BARANGAY JUSTICE SYSTEM
by: Atty. R. R. Robiso*
by: Atty. R. R. Robiso*
The barangays are the smallest political subdivisions in the
. They are the smallest units of government. Smallest in terms of area of jurisdiction but big in the sense that they are nearest to our people. Philippines
The barangays are given mandate to help in the administration of justice. Their first duty is to conduct conciliation proceedings in civil cases and in criminal cases where the penalty does not exceed one year of imprisonment or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos, before the same can be filed in court. The second is that power granted to Punong Barangays to issue Barangay Protection Order (BPO) under Section 14 of RA 9262. The third is the establishment of a Barangay Council for the Protection of Children under RA 9344. The fourth is the creation of the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee under Section 46 of RA 6657 wherein this Committee is tasked to mediate and conciliate parties involved in an agrarian dispute including matters related to tenurial and financial arrangements.
In this Article, I will discuss the katarungan pambarangay now provided in Sections 399-422 of the Local Government Code.
A. Barangay Justice System of the 16th Century:
A Tradition Filipinos Anciently Held
The Datu (Barangay Chief) had both the responsibility and the right to govern his people. With this, he was expected to act not only as a leader in battle and protector of the chiefdom/barangay, but also to settle local disputes both as the judge and enforcer of law.(WH Scott 1994:p128-130)
Based on an early Spanish treatise, historian William Henry Scott narrated the early justice system of 16th century Pampanga.
In 16th century Pampanga, datus like any other datus in
Luzon and Visayas performed tasks of settling disputes among his constituents (people in the chiefdom/barangay). His job included those of what a usual modern judge does: summoning parties, judging and giving out sentence to lawbreakers. He also settle disputes on appeal. In instances when a datu failed to take action against a criminal or a lawbreaker, other datus intervened. These intervening datus are chosen by their peers/ among their ranks based on their status, reputation for impartiality and good judgment. Decisions rendered by the chosen datus are enforced; datus even band together to ensure enforcement of laws, even by arms if needed. Such intervention is needed especially in cases when it is a conflict of interest between two datus (chiefly class). (WH Scott 1994:p245-250).
Chiefs were compensated for their duties as judge and enforcer; they usually get half the fine or half of the property/ies involved.
Lawsuits could be brought for the following cases: Murder, witchcraft, insult, theft, marriage/divorce, arson, inheritance etc. Timawa can brought up lawsuits against another, while in cases involving chiefs, other chiefs/datus intervene.
The usual process for lawsuits during the 16th century were as follows:
- Parties were summoned by the chief/datu who would act as both the trier and the judge.
- The datu would first try to arrange an amicable settlement between parties.
- Failure to enter into amicable settlement would ensue trial of case wherein the parties were examined by judge (orally), and then witnesses are heard.
- Decision would be handed down, the witnesses and the chief were paid off, the former according to social rank, and the decision is enforced.
B. Barangay Justice System during the Spanish Regime
This system of amicably settling disputes continued during the Spanish regime, although informally and in limited extent, with the Cabeza de Barangay acting as the datu. However, the cabeza de barangay only plays minor magisterial authority as it was the primary duty of gobernadorcillos (municipal magistrates) to settle civil cases arising between and among Indios (as the natives were called), Chinese mestizos and Chinese.(Bankoff 1996:p99-100)
C. Under the American Regime
The Barangay Justice System was put to an end during the American Regime with the imposition of American justice system, which is adversarial in nature.
