Sen. Lacson’s Explanation of His Vote on Senate Bill 1354 (Anti-Perjury Bill)

May 18, 2020 - I voted in favor of the measure with very strong reservations, because of the following reasons:

1. A solemn oath – to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – is exactly what it is – SOLEMN. To desecrate the solemnity of that oath, and worse, with the deliberate and evil purpose of destroying other people’s lives whom they could have succeeded in putting away for the rest of their lives by their lies, thus denying them the basic and sacred right to freedom, is most detestable.

2. The penalty equivalent to the punishment for a crime after a perjured witness or accuser has executed under oath a sworn statement or testimony on its material points that maliciously intends to accomplish is what my version of the bill is all about. Needless to say Mr. President, it is my bill’s essence and main purpose. You may want to ask, is this personal to me? You bet it is, Mr. President. Having said that, I hope none among the present members of this Senate of the 18th Congress will someday experience what I had endured for nine long and tortuous years while serving as a duly elected Senator of the Republic, based on perjured sworn statements from characters obviously suborned by malevolent officials in the highest echelons of the government bureaucracy.

My distinguished colleagues, I can only pray that fate will not bring you there. But if and when it comes to that, I’m afraid you will look back and regret why you did not vote with me on this issue.

3. During our committee hearing presided by the honorable chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of the measure, and attended by this representation and another distinguished colleague, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, last Feb 12, 2020, at exactly 1:08 p.m., of which Page 5 of the transcript I would like to share with the rest of our colleagues. At least 2 of our main resource persons, Judge Felix Reyes, president of the Philippine Judges Association; and Assistant Secretary Nicholas Felix Ty representing the DOJ, were asked by the Chair if the proposed penalty under my bill would fall under the so-called cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore may face constitutional challenge. Please allow me to quote verbatim what they had to say:

It is for these reasons, Mr. President, and more, that while I voted in favor of the measure, I am consoling myself with the thought I am settling for second best in supporting the passage of the measure although with very strong reservations.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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