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Prepared by:

Paolo Ricasio
Antonio Pagsibigan
Karl Anthony Dionisio
Therese Corpuz
Leigh Villegas
Ruperto Alfafara
The Judicial system in the Philippines is older than the Philippine Independence
itself, despite having several changes through the adoption of different Constitution by
the Philippines Laws and Jurisprudence which are not overturn are still followed and
respected the Courts. The Judicial system of the Philippines are composed of different
courts. Through the passage of Batas Pambasansa 129, otherwise known as The
Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, it provided for the Jurisdiction of different courts
which is still followed as to this day.

As students of law, and enrolled in the class of Practice Court I, we were tasked to
visit different courts and observe the proceedings as a part of our course. As mentioned
by our professor Judge Eugene Paras, the practice may be different as to the theories that
we learn from our books.

NATIONAL LNLRC Court Visit (Picture: Group Picture with Labor Arbiter Jaime M. Reyno)

In the National Labor Relation Commission (NLRC), the group was able to
observe in 2 salas.

The Labor Arbiter in the first sala was Atty. Pablo A. Gajardo,Jr. , together with Ms. Flor
T.

Arenas as his Labor Arbiter Associate. In such sala, we were able to observe the filing of
several position papers by employee-complainants and replies by employers. In such
instance, it was only Ms. Arenas who was entertaining the people who had a setting,
while Atty. Gajardo was working on cases pending for resolution. After all their filings,
we had the opportunity to interview Ms. Arenas with regard to the procedure in filing a
complaint in NLRC. She explained that the first step was the filing of a Single Entry
Approach, otherwise known as the SENA Form. Upon filing the form, the employee and
the employer will meet and try to settle the issue at hand. If the parties do not come into
an agreement, the employee will then file a complaint before the Complaint Unit of
NLRC. Such unit will then raffle the case to a Labor Arbiter. Once it gets raffled to an
arbiter, the arbiter will require the parties to go through Mandatory Conciliation
Mediation. During the mediation, parties will then try to settle the issue between them.
It was said that lawyers are allowed to assist their clients during this part. The reason is
that, and compared to the first instance when parties try to settle the issue, during
mediation, parties would bring up technical matters such as provisions of the law
regarding their rights and what is just. After which, if in meetings under mediation
parties still do not come to an agreement, both parties will then be required to file their
respective position papers and replies. After which, their case will be set for decision by
the labor arbiter, and the respective order will be received after 1 month. In the first sala,
we were able to see the part of the process where parties file the positions papers and
replies.

In the other sala, the group was able to observe mediation proceedings. The Labor
Arbiter of such sala was Atty. Jaime M. Reyno, assisted by his Labor Arbiter Associate
Ms. Esleen D. Fontanilla. In the course of the observation, there were 2 cases where in
the parties talked and tried to come into an agreement. But, in both cases, mediation did
not work 1 case was submitted for decision by the Labor Arbiter and thus parties were
required to file their position papers and the other case was set for a second hearing for
mediation. In both cases, what was involved was illegal dismissal. The complainant-
employees were asking for separation pay. The employees were arguing that aside from
the fact that they were illegally terminated, their employers paid them insufficient
separation pay. To back their claims, the Labor Arbiter would ask the employees the
reason for their claims. For the Labor Arbiter, it seemed that the claims of the employees
did not satisfy him and would keep on interviewing the employees. In both cases, the
amounts were substantially small but for the employee, it is something for them. Based
on how they argue, they feel that such amount was worth the fight.

To sum it all up, cases found in the NLRC are settled through a clear cut process
and thus it can be said cases are thus de cajon. But, it does not mean that each case is
one and the same. Each case is unique on its own since each employee has a different
story to tell. After seeing such, it can be said that practice of Labor Law is interesting and
is something worth practicing.

METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT - MTC (Civil Case)

On the afternoon of the same day that the group went to the NLRC, the group
went back to the Makati City Hall to observe Civil Case proceedings in the Municipal
Trial Court. We were able to observe proceedings in the sala of Judge Ruth S. Pasion-
Ramos, of MTC Makati Branch 65.

