New, heavier penalties imposed for perjury | Inquirer News

New, heavier penalties imposed for perjury

/ 05:34 AM November 05, 2021

FILE PHOTO Sen. Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines — Government officials and employees face a longer prison term and a stiff fine if they are found lying under oath following an amendment to the law against perjury recently enacted by President Duterte and made public on Thursday.

Perjury is now punishable with a maximum jail term of 12 years and a fine of up to P1 million under Republic Act No. 11594 which was signed by Duterte on Oct. 29 and whose authors included one of his most strident critics who said she was a victim of this crime.


Under the new law, any person who knowingly made untruthful statements, and had testified and made affidavits before anyone authorized to administer an oath, shall be penalized with a minimum imprisonment of six years up to a maximum of 10 years.


If the offender is a public officer or employee, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period, or 10 years and one day to 12 years.

In addition, this person would be made to pay a fine of up to P1 million and would be perpetually disqualified from holding any appointive or elective position in government or in any of its agencies, entities or instrumentalities.

Proponent a ‘victim’

Prior to this amendment, persons found guilty, whether they were state employees or private individuals, were only punished with a jail term of four months and one day to two years and four months. They were not fined.

Proponents of the measure had argued for stiff fines for perjury because many people have changed their stories under oath without compunction and have used false testimonies to support malicious complaints.

Sen. Leila de Lima, a vocal Duterte critic who is detained on what she calls trumped-up drug charges, was one of the authors of the law to impose harsher penalties for perjury, which she said has been used to harass government critics.

“As a victim of perjury myself who has been targeted by false charges based mainly only on perjured testimonies of witnesses, I am elated that the measure amending the country’s Anti-Perjury Law has finally been approved at the Senate,” she said in a statement in May 2020.


De Lima said the sacredness of statements made in legislative and judicial proceedings, as well as in sworn affidavits, were being disregarded seemingly without fear of the consequences.

“The assertion of falsehood, under oath or affirmation, is employed, not only to harass and unjustly punish innocent persons, but also to persecute political dissenters and government critics,” she said in her explanatory note to the bill.

Senate probe

Would-be perjurers would not be deterred by the light penalties, hence the need to make them heavier, she said.

She also said there was a need for higher penalties for public officials committing perjury “in light of recent instances when those entrusted with the duty to see that justice is done are the ones coercing and using government resources to manufacture falsehood.”

Perjury charges have been made against several resources persons in the ongoing Senate investigation of alleged irregularities in the use of pandemic response funds, particularly for the purchase of medical supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which bagged the biggest contracts from government.

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It is still unclear whether the new law raising the penalty on perjury would be applied on any of them if they are tried and convicted.

TAGS: Perjury, Rodrigo Duterte

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