Welcome to the Supreme Court of the Philippines
Welcome to the Supreme Court of the Philippines
Welcome to the Supreme Court of the Philippines
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Supreme Court Leaves Lasting Impression on UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan, Highlights Commitment to Human Rights and Judicial Reform

January 25, 2024

Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, and the other Associate Justices discuss several topics about the Philippine Judiciary with United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan during the latter’s courtesy visit on the Court on January 24, 2024. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)

The Supreme Court of the Philippines, led by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, made a positive impression on Ms. Irene Khan, the United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression during the latter’s courtesy visit on the Court on January 24, 2024.

Joining Chief Justice Gesmundo in welcoming Ms. Khan were Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen and Associate Justices Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Japar B. Dimaampao, Jose Midas P. Marquez, and Maria Filomena D. Singh.

Ms. Khan expressed her gratitude to the Supreme Court Justices for their time in what she described as “an inspirational meeting.” In her opening statement, she underscored that human rights cannot exist without the rule of law and highlighted the Judiciary’s role in setting the tone and in its implementation.

During the visit, the Justices discussed several matters which included the Supreme Court’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI), the Court’s blueprint of action for judicial reform. The SPJI outlines the Court’s system wide judicial reforms currently being implemented which aims to address institutional challenges using four guiding principles—Timely and Fair Justice, Transparent and Accountable Justice, Equal and Inclusive Justice, and Technologically Adaptive Management—and aimed at three critical outcomes – Efficiency, Innovation and Justice.

Chief Justice Gesmundo assured the UNSR that the Philippine Judiciary is highly cognizant of the universal principles of freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and international laws, and that the courts always seek to actively endeavor in striking a balance between such freedoms and the right of the state to protect itself.

Senior Associate Justice Leonen then cited examples of recent Supreme Court Decisions that tackled the freedom of speech and expression.

He mentioned the recently decided case of St. Anthony v. COMELEC (G.R. No. 258805), where the Court En Banc held that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) cannot remove or destroy privately-owned campaign materials displayed on private property. The Senior Associate Justice likewise cited ABS-CBN v. Ampatuan (G.R. No. 227004), where the Court protected the right of the media to report on cases pending in courts. He also took note of a case where the Court, voting unanimously, resolved to disbar a lawyer for a viral video clip where he repeatedly cursed and uttered profane remarks against a journalist.

On the issue of Anti-Terrorism, Ms. Khan was provided a copy of The Supreme Court’s Rules on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and Related Laws, which according to the Chief Justice, was promulgated by the Court “to ensure that our judges will handle properly and effectively, protecting the rights of people vis-à-vis prosecution against anti-terrorism.” The Senior Associate Justice also discussed the case of Calleja v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 252578), where the Court declared unconstitutional certain provisions of Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The Senior Associate Justice shared: “Actually, it said we can only rule upon on its face with respect to certain provisions that clearly violate freedom of expression. And therefore, we went on to strike down certain conditions which were vague in terms of the definition of the Anti-Terror Law. But I think you may have noticed that we did not rule on certain aspects of the Anti-Terror Law simply because we wanted to make sure that the balance between expression opinion as well as security can come out in an actual case.”

Senior Associate Justice Leonen added: “we fully appreciate that the special rapporteur understands that there is always a balance between expression and the security. We have also in some of our cases already acknowledge that there may be differences in the regulation of hate speech and also performative speech from declaratory speech. But of course, we are waiting for the proper case to flesh this out some more, and we are just hoping that the pleadings would be up to our standard so that we can continue to explore this.”

On Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suits, the Chief Justice said that SLAPP suits are acknowledged by the courts and even incorporated in the rules of procedure, such as in the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.

On the protection of members of the judiciary against frivolous complaints, Senior Associate Justice Leonen cited the case of Tallado v. Racoma (A.M. NO. RTJ-22-022) to demonstrate the conviction of the Court: “There, we said [that in the] administrative cases against the judge, we will look at all the administrative cases you filed against all the judges and that will weigh in very heavily on the merits for whether the court will entertain your charge against our judge. And our feedback is that [this] was appreciated by our judges because they often get litigants that are representing powerful individuals that actually threaten our judges and the judges are forced to inhibit. But we said continue with what you’re doing. The Supreme Court will protect you. That was unanimous.”

On the matter of strengthening the Shari’ah justice system, Justice Dimaampao discussed how the Supreme Court of the Philippines recognizes “that Shari’ah justice system has been an indispensable component of the country’s national legal framework,” adding that “it coexists alongside Constitution, traditional tribal laws and other relevant laws in this regard.” He took special note of the first ever National Shari’ah Summit held on March 5-6, 2023 at Cagayan de Oro City.

Justice Lazaro highlighted the steady increase in the number of female judges in all trial court levels. She shared that as of December 31, 2023, of the 2,119 total number of judges, 1,172 are female while the remaining 947 are male.

Justice Lazaro also disclosed that gender balance, on the other hand, is more mixed for collegiate courts, adding that as of December 31, 2023, two of the 15 Members of the Supreme Court are female. She also shared that in the Court of Appeals, 31 of 68 Justices are female; in the Sandiganbayan, 9 of the 21 Justices are female; and in the Court of Tax Appeals, 7 of 9 Justices are female. Justice Lazaro also mentioned the Court’s issuance of the Guidelines on the Use of Gender-Fair Language in the Judiciary and Gender-Fair Courtroom Etiquette.

For her part, Justice Singh shared that the Court has embarked on a study on gender representation and mobility to trace the career path of female judges. She likewise related that the Court conducted a study on legal feminism, which involved the review of decisions for the past 15 years. The study demonstrated that it is important to use gender-fair language in court decisions as gender sensitivity is already a step towards inclusivity. In addition, she emphasized the importance of drafting decisions under the lens of legal feminism.

On the issue of human rights, the Chief Justice also shared with Ms. Khan that the Philippine Judiciary issued in 2022 the Rule on Facilitated Naturalization of Refugees and Stateless Persons, which governs the procedure for the filing of petitions for naturalization by refugees and stateless persons recognized by the Philippine Government. The Philippine Judiciary is the first in the world to issue such a procedural rule. Further, he reiterated the Court’s commitment to ensure the protection of its judges, and cited the proposed creation of the Office of the Judiciary Marshals (OJM).

Justice Marquez seconded that the Court is now in the process of organizing the OJM, adding that the Court is currently accepting applications for the position of Chief Marshal. According to Justice Marquez, the passage of the Judiciary Marshals Act was meant to address attacks on and other crimes against judiciary members and other court personnel.

Ms. Khan was accompanied by Mr. Thibaut Guillet, Human Rights Officer, Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, United Nations. Also present were Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), Chief of Staff Atty. Hue Jyro Go, and Head Executive Assistant Kristine Venet Andal, also of PTFoMS.

Ms. Khan holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold the position of Special Rapporteur for freedom of freedom of opinion and expression (FOE). As an advocate, Ms. Khan focuses on human rights, gender equality, media freedom, and a gender perspective on FOE.

Through dialogues with Philippine government offices, Ms. Khan aims to assess the state of rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the country. She is expected, at the end of her visit to the country, to come up with a final report which will be considered during the 59th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2025. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)

United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan and Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo in a discussion during the latter’s courtesy visit on the Court on January 24, 2024. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)

Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo assures United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan that the Philippine Judiciary “ “guided by the basic principles that these freedoms (referring to speech and expression) are measured in a calibrated way that we try to balance the right of people to express their opinion…freedom of the press… with the right of the state to preserve itself” during the latter’s courtesy visit on the Court on January 24, 2024. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)

Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo (fifth from left) poses for posterity with United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan (next to Chief Justice Gesmundo) during the latter’s courtesy visit on the Court on January 24, 2024. Also in photo are (from right) Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez, Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, and Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen. With them are (from left) Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Head Executive Assistant Kristine Venet Andal; PTFoMs Chief of Staff Atty. Hue Jyro Go; Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Human Rights Officer Mr. Thibaut Guillet, and PTFoMs Executive Director Undersecretary Paul M. Gutierrez. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)

Privacy Notice for the Supreme Court website

Statement of Commitment to Data Privacy and Security

The Supreme Court of the Philippines respects your privacy and your data privacy rights, as well as employs reasonable measures to protect your personal data in accordance with Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA), its Implementing Rules and Regulations, and the various issuances of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) (collectively, the Data Privacy Regulations).

Brief Service Description and Its General Purpose

Use of the Supreme Court Website

The Supreme Court website serves as the online repository of Supreme Court information, references, and resources accessible to the public. By agreeing to use the Supreme Court website, you agree to the collection, use, disclosure, processing, and storage of your non-personal identification information to enable the Supreme Court to monitor the website’s engagement.

What personal data do we collect?

The Supreme Court website, other than the Email Form (see separate Privacy Notice – Email Form), does not collect personal data or cookies. The following non-personal identification information, however, are collected and stored by WordPress Statistics, a third-party service, to enable the Supreme Court to monitor the website’s performance through its engagement with visitors:

(a) Browser;

(b) Device; and

(c) Internet Protocol address.