D. Under Martial Law
The idea of a barangay justice system was conceived in the early ‘70’s by no less than then Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro. He proposed it to President Marcos. On January 27, 1978, then President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1293 creating a Katarungang Pambarangay Commission to Study the Feasibility of Resolving Disputes at the Barangay Level. The committee was composed of the Chief Justice as Chairman, and the Secretary of Justice, the Secretary of National Defense, the Secretary of Local Government and Community Development, the Secretary of Education and Culture, the President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Director of the UP Law Center as members. (Rodriguez, The Local Government Code of 1991 Annotated 2003 Edition, page 431)
In the spirit of reviving Filipino tradition of peaceably settling disputes within the community, then President Marcos issued on June 11, 1978, Presidential Decree No. 1508-Establishing a System of Amicably Settling Disputes at the Barangay Level. The barangay justice system is an extrajudicial system wherein disputes are settled within the barangay for speedy disposition of justice and also to minimize referral of such cases to the court.(Puno,p.3)
In the words of Chief Justice Reynaldo Puno, the “Barangay Justice System plays a vital role in addressing the weaknesses of our adversarial system of dispute resolution”. The conciliatory character of barangay justice system is much more attuned to the Filipino culture of smoothing interpersonal and community relationship as against the adversarial justice system which is more combative in nature, and which is more “complicated” in nature.(Puno, p.4). Moreover, barangay justice system offers a more affordable access to justice to our poor countrymen…
The provisions of PD 1508, except for a few changes, were incorporated into the Local Government Code of 1991 as Sections 399-422.
Pre-condition before filing
a case in court
To quote Justice Quisumbing “the primordial objective of the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules is to reduce the number of litigations and prevent the deterioration of the quality of justice which has been brought about by the indiscriminate filing of cases in the courts.”
To attain this goal, PD 1508, now Sections 399-422 of the Local Government Code, requires the parties to undergo a conciliation proceedings before the Barangay Chairman or the Pangkat as a condition before filing a case in court. As a rule, this requirement shall be satisfied in all civil actions. In criminal cases, all those cases whose prescribed penalty exceed one year of imprisonment or a fine exceeding P5,000.00, shall be brought first for barangay conciliation before filing the cases to the Prosecutor’s Office or to the Courts. Non compliance with this requirement is a ground to dismiss the case for pre-maturity. Thus, the Local Government Code provides:
“Section 412. Conciliation. -
(a) Pre-condition to Filing of Complaint in Court. - No complaint, petition, action, or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the lupon shall be filed or instituted directly in court or any other government office for adjudication, unless there has been a confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon secretary or pangkat secretary as attested to by the lupon or pangkat chairman x x x”
Matters within the lupon’s authority
As stated, those matters within the authority of the lupon shall pass first the barangay justice system before any party may go to court. What are these cases then within the competence of the lupon?
The General Rule and the exceptions.
As a rule all cases where the parties are actually residing in the same city or municipality are within the competence of the lupon of each barangay. Thus the law says:
“Section 408. Subject Matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception Thereto. - The lupon of each barangay shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes except:
(a) Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;
(c) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00);
(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;
(e) Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities or municipalities unless the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(g) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of Justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice.
In Civil Cases:
It appears from the provision of the law, all civil cases involving individuals who are residing in the same city or municipality, regardless of the amount involved must be brought first with the barangay justice system before any court action may be filed. The only instances where a direct action to the court is allowed are:
1. Under letter (a), if one of the parties is the national government, direct filing is allowed. If one of the parties is a province, city or municipality or the barangay itself, direct filing is allowed. Or if one of the parties is an instrumentality of the national government, direct filing is allowed. Instrumentality refers to any agency of the National Government not integrated within the department framework, vested with special functions or jurisdiction by law, endowed with some if not all corporate powers, administering special funds, and enjoying operational autonomy, usually through a Charter. (MIAA vs. CA, 495 SCRA 591, 617). Examples of a government instrumentality are the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA vs. CA, i.d.) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS vs. City Treasurer of Manila, 609 SCRA 330, 346)
2. Under letter (b), a suit against a barangay official or a policeman or a sanggunian bayan member or a Mayor and the complaint relates to the performance of his duties, can be filed directly in court without need of barangay conciliation.
3. An example of letter (e) would be an action to recover ownership of two (2) parcels of land, one is located in Municipality A and the other is located in Municipality B.
4. An example of letter (f) would be an action for damages, but one party is residing in Barangay A of Municipality B, while the other party is residing in Barangay C of Municipality D. However, if barangays A and C adjoin each other, then the parties may agree to submit their differences to the lupon of either Barangay A or Barangay C. But the parties are not compulsorily required to agree. It is merely an option given by law for them to agree to refer their problem for conciliation.
