Press Release
December 8, 2008

Gordon moves to increase budget for DOJ's witness protection program

The Senate has increased the administration's proposed budget for the witness protection program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) from P84 to P114 million to encourage more witnesses to come out and help in the resolution of crimes.

The Senate's decision was upon the motion by Senator Richard J. Gordon to hike the budget for the DOJ-Witness Protection, Security and Benefits Program by P30-million, noting that the present budget was inadequate due to the increasing number of witnesses admitted into the program.

"The Senate's move to increase the budget for the DOJ-Witness Protection Program is a very good move. I think that with an additional budget, the DOJ would be able to draw more witnesses into testifying," he said.

"A well-funded protection program is an indispensable requirement for the successful resolution of heinous crimes, such as murder, kidnapping-for-ransom and drug trafficking," he added.

In proposing the increase in the DOJ's budget for its witness protection program, Gordon noted the rising number of slain Filipino journalists, ambushed judges and other violent killings whose cases remain unresolved due to lack, if not at all absence, of witnesses.

Having been a victim himself, because of the assassination of his father, the late Olongapo Mayor James Gordon, the senator has fervently taken cudgels for slain Filipino journalists, judges who were ambushed and others who were killed.

Gordon noted that with the additional budget, the DOJ-WPP would be able to ensure the protection of witnesses, as well as provide them with better benefits.

"Witnesses do not testify usually because they are afraid. They fear that the DOJ would not be able to protect them, would not be able to give them adequate security them adequately," he said.

"Some witnesses hesitate to enlist under the program because they have a family who are dependent on them. They believe that they would not be able to support their family once they enlist," he added.

The DOJ is seeking a budget of P84.093-million for the WPP in the proposed budget for 2009. The WPP was allocated P83-million in the 2008 General Appropriations Act.

There are some 560 witnesses nationwide who are admitted into the witness protection program and the DOJ spends an average of P150,000 per year for the board and lodging expenses of each witness.

The amount also covers the medical/dental, psycho and social services, education, transportation, litigation expenses, salaries of protective personnel and fuel maintenance.

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