Press Release
September 11, 2013


Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara has filed anew the Whistleblower Bill that aims to provide protection and additional benefits for whistleblowers.

This is amid the ongoing Senate investigation into the multi-billion pork barrel scam which was exposed by whistleblowers who were former employees of the alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Angara said Senate Bill No. 1614, or the "Whistleblower Protection, Security and Benefit Act of 2013," will help restore credibility, integrity and accountability in public service by enabling citizens to speak up about any wrongdoing in the government.

"I admire the courage of whistleblowers for spilling the beans on controversial issues that merit public attention. We need more of them to come forward in order for us to reform the status quo and correct our flawed system," the neophyte senator said.

Napoles is now facing charges for serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, her cousin and former personal assistant, who has accused Napoles of funneling P10 billion from the lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects of dummy nongovernment organizations.

Immunity, security and financial rewards for whistleblowers

Under SB 1614, whistleblowers, who are also guilty of the reported crime, are immune from being charged for their actions, and any disclosure made cannot be used as evidence against the whistleblower.

A whistleblower also cannot be sued for defamation given the defense of privileged communication.

Whistleblowers will be given government security for their own personal protection, and their identity and disclosure should be kept absolutely confidential from the public until the court rules on the disclosure of the crime.

In the event that the whistleblower's testimony is deemed necessary and indispensable to the success of an investigation or the prosecution of a case, he/she is then entitled to the benefits mandated by Republic Act 6981 or the Witness Protection Act.

Those who violate the confidentiality given to protect whistleblowers will face imprisonment from six months up to six years while public officials who violate a whistleblower's confidentiality can be removed from office and be made to pay damages to the whistleblower as determined by the court.

Moreover, the proposed measure shields whistleblowers from retaliation by protecting them from any form of harassment or reprisal tactics by their employers such as discriminatory actions, unwarranted reprimand, punitive transfers, malicious referral to a psychiatrist or counselor, and unfounded or baseless poor performance reviews.

Those who will commit any act of reprisal or attempt to prevent or dissuade whistleblowers from testifying through harassment or other means can face six to 12 years of imprisonment and/or a fine up to P100,000.

Whistleblowers are also entitled to more or less half a million pesos if they disclose cases that are capable of pecuniary estimation such as plunder, forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth, bribery, malversation and damage or injury to government.

They will initially receive P200,000 upon admission into the program, then P100,00 upon filing of the case with the Ombudsman, and another P100,000 upon completion of the testimony. Whistleblowers of such cases shall be entitled as well to an additional reward of 10 percent of the actual amount recovered by final judgement.

However, whistleblowers who deliberately give false or misleading testimonies can face imprisonment for six up to 12 years and a fine of not more than P100,000, and they must return all the amounts received as financial rewards.

If a lying whistleblower is a public official, he or she can be dismissed and permanently banned from holding public office.

Whistleblowers who recant on their testimonies for no justifiable reason can also be imprisoned for four to six years.

Anti-corruption policy reform

"Since 2010, much has been achieved in the drive against corruption in the public service. Government is slowly regaining the trust and confidence of the citizenry, after years of being cast under a long shadow of doubt," Angara said.

"The government carries the obligation to craft and implement a framework that enables, even incentivizes, citizens to contribute in exposing any government misconduct," he added.

Angara was one of the primary authors of the Whistleblower Bill that was approved in the House of Representatives last Congress. The Senate, however, failed to pass a similar bill.

"I now urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this measure that will serve as our weapon in our fight against corruption and government abuse," the senator said.

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