By Hannah Torregoza
Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Sunday urged Congress anew to impose heavier penalties and stricter penalties to witnesses who lie under oath, including perpetual disqualification from holding public office for government officials behind their false testimony.
De Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, said she was the best example of a victim who has been targeted by false charges based only on testimonies of perjured witnesses who wantonly lie under oath.
“If there’s anyone who really wants this bill to be enacted into law, that’s me,” said de Lima, who is nearing her third year of detention, in a statement.
“In fact, I pushed for the passage of a measure amending the country’s Anti-Perjury Law during the previous 17th Congress, and prioritized its re-filing, now logged as Senate Bill (SB) No. 373, this current 18th Congress,” she stressed.
De Lima was ordered detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center for her supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Only recently, the United States approved a resolution that seeks to impose the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act against Philippine officials who supposedly orchestrated de Lima’s arrest.
The US resolution involves the revocation of US visas and freezing of assets of those responsible for de Lima’s arrest.
Under the measure she filed, or Senate Bill No. 373, the penalty for perjury will be raised by two degrees—from the current arresto mayor or six months or up to two years and two months imprisonment to prison mayor or six years and one day to 10 years behind bars.
“To deter the commission of these crimes, it is high time that we increase the penalty for perjury by two degrees, that is, to prision mayor in its minimum to medium periods, or imprisonment of from six years and one day to ten years,” she said in her explanatory note.
The bill also mandates that a person giving false testimony against the defendant in a criminal case shall suffer the same penalty meted out to the defendant and increases penalty for subornation of perjury.
Subordination of perjury, which is also sought to be punished under her bill, occurs when any person procures or induces another to swear falsely or execute a statement under oath for the purpose of charging or accusing another person with a crime or offense.
“I am absolutely sure that there are such public officials and other individuals who procured or induced the giving of false testimonies against me in various fora – the 2016 House Justice Committee hearings, Senate hearings, re: Kerwin Espinosa and the GCTA mess, and the ongoing trial in my three drug cases,” de Lima said.
“I have exposed some of these suborners of perjury and will expose more in due time,” she vowed.