Filipino whistleblower protection prompts more disclosures

Benigno AquinoThe new president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III (pictured), has granted security guarantees to a group of whistleblowers under the Witness Protection Program. Now those whistleblowers are disclosing more information about corruption under the prior administration. GMA News TV is reporting that the whistleblowers will disclose information about election rigging involving the prior president and certain military leaders. "We are more than willing (to expose more anomalies) because before, we were being suppressed. Now, we are free to talk," former Army technical sergeant Vidal Doble told GMA. Doble previously released a wiretapped conversation in June 2005 called "Hello, Garci." The recording portrays former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo discussing rigging election results with former Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. Doble plans to name more names. Doble also reports that military officials told him to implicate only Samuel Ong, a former National Bureau of Investigation official who exposed the election scandal. He produced tape recordings implicating Macapagal-Arroyo in cheating to win her 2004 reelection. Ong died of lung cancer in May 2009. Corrupt military officials apparently wanted the deceased whistleblower to take the fall for the scandal. Jose Barredo Jr., another member of the whistleblower’s group, told GMA that he plans to disclose how funds for a seedling and fertilizer fund were diverted to Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign. Jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam told GMA that her group applied for the Witness Protection Program because it trusts in the leadership of its present head, Secretary Leila de Lima. I reported here last March about the murder of jueteng whistleblower Wilfredo "Boy" Mayor. Jueteng is an illegal numbers game, and Mayor’s testimony helped convict a political ally of Macapagal-Arroyo. These developments demonstrate the power of having whistleblower protections strong enough to convince whistleblowers that they will be safe in making their disclosures. The closer the issues are to national security, the stronger the protections need to be.

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