Bill seeks community work for light crimes
Sweep floors, stay out of jail.
Community service may soon replace jail time as penalty for light and petty offenses.
The House of Representatives has unanimously approved a bill allowing people convicted of “lesser crimes,” such as alarm and scandal, petty theft and slight physical injuries, to be meted community service as punishment instead of incarceration.
Under House Bill No. 335, authored by Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn L. Primicias-Agabas, also the chair of the revision of laws committee that endorsed the measure, the penalty for “arresto menor” of one day to 30 days in jail will be community service instead, along with rehabilitative counseling.
The bill would amend Article 88 of the Revised Penal Code, which imposes arresto menor on alarm and scandal, slight physical injuries, theft of cash or valuables worth less than P500, deceit, malicious mischief and other lesser crimes.
Such offenses “may still be corrected through restorative justice, a system of criminal justice where offenders are encouraged to undergo cooperative processes that may aid in their transformation and reformation, and eventually bring them back to the fold of the law and the community,” Agabas said.
The proposal is expected to greatly ease congestion in city or municipal jails.
It would require offenders to render community service wherever the supposed crime was committed, under terms determined by the court and the supervision of either the barangay captain or a probation officer.
The offenders would also be required to undergo rehabilitative counseling.
Community service will involve “physical activity, which will inculcate civic consciousness, and intended toward the improvement of a public work or promotion of a public service.”
Offenders, however, may avail themselves of such a penalty only once, according to the bill. “When found in violation of the terms established for the community service, the court may order [an offender’s] arrest and the penalty will be served in jail,” it states.
A similar measure was filed and approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives during the 16th Congress, but it was not enacted into law.
Coauthors of the bill are Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu province, Representatives Joseph Stephen Paduano of the party-list group Abang Lingkod and Ramon Rocamora of Siquijor province.
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