By Mario Casayuran
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson today pressed Congress to pass a stronger law that would impose heavier penalties on lying witnesses and the public officials and employees who might be behind them.
Lacson made the appeal in today’s Senate regular session, in a speech sponsoring Senate Bill No. 1354 entitled ‘An Act Amending Articles 183 and 184 of Act No. 3815, As Amended, Otherwise Known as the Revised Penal Code,’ as embodied under Senate Committee Report No. 49.
“In my decades of experience as a public servant, I have come face to face with countless instances where a witness went the extra mile to invent hundreds of other lies just to maintain the first lie that he/she made under the sacred oath of truth,’’ Lacson, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said.
“I myself had been a victim of untruthful testimonies fabricated with the end goal of destroying my person. Never would I forget the unadorable persons answering the names of Ador Mawanay and Cezar Mancao, and a host of other characters who [wove] unthinkable lies and narratives of the crimes that I supposedly committed,’’ he said.
“Not only that, Mr. President. In their quest to put this representation behind bars, even government prosecutors were used and even sent abroad to assist in the preparation of affidavits containing lies and innuendos that the Court of Appeals found to be incredible to believe.
“This led to my acquittal with finality by the Supreme Court via the dismissal of the said cases, and served as the final nail in the saga of the vilification campaign against me since 2001,’’ he added.
Lacson initially filed the bill on May 19, 2011 during the 15th Congress, and refiled it during the 17th Congress. He thanked Senate committee on justice and human rights chairperson Sen. Richard J. Gordon for helping the measure advance on the legislative agenda.
In his speech, Lacson also said he finds it vital “to increase the penalty for the commission of false testimonies, particularly, by amending Article 183, Book II, Title Four of Act 3815 entitled ‘False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation.’’’
“It goes without saying that this measure will deter the commission of the crimes of false testimony and perjury in solemn affirmation and uphold the sacredness of oath in testimonies and sworn statements by increasing the penalty for their commission,’’ he added.
“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.”