‘That is something I cannot deny’: Krizle Mago’s recantation is plain perjury
Those procuring the recantation of testimonies previously given by witnesses under oath should reread the Supreme Court’s past rulings, more recently reaffirmed in GR No. 224673 (2018): “Indeed, it is a dangerous rule to set aside a testimony which has been solemnly taken before a court of justice xxx simply because the (witness) who had given the testimony later on changed his mind. Such a rule will make solemn trials a mockery and place the investigation of the truth at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. xxx This Court has always looked with disfavor upon retraction of testimonies previously given in court. The asserted motives for the repudiation are commonly held suspect, and xxx the statements made in the xxx repudiation are frequently xxx subject to serious doubt. xxx At most, the retraction is an afterthought which should not be given probative value.”
Sworn testimonies before Congress are no less sacrosanct than those given in a court of law. Perjury is punishable as a crime even if the statement given under oath is before a mere notary public. The case of “former regulatory affairs chief of Pharmally” Krizle Grace Mago is no different. Per her retraction or recantation, her categorical admission that she had lied before the Senate blue ribbon committee investigating the anomalies involving the company she was working for has already gotten her a ticket to a jail term.
In an effort to extricate herself from that damning testimony, she asserted that she was under so much “pressure” and “could not think clearly” when she confessed that she was in the thick of a “swindle” perpetrated against the government (“Pharmally exec Mago retracts ‘swindling’ admission” News, 10/5/21). If that lamest of excuses were to be given any credence, no lie would ever be a basis for any perjury charge. Indeed, who could argue against anyone being confused or not being in the “best frame of mind” about anything? Because of the facility with which such codswallop can be asserted, it merits no more than short shrift in any forum.
When confronted by Senate committee member Sen. Risa Hontiveros with the video of a whistleblower saying that the production certificates of “substandard” medical supplies imported from China for COVID-19 purposes were altered (i.e., falsified) to make them current, the words that came out of Mago’s mouth were: “That is something I cannot deny.” But by that answer, any shyster can make the argument that she was only referring to the video’s existence, not its content! Sensing perhaps that she could be equivocating, committee chairman Richard Gordon asked her point-blank: So your company was “swindling” the government? “Yes, your Honor,” came her quick reply. The pickle she was in had indeed put her under “pressure”—to admit the undeniable truth.
Thereafter, Mago went “incommunicado.” Days later, she reemerged under the “care and custody” of the House of Representatives committee on good government and public accountability and announced a retraction of the confession she had made at the Senate committee hearing. Anyone who knows how to add two and two together can readily imagine what could have happened during her disappearance. Shambolic “damage control” seemed likely, and she was thrown under the bus. “Captured” by the Pharmally-friendly House committee, she later came out with guns blazing, remonstrating against the “overwhelming pressure and the intense scrutiny” at the Senate hearing that had a “detrimental effect” on her mental and physical health. In fact, she said she tested positive for COVID-19 during that hearing—or, by implication, because of it?
Given the circumstances, one cannot help wondering what kind of “pressure” the House committee itself exerted on Mago to make her willing and “ready to face perjury charges for backtracking on her previous testimony made under oath” before the Senate committee. At any rate, more than what the Supreme Court has pronounced, plain common sense comes foremost in the minds of people who were not born yesterday. As noted by columnist Joel Butuyan: The trial to ferret out the truth about Pharmally’s shenanigans is not in any court, not even in the Senate. “The (real) trial is happening in the court of public opinion” (“Pharmally and the court of public opinion,” 10/4/21). And the public’s verdict may have already found Mago’s House-managed “affidavit” as believable as the tale that pigs can fly.
Stephen L. Monsanto, [email protected]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.