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The “Katarungang Pambarangay” or the barangay justice system is governed by Sections 399 to 422 of the Local Government Code. It has helped lessen the burden of our courts by settling at the barangay level conflicts and disputes between residents of the same barangay. Please take note of these issues regarding barangay justice:
 Lawyers are not allowed to appear in barangay hearings.
 Even if the parties in dispute are residents of the same barangay, they do not necessarily have to go through the Katarungang Pambarangay. Section 408 of the Local Government Code enumerates the exceptions where the parties can go straight to court or to the fiscal’s office.
 If there has been an arbitration award or amicable settlement, and one party does not comply, the other party can file with the Municipal or Metropolitan Trial Court a petition for the execution of such settlement or award (Section 417). Although the Lupon has the authority to execute such arbitration award or amicable settlement, some barangay officials refuse to do so. Their reason is politics; they do not want to antagonize people who might vote against them in the next barangay elections.
 Despite the use of the term “justice”, there really is no such thing as a barangay court. The barangay officials who compose the Lupong Tagapamayap or the Pangkat ng Tagakapagsundo are not judges. One of my former students told me that a barangay captain in Dasmarinas, Cavite obligates everyone to call him “Justice”. One of my friends who got involved in a dispute in a Taguig City barangay told me that the head of the Lupon threatened him that his complaint will be dismissed for lack of merit. The only instance that the Lupon or Pangkat acts like a court (weighing evidence, hearing testimonies, deciding on the merits, etc.) is when the parties in dispute agree to arbitration.
Differences among conciliation, mediation and arbitration
The article Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation: differences and similarities from an International and Italian business perspective by Alessandra Sgubini, Mara Prieditis & Andrea Marighetto provides a clear discussion on the differences among conciliation, mediation and arbitration:
Conciliation and mediation both look to maintain an existing business relationship and to rekindle a lost balance of power between two parties. These concepts are sometimes used as synonyms, but they do indeed vary substantially in their procedures. In mediation, the mediator controls the process through different and specific stages: introduction, joint session, caucus, and agreement, while the parties control the outcome. By contrast, in conciliation the conciliator may not follow a structured process, instead administering the conciliation process as a traditional negotiation, which may take different forms depending on the case.Katarungang Pambarangay Sections 399 to 422 of the Local Government Code
Arbitration is an ADR (alternative dispute resolution) method where the disputing parties involved present their disagreement to one arbitrator or a panel of private, independent and qualified third party “arbitrators.” The arbitrator(s) determine the outcome of the case. While it may be less expensive and more accessible than trial, the arbitration process has well-defined disadvantages. Some of disadvantages include the risk losing, formal or semi-formal rules of procedure and evidence, as well as the potential loss of control over the decision after transfer by the parties of decision-making authority to the arbitrator. By employing arbitration, the parties lose their ability to participate directly in the process. In addition, parties in arbitration are confined by traditional legal remedies that do not encompass creative, innovative, or forward-looking solutions to business disputes. (Read the complete article)
SEC. 399. Lupong Tagapamayapa. - (a) There is hereby created in each barangay a lupong tagapamayapa, hereinafter referred to as the lupon, composed of the punong barangay as chairman and ten (10) to twenty (20) members. The lupon shall be constituted every three (3) years in the manner provided herein.
(b) Any person actually residing or working in the barangay, not otherwise expressly disqualified by law, and possessing integrity, impartiality, independence of mind, sense of fairness, and reputation for probity, may be appointed a member of the lupon.
(c) A notice to constitute the lupon, which shall include the names of proposed members who have expressed their willingness to serve, shall be prepared by the punong barangay within the first fifteen (15) days from the start of his term of office. Such notice shall be posted in three (3) conspicuous places in the barangay continuously for a period of not less than three (3) weeks;
(d) The punong barangay, taking into consideration any opposition to the proposed appointment or any recommendations for appointments as may have been made within the period of posting, shall within ten (10) days thereafter, appoint as members those whom he determines to be suitable therefor. Appointments shall be in writing, signed by the punong barangay, and attested to by the barangay secretary.
(e) The list of appointed members shall be posted in three (3) conspicuous places in the barangay for the entire duration of their term of office; and
(f) In barangays where majority of the inhabitants are members of indigenous cultural communities, local systems of es through their councils of datus or elders shall be recognized without prejudice to the applicable provisions of this Code.
SEC. 400. Oath and Term of Office. - Upon appointment, each lupon member shall take an oath of office before the punong barangay. He shall hold office until a new lupon is constituted on the third year following his appointment unless sooner terminated by resignation, transfer of residence or place of work, or withdrawal of appointment by the punong barangay with the concurrence of the majority of all the members of the lupon.