In Criminal Cases
Not all criminal cases require conciliation proceedings. Only minor offenses are brought within the coverage of the barangay justice system. This is because of the fundamental principle in criminal law that crimes are committed against the State and the State is the real offended party. As such, crime cannot be the subject of compromise by private offended parties. (Kapunan, Criminal Law, 1990 Edition page 192; Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book I, 2006 Edition page 600)
Thus under Section 408, letter ( c ) offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) are exempt from the coverage of the katarungan pambarangay law. Therefore, only cases which penalties do not exceed one year imprisonment or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos are covered by the law. Also even if the penalties are within the coverage if there is no private offended party, then the law shall not be made to apply under letter (d) of Section 408.
ONE OF THE PARTIES IS A JURIDICAL PERSON
When one of the parties is a corporation or a partnership, the case may be directly filed in court. Section
CRIMES WITHIN THE AUTHORITY OF THE LUPON
The crimes where the Lupon exercises authority are:
* The author finished his Bachelor of Laws at MLQU and his Master of Laws at Northwestern University. He is both a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Illinois Bar. He is teaching Commercial Law in various law schools.
(1) Alarms and Scandals (Art. 155, Revised Penal Code (RPC);
(2) False medical certificates; false certificates of merit of service if committed by private person (Article 174, last par., RPC);
(3) Using false certificates (Article 175, RPC);
(4) Using fictitious and concealing true name (Article 178, RPC);
(5) False testimony against a defendant in criminal cases (Article 180, No. 4, RPC);
(6) Physical injuries inflicted in a tumultuous affray when injuries inflicted are of a less serious nature (Article 252, 2nd par., RPC);
(7) Less Serious Physical Injuries (Article 265, RPC);
(8) Slight Physical Injuries (Article 266, RPC);
(9) Kidnapping and failure to return a minor committed by a parent (Article 270 in relation to the last par. of Article 271, RPC);
(10) Inducing a minor to abandon his home (Article 271, 2nd par. RPC);
(11) Abandonment of persons in danger and abandonment of one’s own victim (Article 275, RPC)
(12) Abandoning a minor (Article 276, RPC);
(13) Abandonment of minor by person entrusted with his custody; indifference of parents (Article 277, RPC);
(14) Qualified Tresspass To Dwelling (Article 280, RPC);
(15) Other forms of Tresspass (Article 281, RPC);
(16) Grave Threat if the threat was not subject to condition (Article 282, No. 2, RPC);
(17) Light threats (Article 283, RPC);
(18) Other Light threats (Article 285, RPC)
(19) Grave Coercions (Article 286, RPC)
(20) Light Coercions (Article 287, RPC)
(21) Unjust Vexation (Article 287, last paragraph, RPC)
(22) Other similar coercions or compulsory purchase of merchandise and payment of wages by means of tokens (Article 288, RPC)
(23) Formation, maintenance and prohibition of combination of capital or labor through violence or threats (Article 289, RPC)
(24) Discovering secrets through seizure of correspondence without revealing such secrets (Article 290, 2nd paragraph, RPC)
(25) Revealing secrets with abuse of office (Article 291, RPC)
(26) Theft if value of stolen goods does not exceed P50.00 (Article 309, nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8, RPC)
(27) Altering boundaries or landmarks (Article 313, RPC)
(28) Swindling or estafa if the amount of the fraud does not exceed P200.00 (Article 315, 4th paragraph, RPC)
(29) Other forms of swindling (Article 316, RPC)
(30) Swindling a minor (Article 317, RPC)
(31) Other deceits (Article 318, RPC)
(32) Removal, sale or pledge of mortgaged property (Article 319, RPC)
(33) Special cases of malicious mischief where the value of the damaged property does not exceed one thousand pesos (Article 328, Nos. 2 and 3, RPC)
(34) Other mischief (Article 329, RPC)
(35) Destroying or damaging useful or ornamental painting of a public nature (Article 331, 2nd paragraph, RPC)
(36) Simple seduction (Article 338, RPC)
(37) Acts of lasciviousness with the consent of the offended party
(38) Premature marriage (Article 351, RPC)
(39) Threatening to publish and offer to prevent such publication for a compensation or blackmail (Article 356, RPC)
(40) Publication of facts connected with the private life of a person (Article 357, RPC)
(41) Slight Oral Defamation (Article 358, RPC)
(42) Slight Slander by Deed (Article 359, RPC)
(43) Incriminating Innocent Person (Article 363, RPC)
(44) Intriguing against person (Article 364, RPC)
