QUEZON CITY (Mabuhay) – Heavy penalties await members of law enforcement agencies and government officials or employees who fail to testify in any criminal proceeding without justifiable reason.
Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez (Abante Mindanao Party-list) filed House Bill 29712, saying quite a number of criminal cases, including those involving grave penal offenses have been dismissed due to the failure or deliberate refusal of the prosecution witnesses to appear or testify despite due notice.
The authors clarified that the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act 9165 explicitly provides that sanctions imposable against defiant prosecution witnesses can be applied only in dangerous drugs related cases.
“As such, said punishment cannot be imposed upon erring prosecution witnesses in other criminal cases, regardless of gravity,” Rodriguez said, adding that “we see no logic or reason in limiting the protection from miscarriage of justice to dangerous drugs related cases.”
“Proper disposition of other criminal cases deserve the same concern and protection,” Rodriguez stressed.
Under the bill, any member of a law enforcement agency or any other government official or employee who, after due notice, fails or refuses deliberately or negligently, to appear and testify in any criminal proceeding without justifiable reason, shall be penalized with imprisonment of not more 20 years, a fine of not more than P500,000, and perpetual disqualification to hold office.
The immediate supervisor of the erring prosecution witness shall be penalized with imprisonment of not more than six years and a fine of not more than P50,000 and perpetual absolute disqualification to hold office.(MNS)