The Witness Protection Program (WFP) should be removed from the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shield it from political maneuverings, one of the House of Representatives’ deputy speakers said on Monday.
House Deputy Speaker Sergio Apostol of Leyte made the proposal through House Bill 4583, which amends the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act by transferring the WFP to the jurisdiction of the proper court.
Apostol’s proposal provides that the proper court may call upon any department, bureau, office or any other executive agency to assist in the implementation of the WFP and those offices will be bound by legal duty and obligation to render such assistance.
“When cases that the DOJ is prosecuting conflict with the interests of the Executive and its officials, the implementation of the Program will be detrimentally affected, and any applications that risk undermining the government will likely be rejected,” Apostol, a lawyer, pointed out.
Under existing laws, the WFP is administered by the DOJ, which is under the executive branch.
“The WFP law was enacted to encourage an individual who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to testify before a court, a quasi-judicial body, or an investigating authority, by protecting him/her from probable reprisals and from unavoidable economic dislocation. Removing the present mandate on implementation of the law from the Department of Justice to the proper court would shield the program from possible corrosive politics,” Apostol added.