There is no David Tan, lawyer claims
MANILA -- Aside from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala also believes that Davidson Bangayan is "rice smuggling king" David Tan.
Speaking to radio dzMM on Thursday, Alcala said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has long been hearing about the names Tan and Bangayan, which he said are one and the same person.
"Iyan po ang lumalabas sa mga imbestigasyon. Actually ako po ay nagpapahanap ng connection at ebidensya sapagkat sila rin po yung lumalabas na nagma-manipulate ng rice supply," he said.
He said Tan and Bangayan have the same address, as what was said earlier by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Moreover, Bangayan's lawyer, Benito Salazar, is the same lawyer who filed injunction cases against the DA for the rice imports that were held in Davao, he said.
In another interview with ANC's "Prime Time," he revealed that Bangayan or Tan wanted to meet with him back in 2010, his first year as DA chief, but the meeting did not push through.
"Meron po kasing mga tao na nakapagsabi sa akin na gusto niyang makipag-usap ngunit ang pagtatransaksyunan ay para makapagpasok po ng lampas sa mga dapat na maipasok na importasyon dito sa ating bansa," he said.
"Eh taliwas po ito... Iisa po yung direksyong gusto ko, kung paano mabibigyan ng proteksyon ang mga Pilipinong magsasaka and to lower the importation," he added.
'He's threatening me'
Citing people who had transactions with the alleged rice smuggling king, Alcala also revealed that Bangayan was threatening him even before the whole controversy made news headlines.
"I think sobra na po ang tapang ng taong ito. Actually for several times before na lumutang yan, he is even threatening me na 'Kaya kong sirain ang takbo ng bigas sa Pilipinas,'" he said.
The DA chief admitted that he does not personally know Bangayan, who surfaced and showed up on ABS-CBN's "TV Patrol" on Tuesday.
That is why Alcala is urging those who were involved in transactions with him to go out and prove that Bangayan is Tan.
"Ako po'y nanawagan sa mga rice millers saka sa mga kooperatiba na totoong naka-transaction nito. Lumabas po kayo at gumawa ng affidavit na itong si Davidson Bangayan saka David Tan is one and the same," he said.
Bangayan, for his part, had denied that he and Tan are just one person and claimed that he does not know who Tan is.
He said he decided to surface at the Department of Justice (DOJ) Tuesday to clear his name to de Lima after he saw his photos tagged as David Tan in news reports.
Bangayan, who said his business is related to agriculture and metals trading, denied any involvement in rice smuggling operations in the country.
However, he said he is willing to cooperate in the investigation being conducted by the NBI.
There's no David Tan: lawyer
Meanwhile, lawyer Argee Guevarra, president of Sanlakas party-list group, claimed David Tan was just a creation of Alcala to divert the public's attention from the plunder complaint he filed against the DA chief and National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Orlan Calayag.
The plunder complaint, which was filed December 17 last year, was in connection with the alleged overpricing of Vietnam rice imports.
Being the sole importer of rice, the NFA earns large kickbacks from favored rice importers and traders, Guevarra claimed.
Also speaking with ANC Thursday night, Guevarra said instead of answering the issue and defending himself, Alcala just "disregarded" the plunder complaint.
"And soon thereafter, all of sudden there were news reports about this mysterious, phantom-like David Tan who is supposed to be blamed for all the country's rise woes," he said.
He accused Alcala of manipulating and monopolizing the rice supply in the country.
He said rice importation is totally controlled by the NFA.
Alcala, however, lashed back at Guevarra and said it is the mandate of the NFA to ensure buffer stocking.
"Kung ang lahat ng importasyon ibibigay mo sa pribadong sektor at wala ang government, papaano ngayon kung kailangan ang supply ng bigas? Mapapakiusapan mo ba yung private sector to deliver rice kunyari sa Yolanda?" he said.
'Pakawala ng rice smugglers'
Alcala also turned the tables against Guevarra and insinuated that he is the one actually coddling rice smugglers in the country.
"At the end of the day po, lahat po ng pronouncement niya pag in-analyze ninyo, laging papunta po dun sa magdagdag ng importation yung pribadong sektor. At nahahalata po natin na ito po'y talagang pakawala po ng smugglers."
"Siya po ang pakawala ng rice smugglers. They want to discredit me, the people I bring along kasi po pag na-discredit nila ako, ako po yung maalis sa posisyon. At buhay na naman po ang kanilang [rice smuggling]," he said.
But Guevarra answered and said, "I don't even have any client who's into importation... Most of my cases are in human rights or public interest."