Rewards program for informants of political killings being pushed

A House member is proposing a cash reward of as much as P500,000 to P10,000,000 to persons who can give useful information on perpetrators of political killings in the country. Rep. Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa, a vice chairman of the House committee on national defense and security, raised the proposal through House Bill 6304, saying the increased number of political killings, which include members of leftist groups as victims, has raised alarm in the country and in the international community. “These very rarely led to the arrest, prosecution and punishment of those responsible, and the failure of government to deliver justice to the victims shows its failure to fulfill its obligation to protect the right to life of every citizen,” Biazon said. Biazon noted the manner of the attacks on the victims constitutes a politically-motivated pattern of killings which are carried out by unidentified men who shoot the victims before escaping on motorcycles, or by abduction and subsequent execution of an individual. Biazon said the government should also implement Amnesty International’s 14-Point Program for the prevention of extra-judicial executions. “As part of the program, the authorities should reiterate a clear message to all members of law enforcement agencies that involvement in such unlawful killings will never be tolerated.” Biazon’s bill otherwise known as “Rewards for Information On Political Killings Act” seeks to create a rewards program under the Department of Justice (DOJ).  The program shall be administered by the Justice Secretary who shall grant cash rewards to persons who could furnish information leading to the arrest or conviction of persons in the commission of acts of political killing. It provides that the DOJ secretary shall determine if an individual giving information is eligible for a reward and the amount to be paid. The reward shall range from P500,000 or more but not to exceed P10,000,000, and shall not be made without the approval of the President. The Justice Secretary may withhold the identity of the person giving the information if his and his family’s security is threatened and put the informant under the witness protection program based on the bill. Exception to the rule on monetary reward in the furnishing of information as expressed under Section 5 shall be officials and employees of government entities while in the performance of their official duties.