AN OFFICIAL of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Friday they are conducting a parallel investigation on the real identity of alleged rice smuggling leader David Tan.

“One is thin, the other is fat and one is a young man. That was based on the information I received,” said BOC Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Jessie Dellosa.

Dellosa admitted that Davidson Bangayan is included in the list although his office is still collating information if the businessman and Tan are one and the same person.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had insisted it found the right guy in Bangayan, who denied the allegations.

The BOC official said there is no need to invite Bangayan to give a statement since the NBI has already questioned him. The Bureau of Immigration (BI), on the other hand, placed Bangayan on its lookout list to monitor his possible departure from the country.

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 modus operandi,” he said, adding developments on the probe may be seen by the end of the month.

The Senate will also hold an investigation on January 22 in light of reports of payoffs to Customs officials by rice smugglers, whose illegal business threatens the livelihood and welfare of two-thirds of the country’s population who depend on agriculture.

Among the invited guests are Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan Calayag, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairperson Teresita Herbosa, and other stakeholders in the rice trading industry and Bangayan.

The Senate committee on agriculture and food will also check the implementation of committee recommendations under Committee Report 763 during the 15th Congress on the matter of rice smuggling at the Subic Bay Free Port Zone and Port of Legazpi, Albay and the NFA-Private Sector Financed Importation Program.

Senator Cynthia Villar, the committee chairperson, recalled that in a hearing last November 18, the government agreed to make the importation process transparent by making available to the public importation documents of shipments before reaching Philippine ports.

“In drafting the importation guidelines of agriculture products, we also agreed to consult all stakeholders,” Villar said. (Virgil Lopez/FP/Sunnex)