Jun Lozada conviction bad for whistle-blowers
The recent conviction of whistle-blower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr. may scare other possible tipsters from telling the truth and risking all in the fight against corruption.
This was the view of activist nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan, one of Lozada’s supporters, after the Sandiganbayan charged him of conflict of interest and partiality for granting separate leasehold rights over public lands to his brother Jose Orlando Lozada and a private company when he headed the government-owned Philippine Forest Corp.
Lozada and his brother were sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment for violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Whistle-blowers are needed in the fight against corruption. If not for them, who would be witnesses? But if this is their fate, then who would want to be a whistle-blower?” Mananzan asked.
Mananzan, a former chair of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, said she and other crusading nuns will support Lozada and appeal his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court.
She was one of the whistle-blower’s “bodyguards” who offered him security when he first surfaced in 2008.
He testified on the multimillion-peso broadband deal with the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE involving former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr.
Mananzan believed that the graft case was filed as a form of harassment against the whistle-blower for squealing on the ZTE broadband deal years ago.
“I’m sure of it. All the cases against him came out after he became witness. If it was really his crime, why wasn’t he charged when he was with PFC?” she said.
She said Lozada risked his life and the security of his family, only to be sentenced to prison.
“If you will ask him, he will do it all over again because for him, he did it for the people and not for anything else,” Mananzan said.
Lozada’s camp will be filing a motion for reconsideration within the next 15 days to appeal the ruling.
Asked on how the former whistle-blower was doing, Mananzan said Lozada and his family are not coping well.
“We were consoling the wife. They suffered so much for the ZTE issue. If he didn’t testify, there would be no cases. It’s still a consequence of his being a witness,” she said.
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