TWO lawmakers are seeking a separate protection program under the House of Representatives and the Senate for the witnesses of investigations conducted by Congress.

Representative Rufus Rodriguez (second district, Cagayan de Oro) and his brother, Abante Mindanao Maximo Rodriguez Jr., filed House Bill 1979 pushing for the amendment of Republic Act 6981 otherwise known as the "Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act".

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“It is necessary that the Senate and the House of Representatives have their own separate Witness Protection, Security, and Benefit Program for the resource person and/or witness appearing before any of its committees,” the bill read.

Under the measure, Congress may request assistance from any department or executive agency to assist with the implementation of the program but it will remain independent from the said department or agency.

The program will also provide free medical treatment, hospitalization and medicines for any injury or illness incurred or suffered by the witness while in the safehouse or in any private or public hospital.

In case of death or permanent incapacity, the witness' minor or dependent children shall be entitled to free education, from primary to college level in any state, or private school, college or university.

In the first State of the Nation Address of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, he stated the need to strengthen the witness protection program of the country.

"We will strengthen the Witness Protection Program. We must remember that from 2009 to 2010 alone, cases which involved the participation of witnesses under the program resulted in a ninety-five percent conviction," Aquino said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)