Church Call on Government to Improve Protection Program


MANILA, July 3, 2009-The recent decision of the Senate of the Philippines' leadership to recall several whistleblowers' security escorts will unnecessarily put their lives at risk and discourage future whistleblowers from coming out according to Catholic church leaders.

CBCP President and Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo said the decision will "cast some fear on future whistleblowers" because they will be deprived of their safety.

Interviewed by CBCPNews, the prelate said future whistleblowers will either "hesitate or refuse to come out with truth because they would be risking their lives."

He said the government should come up with a more effective Witness Protection Program "for the sake of truth and good governance" for people who know the truth in graft and corrupt practices can depend on it as refuge.

"With a much better Witness Protection Program, people who know the truth can preserve whatever documents and information they have for the sake of truth and common good," the 68-year old prelate added.

On the issue security escorts given by the Senate, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, co-chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines vehemently denied reports Rodolfo Noel Lozada, Jr. had eight security men.

"Never did Jun Lozada have eight security men and never did these security detail work on 24-hour shifts," the religious superior told CBCPNews this morning. She said Lozada had four security men but effective yesterday "he now has two security personnel."

She added she strongly condemns false reports published in the media. "They are so irresponsible because never did they provide eight security personnel on 24-hour basis," she said.

Asked if she believes the decision to cut Lozada's security detail by half would endanger his life along with Dante Madriaga whose security personnel were pulled out, Sr. Mary John said "it is very logical for those who have ill intentions against the witnesses to inflict them harm."

She also said the country needs a more effective and reliable witness protection program.

CBCPNews' efforts to interview Senate Sgt.-At-Arms retired General Jose Balajadia proved futile as of this writing. (Melo M. Acuna)


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