Senate’s failure to pass whistle-blower security bill hit

MANILA, Philippines—Whistle-blowers in two of the major scandals to hit the Arroyo administration lamented the Senate’s failure to pass a bill that would have given them more security, even as they urged senatorial candidates to commit to the measure’s passage in the 16th Congress.

Jose Barredo, a self-confessed “runner” in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, said the whistle-blowers protection bill was necessary even if President Aquino was not embroiled in corruption scandals. There are other officials who could be engaged in wrongdoing, he said.

Another whistle-blower, former Philippine Army Sgt. Vidal Doble, said threats to their well-being could not be discounted even if they were in the government’s Witness Protection Program.

Doble and Barredo applied for a gun ban exemption at the Commission on Elections on Monday.

House Bill No. 5715, otherwise known as the “Whistleblower Protection, Security and Benefit Act of 2011,” was passed by the House of Representatives in April last year, but a similar bill did not progress to third and final reading in the Senate.

“It’s impossible that corruption has been totally wiped out,” Barredo told the Inquirer on Monday, adding that without the assurance of adequate protection, witnesses to crime would be reluctant to come out.

Doble said he and his fellow whistle-blowers were worried over the nonpassage of the whistle-blowers protection act, especially with the end of the term of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who had been safeguarding their interests.

Doble had claimed to be part of an intelligence team that recorded the “Hello Garci” conversations, in which former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was supposedly heard asking an election official about keeping her lead in the 2004 polls.—Leila B. Salaverria

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Tags: Legislation , Philippines , Security , Senate , whistle blowers , whistle-blowers’ security

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