Senate tackling bill penalizing ‘false complaints’ vs officials
MANILA, Philippines—While senators are hearing the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona, the chamber is also working on a measure that would punish the filing of “false complaints” against public officials.
A bill co-authored by Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Francis Escudero classifies such complaints as an “aggravating circumstance of perjury.”
Senate Bill No. 3093 penalizes “a person who knowingly files a false complaint against a public officer of a government agency or any of its subsidiaries, including local government units.”
The measure also seeks to prevent false charges made in the course of a trial or investigation “as leverage against the public officer in order to gain advantage in a government contract or to receive a favorable decision or resolution in an ongoing dispute controversy or matter where the latter is the governing authority.”
In such a case, a guilty accuser could be jailed for up to 12 years on top of a P100,000 fine. The jail term could be shorter and the maximum fine would be P50,000 if the false accusation is made outside of an ongoing trial or investigation.
SB 3093, a consolidation of separate bills, was prepared jointly by the committee on justice and human rights and the committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws. It is included in the chamber’s ordinary business on second reading.
Congress is now on a Lenten break and will resume sessions on May 7. In the case of the Senate, it will resume as an impeachment court for the continuation of the trial of Corona, who is accused of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Defense lawyers earlier assailed what they called false accusations made by prosecutors against the Chief Justice, as contained in the articles of impeachment. A number of senator-judges had criticized the way the complaint was crafted by the team led by Representative Niel Tupas Jr., the lead prosecutor.
Outside the impeachment trial, Corona was accused by a blogger of owning a property in the United States, primarily because he was supposedly using it as a mailing address. Corona vehemently denied the allegation, but later admitted that his daughter, a physical therapist, owned a piece of real estate in California.
After the break, the defense will resume its presentation of evidence, after which, the prosecution will have the option of rebuttal.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding officer, earlier said the trial could be completed before congressional session adjourns sine die.
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