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Opinion

Recanted testimony

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Krizle Grace Mago’s retraction of her testimony given during the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing carries no weight because the testimony was done under oath.

The Supreme Court looks scornfully at recanted confessions or testimonies made under oath, according to Sen. Franklin Drilon.

In other words, Mago can no longer take back what she has told the Blue Ribbon committee; she may be liable for perjury or lying under oath.

Mago, an executive of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals, told the Senate that she was instructed to tell warehouse employees to change the expiry dates on medical-grade face shields.

Mago’s exact words were “that is something I cannot deny” after Sen. Risa Hontiveros presented a video statement of a warehouseman who said they changed the production date of stickers on the face shields.

The warehouseman’s statement was made under oath.

Asked by Sen. Dick Gordon, Blue Ribbon chairman, if what she did was “swindling the government,” Mago said: “I believe that is the case.”

Mago pointed to Pharmally treasurer Mohit Dargani as the one who ordered her to change the expiry dates of the face shields.

Dargani, in denying Mago’s accusation, said the instruction did not come from him.

“I think because she is used to getting instructions from me, maybe in this scenario she thought it was me but it’s (sic) not the case,” Dargani said of Mago.

“I always follow instructions,” Mago said when asked about Dargani’s denial.

From where I sit, it is clear that Mago’s testimony to the Senate was spontaneous and not given under pressure.

However, after her Senate testimony Mago disappeared for a few days, making senators worry about her safety. She reappeared under the protection of the House of Representatives’ committee on good government and public accountability.

She told the House committee that she was pressured. “I was not in the proper frame of mind to think quickly,” she said under oath before the committee on good government.

*      *      *

Here are the exact words of the Supreme Court on recantations made by witnesses under oath.

“The Court looks with disfavor upon retractions of testimonies previously given in court. It is settled that an affidavit of desistance made by a witness after conviction of the accused is not reliable, and deserves only scant attention. The rationale for the rule is obvious: affidavits of retraction can easily be secured from witnesses, usually through intimidation or for a monetary consideration. Recanted testimony is exceedingly unreliable as there is always the probability that it will later be repudiated.”

Those are excerpts from the decision on Cecilia Rivac, Petitioner, versus People of the Philippines, Respondent. G.R. No. 224673. January 22, 2018.

“Though the above is Supreme Court’s pronouncement for recantation of testimonies before the (lower) courts, the same reasoning can be used for rejecting Mago’s recantation [at the House of Representatives],” said Sen. Frank Drilon, a former secretary of justice.

*      *      *

After her recantation, Mago has been under the protective custody of the Lower Chamber.

This is probably the first time in the history of Congress that the Senate and the House of Representatives are at loggerheads over a probe into corruption involving an official of the executive branch supposedly in cahoots with private persons in allegedly defrauding the government of billions of pesos.

The Lower Chamber finds nothing wrong with the contract of supplying the government P11 billion worth of face masks and face shields which the Upper Chamber has red-flagged.

The plot thickens every day as both sides – the Senate’s Blue Ribbon committee and the House’s committee on good government and public accountability – stand their grounds.

The quarrel between the two chambers of Congress now resembles the plot of a telenovela.

How the misunderstanding between the two chambers will end is anybody’s guess.

Add the order of President Digong Duterte forbidding any official from the executive branch to attend the Blue Ribbon probe on Pharmally, and the citizenry gets a spectacle of a three-way puerile intramural event that only the Supreme Court can mediate.

*      *      *

President Digong says that he’s preparing for his defense before the International Criminal Court in its investigation of his alleged “crimes against humanity” in connection with his war on drugs.

Although I’m not a lawyer, methinks that Digong’s defense is very strong since the supposed crimes were not committed against an ethnic group. If they were, that would have been “ethnic cleansing” or genocide.

The people who were killed were drug suspects and if some deaths were questionable, our courts and other probe bodies are functioning.

The majority of the citizenry favors the Duterte government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

*      *      *

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is running again as a congressional representative in her hometown in the second district of Pampanga.

Needless to say, she’s a sure winner.

GMA is also sure to be elected again by her peers as Speaker of the House of Representatives, besting whoever her rivals for the position will be.

A meticulous worker and hands-on leader, Ms. Arroyo was an excellent speaker for the 17th Congress.

Gloria can be considered one of our country’s best presidents. During her time, the Philippine peso at one point was the best performing currency in East Asia, and the economy had the fastest growth in three decades.

GMA’s Achilles’ heel was her husband, Mike.

*      *      *

Joke! Joke! Joke!

A man brings his best friend home for dinner unannounced. His wife begins screaming at him while his friend just sits and listens. Wife: “I’m not dressed yet, my hair and makeup are a mess, the house hasn’t been cleaned, the dishes aren’t done, and I’m in no mood to cook tonight! Why the heck did you bring him home?!”
Husband: “Because he’s thinking of getting married and I promised him a demo!”

KRIZLE GRACE MAGO
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