(45) Reckless imprudence had it been intentional would constitute a less grave felony or a light felony (Article 365, RPC)
(46) Simple Imprudence (Article 365, RPC)
(47) Violation of BP 22
Willliam Henry Scott - Barangay: 16th Century Philippine Culture and Society- © 1994 ADMU Press and William Henry Scott
Greg Bankoff- Crime, society and the state in the 19th Century
. © 1996 Ateneo de Manila University Press Philippines
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno -Peace through Justice. Keynote address delivered on the first day of the 2nd Barangay Justice Advocates Congress on December 3, 2007, at the Grand Men Seng Hotel,
, Davao City
Kapunan, Criminal Law, 1990 Edition
Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book I, 2006 Edition
Rodriguez, The Local Government Code of 1991 Annotated 2003 Edition
CBSI Editorial Staff, The Revised Penal Code 1994 Edition
BARANGAY JUSTICE SYSTEM
(2nd part of a series)
DEAN LOPE E. FEBLE
In our first series, we discussed the cases/issues within and outside the jurisdiction of the Lupon. In this article, we shall discuss the following issues:
1. If one of the parties is a juridical person, is mediation before the barangay still necessary before a case can be filed in court?
2. Suppose the barangay chairman did not refer the matter to the Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo but rather issue the Certification To File Action, can the complaint in court be challenged for non compliance with the barangay justice law?
3. How shall we execute compromise agreement reached during the mediation proceedings?
Section 410 of the Local Government Code provides:
“ Upon payment of the appropriate filing fee, any individual who has a cause of action against another individual involving any matter within the authority of the lupon may complain, orally or in writing, to the lupon chairman of the barangay. (underlining mine for emphasis)
It appears from the language of the law that only individual persons may file a complaint against individual persons in the barangay Lupon. What is then the meaning of the word “individual.”?
Individual means natural person. It does not refer to juridical persons like corporation, corporate sole, partnership, estate and the like.
Accordingly, if the parties or one of the parties is a juridical person, then the complaint need not pass the barangay justice system.
This rule was enunciated in the case of Vda. de Borromeo vs. Pogoy, 126 SCRA 217. In this case, the intestate estate of the late Vito Borromeo was the owner of a building located at F, Ramos St., Cebu City. Said building has been leased by Petra Vda. De Borromeo (“Petra” for short) at a monthly rental of P500.00. On August 28, 1982, the administrator of the estate, served upon Petra a demand letter to pay the overdue rentals and thereafter to vacate the premises. As Petra failed to do so, the Administrator instituted an ejectment case against Petra in the MTC of Cebu City.
Petra sought to stop respondent Judge Julian B. Pogoy of the MTC of Cebu City from taking cognizance of an ejectment suit for failure of the plaintiff to refer the dispute to the Barangay Lupon for conciliation.
The Supreme Court ruled that referral of dispute to the Barangay Lupon is required only where the parties thereto are “individuals.” An “individual” means “single human being as contrasted with a social group or institution.” Obviously, the law applies only to cases involving natural persons, and not where any of the parties is a juridical person such as a corporation, partnership, corporation sole, testate or intestate, estate, etc. It is indisputable that the real party in interest is the intestate estate under administration. “Since the said estate is a juridical person, plaintiff administrator may file the complaint directly in court, without the same being coursed to the Barangay Lupon for arbitration.”
No referral to the pangkat
Section 410(b) of the Local Government Code states that the Barangay Chairman shall constitute a pangkat if he fails in his mediation effort. Suppose he did not constitute a pangkat but immediately issue a Certification To File Action, can the Court still dismiss the case for prematurity? This is the question resolved in the case of Lumbuan vs. Ronquillo, 489, SCRA 650 (May 5, 2006)
Lumbuan is the registered owner of a lot. She leased it to Ronquillo for a period of three years with a monthly rental of
P5,000.00 with an escalation clause of 10% increase annually and the leased premises will be used exclusively for the respondent’s fastfood business. Ronquillo, however, used the premises as his residence without Lumbuan’s prior written consent. He /also failed to pay the 10% annual increase in rent.. Despite repeated verbal and written demands, Ronquillo refused to pay the arrears and vacate the leased premises.
