Sotto pushes for longer jail term for perjury

Robie de Guzman

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has filed a bill seeking for a longer jail term for persons who commit perjury.

Under Senate Bill No. 8, Sotto is looking 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.

The senate president said that with a short jail term, suspects tend to “change the narrative in the middle of their testimonies.”

In his bill, Sotto is proposing to increase the jail time for perjury of up to ten years to serve as deterrent to suspects who retract testimonies to get off sticky situations.

“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 in a statement.

“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 noted.

The Senate President said the Philippines can take the cue from the state of California in the United States, which considers perjury as a capital offense, or from Queensland in Australia, where making false testimonies are 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,” Sotto stressed.

The lawmaker can be recalled pushing for stiffer penalties for perjury following the flip-flopping statements of Peter Joemel Advincula, who claimed to be the hooded man “Bikoy” in online video series, accusing President Rodrigo Duterte’s family members of involvement in the narcotics trade.

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