Philippine Customs linked rice Smuggler Davidson Bangayan is the same as David Tan documents said – admitted

Businessman Davidson Bangayan answers questions from senators during a hearing on rice smuggling at the Senate. MANNY MARCELO

Import document shows Davidson is David Tan

Businessman Davidson Bangayan was found to have admitted in an import document that he is also known by the name "David Tan," whom authorities tagged as a big-time rice smuggler.

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The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is looking into the document, a four-page complaint affidavit that Bangayan executed in a libel case he filed against Jesus Arranza, president of the Federation of Philippine Industries Inc.

In the document submitted to a Caloocan court in 2005, Bangayan said he is among the stockholders of Advanced Scrap Specialist Corp. with office address in Dagat-dagatan, Caloocan City.

Bangayan had earlier denied reports that he and Tan are the same person.

Arranza, who accused Bangayan of being the real David Tan, gave a copy of the complaint-affidavit and other documents to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The businessman also produced a certification, saying he is also known by the controversial name David Tan.

"This is to certify that Advanced Specialist Corp. headed by Davidson Bangayan a.k.a. David Tan has been supplying our company of scrap metals for the last two years," read the certification signed by Justin Chan, managing director of Taylor Overseas Marketing.

Bangayan had earlier showed up at the NBI to deny Arranza's accusations.

NBI director Virgilio Mendez told reporters yesterday that the documents submitted by Arranza are being considered as evidence.

"We have enough evidence to prove that Bangayan and Tan are one and the same," he said.

Farmers' coops used as dummies

 Bangayan appeared at the Senate hearing on rice smuggling yesterday and admitted that he was involved in rice trading.

During his testimony before the committee on agriculture and food, the businessman admitted that he used farmers' cooperatives to secure permits to import rice under the minimum access volume (MAV) in 2012.

"I think, some. As I understand the NFA has a farmers-as-importers program. But I seldom went into that business," he said when asked by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano if he ever had dealings with farmers' associations.

Bangayan said that his businesses involved the trading of scrap metal and other commodities, including rice.

The businessman said there was nothing illegal when he used farmers' cooperatives.

But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that what Bangayan did was illegal and prejudicial to the interest of the farmers.

De Lima told the committee that the NBI has secured the testimonies of two witnesses from the cooperatives, detailing the modus operandi of Bangayan.

The witnesses claimed that they went to the office of Bangayan in Caloocan City to finalize the pre-qualifying documents for rice importation.

Bangayan uses coordinators or brokers to deal with the cooperatives, De Lima said.

She added that the witnesses claimed that some of the rice imports were declared as hardware, construction materials and other items.

Smuggling links

Further links were provided by Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the committee on agriculture, between Bangayan and Starcraft International Trading Corp., a firm that has caused a lot of headaches to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) with its importation of rice into the country.

Villar said that Eugene Pioquinto, an incorporator of Starcraft, has stated that Willy Sy was one of its brokers.

Bangayan admitted that Sy was one of his business partners.

Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla noted that Starcraft was responsible for bringing in a significant shipment of rice that was held at the ports because these were not supported by import permits.

Villar said that yesterday's hearing established that Bangayan is an importer of rice.

"I don't need to prove that Davidson Bangayan is David Tan because the former admitted that he is connected to rice importation. I am no longer concerned with David Tan," she said.

During the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile chided the BOC for being part of the problem on smuggling.

Enrile said that it has become the normal practice of Customs personnel to forgo the examination and evaluation of some container vans that enter the ports.

Joint forces vs rice smuggling

The NBI will dig deeper in its probe on rice smuggling in the country, with the plan to create an inter-agency team targeting other personalities involved in the illegal activity, apart from Bangayan.

Mendez said he met with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to discuss possible joint efforts of the DOJ, DA, National Food Authority and BOC in curbing the illegal entry of rice into the country.  – With Marvin Sy, Edu Punay - philSTAR


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