Bills to encourage, protect whistleblowers pushed

HOUSE Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Tuesday appealed to the House leadership to fast-track the passage of the pending twin-bills that aim to encourage whistleblowers and protect them as witnesses in judicial proceedings.

The Makabayan bloc last year already refiled House Bill (HB) No. 4387 and HB 4388 to encourage more witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward to expose crime and corruption.

"If the Duterte administration is indeed sincere in fighting graft and corruption then it should push for the immediate approval and enactment of HB 4387 and 4388," said Zarate.

"These measures will protect Philhealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) whistleblowers like Thorrsson Keith, Etrobal Laborte and Alejandro Cabading. It will also encourage other whistleblowers to come out and expose other similar cases of graft and corruption and other crimes and offenses committed especially by government officials and employees," said Zarate, a Davao-based lawmaker.

Keith was the agency’s former anti-fraud officer, while Laborte used to be the head executive assistant of PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales. Cabading is an accountant and member of the PhilHealth board.

"If enacted the bills would also prevent double standards and special treatment as well as penalize false witnesses and whistleblowers," Zarate explained.

"If the Duterte administration is truly sincere in its corruption drive and is sincerely looking for the truth then it would certify these bills as urgent and move for their immediate approval," Zarate stressed.