Lumbuan filed a complaint with the Barangay Chairman’s office but the parties failed to arrive at a settlement. Without referring the complaint with the Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo, the Barangay Chairman immediately issued a Certificate to File Action.
With this certificate to file action, Lumbuan filed against Ronquillo an action for Unlawful Detainer. Lumban won the case in the Metropolitan Trial Court. On appeal, the Regional Trial Court set aside the METC decision and directed the parties to go back to the Lupon Chairman or Punong Barangay for further proceedings. This is because the case was not referred to the Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo for mediation.
Lumbuan went to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals ordered the dismissal of the ejectment case by holding that when a complaint is prematurely instituted, as when the mandatory mediation and conciliation in the barangay level had not been complied with, the court should dismiss the case and not just remand the records to the court of origin so that the parties may go through the prerequisite proceedings. So the issue now is whether or not the failure of the parties to undergo conciliation before the Pangkat, after the Barangay Captain failed to settle the parties is fatal to the case.
The Supreme Court ruled that “while admittedly no pangkat was constituted, it was not denied that the parties met at the office of the Barangay Chairman for possible settlement. The efforts of the Barangay Chairman, however, proved futile as no agreement was reached. Although no pangkat was formed, there was substantial compliance with the law. It is noteworthy that under the aforequoted provision, the confrontation before the Lupon Chairman or the pangkat is sufficient compliance with the precondition for filing the case in court. This is true notwithstanding the mandate of Section 410(b) of the same law that the Barangay Chairman shall constitute a pangkat if he fails in his mediation efforts. Section 410(b) should be construed together with Section 412, as well as the circumstances obtaining in and peculiar to the case. On this score, it is significant that the Barangay Chairman or Punong Barangay is herself the Chairman of the Lupon under the Local Government Code and he issued a Certificate to File Action stating that no settlement was reached by the parties.
The other case on this matter is that of Diu, et al vs. CA, decided on December 19, 1995, a case decided under the regime of PD 1508. It appears that on several occasions, private respondent Patricia Pagba purchased on credit various articles of merchandise from petitioners' store at Naval, Biliran, all valued at P7,862.55, as evidenced by receipts of goods. Private respondents failed to pay despite repeated demands. Petitioners brought the matter before the Barangay Chairman of Naval and the latter set the case for hearing, but private respondents failed to appear. When the case was again set for hearing, the parties appeared but they failed to reach an amicable settlement. Accordingly, the barangay chairman issued a Certification to File Action. Petitioners then filed their complaint for a sum of money before the Municipal Trial Court of Naval.
Having lost in the RTC, private respondents then went to the Court of Appeals and they won in the Court of Appeals by technicality. The Court of Appeals dismissed the complaint on the ground that there was no confrontation before the pangkat. Petitioners Diu went to the Supreme Court.
Shall we consider the confrontations before the Barangay Chairman sufficient compliance with the requirement in Presidential Decree No. 1508?
The Supreme Court ruled: “It must be noted that Presidential Decree No. 1508 has been repealed by codification in the Local Government Code of 1991 which took effect on January 1, 1992. The basic complaint was filed by petitioners before the trial court on July 10, 1991 before the effectivity of the Local Government Code. Nevertheless, Sections 4 and 6 of the former law have been substantially reproduced in Sections 410 (b) and 412, respectively, of the latter law. The pertinent provisions read as follows:
Sec. 410. PROCEDURE FOR AMICABLE SETTLEMENT. — (b) . . . . If he (lupon chairman) fails in his mediation effort within fifteen (15) days from the first meeting of the parties before him, he shall forthwith set a date for the constitution of the pangkat in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
Sec. 412. CONCILIATION. — (a) Precondition to filing of Complaint in Court. — No complaint . . . shall be filed or instituted in court . . . unless there has been a confrontation of the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon secretary or pangkat secretary as attested to by the lupon or pangkat chairman . . . .
