To finally put an end to the practice of fake news and false testimonies meant to destroy people’s reputations, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson batted for the swift passage of a Senate bill providing heavier penalties against perjury.
Lacson – himself a victim of such false testimonies in the past – noted that while he had filed such a measure as early as 2011, it was left languishing in the legislative mill.
“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. It is for these reasons that I fully support the passage of this measure,” he said in his co-sponsorship speech for Senate Bill 1354, which he co-authored with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Richard Gordon and Leila de Lima, at the Senate hybrid session Wednesday.
Under Senate Bill 1354 – which incorporates Lacson’s Senate Bill 28 filed in 2019 – any person who shall incriminate any person in the commission of a crime using false testimony shall suffer the same penalty as that being imputed.
If the person responsible for this act is a public officer or employee, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period. The offender shall also face a fine of P1 million and perpetual absolute disqualification from public office. Any person who shall willfully and knowingly offer in evidence a false witness or testimony in any judicial or official proceeding shall be punished as guilty of false testimony.
Lacson recalled experiencing firsthand being a victim of a smear drive using false testimonies, especially during his first years as senator during the Arroyo administration.
At the time, he came 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.”
“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 II, and a host of other characters who weaved unthinkable lies and narratives of the crimes that I supposedly committed,” he said.
Worse, he said government prosecutors were used and even sent abroad to assist in the preparation of affidavits containing lies and innuendos. But the Court of Appeals eventually found such innuendos incredible, and this led to Lacson’s eventual acquittal by the Supreme Court via the dismissal of the said cases.
“Hence, Mr. President, this representation 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,’” he added.