SEC. 401. Vacancies. - Should a vacancy occur in the lupon for any cause, the punong barangay shall immediately appoint a qualified person who shall hold office only for the unexpired portion of the term.
SEC. 402. Functions of the Lupon. - The lupon shall: (a) Exercise administrative supervision over the conciliation panels provided herein;
(b) Meet regularly once a month to provide a forum for exchange of ideas among its members and the public on matters relevant to the amicable settlement of disputes, and to enable various conciliation panel members to share with one another their observations and experiences in effecting speedy resolution of disputes; and
(c) Exercise such other powers and perform such other duties and functions as may be prescribed by law or ordinance.
SEC. 403. Secretary of the Lupon. - The barangay secretary shall concurrently serve as the secretary of the lupon. He shall record the results of mediation proceedings before the punong barangay and shall submit a report thereon to the proper city or municipal courts. He shall also receive and keep the records of proceedings submitted to him by the various conciliation panels.
SEC. 404. Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo. - (a) There shall be constituted for each dispute brought before the lupon a conciliation panel to be known as the pangkat ng tagapagkasundo, hereinafter referred to as the pangkat, consisting of three (3) members who shall be chosen by the parties to the dispute from the list of members of the lupon. Should the parties fail to agree on the pangkat membership, the same shall be determined by lots drawn by the lupon chairman.
(b) The three (3) members constituting the pangkat shall elect from among themselves the chairman and the secretary. The secretary shall prepare the minutes of the pangkat proceedings and submit a copy duly attested to by the chairman to the lupon secretary and to the proper city or municipal court. He shall issue and cause to be served notices to the parties concerned. The lupon secretary shall issue certified true copies of any public record in his custody that is not by law otherwise declared confidential.
SEC. 405. Vacancies in the Pangkat. - Any vacancy in the pangkat shall be chosen by the parties to the dispute from among the other lupon members. Should the parties fail to agree on a common choice, the vacancy shall be filled by lot to be drawn by the lupon chairman.
SEC. 406. Character of Office and Service of Lupon Members. - (a) The lupon members, while in the performance of their official duties or on the occasion thereof, shall be deemed as persons in authority, as defined in the Revised Penal Code.
(b) The lupon or pangkat members shall serve without compensation, except as provided for in Section 393 and without prejudice to incentives as provided for in this Section and in Book IV of this Code. The Department of the Interior and Local Government shall provide for a system of granting economic or other incentives to the lupon or pangkat members who adequately demonstrate the ability to judiciously and expeditiously resolve cases referred to them. While in the performance of their duties, the lupon or pangkat members, whether in public or private employment, shall be deemed to be on official time, and shall not suffer from any diminution in compensation or allowance from said employment by reason thereof.
SEC. 407. Legal Advice on Matters Involving Questions of Law. - The provincial, city legal officer or prosecutor or the municipal legal officer shall render legal advice on matters involving questions of law to the punong barangay or any lupon or pangkat member whenever necessary in the exercise of his functions in the administration of the katarungang pambarangay.
SEC. 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. The court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the lupon under this Code are filed may, at any time before trial, motu proprio refer the case to the lupon concerned for amicable settlement.
SEC. 409. Venue. - (a) Disputes between persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought for amicable settlement before the lupon of said barangay.
(b) Those involving actual residents of different barangays within the same city or municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of the complainant.
(c) All disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or the larger portion thereof is situated.
(d) Those arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or at the institution where such parties are enrolled for study, shall be brought in the barangay where such workplace or institution is located. Objections to venue shall be raised in the mediation proceedings before the punong barangay; otherwise, the same shall be deemed waived. Any legal question which may confront the punong barangay in resolving objections to venue herein referred to may be submitted to the Secretary of Justice, or his duly designated representative, whose ruling thereon shall be binding.
SEC. 410. Procedure for Amicable Settlement. - (a) Who may initiate proceeding - 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.
(b) Mediation by lupon chairman - Upon receipt of the complaint, the lupon chairman shall within the next working day summon the respondent(s), with notice to the complainant(s) for them and their witnesses to appear before him for a mediation of their conflicting interests. If he 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.
(c) Suspension of prescriptive period of offenses - While the dispute is under mediation, conciliation, or arbitration, the prescriptive periods for offenses and cause of action under existing laws shall be interrupted upon filing of the complaint with the punong barangay. The prescriptive periods shall resume upon receipt by the complainant of the complaint or the certificate of repudiation or of the certification to file action issued by the lupon or pangkat secretary: Provided, however, That such interruption shall not exceed sixty (60) days from the filing of the complaint with the punong barangay.