In the case at bar, it is admitted that the parties did have confrontations before the Barangay Chairman of Naval although they were not sent to the pangkat as the same was not constituted. Their meetings with said barangay chairman were not fruitful as no amicable settlement was reached. This prompted the issuance of the following Certification to File Action.
While no pangkat was constituted, it is not denied that the parties met at the office of the barangay chairman for possible settlement. The efforts of the barangay chairman, however, proved futile as no agreement was reached. Although no pangkat was formed, we believe that there was substantial compliance with the law. It is noteworthy that under Section 412 of the Local Government Code aforequoted, the confrontation before the luponchairman OR the pangkat is sufficient compliance with the pre-condition for filing the case in court.
This is true notwithstanding the mandate of Section 410 (b) of the same law that the barangay chairman shall constitute a pangkat if he fails in his mediation efforts. Section 410 (b) should be construed together with Section 412, as well as the circumstances obtaining in and peculiar to the case. On this score, it is significant that thebarangay chairman or punong barangay is himself the chairman of the lupon under the Local Government Code.
From the foregoing facts, it is undeniable that there was substantial compliance with Presidential Decree No. 1508 which does not require strict technical compliance with its procedural requirements. Under the factual antecedents, it cannot be said that the failure of the parties to appear before the pangkat caused any prejudice to the case for private respondents considering that they already refused conciliation before the barangay chairman and, as will hereafter be discussed, their sham insistence for a meeting before the pangkat is merely a ploy for further delay. We are thus forced to remind them that technicalities should not be made to desert their true role in our justice system, and should not be used as obstructions therein.”
The primary purpose of barangay justice is the settlement of the disputes. The Barangay Chairman and the pangkat should try their very best to have the parties settle their disputes. They should not stop mediating when one or both of the parties would flatly say they are not willing to settle. They should reset the hearing, let the parties go home and calm down. During the next hearing, the Barangay Chairman or the Pangkat should talk individually to the parties, not within the hearing distance of the other. At this stage, the Barangay Chairman or the Pangkat should allow the party to voice out all his problems. The Barangay Chairman or the Pangkat should just listen. On the third, hearing, the Barangay Chairman or the Pangkat should talk again to the parties individually and be ready to offer solutions. It is only when the settlement is within reach that the Barangay Chairman or the Pangkat should meet the parties together and discuss the terms of the agreement.
With patience, the Barangay Chairman or the Pangkat may be able to forge a settlement between the parties.
The amicable settlement shall be in writing, in a language or dialect known to the parties, signed by them and attested to by the lupon chairman or the pangkat chairman, as the case may be. (Section 411 of the LGC)
The amicable settlement shall have the force and effect of a final judgment of a court after the expiration of ten (10) days period from the date thereof. (Section 416, LGC)
Procedure of Execution
Suppose a party fails to perform his obligation under the compromise agreement, how can the other party exact compliance?
He has a two-tiered remedies:
First, by execution of the Punong Barangay, which is quasi judicial and summary in nature.
Second, by judicial action. The cause of action is the amicable settlement itself, which, by operation of law, has the force and effect of a final judgment. “By express provision of Section 417 of the LGC, an action for the enforcement of the settlement should be instituted in the proper municipal or city court. This is regardless of the nature of the complaint before the Lupon, and the relief prayed for therein. The venue for such actions is governed by Rule 4, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. An action for the enforcement of a settlement is not one of those covered by the Rules on Summary Procedure in civil cases; hence, the rules on regular procedure shall apply, as provided for in Section 1, Rule 5 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.” (Vidal vs. Escueta, 417 SCRA 617)
Under the first remedy, the aggrieved party may file a motion with the Punong Barangay copy furnished to the other disputant for the execution of a final settlement which has not been complied with. Upon receipt, the Barangay Chairman shall set the motion for hearing on the date given by the movant which shall not be later than five (5) days from filing and thereafter the Barangay Chairman shall give immediate notice of the hearing to the other party. (Sections 3 and 4, IRR)
During the hearing, the Barangay Chairman shall ascertain the fact of non compliance with the terms of the settlement. Upon such determination of non-compliance, the Punong Barangay shall strongly urge the party obliged to voluntarily comply with the settlement or award.(Section 4, second paragraph, IRR)
