Senate puts more teeth to law that punishes people committing perjury | Inquirer News

Senate puts more teeth to law that punishes people committing perjury

/ 03:37 PM May 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure that would provide more teeth to laws penalizing perjury.

With 20 affirmative votes and no negative votes, the chamber passed Senate Bill No. 1354 seeking to amend provisions of Articles 183 and 184 of the Revised Penal Code.

The bill would impose longer prison sentences and larger fines for individuals, especially public officials, who will commit perjury, or the act of making untruthful statements under oath.


“In other words, you lie, you pay… Do not trifle with the truth,” Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate justice and human rights committee and sponsor of the bill, said.


Under the bill, persons who would commit perjury face a higher penalty of prison mayor in its minimum period to prison mayor in its medium period, meaning it will become six years and one day to 10 years of imprisonment.

At present, persons guilty of perjury are only sentenced to arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correcional in its minimum period or from four months and one day to two years and four months of imprisonment.

Imprisonment in its maximum period, along with a fine of P1 million, as well as perpetual disqualification from holding any appointive or elective position in government will be imposed on public officers or employees who would commit perjury, according to the bill.

According to Gordon, reforms under the bill would help address the issue of low conviction rates for people charged with perjury.

“As we uncovered during our committee hearing, a factor for the low cases is the low penalty imposed on the crime of perjury. The current penalty for perjury is subject to probation and the bail imposed is also low, roughly P6,000 only,” he said.

“Given the high costs involved in prosecuting a crime, there is no motivation to prosecute the crime of perjury,” he added.


Gordon added that the measure would help dissuade people who come to legislative hearings in the Senate and lie even when they are under oath to speak the truth.

“We must make a statement. They give false testimonies and hamper the administration of justice,” the senator said.

“Perjury does not only damage the victim of the crime but also damages the administration of justice—which is the most important. The law of perjury was created not only because the man lies or somebody lies, but because he practically impugns the time of the tribunals, hence, he damages the time and efforts of our people,” he added.

Aside from Gordon, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Leila de Lima co-authored the bill.

‘Very strong reservations’

Lacson said he voted in favor of the measure but with “very strong reservations.”

“A solemn oath, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is exactly what it is: Solemn. To desecrate the solemnity of that oath, and worse, with the deliberate and evil purpose of destroying other people’s lives whom they could have succeeded in putting away for the rest of their lives by their lies, thus denying them the basic and sacred right to freedom, is most detestable,” Lacson said.

He added that his version of the bill seeks to impose the same penalty equivalent to the crime that a perjured witness is accusing a defendant of.

“The penalty equivalent to the punishment for a crime after a perjured witness or accuser has executed under oath a sworn statement or testimony on its material points that maliciously intends to accomplish is what my version of the bill is all about,” the senator said.

“Having said that, I hope none among the present members of this Senate of the 18th Congress will someday experience what I had endured for nine long and tortuous years while serving as a duly elected Senator of the Republic, based on perjured sworn statements from characters obviously suborned by malevolent officials in the highest echelons of the government bureaucracy,” he added.

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“My distinguished colleagues, I can only pray that fate will not bring you there. But if and when it comes to that, I’m afraid you will look back and regret why you did not vote with me on this issue,” he added.

TAGS: Nation, News, Perjury

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