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Lacson wants heftier sanctions vs lying witnesses

/ 01:10 PM January 15, 2020
Sen. Panfilo Lacson

Sen. Panfilo Lacson answers questions from the media on January 14, at the Senate. INQUIRER.net PHOTO / CATHY MIRANDA

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines should have stronger perjury laws that would impose heftier penalties against lying witnesses.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said this on Wednesday after lawyer Jude Sabio said he was withdrawing the complaint he filed before the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging that President Rodrigo Duterte committed crimes against humanity in his brutal drug war.

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“Naging tig-singkong duling na lang ang pagsisinungaling under oath sa Pilipinas. That is why there is a compelling reason why we need a stronger perjury law,” Lacson said in a statement.

(Telling lies under oath has become very cheap in the Philippines.)

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“Kahit nga sa mga pagdinig ng Senado, o maging sa mga korte, pabali-baliktad ang mga testigo o resource persons depende kung sino huling kausap,” he added.

(Even in the hearing of the Senate, or in court, witnesses or resource persons are turning sides, just like that, depending on who they are talking to.)

In his complaint before the ICC, Sabio had alleged that the President committed crimes against humanity in the government’s war on drugs.

But in a sworn statement, the lawyer said he wants the court to trash the complaint, saying it was supposedly just a part of the opposition’s political propaganda.

At present, perjury is punishable by “arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, that is, imprisonment for six (6) months up to two (2) years and two (2) months.”

Lacson had earlier called out Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo for giving false testimony before the Senate probe on “ninja cops” in 2019, and moved that Baloyo be cited for contempt.

The senator also cited the case of Peter Joemel Advincula, who attempted to link the President’s family to the narcotics trade.

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Advincula eventually recanted his claims and said he was used by people for political ends.

“Our present perjury law only carries a prison term of six months up to two years and two months. With a penalty that light, we can expect lying witnesses not only in Senate hearings but even before the courts,” Lacson pointed out.

In 2019, the senator refiled a bill that proposes heavier penalties against lying witnesses, including public officials and employees who may be behind them.

“It is noteworthy that because of these untruthful and inconsistent statements, we have witnessed how some men were robbed of their youth and freedom for a long period of time only to be freed later on account that the reason for their incarceration was based on a ‘polluted source,’” Lacson said.

Under the measure, anyone who gives false testimony in any criminal case shall suffer “the same penalty for the felony the defendant is being accused of.”

A public official or employee who ordered such a false testimony shall face the penalty for the felony the defendant is being accused of, in its maximum period along with a fine of up to P1 million and perpetual absolute disqualification from any appointive or elective position in the government.

Edited by JPV
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TAGS: Jude Sabio, Nation, news, Perjury, Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Witness
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