Press Release
July 7, 2020

Sen. Imee seeks to expand barangay jurisdiction in settling disputes amicably

In a bid to promote the speedy disposition of cases and spare warring parties from spending for litigation cases, a bill has been filed in the Senate seeking to expand the scope of cases that may be settled amicably at the barangay level. Sen. Imee R. Marcos introduced Senate Bill No. 1544 giving authority to the Lupong Tagapamayapa to settle amicably cases involving discovering secrets, qualified theft, estafa, fencing, malicious mischief, libel, adultery and concubinage.

Marcos said the jurisdiction of the Katarungang Pambarangay or barangay justice system remains very limited. Cases where the penalty involve more than a year of imprisonment or a fine exceeding P5,000, under the provisions of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, are not subject to barangay conciliation proceedings, she noted.

"Instead of a possible amicable settlement, parties are rushed into filing a multitude of cases before the courts, thereby clogging its dockets," she said.

The measure, Marcos said, seeks to expand the jurisdiction of the Katarungang Pambarangay by increasing the scope of its subject matter to include cases whose imposable penalty do not exceed two years and other offenses that are often brought before members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa, without regard to the imposable penalty.

Marcos' bill likewise introduced a provision allowing the offended party residing in different province, city or municipality to bring the case to the Lupon of the Barangay where the offending party resides.

Existing provisions of the law allow the Lupong Tagapamayapa to handle disputes of parties who reside in the same city or municipality.

Under the Revised Penal Code, the seizing of papers or letters of a private individual in order to discover its content is a criminal offense. Under Article 290 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty is prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding P500 shall be imposed upon any private individual who shall seize papers or letters of private individual and reveal its contents and if the offender shall not reveal such secrets, the penalty shall be arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding P500.

Qualified theft is committed when a domestic servant or a person who abuses the confidence entrusted to him or her commits theft or when the stolen property is a motor vehicle, mail matter, large cattle or consists of coconuts from the plantation, fish from a fishpond or fishery or when the taking of property is done on the occasion of a calamity, vehicular accident or civil disturbance.

The penalty for qualified theft is two degrees higher than specified for simple theft.

In the case of estafa, the criminal offense of swindling, the penalty is dependent on the value of the damage or prejudice caused by the offender.

Fencing is when a person buys, sells, accepts, keeps, conceals, acquires or disposes in any manner something that he knows or known to him to have been stolen.

Malicious mischief is defined as the wilful damaging of another's property for the sake of causing damage due to hate, revenge or other evil motive. The penalty shall depend upon the value and the kind of the property damaged.

Libel is defined as a public and malicious imputation of a crime o of a vice or defect, real or imaginary or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause dishonour, discredit or contempt of a natural or judirical person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

Under Article 355 of the RPC, libel is committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition or any similar means and shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from P40,000 to P1.2 million or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.

Adultery and concubinage are crimes referring to marital infidelity. Under the RPC, the prescribed penalty for the offending wife and her lover ranges from two years, four months and one day to six years.

In concubinage, the offending husband may face imprisonment ranging from six months and one day to a maximum of four years and one day.

The types of cases brought before the Lupong Tagapamaypa involve offenses that constitute to damage to property, slander, physical injuries, threats, robbery, trespassing, coercion, unjust vexation, ejectment, family or marital problems, collections of debts or rentals, breach of contract among others.

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