Duterte says family members are not involved in smuggling
MANILA - With Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte now lording over voter preference surveys for president, a self-proclaimed member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) who also claims to be a former supporter of the mayor now accuses Duterte's son Paolo, Paolo's wife January, and public relations man Lito Banayo of smuggling.
"Ako po ay kasapi ng Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption at isang supporter ni Mayor Digong Duterte sa kaniyang pagsisikap na maging maayos ang ating lipunan at republika. Hanggang sa mapag-alaman ko kamakailan lang ang isang malaking anomalya at smuggling sa Davao Port na kinasasangkutan mismo ng pamilyang Duterte," Perfecto Jaime Tagalog said in a press conference in Quezon City.
Tagalog claimed the Dutertes are in league with alleged smuggler Davidson Bangayan or David Tan, who was first investigated by the Senate.
"Natatandaan ba natin si Davidson Bangayan, na mas kilala natin sa alias na David Tan? Siya po ay pabalik-balik sa Mindanao at Davao. Sa kabila ng pagbabanta noon ni Duterte na kapag tumungtong ito sa Davao o Mindanao, na siya mismo ang babaril o papatay dito, buhay na buhay pa din po si David Tan. Itanong po ninyo kay Lito Banayo kung nasaan si David Tan.
"Nang maaresto ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) nung 2014 si Davidson Bangayan, nagbago ng tindig ang diumanoy 'Dirty Harry' ng Davao at sinabing batay daw sa isang intelligence report, lumabas ang larawan at pangalan ni David Tan na alyas ni Bangayan, at nagsabing magsasagawa ito ng sariling imbestigasyon sa Davao kaugnay ng inaako nitong lumalalang smuggling sa kanilang pantalan. Walang nakakaalam kung talagang may nangyayaring sariling imbestigasyon si Mayor Duterte Dito," he said.
Tagalog went on to link people close to Duterte to Tan, namely the mayor's son Paolo also known as Polong, Paolo's son January, media operator Banayo, and a certain Glen Escandor.
"Ang msimong anak nito na si Paolo...at asawa nitong si January na siya ngayong ABC president sa Davao, ang siyang kinikilalang lord ng mga smuggler sa Davao City na may tara sa bawat container dito," he said.
"Dahil sa mga personaheng may kapwa kaugnayan kay Mayor Duterte at David Tan, sa kasamaang palad, hanggang sa ngayon, nagpapatuloy ang smuggling ng bigas sa Davao, na nagtatago sa mga lehitimong rice trader. Talamak din ang smuggling ng mga electronics, products, canned goods, luxury vehicles, ukay-ukay at kung ano-ano pa."
Citing reports from the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Task Group and the NBI, Tagalog identified Glen Escandor, an alleged cohort of Paolo, as the owner of Mandaya Hotel and a security agency.
He also identified a certain Judith and a Rose Caballero brokerage firm as being used by Paolo and January in their illegal transactions to go around the restrictions of the National Food Authority (NFA) and Sugar Regulatory Administration, and a certain Toti Cabaniog as facilitator.
"Lumalabas ang chief political strategist ni Duterte na si Lito Banayo na nasasangkot sa mga anomalya sa NFA na dating pinamumunuan nito, ang siyang taga-areglo sa relasyong Duterte at David Tan. Kung inyong matatandaan, nasangkot itong si Banayo sa smuggling ng bigas na lumustay sa pondo ng NFA at nagpabulok sa mga bigas dito," Tagalog claimed.
"Kung totoo na kaya nitong supilin ang smuggling sa buong bansa, ngayon pa lamang, Mayor, patunayan na ninyo. Kailan namin makikita ang dugo sa kalsada ni David Tan at Lito Banayo? Kailan namin makikita na kakastiguhin ninyo ang sarili niyong anak?"
