MANILA (UPDATE) - Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday former Customs intelligence officer Jaime Guban will stay under Senate custody unless an arrest warrant against him is issued.
President Rodrigo Duterte, citing a "secret special report," earlier ordered Guban's arrest, accusing him of facilitating the entry of illegal drugs and other goods into the country.
"We still need to keep him unless a warrant is issued," Sotto said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had said Guban will stay in Senate custody until it completes its inquiry into the P11-billion shabu shipment allegedly hidden inside magnetic lifters that were found empty in Cavite province in August.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Senator Richard Gordon, who is leading the inquiry into the drug haul, echoed this statement in a separate press briefing.
"We are a co-equal branch of government... With all due respect to the President, if I heard him correctly, we cannot turn over Mr. Guban right away because we are still continuing with the hearing," he said.
The Senate in September cited Guban in contempt and detained him for giving conflicting statements during its hearing.
Guban later admitted to receiving at least P10,000 in exchange for looking for the consignee-for-hire that received the magnetic lifters.
He is no longer detained over contempt but is under "voluntary confinement" at the Senate for his own safety, Gordon said.
"Mr. Guban will stay in the Senate until he becomes, formally, part of the witness protection program," he said.
"Doon sa witness protection program, hinihiling ko rin na pati pamilya niya ay maprotektahan, he added.
(In the witness protection program, I am also requesting for his family to be covered.)