On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Officers and Members of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc., I welcome all of you this evening as we inaugurate the new permanent home of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI).
I say a special Welcome and Mabuhay to Justice Jose Portugal Perez for agreeing to be our keynote speaker today. I personally know that Justice Perez is supportive of arbitration and other alternative modes of settling disputes, in the same manner that the venerable institution he belongs to and represents today, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, encourages the use of these extra-judicial methods of deciding problems because they help unclog the dockets of the judiciary and therefore improve its efficiency.
Since it encourages arbitration, the highest court of the land almost always upholds the validity of agreements to arbitrate as well as the finality of arbitral awards. Fairly recently, on October 23, 2009, the Court – in “Philippine Economic Zone Authority vs. Edison Congeneration Corporation” – ruled that parties cannot refuse to comply with the arbitration clause imbedded in their agreements, on the ground of the alleged invalidity of the main contract. Under the principle of separability, an arbitration clause is deemed independent and autonomous of the main contract. Consequent to such separability, an arbitration agreement does not automatically terminate when the main contract itself comes to an end. Ladies and gentlemen, let us clap our hands for Justice Pepe Perez and the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
I also especially welcome Ambassador Francis Chua, President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry for agreeing to deliver an inspirational address. Indeed, we in PDRCI are eternally grateful to the organization he represents, the PCCI, for helping locate our office, which we are inaugurating now. As we all know, PDRCI traces its roots in the PCCI. It started as the Committee on Arbitration that the PCCI created in 1976 during the presidency of Mr. Fred Elizalde. Its first chairman was our companero, Atty. Mike Varela who still sits in our board of trustees up to the present as our vice-chairman. Palalpakan po natin si Atty. Mike Varela na naririto ngayon sa ating piling. Modesty aside, may I add that prior to joining the Supreme Court in 1995, I myself was active in the PCCI as Director, Vice President and General Counsel.
In 1976, my former law partner who actually knows more about law and arbitration than me, Dean Custodio O. Parlade, was named chairman of the PCCI Committee on Arbitration. Dean Parlade devoted a large part of his professional life sharpening the parameters of arbitration and shaping its rules, administrative procedures and applicability. Later on, the Committee metamorphosed into a separate corporate entity, the PDRCI but it still acted as the arbitration arm of the PCCI, in the same manner as the International Court of Arbitration relates to the International Chamber of Commerce. Palakpakan din po natin si Dean Parlade.
May I also extend our welcome and thanks to Dr. Andrew Tan, the chairman of Alliance Global and Megaworld for generously donating to PCCI itself this entire floor in this new landmark, the Trade and Commerce Building, in the newest commercial hub of our country, the McKinley Town Center of Fort Bonifacio Global City. Mabuhay po kayo, Dr. Andrew Tan.
Distinguished friends, ladies and gentlemen, we at PDRCI are jubilant today because we know that this office – modestly furnished and small in size it may be – marks a distinct milestone, for it symbolizes the permanence of PDRCI as an institution dedicated to the fast and efficient settlement of disputes. Arbitration is the only method of settling controversies in which the litigants can choose their own judges and craft the rules to be used in deciding their own disputes. It is akin to “privatizing” the courts, a concept that is in keeping with the international development of trade and industry.
This institutionalization comes parallel to PDRCI’s recognition in the international arena. Together with 16 other arbitration centers and associations in the Asia-Pacific Region, PDRCI pioneered in joining the Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Group (APRAG) in 2004 during a conference in Sydney, Australia. PDRCI has forged cooperation agreements with the leading foreign arbitration centers, such as the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board, Indian Council of Arbitration, Indonesian National Board of Arbitration, Singapore International Arbitration Center, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators of Australia.
In closing, may I thank you again for taking time out to celebrate this inauguration of our modest office as a significant milestone in the history of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc.
Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay! po tayong lahat.