Senate OKs bill seeking stiffer penalties for perjury
Robie de Guzman • May 18, 2020 • 516
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, May 18 approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to impose longer prison sentences and larger fines for individuals, especially public officials, who will commit perjury.
Voting 20-0, senators passed the Senate Bill No. 1354, which proposes to amend Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code and increase the current penalty on perjury from a range of the minimum period to medium period, or from six years and one day to 10 years of imprisonment.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of the bill, said the proposed higher penalties were meant to deter people from committing perjury as they testify under oath in proceedings, such as legislative hearings, and to create a culture of truth-telling in government.
“In other words, you lie, you pay… Do not trifle with the truth,” he said in a statement.
Perjury, he explained, is committed by a person when he “knowingly makes untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the crimes of false testimony under judicial proceedings, shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.”
Under the existing law, persons guilty of perjury are only sentenced from four months and one day to two years and four months of imprisonment.
For public offcials or employees who would commit perjury, the penalty of imprisonment will be imposed in its maximum period, along with a fine of P1 million, as well as perpetual disqualification from holding any appointive or elective position in government, Gordon said.
Gordon believes that the bill would help address the issue of low conviction rates for people charged with perjury.
“As we uncovered during our committee hearing, a factor for the low cases is the low penalty imposed on the crime of perjury. The current penalty for perjury is subject to probation and the bail imposed is also low, roughly Php6,000 only. Given the high costs involved in prosecuting a crime, there is no motivation to prosecute the crime of perjury,” he said.
The bill was co-authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Leila de Lima.
Its counterpart bill at the House of Representatives remains pending at the committee level.
Manila, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon has filed a bill seeking to expand the country’s pool of vaccinators for the immunization program of the government.
Gordon, in a statement, said Senate Bill No. 1987 will allow training for other members in the medical field, as well as, non-medical practitioners.
“Since we have a limited number of doctors, nurses, and midwives that will aid in the COVID-19 vaccination program, we filed a bill that expands the pool of vaccinators of the DOH by training other professionals such as dentists, veterinarians, medical technologists, and even those without a medical background to be vaccinators,” he said.
Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 1987 states that non-medical practitioners that will be part of the training will be allowed provided that they will be given the appropriate training, certification and authority by the Department of Health (DOH), and that they will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only contingent upon the existence of the national health emergency for which it is called.
Non-medical practitioners will be given appropriate training, certification, and authority by the Department of Health (DOH).
The filed bill also states that the trained individuals will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only, subject to the existence of a national health emergency.
“If we expand the manpower for the vaccination program, the government’s target of inoculating 50 to 70 million Filipinos to be able to achieve herd immunity or population immunity can be attained,” Gordon added.
According to the DOH, only 617,239 health care workers from both public and private health institutions will be able to help in administering the COVID-19 vaccines. -AAC
MANILA, Philippines — Several Senators seek a third hearing to further discuss the national government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan.
The Senate Committee of the Whole may call for another public hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Senator Franklin Drilon, in a statement, said the two-day inquiry left more questions than answers.
“There are still a number of issues hanging. These too many unanswered questions raise grave concerns, for the survival of the country largely depends on our ability to implement a successful vaccination program against the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
Drilon noted that the pricing, the sourcing of the vaccines, the delivery schedules, and the logistical support plan are several of the urgent questions needed to be answered.
“We did not get any definite answers to these serious questions. I believe another round of hearing is in order. I support the call of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for more hearings,” he added. –AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan called on the Department of Health to reconsider its order to purchase China’s Sinovac vaccine.
In a statement, the Senator noted the results of a new study in Brazil which showed Sinovac yielding a 50.4% efficacy rate. He also noted the vaccine price is steeper compared to the other vaccines with a higher efficacy rate.
“Sinovac, with just over 50 percent efficacy, is six times more expensive than AstraZeneca, which in contrast shows a 70-percent efficacy. Sinovac is more expensive yet it has the lowest efficacy. Given these latest findings, we call on the DOH to cancel the purchase of said vaccines,” he said.
Panginilan added that the country should procure vaccines on the basis of both higher efficacy and lower cost.
Based on data, Pfizer and BioNTech has an efficacy rate 95% and cost P2,379, Gamaleya is at 92% with a P1,220 price, and AstraZeneca is at 70% costing P610. Sinovac, meanwhile, costs P3,629.50.
The Philippines has secured 25 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech, with the first 50,000 expected to arrive in February.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee of the Whole is scheduled to convene again on Friday, January 15, to further discuss the country’s vaccination program. -AAC
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