The information collected by WordPress Statistics are limited to the foregoing.

For further understanding, please see the brief discussion on WordPress Statistics below.

Why do we collect your non-personal identification information?

The information collected through WordPress Statistics shall be processed to enable the Supreme Court, not only to effectively manage its website, but also to efficiently disseminate information to the public.

How do we process your non-personal identification information?

Where you have provided us with your non-personal identification information, you agree to our collection, use, disclosure, storage, and other processing for the purposes and in the manner set forth in this Privacy Notice.

WordPress Statistics

The Supreme Court website uses a third-party website, WordPress Statistics, to gather anonymous statistical information from site visitors and analyze the web traffic data. Such data is not shared with any other party. WordPress Statistics collects the following:

  • Browser;
  • Device; and
  • Internet Protocol address.

For more information, you may visit: https://wp-statistics.com/2018/08/16/wp-statistics-gdpr/

How do we protect your non-personal identification information?

The foregoing information, which are encrypted, shall be captured, stored, and retrieved by the Supreme Court through the third-party server, WordPress Statistics, solely for the specific purposes stated in this Privacy Notice, i.e., for reference in helping the Supreme Court in effectively managing its website. The data shall be processed and stored with utmost security and confidentiality.

Only authorized website administrators of the Supreme Court have access to the collected data stored and reported in WordPress Statistics as installed in the Supreme Court website, which in turn are subject to strict security protocols.

How long will we keep your non-personal identification information?

The collected information shall be stored in the Supreme Court website database. The Public Information Office (PIO) directly administers and maintains the database and the Supreme Court website. Only the PIO website administrators and authorized personnel shall be granted access to the database of the Supreme Court website. Sharing of any information that are contained in the said database with unauthorized persons is strictly prohibited.

The non-personal identification information collected by WordPress Statistics is stored in its database and is accessible to the Supreme Court at any time via statistics reports until WordPress Statistics is uninstalled.

In all cases, the information will be stored in a secure manner to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Upon expiration of the period of retention, the information collected through the Supreme Court website shall be disposed of and discarded in a secure manner that would prevent further processing, unauthorized access, or disclosure of your data.

Changes to our Privacy Notice:

The Privacy Notice may be updated from time to time. If material changes are required, any revisions shall be published on the Supreme Court website under the News and Announcements page for your immediate guidance. Therefore, we encourage you to review this Privacy Notice periodically so that you are up to date on our most current policies and practices.

This Privacy Notice was last updated on February 20, 2024.

How do you contact us?

If you have any privacy concerns or questions about your data privacy rights or our Privacy Notice, please contact us through:

Supreme Court of the Philippines
Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila
Philippines 1000
+63 3 8552 9566


The Supreme Court Under
the 1987 Constitution

As in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides that “[t]he judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.” (Art. VII, Sec. 1). The exercise of judicial power is shared by the Supreme Court with all lower courts, but it is only the Supreme Court’s decisions that are vested with precedential value or doctrinal authority, as its interpretations of the Constitution and the laws are final and beyond review by any other branch of government.

Unlike the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, however, the 1987 Constitution defines the concept of judicial power. Under paragraph 2 of Section 1, Article VIII, “judicial power” includes not only the “duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable” but also “to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.” This latter provision dilutes the effectivity of the “political question” doctrine which places specific questions best submitted to the political wisdom of the people beyond the review of the courts.

Building on previous experiences under former Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides for specific safeguards to ensure the independence of the Judiciary. These are found in the following provisions:

    • The grant to the Judiciary of fiscal autonomy. “Appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by the legislature below the amount appropriated for the previous year, and, after approval, shall be automatically and regularly released.” (Art. VIII, Sec. 3).
    • The grant to the Chief Justice of authority to augment any item in the general appropriation law for the Judiciary from savings in other items of said appropriation as authorized by law. (Art. VI, Sec. 25[5])
    • The removal from Congress of the power to deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5 of Article VIII.
    • The grant to the Court of the power to appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service Law (Art. VIII, Sec. 5 [6])
    • The removal from the Commission of Appointments of the power to confirm appointments of justices and judges (Art. VIII, Sec. 8)
    • The removal from Congress of the power to reduce the compensation or salaries of the Justices and judges during their continuance in office. (Art. VIII, Sec. 10)
    • The prohibition against the removal of judges through legislative reorganization by providing that “(n)o law shall be passed reorganizing the Judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its members. (Art. VIII, Sec. 2)
    • The grant of sole authority to the Supreme Court to order the temporary detail of judges. (Art. VIII, Sec. 5[3])
    • The grant of sole authority to the Supreme Court to promulgate rules of procedure for the courts. (Art. VIII, Sec. 5[5])
    • The prohibition against designating members of the Judiciary to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative function. (Art. VIII, Sec. 12)
    • The grant of administrative supervision over the lower courts and its personnel in the Supreme Court. (Art. VIII, Sec. 6)

