Under the old and now-repealed provisions under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code, vagrancy was a criminal offense that resulted in imprisonment for violators. Under the said old law, “vagrants” were defined as”
1) Any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling;
2) Any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places or trampling or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support;
3) Any idle or dissolute person who ledges in houses of ill fame; ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes;
4) Any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable purpose; and
With the passage of R.A. 10158 in 2012, the above provisions on vagrancy were repealed or deleted resulting in the decriminalization of vagrancy. Notwithstanding, provisions on prostitution were maintained and thus it remains a criminal offense.
Section 1 of R.A. 10158 reads:
Section 1. Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby, amended to read as follows:
“Article 202. Prostitutes; Penalty. – For the purposes of this article, women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes.
“Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this article shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correctional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the discretion of the court.”
R.A. 10158 provided for a clause directing the automatic and immediate dismissal of any pending case involving vagrancy, to wit:
Section 2. Effect on Pending Cases. – All pending cases under the provisions of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code on Vagrancy prior to its amendment by this Act shall be dismissed upon effectivity of this Act.
R.A. 10158 went even further as to direct the immediate release of all persons convicted of vagrancy, viz:
Section 3. Immediate Release of Convicted Persons. – All persons serving sentence for violation of the provisions of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code on Vagrancy prior to its amendment by this Act shall be immediately released upon effectivity of this Act: Provided, That they are not serving sentence or detained for any other offense or felony.