Egay Uy .
MEDIATION, even in its imperfect form, can really “move mountains” as exemplified by several meetings the RCB Mediation Team conducted between business establishments that were complained of and residents-neighbors of these businesses.
There was one incident between neighbors where a lechon business was complained of due to foul odor emitted by animal waste from the pigpens. Solutions adopted included the limitation of the number of heads the business operator could maintain within his area of operation to the installation of tiles in the butchering area. But this did not stop the persistent neighbor from asking for the closure of the subject business.
While the matters complained of were already addressed by the respondent, the complainant always saw other subjects of complaint, e.g., noisy dogs barking at night, or smoke from the cooking area getting into the eyes of the complainant. This went on for more than two years, until the Legal Office of the City Government called the parties to a clarificatory hearing cum mediation.
In that hearing, when the complainant and the respondent finally faced each other, we sensed that they were actually close friends. It appeared it was only a matter of pride that caused the never-ceasing complaint.
And the efforts of mediation bore fruit. The parties went out of the mediation venue shaking hands and practically hugging each other and the complaint was closed as settled.
Being a believer of mediation and out-of-court dispute resolution, I introduced the concept to the Regulatory and Complaint Board and created a Mediation Team. The idea is to address complaints with dispatch since convening the mediation team does not take much time than convening the Board itself.
Besides, decisions of the Board itself could mean the immediate imposition of fines and penalties. This is different from what the mediation team aims for, which is the removal of the irritant that gives rise to the complaint. And this is being done almost always with the complaint party voluntarily removing the irritant.
Most of the businesses that were complained of were watering holes and internet shops. The former for being too loud during the sleeping hours of the neighborhood, and the latter for admitting minors during prohibited hours and for failure to block from their computer units some pornographic sites.
All in all, the mediation process has expeditiously caused regulations to be observed by erring businesses, with the latter being sternly warned that repeated violations of regulations will be dealt with more severely.
And the complainants? They go home smiling.
(Egay Uy is a lawyer. He chairs the City’s Regulatory and Complaint Board, co-chairs with the city mayor the City Price Coordinating Council, and chairs the city’s Joint Inspection Team. He retired as a vice president of Cepalco.)