Barbers against admission of Guban into witness protection program
The House dangerous drugs panel chair is against the admission of resigned Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban into the government’s witness protection program (WPP).
Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Monday said he does not think Guban was qualified to become a state witness in the alleged smuggling of billions worth of shabu into the country last August. He also said Guban has yet to give valuable information and name relevant names involved in the controversy.
“I don’t know if Jimmy Guban is already qualified to become a state witness under the WPP program kasi hanggang ngayon wala kong idea kung may nai-file na na kaso sa kanya eh… So you can only be a qualified as a state witness kapag ikaw ay may kaso,” Barbers explained in a press briefing.
“Sa aking opinion, I will not even enroll him sa WPP eh, kasi it seems na wala pa siyang mabigat na impormasyon na binibigay eh. Kaya nga tinatanong natin sino ba ‘yung master mind, sino ba ‘yung superiors niyo… we need more information,” he added, stressing that if it were up to him, he would not recommend Guban as a state witness “unless he gives out names, evidence and testify under oath against those involved.”
The House panel is set to resume its investigation into the alleged smuggling of P11 billion worth of shabu that slipped past the Bureau of Customs within this week or next, Barbers said, adding that they invited Guban to appear before the probe.
The lawmaker also said the committee is not backing down from its move to cite Guban in contempt and detain him in the chamber when the Senate lifts its separate detention order against Guban.
“Yes oo, eh talagang ide-detain namin sya rito. In fact we even mentioned, in the last hearing na after the detention order is lifted in the Senate, Jimmy Guban will enjoy an extended staycation in the House of Representatives,” Barbers said.
“Kasi the committee has ruled and has cited him for contempt for non-cooperation and refusal to answer questions coming from the members of the committee,” he continued.
It was Guban who named dismissed cop Eduardo Acierto as responsible for the entry of the magnetic lifters found in Cavite and the intercepted lifters containing P2.4-billion shabu at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in August.
PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino has maintained that the magnetic lifters found in Cavite contained illegal drugs, a conclusion that Customs Deputy Collector Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang has backed and former Customs chief Isidro Lapeña dismissed at first.
In an earlier House inquiry into the issue, however, Lapeña finally gave in and said he believes that the magnetic lifters contained shabu.
Following the controversy, President Rodrigo Duterte has transferred Lapeña from the corruption-riddled agency to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda). /je