Alleged rice smuggler denies he is David Tan


SUSPECTED rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan, aka “David Tan,” appeared on Monday’s preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and filed a counter-affidavit on the charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Bangayan was charged with monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade, both punishable under Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); bid fixing under Section 65 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 (Government Procurement Act); using fictitious name or concealing true name, as penalized under Article 178 of the RPC; and violation of Commonwealth Act No. 142, as amended by RA No. 6085.

Bangayan submitted his 23-page counter-affidavit before the investigating panel chaired by Assistant State Prosecutor Eden Valdes, denying the charges in the complaint refiled by the NBI.

Bangayan denied using “David Tan” — the person dubbed by authorities as rice smuggling king — as his fictitious name or alias.

“I am categorically denying that I am ‘David Tan’ who supposedly was the ‘financier’ of certain cooperatives. My name is Davidson Bangayan. I was born out of wedlock to my parents Victoria Bangayan and Dy Ting Ham. Considering my illegitimacy, I am using my mother’s surname in all my personal and business dealings,” read his counter-affidavit.

“There is no evidence that I represented myself as David Tan to a certain Hernandez and Ingal. I do not know them nor have I met them,” he pointed out.

He also explained that he was already cleared on this issue by a Pasay City metropolitan trial court in a perjury case. The said court held that “no direct evidence was presented in order to convince this Court that indeed Davidson Bangayan and David Tan are one and the same person.”

Bangayan stressed that the NBI’s complaint is exactly the same complaint filed by the bureau in July 2014, which was returned by the DOJ for further investigation due to lack of evidence.

“Indeed, without any new competent and credible evidence, the complaint which two years ago lacked evidence, remains the same – that is, still lacks evidentiary support,” he explained.

Bangayan also argued that he could not be held liable for bid fixing, saying he “did not directly nor indirectly participate in the NFA (National Food Authority) bidding.”

“To be sure, complainant failed to even specify, much less allege, how my being the purported ‘financier’ could have ‘stifled or suppressed’ competition and produces a ‘disadvantageous result to the public.’ If it is true that competition was stifled and suppressed, then losing bidders would have already complained about it,” he pointed out.

He further explained that even assuming that he helped some cooperatives that joined the NFA bidding, such act alone cannot be considered a criminal offense.

“Nowhere in the bidding documents released by the NFA was it prohibited for bid participants such as cooperatives or private entities to seek financial aid from others,” he explained.

The DOJ panel set the next hearing on November 20 for filing of NBI’s reply to the answers of Bangayan and other respondents.

The NBI filed the criminal charges on the request of the Senate, through its Committee Report No. 763 (Committees on Agriculture and Food, Ways and Means, Trade and Commerce, and Accountability of Public Officers).

They accused Bangayan and his alleged conspirators of establishing a scheme to recruit rice farmers in order to organize them “for the purpose of acquiring substantial allocations on the Private Sector Financed Importation Tax Expenditure Subsidy (PSFTES) importation program with the end goal of monopolizing the supply of rice.”

Bangayan’s co-respondents in the first complaint are Judilyne Lim, David Lim, Elizabeth Faustino, Eleanor Rodriguez and Leah Echiveria of Cebu-based DGL Commodities. For the second charge, the four respondents are Judilyne Lim, Faustino, Rodriguez and Echiveria.

The other respondents include Eugene Pioquinto, Mary Joyce Lim, Jason Colocado, Michael Villanueva, Denis Gonzales, Willy Sy, Sandra Lim, Gil Calipayan and Inigo Espiritu.

The complaint which was re-filed by the NBI-Anti-Graft Division dated September 5, 2017, two years after the DOJ remanded to the bureau its original complaint filed in August 2014.

In its complaint, the NBI alleged that respondents conspired to use rice farmers “for the purpose of acquiring substantial allocations on the PSFTES importation program (of the National Food Authority) with the end goal of monopolizing the supply of rice.”

“The aforementioned individuals conspired or agreed to organize the farmers’ cooperatives and organizations as well as other juridical personalities in order to monopolize the supply and distribution of rice thru pre-arranged bidding and other false pretenses thereby preventing free competition in the market,” the bureau complaint said.

“With the acts of subject Bangayan and company, the other capable individuals were denied of their share on the allocation of the rice importation,” it pointed out.

According to the bureau, the scheme cornered government’s rice import allocations, through the National Food Authority (NFA), in 2012 using 25 farmers’ organizations and cooperatives, and single proprietors that did not have the necessary financial and logistical capabilities as “dummies.”

The NBI further alleged that the bidders for NFA rice allocations were financed in exchange for a small percentage per sack as “share.” Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA