SC not bothered with lies told before courts?
The news report titled “Prosecution’s last witness vs Pemberton takes stand” (News, 7/1/15) illustrates why our own justice system is perceived by many to be “rotten to the core.” It said an American forensic expert’s testimony bolstered the case against his own countryman, US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, for the murder of transgender Jeffrey Laude. Earlier, four US Marines reportedly contradicted the “not guilty” plea of their own buddy (“4 US Marines here to testify in Pemberton murder trial,” News, 5/16/15).
Such testimonies are common in American TV series like “Law and Order.” But even in reality, Americans are dead serious about judicial oaths because they see the grave consequences of telling a lie before a court of law.
Here in our most beloved country, even when the lies are already exposed, judges simply brush them aside as par for the course. Not only trial judges have grown blasé to such spectacle, justices all the way up to the Supreme Court just seem to gloss over such aberrations. The thing is, no one in this country has done serious jail time for making a mockery of the oath “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”!
One case in point was the testimony given by a bank’s principal witness who swore it was the borrower in a loan agreement for a real estate project that prompted the bank to withhold further release of funds. Because funding was stopped, the project was never completed and consequently the borrower was left hanging out to dry. For the latter’s failure to pay the loan, the bank foreclosed on the property.
At the court trial challenging the bank’s actuation, it was established beyond any doubt that the bank had run out of funds and simply invented an excuse to pass the blame on to the borrower. In a word, it lied so blatantly!
The trial court totally ignored that falsehood and decided in favor of the bank. The Court of Appeals ruled otherwise: The lie was staring everyone in the face, so how could the trial judge be so blind? It annulled the foreclosure, ordering mutual restoration. But the Supreme Court, while respecting the Court of Appeal’s factual finding that the bank had lied so maliciously, ruled nonetheless that the bank’s “breach of contract” was just “slight” or inconsequential as the amount it failed to release accounted for only about 20 percent of the total funds promised!
In practical terms, if the loan value is, say, P100 million, any lending bank can now cite this “jurisprudence” as its legal excuse for withholding P20 million (or maybe more—who draws the line?) under any false pretense, without losing its right to foreclose on the mortgage! We don’t know how lawyers could see that decision as now seriously forming “part of the law of the land,” but in the eyes of lay people like us, it was shocking that such an iniquitous ruling would come from a court where supposedly the brightest legal minds in the country dwell!
And worthy of note—and I’m sure to the dismay of many—is the fact, indeed, that the Supreme Court did not seem in the least troubled by all the lies told amid the solemnity of a court trial and in sworn pleadings. Is it any wonder perjury or false testimony is never taken seriously in this country?
—ROSE ANNE LOPEZ-BARTOLOME, [email protected]
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