Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mediation not allowed in domestic violence cases (with apologies to Pia Guanio)

Several days ago, I was watching Channel 7’s “24 Oras” early evening news program when Pia Guanio, the entertainment segment host, reported an item about Hollywood actor Lou Diamond Phillips. As reported, Phillips was arrested by Los Angeles police for verbally and physically abusing his live-in girlfriend. Phillips, who’s got Filipino ancestry, was released by the police several hours later on his own recognizance.

What got my attention was Pia’s last statement in her news report. I stand to be corrected but I heard Pia say, “Pansamantalang pinakawalan si Phillips upang masubukan niya at ng kanyang ka-live in ang MEDITATION.” In English, that translates into, “Phillips was released by the police so that he and his live-in partner can try MEDITATION.”

Either Pia Guanio (a beautiful and smart woman desperately in need of a fashion make-over) misread the teleprompter, or the news editors of Channel 7 were really at fault. You see, the word Pia should have used instead of MEDITATION was MEDIATION. For a brief moment, I had visions of Lou Diamond Phillips and his live-in partner doing some Transcendental Meditation in order to solve their relationship problems. Om! Om! Sorry, Pia!

Levity aside, I have written several articles on RA 9262, our country’s landmark law on violence against women. If you’d like to review these articles, here are the links:

Hope and help for the battered woman (5): Biblical response to abuse; evangelical Christians are best husbands – University of Virginia study

Hope and help for the battered woman (4): Emotional abuse/psychological violence

Hope and help for the battered woman (3): RA 9262 Protection Orders

Hope and help for the battered woman (2): RA 9262 essential provisions

Hope and help for the battered woman (1): Statistics on domestic violence
What is mediation?

Mediation is a method of “Alternative Dispute Resolution” and under the Supreme Court guidelines, it is mandatory for all civil cases and some criminal offenses (like BP 22 or bouncing checks). The court orders the litigants to undergo mediation proceedings before a Supreme Court-trained mediator, for a period of 30 days. Mediation is informal and the mediator tries to get the parties to settle the case amicably, on a win-win scenario for all the parties involved. If the mediation fails, then the case is referred back to court for continuation of trial. But experience has shown that mediation works well with a high percentage of cases amicably settled.

Labor dispute cases in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) now also undergo mandatory conciliation/mediation proceedings. Of course, most of you are familiar with the mediation proceedings at the barangay level, as provided for by the Local Government Code of 1991.

RA 9262 cases expressly exempted from mediation (by barangay officials, police officers, social workers and even judges)

It appears from Pia’s report and the Internet resources I checked that California and some other places in the USA do allow meditation, I mean, mediation proceedings even in domestic violence cases. However, here in the Philippines, RA 9262, its Implementing Rules and Regulations and the Supreme Court Rule for RA 9262, all prohibit mediation of cases involving violence against women. You might ask, if mediation has been proven to work well, then why is it prohibited in RA 9262 cases?

Please surf over to my Legal Updates blog for the answer.

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