By Jeffrey Damicog
There is still a chance for former Bureau of Customs (BOC) intelligence officer Jimmy Guban to become a state witness in the case concerning the 2018 smuggling of billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs using magnetic lifters, said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra Friday (April 26).
Guevarra pointed this out after charges have been filed against Guban and his co-defendants before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) which issued arrest warrants against them.
In the meantime, the Secretary disclosed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has served the arrest warrant and has taken Guban into custody.
“He will remain in NBI custody until the prosecution has determined during the trial if he could be recommended for discharge to become a state witness,” Guevarra said.
The Secretary disclosed Guban has been removed from the Witness Protection Program (WPP) even before Manila RTC Branch 35 issued the arrest warrants last April 12.
He noted, “Guban was personally served a notice of termination of WPP coverage.”
“The termination also paved the way for the service of the warrant of arrest,” he added.
Guevarra explained Guban was placed under the WPP at the request of Sen. Richard Gordon when the Senate blue ribbon committee the lawmaker chairs was still conducting an inquiry over the magnetic lifters issue.
“Considering that the inquiry had been concluded and threats to Guban’s security had been reduced to manageable levels, we terminated his WPP coverage,” Guevarra said.
The charges were filed after the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a resolution which approved indicting Guban and his co-defendants of importation of illegal drugs in violation of Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Those who were also charged are former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Deputy Director for Administration Ismael Fajardo; dismissed Police Colonel Eduardo Acierto; Chan Yee Wah; Zhou Quan, also known as Zhang Quan; Emily Luquingan; and consignees Vedasto Cabral Baraquel Jr. and his wife Maria Lagrimas Catipan of Vecaba Trading.
In the same resolution, the DOJ endorsed the filing of a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) and current Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Isidro Lapeña and several others for violating Section 3(e) of RA 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and for criminal negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The case concerns the two magnetic lifters found with illegal drugs at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) as well as the four magnetic lifters at a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), Cavite which were believed to have also contained narcotics.