A WITNESS who spilled the beans of the botched NBN-ZTE broadband deal expressed optimism of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III's move for an enactment of a whistleblower bill.
In an interview with Sun.Star, Rodolfo Noel “Jun" Lozada Jr. said he welcomed the position of the President, adding: “It is as an enlightened policy in a land kept in the darkness by corruption and greed.”
During the investigation on the NBN-ZTE deal, Lozada tagged the former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos in the anomalous contract.
In his first State of the Nation Address (Sona), Aquino said: “I appeal to our legislators to pass the Whistleblower’s Bill to eradicate the prevalent culture of fear that has hounded our system.”
Lozada said he has been charged, together with his family members, with all sorts of falsehoods before the Ombudsman, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other agencies.
This is to exclude the death threats and attempted abductions against him and his family.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, whose first bill is titled "An Act Providing for Protection, Security and Benefits off Whistleblowers and for Other Purposes or the Whistleblower Act of 2010" said he will work hard to convert the proposal into a law.
House Bill 132 protects whistleblowers from all forms of reprisals and other retaliatory actions – including preventive suspensions, dismissals and other prejudicial conduct – by persons in authority.
“This bill was waylaid by the previous Congress that had a lot of allies of the previous administration. With P-Noy’s policy statement on making our bill a priority, we shall work harder to get this measure passed into law,” Casiño said.
The measure sets a government rewards system for whistleblowers that ranges from P50,000 to P5,000,000 depending on the salary grade of the respondent errant government official or employee.
Restoration of purse power
In other developments, two Mindanao lawmakers filed a House Bill seeking the restoration of the power to appropriate payments of the country's debt to the Congress.
Representatives Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) and Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (Abante Mindanao) proposed the inaction of House Bill 1717 that contained the move while repealing the mandatory automatic appropriation of debt payment.
The duo also suggested the revival of Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) 4860 or Foreign Borrowing Act that state: "The Congress shall appropriate the necessary amount out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to cover the payment of the principal and interest on such loans, credits or indebtedness as and when they shall become due."
The Rodriguez brothers stated that of the P1.138 trillion national budget, 28 percent, or P318 billion, is allocated for debt payments.
The measure seeks to bring about a balanced government expenditure program, they stated.
Presidential Decree Nos. 81, 1177 and 1967, otherwise known as mandatory automatic appropriation of debt payment acts, were issued by former President Ferdinand Marcos and was not contradicted by Congress since 1972. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)