Press Release
September 29, 2012


Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada seeks to institutionalize conciliation and mediation processes as expeditious and inexpensive mode for settlement of labor disputes.

Senate Bill 2918, principally authored by Sen. Estrada, aims to amend the Labor Code to statutorily recognize and put into law the existing policy of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on conciliation-mediation services.

Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, says that the proposed measure is in consonance with Section 3, Article XIII of the Constitution providing for the preferential use of voluntary modes in settling disputes, including conciliation.

National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), an attached agency of the DoLE, defines conciliation as "a mild form of intervention by a neutral third party, the Conciliator-Mediator, relying on his persuasive expertise, who takes an active role in assisting parties by trying to keep disputants talking, facilitating other procedural niceties, carrying messages back and forth between the parties, and generally being a good fellow who tries to keep things calm and forward-looking in a tense situation."

Mediation, on the other hand, is referred to as "a mild intervention by a neutral third party, the Conciliator-Mediator, whereby he starts advising the parties or offering solutions or alternatives to the problems with the end in view of assisting them towards voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of the dispute."

The DoLE issued Department Order 107-10 last October 2010 and introduced the Single Entry Approach (SEnA). Since its implementation, DoLE says that they were able to receive 50,577 requests for assistance regarding employer-employee disagreements. From this figure, 24,533 were settled with total monetary benefits amounting to P1,214,920,484.07 covering 36,767 workers.

DoLE also stated before the labor committee hearing that the policy has effectively declogged its quasi-judicial arm and appropriate offices, prevented issues from becoming full-blown labor disputes and greatly reduced the litigiousness of labor conflicts, especially of small money claims.

The conciliation-mediation services are carried out and terminated within the prescribed 30-day period. Meanwhile, Single Entry Approach Desk Officers (SEADOs) were able to settle requests for assistance within an average of 19 days.

Termination or suspension of employment issues, money claims, intra- and inter-union issues, unfair labor practice, and OFW cases can be subjected to conciliation-mediation, according to SENA guidelines.

In his sponsorship speech Sen. Estrada cites, "The advantages of employing conciliation-mediation in resolving disputes, backed by the accomplishments under the SEnA Program, only show that conciliation-mediation is indeed a practical, desirable and promising method of alternative dispute resolution."

"Conciliation-mediation is also used in full-blown disputes such as actual strikes or lockouts and in disputes that have already been assumed or certified for compulsory arbitration, to exhaust all possible remedies and explore solutions mutually acceptable to both parties," Sen. Estrada further states.

Data from the DOLE show that five assumed cases by the Secretary of Labor in 2011 were settled through conciliation, benefitting some 2,201 workers. Since 2010 and up to the end of 2011, a total of 40 cases with petitions for assumption of jurisdiction were settled through marathon conciliation-mediation rendering unnecessary the issuance of assumption orders, providing relief to 3,993 workers.

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