oath before Sandoval-Gutierrez. They included 22 lawyers, five gospel ministers, 3 tribal NGOs (non-government organizations) officials, a bank manager, a housing cooperative manager, a realtor, a Barangay Lupong Tagapamayapa (village peacekeeping council) member, a  retired court employee, a  pre-charge officer,  a national training commissioner and a marriage counselor.

Under the alternative dispute resolution program, which is hoped to declog Philippine courts, mediators are tasked to bring the parties together and to neutrally arrive at settlements of the cases out of court.

Cases that may be mediated include civil cases, settlement of estates and cases covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure, except those which by law may not be compromised; cases cognizable by Lupong Tagapamayapa under the Katarungang Pambarangay (Village Justice) Law; the civil aspect of the Bouncing Check Law; theft and the civil aspect of quasi-offenses under Title 14 of the Revised Penal Code (Reckless Imprudence).

From July to September 2006, before the introduction of CAM and Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR) in Baguio City, 339 cases were disposed by way of compromised agreement.

This number increased to 420 cases from October to December 2006, after the introduction of CAM and JDR, resulting in a 23.9-percent increase in the actual number of cases disposed.

Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno said the mediation center promotes the implementation of JDR as an institutionalized alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism in the judicial system which is under the program of the Supreme Court in expanding the role of judges as conciliators in promoting access to justice by court litigants.

Puno hopes that with the introduction of JDR in Baguio City and Benguet, the process of mediation and conciliation at the level of judge would contribute significantly to the fair resolution of cases.  "We are hopeful this will result in the increased satisfaction of litigants in the court process as well as in the decongestion of the court dockets which would mean greater access to justice by our people especially by the poor."

With JDR and CAM, an efficient and effective court system is envisioned not only in the five model court sites but in the entire country. “It is also considered as an important part of the Supreme Court's Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR) to improve the quality and delivery of judicial services to the people,” Puno added.

Also present during the April 14 opening of the Baguio Mediation Center were Associate Justices Conchita Carpio Morales and Ma.Alicia Austria-Martinez, Supreme Court Officials, Judges from Bacolod City, Pampanga, Makati City, City of Manila, representatives of the Canadian Internationl Development Agency (CIDA); officials of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; leaders of Alternative Law Groups; and officers of the National Judicial Institute (NJI) of Canada.

JDR and CAM are implemented under the JURIS Project of the Supreme Court supported by the CIDA. Contributed to Bulatlat




© 2007 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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