THE government employee who blew the whistle on the allegedly anomalous acquisition of second-hand Huey helicopters for the Philippine Air Force is now under government protection, according to an official of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“I cannot give further details except to confirm that yes, Miss Alvarez is no w in our protective custody. She is now under the WPP,” Martin Menez, director of the DOJ Witness Protection Program (WPP), told The Manila Times on Thursday.
Menez was referring to Rhodora Alvarez, an employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue who claimed she was privy to alleged irregularities surrounding the P1.2- billion contract to acquire 21 combat utility helicopters for the nation’s air force.
Alvarez–whose identity was hidden under the codename ‘Joey’ when the alleged anomaly was first reported by The Manila Times in March–revealed that the contract details were allegedly ‘tailor-fitted’ by Defense department officials to favor a North American joint venture supplier.
The helicopters delivered by the supplier also were said to have failed technical inspection.
Menez said all requests for witness protection must have the approval of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
In Alvarez’s case, it was Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, who asked the DOJ to place her under state protection.
Alvarez earlier criticized the Justice department for its slow action on the request to get her into the WPP.
Menez explained that the “delay” was caused by a “little paperwork” that was eventually settled.
Alvarez was supposed to appear before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office last Tuesday to face Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, who had filed a libel case against her and this reporter.
Her lawyer, however, advised that Alvarez did not have to go to the prosecutor’s office for security reasons.
Under conditions set by the WPP, a witness under protection can no longer freely grant media interviews.