Justice for the poor: An assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of small claims cases and Enhanced justice on wheels

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science

Subject Categories



College of Liberal Arts


Political Science

Thesis Adviser

Julio C. Teehankee

Defense Panel Chair

Trinidad S. Osteria

Defense Panel Member

Ma. Divina Gracia Z. Roldan
Francisco A. Magno


This study seeks to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the Justice for the Poor: Small Claim Cases and Enhanced Justice on Wheels. Specifically, it examined the ease of the implementation system (efficiency), perception of the program by the beneficiaries and implementers in redressing the former’s grievances, accessibility, procedure, duration of litigations, and resolutions of cases in fair and transparent manner (effectiveness). These two mechanisms aimed to benefit both the implementers of the programs and the poor, disadvantaged and the marginalized. This study used both quantitative and qualitative methods using primary sources gathered through actual interviews, litigants and implementers’ feedbacks. Further, analysis of secondary sources of the Summary of Court Docket Records, Supreme Court Circular, Memorandum, Committee Reports and related literatures on Philippine Judicial Reform Programs was done. In the assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of Justice on Wheels (EJOW) and Small Claims Cases (SCC), the UNDP rights-based framework of the programs which are expected to be cost effective sustainable and adequate. EJOW was cost-effective because it incurred no expenditures in Manila City since it was conducted in a container van stationed at the Manila City Jail ground. There were reductions in expenditure on the part of the government in terms of food subsidy for every prisoner provided at the rate of sixty-five pesos (P65.00) daily per inmates. This was brought about by the shortening of litigation period. In SCC, the same cost was applied as in regular civil cases. It required no filing fee for litigant who is declared as indigent with supporting certification from barangay, indicating that their annual income was Five Thousand Pesos P 5,000.00) and below. However the indigent litigant was required to deposit One Thousand Pesos (P1, 000.00) for service of summons. Any excess of the deposited amount was refunded to them. A progressive rate was implemented for more than ten (10) claims filed (Amended in the A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC.)). Filing fee was also required in a regular court for civil cases. 5 The Small Claims Cases is sustainable. A continuous monitoring and evaluation of access to justice is an existing requirement. The Summary of Monthly Small Claims Cases Inventory was undertaken. This was implemented by the Rules to be submitted which provides date of filing, date of summons, date of hearing, date of decision and decision rendered. It was applicable to claims amounting to One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100, 000.00). The EJOW program is not sustainable because there was no monitoring and evaluation mechanism of the cases heard. The submitted report of the Metropolitan Trial Court of EJOW cases was simply a list of calendar of cases heard from 2009-2010. It was implemented upon the directives of the Executive Judge. The document filing of Clerk of Court, Metropolitan Trial Court - Manila Branch 15 is commendable. In the case of Manila Regional Trial Court Executive Judge, the Clerk of Court claimed that there was no list of the calendar of cases heard. The 2009-2010 files could no longer be located after such length of time has transpired. Other source from Branch Clerk of Courts was requested in the attempt of retrieving the said records but they were not also available. Only RTC Branch 45 was able to retrieve 2010 EJOW calendar of cases, however the record was insufficient to be included in the study. Small Claims Cases was inadequate in promoting accessibility of knowledge on the rules of procedures to the public. Pamphlets, information of SCC were posted in Court. The first hand information of the program benefited the lending companies and insurance companies who file claims to collect sum of money through the court. On the part of defendants, they are first summoned by the court as party litigants. During the proceedings, they were informed of the proceedings and nature of the Small Claims Cases by the Clerk of Court and Judges. The court docket in civil was not decloged because more new cases were filed and the lending companies benefited from the process. Only a minimal number of cases were filed by the insurance companies, which were previously under the jurisdiction of the regular civil courts but were remanded to the Small Claims Cases.

In Enhanced Justice on Wheels, no adequate knowledge of rules of court was available to the detained litigants in criminal cases. They perceived they had to enter the plea of guilty to 6 obtain outright release as the period of detention resulted to serve sentence resulting to declogging of court docket and jail decongestion. Thus, Small Claims Cases were efficient in rendering case decision at an average of 1.8 months from the date of filing in contrast with the regular civil court procedures which require from two or more years before a court reaches decision. The procedure under the Small Claims Cases was simple, understandable, without the need of lawyer. It was also inexpensive and outright decision of the court was readily available within the day upon the appearance of all parties. Small Claims Cases administer justice effectively; the process was swift and fast and there was reduction of exorbitant rates of interest of loans. However, problems needed to be addressed on delay of service of summons due to the delay in the release of Sheriffs Fund, and the unaccounted fees asked by sheriff from plaintiff to be able to serve summons on time. The public awareness on Small Claims Cases were limited to those party litigants and information remained narrow to the general public because posters, pamphlets are limited in court vicinities. The Enhanced Justice on Wheels is efficient as it renders case decision at an average of 6.4 months from the date of filing. This is in contrast to the regular criminal summary court procedures which range from two or more years before court renders decision. The detention of inmates at an average of 11 months while waiting for the decision was caused by delays which need to be addressed. Delays are due to postponement of hearings, delay of hearing due to vacant courts, absences of prosecution, PAO, witnesses and complainants. The transparency of litigation procedure remained to be inefficient and not comprehensible to uneducated litigants even if it was translated in Filipino. Majority still relied on the opinion of the lawyer. EJOW was effective and the swift litigation was attributed to the court implementers. Litigations procedure was fast; it declog the court docket and decongest the jails. The awareness of inmates on EJOW is low. The program was generally perceived as hope for the poor, because it releases the prisoner, but all of them do not have knowledge of the provisions as to what cases are covered by EJOW. To the inmates’ perceptions litigations of 7 cases in EJOW were done by drawing lots. To the public, the program remained remote in spite of the posters and pamphlets available in the court vicinities. In the case of the rights-based approach of human rights, there is a need to define the mechanism of accountability as to procedures, claims, duties to promote respect and adjudicate the violations of rights of poor and marginalized. There is a need to facilitate their feedback mechanism as to their involvement and participation in refining procedures. The programs of Small Claims Cases and Enhanced Justice on Wheels to promote their self worth and dignity as part of the institutions.

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Electronic File Format


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Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

192 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.


Justice, Administration of—Philippines; Small claims courts—Philippines

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