Senate issues subpoena for suspected smuggling king

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2014 07:57 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2014 03:57 AM

MANILA - The Senate has issued a subpoena for alleged rice smuggling king Davidson Bangayan for the Senate agriculture committee's hearing into rice smuggling this Wednesday.

Bangayan has denied that he is alleged rice smuggling king David Tan but the National Bureau of Investigation insists Bangayan and Tan are one and the same person.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, Senate agriculture committee chairman, said the committee hearing on Wednesday will tackle alleged rice smuggling at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and Port of Legazpi, Albay and the National Food Authority (NFA) private sector financed importation program.

Villar said the first subpoena bearing the name Mr. Davidson Tan Bangayan was rejected by Bangayan himself, asserting that he is not the person written in the subpoena document.

The committee changed the name to Davidson Bangayan and subpoena was served Monday morning in Bangayan's address in Ortigas Ave, Pasig City.

The subpoena requires Bangayan to appear before the committee and testify under oath what he knows relative to the subject matter.

Villar said they will attempt to dig further into allegations of massive smuggling and the connections with government officials.

Also invited to the hearing are various farmers cooperatives in the country that will testify into the existence and operational details of rice smuggling.

"Alam nila kung sino ang mga nagloloko at mga kakuntsaba sa government agencies, baka sakali mapinpoint natin," Villar said.

She added that the committee has invited other personalities mentioned in previous reports involved in rice smuggling.

On Monday, the rice farmers from Northern and Central Luzon led by Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura denounced the unabated smuggling in a press conference together with Villar at the Senate.

They launched the "Piso Piso" campaign for the capture and speedy prosecution of smugglers.

"May dala dala silang coins ngayon, above P50,000, gusto nila gawing isang pondo para gawing reward for witnesses who will identify the smugglers," Villar said.

The group claimed that in 2012 alone, around 16 million cavans of rice amounting to about P36 billion were smuggled into the country.

The group said millions of concerned farmers nationwide are closely watching the developments in the Senate and warned senators who may try to defend the smugglers.

"We are going to the committee investigation with an open mind, we have to hear what they have to say," Villar said.

The senator added that while it may take successive hearings to pinpoint the smugglers and their protectors, the committee will, in the end, recommend possible charges against identified personalities involved.