October 16, 2005


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JURIS lauds Cordi justice system

IP mediation prevents tribal war

BAGUIO CITY (Oct. 14) — The head of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Department today lauded the indigenous people’s justice system in the Cordillera for encouraging the participation of women in justice delivery and for its being progressive and dynamic.

Chairman Alfredo F. Tadiar, who jestingly claims that his family name evolved from Tadian, a Mountain Province municipality, is here with the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja) from October 12 to October 14 for a series of advocacy fora for the establishment of a mediation center here, under the Canadian-supported Judicial Reform Initiatives Support Project (JURIS).

The Cordillera justice system took center stage today when Philja, implementer of the JURIS project, had day-long discussions with representatives of the Baguio-based Dinteg, alternative law center in the region and elders belonging to various tribes.

After Joanna K. Cariño, chairperson of the Cordillera Afong, discussed with the JURIS group the Cordillera Situation, elders from Kalinga, Mountain Province, Benguet and Baguio City presented landmark case studies on how the indigenous justice system is delivered in the tribal communities.

Tadiar and Philja representatives appreciated the progressive practice of tribal communities after elders 12 tribal leaders and elders explained how the the bodong, peace pact, works these days. Elders told them that the negative aspects of the tradition are being eliminated while enhancing the positive aspects.

Discussions centered on the mediation process as practiced in the Cordillera. The selection criteria for mediators became a point of interest when the elders said that the mediators may not be necessary aged.

Their involvement in community discussions and dispute resolutions and how they discern issues greatly influence their selection, Marcos Bangit of the Cordillera People’s Alliance revealed.

“They acquire the status through time,” Bangit said, saying that no Cordillera mediator has been appointed. He added that no bachelor’s degree is needed for one to become a respected pangat, tribal leaders who usually do mediation.

The leaders emphasized that mediation in the Cordillera is done collectively by a group of men and women and the process is open to the whole community where any one can express opinion on the case being discussed.

“This is where the younger ones gain enough experience and where people could see their wisdom,” Joe Cawiding of Sadanga, Mountain Province disclosed.

The common objective of the indigenous justice systems in the region is to prevent tribal war, the elders said. They said that tribal conflict usually erupts from boundary disputes or crimes against property like theft or cattle rustling. When not resolved immediately, they said, the tribal conflict develops into a tribal war.

“It is very difficult to stop tribal war once it has started,” Cariño told the judges and lawyers, adding that these days, armament include M-16. As much as possible, people avoid tribal war because these disrupt their economic activities and it entails a lot of expenses on the warring parties, she said.

Tadiar, however noted in the cases that there are no standards in meting out punishment to the offender. He noted that in some cases, the killer could go scot-free, without even getting detained. He looked down upon the practice of just reimbursing the expenses incurred by the aggrieved party, insinuating that a more stringent penalty be imposed for justice to be truly delivered.

Baguio City courts are among those in four pilot Philippine cities where court-annexed mediation and judicial dispute resolution is envisioned to unclog court dockets under the JURIS. The other three are Bacolod, San Fernando City (Pampanga) and Cagayan de Oro.

Preparations are underway for the implementation of court-annexed mediation and judicial dispute resolution in Baguio and San Fernando (La Union) courts.

The JURIS Project is a five-year initiative that seeks to strengthen and promote the use of mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to decongest the courts and improve the quality of judgments, and to improve the Filipino’s access to justice, especially among the poor. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS

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