MANILA - Alleged rice smuggling "Goliath" David Tan, also known as Davidson Tan Bangayan, is a real person, and not a fictitious personality.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima told reporters on Monday that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has located Tan/Bangayan in its continuing probe into the latter's alleged involvement in rice smuggling.
Tan was among the key personalities recommended for prosecution by the Senate after it probed rice smuggling in 2013.
He has been described in news reports as the current "King of Rice Smuggling" in the country.
"The initial results of the verification and investigation of the NBI is that this David Tan actually exists. This Davidson Bangayan [and David Tan], we believe, or NBI believes, is one and the same person.'
"The NBI knows his addresses, the NBI knows who he is. We have pictures of him, and [we know] the businesses that he runs. Parang lumalabas na one-man cartel siya," De Lima said.
The NBI continues to validate other information about Tan, including his alleged protectors and connections inside the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and other government agencies, De Lima added.
Tan was unmasked during last year's Senate probe, following reports he had reportedly given some P6 billion in kickbacks to customs officials and employees over a period of two years.
Tan has been described as the top financier of at least 26 cooperatives involved in rice importation for the National Food Authority (NFA).
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte recently declared war on Tan and several other rice smugglers in the city, threatening to "unmask" Tan and the latter's alleged protectors.
Duterte threatened to "kill" rice smugglers if they did not stop operating in his city.