MANILA (Mabuhay) – A lawmaker from the Visayas has moved to ensure the protection, security and benefits for whistleblowers to bolster people’s efforts to rid the government of corruption.
Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (6th District, Cebu) filed House Bill 2493, which establishes a legal framework for rewards, protection and security to whistleblowers.
Aside from providing a monetary reward scheme, it also ensures protection against reprisals and criminal and civil liability, safety of the whistleblowers and their families, public disclosures to proper public authorities, prevention of inappropriate publication of unsubstantiated disclosures and safety and security of proper records on disclosures.
Quisumbing sought the immediate approval of the bill saying it “is in consonance and furtherance of the constitutional mandate that a public office is a public trust and where honesty and integrity shall be maintained at all times.”
According to Quisumbing, “the lack of a legal framework for rewards, protection and security to whistleblowers has resulted in their minimal protection from probable retaliation, trial by publicity, outright miscarriage of justice or summary execution.”
“This being the case, corrupt government officials and employees are emboldened to engage in nefarious activities as they feel little fear of exposure or being caught and brought to justice. Meanwhile, potential whistleblowers are discouraged, demoralized and dissuaded because they anticipate nothing but hardship when evaluating the effect of any disclosure. Such circumstances aggravate the worsening condition of graft and corruption in the country,” Quisumbing said.
“Thus, a mechanism to secure the person of a whistleblower and counter the stigma of ostracism must be set up so that any potential whistleblower or informant on graft and corrupt activities will not hesitate to come out in the open,” Quisumbing added.
Under the bill to be known as Whistleblower Protection, Security and Benefit Act of 2013, a whistleblower will receive P 200,000 upon admission into the Witness Protection Program if the case is susceptible to pecuniary estimation such as plunder, forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth, bribery, malversation and damage or injury to government.
The whistleblower will receive an additional P 100,000 upon filing of the case with the Office of the Ombudsman and another P 100,000 upon completion of the testimony. He or she shall be entitled to an additional reward of ten percent of the amount recovered by virtue of final judgment.
If the case is not susceptible to pecuniary estimation, the whistleblower shall receive P100,000 upon admission into the WPP, additional P 50,000 upon filing of the case with the Office of the Ombudsman and another P50,000 upon completion of the testimony.
Any person who shall commit any act of reprisal against a whistleblower or hinder delay, prevent or dissuade said informant should face imprisonment of not less than six years but not more than 12 years or a fine of not more than P 100,000 or both at the discretion of the court.
A Whistleblower Benefits and Protection Council to be chaired by the Overall Deputy Ombudsman shall be created to implement all the provisions of the Act.(MNS)