Fertilizer fund scam whistleblower loses witness protection
Whistleblower Jose Barredo Jr., the self-confessed “runner” in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004, has lost his witness protection from the government, the Inquirer has learned.
Unlike other high-profile state witnesses who are accompanied by armed escorts whenever they attend hearings at the Sandiganbayan, Barredo only had Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Director Sandra Cam for company on Tuesday.
Barredo took the stand as a state witness in the P999,000 fertilizer fund scam case against Mayor Mariano Malones of Maasin, Iloilo, before the antigraft court’s Seventh Division.
Although he is still immune from corruption charges thanks to a 2015 agreement with the Ombudsman, Barredo no longer enjoys the benefits of the witness protection program (WPP).
Barredo said that his WPP coverage ended on April 1, 2017. “I was suddenly issued the termination notice,” he said.
Advocacy vs corruption
Barredo said he and Cam were now looking after each other.
“We’re helping each other because nobody wants to help us,” added Cam, president of the Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines. “But we’re continuing our advocacy to fight against this corruption.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed the development and cited as the reason the Sandiganbayan’s November 2016 dismissal of the P728-million plunder case against former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon Lorenzo Jr. and Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante.
“Mr. Barredo’s WPP coverage was indeed terminated in April 2017 due to the dismissal of the fertilizer fund scam case,” Guevarra said in a text message.
Barredo was a representative of fertilizer supplier Feshan Philippines Inc., one of the contractors that struck agreements with local government officials, supposedly including Malones, before the 2004 polls.
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