NBI arrests Bangayan after Senate hearing
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested alleged rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan – also known as David Tan – right after the Senate committee on agriculture finished on Monday afternoon, February 3, its hearing into his illegal operations.
Yet the arrest was in connection with a separate case on electricity pilferage. He posted bail a few hours later.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told senators at the hearing that the NBI is “ready to implement the warrant of arrest" issued by the regional trial court of Caloocan City after the hearing, which Bangayan also attended.
"We are putting him on notice that we are going to arrest him right after this hearing," De Lima said.
This was announced by De Lima right after the Senate agriculture and food committee held Bangayan in contempt for lying that he is not David Tan.
Committee chairperson Cynthia Villar said the panel met and decided to recommend the filing of perjury cases against Bangayan, his inclusion in the justice department watch list, and the cancellation of his passport.
Villar said the committee asked the Senate legal counsel to file the perjury case against Bangayan by Friday, February 7.
“It was the Senate’s consensus, we were convinced that David Tan and David Bangayan are one and the same. That’s the consensus that’s why we held him in contempt …. The penalty is different [from detention] to penalize him for lying,” Villar told reporters.
The NBI used an existing arrest warrant for a separate electricity pilferage case, where Bangayan is one of the 3 accused. It is a bailable offense, and Bangayan posted bail of P40,000.
The NBI arrested Bangayan earlier this month over an electricity pilferage case in Caloocan City. Yet the NBI later released him because Caloocan Regional Trial Court Judge Lorenza Bordios-Paculdo specifically stated in the warrant that Tan "is not Davidson Bangayan."
De Lima though said at the hearing that the court decided this original warrant could be used now after the NBI was able to provide additional evidence that Bangayan and Tan are one and the same person.
More witnesses have also executed affidavits that Bangayan is Tan, saying they have dealt with Bangayan and met him face to face, and they know him to be the same person as David Tan.
In the Senate hearing last January 22, De Lima presented documents and witnesses' testimonies establishing Bangayan as David Tan, debunking his denials.
Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla highlighted the gravity of the problem, saying the Philippines lost about P8.4 billion to rice smuggling in 2012. Poor farmers are the hardest hit. Once a top rice-exporting country, the Philippines is one of the major rice importers. Rice is the country's primary staple.
Earlier on in the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile moved to cite Bangayan in contempt for lying.
Enrile reiterated that in court documents in a libel case Bangayan filed against Jesus Arranza, chairman and president of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), the businessman affirmed that he is David Tan.
Enrile read the annex to Bangayan's affidavit, "Clearly, wrongful acts [were] imputed to me. Considering there's no other person by the name of Davidson Bangayan alias David Tan. There’s no question I was identified in the subject publication.”
The senator said, "Are you still denying you're David Tan?"
Bangayan replied, "Yes, your honor."
Enrile said, "You're lying. Affidavit mo ito eh!" (This is your affidavit!)
The minority leader repeatedly told Bangayan he is giving him a chance to tell the truth, saying he has a lot of documents proving that the businessman is David Tan.
Enrile said, “Maawa ka sa sarili mo. Ayaw kita saktan. May darating pang dokumento. ‘Di ka pwede magsinungaling dito sa Senado. Paparusahan ka ng contempt. Ikaw lang ‘yun, walang iba. Mag-isip ka.”
(Have mercy on yourself. I don’t want to hurt you. There are more documents ont eh way. You can’t lie here at the Senate. We will hold you in contempt. You are David Tan, no one else. Think hard.)
Bangayan though insisted that he signed the document as himself and not Tan, saying his lawyer in the libel case may have made a mistake.
Senator JV Ejercito later seconded Enrile's motion, after Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte testified that Bangayan is the one in the photo of David Tan that intelligence sources provided him. (READ: Duterte tags Bangayan as smuggler, threatens to kill him)
More links to smuggling
Senators further established Bangayan's connections to smuggling and a supposed illegal rice trading scheme using farmers' cooperatives as dummies. (READ: Alleged rice smuggler admits using dummies)
Villar read a letter that the Vietnamese Embassy sent the National Food Authority (NFA) detailing that Bangayan entered into a contract with Vietnam Southern Food Company to sell 120,000 tons of rice in October 2013. Yet the embassy said Bangayan's Adolphe Inc failed to present a rice importing certificate from the NFA. The embassy clarified the issue with the NFA.
Here is the letter Villar read and presented through a Powerpoint slide:
NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag confirmed that Bangayan is not a registered rice trader.
This prompted Villar to say, "You have a signed contract but you have no import authority. If you don't have an import permit, you will smuggle the rice. Why are you so confident to buy rice from Vietnam without an import permit? You said it's not an inquiry and yet there was a contract."
Villar also established during the hearing Bangayan's alleged ties to known rice financiers, and to Starcraft International Trading Corp, whose rice shipments in Davao City the Customs seized for lacking an import permit.
Villar got long-time Customs broker Emmanuel Santos of E.A. Santos Customs Brokerage to admit that he is a business partner of Bangayan and Eugene Pioquinto of Starcraft.
She presented this slide to show the relationship of the 3 men and the companies where they are incorporators:
"We see that you are business partners in Starcraft and you are connected to Davidson Bangayan. The 3 companies have common stockholders: Bangayan, Emmanuel Santos, and Eugene Pioquinto," Villar said.
Emmanuel said the companies are no longer active. Villar responded, "Then tell that to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). The mere fact that you are business partners shows that you have a relationship."
Bangayan again sought to defend himself by saying that buying import permits from farmer cooperatives was a "common practice" that existed even before he entered the business over 2 years ago.
"It's such a common practice. There are so many NFA programs for the farmer sector, those are schemes. There's the farmers incentive rice program. Cheap rice should be given to farmers during lean months. When it's awarded to them, sometimes it's not available in their regions so they transfer it. If the farmers' region can't be reached, they will sell it at a premium."
In the end, senators rejected Bangayan's denials and explanations. – Rappler.com