MANILA - Senator Richard Gordon filed Wednesday a bill seeking to authorize the court to replace jail term with community service for minor offenses.
“The community service envisioned in the measure consists of any action or physical activity, which inculcates civic consciousness intended toward the improvement of public works or promotion of public service,” he said.
Senate Bill 2195 or Community Service Act of 2017 seeks to decongest jails and promote restorative justice by authorizing the court to require community service in lieu of jail sentence for offenses punishable by arresto menor and arresto mayor.
The jail term of arresto mayor is 1 month and 1 day to 6 months, while arresto menor is 1 day to 30 days.
Gordon said the proposed measure is timely considering the current jail congestion rate of the Philippines at 436 percent, “making it the world's second highest most overcrowded prison in the world, next to Haiti.”
Haiti’s prison system is overcrowded by 454.4 percent, the report noted.
As an example, Gordon said a professional cager who commits an offense punishable by arresto mayor or arresto menor can teach basketball to the youth instead of serving jail time.
“If he violates the terms of community service, the court shall order his re-arrest and he is to serve the full term of the penalty," he said.
The community service privilege, Gordon said, may only be availed of once.
“Minsan lang ho, kailangan matuto ka," the senator said.
The offender is also required to undergo “rehabilitative counselling under the social welfare and development officer” of the city or municipality concerned.