Understanding the Katarungang Pambarangay
Justice at the grassroots

Barraca, Delorino, Duman, Dumlao, Grepo, Ocampo, Reyes and Salazar A project for the Local Governments course under Professor Rowena Guanzon. University of the Phillipines - College of Law.

Abbreviations Introduction Chapter 1: Justice at the Grassroots and the Katarangungang Pambarangay Informal justice in the developing world Access to justice Decongesting the courts’ dockets Chapter 2: Performance and Implementation Instrumental worth Attitude change Issues encountered in KP implementation Chapter 3: Inside the University is a Community: KP Implementation in Barangay UP Campus Lupong Tagapamayapa Barangay Justice work The creation of a strong Lupong Tagapamayapa Cases handled Chapter 4: Anti-VAWC Training for Barangay UP Officials Bibliography List of Tables, Figures and Annexes Figure 1.1: Where do we find informal justice systems Figure 1.2: Vacancies in the courts (by percentage) Figure 2.1: Resolution of KP cases (1982-2008) – National total Figure 2.2: Settled cases vs. cases certified for filing in court (1980-2008) Figure 3.1: Cases filed before the Barangay UP’s KP (August 2008 – June 2009) Figure 3.2: Cases filed before the Barangay UP’s KP by type (August 2008 – June 2009) Table 1.1: Court case disposition rate (by type of court 1997-2007) Table 1.2: Vacancies in the judiciary as of end-2008 Table 2.1: Judges level of satisfaction with the KP system Annex 1: Cases Observed Annex 2: Barangay UP’s KP Flowchart in Handling Cases Annex 3: Barangay UP’s Brochures 2 3 5 6 7 8 11 11 12 14 15 15 16 17 20 22 27



BP BPO BPSO DILG DOJ FCHC KP KPES Lupon NGO Pangkat PD PhP POs RA SWS TPO UP USAID VAWC Batas Pambansa Barangay Protection Order Barangay Police and Security Order Department of Interior and Local Government Department of Justice Family and Community Healing Center Katarangungang Pambarangay Katarangungang Pambarangay Electronic System Lupong Tagapamayapa Non-governmental Organizations Pangkat ng Tagapagsundo Presidential Decree Philippine Peso People’s Organizations Republic Act Social Weather Station Temporary Protection Order University of the Philippines United States Agency for International Development Violence Against Women and their Children



This paper does not attempt to do a policy evaluation of the Katarungang Pambarangay (KP) system. Limitations in time, resources, and case samples, prevent us from pursuing such objective. But it is properly an attempt to appreciate how a particular aspect of governance - the delivery of justice – works in the country’s basic political unit. It likewise attempts to find out how an innovative practice can be fully utilized to benefit communities. In Chapter 1, we explain how KP plays a pivotal role in a developing country like the Philippines by addressing a major problem of the disadvantaged sectors: denial of access to justice. We take a look at the history of KP and the policy declarations accompanying its conception to identify how it was supposed to address the predicament. The limits of statistics Chapter 2 asks if the KP has lived up to its promise. It provides a picture of KP’s performance since the 1980s, when PD 1508 created the first KP system. We found positive statistics: the number of cases settled was far greater than those certified for filing in courts. It thus continues to be a part of the solution to our courts’ thickening dockets. The amount of money that the KP saves for government in terms of litigation costs is also substantial. And the people, who were exposed to the KP process, have been found to have favorable views toward it. Based on the data, it seems to have met the goals that were set when it was conceived. A caveat though: statistics may leave an impression that the KP is implemented uniformly or that it is successful everywhere. We recognize that there are barangays, which have not put an effective KP mechanism in place for a number of reasons: poor leadership, lack of capacity, etc. Statistics also do not tell us why certain barangays do well. What advantages or resources do they have that others lack? What process do they employ to make KP successful? Why Barangay UP? In order to answer these questions, we need to see how KP is done on the ground. We chose to observe a barangay that is close to home, so to speak – Barangay University of the Philippines Campus. But personal affinity is not the main reason behind this choice. Since resource and time limitations did not permit us to do comparisons of the KP implementation in several barangays and “separate the chaff from the wheat”, the team decided to identify a barangay that has a recognized record. We intended to cite the practices that seem to have contributed to good results. We noted that Barangay UP’s KP unit had received awards from the Quezon City government, in fact, as of this writing on October 12, 2009, they received a Best Lupon Tagapamayapa Practice award during the 70th Foundation Day of Quezon City given by DILG-NCR. We visited the barangay five times during the months of September and October, 2009. Two of those visits were spent mainly for observing KP hearings. Some of the cases that we observed are used as illustrations in the different chapters (see case boxes); the rest are reported in



Annex 1. We used the other visits to gather data and do some interviews. Our insights from all of these are found in Chapter 3. Anti-VAWC Training The last chapter highlights the training on the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children (VAWC) Act (RA 9262), which the team organized for members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay UP, personnel from the barangay’s Family and Community Healing Center and other officials on September 23, 2009. The training was organized, based on the request of and feedback that the team got from some barangay officials. The team thought this can be a good contribution to the UP community and agreed to link Barangay UP with an NGO that has long experience on VAWC. We were able to get the assistance of Atty. Bobby Sta. Maria of SALIGAN (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal), who had an interesting interaction with the participants.




