After all the time, money, and effort you spent and exerted, your case will finally be heard by a judge. Like I said in the first part of this blog, SMALL CLAIMS IN THE PHILIPPINES, upon submission of your case to the office, your case and all the other cases filed by other people will be put into a raffle to find out which branch will handle it. You’ll be informed about the branch when you are called back in the office to receive the “Notice of Hearing.” The date and time of the hearing is included in the said document.
On the day of your hearing, make sure to be on time. The judge handling my case was sometimes late. However, not because the judge is late doesn’t mean you can also be late. You are not always sure how many minutes the judge will be late for. Also it’s always better to be on time for any appointment you might have. My case schedule was at 8 am. So as much as I wanted to extend my beauty sleep, I had to wake up early to avoid jeepney queues and, most especially, traffic.
The time indicated on the Notice of Hearing they give you is probably the same time written on the documents of all the other cases that will be heard together with yours. It will be numbered just like the picture below.
So you just have to wait for your turn, which I can say, can take a minute to 4 hours. Possibly more. So be patient. You should practice patience at home if you’re not the patient type. You can . Keep calm, breathe, and enjoy the show… I mean, the case hearings before yours. Remember the saying “Good things happen to those who are patient.”… or was it “to those who wait”? Well, it has the same meaning anyway. Haha. So do not lose your cool. I repeat DO NOT LOSE YOUR COOL.
In case you are wondering, “Peo” here means “People of the Philippines”. It is usually used or seen in criminal cases. I just had to share this as this abbreviation almost gave me a heart attack on the day my case was finally heard. Please. Don’t ask. My heart goes “dudugs, dudugs” (“thump, thump”- Filipino version, in case you didn’t get it hahaha) every time I remember that day. I was confused as to what “Peo”meant and how it was related to my case. I searched online to check what it meant and what came out was “Professional Employer Organization”. I didn’t see how the said organization was connected to case I filed. I was in major panic thinking of a possible reason I could be filed a case on. I almost cried. When I heard what it meant, I had a hint that it was a typo. I WAS PRAYING that it be a typo. I calmed down a bit. My sister and bf helped a lot. Support from friends and family is very important guys. I realized it that time hahaha. And when my name and the other party’s name was called, I was able to confirm that it was a typo. I shouted “Hallelujah!! Praise the Lord! God loves me! OMG! O-M-G!” in my mind. It was like there was a ray of light from above. You may think that I’m being too dramatic but that was seriously how i felt that time. LMAO
Well, would you look at that, I shared my story after all. Right after I told you not to ask. Hahaha. Okay, let’s go back to our discussion…
Make sure to dress appropriately. In Baguio, Sleeveless tops/ dresses are not allowed. So you have to check if your place has the same rule. From what I read, other countries wear formal or semi-casual clothes during small claims hearings. All the videos and articles I watched and read about small claims in other countries say that presenting yourself properly is very important. So I did what they suggested: to dress nicely. I felt weird tho on the day of my first scheduled hearing. It seemed like I was a bit overdressed because I was wearing a semi casual dress while all the other people were wearing normal day to day clothes. And there I discovered that here in the Philippines, most people don’t give a dang about formality. It might depend on each place tho. But it will be better to wear a semi casual outfit just in case. So that if other people in the courtroom are wearing the same then you would be safe. And if ever they aren’t, you would still be safe. Being in the middle is safe. Hahaha
Arriving too early if you have the same schedule as I did will kind of have a disadvantage. Well, at least that’s what happened to me. They won’t let you enter earlier than 8 am unless you are an employee. But if you do arrive early and haven’t had your breakfast yet before going to the place, then it’s better to go find a store where you can buy some snacks. It’s not good to go to your hearing with an empty stomach. Why? Well, you can think clearer and focus more on your case when your stomach is not growling. Trust me, if you are lined up 2nd or 3rd to the last, you’d be thankful you ate. If you can eat a full breakfast, then that would be so much better.
Criminal cases might be scheduled together with civil cases. So if there are criminal cases on the same day and time frame, the judge will hear the criminal cases first. I observed that the judge first hears cases that involves lawyers. Criminal cases usually take up more time than civil cases. On my part, I found it quite interesting to listen to the lawyers defend their clients. There were some who were already spouting nonsense but still kept on going and even repeating their nonsensical argument. I am not a lawyer but I do know if someone is in the wrong. Even the judge himself was shaking his head and smiling from ear to ear. I thought he was gonna crack. Glad he didn’t and I sure am glad the judge who handled my case and those other cases had a good sense of humor. Hahaha. Also, for me, it is quite interesting to witness cases because you learn a lot from it too.
Well, I will end this part here as I feel like it’s too long, and you are getting bored. LOL. I will be uploading the 3rd and last part shortly. Meanwhile:
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Ready to read the third part? Click here: SMALL CLAIMS IN THE PHILIPPINES PART 3