Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jinggoy: Lying witness must suffer same penalty of convicted defendant

MANILA-Given how easy some unscrupulous individuals could let out baseless and malicious accusations against other people before various forums and the mass media especially in time for the coming 2016 elections, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada seeks grave punishment for witnesses who shall provide false testimonies.
Senate Bill 2573 which was filed last Monday, the first session day of the Senate after the holiday break, aims to amend Article 180 of the Revised Penal Code and impose heavier penalty for lying witnesses.
The same bill was first introduced by Sen. Estrada on July 2007 during the 14th Congress. The measure was then re-filed during the previous 15th Congress. The bill was then referred to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws.
Under the current laws, the penalty for false testimony depends on the sentence imposed on the person against the false testimony was given.
“For instance, if a witness testifies falsely against the accused charged with homicide, and such accused is convicted and sentenced to reclusion temporal (minimum of 12 years imprisonment) and the witness was later found to be lying and was in turn prosecuted and convicted, the penalty imposable to such lying witness is onlyprision mayor (minimum of 6 years),” the bill’s explanatory note reads.
“This is grossly unfair to the accused falsely convicted as a result of a witness’ false testimony,” Sen. Estrada stresses.
The proposed bill further provides that if the defendant is acquitted, the lying witness shall suffer the penalty imposable upon the defendant if the latter is convicted.
“The bill is in no way intended to silence or intimidate witnesses who seek to expose anomalies in the government. In fact I support them through the passage of a comprehensive Whistleblower Protection Act,” says Sen. Estrada, also the author of Senate Bill 1286 that guarantees security and benefits for whistleblowers.
“But while we pursue transparency and accountability in our government, we must ensure that this crusade does not lead to mere besmirching reputations, assassinating characters and destroying one’s honor through fabrication of stories and exposition of tall tales just like Benhur Luy and Ruby Tuason did in relation to the PDAF scam,” he adds.

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