Chapter 1
Justice at the Grassroots and the Katarungang Pambarangay It is the frontline. The barangay, unknown to many, is where much of actual governance takes place, where the government and the citizens meet face to face. More than a hundred roles have been assigned to barangays by the Local Government Code and various special laws – ranging from the delivery of basic services to women and children protection under RA 9262. It is a wonder how barangays are able to perform all of these obligations, in view of their limited resources and personnel. Yet, we find that they have also been given a significant (an understatement, perhaps) role in a process that keeps societies intact: making justice work. Under the present Local Government Code1, the Katarungang Pambarangay system provides a way for members of a barangay (or barangays within the same municipality or city, or adjacent barangays but from different municipalities/cities) to settle their disputes through mediation, conciliation and arbitration without resorting to the formal justice system; i.e., the courts. The process is handled by the Lupong Tagapamayapa, made up of the barangay captain as chair and 10-20 members, who are residing or working in the barangay and of proven integrity, impartiality and have the reputation for probity. A complaint in cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Lupon2 is filed after payment of a minimal fee, which in the case of Barangay UP is PhP 100. A day after receipt of the complaint, the barangay captain is supposed to summon the parties to the dispute for mediation. Failing at that, the barangay captain shall then refer the case to the pangkat ng tagapagsundo (a group of three KP members) for conciliation proceedings.3 At any stage, the parties may also submit the case for arbitration by the barangay captain or pangkat.4 None of the parties is represented by counsel during these proceedings (See Annex 2). In the case of the barangay observed for this project, the barangay captain could not mediate all the cases filed before the KP due to the volume of cases filed; many of the cases are directly submitted to the pangkat. “If I do all these cases, how will I do all the other functions of my office? How can I govern?,” said the barangay captain.

See Section 399-422 of Republic Act 7160 (1991 Local Government Code). Section 408, supra 3 Section 410, supra 4 Section 413, supra
1 2



Informal justice in the developing world As we can observe from the map below (Figure 1.1), informal justice systems such as the KP are found mostly in the developing countries of Africa, South America, South and East Asia. The two points in the Philippines represent the KP and the reconciliation mechanisms of its indigenous cultural communities. The prevalence of informal justice systems in these regions are rooted in both the past and the present realities. They are a product of the past, as they are patterned after, if not reproductions, of traditional means of dispute settlement. The KP, for instance, recognizes traditional modes of disputes resolution borne out of time-honored traditions of pakikisama (community-spirit), utang na loob (debt of gratitude) and kinship (Villarin and Dayag-Laylo, n.d.). For example, since the venue of the proceedings is the community where the parties live or work, friends and neighbors help to settle the issues amicably. In the present, these informal processes continue to be relevant as they address the issue of poverty. People in development work recognize that poverty is not limited to material deficiency; poverty can also take the form of the inability of persons to secure their basic rights. Most of the disadvantaged who suffer from injuries are wont to go through circuitous administrative or judicial procedures to secure their rights. The costs alone are prohibitive, especially for people who barely, if at all, earn enough for food. Note that in the Philippines, 32.9 percent of the population falls below the poverty line.5 FIGURE 1.1 WHERE DO WE FIND INFORMAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS?

Source: Wojkowska (2006). The list is not exhaustive.


2006 NSO Poverty Statistics



Case 1 All in a day’s work. Access to justice Indeed, greater access to justice was the declared policy behind the institutionalization of KP, first under PD 1508 and later, BP 337 (1983 Local Government Code). It is also the rationale behind the expanded jurisdiction and powers of the KP under RA 7160 (1991 Local Government Code), which repealed the two previous legislation. The level of access is measurable on three levels: (1) the number of mechanisms from which citizens are able6 and willing to choose (2) the physical availability of these mechanisms and (3) the speed by which the disputes are resolved. Currently, there are various alternative modes of dispute settlement under the Arbitration Law [RA 876, (1953)], Rule 18 of the Rules on Civil Procedure (pre-trial conference), and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act [RA 9285(2004)]. However, these still involve legal procedures and employ jargons that can be daunting to non-lawyers. The lack of understanding of these formal mechanisms – due to unfamiliarity with the language used, complex procedures, and low level of legal literacy – are the usual reasons cited by the underprivileged for not resorting to the formal justice system (Wojkowska, 2006). In the KP system, the parties are in familiar surroundings and discuss the issues with fellow members of the community, who may be acquaintances and use familiar language. The discussion also takes the air of informality; jokes are oftentimes made to lower the tension between parties. These may be the reasons why many of the parties interviewed for this project said that the barangay was their first choice of venue for settling their problems. The KP process is also physically accessible to the parties since the venue is the barangay itself where they reside or work; that means less transportation costs. The filing fee is also minimal (PhP 100) and there is no need to pay lawyer’s fees and other litigation costs. Finally, it is faster than court proceedings, with problems settled in a matter of days or weeks rather than years, typical in court litigation (Golub, 2003). In one KP case observed for this paper, the conflict between the disputants (involving physical injuries) was settled immediately, during the initial hearing (See Case 1). Miguel and his nephew were having beer in front of their house, when respondent, Arthur, passed by. He allegedly bad mouthed them, resulting in an argument. Arthur attacked Miguel, causing injuries that required some stitches. On the first hearing, the respondent immediately admitted what he did. The pangkat members, sensing the willingness of the parties to settle the issue, reinforced this attitude by encouraging them to talk to each other and state their demands, while the KP members observed. Miguel said that he was no longer seeking damages to reimburse him for his medical expenses. He merely wanted assurance that the incident will not be repeated and an apology from Arthur. The latter agreed to the demands. A Lupon member said that the case was easily settled because the parties agreed to stipulate the facts pertaining to the cause of the injury. It also helped that the victim was able to sense humility on the part of the respondent.


