Senator Alan Peter “Compañero” S. Cayetano on Monday rallied the Senate to put more teeth into laws penalizing perjury in the country, with Senate President Miguel Zubiri and Senator Francis Tolentino agreeing and saying it is time penalties are increased for giving false testimony.
Cayetano made the call after Jhudiel Osmundo Rivero, one of the 10 former soliders charged in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, recanted the testimony he had given during an inquiry by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs chaired by Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
“Ang point ko Mr. President is untenable and unsustainable na ang perjury ay hindi pinapansin sa ating bansa or hindi kasuhan,” Cayetano said in a manifestation during the plenary session on May 29, 2023.
To ensure that the recanted testimonies are acted upon, Cayetano asked if Senator dela Rosa is amenable to reopening the Senate probe which ended on May 11, 2023.
“I would like to put on the floor and for our discernment whether or not Senator Bato would be amenable to opening the hearing again. But also if the Committee on Justice would join and focus on laws regarding lying under oath including perjury and contempt,” Cayetano said.
“I’m not saying na walang karapatang bumaligtad ang mga witnesses. Ang point ko, ano’ng penalty nila? Kung nagsisinungaling sila, dapat parusahan sila,” he added.
Cayetano explained that in various states in the US, lying under oath is almost likened to major crimes. He then sought to strengthen the perjury law in the country so that there would be a certainty that perjurers would be penalized.
“It isn’t really the penalty but the certainty that a case will be filed and that you will be jailed… Hindi pwedeng dito sa Senate ay lalaruin-laruin lang tayo, nagsisinungaling y’ung mga witnesses, or sasabihin three to six years na lang iyan, palipasin na lang itong administration,” he said.
Zubiri, Tolentino support Cayetano’s call for tougher perjury law
Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Senator Francis Tolentino expressed full support for Cayetano’s call for tougher perjury law.
“I totally agree that we must toughen our laws on perjury. … I am in favor of increasing the penalties and the jail time because it’s becoming a norm now. It’s about time just like in the US that when you give an affidavit, that’s it. When you recant it, perjury charges will be filed against you,” Zubiri said.
Thanking Cayetano for raising the matter, Tolentino said he agreed that the penalty for perjury should be increased.
“It’s about time that we either amend our rules to make it more strict in so far as the treatment of witnesses acting with malice and malicious intent, and lying in violation of several articles of the Revised Penal code,” he said.