PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said he has ordered the arrest of former customs intelligence officer Jimmy S. Guban.
Mr. Duterte made this disclosure amid an ongoing inquiry at the House of Representatives on the P6.8-billion shabu shipment
“Now tell me, sinong tao na ‘yan sa gobyerno ang nangingilkil sa’yo, nanghingi? Tell me who is this guy asking for money, extortion. I will call him here. I’ll have him arrested. Kaya si Guban pinaaresto ko,” Mr. Duterte said in his remarks at Malacañang on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 24, during the 2017 Philippine Quality Award and Conferment Ceremony.
He said he ordered Police Director General Oscar D. Albayalde to arrest Mr. Guban. “Sabi ni Albayalde, ‘What grounds?’ ‘Just arrest him. Bring him to the NBI,’” the President narrated.
Last month, the House of Representatives cited Mr. Guban for contempt over conflicting statements before its inquiry on drug smuggling.
At the fourth continuing hearing by the House Committees on Dangerous Drugs and Good Government and Public Accountability, Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Isidro C. Lapeña acknowledged that the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite on Aug. 8 contained the illegal drugs that slipped into the country.
“With what’s going on now, the circumstantial evidence and the testimonies, as an investigator, I will tend to believe that indeed, may laman ‘yan (those lifters contained contraband),” Mr. Lapeña said.
“Ginawa ang magnetic lifters hindi for the intended purpose. Ginawa ito para makapag-smuggle ng illegal drugs,” Rep. Romeo M. Acop of the 2nd district of Antipolo City said during the hearing. (The magnetic lifters were created not for their intended purpose, it was designed to smuggle illegal drugs).
Mr. Acop said that should it be proven that the lifters were used to smuggle drugs, Mr. Lapeña may be held liable for covering up lapses of BoC personnel.
“I don’t believe that you’re part of the syndicate, I don’t believe that you’re covering up for the entry of illegal drugs, personally, I believe that you’re covering up for the inconsistency or insufficiency of your people,” Mr. Acop told the Commissioner.
Prior to Mr. Lapeña’s admission on the magnetic lifters, the joint House panel questioned the credibility of Customs official Ma. Lourdes V. Mangaoang as witness on the alleged smuggling for her “improper motive” against Mr. Lapeña.
“Accordingly, although Atty. Mangaoang cannot be disqualified as a witness, since she possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications, her credibility remains questionable since an improper motive exists on her part (and) makes her testimony untrustworthy and unreliable,” Mr. Acop said.
“As an image analyst, ang makikita mo lang sa image ay kung may laman o hindi. But as I have said as a seasoned investigator, based on the findings of PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), physical documentary and testimonial evidence, chemical analysis, plus the weighing… then ang masasabi ko shabu ang laman niyan,” Ms. Mangaoang said. (As an image analyst, what you can see in the image is whether it contained anything or not. But as I have said, as a seasoned investigator, based on the findings of the PDEA, physical documentary and testimonial evidence, chemical analysis, plus the weighing…then I can say it had shabu.)
Meanwhile, BoC X-Ray Inspection Project (XIP) personnel John Mar M. Morales insisted the images showed otherwise. “Walang makita na dense talaga na magsasabi na may laman,” Mr. Morales said. (It didn’t show anything dense, as to suggest there was something there).
Ms. Mangaoang suggested to the panel that the empty magnetic lifters be again captured by the X-Ray machine and be compared with the initial images, which was supported by Rep. Acop. — A.L. Balinbin and C.A. Tadalan