Major Final Outputs (MFO)

Legal Case Monitoring System

DAR’S Legal Case Monitoring System in Full Swing
 
AJDThe Department of Agrarian Reform has fully implemented its Legal Case Monitoring System (LCMS) effective April 2013. The LCMS is a web-based application system for the recording and monitoring of agrarian cases for resolution at the provincial, regional, and central offices of the Department. The system also applies to cases lodged at the Adjudicators’ Offices, as well as cases where DAR lawyers represent and defend clients before judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.
 
The LCMS was officially rolled out in January 2012, in all DAR offices across the country. It aims to provide a central storage of legal case records and an efficient means of capturing data.  The LCMS also enables authorized Legal and DARAB personnel to update the records and status of cases currently handled by their offices.  The system also enables DAR management a means of monitoring and tracking down the movement of specific or high profile cases and a near real-time report of the status of cases anywhere in the country. The system also generates summaries and detailed reports that can be accessed anywhere by any authorized agrarian reform officer.
 
One of the major features of the system is that it is multi-use and accessible over the internet. The system utilizes barcode technology to ensure easy tracking and integrity of documents. The efficient use of the system will eventually dramatically decrease the use of paper since the LCMS has a built-in word processor where drafts can be written and reviewed by the legal officers without the need to print each and every draft until it is ready for the signature of the higher officials. It also contains pro-forma templates for the use of legal officers whenever appropriate.
 
 
The system also automatically prints Registered Return Cards (RRC) for documents that need to be registered in the postal office, and mail labels for envelopes. Another feature of the LCMS is the Global Search tool which will enable one to search for a particular case even if the information available is only the name of the party or the title of the case.
 
lcms2As of December 31, 2012, the system contains: 26,913 Agrarian Legal Implementation cases; 521 CLUPPI cases; 11,884 Quasi-Judicial cases; 1,020 Judicial cases; 11,106 applications for DAR Clearance; 281 Referral cases, 17,527 DARAB cases; and 5,458 Cancellation cases.
 
 
After the first quarter of 2013, the Legal Sector will no longer be required to submit written accomplishment reports to the Central Office, all accomplishment reports will henceforth, be generated through the system.
 
 
The Legal Case Monitoring System was developed by Ideyatech, Inc. the same software company that developed the legal systems of the Office of the Solicitor General, Court of Tax Appeals, Quezon City Hall of Justice, Small Claims Court, among others.
 
 
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Agrarian Justice Delivery

One of the core programs of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is the Agrarian Justice Delivery (AJD). DAR has the primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform cases and provide free legal assistance to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) involved. This is complemented with two AJD programs, namely: agrarian legal assistance (ALA) under the Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance (BALA) and adjudication of agrarian cases under the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB).
 
Under RA 6657, DAR is vested with the primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate reform matters and to extend free legal assistance to farmer-beneficiaries affected by agrarian cases. The delivery of agrarian justice has two features: the Agrarian Legal Assistance and Adjudication of Cases.

Agrarian legal assistance is comprised of resolution of agrarian law implementation (ALI) cases, ARB representation before judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, and mediation and conciliation. On the other hand, Adjudication of Cases involves the resolution of cases by the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) and any of its salas.

There are three types of cases under this program namely: judicial or court cases, quasi-judicial, and cases related to agrarian law implementation (ALI). The first two types involve representation of farmers by DAR lawyers before the regular courts and DAR Adjudication Board, respectively. The third type involves the administrative rendering of decision on exemption, conversion and retention.

The DAR at present utilizes more aggressive alternative dispute resolution techniques in mediation to reduce conflicts maturing into court cases. The general objective is to persuade the contending parties to settle their disputes amicably or out of court before the DAR.

Strategic Directives:

The legal sector intends to provide effective and timely support not only for agrarian reform frontliners in the field of operations and support services but also for the ARBs. Hence, to speed up the resolution of agrarian-related cases, the sector shall:
  • Put the legal framework in place to expedite the LAD process and undertake PBD lawyering;
  • Rationalize DAR lawyers’ and paralegals’ appreciation and decision on cases by developing common templates and legal outlines;
  • Improve capabilities of DAR lawyers and legal officers to adequately address AR challenges; and
  • Tap information and communication technology to enhance legal work.

