False Testimony Favorable To The Defendant


False testimony favorable to the defendants. - Any person who shall give false testimony in favor of the defendant in a criminal case, shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period a fine not to exceed 1,000 pesos, if the prosecution is for a felony punishable by an afflictive penalty, and the penalty of arresto mayor in any other case.

1. A person gives false testimony;
2. In favor of the defendant;
3. In a criminal case.

The testimony need not be beneficial to the defendant.

Conviction or acquittal of defendant in the principal case is not necessary.

Rectification made spontaneously after realizing the mistake is not false testimony.


False testimony by negative statement is still in favor of the defendant.

False testimony in favor of defendant need not directly influence the decision of acquittal nor benefit the defendant(intent to favor defendant sufficient)

A statement of mere opinion is not punishable.

Conviction or acquittal is not necessary (final judgment is not necessary), but gravity of crime in the principal case should be shown

A defendant who voluntarily goes up on the witness stand and falsely imputes to another person the commission of the offense is liable under this article. If he merely denies the commission of the offense, he is not liable.

Rectification made spontaneously after realizing mistake is not false testimony (Not liable if there is no evidence that accused acted with malice or criminal intent to testify falsely)

The penalty in this article is less than that which is provided in the preceding article because there is no danger to life or liberty of the defendant.

Bar Exam Question (1994)

False Testimony (1994)

Paolo was charged with homicide before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Andrew, a prosecution witness, testified that he saw Paolo shoot Abby during their heated argument. While the case is still pending, the City Hall of Manila burned down and the entire records of the case were destroyed. Later, the records were reconstituted. Andrew was again called to the witness stand. This time he testified that his first testimony was false and the truth was he was abroad when the crime took place. The judge immediately ordered the prosecution of Andrew for giving a false testimony favorable to the defendant in a criminal case. 
1. Will the case against Andrew prosper? 
2. Paolo was acquitted. The decision became final on January 10, 1987. On June 18, 1994 a case of giving false testimony was filed against Andrew. As his lawyer, what legal step will you take?

Suggested Answer:

1) Yes. For one to be criminally liable under Art. 181, RPC, it is not necessary that the criminal case where Andrew testified is terminated first. It is not even required of the prosecution to prove which of the two statements of the witness is false and to prove the statement to be false by evidence other than the contradictory statements (People vs. Arazola, 13 Court of Appeals Report, 2nd series, p. 808).

2) As lawyer of Andrew, I will file a motion to quash the Information on the ground of prescription. The crime of false testimony under Art. 180 has prescribed because Paolo, the accused in the principal case, was acquitted on January 10, 1987 and therefore the penalty prescribed for such crime is arresto mayor under Art. 180, par. 4, RPC. Crimes punishable by arresto mayor prescribes in five (5) years (Art. 90, par. 3, RPC). But the case against Andrew was filed only on June 18, 1994, whereas the principal criminal case was decided with finality on January 10, 1987 and, thence the prescriptive period of the crime commenced to run. From January 10, 1987 to June 18, 1994 is more than five (5) years.