Department of Justice (DOJ): What You Need to Know

The DOJ (Department of Justice) of the Philippines is an agency in charge of upholding the law and providing justice to the masses. Filipinos, both in the country and abroad can benefit from the wide-ranging services and programs enforced by the DOJ, one of which is the certification offered by one of its sub-agencies, the NBI.

From the House of Representatives to the Courts to the National Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice has become an important government department that Filipinos should know more about. So, let’s learn more and find out how we might benefit from this arm of the government that keeps us safe and makes sure our legal system works!

DOJ: What You Need to Know About the Department of Justice
Credits: Phillip Cabaltera / Google Maps

What is the Meaning of DOJ?

DOJ stands for Department of Justice in the Philippines.

What is the Purpose of the DOJ?

The Department of Justice or the DOJ is an executive branch agency that provides legal services for the Philippine Government.

The Department of Justice is the government agency tasked to fight crimes in our country. However, it does not actually handle said crimes but rather functions as a support system to the courts in prosecuting criminals. DOJ serves as the legal counsel, prosecutor, and defender of the Republic.

Brief History

The Department of Justice traces its origins back to April 17, 1897, when it was established at the Revolutionary Assembly in Cavite. It was tasked with establishing a new regime of law in the country. However, it was not included in President Aguinaldo’s Biak-na-Bato Cabinet.

After the country’s independence declaration on June 12, 1898, President Aguinaldo reinstated the Department of Justice. However, it mysteriously disappeared again in his Cabinet after the First Republic was established in 1899.

Following the American occupation in 1898, the military established the Office of the Supreme Court’s attorney. It was then renamed the Office of Attorney General on June 11, 1901. On September 1, the same year, it was merged with the Department of Justice.

In 1916, the Department of Justice was separated from the Attorney General’s Office following the Jones Law. It was then given administrative control over the country’s inferior courts.

Following the Japanese occupation, the Department of Justice was renamed the Commission of Justice. It then became the Ministry of Justice following the country’s emergence from World War II in 1943. After the Commonwealth government was restored following the war, the Department of Justice was re-activated.

The Supreme Court then took over the supervision of the country’s lower courts. This was done through the 1973 Constitution, which was eventually upheld in 1987.

The Ministry of Justice was once again dissolved following the Martial Law of 1973, and it was re-activated as a part of the presidential form of government in 1987. Under the 1987 Constitution, all government ministries were now categorized into departments. The Department of Justice’s primary mission is to uphold the rule of law.

The Office of the Secretary is composed of various agencies and functions, such as the National Prosecution Service.

The various agencies that are part of this department include the National Bureau of Investigations, the Philippine Public Attorney’s Office, and the Office of the Solicitor General. Other departments that are additionally part of this department include the Bureau of Corrections and the Parole and Probation Administration.

Functions and Responsibilities of the DOJ

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is the executive arm of the Philippine Government, which is responsible for the administration and enforcement of laws. The DOJ has primary jurisdictions over the following:

  1. Administration of the Criminal Justice System

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes and individuals. It also handles the supervision of the country’s probation and parole system. Through its various agencies, such as the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP), it can provide effective and efficient services to the public.

  1. Legal Counsel of Government

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is the legal representative of the government of the Philippines. It has the power to represent the interests of the government and its agencies in matters involving its employees and those of its subsidiaries and entities.

Executive Order 292 provides that the Secretary is the legal adviser and attorney-general of government-owned and controlled corporations and their subsidiaries. He or she has the power to resolve controversies involving government agencies and their employees. This power was originally established through Presidential Decree 242. Section 66 to 71 of the same order provides that the Secretary has the power to resolve disputes involving government entities.

The Secretary is also authorized to act on all requests and inquiries regarding legal advice and guidance from government employees and other private parties.

  1. Regulation of Immigration

The Justice Department’s refugee processing unit is also authorized to process applications for the status of refugees. It is part of the Department of Justice’s efforts to comply with the Philippines’ obligations under the 1951 Convention on Refugees and the 1967 Protocol on Refugees.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for implementing the laws governing the admission and stay of foreign nationals and citizenship. It also provides various services related to immigration. In 1994, an administrative order allowed the Secretary or his authorized representative to act on immigration matters. These include the waiver of visas and the admission of aliens.

  1. International Cooperation

The Department of Justice is the central authority in the Philippines when it comes to international criminal matters, including the implementation of treaties and legislation related to the exchange of fugitives. It is also involved in the negotiation of multiple international agreements and treaties. It additionally handles requests for the return of individuals wanted by other countries and the representation of treaty partners in local courts.

