Source: (2003) In, Tatsuya Ota, ed., Victims and Criminal Justice: Asian Perspective. Tokoyo, Hogaku-Kenkyu-Kai, Keio University. Pp. 207-226.
The Philippines takes pride in its unique and indigenous way of settling disputes and treating both offenders and victims at the village (“barangay”) level. The system is called “Katarungang Pambarangay” (Village Justice System). When a complaint is reported or an unresolved conflict or dispute from the barangay level is elevated to the jurisdiction of the police, the victim is viewed as a complainant. If a criminal charge progresses up to the courts, the victim continues to act in the role of prosecution witness in the case against the offender. Under the Rules of Court, the victim may seek restitution for damages from the crime by filing a civil suit against the offender. A victim/witness who believes himself/herself to be in danger from an offender can apply for admission into the Witness Protection, Security, and Benefit Program of the Department of Justice. A Board of Claims was created in 1992 under the Department of Justice to grant compensation for victims of unjust imprisonment or detention and victims of violent crimes. The law specifies the administrative procedure for filing the victim’s claim through the Board of Claims. This commission provides financial assistance to victims of human rights violations or their families, so as to help alleviate suffering and sustain their basic needs within a specified period. Further, the Philippine Government has enacted laws that protect the rights and address the needs of certain categories of victims, notably children, women, and migrant Filipinos. This chapter also discusses Philippine civil society’s role in victims’ support, as well as the challenges and prospects of victim support schemes. The chapter concludes that prospects for victim support in the Philippines are promising because of pending legislation designed to further protect human rights in the areas of child abuse and specific harms suffered by crime victims. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.