NBI to charge Bangayan for rigging rice import bidding
MANILA, Philippines – Alleged rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan a.k.a. David Tan will face yet another criminal complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) recommended on Tuesday, August 5, bid-fixing charges against Bangayan and at least 5 others for illegally securing rice importation permits. The charges are set to be filed Thursday, August 7.
Bangayan is accused this time of rigging the National Food Authority's (NFA's) bidding process for rice import allocations. This is in violation of pertinent provisions of the Government Procurement Reform Act or RA 9184.
This is the second time this year that the controversial businessman will face a preliminary investigation before the justice department.
He earlier faced a DOJ probe over his testimony before the Senate denying his identity as David Tan, a reported big-time rice smuggler in the country. He has since been indicted for perjury. (READ: DOJ indicts Davidson Bangayan for perjury)
In its report submitted to the DOJ, the NBI found at least two groups of rice traders cornering NFA contracts by using farmers' organizations or cooperatives and single proprietorships as dummies.
The scheme allowed traders to engage in rice importation or trading under a program called Private Sector Finance (PSF) through Tax Expenditure Subsidy (TES) even without an NFA license. The program enables private rice traders to import rice with tax subsidy.
In a previous Senate hearing that triggered the NBI probe, Bangayan admitted to using dummies to secure rice import permits. He, however, said it has been "industry practice" since 2012.
Restraint of trade
Also to be charged along with Bangayan over bid-fixing are Judilyne Lim, Elizabeth Faustino, Eleanor Rodriguez, and Leah Echeveria.
They will likewise be charged for violating Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes monopolies and restraint of trade.
The NBI alleged that they "engaged in or made transactions prejudicial to lawful commerce, restrained free competition in the market, and altered or manipulated the market price of rice, which is a commodity of prime necessity in the Philippines."
In its 45-page report, the NBI also recommended the filing of graft charges against NFA administrator Angelito Banayo.
Also to be charged are lawyers from the NFA Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC). They include SBAC Chairman Jose Cordero and SBAC members Gilberto Lauengco, Carlito Go, and Judy Carol Dansal.
The NBI said the SBAC should have known from the bid documents that the dummy bidders were "not financially capable entities, as required under the terms of the NFA's PSF-TES rice import allocation bidding."
The unwarranted advantage or preference given to the unqualified dummy bidders allegedly "manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence."
Bangayan will also face criminal complaints for using a fictitious name, David Tan, in documents obtained by NBI.
The NBI will probe any other acts of illegal importation Bangayan undertook, having confirmed he is an unlicensed rice retailer, wholesaler, or importer. – Rappler.com