MANILA (UPDATED) - The Bureau of Customs does not know David Tan.
The name David Tan was identified in a Senate Joint Committee hearing in February last year, as one of the financiers who bankrolled the syndicate of bogus cooperatives and enterprises that cornered a hefty chunk of the National Food Authority's rice imports under the Aquino administration.
The report also said that Tan had reportedly given as much as P6 billion in kickbacks to Customs officials and employees who facilitated the entry of his shipments of smuggled rice over the last two years.
Last month, Malacanang said the Department of Justice came out empty handed on the hunt for David Tan because National Bureau of Investigation agents were unable to unveil the identity and the whereabouts of a certain David Tan and a certain Danny Ngo.
The Department of Justice is looking on the possibility of reorganizing the investigation team handling the issue of rice smuggling, after NBI operatives came up empty handed on the hunt for a certain David Tan.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Customs Commissioner John Sevilla said even their deputy commissioners have no information on the David Tan named in the Senate hearing. But the Commissioner assured that their effort against rice smuggling will not be hindered despite the inability to identify David Tan.
The Commissioner explained that they are now focused on targeting rice importers which numbered between 20 to 25.
"We will start with the actual import and we can check if the company is a dummy or controlled by an entity,' he said.
Sevilla said they are 100% committed against smuggling and is also interested in finding out the real identity of Tan.
Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jaime Dellosa said the Bureau is trying to profile the rice importers in the country and looking at ways on their mode of business.
Dellosa said there are now 1,937 container vans of rice that were put on hold since October to December of last year, in different ports of the country. Each van contains an approximate load of 25,000 kilos of rice.
Part of the reforms being instituted by the Bureau right is now is transparency in transactions made by the Bureau of Customs.
Sevilla said imports are being posted on the website of their agency and if the public sees a discrepancy in the valuation of the imports, the people can send feedback to the Bureau of Customs so that rectifications can be made on the specific goods or value that is being questioned.
Sevilla called on the public to help the Bureau of Customs get rid of corruption and smuggling. He said bad practices in the agency cannot be eradicated by the mere act of 3,600 employees of the Customs.