The Supreme Court under the present Constitution is composed of a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices. The members of the Court are appointed by the President from a list, prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council, of at least three nominees for every vacancy. This new process is intended to “de-politicize” the courts of justice, ensure the choice of competent judges, and fill existing vacancies without undue delay.


The Supreme Court Under
the Revolutionary Government

Shortly after assuming office as the seventh President of the Republic of the Philippines after the successful People Power Revolution, then President Corazon C. Aquino declared the existence of a revolutionary government under Proclamation No. 1 dated February 25, 1986. Among the more significant portions of this Proclamation was an instruction for “all appointive officials to submit their courtesy resignations beginning with the members of the Supreme Court.” The call was unprecedented, considering the separation of powers that the previous Constitutions had always ordained, but understandable considering the revolutionary nature of the post-People Power government. Heeding the call, the members of the Judiciary—from the Supreme Court to the Municipal Circuit Courts—placed their offices at the disposal of the President and submitted their resignations. President Corazon C, Aquino proceeded to reorganize the entire Court, appointing all 15 members.

On March 25, 1986, President Corazon Aquino, through Proclamation No. 3, also abolished the 1973 Constitution and put in place a Provisional “Freedom” Constitution. Under Article I, Section 2 of the Freedom Constitution, the provisions of the 1973 Constitution on the judiciary were adopted insofar as they were not inconsistent with Proclamation No. 3.

Article V of Proclamation No. 3 provided for the convening of a Constitutional Commission composed of 50 appointive members to draft a new constitution; this would be implemented by Proclamation No. 9. Under the leadership of retired SC Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma as its President, the Constitutional Commission of 1986 submitted its output of to the people for ratification.

By a vote of 76.30%, the Filipino people then ratified the Constitution submitted to them in a national plebiscite on February 2, 1987.

President Aquino, other civilian officials, and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, upon the announcement of the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, swore allegiance to the new charter on February 11, 1987 thereby putting an end to the revolutionary government.


The Supreme Court Under
the 1973 Constitution

The declaration of Martial Law through Proclamation No. 1081 by former President Ferdinand E, Marcos in 1972 brought about the transition from the 1935 Constitution to the 1973 Constitution. This transition had implications on the Court’s composition and functions.

This period also brought in many legal issues of transcendental importance and consequence. Among these were the legality of the ratification of a new Constitution, the assumption of the totality of government authority by President Marcos, and the power to review the factual basis for a declaration of Martial Law by the Chief Executive, among others. Also writ large during this period was the relationship between the Court and the Chief Executive who, under Amendment No. 6 to the 1973 Constitution, had assumed legislative powers even while an elected legislative body continued to function.

The 1973 Constitution increased the number of the members of the Supreme Court from 11 to 15, with a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices. The Justices of the Court were appointed by the President alone, without the consent, approval, or recommendation of any other body or officials.


The Supreme Court of
the Second Republic

Following liberation from the Japanese occupation at the end of the Second World War and the Philippines’ subsequent independence from the United States, Republic Act No. 296 or the Judiciary Act of 1948 was enacted. This law grouped together the cases over which the Supreme Court could exercise exclusive jurisdiction for review on appeal, certiorari, or writ of error.


The Supreme Court During
the Commonwealth

Following the ratification of the 1935 Philippine Constitution in a plebiscite, the principle of separation of powers was adopted, not by express and specific provision to that effect, but by actual division of powers of the government—executive, legislative, and judicial—in different articles of the 1935 Constitution.

As in the United States, the judicial power was vested by the 1935 Constitution “in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as may be established by law.” It devolved on the Judiciary to determine whether the acts of the other two departments were in harmony with the fundamental law.

The Court during the Commonwealth was composed of “a Chief Justice and ten Associate Justices, and may sit en banc or in two divisions, unless otherwise provided by law.”


The Establishment of
the Supreme Court of the Philippines

On June 11, 1901, the Second Philippine Commission passed Act No. 136 entitled “An Act Providing for the Organization of Courts in the Philippine Islands” formally establishing the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands and creating Courts of First Instance and Justices of the Peace Courts throughout the land. The judicial organization established by the Act was conceived by the American lawyers in the Philippine Commission, with its basic structures patterned after similar organizations in the United States.

