The executive department has issued Executive Order No. 523 titled “Instituting the Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Executive Department.”
I could not find an online copy, but according to the official press release:
EO 523, which she signed last April 7, mandates agencies under the Office of the President to “promote the use of alternative modes of dispute resolution such as, but not limited to, mediation, conciliation and arbitration as part of their practice of resolving disputes” and to report the progress of such efforts annually to her.
Under EO 523, the Office of the President is mandated to name at least two ADR specialists who shall undergo comprehensive training to properly equip them with the skills necessary to fully implement the ADR program according to international standards.
Why will it not work?
This is from my personal experience as a government lawyer. The “bean counters” and probably even the COA would not allow it.
During my stint as chief legal of a very large government corporation, and drawing from my experience as a practicing lawyer, I batted for the settlement of long standing cases, especially those we have already lost in the lower level and were just on appeal.
My reasoning was sound. These were losing cases anyway and we may end up paying more in interest charges just to delay the inevitable loss.
But I was stopped dead by our finance department, because there will be no basis for payment. It appears that government financial people would rather pay by virtue of a final judgment than by virtue of a settlement.
As you know, settlement will essentially mean the amount is basically achieved through negotiations, haggling or even horse-trading.
Hence, the Commission on Audit would question these settlement agreements because the basis of the amount would be too arbitrary, contrived, or even achieved by a hint of corruption. I myself felt I was being labeled “corrupted” by the opposing party for batting for settlement of that particular losing case. They felt that by batting for settlement, I was already on the opposing party’s side.
So, with all due respect, alternative dispute resolution methods in the executive department, given our audit system and the mentality of government bean counters will simply not work. If I’m a government lawyer, I will not bat for it, lest I be accused of siding with (and being corrupted by) the enemy. I’d rather loose the case in a final decision that could take years. Any perhaps, in the end, I may end up winning.
And did you know that even with a Supreme Court decision ordering payment in your favor, you still have to go to the COA to make a money claim? That’s true and that’s one instance where the COA is even higher than the Supreme Court.
Such a rotten system we have. That’s another reason why foreign investors should stay away.