Press Release
January 27, 2011

Miriam wants Philippine version of WikiLeaks to protect whistleblowers

In the wake of the anomalous Garcia plea bargaining deal, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago today said that a Philippine version of WikiLeaks can help expose corruption in government and protect whistleblowers.

Speaking before students from the Far Eastern University, Santiago said that since the youth are more knowledgeable about computers and the internet, creating a website similar to WikiLeaks is one way of being proactive in helping the government.

"In the Philippine culture of corruption, we can adopt some of the methods used by Julian Assange and his supporters through WikiLeaks. University students can use the internet for conducting investigative journalism," Senator Santiago said.

She said that a Philippine version of WikiLeaks can be used by people to publish, as anonymous sources, private or classified information detailing government corruption and anomalies.

"The website could also be used as a whistleblower protection intermediary. There are some potential whistleblowers who do not want to leak directly to the press, because they are afraid of exposure and retribution," the senator said. "If so, then whistleblowers can leak to your Wiki and you can leak to the press for them. In that case, you fall under the protection of constitutional free speech and expression."

The senator said that under Philippine criminal law, the main liability for internet whistleblowers is a charge of espionage.

"However, the Espionage Law was intended to target those who seek to disclose classified information to aid a foreign government. But this provision might not apply against an actor who discloses classified information for other reasons, such as to name and shame crooks in a corrupt government agency," she explained.

"I believe that if Congress wants to shut down your Wiki site, Congress will have to draft a new law, more explicitly criminalizing the sources of leaks of classified information," the senator said.

The senator however clarified that she is not advocating computer hacking, but more publishing on the internet to improve transparency in the government.

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