Sarangani opens mediation center

"First and foremost, our job in the government is to provide an environment where people can prosper," Governor Miguel Dominguez said.

"If we can solve conflicts as early as in the household level, then all these conflicts will not escalate into more hostilities where many innocent civilians will eventually be the casualties."

The governor said the opening of a mediation center at the Capitol was "our way of assisting our judicial system in solving all the conflicts and try to lessen the pressure."

"I believe that this mediation center will be a great instrument in the peace effort of Sarangani," said Vice Governor Steve Solon.

Dominguez and Philippine Judges Association (PHILJA) Executive Judge Delilah Magtolis led the inauguration of the Sarangani Provincial Mediation Center on November 27 at the third floor of the national agencies building.

"I express the sincerest appreciation of the Supreme Court through the Philippine Judges Association (PHILJA) for the effort of provincial government of Sarangani in initiating the plan of action known as Justice Enhancement and Empowerment Program (JEEP)," Magtolis said.   

Magtolis said the mediation center is a "big plus factor" in the programs of PHILJA in taking charge of mediation and other forms of local dispute resolutions.

She said the operation of mediation centers would decongest court dockets, enhance access to justice, and harness and implement the effective application of the pre-trial roles provided for by court rules.

There are now 118 mediation units in 12 out of the 14 judicial regions of the country, according to Magtolis.

"However, only a few of the units have actual venues or place they could call their own. Most of them are squatting a small portion of halls of justice elsewhere in the court premises," she added.

"The people of Sarangani are very fortunate to have this mediation center and in which we hope that the mediation program in this jurisdiction will be more productive and effective."

In the past six years 81,853 cases were referred to mediation with 50 percent of these cases going to actual mediation process. For those that underwent mediation, 70 percent were solved.

Magtolis disclosed there were still many places without mediation units partly because of the high standards and procedures that accompany the establishments of mediation centers and the time it takes in training mediators as well as the shortage of resources.

"Litigation is expensive and unpredictable. In mediation, we have a win-win situation. Once settlement agreement is reached and approved by the court, it immediately becomes final and executory," Magtolis added. (Sarangani Information Office/RGP)