MANILA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) maintains that Davidson Bangayan and David Tan are one and the same person, according to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
This comes in the wake of the insistence of Bangayan's camp that he may not be arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by a Caloocan City trial court against David Tan, who faces charges for violations of the anti-electricity pilferage law.
Bangayan voluntarily went to the NBI headquarters in Manila on Tuesday, after meeting with De Lima to "clear" his name from reports he is the current "king" of rice smuggling in the country.
NBI agents tried to served the warrant of arrest for David Tan on Bangayan, insisting that this was one of Bangayan's aliases.
Bangayan, however, left the NBI compound and refused to be brought to the trial court.
"Up to this very moment, NBI is insisting that they have more or less the right guy. Sabi nila they are sufficiently convinced na itong si Davidson Bangayan, ung nag-surface and, supposedly hinuli nila, is the same as David Tan."
"Kahapon, even if hinuli, they had to eventually free him kasi he was accompanied by a lawyer and they (Bangayan and his lawyer) were insisting that the warrant of arrest says 'David Tan who is not Davidson Bangayan,'" De Lima said.
The justice chief was perplexed why the arrest warrant was so worded, so as to exculpate an individual.
"Sa totoo lang, ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganyang klaseng arrest warrant na ang korte na ang nagki-clear, imbes na sabihin 'alias' or 'also known as David Tan,' ang sinabi" 'who is not Davidson Bangayan,'" De Lima said.
Before the NBI attempted to serve the arrest warrant on Bangayan, a source involved with a cooperative that imports rice allegedly positively identified him, De Lima revealed.
"May statement from the president of one of the cooperatives na tinuturo, pinakita nila (NBI agents) yung photo and kinonfirm na siya yun. May shinare din na activities and transactions nitong si Davidson Bangayan aka David Tan," De Lima said.
NBI TO GATHER EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT CLAIMS
The NBI, an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), is now on a mission to prove that David Tan and Bangayan are one and the same, especially that records show that they have the same address, De Lima added.
The justice chief will also formally write the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 126, which issued the arrest warrant, to question why NBI agents who went there on Tuesday were not allowed access to the electricity pilferage case's records.
"Unfortunately, hindi sila pinayagan because they are not parties to the case, they are not real parties-in-interest. I think that's questionable, which is why I intend to write to the court.
"That's questionable; why should [the RTC] say na walang pakialam ang law enforcer an alamin ang nasa records? Precisely, [the NBI agents] want to implement the warrant of arrest because the warrant of arrest is addressed to any enforcer of the law or to any officer of the law, and NBI agents are officers of the law," De Lima stressed.
"Bakit hindi pina-access? So may mga questions doon," she added.
NBI CONTINUES WITH ITS RICE SMUGGLING PROBE
De Lima is set to meet top customs and agriculture department officials in the coming days to coordinate with them regarding the NBI's probe into rice smuggling.
David Tan figured as one of the prominent personalities being tagged as part of a cartel that controls rice smuggling in various ports in a 2013 Senate inquiry.
De Lima said sources are now pointing to him as the leader of this cartel.
"Interesadong interesado kami kay David Tan na siya nga ang lumalabas na dominant figure, na ang sabi nga ng certain sources is that siya na ngayon ang cartel, yung grupo niya na kontrolado niya is the new cartel in the area of rice smuggling," she said.
The DOJ will direct the Bureau of Immigration (BI), also an attached agency of the department, to issue a Lookout Bulletin against Bangayan in order to monitor any attempts on his part to flee the country.