Multi-agency effort vs rice smuggling set

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


FOUR government agencies will look deeper into the prevalence of rice smuggling in the country, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio Mendez said late Tuesday.

Apart from the NBI, Mendez said the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will also help in the investigation.

The probe will not focus on Davidson Bangayan, who allegedly carries the alias David Tan, as a Senate inquiry last year also identified businessmen Danny Ngo, Danilo Garcia and Willy Sy as rice smugglers.

"We are not centering on David (Tan) or Davidson (Bangayan). That is not the issue there. It’s about how we are going to approach the reported rampant smuggling of rice," said Mendez moments after emerging from a meeting with Alcala and DOJ officials regarding the issue.

Bangayan denied in a Senate hearing on Wednesday that he is a smuggler even if he apparently admitted in his libel complaint against business leader Jesus Arranza and some Singaporean traders in 2005 that he is Tan.

The NBI is already convinced that Bangayan and Tan are one and the same, which brings them to the next part of the probe and that is to know his participation in rice smuggling.

"We cannot say yes or no because we still don't have those records. We still have to get records from the NFA (National Food Authority) and Customs whether or not there is Davidson Bangayan or David Tan that is on record," said Mendez.

Last week, Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Jessie Dellosa said they are also investigating the consignees and brokers.

"We have the list of different consignees of rice importers and the list of brokers. But what we are doing now is we are profiling personalities who are involved here after that we look at the modus operandi," he said.

The government allegedly lost P7 billion in revenue alone from Tan's illegal importation activities in the past two years. (Sunnex)

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