Lawmaker bats for stiffer penalty vs false testimonies in Congress

MANILA — A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Wednesday filed a bill that imposes a heavier sanction for perjuries or false testimonies committed during congressional hearings.

Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque filed House Bill 5112 following the sudden turnaround of SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, who recanted his earlier testimony in a Senate inquiry.

Earlier Monday, the former Davao police officer allegedly tagged as the head of the so-called vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS) said his conscience led him to allegedly tell the truth and back the claim of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato that the group was real.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Roque said the punishment for a false testimony in Congress is only six months and one day of imprisonment.

“Since it’s only for six months and one day, this is probationable,” Roque explained.

He proposed to raise the penalty to prision mayor minimum, or six to eight years of imprisonment.

“If such penalty is imposed, you will no longer be put under probation; you will directly be convicted,” he added.

Roque said it was important for people to understand that lying while under oath has a corresponding punishment.

In his explanatory note of the bill, Roque said perjuries committed during inquiries in aid of legislation “undermine the serious task of the legislature in crafting laws that address some national need.”

“When false testimonies are given under oath in a congressional proceeding for some malicious or questionable political end, such contemptible acts make of the second branch of government no more than a malleable, utilitarian tool,” Roque said. FILANE MIKEE CERVANTES/