The Paralegal Program Implementation Journey

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Paralegal Program Update

The Paralegal Program is focused on the formation and strengthening of community-based paralegals, Barangay Agrarian Reform Council (BARC), and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in target high LAD provinces. Barangay Agrarian Reform Council (BARC) and other Agrarian Reform Advocates in partnership in the Agrarian Reform support the program. The program aims to enable the community-based paralegals to increase the access to legal services, facilitate the resolution of agrarian disputes, speed up the land acquisition and distribution of lands in the target areas and participate in protecting and sustaining the gains of the Agrarian Reform program.

Legal cases are expected to rise due to contentious and problematic lands remaining to be acquired and distributed in the remaining three years of CARP implementation. The Department has limited number of lawyers and legal officers deployed in various field offices who provide farmers with legal advice and assistance. These community-based paralegals are responsible for assisting, capacitating, as well as educating the farmers on the significant provisions of the amended CARP.

The formation and strengthening of community-based farmer paralegals through enhancement and equipping the farmers’ capacities with relevant knowledge and skills, together with the DAR will help them become effective partners in facilitating the movement of claim folders and resolution of problematic landholdings.

The program implementation is a joint effort of the Central Office Field Operations, Legal Affairs, BARIE, DARRO, DARPO in partnership with the three Alternative Law Groups: Sentrong Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN) for Luzon, Kaisahan tungo sa Kaunlaranng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN) for Visayas and the BALAOD-Mindanao.

The program implementation is divided into four (4) components namely:

1) Local Planning,
2) Paralegal Training on Human Rights and Paralegalism, AR Law/Policies and Skills Enhancement,
3) Clinics and Tactic Sessions and
4) Provincial Assessment.

The program covers priority areas with identified problematic landholdings with high legal cases. The program is implemented in 2 phases. Phase 1 is implemented in 6 priority High LAD Provinces of Quezon 2, Negros Occidental (North & South), Camarines Sur (A & B), Leyte, Bukidnon (North & South) and North Cotabato in February to September 2012. Phase 2 implementation is for the 15 provinces of Isabela, Cagayan, and Quirino. Albay, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Iloilo, Western Samar, Zamboanga del Norte, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, Surigao Sur and Agusan Sur is scheduled in May to December 2013.

Included in the paralegal plans are the fast tracking of the acquisition and distribution of lands in the target communities and resolution of agrarian cases.

The 8-month Paralegal Program implementation of the six (6) priority provinces in Phase 1 resulted to the following:

- Some notable movements from the original status of the target landholdings. The status of landholdings specifically located in Quezon, Leyte, Negros Occidental and Camarines Sur have been changed to workable, after the validation and research done by the farmer paralegals.

- Established support mechanism and partnership with BARCs/PO leaders/CSOs. Through this program, a total of 195 active paralegals were developed and continuously performing their roles to assist in the acquisition and distribution of lands.

- Paralegals demonstrated strong camaraderie and shared commitment to push for the implementation of LAD in their respective municipalities/provinces

- Formation of the Paralegal Association/Provincial Federation of Paralegals. The paralegal associations/federations are now responsible in conducting the regular clinic- meetings in their respective municipalities/provinces.

- Immeasurable results in some project areas like harmonious relationship of paralegals with MAROs and improved partnership of some paralegals and MAROs. They were able to open their line of communication because of the need to work out their plan.

With the Phase 2 program implementation for the 15 remaining provinces, more farmer paralegals are expected to be developed as partners of DAR in facilitating the movement of landholdings and resolution of cases for problematic landholdings. The provinces of Surigao Sur, Agusan Sur, Saranggani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Western Samar, Albay, Masbate, Negros Oriental and Zamboanga Norte have completed the local planning activity in preparation for the actual training of the paralegal participants. The local planning for the provinces of Iloilo, Isabela, Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya are scheduled this 3rd week of July and 1st week of August 2013.

Actual training of the paralegal participants is scheduled in the last week of July and 2nd week of August 2013. The area-based clinics and tactic sessions are scheduled in September to November 2013. The provincial project assessment will be conducted on December 2013.

We are posed with the challenge to continuously monitor and document the strategies and contributions of the paralegals in the program implementation and accomplishments. The efforts made by the paralegal in sustaining the program beyond the program plan are worth documenting.