Senate won't turn over 'witness' Jimmy Guban to authorities
MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – The Senate will not turn over former Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban to authorities, contrary to the verbal arrest order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon said this in a press conference on Thursday, October 25.
“We are a co-equal branch of government…and with all due respect to the President, we cannot turn over Mr Guban right away because we are still continuing the hearings,” Gordon said.
“Nirerespeto namin ang President pero kailangan ng Senado ay i-assert 'yung co-equal branch status at kailangan pairalin status quo na iniimbestigahan pa namin (We respect the President but the Senate needs to assert its co-equal branch status and we need to have a status quo as we are still doing an investigation),” he added.
Gordon said Guban, who was earlier detained after being cited in contempt, was now a witness and is “under voluntary confinement” for his safety and security.
Gordon said Guban and his family would be placed under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice. But pending approval, the former Customs official would remain under the Senate's "protective custody."
He added that the decision was made with the approval of Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Sotto said earlier on Thursday that there would be no warrantless arrest of Guban in the Senate.
Sotto said he has ordered the Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms to "secure Guban properly." Sotto said Guban is both guilty and a vital witness to the case.
"He is still under custody of the blue ribbon committee, therefore we will keep him unless a warrant is issued," Sotto said in a text message.
Guban has been detained inside the Senate compound since September 11 after the blue ribbon committee cited him in contempt for "lying" during the hearing on the missing P6.8-billion shabu believed to have been packed in magnetic lifters found in Cavite.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday said it planned to take Guban into custody even without a warrant. PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Benigno Durana said they would ask Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon to turn over Guban to police.
In a speech hours earlier, Duterte ordered the arrest of Guban for supposed involvement in shabu smuggling by faking identification cards and facilitating its entry.
Guban earlier admitted receiving P10,000 to find the consignee-for-hire that would receive the magnetic lifters allegedly packed with one ton of shabu.
Duterte had also released to media a confidential intelligence report that listed alleged suspicious activities of Guban and two other law enforcers. – Rappler.com