Miriam refiles Whistleblower Protection Act

September 18, 2010 6:13 am 

MANILA, Sept. 17 – Amid threats of the whistleblowers to boycott congressional inquiries unless adequate protection through legislation is accorded to them, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has refiled her Senate Bill No. 1883 or the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Santiago initially filed the bill in the 13th Congress which seeks to strengthen government and even corporate accountability by supporting and protecting the right of witnesses and whistleblowers to speak out about wrongdoing in their workplace.

“Whistleblowers automatically expect retaliation for their honesty. They are usually accused of being malcontents trying to profit from their accusations. The fear generated by retaliations creates a chilling effect on the willingness of people to come forward and expose wrongdoing,” she said.

Santiago called for more safeguards to protect whistleblowers and witnesses to crimes and corrupt practices in light of the resurgence of the issue of government officials receiving "jueteng" kickbacks, and the latest revelations by witnesses in court proceedings of the Maguindanao multiple murder case.

“The government needs a new institutional mechanism for integrity and accountability to avoid scandals and restore credibility in the public service. The litmus test for such reforms is the government's treatment of whistleblowers,” Santiago said.

Santiago’s proposed law defines retaliatory actions to include the discharge, suspension, demotion, harassment, blacklisting and the refusal to hire a whistle-blowing employee. Aggrieved employees or former employees can also file a civil case against their employers or former employers.

“Our fight against graft and corruption in the government hinges on the courage of those who see evil and cry foul. We must reward their bravery and honesty with security,” Santiago said.

Last Thursday, the Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines (WAP) said they will only appear in the investigation, specially in the Senate and the House of Representatives, if the Whistleblowers Act will not be enacted into law.

Jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam has urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to fulfill his promise in his maiden State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) to approve the Whistleblower Protection Act. (PNA) scs/jfm

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