Updated: Mar 6
Committed to providing all avenues for speedy resolution of legal cases, the Philippine government is urging stronger cooperation between public and private sectors to settle disputes and build peace. Thus spoke Atty. Ma. Christina Abalos-Naig, a director of the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution (OADR), an attached agency under the Department of Justice established under Republic Act No. 9285, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004.
OADR is mandated to promote, develop and expand the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the private and public sectors; assist the government to monitor, study and evaluate the use by the public and the private sectors s
of ADR, and; recommend to Congress needed changes to develop, strengthen and improve ADR practices in the country and make them at par with international standards.
Atty. Naig was guest during the online Bridges forum of the Mediators’ Network for Sustainable Peace, held 11 November 2020. She said OADR is aware that many civil society organizations (CSOs) are practicing ADR, and thus should apply for OADR accreditation so they could access trainings and other services by government and standardize their procedures.
To date, OADR has already filled in more than half of its 63 plantilla positions to strengthen itself in coping with demands for its services, like the training of thousands of participants from all levels of government, civil society, academia and other sectors.
The OADR coordinates with government and civil society groups coming from the mediation and arbitration professions like the National Center for Mediation (NCM), Integrated Bar of the Philippines, academe and other alternative dispute resolution provider organizations (APOs).
OADR regularly corresponds with APOs like the Philippine International Center for Conflict Resolution (PICCR), Conflict Resolution Group Foundation, Inc. (CORE), Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI), and Philippine Institute of Arbitrators (PIArb).
Currently, the OADR-Public Information and Promotion Division is conducting its Online Webinar Series, and ODR- Training Program and Development Division the Online Courses.
The OADR-Accreditation and Certification Division has added online procedures in managing applications leading to the surge in the number of OADR-accredited and certified ADR Provider Organizations (APOs) and Practitioners. OADR gives certificates to those who have joined their trainings.
This 2020, trainings included basic mediation, commercial mediation, and mediation involving intellectual property rights, among others. Thousands of members of the Barangay Lupon Tagapamayapa were also trained, as well as personnel from government agencies that discharge legal and quasijudicial functions like the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Agrarian Reform.
The OADR is mandated to train the members of the Barangay Lupon Tagapamayapa, a unit within the barangay, the most basic local government unit in the Philippines. The Lupon works for the extrajudicial settlement of disputes involving barangay residents, thus preventing small disputes from entering the judicial system and clogging the court dockets. This way, peace inside communities is upheld and maintained.
Since the online training platform has magnified OADR’s reach, reaching more than 150,000 in one webinar, more trainings will be conducted next year, especially for the private sector, said Atty. Naig.
OADR has also lately convened APOs to a consultative meeting to start off discussions on reconstituting the OADR Advisory Council, a move that is expected to strengthen government-civil society engagement. The OADR Advisory Council will advise the OADR Executive Director on policy, operational and other relevant matters.
The agency is now working with the Department of Education for inclusion of more substantial content on different ADR forms such as mediation in the learning modules for children in basic education.
Together with lawyer groups like the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and legal educators, the OADR seeks to include more items on ADR in the legal curriculum and the bar examinations.
OADR’s plans for 2021 include the establishment of a Resource Center and its own, independent website to optimize its reach to different sectors.
At the end of the Bridges forum, OADR and MedNet agreed to collaborate on training and drafting training modules for the Katarungang Pambarangay and for government agencies.