Tagalog then gave out copies of a purported report of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group from December 7, 2007 that says, "intelligence information received disclosed that a certain Glen Escandor, son of ret. Col. Escandor and owner of Mandaya Hotel and one Paolo Duterte aka Polong, son of Mayor Duterte of Davao City are business partners in smuggling activities and are responsible for the proliferation of suburban vehicles and high end cards in the area."
The same report says, "the source further disclosed that a certain Abdul using the company ZASH Marketing is said to be engaged in ukay-ukay. Seven container vans arrived last December 3, 2007 under ZASH Marketing as importer and these goods were distributed in Davao region and nearby areas though the support of Paolo Duterte and Glen Escandor."
However, upon repeated questioning by the media, Tagalog failed to draw a comprehensive and detailed picture of how the Dutertes are involved. No details were given even as he asserted that he has proof smuggling is prevalent in Davao.
Tagalog's only proof appears to be that Tan and Duterte have the same public relations guy, Banayo, who is a professional public relations person before he became administrator of the NFA under the current administration.
"Yung dito po sa aming basis na binigay po sa amin, meron, talamak ang smuggling sa Davao City. The process, di ako smuggler, di ko alam paano nagiging sistema. Nandiyan po, iniisa-isa ko po ano kaugnayan nila... Iisa lang po ang PR nila si Lito Banayo," he said.
Tagalog refused to give more details. "Humihingi po ako sa inyo ng paumanhin dahil ilalabas din po namin po ito pag kami po ay nagsampa ng kaso tungkol sa nangyayaring smuggling sa Davao. Last week ko lang po nakuha ang mga dokumento."
Tagalog, however, maintained he is not backing any specific presidential candidate. "Wala po tayong sinusuportahan. Ang akin lang pong pakay ngayon ay maimulat ang taongbayan. Dati po magkakasama po kami niyan. In fact, meron po kaming picture, ako po ay inimbitahan niya mismo sa Davao. Nung natanggap ko po itong papel, dokumento, nagpapatunay talamak ang smuggling sa Davao."
Tagalog maintained his proof is very new to explain why he surfaced only now when Duterte is the frontrunner for the presidency.
"Wala po tayong tinatayuan. Ang akin lang po, kaya tayo lumabas ay dahil sa nakita pong ebidensya dahil timing lang dahil kakukuha ko lang last week ng ebidensiya," he said.
As Tagalog was leaving the venue of the press conference, Rose Roque, chief coordinator of the VACC, approached Tagalog and the media to clarify that Tagalog is not one of them and that his actions are not sanctioned. Tagalog walked away to avoid a confrontation.
"Sinasabi po niya siya ay kasapi. Wala po kaming kinalaman sa mga sinasabi niyang isyu. Never ka naming member. Kasi si Ka Dante nagrereklamo, gusto ko lang itama never ka naming naging member. Ayaw namin magamit ang aming organisasyon. Apolitical kami."
Roque said she came to the venue after she was informed of the press conference.
DUTERTE DENIES ALLEGATIONS
The Davao City mayor, meanwhile, denied allegations that members of his family are involved in smuggling.
Duterte urged those who are making the allegations to produce evidence of smuggling against his family members.
"You produce even one screw, wag muna, kahit 'yung baterya na lang, and I will retire today," Duterte told members of the media Thursday.
The tough-talking mayor said that he will not dare to run for the presidency if these allegations are true.
"It's not on my perspective kasi kung ako ganoon, hindi ako tatakbo for president kung may masilip," he said.
'NOT A PR MAN OF DAVID TAN'
In response to Tagalog's allegations, Banayo denied that he is a public relations man of Tan. He also said he has not personally met Paolo.
"I have never been a PR man of any David Tan or Bangayan. In fact I am not a public relations practitioner. I do not know, nor have personally met Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte," Banayo said in a statement.
He said he only volunteered his assistance to Duterte on political matters because he believes in the mayor's leadership and political will to stop the disorder in the country.
"That person who is raking up old and unfounded accusations is simply engaging in black propaganda, most likely under the employ of Duterte's political enemies," said Banayo. - With a report from Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News