Customs intel agent rapped

September 11, 2018
Richard Gordon

A SEETHING Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, yesterday sent to jail for contempt a controversial intelligence agent of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for “lying” on his role in the large-scale smuggling of illegal drugs into the country

At the same time, Gordon also instructed Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Isidro Lapeña, to initiate dismissal proceeding and the filing of appropriate charges against Intelligence Officer, Jimmy Guban, of the bureau’s Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), who has been on “floating status” since last month.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee yesterday started its own probe into the smuggling of illegal drugs after some 355 kilos of shabu worth over P4 billion were found by the BOC and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) hidden inside a shipment of “scrap magnetic lifter” from Malaysia at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) last August 7 consigned to Vecaba Trading.

Three days later, the PDEA raided an abandoned warehouse in GMA, Cavite, where four similar magnetic lifters, this time consigned to SMYD Trading were found.

The PDEA insisted that the lifters, which were released from the MICP on July 14, also contained at least one ton of shabu worth over P6.8 billion, a claim that the BoC insisted was false.

It was this conflicting claim that prompted the Senate, based on a resolution filed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao and another by the members of the Liberal Party (LP), to also conduct its own probe, separate from the one already being conducted by Congress.

Guban was among those subpoenaed for the hearing as he has been the one “assisting” the PDEA in the building up of cases involving the smuggling of illegal drugs, specifically, the two above shipments.

Aside from him and Lapeña from the BoC, those in attendance, among others, were PDEA director general Aaron Aquino, PDEA NCR director general Ismael Fajardo, SMYD Trading owner Marina dela Cruz Signapan and Joel Maritana.

Maritana, a “scavenger” who only reached second year high school, was invited after he recanted a sworn statement that made it appear he was the final consignee of the SMYD shipment after he purportedly paid Signapan some P180,000 for the use of her company.

Maritana said it was Guban, whom he knew and addressed as ‘chairman,’ who induced him to sign the affidavit that also effectively shielded Signapan from any responsibility in case the shipment encountered any legal difficulty, as what happened.

“So, what happened here is that you (Guban) picked up this poor guy (Maritana) to become a fall guy so you could protect Signapan,” an angry Gordon scolded Guban.

Lapeña, for his part, disclosed “there was an attempt” to change Vecaba’s importation documents in the name of SMYD Trading but this was prevented after the BoC and PDEA opened the shipment and found the 355 kilos of shabu last August 7.

Gordon also berated Guban for trying to pin down an innocent man for the crime of drug smuggling instead of immediately effecting the seizure of the illegal drug shipment, “unless you have an interest (in the smuggling of illegal drugs).

“I am shocked. I want this man thrown in jail and dismissed from the service,” Gordon said.

“You may be able to convince some people with your tales and your arrogance, but here in the Senate, we are not stupid here,” he added.

Guban, who, sources alleged, is also in cahoots with a known smuggler based at the international airport, is to temporarily remain at the Senate pending the issuance of his commitment order to be signed by Gordon so he can be transferred to the Pasay City Jail.