MANILA, Philippines – Two days after veteran Davao policeman Arturo "Arthur" Lascañas retracted his statement denying the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS), a congressman filed a bill increasing the penalty on those caught giving false testimony before Congress.
Kabayan Representative Harry Roque filed House Bill (HB) Number 5112 on Wednesday, February 22, after Lascañas, a retired police officer with the rank of Senior Police Officer 3, corroborated earlier claims by whistle-blower Edgar Matobato on the alleged involvement of President Rodrigo Duterte in the DDS.
It was a turnaround from his earlier statement during a Senate hearing in October 2016, where Lascañas swore to tell the truth before senators. (READ: Lascañas ready to face perjury, murder charges – lawyer)
Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code currently imposes a penalty of 6 months and one day on a person caught giving a “false testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation.”
“Itinaas ko po ang parusa to prision mayor minimum, ibig sabihin 6 to 8 years. Ibig sabihin, ‘pag ikaw ay napatawan ng ganyang parusa, ‘di ka na puwedeng mag-probation. Siguradong pagkakakulong na,” said Roque in a press conference.
(I raised the penalty to prision mayor minimum, which means 6 to 8 years. That means if you are meted that punishment, you cannot be put under probation. Imprisonment is guaranteed.)
The lawmaker argued that those testifying in congressional hearings should understand the gravity of lying while under oath.
"Hindi naman kasi pupuwede na tetestigo ka sa harap ng taong-bayan at lantaran kang magsisinungaling. Importante na maintindihan ng tao na kapag ikaw ay sumuway sa iyong panunumpa na sabihin ang pawang katotohanan lamang, may parusang ipapataw sa iyo, lalo na if ito ay false testimony before Congress,” said Roque.
(They cannot testify in front of the public and blatantly lie. It's important for people to understand that when you violate your oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, there is a penalty for that, especially if you give a false testimony before Congress.)
Read the full text of HB 5112 below: