Key Hello Garci Witnesses may be Threshed out through Appropriate Whistleblower Incentives

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano revealed that a potential witness to the Hello Garci scandal is willing to reveal details on the wide scale cheating that was said to have occurred during the 2004 elections.

The senator emphasized that threshing out witnesses like these is one of the primary reasons why strong cases should be filed against former President Arroyo and her allies regarding their anomalous deals while still in office.

“This person who will be serving as a witness will be doing so since he is now being implicated. So unless cases are filed against the right people and unless the case is a strong one, we will have less whistleblowers and less witnesses,” he said.

He also called on those outside the Office of the Ombudsman to take part in the investigation by helping provide the Ombudsman with evidence.

“The secretaries, as the president’s alter egos, have to take it upon themselves. Form independent investigatory bodies, whether it be in the form of commissions, committees or a single person. We can have department ombudsmen that can also do this,” he said.

Cayetano also stressed the importance of investigating the Hello Garci scandal amid the renewed investigations into the anomalous deals entered into by the Arroyo administration.

“Whether we like it or not, the Hello Garci scandal will once again be front and center. Included in Hello Garci are the misuse of funds from the OWWA, the PCSO, PhilHealth and other government agencies to prop up the former President’s bid for reelection and the cover-up that occurred. I’m hoping that even the COMELEC will do its part and also investigate,” he said.

He noted that the controversial Garci tapes gathered in the course of conducting the impeachment hearings may not be used as evidence but can serve as leads to conduct independent investigations into the matter.

More importantly, however, the minority leader pointed out that vital potential witnesses will only come out if the incentives given to whistleblowers are attractive enough to outweigh the consequences of becoming a state witness – loss of employment, livelihood and security.

“The witnesses are demoralized even in the anti-Arroyo years or the fight against the former president because all the disincentives were there. Now that we have a president who is also going after the former president’s alleged corruption and wants to prosecute her, there is no excuse or reason for us not to protect and give full incentives to whistleblowers,” he said.