The Punong Barangay shall within five  days from the day of hearing, determine whether or not voluntary compliance can be secured. Upon the lapse of said five-day period, there being no voluntary compliance, he shall issue a notice of execution in the name of the Lupong Tagapamayapa. The said notice must intelligently refer to the settlement and the amount actually due thereunder if it be for money, or the terms thereof which must be complied with. (Section 5, IRR)
If the execution be for the payment of money, the party obliged is allowed a period of five  days to make a voluntary payment, failing which, the Punong Barangay shall take possession of sufficient personal property located in the barangay of the party obliged to satisfy the settlement from the proceeds of the sale thereof with legal interest such sale to be conducted in accordance with the procedure herein provided. If sufficient personal property exists, the party obliged is allowed to point out which of them shall be taken possession of ahead of the others. If personal property is not sufficient to satisfy the settlement or award, the deficiency shall be satisfied in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Rules of Court. (Section 6. a. , IRR)
If it be for the delivery or restitution of property located in the barangay, the Punong Barangay shall oust therefrom the person against whom the settlement is rendered and place the party entitled thereto in possession of such property. (Section 6. b, IRR)
If it be for the delivery or restitution of property located in another barangay of the same city or municipality, the Punong Barangay issuing the notice shall authorize the Punong Barangay of the barangay where the property is situated to take possession of the property and to act in accordance with paragraph [b] hereof. (Section 6.c., IRR)
If a settlement directs a party to execute a conveyance of land, or to deliver deeds or other documents, or to perform any other specific act, and the party fails to comply within the time specified, the Punong Barangay may direct the Lupon Secretary to perform the act at the cost of the disobedient party and the act when so done shall have like effects as if done by the party. (Section 6.d., IRR)
Six months to execute
Section 417 of the Local Government Code provides:
“SEC. 417. Execution. – The amicable settlement or arbitration award may be enforced by execution by the Lupon within six (6) months from the date of the settlement. x x x”
Clearly, the disputant has only six months from date of settlement to enforce the amicable settlement by the Barangay Chairman. What is the meaning of this if the obligor has to perform the obligations, not on the date of settlement but at some other date or dates?
To illustrate: Under an amicable settlement made by the parties before the Lupon dated January 15, 2010, the respondents were obliged to vacate the subject property on or before September 15, 2010. If the time line of six months under Section 417 were to be literally followed, the complainant may enforce the settlement through the Lupon only up to July 15, 2010. But under the settlement, the respondent was not obliged to vacate the property on or before July 15, 2010; hence, the settlement cannot as yet be enforced. The settlement could be enforced only after September 15, 2010, when the respondent was obliged to vacate the property. By then, the six months under Section 417 shall have already elapsed. (Vidal vs. Escueta, 417 SCRA 617)
The case of Vidal vs. Escueta, 417 SCRA 617, gives us the answer. It appears that when Abelardo Escueta died intestate on December 3, 1994, he was survived by his widow Remedios Escueta and their six children, including Ma. Teresa O. Escueta and her brother Herman O. Escueta. Part of his estate was a parcel of land located at No. 14 Sierra Madre corner Kanlaon Streets, Barangay Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. (77083) - 27568, and the house thereon. The property was leased to Rainier Llanera, who sublet the same to 25 persons. The heirs executed an extra-judicial settlement of estate over the property. They also executed a special power of attorney authorizing Ma. Teresa Escueta to sell the said property.
Sometime in 1999, Ma. Teresa Escueta, as a co-owner of the property, filed an ejectment case against Llanera and the sub-lessees before the Lupon of Barangay Highway Hills, docketed as Barangay Case No. 99-09.
On May 5, 1999, Escueta and Llanera, and the sub-lessees, executed an “Amicable Settlement,” where they agreed that (a) the owners of the property would no longer collect the rentals due from the respondents therein (lessee and sub-lessees) starting May 1999, with the concomitant obligation of the respondents to vacate the property on or before December 1999; (b) time was the essence of the agreement, and that consequently, if the lessee and sub-lessees fail or refuse to vacate the property on or before December 1999, the barangay chairman was authorized without any court order to cause the eviction and removal of all the respondents on the property. The amicable settlement was attested by Pangkat Chairman Jose Acong. The parties did not repudiate the amicable settlement within ten days from the execution thereof. Neither did any of the parties file any petition to repudiate the settlement.
