The Department of Justice (DOJ) is a Philippine government agency mandated to uphold the law and provide public justice. Whether in the country or overseas, Filipinos will benefit from the programs and services of the DOJ through its agencies. For instance, Filipinos can prove they have clean criminal records by obtaining an NBI Clearance Certificate, utilized when applying for a job or securing government-issued identification. To learn more about this agency, keep reading as we share everything about the Department of Justice (DOJ) – Philippines.
Founded under the Executive Act of 1898, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for upholding the law and ensuring public justice throughout the Philippines. It exists as the primary law agency of the Philippine government, which functions as its legal counsel and prosecution branch. In addition, the DOJ is attached to various government agencies, administering the provision of their programs and services. Therefore, DOJ Philippines helps maintain a peaceful society and provides efficient and unbiased justice.
What is the Department of Justice (DOJ) – Philippines
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is a government-owned and controlled agency mandated to uphold the rule of law in the Philippines. Through Executive Order (EO) 292, the DOJ serves as the principal law agency of the Philippine government, functioning as its prosecuting arm.
It’s an executive department responsible for fighting against crimes throughout the country, led by the Secretary of Justice – nominated by the President, and certified by the Commission on Appointments. Although the agency doesn’t directly handle crimes, it helps the courts prosecute criminals.
The DOJ functions as a legal counsel, prosecutor, and defender. It aims to promote a peaceful and fair society based on truth, fairness, accountability, and transparency through investigating crimes, prosecuting offenders, and supervising the country’s correctional system.
Furthermore, its attached agencies will serve as legal counsel and representatives during proceedings and litigations that require a lawyer. They will also help implement the laws of the Philippines to aliens entering and staying in the country. DOJ constituent agencies will also offer free legal services to indigent and other eligible citizens.
The history of the Department of Justice traces back to April 17, 1897, during the Revolutionary Assembly in Cavite. It was mandated to establish the country’s new regime of law. However, the department was not in the Biak-na-Bato Cabinet of President Emilio Aguinaldo. On June 12, 1898, President Aguinaldo restored the Department of Justice after the country gained independence. But it disappeared again during the establishment of the First Republic in 1899.
After the Americans occupied the country in 1898, the military founded the Office of the Attorney of the Supreme Court. Then, the agency was renamed the Office of the Attorney General and later called the Department of Finance and Justice. Under the Jones Law, the agency became a separate body in 1916, giving it administrative governance over the inferior courts in the country. During the Japanese occupation, the agency was renamed the Commission of Justice.
In 1943, it became the Ministry of Justice after the proclamation of the Second Philippine Republic. They revived the agency after the Commonwealth government and restored it when World War II ended. Afterward, the Supreme Court took administrative control over all courts from the DOJ and upheld the 1987 Constitution. During Martial Law in 1973, it was called the Ministry of Justice. Today, the DOJ stands by its motto, “Justice for All,” and its mission to uphold the rule of law.
Functions & Responsibilities
As the Philippine government’s executive arm, the DOJ has jurisdictions on the following:
Administration of the Criminal Justice System
The agency is responsible for investigating crimes and prosecuting offenders via the National Prosection Service (NPS) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Moreover, the agency supervises the country’s probation and correction system through the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP), the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), and the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA).
Legal Counsel of Government
The DOJ functions as the Philippine government’s legal representative in any investigation or proceeding that requires the services of a lawyer through the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). It also serves as a legal representative of its attached agencies and other government-owned and controlled corporations, including their officials, agents, and subsidiaries.
Regulation of Immigration
Apart from legal counsel, the agency offers immigration and naturalization regulatory services. Through the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the DOJ also implements citizenship laws and the admission and stay of aliens. Under Administrative Order No. 142, the Secretary of DOJ or the duly authorized representative should handle immigration-related concerns, such as visa waiver and admission of aliens, excluding deportation matters. The agency also manages the refugee status application via the DOJ Refugee Processing Unit (DOJ-RPU).
The DOJ is the Republic of the Philippines’s central authority relative to extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT). It’s also involved in various aspects of international cooperation, including drafting and implementing agreements and legislation and extradition and MLAT negotiation.
As per the Philippine Extradition Law (PD 1069), the agency manages requests for extradition or mutual legal assistance and acts as the representative in Philippine courts treaty partners. Furthermore, the agency partakes in trade and investment agreements and negotiations with foreign countries.
Provision of Free Legal Assistance
Through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), the agency also offers free legal assistance or represents indigent and poor litigants and other qualified individuals during civil, criminal, and labor cases, non-commercial disputes, administrative, and court-like proceedings.
Alternative Dispute Solution
Concerning mediation and conciliation, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004, or RA 9285, established the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution (OADR). This DOJ-attached agency encourages and expands the utilization of the act in civil and commercial disputes.
