MANILA – Senate President Vicente Sotto III was pushing for a maximum jail term of six to 10 years for suspects who will testify before the court only to retract it later on to get off sticky situations.
In his Senate Bill No. 8, Sotto seeks to amend the Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, which imposes six months to two years imprisonment for persons who make false testimonies under oath.
“Every now and then, we hear stories of people being charged with the crime of perjury – it could be in the news or just in the neighborhood. It is an act which undermines the solemnity of the oath that one has undertook to ‘tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,’” Sotto said.
“A lot of people – prominent or otherwise – would subsequently and without batting an eyelash change their stories made under oath like it was not a big deal. This may be partly due to the imposable penalty that goes with the crime of perjury,” he added.
Sotto said with the threat of a short jail term, suspects tend to change the narrative in the middle of their testimonies.
He added the Philippines can take the cue from the state of California in the United States, which considered perjury as a capital offense, or from Queensland in Australia, where making false testimonies were punishable by up to life imprisonment.
“We must not allow anyone to play games with our laws. We must ensure that our laws are respected at all times,” said Sotto./PN