MANILA -- Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday that Davidson Bangayan is also the David Tan being investigated for allegedly running a rice smuggling syndicate.

De Lima said one of the presidents of the 26 cooperatives covered by the probe had positively identified Bangayan as the leader of the cartel that cornered a big chunk of rice imports by the National Food Authority (NFA) over the last two years.

"Pinakita nila (NBI agents) 'yung photo and kinonfirm na siya yun. May shinare din na activities and transactions nitong si Davidson Bangayan aka David Tan," she told reporters, adding the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has records to prove that Bangayan and Tan have the same address.

Bangayan met with de Lima on Tuesday to clear his name of the allegation. He was then referred to the NBI, which claimed he was a subject of an arrest warrant issued by the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 126 in connection with a three-year-old pilferage case.

But the NBI failed to detain him after Bangayan's lawyer said the arrest warrant specifically stated that it is running after Tan and not his client.

"Sa totoo lang, ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganyang klaseng arrest warrant na ang korte na ang nagki-clear, imbes na sabihin 'alias' or 'also known as David Tan,' ang sinabi" 'who is not Davidson Bangayan,'" De Lima said.

De Lima also said she is planning to seek a clarification from the court why NBI agents were disallowed from checking the records for being not parties to the case.

"That's questionable. Why should the RTC say na walang pakialam ang law enforcer na alamin ang nasa records? Precisely, the NBI agents want to implement the warrant of arrest because the warrant of arrest is addressed to any enforcer of the law or to any officer of the law, and NBI agents are officers of the law," she said.

The Justice chief will soon order all immigration officers in all ports of exit in the country to be on the lookout for Bangayan.

She will also discuss the rice smuggling issue with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Customs Commissioner Sunny Sevilla in the coming days. (Sunnex)