Issue of March 4, 2018
Mt. Province

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Litigants told to settle rows through alternative means
by Aileen P. Refuerzo / PIO

Disputing individuals or entities should opt for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) instead of pursuing court trials as it is more advantageous.

Municipal Trial Court in Cities Judge Maria ClaritaTabin said ADR is advantageous as it entails less time to resolve the dispute and is less costly.

“It ensures party autonomy, privacy and confidentiality and the awards are final and binding,” Tabin stressed in her report before City Hall officials and employees last Monday.

Whereas court litigation is disadvantageous as “access is restricted, corruption and incompetence is encouraged and causes delays and clogging of court dockets.”

Tabin said that one of the reforms adopted by the Supreme Court to improve judicial services nationwide is the streamlining of the procedure on judicial dispute resolution (JDR) to speed up the trial process and disposition of cases.

“Before the JDR law, all cases are set for mediation but now criminal cases and continuing trial cases need not pass under the JDR,” Tabin said.

“After arraignment, pretrial is set immediately and then the case will be referred for mediation only at the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC) before the initial trial which means that there is no more JDR before the judge and the case is set only once for mediation with the PMC,” she explained.

Tabin said that as an advocate of ADR, she initially viewed the move as disadvantageous but later realized its wisdom.

“Come to think of it, because of this, lawyers will now have bigger role in convincing their clients to avail of out-of-court settlements.  Whereas before they leave this to the court, now they will have more involvement in this aspect,” she said.

Tabin said that the other changes adopted under the revised guidelines for continuous trial of criminal cases are the adjustment of hearing days from Mondays to Thursdays with Fridays devoted for the promulgation of decisions, arraignment and pretrial and motions.

The court also decreed prohibited motions like the motion for determination of probable cause, motion for reinvestigation when the case is already in court and others.

It also waived the reading of information in multiple cases, set the arraignment and pre-trial at the same time and set the period of trying regular cases within 310 days if no postponement happens.

“Judicial affidavit is no longer mandatory as counsels can agree that affidavits and counter-affidavits can be considered as direct examination or witnesses,” Tabin said.

Tabin said that MTC’s jurisdiction in estafa and theft cases was expanded through Republic Act 10951 where cases of until P2.4 million for estafa and P1.2M for theft will now be put under the MTC.

She said they are also pursuing the digitization of the courts which is now being piloted in Quezon City.

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