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.
BY ACE ALEGRE
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
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
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