Sen. Robinhood "Robin" C. Padilla has filed a bill seeking up to 20 years in jail for military and uniformed personnel (MUPs) who give false testimony during congressional investigations. Padilla filed Senate Bill 2265 in the wake of police officers who were cited in contempt after refusing to tell the truth at a Senate probe into the alleged involvement of their colleagues in the illegal drug trade. He emphasized the need to uphold public trust for government employees - especially the police, military and other uniformed services. "While the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines currently criminalizes perjury and false testimony, the current penalties are not commensurate with the consequences of receiving false testimonies from government personnel during Congressional proceedings in addressing and protecting the public interest," Padilla said in his bill, the proposed "Truthful Congressional Inquiry Act.” "Thus, this amendment seeks to introduce a higher penalty for military and uniformed personnel who commit perjury in any congressional proceeding.  It is an attempt to further safeguard the truth and increase the deterrent for making false statements, particularly within institutions central to the maintenance of peace, order, and national security," he added. Padilla's measure penalizes government personnel who knowingly make untruthful statements or produce fabricated evidence in any proceeding in Congress, in the exercise of its legislative or oversight functions. A jail term of 10 years awaits government employees who give false testimonies to Congress pertaining to crimes including rape (RA 7659); Title 7 (crimes committed by public officers) of Act No. 3815; and violations of the Government Procurement Act; National Internal Revenue Code; Tariff and Customs Code; Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; Revised Corporation Code; Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001; Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003; Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020; Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012; and Omnibus Election Code. The penalty shall be 20 years' imprisonment for offenders who are personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), other law enforcement agencies, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and Bureau of Customs. In both cases, a fine of up to P3 million and perpetual absolute disqualification from any government post shall be imposed. Earlier, Padilla slammed the invoking by some law enforcers of their constitutional right to remain silent and against self-incrimination, to keep the truth from coming out regarding the involvement of police personnel in the illegal drug trade. "Ito po bang mga akusadong ito na hindi nagsasabi at dinadaan kami sa lagi nilang ‘I invoke my right to remain silent, I invoke my right against self-incrimination,’ parang nagbobolahan na lang po kami doon ... masakit sa atin para tayong pinagikot-ikot (Are these accused who refuse to tell the truth and invoke their rights to remain silent and against self-incrimination not taking us for a ride? It hurts that they are running circles around us)," he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (