Longer prison terms

May 19, 2020

A PROPOSED legislation, now pending consideration in Congress, imposing longer prison sentences and heftier fines for making untruthful statements under oath should enjoy public support.

Note that the 24-member Upper House of Congress has already approved on third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) No. 1354, which seeks to amend Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code.

The said article of the RPC penalizes perjury. It is committed by a person when he knowingly makes untruthful statements under oath during judicial proceedings, such as legislative hearings.

In seeking severe penalties for perjury, authors of SB No. 1354 said the measure is seen to deter people, especially government officials and employees, from making false statements.

Sen. Richard Gordon, one of the youngest members of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, is sponsor of SB No. 1354 and chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights.

Gordon said the heavier penalties under the proposed piece of legislation are meant to deter people from committing perjury and create a culture of truth-telling in the government.

“In other words, you lie, you pay for it…Do not trifle with the truth,” said the highly-articulate senator from Olongapo City, a former secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Along with Gordon, co-authors of SB No. 1354 are Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Sens. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Leila de Lima.

We agree with the authors of the proposed law that there, indeed, is a need to hit hard at people, particularly elected and appointed public servants, who give false testimonies during public hearings.

This, if we really want President Duterte’s total war against graft and corruption in government offices and agencies to succeed even before his six-year presidency ends at 12 noon on June 30, 2022.