The Supreme Court (SC) has approved the guidelines for trial courts on the imposition of community service as penalty instead of imprisonment for criminal offenders who are sentenced to a prison term ranging from one day to 30 days and up to six months.
The SC Public Information Office said the guidelines were issued last Tuesday and will be implemented starting Nov. 2 after the required publication.
A copy of the SC resolution on the guidelines was not immediately available and is set to be posted in the SC website sc.judiciary.gov.ph.
Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta said the imposition of community service as penalty for minor criminal offenses “promotes restorative justice and jail decongestion.”
The guidelines were issued in line with Republic Act No. 13362, known as the Community Service Act, which was signed into law by President Duterte on Aug. 8, 2019.
The SC PIO said RA 13362 “authorizes the court, in its discretion, to require community service in lieu of imprisonment for minor offenses.”
It said it its press statement:
“Under A.M. No. 20-06-14-SC, all judges concerned, after promulgation of judgment or order where the imposable penalty for the crime or offense is arresto menor (prison term ranging from one day to 30 days) or arresto mayor (one month and one day to six months), shall be duty-bound to inform the accused in open court that he or she has an option to, among others, apply that the penalty be served by rendering community service in the place where the crime was committed.
‘’The judge should also explain to the accused, however, that the same will be barred to apply for community service or probation should he or she choose to appeal the conviction.
“Application for community service must be filed within the period to perfect an appeal and that the said application shall be resolved within five days from filing thereof.
“The court should set a hearing to render or promulgate the ruling for this purpose.
“Upon receipt of the application for community service, the court shall immediately notify the 1. barangay chairperson or authorized representative of the barangay where the crime was committed; 2. representative from the provincial or city’s Probation Office; and 3. local government unit’s Social Welfare Development Officer.
The court may resort to electronic service of the notices to the officers.
“The court shall resolve the application for community service immediately after the hearing thereon. An order granting or denying the same shall not be appealable.
“Failure of the accused to appear at the said hearing, except for justified reasons, shall be a ground to deny the application and a warrant of arrest shall be issued against the accused.”
The PIO said that the gravity of the offense, circumstances of the case, welfare of society, and reasonable probability that the accused will not violate the law while rendering community service should be taken into consideration by the trial courts.
“Under the Constitution, the SC has the power to adopt and promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, among others,” it added.