My neighbor and I are disputing a piece of land. The land is located on the boundary of the municipalities of Mallig and Quezon in Isabela. I filed a complaint before the barangay (village) where my neighbor and I live but the barangay chairman refused to act on the complaint, saying the matter should be brought before the adjoining barangay where a portion of the land is located, that is if my neighbor and I would agree to it. I am really confused. I do not trust the barangay chairman of the adjoining barangay because he is a relative of my neighbor. Can I just file my complaint directly in court since the barangay chairman with whom I filed my complaint failed to act on my complaint?
Almost all disputes shall be referred for amicable settlement to the barangay (village) before a case can be filed in court. Failure to undergo the barangay conciliation proceedings would result in dismissal of your complaint since the condition precedent for filing the claim has not been complied with (Section 1 (j), Rule 16, 1997 Rules of Court). In relation to this, Section 412 of Republic Act (RA) 7160 provides that “no complaint, petition, action or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the lupon shall be filed or instituted directly in court or any other government office for adjudication, unless there has been a confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon secretary or pangkat secretary as attested to by the lupon or pangkat chairman or unless the settlement has been repudiated by the parties thereto.”
Your case (land dispute) does not fall under the exemption provided under Section 408 of the law; hence, you cannot file your complaint directly in court. In fact, Section 409 (c) of the same law states that “all disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought to the barangay where the real property or the larger portion thereof is situated.”
Based on the above-mentioned provision of law, the case arising from your dispute with your neighbor involving a certain parcel of land should be filed before the barangay where the land or a larger portion of it is located, not the barangay where you and your neighbor reside. There is no prohibition, however, if you and your neighbor will agree to bring the dispute before the adjoining barangay where a portion of the land is situated.
And if in case you find the settlement or agreement to be biased, you can always repudiate the same pursuant to Section 418 of RA 7160, within ten (10) days on the ground that the consent is vitiated by fraud, violence or intimidation.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com