Public Administration in the Judiciary:
The Benefits of Mediation
(April 23-30, 2007)
By Judge Rafael Crescencio Tan Jr.
Rafael Crescencio Tan Jr.
It was my participation in the online seminar on New Public Management
(NPM) from 9 February - 9 March 2007 which became the basis for
an invitation to continue discussions on “New Public Management:
Lean State, Lean Government” at Theodor-Heuss Akademie, Gummersbach,
Germany from April 23 - 30 April 2007.
The philosophy behind New Public Management (NPM) is as follows:
Management culture that emphasizes the centrality of the
Transparency about resource allocation and results
Organization that promotes decentralized control through
a wide variety of alternative service delivery mechanism
NPM represents the idea of a cascading chain of contracts
leading to a single principal who is interested in getting better
results within a sector portfolio over which he/she has significant
NPM is the attempt to transfer management instruments from
the private sector in a modified way in the public administration
In learning about this philosophy in Germany, I was surprised
to know that the Supreme Court of the Philippines had already
adopted some NPM concepts through its Action Program for Judicial
Reform (APJR) program.
Public administration includes the effective and efficient administration
of justice. However, in the Philippines, the judicial branch of
government has a very strong constitutional infrastructure that
suffers from dysfunctions in its external and internal environment.
This has affected its independence, competence, effectiveness
and efficiency. These dysfunctions also diminish the judiciary's
accessibility to the poor and marginalized sectors of society.
Moreover, there has been a widespread perception of corruption
in the judiciary.
Thus in response to this, the judiciary embarked on the APJR.
Designed during the incumbency of former Chief Justice Hilario
Davide Jr., it aims to help eradicate and manage the ACID problem:
limited access to justice for the poor, corruption, incompetence,
and delay in the delivery of quality judgments. APJR’s six
goals are: delivery of speedy and fair dispensation of justice
to all; juridical autonomy and independence from political interference;
improved access to judicial and legal services; improved quality
of external inputs in the judicial process; efficient, effective
and continuously improving judicial institutions; and a judiciary
that conducts its business with dignity, integrity, accountability
Following this movement toward reform, the legislature (RA No.
9285) enacted the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act (ADR) in
2004 which seeks to institutionalize the use of an alternative
dispute resolution system in the country by establishing an office
for it. This law is aimed at providing a simplified and inexpensive
procedure for the speedy disposition of cases. At present however,
the use of such a system has not yet been fully utilized and understood
by the general populace. It does not also help that thus far only
key major cities nationwide have institutions or agencies judicially
accredited as offering ADR services. Consequently, this is an
area of interest and relevance for the province of Negros Oriental
where there is no existing mechanism or duly-accredited institution
which can provide ADR services.
Under RA 9285, there are four main alternative modes for settling
disputes: arbitration, mediation, mini-trial and early neutral
evaluation. As mediation is one of the more popular modes of ADR,
its benefits can only encourage, promote and support the practice
of public administration in the Philippines. Mediation is further
subdivided into two parts: the Court-Annexed Mediation (CAM) and
the Court-Referred Mediation (CRM). The former refers to any mediation
process conducted under the auspices of the court after it has
acquired jurisdiction over the dispute. The latter refers to mediation
which is ordered by the court to be conducted in accordance with
an agreement by the parties when an action is prematurely commenced
in violation of such an agreement.
The Supreme Court (SC) has designated the CAM, the CRM as well
as other mediation processes to the Philippine Judicial Academy
(PHILJA) for institutionalization and implementation. In turn,
PHILJA has recommended the accreditation of the Philippine Mediation
Center to exclusively handle court-related mediation services.
There are less than 40 duly-accredited mediation centers nationwide
at present, mostly located in key cities like Metro Manila, Metro
Davao, Metro Cebu, Baguio, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Tacloban and
General Santos. Consequently, it would be of great benefit and
service if a mediation center can be established in the capital
city of Dumaguete to serve the needs of the province of Negros
Oriental. At present, if the Negros Oriental courts certify the
case for CAM, the lawyers or the parties have to either travel
to Bacolod City on the other side of the island or to Cebu City
on a nearby island.
A Mediation Center in Dumaguete City
Putting up a mediation center in Dumaguete City is logistically
feasible. The center can be physically accommodated in the relatively
new hall of justice. Recruiting competent mediators with the proper
qualifications and experience is not a problem as the Divinity
School at Silliman University already has an existing Justice
and Peace Center (JPC) with a training pool adept at alternative
conflict resolution strategies. The JPC can be tapped to help
find individuals from among its roster of trainers or previous
workshop participants who would be willing to undergo the required
basic five day training course and one month internship program
in order to be accredited by the SC as a mediator. In addition,
it has a Dr. Jovito Salonga Center for Law and Development which
can also be tapped for the training of mediators.
Moreover, a duly accredited mediation center will only have minimal
operational costs as it only needs an inviting but neutral office
with basic office furniture, as well as a skeleton staff comprised
of a unit coordinator, an officer-in-charge and a daily supervisor.
Seeing that the establishment of the mediation center is a beneficial
service for the general public, the judiciary can tap the city
and provincial governments to help shoulder its operational budget.
Mediation Center Benefits
There are four primary benefits to be derived from the setting
up of a mediation center in Dumaguete City.
First, mediation is an effective process for settling disputes.
According to PHILJA data circa 2005, roughly 85 percent of cases
referred for CAM had already reached settlement. Surveys conducted
after mediation sessions reveal a high level of satisfaction among
disputing parties. As a result, close to 100 percent comply with
agreements reached in mediation. Thus, the resolution of a case
through mediation helps unclog court dockets — fostering
the legal mandate for the speedy disposition of cases.
Second, mediation is a faster mode of resolving disputes where
oftentimes, cases reach settlement in only one - two sessions.
The enormous time and effort expended in litigation are thus avoided.
Third, mediation is a cost-saving mechanism for the parties involved
in a dispute. Unlike rigorous court proceedings, mediation is
quick and devoid of legal intricacies. Moreover, in the event
that a mediation center will be established in Dumaguete City
to serve the entire province, the parties in a dispute do not
have to incur expenses in traveling to the nearest mediation center
or pay for the cost of bringing in an accredited mediator to the
Finally, as the process addresses deep-rooted sources of misunderstanding,
mediation is a proven way to restore relationships long torn by