Legal outreach program rolled out for barangay mediators

The public can soon expect competent mediators in their barangays with the Provincial Legal Office (PLO)’s move to mobilize a legal outreach program that will empower and equip individuals with skills and knowledge on how to conduct mediation proceedings in the barangay.

The mediation procedures are fast so it prevents parties involved from resorting to legal action, relieving the courts from case congestion. Barangay mediation is not costly and conflicting parties can express their concerns freely. One of the benefits of barangay proceedings is that both parties take an important part of reaching an agreement for settlement.

Mediation is widely accepted as a way of resolving conflicts in a neutral form. In the country, it was conceptualized in the year 2001 and finally became a law in 2004 under the Republic Act 9285 known as the Alernative Dispute Resolution Law of 2004.

The process of mediation in the courts exists through the court mediators while in the communities, they are the barangay mediators or lupon tagapamayapa. Although mediation has come a long way since it was implemented, it still has much further to go.

The Provincial Legal Office has seen the need to train Lupons and to strengthen the system of mediation.

With the initiatives of Governor Hilario Davide III  and Atty. Orvi Ortega of the Provincial Legal Office, Barangay Legal Outreach Program which also emphasized the training for our barangay mediators  is now on its second wave.

Last April 11-12, the Provincial Legal Team with volunteers from the Philippine Alternative Dispute Resolutions Incorporated (PADRI) and a team from the Philippine National Police 7-Crime Laboratory headed to Camotes Island for the program.

There were 17 participating barangays from Poro and 11 barangays from Tudela. The participants are composed of barangay tanods, barangay officials and mediators or lupon.

Ma. Carmela Kuizon, the team lead of PADRI, uplifted the morale of the lupons by sharing that their volunteerism can be a source of empowerment in the communities.

Mediators from PADRI taught the barangay mediators or lupons to be neutral in their interactions with the conflicting parties. They added that lupons must hear out disputes with integrity and confidentiality.

Lupons are reminded that their role in a mediation proceeding is to listen and to lay down all the statement of the parties to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the issues. But the solution should come from the agreement of the two conflicting parties.

Ortega admitted that learning is not done overnight. To become better at what they do, they have to learn from their experiences.

“We understand that you cannot just grasp everything that we will be teaching. That is why we are here to teach you the basics, and of course we will have an application after the lectures to ensure that you are learning from us,” said Ortega.

The barangay mediators were also taught how to write a compromise agreement once both parties have come to an agreement for records or documentation.

Alfenito Otero, 57, from Barangay Paz, Poro who is a volunteer lupon for a year was very grateful to the Cebu Provincial Government for conceptualizing the program.

“Akong nakat-unan nga tigpatiwala ra gyud mi mga lupon, dili kami ang mo suggest og solusyon kung dili mo guide ra mi aron ang nagkasungi magkasinabtanay (I learned that as lupons, we mediate and guide parties to come to an understanding, not provide the solution to their disputes),” Otero shared.

Mayors Erwin Yu of Tudela and Luciano Rama of Poro with Poro Vice Mayor Edgar Rama and Board members Miguel Antonio Magpale and Jude Thaddeus Sybico were also present during the program.

The 3rd destination is set to be in the municipalities of San Francisco and Pilar, both in Camotes Island this April  18-19.