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 Contemporary Community Based Paralegalism in the Philippines: Opportunities and Challenges

This resource is part of The Justice and Development Working Paper Series, which serves as a platform for innovative thinking on justice and development that features work from World Bank and external authors.

Community-based paralegalism has been active in the Philippines for the past 30 years, and yet its contribution to access to justice and the advancement of the rights and entitlements of the poor has been largely undocumented. This paper attempts to provide a framework study on the history, nature, and scope of paralegal work in the Philippines, based on the experience of 12 organizations that are active in the training and development of community-oriented paralegals. The study first provides a working definition of a community-based paralegal, and then examines the work of paralegals, their systems of accountability or lack thereof, and issues regarding recognition by the state and civil society actors. It also explores facilitating and hindering factors that aid or impinge upon the paralegals’ effectiveness. A major contributor to the work of paralegals was the democratization process after the overthrow of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and the continuing evolution of legal rights spurred by the relatively progressive constitution ratified in 1987. Three dimensions of paralegal’s work are identified and explored, namely, building rights awareness, settling private disputes, and increasing state and corporate accountability. The study ends with conclusions and recommendations with regard to sustainability, monitoring and evaluation, funding, and the prospects for paralegal work over the long term.

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Uploaded on: Dec 16, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 17, 2015
Year Published: 2012
Co-Authors: Hector Soliman, Maria Roda Cisnero


Resource Tags

Resource Type: Impact Evidence Issues: Children's Rights, Community Organizing, Community Paralegals, Environmental Justice, Ethnic / Religious Minorities' Rights, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Labor & Employment, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights Tool Type: Reports / Research, Training Resources & Popular Education Method: Mediation & Conflict Resolution Languages: English Regions: Southeast Asia Nature of Impact: Acquisition of Remedy / Entitlement / Information, Change in institutional / government practice, Change in law or policy, Legal Knowledge and Skills, Rights Consciousness Institutions Engaged: Local Court, Local legislative representative, National Legislative body, NGOs, Police, Traditional / Customary Authorities Evaluation Method: Case Studies, Interviews