By Ellson Quismorio
Surigao del Norte 2nd Rep. Robert Ace Barbers is urging former Customs intelligence officer 1 Jimmy Guban to spill all the beans insofar as the P11-billion “shabu” smuggling controversy at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is concerned.
Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, pinpointed Guban as the one who holds the key in unraveling the identities of the masterminds of the large-scale entry of shabu in the country.
“Guban is a very vital witness. Ang kanyang info, although nakukulangan pa kami, ay talagang vital kasi this will help us in the determining kung sino ang behind sa pagpapalusot sa P11 billion worth of shabu (The information he gave, although lacking, is truly vital since this will help us in the determining who are behind the smuggling of P11 billion worth of shabu),” Barbers said.
Reports said Guban and two other officials allegedly conspired to facilitate the contraband’s release at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in Manila in
July. Magnetic lifers were allegedly used to hide and transport the illegal substance, which has not been found but is believed to exist.
During the Barbers panel’s hearing on Wednesday, Guban–under intense grilling from Antipolo City 2nd district Rep. Romeo Acop–admitted that he played a role to have the four magnetic lifters slip past the MICP and brought to a warehouse in GMA, Cavite.
The Mindanao solon believes that Guban knows the identities of the foreign drug smuggling syndicate members as well as their local counterparts who facilitate the smuggling of shabu and other illegal drugs into the country.
According to Barbers, Guban should come up with a full narrative on his role, together with dismissed Police Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto, a veteran police anti-illegal drug operative, and former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Deputy Director Ismael Fajardo who was a former classmate of Guban.
Barbers wondered why Guban, Fajardo, and Acierto would be actively involved in “shepherding” the magnetic lifters’ shipment if there were no drugs in it. He also found the absence of claimants suspicious especially if the said equipment would be used for legitimate purposes.
“If indeed there were drugs in the magnetic lifters, who are the BOC officials and employees who conspired and helped facilitate their release?” Barbers asked.
“Mr. Guban is really in hot water now. If he wants to be a state witness and place himself under the DOJ’s (Department of Justice) Witness Protection Program, he should bare or disclose all information on the shabu shipment last July. These include the foreign drug syndicate’s identities, their local counterparts, and their MOs or modus operandi,” he stressed.
“We can understand the pressures and threats to Guban and his family, but his full disclosure on the shabu shipment is his only way out to become a state witness and avoid prosecution. And as I often say: Kung nabasa ka na rin lang, eh, maligo ka na (better go all the way),” said Barbers.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said it will not yet turn over Guban to authorities despite the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest the controversial ex-Customs intelligence officer.
Meanwhile, critics have questioned Duterte’s arrest order on Guban since there is no arrest warrant.