This is affected by the costs that the mechanism entails and the physical accessibility of the same.



A comment by Supreme Court of the Philippines is instructive:
“[A] personal confrontation between the parties without the intervention of a counsel or representative would generate spontaneity and a favorable disposition to amicable settlement on the part of the disputant. In other words, the said procedure is deemed conducive to the successful resolution of the dispute (Ledesma v. CA, G.R. No. 96914, July 23, 1992). ”
Party to a case trying to explain her side of the story.

Decongesting the courts’ dockets

Legislators also saw KP as a means to decongest the courts’ dockets, by encouraging the settlement of minor cases at the barangay level, which will in turn allow the courts to speed up the adjudication of already pending cases. This again relates to the access-to-justice problem in the country. To ensure that the goal is met, the Local Government Code makes KP mediation and conciliation a condition precedent to the filing of cases in court. 7 Though non-compliance does not result in jurisdictional defect thereby rendering the court proceedings void ab initio, such failure, if seasonably raised, makes the case vulnerable to a motion to dismiss on the ground of prematurity (Garces v. CA, 162 SCRA 504). TABLE 1.1 COURT CASE DISPOSITION RATE (BY TYPE OF COURT, 1997-2007) Court Total Supreme Court Court of Appeals Sandiganbayan Court of Tax Appeals Regional Trial Courts Metropolitan Trial Courts Municipal Trial Courts in Cities Municipal Trial Courts Municipal Circuit Trial Courts Shari'a District Courts Shari'a Circuit Courts

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 0.59 1.22 0.77 0.80 0.74 0.69 0.43 0.59 0.61 0.64 1.06 0.97 0.63 1.10 0.87 1.46 0.78 0.71 0.45 0.64 0.62 0.67 1.03 0.90 0.69 1.10 0.99 1.48 1.10 0.72 0.49 0.73 0.80 0.73 0.78 0.98 0.70 1.00 0.93 1.28 0.84 0.68 0.59 0.79 0.72 0.75 0.81 0.93 0.70 0.98 1.00 3.75 0.72 0.64 0.60 0.75 0.79 0.80 2.80 0.66 0.74 0.97 0.96 1.98 0.73 0.69 0.68 0.87 0.77 0.76 1.5 0.89 0.82 ... ... 0.97 0.71 0.79 0.76 0.84 0.89 0.95 1.17 0.90 0.85 ... ... 1.17 1.21 0.79 0.73 0.88 1.03 1.12 0.77 1.07

2007 0.85 1.24 2.24 1.28 0.78 0.75 0.93 1.03 1.16 1.65 0.82 Page

Section 412, 1991 Local Government Code


Source: Supreme Court of the Philippines. Note: Court-case disposition rate is the ratio of total cases in a year over total cases filed. A ratio of less than 1 indicates an increasing backlog; greater than 1, decreasing backlog; and equal to 1 means that the backlog is being maintained.

Table 1.1, above, shows that the objective of KP to unclog the court’s dockets still resonates today. In the last decade, the courts have been unable to dispose all the cases that are filed each year, although the disposition rate has been going up, reaching 85% in 2007. There have been successes in decongesting the dockets of the appellate, specialized and municipal trial courts. However, the regional trial courts in cities and the regional trial courts have performed poorly (see figures in red), as cases continue to pile up.

Source: Supreme Court

The problem of case backlog is also exacerbated by the number of vacancies in the courts. The Supreme Court (2009) noted that 519 out of 2,290 judicial positions were unfilled by the end of 2008. That means a vacancy rate of 22.06% (See Table 1.2). And ninety-four percent (94%) of these vacancies are in the municipal, city and trial courts, where the backlogs are also greater (See Figure 1.2) What implications can be derived from these statistics? First, the need for alternative processes like the KP is more pronounced in urban areas and population centers, since the unresolved court cases in these jurisdictions are also higher. Second, resort to formal judicial channels will entail great loss of time. Lastly, it can be surmised that there are too many disincentives to the filing of cases in courts - higher litigation costs as trial drags on, opportunity costs, psychological impact of protracted trial, loss of income, etc. – especially for the disadvantaged. Absent the KP, many of them will just sleep on their rights.



As a United Nations worker aptly observed:
“Informal justice systems are often more accessible to poor and disadvantaged people and may have the potential to provide quick, cheap and culturally relevant remedies…They are the cornerstone of dispute resolution and access to the justice for the majority of the population, especially the poor and the disadvantaged in many countries, where informal justice systems usually resolve between 80-90% of disputes (Wojkowska, 2006, p.6).”



