Courts can now impose community service for minor offenses

MANILA, Philippines – A new law allows Philippine courts to impose community service instead of jail time for minor offenses.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11362 or the Community Service Act, which amends the Revised Penal Code, on August 8. Malacañang released a copy of the law on Wednesday, August 14.

The new law allows courts to "require community service in lieu of imprisonment for the penalties of arresto menor and arresto mayor."

Here's a copy of the law:

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Arresto mayor is a type of correctional penalty that means jail time of at least one month and a day to at most 6 months.

Arresto menor is a type of light penalty that means imprisonment for at least one day to at most 30 days.

The new measure is supposed to help decongest jails and promote restorative justice.

It defines community service as "any actual physical activity which inculcates civic consciousness, and is intended towards the improvement of a public work or promotion of a public service."

Under Community Service Act, community service should be rendered by the defendant in the place where the crime was committed. When the court decides on the terms of the community service, it should consider the gravity of the offense and the circumstances of the case.

The court has to specify the number of hours and the period within which the community service shall be completed.

If defendants violate the terms of the community service, they will have to serve the full imprisonment term of the penalty, in jail or in their home.

The chance to be penalized with community service instead of prison time will only come once, says the law. If the individual is again convicted of a crime for which the punishment is imprisonment, they will have to go to jail. –


Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at