Not wanting anyone else to experience his ordeal nearly 20 years ago, Sen. Panfilo Lacson is throwing his full support behind a Senate bill that punishes severe penalties on fake witnesses – and their handlers.
Lacson said he would never forget his experience as a victim of a smear drive using “witnesses” who gave false testimonies just to malign his reputation.
“I myself had been a victim of untruthful testimonies fabricated with the end goal of destroying my person. Never would I forget the unadorable persons answering the names of Ador Mawanay and Cezar Mancao II, and a host of other characters who weaved unthinkable lies and narratives of the crimes that I supposedly committed,” he said in his co-sponsorship speech for Senate Bill 1354.
He was referring to his experience during his first years as senator under the Arroyo administration, “where a witness went the extra mile to invent hundreds of other lies just to maintain the first lie that he/she made under the sacred oath of truth.”
Worse, he said government prosecutors were used and even sent abroad to assist in the preparation of affidavits containing lies and innuendos.
But the Court of Appeals eventually found such innuendos incredible, and this led to Lacson’s eventual acquittal by the Supreme Court via the dismissal of the said cases.
“Hence, Mr. President, this representation finds it vital to increase the penalty for the commission of false testimonies, particularly, by amending Article 183, Book II, Title Four of Act 3815 entitled ‘False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation,’” Lacson said.
Lacson is a co-author of Senate Bill 1354, along with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Richard Gordon and Leila de Lima.
Under Senate Bill 1354 – which incorporates Lacson’s Senate Bill 28 filed in 2019 – any person who shall incriminate any person in the commission of a crime using false testimony shall suffer the same penalty as that being imputed.
If the person responsible for this act is a public officer or employee, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period. The offender shall also face a fine of P1 million and perpetual absolute disqualification from public office. Any person who shall willfully and knowingly offer in evidence a false witness or testimony in any judicial or official proceeding shall be punished as guilty of false testimony.
Lacson noted that while he had filed such a measure as early as 2011, it was left languishing in the legislative mill.
“It goes without saying that this measure will deter the commission of the crimes of false testimony and perjury in solemn affirmation and uphold the sacredness of oath in testimonies and sworn statements by increasing the penalty for their commission. It is for these reasons that I fully support the passage of this measure,” he said.