Chapter 2
Performance and implementation According to the 2007 baseline study conducted for the Access to Justice for the Poor Project, 98% of the total 41,995 barangays all over the country or around 41,155 barangays have functional barangay justice systems. This indicates a continuous increase from the data recorded in 1999 in a study funded by USAID, where 38,008 barangays out of the total 39,721 barangays at the time have a Lupong Tagapamayapa in place. Empirical studies on the effectiveness of the KP recognize two kinds of outcomes resulting from implementation: i.e., instrumental and intrinsic worth. The instrumental worth focuses on the contribution of the KP in de-clogging court dockets and thereby generating government savings. The intrinsic worth, on the other hand, measures the success of the KP in terms of behavioral changes in the community, and the access of vulnerable groups to some form of security, dispute resolution and justice apart from its role in de-clogging court dockets. Instrumental worth The 2009 national summary report from the DILG Bureau of Local Government Supervision shows that out of the total 6,187,681 reported cases filed before the Lupons all over the country from 1980-2008, 79% or 4,873,311 cases were settled at the barangay level. Only 6% of the total or 369,108 cases were certified for filing before judicial courts. The remaining 15% of the cases were dismissed, repudiated, or remained pending. Out of the total number of settled cases, 52% were settled through mediation, 17% through conciliation and 3% through arbitration. The remaining 28% of the settled cases are not classified in the DILG summary report as these cases were settled prior to RA 7160 (See Figure 2.1). FIGURE 2.1 RESOLUTION KP CASES (1982-2008) -NATIONAL TOTAL

Source: Own construction with primary data from DILG



Based on the number of cases settled, the government estimates savings amounting to PhP 32.137 billion from 1980-2008. The estimate assumes that all of the settled cases would have been filed before the courts. The estimated government savings per case settled at the barangay in 2008 is PhP 9,500 per case. A historical trend of the number of total cases as well as those that were settled and certified from 1992 to 2008 is provided in Figure 2.2. The line for cases classified as “others” refers to dismissed, repudiated and pending cases. It may be observed that while the total number of cases filed before the Lupons surged and dropped over time, the number of settled cases significantly shadowed the trend. The number of cases settled has been significantly higher than those which have ended up in court (i.e. certified cases). The KP therefore can claim success in meeting its purpose of reducing the courts’ dockets. FIGURE 2.2 SETTLED CASES VS. CASES CERTIFIED FOR FILING IN COURT (1980-2008)
450,000 400,000 350,000

Number of Cases

300,000 250,000 200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000 total settled certified others

Source: Own construction with primary data from DILG

Attitude Change The implementation of the KP is also important in itself, with or without regard to its contribution in de-clogging court dockets. A study by Prof. Alfredo Tadiar in 1984 shows that through the KP, members of the community developed high regard to settling interpersonal disputes (Villarin and Dayag-Laylo, n.d.). Another study by Prof. Fernando Zialcita in 1989 confirms this intrinsic worth as the charismatic legitimacy people attribute to the KP, which empowers members of the community to settle their disputes among themselves (Villarin and Dayag-Laylo, n.d.). In a more recent impact study conducted by the Gerry Roxas Foundation (2006) for the Dalan Kalinaw Mindanaw Project, disputes were prevented from escalating into violent and bloody conflicts in the project areas especially regarding land disputes and family feuds. Participation in community projects and activities also increased including inter-ethnic collaboration, which contributed to peace in the communities.



Case 2 Cooling off The Tadiar study identified the following factors that contributed to the effectiveness of the KP: processing speed, use of local language in the proceedings, informal atmosphere, low costs, adaptable schedule of hearings, and the absence of lawyers. The last factor, which made the KP as a conciliatory approach or “delegalized” rather than confrontational, was highlighted in two other papers by Associate Justice Cecilio Pe and former DILG Director Gaudioso Sosmena (Villarin and Dayag-Laylo, n.d.). Some studies also utilize Social Weather Station surveys on the awareness, knowledge, trust and satisfaction levels of the people on the KP. The Barangay Justice System Review undertaken by Villarin and Dayag-Laylo (n.d.) cites results of the SWS national surveys. Based on these surveys, there is a high level of satisfaction on the KP for those who have previously experienced settling dispute through the KP nationwide and over time. For instance, net satisfaction ratings are +59 in December 1993, +57 in November 1994, +69 in April 1995 and +54 in December 1995. During the 1999 survey, greater satisfaction was observed among complainants belonging to the poorest class compared to those from the higher economic classes. This particularly confirms the importance of the system to vulnerable groups. Most of those who are satisfied with the system indicated case settlement as their primary reason. In contrast to the general public, lawyers are less satisfied with the KP based on SWS survey results in 1995-1996. For instance, net satisfaction ratings from lawyers is -16 in National Capital Region, -23 in Pangasinan, -5 in Cebu and +12 in Davao. During the same survey, net satisfaction rating from judges is even lower, i.e., -53. Results of SWS surveys in subsequent years, however, showed that net satisfaction ratings from judges have gradually improved as shown in Table 2.1. TABLE 2.1 JUDGES LEVEL OF SATISFACTION WITH THE KP SYSTEM 1995-1996 Net Satisfaction Satisfied Not Satisfied Undecided
Source: Social Weather Station

