MANILA - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned that he will make good on his threat to kill businessman Davidson Bangayan if he catches the latter smuggling rice in his city.
Speaking at the Senate agriculture committee hearing, Duterte said he has received intelligence reports that Davidson Bangayan is really alleged rice smuggling king David Tan.
"He might use a thousand names - George Washington, Rodrigo Duterte, whatever. He is the one doing business, committing the crime of rice smuggling as David Tan," he said.
He described Tan as the central figure in rice smuggling in the country, with the power to bring smuggled goods to ports in Davao City, Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Batangas.
He said Tan can do this because of contacts inside the Bureau of Customs.
"His face is all over the town. Everybody knows him. He is a central figure in the rice smuggling in this country. Kung sino yung may gusto na mag import, they go to David Tan. Siya yung may linya sa Customs. Siya yung may linya sa taas. Everybody who wants to import rice will have to go to him....He is the only one," he said.
"If you want a simple procedure, you go to him. Mag bayad ka. What is really very sad is itong policy na only the farmers' cooperatives are given the opportunity to get the permit. Yung farmers' cooperatives, wala yang pera. Walang assistance, walang subsidy so you are forced to deal with him. Kawawa yung mga farmers. Luluhod sa kanya yan," he added.
He also said he will make good on his earlier threat to kill Tan/Bangayan if he is caught smuggling goods in Davao City. He said he is not afraid of going to jail for killing a rice smuggler.
"If this guy would go to Davao and start to unload, pag nakita ko siya in the commission of a crime, I will gladly kill him...Siyempre hihintayin ko siyang lumabas. Pag lumaban ito and he puts up a good fight, I will not hesitate. I will do it for my country," he said.
"So we go to prison. I am old. I can spend the remaining days of my life in prison. Matanda na rin ako. Marami na akong sakit. Mga 5-10 years. I can do away the stress by reading books to while away my time," he added.
Duterte said rice smuggling is economic sabotage since it affects poor farmers. He said there are many types of smuggling, including undervaluation of the shipments, misdeclaration and recycling of import permits.
He also said he understands the frustration of Customs chief Sunny Sevilla when local courts allow imports to enter the country even without a permit.
Bangayan is accused of using Starcraft International Trading Corp. to import rice into the country, an accusation that the businessman has denied.
The Senate earlier noted that Bangayan and Starcraft use the same lawyer, Benito Salazar.
Bangayan cited for contempt
The Senate agriculture committee on Monday cited for contempt businessman Davidson Bangayan for allegedly lying under oath during the Senate's rice smuggling probe.
Senate agriculture committee chairman Cynthia Villar said that instead of placing Bangayan under detention, she will ask the Senate legal counsel to file perjury charges against the businessman.
She will also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel Bangayan's passport.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Bangayan's name is already in the Bureau of Immigration watchlist.
She also said the National Bureau of Investigation is set to serve the arrest warrant for Bangayan issued by the Caloocan regional trial court in connection with a charge for violation of RA 7832 or the Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage.
De Lima said this is the same arrest warrant issued by the court against David Tan, which is allegedly an alias used by Bangayan. The justice chief said the DOJ issued a manifestation to the court, saying that Bangayan and Tan are one and the same person.
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was the first to move to cite Bangayan for contempt after the senator insisted that Bangayan is alleged smuggling king David Tan.
Enrile cited as evidence Bangayan's own libel complaint against Jesus Arranza in 2005 wherein he admitted that he is Bangayan "aka David Tan."
Bangayan, however, said his lawyer made a mistake in filing the complaint, and that he was merely quoting a newspaper report identifying him as Tan.
Sen. JV Ejercito seconded Enrile's motion to cite Bangayan for contempt.
For his part, Bangayan said it is common practice that import permits are sold among rice importers because of the restrictions imposed by government.
He said that in 2012, his group only cornered about 7% of total rice importations to the Philippines that year.
Bangayan said he only started in rice importation in 2011.
The National Food Authority said Bangayan is not a registered rice importer and has no permit to import rice.
This is despite a letter from the Vietnamese embassy which says that a company linked to Bangayan had signed a contract to import 120,000 metric tons from Vietnam in October 2013. The importation did not push through after the NFA did not issue an import to Adolphe Trading.
Adolphe's office is at Unit 401, Prestige Tower in Pasig City, which is owned by Bangayan.