I have a land dispute with my neighbor. I am planning to sue him. But I was advised by our barangay kagawad (village councilor) to bring the matter first before the Lupon Tagapamayapa. I am hesitant to complain before the barangay because almost all of the barangay officials here are his relatives, so I do not expect to get a fair treatment. Is it compulsory for me to undergo barangay conciliation proceedings?
Your question is answered by Section 412 (a), Chapter VII, of Republic Act (RA) 7160, which provides:
“[N]o 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 stated to by the lupon or pangkat chairman unless the settlement has been repudiated by the parties thereto.”
The Supreme Court has also made a pronouncement as to the compulsoriness of barangay conciliation in Aquino vs Aure (G.R. No. 153567, February 18, 2008), where the court said:
“The barangay justice system was established primarily as a means of easing up the congestion of cases in the judicial courts. This could be accomplished through a proceeding before the barangay courts which, according to the conceptor of the system, the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, is essentially arbitration in character, and to make it truly effective, it should also be compulsory. With this primary objective of the barangay justice system in mind, it would be wholly in keeping with the underlying philosophy of Presidential Decree 1508, otherwise known as the Katarungang Pambarangay Law, and the policy behind it would be better served if an out-of-court settlement of the case is reached voluntarily by the parties.The primordial objective of Presidential Decree 1508 is to reduce the number of court litigations and prevent the deterioration of the quality of justice which has been brought by the indiscriminate filing of cases in the courts. To ensure this objective, Section 6 of Presidential Decree 1508  requires the parties to undergo a conciliation process before the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo as a precondition to filing a complaint in court subject to certain exceptions which are inapplicable to this case. The said section has been declared compulsory in nature.”
In your situation, it is necessary to file your complaint before the barangay even if the officials there are the relatives of the respondent, otherwise your complaint will be dismissed on the ground that the condition precedent for filing the claim has not been complied with (Section 1 (j), Rule 16, Rules of Court).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org