Starting Nov. 2, those convicted of minor offenses can be sentenced to community service instead of jail time, based on guidelines from the Supreme Court that will implement a law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last year.
Minor offenses are those punishable by jail time of up to six months, called arresto menor and arresto mayor under Philippine laws.
Signed in August 2019, the Community Service Act aims to decongest the country's prisons. The Supreme Court did not immediately release the guidelines except for saying on Wednesday that it had been finalized.
Based on a copy of the law that was posted on th Officialk Gazette, the community service must be done in the area where the crime was committed. The judge must specify the number of hours and the punishment will be administered by a probation officer. The offender must also undergo counseling.
"Community service shall consist of any actual physical activity which inculcates civic consciousness and is intended towards the improvement of a public work or promnotion of a public service," according to the law.
Community service as a punishment can be availed only once. Those who violate it risk serving a full jail term, according to the law.