Presidential directive strengthens alternative dispute resolution mechanism in gov’t

In a bid to further enhance the business environment in the Philippines and hasten resolution of cases involving government projects, President Benigno S. Aquino III placed under the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution (OADR) the management and development of dispute resolution programs for the Executive Department.

The President signed Executive Order No. 97 on Oct. 18, giving the OADR all the authority and functions previously being discharged by the Office of the President (OP) over disputes filed with the courts, quasi-judicial bodies or administrative offices, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Thursday.
According to Ochoa, the presidential directive will complement Executive Order No. 78 issued on July 4, 2012, which provides for the mandatory inclusion of ADR in all contracts and agreements for public-private partnership (PPP), build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme and joint venture entered into between the government and private entities and local government units (LGUs).
Ochoa explained that both presidential directives were in line with the government’s policy of providing a conducive business climate for private investments by making the resolution of disputes less expensive, tedious and time-consuming, especially for large-scale, capital-intensive infrastructure and development projects.

“The use of ADR will also allow government agencies to focus on other important tasks and functions such as the delivery of basic services instead of attending to disputes,” Ochoa said.

Under EO No. 97, the OADR will oversee, monitor, coordinate and evaluate the development of ADR programs and services in agencies under the Executive Branch.
Each agency is directed to submit a status report to the OADR on the designation of a senior official and an alternate responsible for its ADR programs and activities, among others, within three months from the time the presidential order took effect.

EO No. 97 is in effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Based on the President’s order, each government agency will submit every six months reports and update about its ADR program to the OADR, along with specific suggestions to cut down delays, changes to existing laws and practices, and enhancement proposals.

The OADR, on the other hand, is instructed by the President to regularly submit to him through the Executive Secretary an annual report on the policies, programs and activities pertaining to the implementation of EO No. 97.
According to Ochoa, it became a policy of the government to actively promote the freedom of parties involved to make their own arrangement in settling disputes for swift and just solution of cases when ADR Act of 2004 was put in place.
In 2006, Executive Order No. 523 was issued and instituted the use of ADR in the Executive Department and directed the OP to manage the development of ADR practice in executive agencies.

“EO No. 523 was issued pending the promulgation of the implementing rules and regulations of the ADR Act and the full operation of the OADR.  To date, however, the OADR is fully operational with the needed staff support and resources to perform its functions under the law,” Ochoa noted.
The issuance of EO No. 97 by President Aquino revokes EO No. 523.
EO No. 97, however, states that it does not cover management, oversight and implementation of the barangay justice system, and should not be interpreted to repeal, amend or modify the jurisdiction of the Katarungang Pambarangay under the Local Government Code of 1991. ###