• Alvarez bid as state witness gathers dust

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    THE witness in the controversial P1.2 billion UH-1 helicopter supply deal has raised serious concern about her safety after learning that her application for admission to the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the government has not made any progress.

    Rhodora Alvarez, a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee who blew the whistle on the helicopter procurement deal, said had she not inquired on the status of her application she would not know that she was waiting for nothing.

    Her expose led to termination of the project.

    Alvarez wrote a letter to Sen. Teofisto Guigona 3rd, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, on May 21, 2015, asking the lawmaker for protection and his support for her admission to the WPP after she testified against defense and military officials involved in the procurement deal.

    In her letter, she informed Guingona about unidentified men who were looking for her days after the allegedly anomalous helicopter procurement contract between the Department of National Defense (DND) and American firm Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) was published by The Manila Times.

    According to Alvarez, Guingona assured her that the committee will evaluate her testimony and recommend that she be admitted to the WPP if needed.

    True to his word, the senator issued an endorsement letter addressed to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima dated June 1, 2015, asking that the whistleblower be provisionally admitted to the WPP.

    Alvarez, after testifying during a blue ribbon committee hearing last June 9, even went to the office of Guingona after learning about the endorsement and asked if there is a need for her to submit additional documents or to fill up some forms in order to expedite the process.

    But she was assured by lawyer Dante Atienza, Guingona’s chief of staff, that she does not need to do anything except to wait.

    Because she fears for her safety considering the weight of her allegations against ranking officials of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Alvarez said she decided to follow up her application with the WPP, only to learn that her application has not moved yet.

    In fact, she added, an employee of the WPP informed her last Friday that they just sent her the application form, though regular mail, which she needs to complete before they can start the evaluation process.

    Aside from the application form, she was also being asked to submit a recommendation from the Senate blue ribbon committee regarding her admission to the WPP, approved by the Senate President.

    “I was surprised to learn about the requirements because I was informed by the office of Senator Guingona that I don’t need to submit any additional documents,” Alvarez said in an interview.

    She added that there seems to be no sense of urgency on the part of the WPP despite being aware of security issues being faced by WPP applicants.

    Worst, when she inquired with Guingona’s chief of staff about the additional requirements being asked by the WPP, Atienza seems to have no idea about the requirements and told her they have done their part when they issued the endorsement to de Lima.

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