“Mabuti na na may kaharap ng iba. Kapag sa bahay lang ay sagutan lang at baka magkasuntukan pa. Dito may disiplina”, said Luz as she explained why she went to the KP to file her complaint against Jose. Jose, who is Luz’ cousin and neighbor, is the respondent in the case. Jose’s and Luz’ families share a common toilet. Jose, aghast by the smell coming from the toilet demolished the structure. He complained that the other users failed to keep it clean. On a later date, Luz accused Jose of stealing her firewood. He flared up and allegedly threatened to kill her. The pangkat tagapamayapa had to adjourn the first hearing because the parties kept on bickering. The pangkat thought it was best to give them time to let off some steam and encouraged them to have an open line of communication in between hearings. On the second hearing, the parties were already open to settlement. Jose agreed to rebuild the toilet, upon the prodding of the pangkat members, who pointed out that he had no right to destroy property co-owned by his neighbors. He also signed an “agreement” not to threaten Luz . All’s well that ends well.

2003-2004 -31 34 65 1

2005-2006 -19 38 57 3

-53 22 75 2



Issues encountered in KP Implementation The Barangay Justice System Review conducted a series of workshops in 2000 that brought together barangay officials, lupon members, and representatives from NGOs, POs, DILG, DOJ and the Supreme Court. Among the major issues identified during the workshops include: Disputants regard the KP as being merely an additional bureaucratic level for the lone purpose of securing a certification to file action. Perceived partiality on the part of the barangay captain and Lupon members. Non-appearance of respondents during hearings. Lack of funds for KP operations. Lupon and other barangay officials cannot enforce the agreements reached during the settlement. Insufficient knowledge and skills among Lupon members on the KP law and on mediation and conciliation. The issue of gender sensitivity of those administering the KP was raised during all of the workshops.



Chapter 3
Inside the University is a Community: KP implementation in Barangay UP Campus

Situated along C.P. Garcia corner C.V. Franciso, Pook Amorsolo, Barangay UP Campus beats at the heart of the top school in the country—the University of the Philippines, Diliman in Quezon City. Thirty four (34) years since its formation, Barangay UP Campus now serves twenty-three thousand (23,000) inhabitants residing in the community’s sixteen (16) pook or areas. Of the total population, 60% belongs to the urban poor communities, 20% in the middle-lower families, 15% in the middle-upper families, and the remaining 5% belongs to the community’s upper class.

Barangay UP Campus was established on June 25, 1975 through EO 24 by then City Mayor Norberto Amoranto.

Lupong Tagapamayapa
The punong barangay, Isabelita Gravides, appointed thirteen (13) Lupong Tagapamaya members at the start of her term on December 1, 2007. Out of this number, nine (9) are women and four (4) are men. The members of the Lupon were selected based on their individual qualifications as stated and mandated by the Local Government Code8. But Ms. Gravides also considered certain personal traits in making her appointments, such as: o o o o Ability to remain calm in stressful situations Resourcefulness Open-mindedness Cooperativeness

The average age of the current Lupon members is sixty four (64) years old. Ten (10) of them have college degrees. It can be inferred that community standing was an important consideration in their appointments. High educational attainment is valued in Philippine
Section 399




Insights Participation of senior citizens in the KP contributes to higher disposition rate, since they have more available time. Their standing in the community also contributes to the effectiveness of the Lupon. Most of those served by the KP are from the poor and middle income households, which highlights the role of KP in providing justice to disadvantaged groups. NGO-Barangay engagements have greatly supported the capacity building of Barangay UP’s KP. Access to the trainings provided by the institutes and centers in the UP campus also enhanced the ability of Barangay UP to implement KP properly. The Barangay recognizes a need to educate the community about KP. This is an important task since the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms depends on a consistent and meaningful exposure of communities to them (Pangalangan, 2001). society. Standing also comes with age, perhaps more so than with educational attainment. Moreover, being long-time residents of the barangay, the senior KP members may know most of the members of the community – a plus for a conciliator. Deputy Chairman Patronicio Abejo also said that since most of the Lupon members are retirees, they have more time to deal with the KP cases, increasing the case disposition rate.

Barangay Justice Work
The Lupon work starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 11:30 a.m. Upon arrival, it is a protocol to review the cases to be heard on that day, which are filed in separate folders. But in some instances, the Lupon agrees to hold the hearings in the evening so that for the convenience of the parties who have day jobs. Prior notice to the Lupon is needed so that it can make the arrangements. On the average, the Lupon receives sixty three (63) disputes each month. The parties usually come from the middle and lower income classes. Civil cases take longer to settle than criminal complaints. Civil cases consist mostly of ejectment cases and the settlement of debts, while criminal cases mostly involve physical injuries. Others concern boundary disputes among lot owners (See Annex 1). Debt payment cases often drag on even after final settlement is made due to the continuous follow-up to ensure compliance with the payment schedule.9 Due to past incidents, the Lupon has required the presence of a member of the BSPO during the initial confrontations between parties, noting the fact that first meetings are usually very heated and tense, while the parties tend to calm down during subsequent hearings. There is also an officer-in-charge assigned for each hearing day, who moves around observing each case. This is to ensure the safety of other

The Barangay Justice Office opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 11:30 a.m.

