CHIZ PRESSES FOR REWARDS, PROTECTION POLICY FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS
To encourage and protect those who will step forward and expose graft and corruption and violations of law, Senator Chiz Escudero has filed Senate Bill No. 425 (SBN 425) which seeks to provide protection and benefits for whistleblowers.
“We are expanding the right of the whistleblower to choose which agency he wants to be admitted, which agency is he more comfortable with. The current witness protection law only empowers the DOJ to implement the program,” the senator said.
Under the measure, a qualified whistleblower is given the option to choose which implementing agency he intends to be admitted. The bill creates a Whistleblower Council which shall be headed by the Office of the Solicitor General and shall be composed of implementing agencies identified as the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
SBN 425 likewise empowers both the Senate and the Congress to institute their own whistleblower’s program for resource persons appearing before their respective committees.
Informants who disclose graft and corruption, plunder, violation of code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees, and other abuse or neglect of duty of an agency, public servants and private entities are protected under the measure.
“We want to protect government informants even before they take the witness stand. This bill bestows a set of safeguards and benefits for witnesses aside from those provided under our existing law on such program.”
Section 18 of the proposed bill states that a “whistleblower shall not be subject to any liability whether administrative, civil, criminal for making such disclosure.” It frees the whistleblower from any claim or demand for making a disclosure. It also provides that no single evidence presented shall be used against the informant in court. However, in any case that a whistleblower commits any false or misleading disclosure, all protection shall be lifted.
Aside from security and protection, the bill also entitles the whistleblower to financial benefits such as an allowance equivalent to his daily basic financial requirement and a corresponding monetary reward equivalent to at least ten percent of the recovered amount or one million pesos, whichever is lower, as a result of his disclosure.
“By strengthening the protection of the citizen whose testimony is necessary and indispensable for the successful prosecution of a case, we also strengthen accountability and reduce corruption in the public and private sectors,” Escudero said.