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Mediation in the Philippines as an alternative mode of dispute resolution

(ADR) is available through various forums. This is due to the fact that the
absence then of a general law that would govern ADR such that several laws on
various subjects (but would invariably include mediation as a part) were in effect.
With the issuance in 2044 of the general law, the Alternative Dispute Resolution
Act of 2004 (Republic Act No. 9285), a general legislative framework is now
available for the promotion of Mediation as an ADR. Despite this, however, it is
seen that the existing avenues for mediation shall continue to subsist but that
there is room for more forum for ADR.

Mediation is one of the alternative dispute resolution processes that pave the
way in terms of resolving disputes by appointing a neutral third party mediator to
facilitate communication between the parties, with a view to agreeing a
settlement. It is efficient in such a way that it is more speedily done and the
parties do not necessarily have to hire a lawyer for it. Although at the time of my
observation, there were some instances in which some parties have the
presence of their lawyer.

I actually went to the Mediation Center twice. The first time, I went there at
around 3:00 pm and when I took a peek, there were no more people inside. I was
with a classmate at that time and we went inside and inquired when would be the
best time to observe. The personnel inside the center greeted us and inquired
about our purpose inside. We answered that we would like to observe the
proceedings. He then asked us for the reason why we were observing. We told
him that it was for our subject in Alternative Dispute Resolution. He then told us
to return the following day at around 1:30 pm because all of the cases for that
day have already been heard.

The following day, I returned to the Mediation Center at around 1:30 pm.
Upon entering the room, I saw some familiar faces. Some of my batch mates
from other sections were also observing that day. I was asked by the staff to sign
in then log book and then I proceeded in finding a seat in the corner, so that I
would be able to listen and observe properly on what is happening in the
proceedings.
The first case that I observed involved a case about reimbursement of
money, for the value of the goods that was damaged. The lessee was asking the
lessor to reimburse Php 300,000.00, alleging that it was the lessors fault why
they lost that amount. The mediator in the case was a man, in his late 30s, and
he was trying to find out what was the cause of the problem. And he also was
trying his best to persuade the parties to have a compromise agreement.

The lessee then went on to explain that, she is renting a space in the
building of the lessor. She has frozen goods stored in the rented space and there
was an instance in which the electricity was turned off, and the lessee alleges
that it was the lessor who did it. However the lessor denies the same and I can
observe that the she seems not interested in resolving the case in the center.

The mediator then asks the lessee on her demand and terms. The lessee
then explained that she just wants to get back the capital for the goods that were
damaged due to the turning off of the electricity in their rented space. She
requested that lessor gives her Php 300,000 but which lessor declined. The
mediator then tried to ask if they would meet halfway in terms of pricing. But the
lessor was adamant that she would not shell out any money for the goods that
were damaged. The mediator, observing that the parties are far off from
settlement, asked both parties if they would just want their case to be referred
back to the court, in which the parties agreed.

The next case that we observed was about a party wanting to seek
reimbursement and award of damages because of an altercation, in which the
aggrieved party was hospitalized after sustaining injuries in the face and his
body. The mediator for this case was a middle aged man. As he called the parties
he reviewed the paper that was before him and once again asked the parties
what the issue was to confirm that he was holding the right information in his
hands. He also took the time to succinctly and clearly explain his role as the
mediator and the purpose of the process of mediation, all in dialect.

In this particular case, the aggrieved party was accompanied by their lawyer
while the offending party was without their counsel. During the mediation
process, the lawyer was the one explaining the situation. He discussed that the
parties involved in the case are actually just neighbors and that his client is
willing to withdraw the case, as long the other party would pay the amount for the
hospitalization of his client. During the discussion, the lawyer also discussed
about the importance of mediation and that it helps declogging court dockets. In
my opinion, he was actually kind enough to explain such information during the
proceedings. The mediator, agreed with what the lawyer has said. Emphasizing
the importance of resolving disputes before going to court, the lawyer then
proceeded to explain what his client was actually demanding in exchange of
withdrawing the case filed.

The lawyer explained that his client was requesting monetary aid because his
client was hospitalized after the fight. He even showed his smart phone with the
picture of his client in the hospital. He then proceeded to ask the other party on
how much are they willing to offer to give the other party. The offending party
offered around Php 25,000.00 for the hospitalization. After hearing such offer, the
lawyer asked if they could add more money because he felt that his client
deserves more because of the expenses incurred in the hospital. The other party
then asked if how much is really enough for the other party so that they would
withdraw the case.

The lawyer then requested for a quick recess because he and his client
would want some privacy in discussing how much is the monetary aid that they
would ask for. The mediator granted the request and the lawyer and his client
went outside and discussed the value that they would ask for. After a few minutes
the lawyer and his client requested for another date because they are still unsure
on how much money should they demand.

The third case was very memorable on my part because I think one of the
parties involved in the case is a distant relative of mine. This one had a different
mediator and the issue in this case was about a misunderstanding in a barangay
in Maasin, between two persons and that the other person alleged that the
offending party verbally threatened to kill him. The offending party then explained
the whole situation on why the dispute started. There were times in which the two
parties were being sarcastic to each other and were not cooperative but I really
commend the mediator for handling it well and he managed to calm down the
parties and convince them that they should just opt for settlement because it
would save both parties time and money. Not to mention the effort of going back
in forth to the hall of justice if ever the case would be tried in court. The mediator
managed to convince them to just settle their differences. The mediator then
proceeded to ask the offended party regarding his terms, in order to settle the
dispute. The offended party wanted that the other party give him monetary aid,
because he was absent for almost 2 months from his job due to their case. He
was requesting 2 months salary. The mediator then asked the offending party
their counter offer and they offered that they give him the bond that was posted,
which was Php 12,000.00. At first the offended party was hesitant but eventually
he agreed to the value offered, provided that the offending party sign a document
that he will not carry any sharp objects when roaming in their barangay, save on
instances in which he would be going to the field for farming. And with that, the
compromise agreement was signed and the mediation was successful.

After all the cases were heard, one of the mediators then proceeded to ask
the students to gather around. It was then that I realized that were also other law
students from other schools observing. The mediator then discusses the
advantages of ADR and its benefits to our judicial system. He was also kind
enough to cater some of the questions asked by my fellow law students. In its
entirety, I have to say that the mediation process in the country is doing a very
good job. The mediators are very professional in dealing with the parties and I
can say, basing from my observation that they are nonpartisan and are very open
in term of communication. One of the aspects that need improvement, especially
here in Iloilo City is the need for privacy. The ideal setting for a mediation process
should be held in a private manner, however, here in our city, the mediation is
conducted in an open room and may not be conducive for the parties to be at
ease with the process. They may withhold information because they are not
comfortable that other people, not privy to the case, might hear information that
they believe should be confidential. Aside from that I believe that the mediation
system is on the right track in helping resolve disputes under the judiciary
department.

Mediation in the
Philippines
Submitted by: Ray John M. Agregado LLB 2-B
Submitted to: Atty. Jonnie L. Dabuco