These observations are taken from the Villarin and Dayag-Laylo paper (n.d.), where Barangay UP was also used as case study.



Lupon members, since violent altercations occasionally occur and there must be someone who can act immediately to diffuse the situation.

The Creation of a Strong Lupong Tagapamayapa
When she assumed office, Gravides envisioned a competent Lupong Tagapamayapa for the barangay. To achieve this end, she implemented a three-point program with the following components: a) Creation of an effective organizational structure b) Training and development c) Integration of technology in the KP system Effective Organizational Structure Gravides organized three (3) working committees to provide support services for the KP: Monitoring Team Its primary task is to visit the different pook or areas within the barangay to: Conduct ocular inspection of the place/area disputed Visit the complainant or respondent’s house who refuses to attend scheduled hearings Coordination with the pook coordinators Education Committee This committee is primarily tasked to inform and educate the residents regarding the KP. One way they do this is to have a ready flowchart at the Barangay Justice Office on the procedures on how a case is handled (Annex 2). Committee members also visit the sixteen (16) areas of Barangay UP Campus to discuss the significance of the Katarungang Pambarangay, its processes and procedures as well as the different laws that concern the various disputes filed at KP. This committee also leads the KP Information and Education Campaign Project and organizes trainings for the members of the Barangay Protection and Security Office, Family and Community Healing Center, and the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children.

The Barangay Justice Office is divided into three (3) partitions to simultaneously hear cases which are on the average eight (8) per day



Research Committee Scrutinizes and studies the pending cases that need immediate action Checks which cases have not paid the required filing fees and reminds the parties on certain requirements to the case Assists the Barangay Secretary and the Technical Staff in the systematic maintenance and safekeeping of records, reports and other documents pertaining to KP Prepares pertinent documents for case presentations, incentives, awards, and ways to amicably settle the cases handled Partners with different organizations and groups for trainings, workshops and seminars that can help enhance the knowledge and skills of all the members of the Lupon Training and Development Attendance and participation in government-provided and NGOorganized trainings, seminars, and workshops are strongly encouraged in the members of the Lupon. The following are some of the trainings and workshops they have attended: General Assembly, Workshop and Fellowship sponsored by Councilor Malaya, July 13, 2008, Amoranto MultiPurpose Hall, Barangay Paligsahan, Quezon City Training on Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Seminar on KP and Safety given to the Lupong Tagapamayapa and other barangay Preparedness organized by the officers on September 23, 2009 Sangguniang Barangay Training-Workshop on Effective Dispute Resolution and Mediation Processes sponsored and organized by the Sangguniang Barangay with support from Misereor-Katholische Zentralstelle Fur Entwicklungshilfe (KZE), February 27-29, 2008, Daza Hall, Barangay UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City Enhancement Training Seminar on KP for Quezon City Lupong Tagapamayapa sponsored by City Mayor Sonny Belmonte, September 5-6, 2008, Carlos Albert Session Hall, 3rd Floor, Legislative Wing, Quezon City Hall Trainer’s Training on Effective Dispute Resolution and Mediation Processes sponsored by MedNet Seminar on RA 9262 or the Anti-VAWC Law sponsored by the UP College of Law students in partnership with Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN), September 23, 2009, Daza Hall, Barangay UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City



Integration of Technology in the KP System Katarungang Pambarangay Electronic System To better facilitate the monitoring of KP cases, Katarungang Pambarangay Electronic System (KPES) has been implemented to help in the processing of information pertaining to various cases filed. It was designed by Conrado “Jong” San Pedro, a former Barangay Secretary during his term from 1997-2001, for the easy facilitation or processing of cases filed through the following: Instant printing of summons/notice of hearing Automatic case numbering Automatic checking and corrections of conflicting hearing schedules Reporting of the statistics of cases filed at KP based on classification of cases and the places of commission Printing of hearing schedules Through this computerization project, it is now easier to determine how many cases are handled each month, the status of each case which is better facilitated by the automatic case numbering and automatic classification function of KPES, and the determination of the number of cases found in each pook or area. Manuals and Brochures The Lupong Tagapamayapa also created manuals of the different KP processes and procedures. Every Lupon member takes time to explain these to the disputants during the first face-to-face conciliation, or individually in the case of shuttlemediation. The shuttle-mediation is an approach wherein the pangkat conducts investigations and negotiations with parties separately, until such time that a solution to their conflict is arrived at. Brochures and primers are also distributed to each pook or area through the BPSO and the pook coordinators (See Annex 3). The aim is to provide materials to the residents on how they can benefit from KP.

Making minds meet: Conciliation techniques based on actual cases observed The Lupon often ask the parties to consider how their dispute has affected their relationship, banking on the parties’ personal histories to convince them to reconcile. The Lupon members always paraphrase the issue raised or statement made by each party in order to clarify what each meant. This ensured that the sentiments of the parties are clearly communicated to all involved, especially crucial when parties are so impassioned that they are unable to articulate themselves clearly. The Lupon members were able to remain calm and collected during the duration of their respective hearings, no matter how heated the discussions became. They were also able to minimize snide comments and hostile remarks from the parties, which usually aggravate the animosity. Moreover, no Lupon member displayed aggressive behavior in any proceeding. When a case is settled, the Lupon also ensured the agreements of the parties are reduced in writing and carefully read to them. They check if the parties fully understand the document, before asking the parties to sign. This practice bolsters the disputants’ confidence in the Lupon.



