Duterte pins down Bangayan in Senate probe; Bangayan taken into NBI custody

Feb. 03, 2014
"Tacloban City is no more. God must have been somewhere else." - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. (screen grab from Davao City Information Office YouTube account)

“Tacloban City is no more. God must have been somewhere else.” – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. (screen grab from Davao City Information Office YouTube account)

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY– The awaited appearance of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on the Senate’s inquiry helped pinned Davidson Bangayan for his involvement in smuggling imported rice.

After the Senate hearing, authorities from the National Bureau of Investigation arrested Bangayan, also known as David Tan for violation of the Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines or the Materials Pilferage Act of 1994. News reports quote NBI Director Virgilio Mendez saying that from the NBI Headquarters, Bangayan will be taken to the Caloocan court that issued the warrant for his arrest. Justice secretary Leila de Lima said they are still working on the rice smuggling case against the businessman.

Mayor Duterte, who made earlier statements about Bangayan,presented to the Senate committee on agriculture a photograph from intelligence sources identifying Bangayan as David Tan.

He said David Tan was frequently mentioned by rice traders and other agencies for involvement in shipping imported rice into the shipping port of Davao City.

Duterte was asked by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile if Tan was the same with Bangayan, who was also present at the Senate inquiry, in which Duterte affirmed.

“No doubt, the one in the room,” he told Enrile.

Duterte’s testimony also led to the senate committee to hold Bangayan in contempt for lying under oath that he was not David Tan.

Enrile also asked if Duterte knows of Bangayan’s business operations in Davao City. The mayor said the city’s business bureau had no records of business permits involving Bangayan or Tan, but said that
Bangayan “comes to Davao once a year, dealing with scrap metal and fertilizers.”

Duterte scoffed: “The problem with us in govt is we talk too much, act too slow, do too little. What this country needs is not more laws, but more good men in public service, let me ask, do we subscribe to that?”

The Senate hearing zeroed in on Bangayan, whom the mayor had identified as a smuggling operator in a press interview last January 10.

The mayor answered queries from senators on the modus of smuggling rice, saying that operators “come prepared with recycled permits” which they can produce when government agencies question their delivery.

Duterte also added that the smuggling of imported rice could not be done without the involvement of personnel from the Bureau of Customs and National Food Authority. But he admitted his consultations and intelligence information did not produce any names of personnel from such agencies.

He also said operators can also go through courts to issue injunctions to release imported rice, which the Customs personnel had no choice but to comply.

During the hearing, NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag said a check in their records nationwide showed there was no Davidson Bangayan registered as a rice trader or retailer.

Bangayan on his part, defended his actions, saying it has been “common practice” to procure import permits for rice.

He elaborated that there are some 200 participants in such schemes,and that his company is only a “fraction or 7%” of those involved in the scheme.

Bangayan said he has been importing rice from Vietnam and Thailand.

Bangayan said part of their scheme is to monetize the imports through negotiations with farmers’ groups through the Farmers’ Incentive Rice Program.

In the hearing, the Senate identified Bangayan’s companies as Star Craft, Silver Jade Export-Import Trading, and Davidson Publishing. Senators noted that these companies have two other incorporators namely Emmanuel Santos, Sr. and Eugene Pioquinto.

Customs Commissioner Sevilla said last 2012, some 800,000 metric tons of rice or around 16 million sacks were shipped illegally, which cost the government around P 8.4 billion in lost import duties.

The importation of rice, which was formerly done by the NFA, was opened to the private sector during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Senate committee said they will seek reforms in the Customs and the NFA to stop the misuse of import permits. (Tyrone A. Velez/davaotoday.com)

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