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June 2, 2017

History of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Even before the Spaniards reach the Philippines, Filipinos already have their own set of customs and traditions that they follow from day to day. Whenever there are conflicts that arise among members of a particular community, the practice of the Filipino men and women was to refer the same to their elders. These elders are highly respected in the community, which is the primary reason why Filipinos respect and abide by whatever resolution that the former makes.

In the book of Jim V. Lopez entitled “The Law on Alternative Dispute Resolution: How to Resolve Legal Disputes Without A Courtroom Trial”, the author pointed out the fact that our ancestors have practiced out-of- court settlements during their time. According to him, Jose Rizal said that “Judges were persons of the locality, forming a jury, elected by both parties who knew the case, the customs and usages better than the gowned judge from the outside to make his fortune, to judge the case he does not know and who does not know the usage customs and language of the locality.”

At the same time, emphasis was also made as to the Filipino values that make it easier to come up with a conflict management system. As mentioned by Jim V. Lopez in his book, there are some positive aspects of Filipino culture that may tend to mitigate the Filipino propensity to litigate disputes. According to him, these values are as follows:

  • Kamag-anak network (close family ties)
  • Tulungan (mutual aid)
  • Bigayan (give and take)
  • Palabra de honor (word of honor)
  • Bayanihan (cooperative endeavor)
  • Hiya (shame of doing something wrong)
  • Utang na loob (recognition of debt or obligation)
  • Paggalang (respect of honor)
  • Kompadre (godfather system)
  • Delikadesa (being proper)

As posited by the author, all these have contributed to the creation, approval and appreciation of the alternative dispute resolution in the Filipino community. The parties, possessing the positive Filipino traits, would find it more convenient to settle the issues first among themselves rather than going directly to the courts.

Furthermore, during the Hispanic Era, the contesting parties had to resort to going to the Supreme Court of Spain in order to question certain rulings of the lower courts. Some individuals considered such act as an inconvenience especially that it results to high cost and unwarranted delays. With this type of practice, only Europeans and the rich merchants as well as the wealthy landowners were to afford the prosecution of the civil suits. To solve this problem, parties are given an opportunity to facilitate settlements without court intervention to help those who are unable to go before the courts of law.


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