Scam whistleblowers lose gov’t protection

October 04, 2019

THE two whistleblowers in the PhilHealth scam involving the WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center have been arrested after losing their Witness Protection Program (WPP) coverage.

Former presidential spokesman and lawyer Harry Roque confirmed the arrest of Edwin Roberto and Liezel de Leon by the Quezon City police  Thursday night.

A bail of P610,000 each was set by the Metropolitan Trial Court.

On the other hand the principal accused in the case had the charges against him thrown out.

Last August, the Quezon City regional trial court Branch 219 dismissed the criminal charges against WellMed owner Bryan Christopher Sy, Roberto, and de Leon due to lack of jurisdiction for 17 counts of estafa through falsification of public and/or official documents.

According to the QC RTC, the case should have been filed before a metropolitan trial court or a first-level court.

“No WPP for MeTC,” Roque said.

“It’s really travesty of justice intended to silence them. We will not allow that,” he continued.

Under Section 10 of Republic Act No. 6981 or the WPP law, a person can qualify as state witness if his testimony will be used in a grave felony.

The QCRTC ruled that their charges carried a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment, which, under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), does not constitute grave felony.

QCRTC Branch 219 Judge Janet Abergos-Samar junked the charges against WellMed co-owner Bryan Christopher Sy after granting his motion to quash.

“These cases are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the offenses charged, without prejudice to refiling before the Metropolitan Trial Court,” the resolution read.

According to the judge, the metropolitan trial court would have proper jurisdiction over the case because the maximum imposable penalty is only 6 years.

“This court is bereft of jurisdiction to take cognizance of the estafa through falsification of public/official documents cases which properly pertains to the first level courts,” Abergos-Samar said in the ruling.