This was our first time to observe an afternoon session, and it was a surprise that
there were less people in the sala. Perhaps it was because there was only one case in the
courts calendar for the afternoon, but in our previous experience during morning
sessions, the sala would be full with people constantly going in and out. In this particular
instance, there were not a lot of people so we were able to fully observe the proceedings
without any distraction.

Once the Judge stepped in, everyone was invited to join in the Ecumenical Prayer,
after which the case was called. This particular case of Unlawful Detainer was already at
the Pre-Trial stage, particularly the marking of evidence. The marking was done in an
expeditious manner, especially since most of the evidence consisted of Judicial Affidavits.

Noteworthy is the Judges efforts to try and encourage the parties to enter into an
amicable settlement. Since both parties were present, the Judge would reiterate how it
would be more convenient for all involved if they could just talk and settle the issue
without the need for judicial intervention. According to the court staff, this is very
important because since this is the MTC and the value in question is not very significant.
Having the parties enter into settlements on their own would contribute to the de-
clogging of the courts dockets, especially in light of the scope of the MTCs jurisdiction.

METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT MTC (Criminal Case)

On the 6th of July at around 8AM the group went to Makati to observe criminal
case proceedings at the MTC of Makati branch 61. Fortunately for our eager group, it was
a busy day in branch 61 as 54 criminal cases were scheduled to be tried that day. Inside
the Court room the place was a packed and crowded, stacks of papers can be seen in
every nook serving as dividers and the lack of space and chairs for people who are and
might be interested on the trial that was to transpire during the day. But even with such
a situation of the court it remained to be spick and respectable. You would not see a single
soul complaining or reacting about anything which gives the impression that this kind of
environment of the court situation would be of something considered to be usual
setting of courts in the Philippines. The situation of the Makati court room is not what
you would expect based from the court rooms you see on movies and in the television
where everything was elegant and pristine
The presiding Judge at the time was the Honorable Barbara Aleli Hernandez
Briones, a judge with a strong personality who was definitely in control of her court. She
was all too serious upon entering the court room but upon further staying, I was able to
sense that there was a lighter side of her especially on times wherein she gave a glint
towards cases that merited a comedic overtone.
Majority of the cases during the session was composed of illegal gambling, drunk
and disorderly conduct, and Estafa. There was a plethora on the types of accused, there
were those who were rich and those who obviously were paupers, those who were young
and scared and those who were old and was accustomed to being subject to the mercy of
the court, everyone was easily distinguished by the clothes, accompanying lawyers, and
demeanor.

Nevertheless, the difference in personas of those accused did not influence the
good Judge in any way, levied judgments were all based on equal and fair terms, and the
proceedings were swift and effective, and was a strong show of the courts Integrity and
stature.

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT - RTC Branch 59 (Criminal Cases)


Hon. Judge Winlove M. Dumayas

On the morning of the 6th of July, the group went to the Makati City Hall to observe
and witness Criminal Case proceedings in the Regional Trial Court of Makati City Branch
59, which was presided by Judge Winlove M. Dumayas.
Before the proceedings, we approached the staff in their office. They were kind
enough to let us observe without prior notice. After confirmation from the Judge, they
accommodated us, granted our request and promised us that we will learn a lot from the
observation. It was very encouraging.

Upon entering the court, we immediately noticed how small it was as compared
to the other courts we visited. There were only four rows of benches and the spaces
between them were so small that it was difficult to sit comfortably. The walls and
windows were decorated with useful and necessary posters such as a huge calendar and
informative visual aids on the Court rules and practices. The rear side of the room was
stacked with folders of case records covered only by cloth, which, although were
organized, looked a bit off-putting. Despite all these being said, the moment the
Honorable Judge Dumayas entered the court, the aura suddenly shifted to something
more serious and intimidating. The Court staff were in complete attendance and
everyone seemed very prepared to perform their best for the day, as every other day.
Upon uttering the words All rise, we then began.

