Should youth offenders do community service instead?

Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2017 01:25 AM

MANILA - The Senate Committee on Justice on Wednesday invited stakeholders to discuss several bills proposing community service as a form of penalty for youth offenders with minor offenses. 

Among those who attended were law enforcement representatives, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon said the bills, including his Senate Bill 1452, primarily aim to help decongest jails all over the country. 

According to Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) representatives, although jails are almost 600 percent over capacity, such proposals may not make a big impact in decongesting jails because many youth offenders with minor offenses are not in jail. 

Philippine National Police representatives also say that many such minor offenses do not reach court levels because they are tackled at the barangay level. 

DSWD officials meanwhile admitted that they also do not have the facility to accommodate all youth offenders with minor offenses. Currently, the DSWD has 25 "Bahay Pangarap"s where youth offenders are taken into custody.

The DOJ did not discuss its position on the matter. 

Gordon suspended the hearing and rescheduled it on May 30, requesting all stakeholders to submit position papers and proposals as the community service bills are included in the Senate's list of priority measures.