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Katarungang Pambarangay

Katarungang Pambarangay, or the Barangay Justice System is a local justice system in the Philippines. It is operated by the smallest of the local government units, the barangay, and is overseen by the barangay captain, the highest elected official of the barangay and its executive.[1] The barangay captain sits on the Lupon Tagapamayapa along with other barangay residents, which is the committee that decides disputes and other matters. They do not constitute a court as they do not have judicial powers.[2]

The system exists to help decongest the regular courts and works mostly as "alternative, community-based mechanism for dispute resolution of conflicts,"[1] also described as a "compulsory mediation process at the village level."[3]

Throughout the Philippines the Barangay Justice Systems handles thousands of cases a year.[4] Since officials have more flexibility in decision-making, including from complex evidence rules, and receive some resources from government, the courts are more numerous and accessible than other courts and therefore the courts are able to hear more cases and to respond more immediately.[4]

The Katarungang Pambarangay share characteristics with similar traditional, hybrid courts in other countries such as the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa, among others.[5] Such courts emerged during colonial periods as Western imperial powers introduced western legal systems.[5] The Western legal systems were usually applied to westerners while the local dispute resolution systems were integrated into the Western system in a variety of ways including incorporation of local decision makers into the government in some way.[5] After independence, many states faced the same problems as their former rulers, especially "limited geographical reach of state institutions, Western-modeled institutions often divorced from community structures and expectations, and resource constraints in the justice sector."[5] Hybrid courts became a "middle ground for supporting community decision-making while simultaneously expanding the authority and reach of the state."[5]

Besides "hybrid courts", other authors have described the system as a "Non-State Justice System".[6]


There has long been a traditional, local system of resolving disputes. Presidential Decree 1508 talks an unofficial "time-honored tradition of amicably settling disputes among family and barangay members at the barangay level without judicial resources".[7]

Alfredo Flores Tadiar was the principal author of Presidential Decree 1508, The Katarungang Pambarangay Law,[8] and he also wrote its implementing rules, requiring prior conciliation as a condition for judicial recourse.[citation needed] For 12 years (1980–1992), he was a member of the Committee of Consultants, Bureau of Local Government Supervision, which oversaw the nationwide operations of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law.[citation needed] Under the decree, the body was known as Lupong Tagapayapa .[7]

This decree was replaced by the Local Government Code of 1991.

Operation, rules and procedures

The Lupon Tagapamayapa is the body that comprises the barangay justice system and on it sit the baranagy captain and 10 to 20 members.[9] The body is normally constituted every three years and holds office until a new body is constituted in the third year.[9] They receive no compensation except honoraria, allowances and other emoluments as authorized by law or barangay, municipal or city ordinance.[9]

Almost all civil disputes and many crimes with potential prison sentences of less than one year or fines less than 5,000 Philippine pesos are subjected to the system.[10][9] In barangays where a majority of members belong to an indigenous people of the Philippines, traditional dispute mechanisms such as a council of elders may replace the barangay judicial system.[9]

Upon receipt of the complaint, the chairman to the committee, most often the barangay captain, shall the next working day inform the parties of a meeting for mediation.[9] If after 15 days for the first meeting, the mediation is not successful then a more formal process involving the pangkat or body must be followed.[9] There is another 15 day period to resolve the dispute through this more formal process, extendable by the pangkat for yet another 15 day period.[9] If not settlement has been reached, then a case can be filed in the regular judicial system of the Philippines.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Barangay Justice System (BJS), Philippines". Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "KATARUNGANG PAMBARANGAY" (PDF). Legal Advisories. Philippine National Police. July 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Clark, Samuel, and Matthew Stephens (2011). Reducing Injustice? A Grounded Approach to Strengthening Hybrid Justice Systems: Lessons from Indonesia. Traditional Justice: Practitioners’ Perspectives WORKING PAPERS series (PDF). International Development Law Organization (IDLO). p. 5. For example, the Philippines’ compulsory mediation process at the village level, known as the Barangay Justice system,... 
  4. ^ a b Chapman, Peter. "Hybrid Courts in East Asia & Pacific: A recipe for success?". "East Asia & Pacific on the rise" blog. The World Bank. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Chapman, Peter. "History of Hybrid Courts in East Asia & Pacific: A ‘best fit’ approach to justice reform?". "East Asia & Pacific on the rise" blog. The World Bank. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Golub, S (2003). "'Non-state Justice Systems in Bangladesh and the Philippines'". Department for International Development, London. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1508". The LAWPhil Project. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "Effective dispute settlement under the katarungang pambarangay law". Open Library. 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Tibaldo, Art (April 15, 2013). "Settlement of Conflicts in the Barangay (1st of two parts)". Sun-Star Baguio. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "Circular No. 14-93 : Guidelines on the Katarungang Pambarangay procedure". Supreme Court Administrative Circular. July 15, 1993. 

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