SECRETARY DE LIMA'S STATEMENT (On Her Reversal 1 of Former Secretary Al Agra's Dismissal of the Charges Against BI-DMIA Personnel Implicated By Whistleblower Racel J. Ong In Syndicated Activities of Human Trafficking)

21 July 2010

The present new administration is cognizant of the complaints of various irregularities and manifest illegal activities that have proliferated under the previous Administration, including those within the ranks of Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials/personnel. The Aquino Presidency precisely has been carried in the wings of a people�s hope for a clean government, and one which will deliver justice not just in the prospective, but in the retrospective as well, i.e., punish those guilty of corruption and other crimes committed by public officials during the past regime. This is the marching order of the present Secretary of Justice, and she will not start this march by upholding a predecessor�s decision to exonerate despite an official investigation�s findings and recommendations to the contrary.

Ms. Racel Ong�s accusations are not light fare for any government official accused of wrongdoing, and rather than serve as a reason to propose that the accused should not be dragged into the inconvenience of answering these charges in an administrative disciplinary case, it should be taken as an opportunity to give premium to acts of disclosure of government corruption by individuals possessing knowledge of the same.

This is not to mean that whistleblowers will be coddled. It simply means that they will be listened to and their stories fully heard before an impartial office, not cut off prematurely and sent to ignominy to face a life of ridicule and danger. While the accusations are not light fare for the accused to bear, neither is Ms. Ong�s act of exposing herself to the hostility engendered by her disclosures. The least we can do is give everyone a fair, just and open hearing, and not clear anyone of grave wrongdoing even before they have sweated out enough to raise a credible defense, aside from general denials and alibis. This is only what is expected of any decent and respectable government.

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