The Supreme Court created under the Act was composed of a Chief Justice and six Judges. Five members of the Court could form a quorum, and the concurrence of at least four members was necessary to pronounce a judgment.

Act No. 136 abolished the Audiencia established under General Order No. 20 and declared that the Supreme Court created by the Act be substituted in its place. This effectively severed any nexus between the present Supreme Court and the Audiencia.

The Anglo-American legal system under which the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands was expected to operate was entirely different from the old Spanish system that Filipinos were familiar with. Adjustments had to be made; hence, the decisions of the Supreme Court during its early years reflected a blend of both the Anglo-American and Spanish systems. The jurisprudence was a gentle transition from the old order to the new.


The Judicial System During
the American Occupation

After Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s, The subsequent occupation by the Americans of the Philippine Islands paved the way for considerable changes in the control, disposition, and governance of the Islands.

The judicial system established during the regime of the military government functioned as an instrument of the executive—not of the judiciary—as an independent and separate branch of government. Secretary of State John Hay, on May 12, 1899, proposed a plan for a colonial government of the Philippine Islands which would give Filipinos the largest measure of self-government. The plan contemplated an independent judiciary manned by judges chosen from qualified locals and Americans.

On May 29, 1899, General Elwell Stephen Otis, Military Governor for the Philippines, issued General Order No. 20, reestablishing the Audiencia Teritorial de Manila which was to apply Spanish laws and jurisprudence recognized by the American military governor as continuing in force.

The Audiencia was composed of a presiding officer and eight members organized into two divisions: the sala de lo civil or the civil branch, and the sala de lo criminal or the criminal branch.

It was General Otis himself who personally selected the first appointees to the Audiencia. Cayetano L. Arellano was appointed President (equivalent to Chief Justice) of the Court, with Manuel Araullo as president of the sala de lo civil and Raymundo Melliza as president of the salo de lo criminal. Gregorio Araneta and Lt. Col. E.H. Crowder were appointed associate justices of the civil branch while Ambrosio Rianzares, Julio Llorente, Major R.W. Young, and Captain W.E. Brikhimer were designated associate justices of the criminal branch. Thus, the reestablished Audiencia became the first agency of the new insular government where Filipinos were appointed side by side with Americans.


The Judicial System Under
the Spanish Regime

During the early Spanish occupation, King Philip II established the Real Audiencia de Manila which was given not only judicial but legislative, executive, advisory, and administrative functions as well. Composed of the incumbent governor general as the presidente (presiding officer), four oidores (equivalent to associate justices), an asesor (legal adviser), an alguacil mayor (chief constable), among other officials, the Real Audiencia de Manila was both a trial and appellate court. It had exclusive original, concurrent original, and exclusive appellate jurisdictions.

Initially, the Audiencia was given a non-judicial role in the colonial administration, to deal with unforeseen problems within the territory that arose from time to time—it was given the power to supervise certain phases of ecclesiastical affairs as well as regulatory functions, such as fixing of prices at which merchants could sell their commodities. Likewise, the Audiencia had executive functions, like the allotment of lands to the settlers of newly established pueblos. However, by 1861, the Audiencia had ceased to perform these executive and administrative functions and had been restricted to the administration of justice.

When the Audiencia Territorial de Cebu was established in 1886, the name of the Real Audiencia de Manila was changed to Audiencia Territorial de Manila.


The Judicial System of the
Pre-Colonization Filipinos

When the Spanish colonizers first arrived in the Philippine archipelago, they found the indigenous Filipinos without any written laws. The laws enforced were mainly derived from customs, usages, and tradition. These laws were believed to be God-given and were orally transmitted from generation to generation.

A remarkable feature of these customs and traditions was that they were found to be very similar to one another notwithstanding that they were observed in widely dispersed islands of the archipelago. There were no judges and lawyers who were trained formally in the law, although there were elders who devoted time to the study of the customs, usages, and traditions of their tribes to qualify them as consultants or advisers on these matters.

The unit of government of the indigenous Filipinos was the barangay, which was a family-based community of 30 to 100 families, occupying a pook (“locality” or “area”) headed by a chieftain called datu who exercised all functions of government—executive, legislative, and judicial—a barangay was not only a political but a social and an economic organization. In the exercise of his judicial authority, the datu acted as a judge (hukom) in settling disputes and deciding cases in his barangay.

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