Judge Dumayas was around an hour late for the session but he humbly apologized
to everyone at the court and explained his reason for his tardiness. We noted that this
was a very noble thing to do. Initially, Judge Dumayas seemed intimidating but as he
spoke, we came to realize that he has a very jolly personality. The fiscal was a lady who
has a very firm character and she obviously had a very strong personality. The counsel
was a young confident man who some may call obnoxious because of his loud behavior.
All the other observers were very quiet and respectful to the court.

Criminal proceedings somewhat differed with civil proceedings in several ways.


First, the ambiance in a criminal proceeding was a bit more serious as compared to civil
ones. The respondents, although not detained and not assisted by police, seemed
nervous, perhaps even scared. In both instances, it is important to talk very clearly and it
must be assured that the parties fully understand everything. However, in criminal
proceedings, special attention must be given to the accused or the witness as to whether
or not they understood what was asked of them or what they were told. In criminal
proceedings, respondents who are detained are handcuffed and are assisted by the police.
On the other hand, parties to a civil case are not and are free to sit anywhere. All the other
aspects were quite similar as to procedure. Hon. Dumayas was thorough in assuring the
proper procedure was observed and that each case was given sufficient time and
consideration. Each case finished quickly and soon enough the agenda for the day was
achieved.

It was an enriching experience to have witnessed actual criminal proceedings. We


particularly enjoyed how we reacted at every instance where we can relate to and those
times where the lawyers would present themselves before Hon. Dumayas because we
imagined ourselves in their shoes. Surely one day, we will no longer need to imagine as
this will already be our reality.

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT - RTC (Civil Case)

On the morning of June 29, 2017, the group went to Pasay Hall of Justice to observe
Civil Case proceedings in the Regional Trial Court. The observation was conducted in
the sala of Judge Rowena A. Tan of Branch 118 Pasay RTC.

This was our first court visit for Practice Court I. We were able to note the different
steps in which the Court and its staff took before the trial actually took place and those
done during the trial itself. The sala itself was not as crowded as the other salas that we
were able to visit later on; however, it was still full. Whenever appearances are asked the
judge particularly checked the records whether or not the lawyer in front of her was the

one listed in the records. During pre-trial, the counsels of each respective party may bring
up any concern or issue such as improper service of the judicial affidavit or a discrepancy
on the special power of attorney where the judge would rule on such preliminary matters.
After such, we have observed that stipulations are then taken where each counsel would
stipulate or deny said stipulation and that this process is actually very quick. The other
procedures concerning the case where simply followed such as marking of evidence,
identification of documents by witnesses and setting of trial dates and formal offer
dates.Unlike in other salas where we observed, in this court the lawyer, client or witness
did not ask permission from the judge when he/she stepped out or left and the judge did
not bother with it and instead called on the next case. In case of doubt as to matters
brought up during the trial, the judge refers the matter to the records wherein the Clerk
of Court then confirms it.

Due to the variation of lawyers acting as counsels for their respective clients, such
as seasoned older lawyers and new younger lawyers, we were able to observe how the
judge would appreciate arguments made said lawyers. Particularly, when a younger
lawyer tried to use technicality to obtain a favorable decision on the on-set of the case
during pre-trial by arguing that the judicial affidavit was belatedly given by two days,
the judge made the lawyer read the Rules of Court and reminded him of the role and
purpose of the judicial affidavit rule and dismissed the lawyers argument.

Notable during the observation is the efforts the judge exerted to balance both the
demands of the justice and the mandate of procedure and law. While the counsel would
wish to use technicalities during the trial for the case of his client, the judge also has to
take into consideration whether such tactics would circumvent the purpose of the law
and ends of justice. Such as the previously mentioned circumstance, the judicial affidavit
rule while providing procedure and technicality should not be used to delay the
proceedings and as held by the judge its purpose is for the speedy disposition of justice.