(d) Issuance of summons; hearing; grounds for disqualification - The pangkat shall convene not later than three (3) days from its constitution, on the day and hour set by the lupon chairman, to hear both parties and their witnesses, simplify issues, and explore all possibilities for amicable settlement. For this purpose, the pangkat may issue summons for the personal appearance of parties and witnesses before it. In the event that a party moves to disqualify any member of the pangkat by reason of relationship, bias, interest, or any other similar grounds discovered after the constitution of the pangkat, the matter shall be resolved by the affirmative vote of the majority of the pangkat whose decision shall be final. Should disqualification be decided upon, the resulting vacancy shall be filled as herein provided for.
(e) Period to arrive at a settlement - The pangkat shall arrive at a settlement or resolution of the dispute within fifteen (15) days from the day it convenes in accordance with this section. This period shall, at the discretion of the pangkat, be extendible for another period which shall not exceed fifteen (15) days, except in clearly meritorious cases.
SEC. 411. Form of Settlement. - All amicable settlements 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. When the parties to the dispute do not use the same language or dialect, the settlement shall be written in the language or dialect known to them.
SEC. 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 or unless the settlement has been repudiated by the parties thereto.
(b) Where Parties May Go Directly to Court. - The parties may go directly to court in the following instances:
(1) Where the accused is under detention;
(2) Where a person has otherwise been deprived of personal liberty calling for habeas corpus proceedings;
(3) Where actions are coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary injunction, attachment, delivery of personal property, and support pendente lite; and
(4) Where the action may otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.
(c) Conciliation among members of indigenous cultural communities. - The customs and traditions of indigenous cultural communities shall be applied in settling disputes between members of the cultural communities.
SEC. 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. Such agreement to arbitrate may be repudiated within five (5) days from the date thereof for the same grounds and in accordance with the procedure hereinafter prescribed. The arbitration award shall be made after the lapse of the period for repudiation and within ten (10) days thereafter.
(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.
SEC. 414. Proceedings Open to the Public; Exception. - All proceedings for settlement shall be public and informal: Provided, however, That the lupon chairman or the pangkat chairman, as the case may be, may motu proprio or upon request of a party, exclude the public from the proceedings in the interest of privacy, decency, or public morals. (Note: motu propio means simply of his own will or choice.)
SEC. 415. Appearance of Parties in Person. - In all katarungang pambarangay proceedings, the parties must appear in person without the assistance of counsel or representative, except for minors and incompetents who may be assisted by their next-of-kin who are not lawyers.
SEC. 416. Effect of Amicable Settlement and Arbitration Award. - The amicable settlement and arbitration award shall have the force and effect of a final judgment of a court upon the expiration of ten (10) days from the date thereof, unless repudiation of the settlement has been made or a petition to nullify the award has been filed before the proper city or municipal court. However, this provision shall not apply to court cases settled by the lupon under the last paragraph of Section 408 of this Code, in which case the compromise settlement agreed upon by the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat chairman shall be submitted to the court and upon approval thereof, have the force and effect of a judgment of said court.
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. After the lapse of such time, the settlement may be enforced by action in the appropriate city or municipal court.
SEC. 418. Repudiation. - Any party to the dispute may, within ten (10) days from the date of the settlement, repudiate the same by filing with the lupon chairman a statement to that effect sworn to before him, where the consent is vitiated by fraud, violence, or intimidation. Such repudiation shall be sufficient basis for the issuance of the certification for filing a complaint as hereinabove provided.
SEC. 419. Transmittal of Settlement and Arbitration Award to the Court. - The secretary of the lupon shall transmit the settlement or the arbitration award to the appropriate city or municipal court within five (5) days from the date of the award or from the lapse of the ten-day period repudiating the settlement and shall furnish copies thereof to each of the parties to the settlement and the lupon chairman.
SEC. 420. Power to Administer Oaths. - The punong barangay, as chairman of the lupong tagapamayapa, and the members of the pangkat are hereby authorized to administer oaths in connection with any matter relating to all proceedings in the implementation of the katarungang pambarangay.
SEC. 421. Administration; Rules and Regulations. - The city or municipal mayor, as the case may be, shall see to the efficient and effective implementation and administration of the katarungang pambarangay. The Secretary of Justice shall promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to implement this Chapter.
SEC. 422. Appropriations. - Such amount as may be necessary for the effective implementation of the katarungang pambarangay shall be provided for in the annual budget of the city or municipality concerned.