Cases Handled For the period of August 2008 to June 2009, Barangay UP Campus handled seven hundred fifty nine (759) cases. Out of the total number of cases handled during the year, only 60% were settled. This is 19 points below the national average in 2008. This could be one reason why it has not received a Lupong Tagapamayapa Incentive Award given by the DILG during that period since one of the criteria to the award is a minimum settlement rate of 80%. The contributing factor to their low settlement rate is the dismissal of a number of cases filed before them (24%). This is mainly due to the non-appearance of the respondents in the scheduled hearing (Villarin and Dayag-Laylo, n.d.). The limited number of BPSOs in the barangay to follow up on the respondents may also contribute to their non-appearance. FIGURE 3.1: CASES FILED BEFORE THE BARANGAY UP’S KP (AUGUST 2008-JUNE 2009)

Source: Own construction with primary data from Barangay UP Campus

In the cases settled, 10% were resolved through conciliation while 90% were resolved through mediation (See Figure 3.1). It is significant to note that none of the cases was settled through arbitration. Based on the number of cases settled, it can be estimated that the government saved PhP 4.807 million (see Chapter 2) if it is assumed that these cases would have been filed before the courts.



120 100 No. of cases 80 60 40 20 0 Others Civil Criminal

Barangay UP Campus Cases 2008-2009 Source: Own construction with primary data from Barangay UP Campus

As to the nature of the cases, 76% of the total number is categorized as criminal cases, 12% as civil while the remaining 12% as others. As pointed out previously, the civil cases take more time to settle than the criminal cases which mostly involve physical injuries.



Chapter 4
Anti-VAWC Training for Barangay UP officials On September 23, 2009, the group organized a workshop on the AntiVAWC Law10 for Barangay UP officials. This was requested by Barangay UP to contribute to its officials’ understanding of their roles and responsibilities under this law and to the law’s effective implementation. The group invited Atty. Bobby Sta. Maria of SALIGAN (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal), a legal resource, NGO doing developmental Some of Barangay UP Campus officials, Lupon members and legal work with women, workers, health workers farmers and fishers, the urban poor, and local communities as guest speaker. A graduate of the UP College of Law, Atty. Sta. Maria is a staff lawyer of SALIGAN’s women, local governance and urban poor programs. Among the workshop participants were barangay councilors and members of the Lupon Tagapamayapa, counselors and other personnel of the Family and Community Healing Center, a barangay office that provides gender-sensitive counseling, education, and training for the survivors of VAWC. Representatives from the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children and Barangay Health Workers were also invited. Lecture outline Atty. Sta Maria lectured on the salient points of RA 9262, which included the following: Policy bases VAWC as a public crime Cases that may be filed Who may commit violence against women Forms of violence Venue for filing The battered woman syndrome Prohibited defense Program for perpetrators Entitlement to leave Other features


RA 9262 (2004).



A detailed lecture on the Barangay Protection Order followed. The topics covered were: What is a Barangay Protection Order? Where should the application for a BPO be filed? When should the application for a BPO be processed and issued? Who may file a BPO application? How is an application for BPO filed? What is the effectivity and enforceability of a BPO? What else must the barangay do after issuing the BPO? What happens when there is a violation of the BPO?
Attorney Sta. Maria of SALIGAN discussing the AntiVAWC law

VAWC is a public crime Atty. Sta. Maria stressed that VAWC is not only an offense against the wife or the victim, but also against the public. Hence, a complaint may be filed by ANY CITIZEN having personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding its commission. This is allowed even absent the consent of the victim. One of the attendees noted that even if violence against women and their children is designated as a public offense, barangay officials often find it difficult to file a case without the consent of the victim or survivor. According to them, it is not uncommon for the sympathy of a victim towards her abuser to prevail causing the victim to abandon her complaint. Admittedly, proving the offense becomes difficult, without the consent and the participation of the victim. In such case, Atty. Sta. Maria said that the personal knowledge of the complainant would have to be relied on; i.e., what the officials have personally heard and seen. Dropped cases Atty. Sta. Maria also explained that there are countless factors why women often get disheartened in pursuing their cases. Economic factors and regard for traditional Filipino values, such as “keeping the family together” and “sanctity of marriage”, come into play. She advised the officials to empathize with these women, instead of getting exasperated. She also emphasized the need to strengthen the support services for

