Press Release
October 19, 2011

Cayetano: Congressional inquiries made less effective by
weak anti-perjury laws

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano lamented the weakness of congressional hearings due to the fact that those who commit perjury during these hearings are left unpunished. He called on the government to strengthen the implementation of the law against perjury to act as a precursor in resolving bigger crimes such as graft and corruption.

"Let's start punishing people who lie under oath. Maybe we can go beyond charging those who lie with contempt but rather charge them with a criminal case," he said.

He was prompted by Judge Nagamura Moner's decision to refute his testimony in 2005, stating that no cheating occurred in the 2004 elections, and to instead present himself as a witness for the Senate investigations into the alleged 2004 and 2007 electoral fraud.

The minority leader bemoaned that the country's perjury laws, in comparison to those of the United States and other European countries, are unmistakably weaker, leading to the country's lack of control in garnering credible testimonies from witnesses.

"Dahil sabi nga nila sa Pilipinas, walang nakukulong sa perjury," he added.

Cayetano expressed his belief that a stronger implementation of laws against perjury will lead to potential witnesses being more concerned about going to jail as a consequence of perjury than opting to lie under oath.

He pointed out that a strengthened law against perjury can also be used to bring perpetrators of big crimes to justice citing the standing perjury case of former Commision on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano as an example.

Cayetano explained that the perjury case was filed in 2006 by Senator Ping Lacson, now- TESDA Secretary Joel Villanueva, now-Senator TG Guingona and himself against Garcillano when the latter lied about not leaving the country as he went into hiding after being implicated in the Hello Garci scandal.

"Katawa-tawa na ang batas natin sa false testimonies, perjury and obstruction of justice. Kaya si Commissioner Garcillano, siya pa ang nagsasabi na walang dayaan ay hina-harass lang daw siya," he said.

He also stressed that the most important effect of strengthening the implementation of this law is the protection of private citizens and government officials from those witnesses whose desire is not to speak the truth.

"Habang ang perjury ay kalokohan lang sa ating bansa, we will continue to question the credibility of our witnesses. We'll continue to have witnesses who refuse to go to attend these hearings or would even lie under oath," he said.

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