MANILA, Philippines — Are news reports drawn from the contents of the sworn statement Aegis Juris fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura submitted to apply for witness protection illegal?
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II indicated as much in a statement released by his office on Friday, October 27, in which he said: “Any copy of the Sinumpaang Salaysay obtained by anyone and released publicly is a clear violation of the law and will be dealt with accordingly.”
In the statement, Aguirre cited Section 7 of Republic Act No. 6981, or “An Act Providing for a Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program and for Other Purposes,” saying, “no information or documents given or submitted in support of an application for admission to the WPP shall be released except upon written order of the Department or the proper court.”
“As of this statement, the Office of the Secretary of the DOJ has not issued any written order authorizing the release of any copy of the Sinumpaang Salaysay of Marc Anthony B. Ventura which he submitted to the Witness Protection Program,” the statement added.
Copies of Ventura’s statement were obtained and widely reported on by media on Thursday.
But on Wednesday, October 25, the day Ventura went to Aguirre’s office to apply for witness protection, the Justice secretary himself, at a press conference he called to announce the “very welcome development,” basically narrated almost everything that would later be detailed in the Sinumpaang Salaysay.
This was before Ventura’s formal admission into the WPP.