Makabayan bloc refiles bills to boost protection of witnesses, whistleblowers
MANILA, Philippines — Progressive lawmakers have refiled two bills that seek to strengthen the country’s witness and whistleblower protection programs.
Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago filed House Bill Nos. 4387 and 4388 last week to “encourage more witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward to expose crime and corruption.”
In a statement Monday, Zarate said the bills would prevent double standards and special treatment, as well as penalize false witnesses and whistleblowers.
“If the Duterte administration is truly sincere in its corruption drive and is sincerely looking for the truth then it would certify these bills as urgent and move for their immediate approval,” the House Deputy Minority leader added.
HB 4387 seeks to establish a monetary reward system for whistleblowers; protect informants against reprisals, and civil or criminal liability when they make public interest disclosures; and secure the safety of whistleblowers and their family.
The bill also ensures public disclosures are made to the proper public authorities, inappropriate publication of unsubstantiated disclosures does not happen, and proper records on disclosures are kept and safeguarded.
Meanwhile, HB 4388 proposes, among others, the creation of a witness protection bureau an independent and autonomous body attached to the Department of Justice.
The proposed law also seeks to provide a separate witness protection program for witnesses of the legislative branch, allow the change of identity of a witness, and secure housing facility and relocation for the witness. The bill further seeks to perpetuate testimonies and impose a higher penalty for influencing or harassing a witness. /kga
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