Gordon: Community service for minor offenses, a game changer

Published October 18, 2020, 3:47 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Richard Gordon lauded on Sunday, Oct. 18, the Supreme Court’s (SC) recent approval of the guidelines for the imposition of community service for minor offenses under the Community Service Act (Republic Act 11362).

Senator Richard Gordon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee said courts will be allowed to impose community service instead of imprisonment.

“This will be a game changer. In fact, we should have done this a long time ago. This law can help reduce overcrowding in jails, which will make it easier for prison officers to manage the penitentiaries in a way that will allow the country to meet its basic obligations to the prisoners 

under their care,” Gordon said in a statement.

“Through RA 11362, jails in penitentiaries could be decongested as minor violation offenders will no longer be imprisoned. They will also be protected because they will be separated from those convicted of more serious crimes,” he added.

Gordon said the law can also help address the growing number of pending trials, decongest the court dockets, and speed up the judicial process.

Under the Community Service Act signed on August 8, 2019, the court will prepare the order for community service and will specify the number of hours to be worked and the period within which to complete the service.

Those who will commit minor offenses will also have to undergo rehabilitation counselling by a social welfare officer. If the offenders violate the terms of the community service, the court may order re-arrest.

“Instead of serving time in jail, minor offenders will serve the community where the crimes were committed,” Gordon said.

He said this will also “encourage civic consciousness and promote public service through this law that aims to help minor offenders restore their dignity especially those who committed crimes for the first time.”

“We want to give them another chance in life and to assist them in rehabilitation programs. Through this, we can help transform the people and the communities. This will be beneficial for everybody,” he added.