To solve criminality, fix Witness Protection Program first – party list

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 4 April) – Fixing the country’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) is crucial to solving criminality in the country, which is fraught with problems of lack of credible witnesses, according to a nominee of an anti-crime party list.

“With a better Witness Protection Program, we expect to see more people to stand as witnesses,” said former Police Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr., the first nominee of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism Thru Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CKS). Pagdilao was chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) until his recent retirement.

He said the present WPP needs to be changed into a program that truly protects not only witnesses but also their families. “Legislation has to be passed amending the program to protect and embolden citizens to address fear and apathy,” which he said are two of the problems preventing them from helping in law enforcement and security.

Pagdilao said one of the features that could truly help protect citizens is relocation of family to safer neighborhood.

He said there is also a need to provide support not only to the witness but also to his or her family and community, like scholarship and livelihood.

“It should always be with community participation and focused towards attaining peace and order,” he added.

Pagdilao said they will also push for a law to standardize roles and functions of village watchmen or “barangay tanods.”

He said tanods should not be just mere volunteers; they should be “more organized,” “equipped” and “well compensated.”

ACT-CIS is among 21 new groups out of 79 the Commission on Elections (Comelec) initially approved to join the polls on May 13.

Act Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said in an interview the poll body should block the application of the group.

He pointed out in a report at that the party-list law and the Supreme Court prohibit the entry of government projects or its adjuncts into the party list system.

Pagdilao said the Comelec has nevertheless approved their application.

The Comelec, however, noted in a report from that they are among the groups “accredited but with dissenting vote.”

Aside from the WPP, Pagdilao said they also see the Juvenile Delinquency Law as having an adverse effect on criminality. He said it gives minors protection from discipline and susceptible for use by criminal groups. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)