Criminal liability in false statements

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear Pao,
My sister is planning to execute an affidavit wherein she will state that she already filed a case against her former colleague, when in truth she has not filed any case up to now. Will there be any legal implications if she pursues executing the affidavit? Your advice will be highly appreciated.
Warm regards,
Beth

Dear Beth,
Making false or untruthful statements in a sworn statement or an affidavit does not, in itself, result in legal implications. While Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) imposes a penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period to a person who makes false testimony in cases not included in Articles 180 to 182 of the said law, as well as perjury in solemn affirmation, the following requisites must first concur in order for criminal liability to attach: (a) That the accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a material matter; (b) That the statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath; (c) That in the statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood; and (d) That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose(Monfort III vs. Salvatierra, 517 SCRA 447, G.R. No. 168301, March 5, 2007).

Applying the foregoing in the situation that you have presented before us, we believe that legal implications will only arise, should your sister decide to pursue with the execution an affidavit containing untruthful statements, if it can be clearly shown that her affidavit was executed before a competent officer who is authorized to receive and administer oath, that she deliberately declared that she has already filed a case against her former colleague although one is not actually filed, and that she utilized the affidavit for a legal purpose or presented the same as required by law. If one of the abovementioned elements is lacking, then your sister may not be held criminally liable.

We wish to emphasize the ruling of the Supreme Court:


“x x x Perjury is the willful and corrupt assertion of a falsehood under oath or affirmation administered by authority of law on a material matter.x x x

x x x Perjury being a felony by dolo, there must be malice on the part of the accused. Willfully means intentionally, with evil intent and legal malice, with consciousness that the alleged perjurious statement is false with the intent that it should be received as a statement of what was true in fact. It is equivalent to “knowingly.” “Deliberately” implies “meditated” as distinguished from “inadvertent acts.” It must appear that the accused knows his statement to be false or is consciously ignorant of its truth.” (Ibid.)

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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