By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte has signed the Community Service Act, a law authorizing the courts to require the rendering of community service instead of jail terms for minor offenses.
Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11362 last Aug. 8.
Under the law, the State will promote restorative justice and decongest jails by authorizing courts to require community service in lieu of jail time for offenses punishable by arresto menor and arresto mayor.
Arresto Menor is imprisonment from one day to 30 days, and arresto mayor is imprisonment from one month to six months.
A court may require defendants to render community service in the area where they committed the crime, depending on the gravity of the case.
A court will specify the number of hours and the period within which to complete the service. This will be referred to an assigned probation officer who will supervise the defendant.
The defendant will also be required to undergo rehabilitative counseling under the social welfare and development officer of the city or municipality concerned with the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
If the defendant violates the terms of his service, he will be rearrested and will serve the full term of the penalty.
The law also stipulates that the privilege of rendering community service in lieu of jail time can be availed of only once.
Sen. Richard Gordon, who sponsored the measure, said the Community Service Act will help decongest the country’s jails. He said the country has a jail congestion rate at 436 percent.