Gordon, Pimentel removed Taguba's protective custody – Lacson
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Senate has removed the protection of Customs broker and “fixer” Mark Ruben Taguba after implicating the so-called Davao Group in smuggling. (READ: Ties that bind: Who are Mans Carpio, Paolo Duterte connected to?)
Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed this on Saturday, September 9, in an interview with radio station dwIZ. He said the order was given by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and blue ribbon committee chair Senator Richard Gordon, both allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, after the heated argument between Gordon and opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes. (READ: 'Committee de absuwelto'? Gordon, Trillanes face off in smuggling probe)
“Committee chairman at SP [Senate President], kasi OSAA [Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms] is directly under the SP. So gusto ko rin malaman ang flow ng communication kung anong oras anong araw binawian siya ng dating protective custody kasi it tells a lot. Noong nabanggit ang Davao Group, bakit biglang nabawian siya? Gusto ko rin malaman 'yan,” Lacson said.
(The committee chairman and the Senate President, because the Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms is directly under the SP. I would like to know the flow of communication of when the protective custody was lifted, because it tells a lot. When the Davao Group was mentioned, why was the protective custody removed? I would like to know that also.)
Lacson said he would talk to them on Monday, September 11, to ask to restore Taguba's protective custody.
“Sa Monday ang plano ko kausapin ang committee na ibalik sa kanya, i-restore sa kanya ang protective custody na granted sa kanya ng Senado. Binawi eh. ,” Lacson said.
(On Monday I plan to talk to the committee to restore the protective custody granted by the Senate. It was revoked.)
"Before this week’s hearing, may pagdinig kung saan nabanggit niya ang Davao Group. Extensive ang pagbanggit sa pagtatanong ni [Senator Antonio] Trillanes," he said.
(Before this week's hearing, there was a session where he mentioned the Davao Group. He mentioned it extensively when asked by Trillanes.)
“Dati siyang may legislative immunity. Importante yan kasi ang legislative immunity pwede ka magsalaysay sa loob ng pagdinig na 'di pwede gamitin sa iyo ang sinalaysay mo,” he said.
(He had legislative immunity. It's important, legislative immunity, because one can testify before a legislative hearing, and it can't be used against you.)
Lacson surmised that the stripping of Taguba’s protection could have prompted the latter to apologize to Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
“Nagulat sila after that hearing binawi, inalis ang kanyang protective custody. So ako I can just surmise 'yan ang dahilan bakit nagpa-press release siya binawi niya lahat at nag-apologize siya. 'Yan ang speculation ko, conjecture ko pero may basehan,” he said.
(I was surprised that after the hearing the custody was revoked. I can just surmise that it's the reason he sent out a press release and recanted and apologized. That's my speculation, my conjecture, but it has basis.)
Lacson then questioned why Gordon gave the order without the nod of the committee members. Such decision, he said, should be discussed and voted upon by the panel.
“Halos lahat ng member ng Senado member ng blue ribbon. Yan ang pinakamalaking committee. Pati ang protective custody kasi pagbobotohan yan. so yan lang nalaman ko na nawalan siya ng protective custody,” Lacson said.
(Almost all Senators are members of the the blue ribbon committee. That's the biggest committee. Even protective custody is voted upon, then I would learn that he was stripped of protective custody.)
During Senate hearings, Taguba presented text messages between him and a certain “Tita Nanie,” who introduced him to the so-called Davao Group. Other members supposedly include Davao Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr and a certain “Jack,” Paolo Duterte’s friend and supposed handler, respectively. (READ: Here's what else was in Taguba's text messages on Customs)
Taguba said he personally met Abellera and Jack in Davao City, which Abellera himself confirmed. But Abellera denied receiving the P5 million "enrolment fee" from Taguba. The latter, however, stands by his claim.
Taguba said his "transactions" with the group went smoothly until his shipment was alerted by the BOC. Tita Nanie, he said, transferred him to another group led by "Big Brother" or Allen Capuyan, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983 and who was supposedly assigned to Davao City.
Gordon and Pimentel earlier said there is no evidence to link Paolo Duterte to smuggling. Documents from the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group and the National Bureau of Investigation in 2007, however, show the vice mayor is linked to the illegal importation of luxury cars, sugar, and used clothes, among others.
On Thursday, September 7, Duterte and Carpio faced the Senate panel and denied allegations while mostly invoking their "right to privacy." (READ: Duterte to son Paolo: Attend Senate smuggling probe but stay 'silent') – Rappler.com