Jhonel M. Añavesa
Responsive to the continuing global search for indigenous mediation structures capable of resolving disputes within a community and beyond the formal courts of justice, the Philippine government in the year 1978, through Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, issued PD 1508 establishing a system of amicably settling disputes at the barangay Level called the “Katarungang Pambarangay Law”. Within the span of more than 10 years, PD 1508 has been working well. But when RA 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 was finally signed into law, PD 1508 was amended and subsequently, the administration and operation of the Katarungang Pambarangay was governed under Chapter 7, Title One, Book III of the said code. Republic Act 7160 expanded the scope and powers of the Katarungang Pambarangay or the Barangay Justice System (BJS) designed not merely to decongest the courts of cases but to address inequalities in access to justice, particularly experienced by marginalized communities. Now that the law has been intensified and has expanded in its scope for about 20 years, the question still remains - Does it really achieve its objectives towards the speedy administration of justice in the country? To fully understand this objective, this paper (which is divided into four major parts) will try to dissect the mechanisms involved in this subject under study. Part 1 provides the nature and dynamics of the Katarungang Pambarangay based on the following areas: (a) organizational aspect; (b) jurisdictional aspect; and (c) procedural aspect, while Part 2 will examine the position of the Katarungang Pambarangay (KP) Law in the context of the Philippine Judicial System through scrutinizing the following: (a) the nature and structure of the Philippine Judicial System; and (b) the state of justice and case disposition in the Philippines. Part 3 will constitute the evaluation of the program based on the following criteria: (a) structure and implementation design; and (b) The Support System. Lastly, Part 4 will provide some analysis, recommendations and its conclusion.
Part 1 – Nature and Dynamics of Katarungang Pambarangay
A. Organizational Aspect
The Katarungang Pambarangay or Barangay Justice System (BJS) is a community-based dispute settlement mechanism that is administered by the basic political unit of the country, the barangay. As a community-based mechanism for dispute resolution, it covers disputes between members of the same community (generally, same city/municipality). Under the Barangay Justice System, the main strategy for settling disputes is to provide a venue for the disputing parties to search for a solution that is mutually acceptable. Hence, the primary role of the system is not to decide disputes and impose a solution on the parties but to assist the parties in discussing the possible amicable settlement of their disputes.
The Katarungang Pambarangay is administered by the Lupong Tagapamayapa, a body lead by Punong Barangay as the chairperson and not less than ten (10) and not more than twenty persons as members. As the Lupon Chairperson, he/she is expected to (a) receive all complaints filed personally before him, (b) administer oath in relation to the KP implementation, (c) resolve all objections to venue during mediation, (d) mediate all disputes within his jurisdiction, (e) arbitrate disputes upon written agreement by the parties, (f) constitute the pangkat if there is no agreement to arbitrate or the mediation efforts was unsuccessful, (g) set the date, time, place and preside over the regular monthly meeting of the lupon, (h) prepare the agenda for the meeting, and (i) enforce by execution, on behalf of the lupon, the amicable settlement or arbitration award. The Lupon members, on the other hand are appointed within 15 days from the start of the term of...