The Department is involved in the negotiation of trade and investment agreements with other countries. It is also an ex-officio member of the Co-Vice Chairman of the Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs (CMOA), which is responsible for identifying baselines for the Philippines’ claim for an extended continental shelf. Executive Order 612 and 612-A (2007) allow the Secretary to serve as the co-chairman of the CMOA’s task force on maritime and ocean affairs.

  1. Provision of Free Legal Assistance

The Department of Justice provides free legal assistance to poor and indigent individuals, as well as other qualified individuals, in various types of cases, through its Public Attorney’s Office. This service is carried out through the implementation of Republic Act 9406, which provides that the attorney general may provide free legal assistance to certain categories of individuals.

  1. Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004 (RA 9285) provides for the establishment of the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution (OADR) within the Department of Justice that is responsible for promoting and developing alternative dispute resolution programs. This agency is also tasked with conducting mediation and conciliation services.

The Department of Justice is also involved in the implementation of various national security and social welfare laws:

  • The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act (R.A. 6981), which provides for the protection and security of witnesses against any form of intimidation, coercion or reprisal that may endanger his/her life and safety.
  • Implementation of the Victims Compensation Program through the Board of Claims created under the DOJ (RA 7309). This program provides for the payment of compensation to victims of crimes and/or their families.
  • Administrative Order No. 99 (1988), designated DOJ as lead implementor of Justice System Infrastructure Program (JUSIP) that was devised to improve the country’s criminal justice system by providing assistance in the areas of facilities and equipment, training, research and development.
  • Executive Order 180 (1987), which created the Public Sector Labor Management Council, of which the DOJ Secretary is the Chairperson. The Council was created to promote orderly relations between government employees and their employers, through the use of collective bargaining, conciliation, mediation and arbitration.
  • The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165), which created the Dangerous Drugs Board to advise the President on all matters regarding dangerous drugs and controlled precursors, to coordinate with other government agencies and foreign governments in order to promote a comprehensive and effective national anti-drug abuse program. The Council was also tasked with overseeing the Dangerous Drugs Board’s activities.
  • The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (R.A. 9160), which created the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to which was delegated the task of formulating policies, standards and procedures to prevent and detect money laundering activities in the Philippines. It was also tasked with investigating money laundering cases, coordinating with other government agencies in pursuing these investigations, submitting annual reports on its activities to Congress and recommending measures for the prevention of money laundering.
  • The Human Security Act of 2007 (RA 9372) which created the Human Security Act Commission (HASC) to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases of human rights violations. It also created an Advisory Council on Human Rights Violations that would serve as a mechanism for resolving disputes relating to human rights violations.
  • The Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998 (RA 8505), which created the Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Unit (RVAPU) to identify, assist and protect victims of rape.
  • The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (R.A. 9208), which criminalized trafficking in persons and established the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts.
  • The Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262), which enacted measures to protect women and children from violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Executive Order 53 (2011) amending EO No. 275 pursuant to the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act (RA 7610), designating the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the lead agency in implementing the Child Protection System.
  • Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (IRR of RA), designating the Secretary of Justice as member of Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography that is tasked with the formulation of a comprehensive program for the eradication of child pornography.
  • Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175), the Office of Cybercrime within the DOJ designated as the central authority in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes, including child pornography.
  • Executive Order  45 (2011), which designated the DOJ as the lead agency in coordinating the efforts of government agencies involved in the prosecution and investigation of cybercrimes, including child pornography. The order also tasked the DOJ with setting up an Inter-Agency Council Against Cybercrime that will coordinate all anti-cybercrime efforts.
  • Administrative Order 35 (2012), which designated the Secretary of Justice as Chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations on the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons, the body that undertakes inventory of cases mentioned perpetrated by state and non-state forces;
  • Memorandum Circular No. 68 (2014), creating an Inter-Agency Task Force to Strengthen the Implementation of RA 8049 otherwise known as the Anti-Hazing Law, with the DOJ Secretary as Chairperson.

The Department is charged with performing many duties, including those described below.

  • The Anti-Dummy Law (Commonwealth No. 108), as amended by Presidential Decree 715, whereby it is declared unlawful for any person or entity to act as a dummy or agent in any transaction, business or industry.  The Anti-Dummy Law was enacted to prevent corruption and fraud in the country by prohibiting individuals and corporations from acting as dummies or agents in any transaction, business or industry. This law aims to discourage fraudulent practices and promote transparency in transactions involving tax payers’ money.
  • The Local Government Code (Section 187 of RA 7160) which states that “No person shall be allowed to hold a position in two or more local government units at the same time, nor shall he act as an officer or employee of another local government unit while holding any position in his own.”  The purpose of this law is to prevent conflict of interest and promote efficiency in local governance by prohibiting public officials from holding positions in multiple LGUs.
  • Executive Order 643 (2007) gives the DOJ administrative control over the Presidential Commission on Google Governance (PCGG).

