Press Release
June 7, 2010


Sen. Edgardo J. Angara eyes community service instead of imprisonment of minor offenders. Angara proposes amendment to the provision of Articles 27 and 88 of the Revised Penal Code, which mandates imprisonment or house arrest of 1-30 days.

Concerned of the welfare of children being penalized at a very young age, Angara said that "while we have to rectify our children's mistakes, we also have to keep in mind the trauma they may endure after serving time in prison. This bill seeks to address such potential long-term damages that imprisonment can create in our children."

Arresto menor is currently imposed in offenses such as vagrancy, alarms and scandals, slight physical injuries, theft of an item worth less than P5.00, certain deceits, malicious mischief of up to P200.00 or imprudence and negligence constituting light felony.

As alternative to imprisonment, Angara proposes community service for offenses punishable by arresto menor. "I hope this flexibility in our sentencing procedure will decongest our local jails and prevent altogether the criminalization of the offender by his confinement, not to mention the detrimental psychological effects of children's imprisonment," he stressed.

Angara proposed for a scenario wherein the Court may require the child to serve the penalty of arresto menor through community service in the place where the offense was made, to be supervised by the barangay captain or a municipal officer. In addition, the Court will consider the welfare of the society and the reasonable probability that serving child may remain free without further violating the law.

Community service under this bill consists of actual physical activity that inculcates civic and social consciousness, intended to improve a public work and promote public service. However, following another offense while in community service, the Court may order to serve the succeeding penalty in prison.

The bill was already heard for First Reading and has been referred to the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

"Our children deserve the chances to learn from their mistakes in a more humane way than putting them in jail. This bill not only affords them moderate treatment, but also the opportunity to learn from their mistake in a non-traumatizing way."

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