Barangay official recounting stories and experiences on cases under RA 9262(Anti-VAWC)



these victims, as these strengthen their will to fight for their rights. Limited Knowledge on VAWC A frustrating problem for VAWC implementation is the limited knowledge of prosecutors on the Anti-VAWC Law. They, at times, dismiss the case when filed by a person other than the victim. Atty. Sta. Maria explained that her group’s usual recourse is to file a motion for reconsideration with the Justice Department. It is also common for RTC judges to fail to issue the temporary protection orders (TPO), even if it is mandated by law. But there are exceptional RTCs such as one in Quezon City, which already practice the issuance of “continuing TPO’s”, by ordering the automatic renewal of the 30-day TPO until a permanent protection order is given by the court. Progressive Jurisprudence According to the speaker, the limited knowledge of our court officers regarding the Anti-VAWC Law may be explained by the fact that RA 9262 is a fairly recent law and there is limited jurisprudence on it. Hence, advocates must keep litigating VAWC cases to enrich jurisprudence favorable to women and their children’s protection. She encouraged the barangay officials not give up and appeal the adverse rulings of courts. One result of such legal advocacy is our jurisprudence recognizing the battered women syndrome. Incidentally, one of the participants asked how they can prove the existence of the battered woman syndrome. The speaker explained that this can be proved by expert opinion from psychologists. There are psychologists whom they can turn to for expert testimonies and who offer their services free of charge. Conciliation in VAWC cases The barangay officials said that they understand the prohibition against conciliation and mediation in VAWC cases. But they complained that the police oftentimes do not follow this rule. It is a usual practice for barangay officials to immediately accompany a victim of abuse to the police station to file a report. However, there were instances when police officers themselves actively asked the parties to reconcile rather than work to file a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office. Atty. Sta. Maria said that administrative cases can be filed against these officers. She further suggested that the barangay officials proceed with filing the complaint, even without the assistance of police officers.



Barangay Protection Orders (BPO) While the barangay officials are familiar with the process of issuing BPOs, they are often stumped when faced with a violation thereof. Atty. Sta. Maria underscored the fact that a BPO violation is punishable by an imprisonment of 30 days, without prejudice to other criminal or civil liabilities. She encouraged the barangay officials to file cases before the Metropolitan Trial Courts as a remedy to such violations. Another limitation of the BPO is that it is only effective within the barangay, which issued it. The speaker highlighted the barangay’s duty to assist the victim in filing a VAWC case with a Family Court within 24 hours from the issuance of the BPO. Through the court case, the victim can secure a TPO11, which is issued ex parte and enforceable anywhere in the Philippines. If prior to such issuance, the victim transfers residence, she can also secure a BPO from her new barangay. Atty. Sta. Maria advised the barangay officials to assist the victim financially, when economic factors prevent the victim from filing her case in court, that is, if the barangay has the resources. She stressed that the implementation of this law calls for the participation and the help of all the members of the community.

Some observations The understanding of the barangay officials of the Anti-VAWC law and their roles was notable. The barangay benefitted from its engagements with NGOs, which provided capacity-building for its officials. This government-NGO interaction can serve as a model for other barangays. National government agencies should assist in forming such linkages and provide resources to allow these partnerships to grow. It is also noteworthy that they continue to help victims, who have been abused repeatedly but kept pardoning their abusers. Officials should never stop rendering aid even when the victims fail to cooperate or waver in pursuing their cases. Rather, they should try to understand the different reasons behind such indecisiveness and help address them.

The TPO is issued by a court where a VAWC case is filed. It is issued ex parte and effective for thirty days. Some courts have used the so-called “continuing TPOs”, an order allowing the automatic renewal of the TPO after the expiration of the 30 days, until a permanent protection order is issued at the conclusion of the trial.



The officials also shared some interesting strategies in keeping a victim’s resolve to file a case against her abuser. For instance, they work to put the abuser in detention; thereby limiting

contact between him and the victim. They also discourage the victim from visiting the abuser in jail to prevent the latter from exploiting the former’s sympathy and discouraging her from pursuing the case. They keep to this plan until a case has already been filed and the needed affidavits have all been given.

At the end of the training, the research group gave Barangay UP Campus a CD-copy of Payong Kapatid, a video presentation of Professor Rowena Guanzon on the Anti-VAWC law as broadcasted in ABS-CBN in March 2006 to serve as a ready reference of the Lupon in handling its VAWC cases.

Tokens given to the barangay for accommodating our research project



Barangay UP Campus. (2009). Executive Summary of Accomplishments. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Diliman. Department of Interior and Local Government – Bureau of Local Government Supervision. (2009). National summary report on Katarungang Pambarangay. Manila: DILG. Department of Interior and Local Government – Bureau of Local Government Supervision. (2009). Lupong Tagapamayapa Incentives Awards CY 2008 annual report. Manila: DILG. Gerry Roxas Foundation. (2006). Impact assessment of Barangay Justice Service System V - Dalan sa Kalinaw Mindanaw. Manila: USAID. Golub, Stephen.(2003). Non-state justice systems in Bangladesh and the Philippines. London: UK Department of International Development. Pangalangan, Raul (Ed.). (2001). The Philippine judicial system. Tokyo: Institute of Development Economics. Redshaw, Felipe Ureta, et. al. (2007). Baseline study report for the Access to Justice for the Poor Project. Manila: European Commission. Supreme Court of the Philippines. (2009). Annual report 2008. Manila: Supreme Court. Villarin, Tomasito and Carijane Dayag-Laylo. (n.d.). The barangay justice system review. Manila: The Asia Foundation et al. Wojkowska, Ewa. (2006). Doing justice: How informal justice can contribute. Oslo: UNDP.



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