List of Programs and Services of the DOJ

Child Protection Program

The Child Protection Program is a unique program within the Department of Justice that provides a full range of services to victims of child abuse and neglect. The mission of the Child Protection Program is to provide compassionate and professional intervention services to victims of child abuse and neglect in order to protect children from further abuse or neglect by providing support, advocacy, and resources. The Child Protection Program works with families in crisis to identify appropriate services for their individual needs and offers education on topics such as parenting skills, family violence, sexual assault prevention, substance abuse treatment options and domestic violence resources.

Criminal Code Committee

The Criminal Code Committee is responsible for the development of legislation governing criminal law and procedure. The Committee is also responsible for reviewing any amendments to the Criminal Code. The Committee may also appoint subcommittees to deal with particular areas of criminal law, such as impaired driving or offences against children.

DOJ Action Center

The DOJ Action Center is a one-stop venue that serves as an information dissemination channel for public inquiries, complaints, concerns and suggestions relative to the services provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ Action Center is also a venue where the general public can access information on the services being rendered by different units and offices within the DOJ. The DOJ Action Center aims to provide efficient, responsive, and effective delivery of justice to all Filipinos.

Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) is the lead agency tasked to coordinate, facilitate, and monitor implementation of the national anti-trafficking program. It is composed of different government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) concerned with trafficking issues in the Philippines. The council is chaired by the Secretary of Justice and co-chaired by the Secretary of Labor and Employment.

Justice Sector Coordinating Council

The JSCC was created to ensure proper coordination among different agencies involved in the administration of justice in order to achieve efficiency, transparency, and accountability in this sector. The JSCC also serves as a venue for inter-agency cooperation and mutual assistance among its members.

Justice System Infrastructure Program

The Justice System Infrastructure Program (JSIP) is a flagship program of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that aims to provide access to justice for all Filipinos through infrastructure development at the local level. It seeks to improve the public’s confidence in the judiciary by increasing capacity-building efforts of local courts nationwide through provisioning of computers and other office equipment, as well as upgrading court facilities.

Karunungan Village Housing Project

The Karunungan Village Housing Project aims to provide housing for people who are victims of human trafficking. This housing program provides victims with access to safe housing until they are ready to move on with their lives. The program works in conjunction with other local organizations who work with victims of trafficking to help them find jobs and obtain new identities.

Office for Competition

The Office for Competition is the agency of the Department of Justice tasked with assessing and monitoring competition issues in the Philippines. It was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 471, series of 1993, otherwise known as the “Competition Act.”

Office of Cybercrime

The Office of Cybercrime is a department under the DOJ that deals with cybercrime cases in the Philippines. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 defines cybercrime as “any act that falls under any of the following categories: illegal access; computer-related fraud; computer forgery; computer sabotage; and violation of secrecy” [1]. The act also prohibits anyone from “using a computer system for purposes related to these acts.”

Among other things, the Office of Cybercrime investigates and prosecutes cases involving child pornography and online sexual abuse against children (OSACA).

Philippine Development Forum

The Philippine Development Forum is an annual event that aims to provide a venue for the discussion of key issues in development and governance. The PDF was first organized by the Philippine Department of Justice in 2007 with the theme “Justice and Development: Towards an Effective Rule of Law”. The PDF is organized by a committee composed of representatives from various government agencies and non-government organizations.

Victims Compensation Program (VCP)

The VCP is a program designed to help victims financially recover from the psychological and physical effects caused by the commission of crimes against them. It provides financial assistance to all victims who suffer any form of physical injury, death, loss or destruction of property due to criminal acts such as murder, homicide, rape, physical injuries and sexual abuse; unlawful detention; terrorism; kidnapping for ransom; arson; destructive arson; robbery with violence against persons or with intimidation; carnapping with violence against persons or intimidation; carjacking with violence against persons or intimidation; theft with violence against persons or intimidation; extortion through force/intimidation/threats/violence/abuse of authority/position/authority/influence over another person; acts of lasciviousness committed against children under 18 years old who are below 12 years old; physical injuries caused by illegal drugs and chemical substances.

Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program (WPSBP)

The WPSBP is a program that aims to provide protection, security and benefits to witnesses who testify against criminals. It also provides assistance to witnesses whose lives are in danger or those who have been threatened by criminals. The program is currently under review by the DOJ, with plans to improve it further in terms of its efficiency and effectiveness.

