Senator Imee R. Marcos has filed a bill seeking to expand the scope of cases that may be settled amicably at the barangay to promote the speedy disposition of cases and spare warring parties from spending for litigation cases.
The measure, Senate Bill 1544, seeks to give 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 involves more than a year of imprisonment or a fine exceeding P5,000, under the provisions of Republic Act 7160, 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 bill, according to Marcos, 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 willful 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 property damaged.
Libel is defined as a public and malicious imputation of a crime or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical 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 Tagapamayapa involve offenses that constitute damage to property, slander, physical injuries, threats, robbery, trespassing, coercion, unjust vexation, ejectment, family or marital problems, collections of debts or rentals, and breach of contract.