Functions under the following laws and executive issuances:
Aside from fulfilling its mandate under EO 292, the DOJ is involved in national security, penal, and social welfare laws, including:
- Witness Protection, Security, and Benefits Act (RA 6981)
- Victims Compensation Program (RA 7309)
- Administrative Order No. 99 (1988)
- Executive Order 180 (1987)
- Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165)
- Human Security Act of 2007 (RA 9372)
- Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998 (RA 8505)
- Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208)
- Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262)
- Executive Order 53 (2011) under the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act (RA 7610)
- Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (IRR of RA)
- Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175)
- Executive Order 45 (2011)
- Administrative Order 32 (2012)
- Memorandum Circular No. 68 (2014)
- Anti-Dummy Law (Commonwealth No. 108)
- Local Government Code (Section 187 of RA 7160)
- Executive Order 643 (2007)
Here are the attached agencies to DOJ Philippines:
- Bureau of Corrections
- Bureau of Immigration
- National Bureau of Investigation
- Parole and Probation Administration
- Presidential Commission on Good Government
- Public Attorney’s Office
- Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Office of the Government Corporate Counsel
- Office of the Solicitor General
- Land Registration Authority
DOJ Programs & Services
Administrative Order No. 35
It refers to the EO inaugurating the Inter-Agency Committee on the Prevention of Extra-Legal Killings and other violations against the rights of individuals. The Committee’s goal is to establish a system ensuring the prevention or proper investigation of Extra-Legal Killings and other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty, and Security of a Person.
Also, the Committee will offer technical assistance to state agencies to ensure the appropriate enactment of projects, programs, and policies promoting the prevention of Extra-Legal Killings and other Grave Violations of a person’s rights.
Child Protection Program
The DOJ created this program to help the victims of child abuse and neglect by providing various services. This program delivers professional yet caring intervention services to assist the victims of child abuse and neglect. It aims to protect children from continuous abuse or neglect by providing support, resources, and advocacy.
In addition, the program cooperates with families in crisis, allowing them to determine suitable services to meet their individual needs. Under the Child Protection program, families can also access educational resources regarding family violence, parenting skills, domestic violence, sexual assault prevention, and substance abuse treatment alternatives.
Civil Registration Online Services
This online service enables the application of essential documents, such as birth and marriage certificates. It also features details about changing names, searching for birth records, and more.
Criminal Code Committee
The Criminal Code Committee involves the improvement of legislation concerning criminal law and procedure. The Committee reviews amendments to the Criminal Code and designated subcommittees to handle areas of criminal law, including offenses against children and impaired driving.
DOJ Action Center
This center is a one-stop place functioning as an information dissemination agency, accepting public inquiries, suggestions, and concerns regarding the services DOJ provides. In addition, the center gives the general public access to information about the DOJ-attached units and offices. It aims to deliver effective, efficient, and responsive justice to all Filipino citizens.
Firearm Online Services
The Firearm Online Services or FOS is a website enabling license renewal of licensed firearm owners. With FOS, firearm owners can also check the status of their licenses and pay fees online. It also offers information about new license applications and various services from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking
Also known as IACAT, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking is the chief agency mandated to integrate, expedite, and supervise the enactment of the national anti-trafficking program. IACAT has various government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) handling trafficking matters in the country.
Justice Sector Coordinating Council
The Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) ensures proper collaboration with agencies concerned with justice implementation to attain accountability, efficiency, and transparency. Also, it functions as a venue for mutual assistance and inter-agency cooperation among its members.
Justice System Infrastructure Program
The JSIP provides all Filipinos access to justice via the development of local-level infrastructure. It aims to enhance public trust in the judiciary by boosting local courts’ capacity-building efforts throughout the country. This program involves upgrading court facilities and providing office equipment, like computers.
Karunungan Village Housing Project
This project focuses on providing safe housing to victims of human trafficking until they are prepared to move on. Also, it works simultaneously with other local organizations handling victims of trafficking to assist them in creating new identities and finding jobs.
National Justice Information System (NJIS)
The NJIS is a web-based information system offering access to real-time case records from courts in the country. It’s designed for attorneys, judges, and prosecutors, allowing them to check current case status and other relevant data.
NBI ID Card System
As one of the most trusted agencies in the country, the NBI promotes and safeguards the welfare of Filipinos by investigating crimes. The NBI ID Card System is an online service that enables the application and renewal of NBI Clearance and other documents.
Office for Competition
This department under the DOJ is responsible for investigating and assessing competition matters in the country, launched through the “Competition Act:” or Executive Order No 471, series of 1993.
Office of Cybercrime
Another department under the DOJ, this office handles cybercrime cases in the country. According to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, the department should prevent anyone from utilizing a computer system to perform computer-related crimes, such as fraud, illegal access, forgery, sabotage, and violation of secrecy.
Philippine Development Forum
The DOJ also conducts an annual event called the Philippine Development Forum (PDF), which provides a venue for deliberation regarding governance and development issues. In 2007, the Philippine Department of Justice first organized the forum. The PDF committee also consists of representatives from different government agencies and NGOs.
PNP Certification of Firearms Registration and License to Own and Possess
It refers to the online application enabling licensed firearm owners to request renewal, transfer, or update their licenses. Also, this site contains information about the new license application process.
Victims Compensation Program (VCP)
The VCP aims to assist victims in recovering financially from the physical and psychological effects of crimes committed against them. This program provides financial aid to victims who suffered death, loss/destruction of property, or injury due to criminal acts, like homicide, murder, sexual abuse, rape, unlawful detention, kidnap for ransom, arson, robbery, carnapping, theft, acts of lasciviousness, robbery, etc.
Witness Protection, Security, and Benefits Program (WPSBP)
This program ensures the safety of witnesses testifying against criminals by providing them with protection, security, and benefits. Under WPSBP, witnesses who received threats or whose lives are in danger will receive assistance.
As one of the principal departments of the government, the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates crimes and prosecutes criminal offenders violating the prevailing laws and regulations to ensure fair and efficient delivery of justice. Apart from that, DOJ is responsible for prosecuting corruption and other crimes with political implications. Thus, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is vital to ensure peace and justice in the Philippines.