Trial courts can start imposing community service as penalty to minor offenses starting November 2, the Supreme Court (SC) announced on Wednesday (Oct, 7).
“Starting November 2 this year, trial courts can impose community service as a penalty for minor offenses,” the SC Public Information Office (SCPIO) said in a statement.
The SCPIO said the high tribunal had just approved last Tuesday (Oct. 6) “the guidelines in the imposition of community service as a penalty, which promotes restorative justice and jail decongestion.”
“The Court, pursuant to Section 5(5), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, has the power to adopt and promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, among others,” it said.
Under the guidelines, the SCPIO explained that, in crimes concerning arresto menor or arresto mayor, the judge is “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,” it added.
Once an application has been filed, the court should resolve this within five days and should take into consideration “gravity of offense, circumstances of the case, welfare of the society, and reasonable probability that the accused shall not violate the law while rendering the service.”
“An order granting or denying the same shall not be appealable,” it warned.
“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,” it added.