MANILA - Senator Richard Gordon said Thursday he has placed under the Senate's protective custody a former Customs officer tagged in the release of a P6.8-billion drug shipment through the port of Manila in August.
Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee currently investigating the incident, said former Bureau of Customs (BOC) intelligence officer Jimmy Guban is no longer held in contempt and is now under the Senate's protective custody "for his safety."
"The threats are there because hangga't hindi pa dumarating sa husgado 'yan, 'pag wala si Guban, walang kaso. You only have circumstantial evidence," he said in a press briefing.
(The threats are there because until the case has not reached the courts, if Guban is not there, there is no case. You only have circumstantial evidence.)
Gordon also recommended that Guban be placed under the state's witness protection program as he believes the official gave crucial information to pin people behind the multibillion-peso drug slip at the BOC.
"May testimony si Mr. Guban na lahat sila binibigyan niya ng tara... Sinabi niya 'yung mga pangalan. Lahat mayroon kaming mga pangalan diyan," he said in a press briefing.
(He gave testimony that all of them (Customs officials) were given bribes... He gave names. We have the names.)
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered police to arrest Guban, but Gordon said the Customs official would remain under the Senate's protective custody.
The Senate in September cited Guban in contempt and detained him for giving conflicting statements in its inquiry.
Guban later admitted to receiving at least P10,000 in exchange for looking for the consignee-for-hire that received the magnetic lifters.
Gordon said Guban is currently under "voluntary confinement" at the Senate for his own safety, adding that he is no longer detained over the contempt citation.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said he and Gordon agreed to transfer Guban to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation upon the end of the Senate inquiry.
Gordon confirmed this, saying: "I spoke as late as about an hour ago to the secretary of justice. I said, 'I'm not going to be the one to decide, you're the one to decide. The moment you tell me na papasa siya doon sa [that he will pass] witness protection requirements.'"
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said intelligence officer Jaime Guban will stay under Senate custody unless an arrest warrant against him is issued.
"We still need to keep him unless a warrant is issued," Sotto said.