Tuesday 25 September, 2018
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Accused rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan aka ‘David Tan’ snubs DOJ probe

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MANILA — Suspected rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan aka “David Tan” did not show up in Thursday’s preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice on the charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Bangayan was charged with monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade, as penalized under Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); bid fixing under Section 65 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 (Government Procurement Act); using fictitious name or concealing true name, as penalized under Article 178 of the RPC; and violation of Commonwealth Act No. 142, as amended by RA No. 6085.

The NBI filed the criminal charges on the request of the Senate, through its Committee Report No. 763 (Committees on Agriculture and Food, Ways and Means, Trade and Commerce, and Accountability of Public Officers).

They accused Bangayan and his alleged conspirators of establishing a scheme to recruit rice farmers in order organize them “for the purpose of acquiring substantial allocations on the Private Sector Financed Importation Tax Expenditure Subsidy (PSFTES) importation program with the end goal of monopolizing the supply of rice.”

All other respondents also did not attend Thursday’s hearing.

Bangayan’s co-respondents in the first complaint are Judilyne Lim, David Lim, Elizabeth Faustino, Eleanor Rodriguez and Leah Echiveria of Cebu-based DGL Commodities. For the second charge, the four respondents are Judilyne Lim, Faustino, Rodriguez and Echiveria.

The other respondents include Eugene Pioquinto, Mary Joyce Lim, Jason Colocado, Michael Villanueva, Denis Gonzales, Willy Sy, Sandra Lim, Gil Calipayan and Inigo Espiritu.

During the hearing, three witnesses namely Atty. Gilbert Launegoco, Atty. Jose Cordero and Atty. Carlito Co, all from National Food Authority (NFA), swore in their testimonies against Bangayan before an investigating panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Eden Valdes.

The panel of prosecutors set October 30 as the deadline for the respondents to file their respective counter-affidavits.

The complaint which was re-filed by the NBI-Anti-Graft Division dated September 5, 2017, two years after the DOJ remanded to the bureau its original complaint filed in August 2014.

In its complaint, the NBI alleged that respondents conspired to use rice farmers “for the purpose of acquiring substantial allocations on the PSFTES importation program (of the National Food Authority) with the end goal of monopolizing the supply of rice.”

“The aforementioned individuals conspired or agreed to organize the farmers’ cooperatives and organizations as well as other juridical personalities in order to monopolize the supply and distribution of rice thru pre-arranged bidding and other false pretenses thereby preventing free competition in the market,” the bureau complaint said.

“With the acts of subject Bangayan and company, the other capable individuals were denied of their share on the allocation of the rice importation,” it pointed out.

According to the bureau, the scheme cornered government’s rice import allocations, through the National Food Authority (NFA), in 2012 using 25 farmers’ organizations and cooperatives, and single proprietors that did not have the necessary financial and logistical capabilities as “dummies.”

The NBI further alleged that the bidders for NFA rice allocations were financed in exchange for a small percentage per sack as “share.” (PNA)

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