MANILA, Philippines- Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday withstood the bill filed by Deputy Speaker Sergio Apostol for the removal of the Witness Protection Program under the Department of Justice.
De Lima expressed her opposition in the House of Representatives to a legislative measure seeking to transfer supervision of the WPP from the DOJ to the courts.
“House Bill 4583 seeks to amend Republic Act 6981 or The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act by transferring the implementation of the WPP from the DOJ to the local courts supposedly to“shield the program from possible corrosive politics,” Apostol stated.
De Lima denied that politics ever intruded into the WPP and guaranteed that before witnesses are admitted to the program, they go through a thorough evaluation by the DOJ.
“Politics is never a consideration in our administration of the WPP,” she stressed. “That is a sweeping and reckless accusation,” De Lima said of Apostol’s premise.
De Lima also reminded Apostol that the protection of witnesses is all-important and indispensable ingredient in the prosecution of criminal offenders.
“And prosecution is indubitably an executive function. It’s therefore quite illogical and unwarranted to divest the executive, thru the DOJ, of the powers and prerogatives relating to WPP,”she asserted via Manila Standard Today.
-KATHRYN A. ORBIGOZO