Sotto pushes for longer jail term for perjury

Robie de Guzman   •   July 17, 2019   •   1298

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – 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.

Lacson, Sotto to Duterte: Don’t resign, just apply anti-graft laws to both friends, foes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.

READ: Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.

Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.

The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.

“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.

“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.

Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Nag-abandona sa matandang babae sa tulay sa Maynila, arestado

Robie de Guzman   •   September 4, 2020

Ephraim Tan Yap (kaliwa) at ang kanyang inabandonang tiyahin na si Fulgencia Tan (kanan)

MANILA, Philippines – Nasa kamay na ng mga otoridad ang mga nag-abandona sa isang senior citizen sa ilalim ng isang tulay sa Maynila.

Ayon sa Manila Police District Special Mayor’s Reaction Team (MPD-SMaRT), nahuli ngayong Biyernes si Ephraim Tan Yap, 51, pagkatapos ng isinagawa nilang operasyon.

Ayon kay SMaRT Chief Rosalino Ibay Jr., si Yap ay pamangkin ng matandang babae na kinilalang si Fulgencia Tan na kamakailan ay natagpuang nag-iisa at nakahiga sa ilalim ng McArthur Bridge.

“Nalaman natin na ang victim ay isang person with disability (PWD) at senior citizen. We conducted a follow-up operation na nagresulta sa pagkaka-aresto ng tatlong malefactor natin,” ani Ibay.

Sa pagharap kay Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, sinabi ni Yap na tatlong linggong na-confine ang matanda sa isang ospital at napunta sa kanya ang responsibilidad sa pag-aalaga rito nang mamatay ang asawa nito.

Ngunit sa halip na alagaan, lumapit umano siya sa isa pang suspek na si Emerita Decilio upang magpatulong na dalhin ang matanda sa isang charity group.

Inabutan niya umano si Decilio ng perang nagkakahalaga ng P1,500 para ipambili ng pangangailangan ng kanyang tiyahin.

“Lumapit po ako kay Emie, pagtapos po noon pumunta kaming barangay para sa certication na inaabandona ko na ang auntie ko. Kaya humingi po ako ng tulong para maipadala siya sa mga center,” ang wika ni Yap.

Inamin naman ni Decilio na inabandona niya ang matanda matapos umano silang tanggihan ng nilapitang grupo.

“Mayroon na po akong certificate sa barangay na si Mrs. Tan ay abandoned kaya kailangan tanggapin ng Missionary of Charity kasi abandoned na,” paliwanag ni Decilio.

“Pero wala pong tumanggap sa’min, kaya desperado na po ako. Aaminin ko po iniwan ko po,” dagdag pa niya.

Ayon kay Ibay, mahaharap ang mga suspek sa kasong paglabag sa Article 275 ng Revised Penal Code o ‘Abandonment of Persons in Danger and Abandonment of One’s own Victim.’

Kabilang din sa mga sasampahan ng kaso ang drayber ng tricycle na inarkila ni Decilio na si Rogelio Espino.

Several senators laud signing of Anti-Terror Act despite oppositions

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Several senators have lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 despite oppositions coming from different sectors.

“Much credit goes to PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). With all the pressure coming from different directions against the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, at the end of the day, it is his strong political will that mattered the most,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a statement Friday.

“I cannot imagine this measure being signed under another administration. If only for this, I take my hat off to the president,” he added.

Lacson, one of the principal authors and sponsor of the measure in the Senate, vowed that he would “exert extra effort in guarding against possible abuse in its implementation, notwithstanding all the safeguards incorporated in this landmark legislation.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also expressed elation over the enactment of the controversial bill.

“I am glad that the president has sifted through the rubble and saw the importance of the law!” he said in a message to reporters.

Senator Francis Tolentino also called the signing of the law as “very timely” and “historic” as the nation needed the measure.

“It just goes to show that a stable peace and order climate should go hand [in hand] with economic rejuvenation post COVID-19,” he added.

The new law repeals the Human Security Act of 2007 and penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure allows suspected terrorists to be detained for up to 24 days without warrant. It also authorizes the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets and accounts of individuals or groups tagged as terrorists.

Before it was enacted, the bill was met with widespread opposition from different groups who raised concern over its provisions that could be abused by authorities, stifle dissent and spur human rights violations.

But Sotto said the law has enough safeguards to prevent enforcers from abusing their authority.

“It’s full of safeguards but strong against terrorists. Unlike the old law, it was subject to abuse by the terrorists,” Sotto said.

Lacson has repeatedly defended the measure, saying it has enough protection to ensure the rights of those detained.

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