National Justice Information System (NJIS)

This is a web-based information system that provides real time access to case records from courts nationwide. It can be used by judges, prosecutors, and attorneys to view current case status and other relevant information such as docket sheets, minutes of proceedings and court orders.

The service also allows users to search for cases filed in any court nationwide using key words in their name or case number which is useful if you want to check if a particular case has been filed against you or if there are any pending cases that involve your name or address. You can also ask for certified copies of court orders issued by filing an application online at NJIS website.

Administrative Order No. 35

This refers to the Executive Order establishing the Inter-Agency Committee on the Prevention of Extra-legal killings and other grave violations of the rights of individuals.

The immediate goal of the Committee is to put in place a mechanism to ensure that Extra-Legal Killings and other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Person will be prevented or properly investigated. The Committee shall also provide technical assistance to state agencies for the proper implementation of policies, programs and projects aimed at preventing extra-legal killings and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and security of person.

– Online Services –

You can apply for a passport, NBI clearance, firearms license to own and possess, and other services through the DOJ’s website. The Philippines is one of the safest countries in Asia due to its strict gun laws. With this online service, you can now apply for a firearms license from your home or office.

Civil Registration Online Services

The Civil Registration System is an online service that allows you to apply for your birth, marriage, and other related documents. The website also provides information on how to search for birth records, change of name and other features.

NBI ID Card System

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is an agency of the Philippine government that works to protect and promote the welfare of the Filipino people. It provides online services such as NBI clearance application, renewal and other related documents. It is also one of the most trusted agencies in the Philippines because it’s responsible for investigating crimes such as robbery, murder, rape, kidnapping and more.

Passport Information Management System

The Passport Information Management System (PIMS) is a database that contains information about all Filipino passports. It is an online system where passport applicants can apply for a new or renewed passport, or check the status of their application. The site also provides information on how to apply for a diplomat or diplomatic passport as well as other services offered by the government.

Firearm Online Services

The Firearm Online Services (FOS) is a website that allows licensed firearm owners to renew their licenses, check their license status and pay their fees online. FOS also provides information on how to apply for a new license and other services offered by the Philippine National Police.

PNP Certification of Firearms Registration and License to Own and Possess

The PNP Certification of Firearms Registration and License to Own and Possess is an online application that allows licensed firearm owners to apply for renewal, update or transfer of their licenses. The site also provides information on how to apply for a new license.

Video:  DOJ Offers Free Legal Assistance

In this video, we learn more about the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the Philippines’ chief law enforcement agency. It is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land, prosecuting offenders, and protecting the rights of citizens.

The DOJ also offers several programs to help victims of crime. One such program is called the Department of Justice Action Center . The DOJ Action Center is a resource for all victims of crime. It gives information on how to report crimes, learn more about your rights, and find legal aid if you need it. They also have a legal aid hotline that gives you information about your rights and how to get legal help if you need it. The DOJ Action Center is a great resource for anyone who has been the victim of a crime, but especially those who are low-income or otherwise unable to afford an attorney.

They also have a legal aid hotline, which gives you information about your rights and how to get legal help if you need it. The DOJ Action Center is a great resource for anyone who has been the victim of a crime, but especially those who are low-income or otherwise unable to afford an attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What agencies are under Department of Justice in the Philippines?

The DOJ pursues its mandate through its agencies. These are the following:

  • BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS – The BuCor is a division of the Department of Corrections that handles the rehabilitation and custody of national offenders. These individuals are those who have been sentenced to serve over three years in prison.
  • BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION – The agency was renamed in 1987 under the Administrative Code to better reflect its name. The Bureau is composed of three structural units, each of which acts as a collegial body that exercises quasi-judicial powers in the enforcement of immigration laws. These groups include the Office of the Commissioner, Board of Commissioners, and Special Inquiry.
  • NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION – The National Bureau of Investigation’s main objective is to establish and maintain a modern investigative service that is capable of carrying out fully the functions of its assigned functions.
  • PAROLE AND PROBATION ADMINISTRATION – The PPA is a less costly alternative to prison for those who are likely to successfully complete their probation or treatment programs.
  • PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT – A Presidential Commission on Good Government was established to recover the ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand Marcos. It was tasked with investigating cases of corruption and graft involving the former President’s family, his close associates, and other business entities. These include the takeover or sequestration of companies or individuals owned or controlled by them during his time in office. The commission’s members are also expected to adopt safeguards to prevent the occurrence of similar corruption and graft.
  • PUBLIC ATTORNEY’S OFFICE – The Public Attorney’s Office is committed to providing the underprivileged, marginalized, and oppressed members of society with the opportunity to access courts and other quasi-judicial agencies. It is also dedicated to ensuring that the rule of law and social justice are maintained in the country. Under the Constitution, everyone should have the opportunity to have access to courts.
  • OFFICE FOR ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION – The goal of the Bureau is to promote and expand the use of alternative resolution techniques in the public and private sectors. It also aims to help government agencies evaluate and monitor the practice of ADR. It requests that Congress require legislative changes to improve the standards of ADR.
  • OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL – The OGC was established on December 1, 1935, as a government corporate counsel division within the Department of Justice. It has since become one of the leading law firms handling corporate law for government-owned corporations and their subsidiaries.
  • OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL – The Office of the Solicitor General is an autonomous and independent office within the Department of Justice that provides legal advice and representation to the government of the Philippines. It also acts as the legal representative of the country’s agencies and instrumentalities in any litigation.
  • LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY – The Land Registration Authority is a government agency that is responsible for the issuance of decrees and certificates of titles and other documents related to land transactions. It is also tasked with providing a secure and reliable record of all land ownership. This is done to promote the development of the country’s economic and social well-being.

2. Who heads the Department of Justice?

The Secretary of Justice is in charge of the DOJ. He or she is assisted by two Undersecretaries and a Deputy Secretary, who are appointed by the President. The Secretary of Justice also serves as Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

3. What are the functions of the Department of Justice?

The Department of Justice is an agency under the Office of the President (OP) and is mandated to provide legal assistance to the people, ensure respect for human rights, protect the youth against any form of abuse and exploitation, promote justice and ensure that all laws are faithfully executed by providing legal aid to all poor litigants without charge. It also provides assistance to victims of crime.

4. How does the DOJ Protect our Rights?

Apart from its prosecutorial role, the DOJ also acts as an advocate for Filipinos when they face injustice or persecution by others. This includes protecting their right to equal treatment under law regardless of race, gender, or religion; protecting them against abuses by individuals or groups; and prosecuting those who violate their rights under Philippine law.

5. How can we get assistance from the DOJ?

If you have been a victim of an offense under federal criminal law or have information about someone who has committed an offense under federal criminal law, you can file a complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor or Provincial Prosecutor where you live or where the crime was committed against any public official who may have violated his/her duty or committed any offense against his/her office.

6. Is it a part of the judiciary branch or the executive branch?

The Department of Justice is part of the executive branch since it answers directly to the President. It does not answer to any branch of government except for the executive branch. In fact, it acts as an agent for other branches such as legislative and judiciary. For example, it provides legal assistance to members of both houses when they are sued for libel or slander in their official capacity as lawmakers or members of government agencies or offices

7. Does a secretary head the department?

Yes. The secretary of justice is the head of this executive department and serves as its chief legal adviser and counselor to the president and other officials. The secretary is also responsible for representing government before courts or tribunals when they are sued in their official capacity.

8. How does the DOJ work with other government agencies, local government units and foreign governments?

The Department of Justice works closely with other government agencies and local government units to ensure that its programs are aligned with national goals and objectives. The DOJ also coordinates with other federal agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on issues related to employment services, overseas employment and migrant workers. The DOJ also works closely with foreign governments on issues such as extradition, mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs), extradition treaties, mutual legal assistance requests (MLARs) and extradition requests.


The Department of Justice (DOJ) is one of the three principal departments in the Philippine Government. Its main function is to prosecute cases against criminal offenders who violate existing laws and regulations in order to ensure that justice is served. It also takes charge of prosecuting those who commit corruption and other crimes that may have political implications.

The DOJ, along with its counterparts in other countries all over the world, was established for the purpose of ensuring that all people are treated equally under the law. It also serves as an instrument for implementing policies by ensuring that they are carried out properly and efficiently by upholding justice for everyone.

In addition, the DOJ provides various services to OFWs to help them in their daily lives as well as to protect them from possible harm and exploitation. The following are some of these services:

  • Issuing passports for expatriates;
  • Registering contracts of employment;
  • Processing applications for visa extensions;
  • Investigating crimes committed against OFWs; and
  • Providing legal assistance to OFWs

As an OFW, you need to know how to protect yourself from possible legal issues while working abroad. If you are facing any kind of legal matter while working abroad or if you need legal advice regarding your employment contract or visa status, then you should contact an attorney or an accredited representative from a Philippine embassy or consulate office in your country.

Contact Information

Address: Padre Faura Street Ermita, Manila 1000 Republic of the Philippines
Telephone Number: (+632) 8523 8481 to 98
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