The barangays are the smallest political subdivisions in the Philippines. The Katarungang Pambarangay (KP) or Barangay Justice System (BJS) is an alternative, community-based mechanism for dispute resolution of conflicts between members of the same community.
The BJS provides a venue for disputing parties to search for a mutually acceptable solution. Other members of the communities act as intermediaries, facilitating the discussion of possible solutions.
The BJS formalized the Filipino tradition to seek help of community elders or tribe leaders in resolving disputes between members of the same community, and uses the Punong Barangay (highest elected official in a barangay) and the Lupon members (committee of respected community members).
It is only when the BJS has failed to resolve the dispute that the parties are allowed to bring their case to court.
Who can access it?
Individual residents of Barangay can file a complaint to their Punong Barangay. If the parties are from different barangays, the dispute will be settled in the barangay at the choice of the complainant. Cooperatives or people’s organizations can go directly to court without mediation or conciliation.
How does it work?
A complaint is filed in the Lupon (committee) at a minimal filing fee. The Punong Barangay facilitates the mediation process and explains the process, objectives and rules of the mediation. Each party is given time to explain their point of view. If no settlement is reached following the mediation, the parties can try to resolve their dispute through conciliation.
The conciliators (Pangkat Tagapagkasundo) are known and respected by both parties in the dispute, and are constituted by the Punong Barangay from the Lupon. The three members of the Pangkat are chosen by the parties. The Pangkat shall hear both parties and explore the possibilities for amicable settlement. The amicable settlement reached in conciliation has the force and effect of a final judgment of a court and can be enforced within 6 months from the date of settlement by filing a motion in court.
If no settlement is reached, the parties can use a certification to file action for filing a case in court.
Arbitration can take place at any stage of the proceedings, as long as both parties agree in writing to abide by the arbitration award of the Lupon or Pangkat.
If a settlement is reached through either mediation, conciliation or arbitration, and the party has not complied with the settlement or arbitration award, the Punong Barangay executes the settlement by taking possession of sufficient personal property of the party obliged, which can be sold and the proceeds applied to the amount.
An amicable settlement has force and effect of a final judgment of a court after ten days from the date of the settlement, unless a protest or repudiation of the settlement is made. Only when the BJS has failed to resolve the dispute, can the parties bring their case to court.