Senator Dick Gordon said the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which he chairs, has approved bills proposing to increase the penalty for the crime of perjury to ensure that the justice system will be respected and no one will mock it.
During the committee hearing conducted recently, Gordon pointed out that offenders are not deterred from making false testimonies and committing perjury because the crime is currently meted the low penalty of a jail term of six months to two years and four months and a fine of P6,000.
“The low penalty discourages victims from prosecuting.”
The veteran legislator added the low penalty also discourages victims from prosecuting.
Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code defines perjury as an act when any person knowingly makes untruthful statements, testifies under oath, falsely incriminates someone, or makes an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.
“Sometimes people do not want to prosecute because of the low penalties, which to them is a real waste of time. So, there may be a reason for us indeed to punish it at a high penalty… These crimes of false testimony in perjury have serious consequences,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
“This is an obstruction of justice.”
“These persons have made the government render an unjust judgment against the innocent. This is an obstruction of justice. We are therefore proposing to increase the penalty of perjury and false testimonies for the deterrence of these crimes in the Philippines and to ensure that justice will be served. In other words, we are sending a shot on the bow of liars. You lie, you pay,” the senator said.
Under the proposed measure, perjury will now be punishable with prision mayor in its minimum period to its medium period. The duration of the penalties of prision mayor and temporary disqualification shall be from six years and one day to twelve years, except when the penalty of disqualification is imposed as an accessory penalty, in which case its duration shall be that of the principal penalty.
The measure also proposed to impose a fine not exceeding P1 million if the person responsible for the commission of the felony is a public officer or employee and “perpetual absolute disqualification from holding any appointive or elective position in the government or in any agency, entity or instrumentality thereof.”