Llanera vacated the leased premises. Later, twenty of the sub-lessees also vacated the property.
By January 2000, five sub-lessees, namely, Ma. Teresa Vidal, Lulu Marquez, Marcelo Trinidad, Carlos Sobremonte and Jingkee Ang remained in the property, and requested Escueta for extensions to vacate the property. Escueta agreed, but despite the lapse of the extensions granted them, the five sub-lessees refused to vacate the property.
Escueta opted not to have the sub-lessees evicted through the Punong Barangay as provided for in the amicable settlement. Neither did she file a motion with thePunong Barangay for the enforcement of the settlement. Instead, she filed on May 12, 2000, a verified “Motion for Execution” against the recalcitrant sub-lessees with the MTC for the enforcement of the amicable settlement and the issuance of a writ of execution. The pleading was docketed as Civil Case No. 17520, with Teresa Escueta as plaintiff, and the sub-lessees as defendants.
Did Escueta file the correct remedy?
Escueta adopted the wrong remedy. In this case, the sub-lessees were obliged under the compromise agreement to vacate the premises in January 2000. They refused to do so. Since, the obligation to vacate was due in January 2000, the sub-lessees could be considered to have violated the compromise only in January 2000. Before January 2000, Escueta could not enforce the compromise agreement by the coercive power of execution. Thus, the Supreme Court ruled:
“x x x, the time line in Section 417 should be construed to mean that if the obligation in the settlement to be enforced is due and demandable on the date of the settlement, the six-month period should be counted from the date of the settlement; otherwise, if the obligation to be enforced is due and demandable on a date other than the date of the settlement, the six-month period should be counted from the date the obligation becomes due and demandable.”
To rule otherwise, added by the Supreme Court, would be “in derogation of the objective of Section 417 of the LGC. The law should be construed and applied in such a way as to reflect the will of the legislature and attain its objective, and not to cause an injustice. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes aptly said, “courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of the law where these words support a policy that goes beyond them. The Court should not defer to the latter that killeth but to the spirit that vivifieth.”
The purpose of the barangay proceeding is mediation towards reaching a settlement of the problem. Mediation rather than trial is the norm. Mediation is a method of non binding dispute resolution involving a neutral third party who tries to help the disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable solution (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1999 Edition, page 996). The Lupon Chairman and the pangkat are not judges in the sense that they don’t render binding decision. However, at any stage of the proceedings, the parties may agree to convert the mediation proceedings into an arbitration and abide by the arbitration award of the lupon chairman or the pangkat. Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution involving one or more neutral third parties who are usually agreed to by the disputing parties and whose decision is binding (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1999 Edition, page 100). Section 413 of the Local Government Code provides:
“Section 413. Arbitration.-( a) The parties may, at any stage of the proceedings, agree in writing that they shall abide by the arbitration award of the lupon chairman or the pangkat…
(b) The arbitration award shall be in writing in a language or dialect known to the parties. When the parties to the dispute do not use the same language or dialect, the award shall be written in the language or dialect known to them.
The arbitration award shall have the force and effect of a final judgment of a court after the expiration of ten days period from the date thereof. (Section 416, LGC)
Enforcement of award
In case of violation of the award by a party, the aggrieved party may enforce the award in the same way a compromise agreement is enforced as discussed above.
The settlement forged by the parties is not written in stones. The same can be repudiated. Any party to the dispute may, within ten (10) days from the date of the settlement, repudiate the same. He can repudiate the settlement by filing with the lupon chairman a statement to that effect and sworn to before him. He may state that his consent was obtained through fraud, violence or intimidation. In this event, the barangay chairman or pangkat chairman may already issue a certification to file action (Section 418, LGC)
As regards the agreement to arbitrate, any party may also repudiate such agreement to arbitrate within five (5) days from the date thereof on the grounds that his consent was obtained through fraud, violence or intimidation (Section 413, second sentence and Section 418, LGC)
*The author finished his Bachelor of Laws at MLQU and his Master of Laws at Northwestern University. He is both a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Illinois Bar. He is teaching Commercial Law in various law schools.