DoJ raps Bangayan

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra announces during a press briefing in Malacañang. LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Reputed rice cartel and smuggling “Goliath” Davidson Bangayan was ordered indicted by the Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday in connection with the monopoly of rice supply and manipulation of grains prices during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino.

The DoJ panel ordered the National Bureau of Investigaton (NBI) to file charges against Bangayan alias David Tan and five other personalities for violation of Article 186, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code and for violation of Commonwealth Act 142 as amended by Republic Act 6085 for the unauthorized use of alias David Tan for suspected rice smuggling.

It was the Daily Tribune which sought from Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra an update on the Bangayan case after the Duterte administration revived the charges against the trader.

Guevarra confirmed to Daily Tribune the complaint against Bangayan was up for resolution.

In 2014 the first complaint against Bangayan was junked by the DoJ but it was again filed by the NBI after the change in administration.

Former Justice Secretary and now detained Sen. Leila de Lima returned the case to the NBI despite strong evidence that was revealed in a Senate inquiry held on rice smuggling operations.

Then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte appeared during the Senate hearing to testify that he was definite about Bangayan and Tan as being the same person.

Mr. Duterte then demanded the resignation of De Lima during one of the Senate sessions for freeing Tan after the NBI arrested him.

Bangayan attended the hearings and was charged with perjury for giving obvious lies but he was not detained.

On 3 February 1985 Bangayan was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for electricity theft. A warrant of arrest was issued against him but it was not served allegedly because the NBI can’t positively identify Tan and Bangayan as the same person.

Cohorts included

In the 14-page review resolution by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Miguel Guido Jr., Bangayan along with Elizabeth Faustino, spouses David and Judilyne Lim, Eleanor Rodriguez and Leah Echeveria will be charged for violation of the law against combining with and employing concerned farmers’ cooperatives and organizations to participate in the bidding of rice importation with an intent to manipulate and increase market price.

Big fish caught

A senator hailed Bangayan’s arrest as a major victory against rice smugglers.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said Bangayan’s prosecution should send a strong signal against smugglers of agricultural products, particularly rice.

“Finally, a ‘big fish’ is charged under the law I authored,” sighed Ejercito, author of the Anti Agricultural Smuggling Law.

However, Ejercito said the government should not stop with the DoJ recommendation to indict Bangayan.

Ejercito said Bangayan and all the other respondents should be meted with proper punishment for their illegal activities.

“The DoJ must make sure it has a strong case and those responsible be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Ejercito said.

Cartel detailed

In its complaint before the DoJ, the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Graft Division cited two sets of transactions involving major participants in rice importations.

The first set of transactions involved Bangayan and Faustino on one hand and the six cooperatives — Riverview MPC, Umasaka MPC, Sitio Muzon MPC, Sta. Cecilia MPC, Formosa MPC and GPI San Miguel MPC.

A second set of transactions involved the Lim couple, Rodriguez and Echevaria, all of DGL Commodities and four cooperatives – Kapatirang Takusa MPC, Ugnayang Magbubukid ng San Isidro Inc., Samahan ng Kapampangan at Katagalugan MPC and the Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Kalawitan MPC.

“It is well to note that two witnesses specifically pointed out the participation of respondent Bangayan as the financier of some of the cooperatives and that it was respondent Faustino who acted as his broker and the one who facilitated the documentary and financial requirements so that the concerned entities may be allowed to participate in the bidding for rice procurement,” the DoJ said.

Lim, Rodriguez and Echevaria admitted supporting and financing the farmers’ cooperatives but denied that such act is prohibited.

The DoJ ruling ordered that charges against Eugene Pioquinto, Mary Joyce Lim, Jason Colocado, Michael Villanueva, Denis Gonzales, Willy Sy, Sandra Lim, Gil Calipayan, and Inigo Espirity for violation of Article 186 of the Revise Penal Code be dismissed along with charges for violation of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.

Sufficient proof

Guido said the evidence presented by the NBI is sufficient enough against the rice trader that he used the farmers cooperatives and organizations to be able to participate in the importation of rice during the Aquino administration so as to control the supply resulting in an increase in rice prices in the market.

However, the DoJ junked the complaint filed by the NBI-Anti-Graft Division against Bangayan and his co-accused for alleged violation of RA 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Act.

With Mario J. Mallari

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