Lacson Files Bill to Encourage ‘Whistleblowers’

Following yet another no-show by witnesses to a multimillion-peso corruption case, Sen. Panfilo Lacson has filed a bill aiming to encourage `whistleblowers’ against corrupt government men and punish those who prevent them from testifying. 

Lacson filed Senate Bill 2040 shortly after Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., citing threats to him and his family, did a no-show at the Senate hearing on the broadband network deal mess Wednesday.

“It is high time we encourage whistleblowers to expose corruption through this bill. This may well be a challenge to Malacañang as well. If it is as serious in fighting corruption as it claims to be, it should certify the bill as urgent,” Lacson said.

Earlier, he cited information reaching him that Lozada did not testify at the Senate Wednesday because of pressure – including threats and “incentives” – from the Palace.

Lacson noted the highlight of his bill is a rewards-and-benefits system aimed at ensuring the livelihood and welfare of whistleblowers.

The bill also provides for a rigid procedure to prevent abuses of the bill, and to prevent false testimonies that “will only wreak more havoc on society,” Lacson said.

Aside from protection to whistleblowers, the bill provides for a reward system ranging from P50,000 to P5 million.

Under the bill, whistleblowers who will be admitted must make a disclosure that is voluntary, in writing and under oath, with the disclosure not yet subject of a complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman or investigated by any other investigating agency.

The bill also requires that the information given by the whistleblower can be corroborated and that the information leads to a successful gathering of evidence and/or investigation.

Protection to the whistleblower includes confidentiality on his identity, subject matter of his disclosure, and the person to whom he made the disclosure.

In turn, the whistleblower must agree to provide information and testify; avoid committing a crime and take “all necessary precautions to avoid detection.

He should also cooperate with respect to all reasonable requests of officers and employees of the government providing the protection and regularly inform the appropriate program official of his current activities and address.

Meanwhile, the bill seeks to penalize retaliatory acts against whistleblowers with a P100,000 fine or six years’ imprisonment, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office in case of a public officer or employee.

As a safeguard against bogus testimonies, any person who deliberately and voluntarily gives false or misleading information faces a jail term of up to 12 years and perpetual absolute disqualification from holding public office.