Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago called for more safeguards to protect whistleblowers and witnesses to crimes and corrupt practices.
The senator made this statement 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 re-filed Senate Bill No. 1883, the Whistleblower Protection Act, seeking to strengthen government and even corporate accountability by supporting and protecting the right of employees to speak out about wrongdoings in their workplace. The senator initially filed the bill in the Thirteenth Congress.
“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,” 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.
p>“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.