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MARCH 25, 2013

NR # 3054B

Decongest jails by imposing community service on minor law offenders

Lawmakers have proposed to decongest the countrys cramped jails by imposing community service on minor law offenders in lieu of imprisonment. HB 3497, a substitute bill to the original HB 639, introduced by Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, and sponsored and defended in plenary by the Committee on Revision of Laws chaired by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, is entitled An Act authorizing the Court to require community service in lieu of imprisonment for the penalty of arresto menor, amending for the purpose Chapter V, Title III, Book One of Act. No.3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code. The prime objective of this bill is to decongest local jails by authorizing the courts to render a sentence of community service in lieu of imprisonment for offenses punishable by arresto menor (one day to 30 days), the authors said. The measure provides that the community service to be rendered shall be under the surveillance of a barangay captain and probation officer. The proposed penal reform measure contained in HB 3497 had been approved by the House of Representatives in December 2010 and subsequently transmitted to the Senate for its consideration Other major proponents of the measure include Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), Emerenciana de Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela), Cresente Paez (Party-list, COOPNATCCO), Giorgidi Aggabao (4th District, Isabela), Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III (Party-list, Abono), Eduardo Gullas (1st District, Cebu), Emil Ong (2nd District, Northern Samar) and Chairman Primicias-Aggabas (6th District, Pangasinan). If the conditions imposed on community service sentence had been violated, the Court shall order the re-arrest and the penalty shall be served in jail, they said. The Court, as provided under the measure, shall issue an order that the sentence was served if the service had been completed. The privilege of rendering community service in lieu of service in jail shall be availed of only once. Aside from the defendant rendering community service in the place where the crime was committed and subjected to rehabilitative counseling, the court shall consider the welfare of the society and the reasonable probability that the person sentenced shall remain at liberty without violating the law. Community service shall consist of any actual physical activity which inculcates civic consciousness, and is intended towards the improvement of a public work or promotion of a public service, the bill states. (30) dpt