Speech the Quintessential Arbitrator (Be the Best You Can Ever Be!); (Keynote Speaker at the Opening of the Construction Arbitration Accreditation Course Organized by CIAC in Collaboration with the Philippine Institute of Construction Arbitrators and Mediators, Inc. (PICAM) Held at Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City, 14 April 2008.)

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Byline: SENIOR JUSTICE JOSUE N. BELLOSILLO (Ret.)

A PLEASANT and scintillating morning to all of you.

I bring you also the greetings of my colleagues in the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission - Commissioner Isaac S. David and Commissioner Samson C. Laso.

I am happy to open today this 6th Construction Arbitrators Accreditation Course. The organizers of this program could not have chosen a more wholesome and conducive venue in Mindanao than this alluring, inspiring, intriguing City of Davao. Davao, as we know, is the home of the regal and predatory Philippine eagle, and the rare, exotic and mythical waling-waling; and where nature's beauty blends with ethnic and cultural diversity. With these pleasant surroundings and friendly atmosphere, I am sure this training course will be productive and useful to the would-be accredited arbitrators of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission.

I understand this idea of having this arbitration course in Davao City for the people of Mindanao started some three years ago when a public forum was conducted on the ADR Law and Its Impact on the Construction Industry by CIAC and CECOPHIL then headed by Engr. Salvador P. Castro Jr. In that forum, the Mindanao stakeholders strongly recommended that CIAC or its arbitral tribunals hear cases here so that construction disputes in Mindanao could be referred to CIAC, instead of the regular courts. The reason given was that it would be more convenient and much less expensive for the parties. In fact, it was DTI Regional Director Merly Cruz, now DTI Undersecretary, who challenged CIAC to train arbitrators and mediators here so that more people from Mindanao could easily avail of the arbitral process and help declog the dockets of the courts.

Human conflicts are as old as humanity itself. Out forebears, as early as dawn of history, already engaged in internecine struggle for domination, in all its ugly details. Thus, Cain slew his brother Abel because he could not accept it in his heart of hearts that his younger brother was more favored in the eyes of God; envy or jealousy, in other words, caused the fatal sibling dispute.

Also, the Jews were perennially locked in a war of attrition with their main rival, the Philistines, who were out to establish a hegemony in the region. And man, by his very nature, instinctively assumes a belligerent attitude towards anyone, or anything for that matter, that threatens his person, his family or his clan. As time unravels, this problem becomes more and more complicated that man, in his finite wisdom, thinks it best to fashion out more ingenious ways to resolve it.

Even the construction of the key first skyscraper, the Tower of Babel, envisioned by the multitude to reach the high heavens, was never completed due to irreconcilable differences among the contractor, the developer, the workers and many other personalities involved in the construction. And there was no CIAC and no arbitrators to hear their gripes. There was no PICAM member then, otherwise their dispute could have been resolved with equity and dispatch, with cheaper arbitrators' fees, if you must, and the Tower of Babel perhaps could now be caressing the skies, who knows!

Indeed, construction disputes are inextricably intertwined with human frailty. And, as civilization advances, man has come up with clever ways to settle more complex disputes, among which is arbitration, the new-found mechanism of bringing parties together to solve their disputes in a peaceful, cordial and orderly manner.

Construction arbitration is a complex process. It requires the application of highly technical expertise and practical experience. Certain details of construction, such as violation of specifications for materials and workmanship, violation of the terms of agreement, interpretation and/or application of contractual provisions, amount of damages and penalties, commencement time and delays, maintenance and defects, payment default of employer or contractor, and changes in contract cost can come to the fore to be sifted and ironed out during the process. …