Villar: Bangayan should be charged with economic sabotage

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Friday, August 8, 2014


SENATOR Cynthia Villar welcomed Friday the filing of charges against David Bangayan, aka David Tan, but said that a heavier charge of economic sabotage should also be filed against the alleged rice smuggler.

"Economic sabotage would have been a heavier case with heavier penalties. It's about time we enact a law clearly stating that rice smuggling constitutes economic sabotage. We need harsher penalties for this act," Villar, chairperson of Senate committee on agriculture and food, said.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended that Bangayan be charged with bid fixing under Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, and monopoly in restraint of trade under the Revised Penal Code.

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Villar noted that the penalty for monopoly is imprisonment of six months to two years or a fine ranging from P200 to P6,000.

"The penalties provided in the law are too light, and won't serve as deterrent to these acts," she added.

The NBI also recommended that Judilyne Lim, Elizabeth Faustino, Eleanor Rodriguez, and Leah Echeveria be investigated for the same charges. A separate complaint against former National Food Authority Administrator Angelito Banayo and other government officials will be filed with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Villar, during the investigation on rice smuggling she conducted, was able to unearth a modus operandi where rice traders use farmer cooperatives as dummies in rice importation, effectively cornering the supply of imported rice in the market.

"When the scheme where farmer cooperatives were given importation permits was formulated, the intention was to let our farmers gain from importation. With this modus, rice traders took advantage of the farmers and only enrich themselves," Villar said.

Villar vowed to monitor the developments in the cases filed.

"We are hoping the government-to-government scheme in importing rice will finally put an end to smuggling. However, we hope the cases filed against the suspected smugglers will be resolved the soonest time possible in order to show the government’s commitment to stop smuggling," she said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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