Graft cases don’t prosper due to lack of witnesses

Monteroso said potential witnesses report or air their complaints against wrongdoers but refuse to take the witness stand or even execute affidavits, despite government assurance they will be under the witness protection program.

Monteroso said people hesitate to testify because they are afraid it will jeopardize their safety despite the assurance of protection and the offer of grant of immunity for possible liability.

Monteroso cited a recent case the Office of the Ombudsman faced in Cagayan de Oro where an official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue was charged with violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices Act.

He said identified witnesses refused to testify for fear of reprisal even if the issue had been publicized in the local media. He said the case could not proceed for lack of witnesses.

He said this problem is true not only for cases in Mindanao but the entire country.

Monteroso said the indifference stems not from a general distrust to the government's protection program or government as a whole, but “more of personal aversion to sacrificing for the public.”

He urged witnesses to come out in the open, assuring them of protection. He said many witnesses to celebrated cases at the Ombudsman have been under the care of the Department of Justice's witness protection program. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)