MANILA, Philippines - Former National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Angelito Banayo and five members of the agency’s special bid and awards committee (SBAC) – all implicated in a rice smuggling case – were formally charged yesterday with graft before the Office of the Ombudsman.
A report by the National Bureau of Investigation - Anti Graft Division (NBI-AGD), a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, showed that Banayo, SBAC chairman Jose Cordero, vice chairman Celia Tan and members Judy Carol Dansal and Carlito Go were charged with violation of section 3(e) and (j) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The investigation conducted by lawyer Jonathan Mengullo of NBI-AGD found the accused “negligent” of their duties when they failed to properly screen the farmer organizations (FOs) and farmer cooperatives (FCs) that joined and won NFA’s bidding for permits to import rice.
Not only were the FOs and FCs financially incapable to pay for the importation permits, but they were also dummies of alleged rice smuggling king Davidson Bangayan, also known as David Tan.
“In the conduct of bidding, the NFA officers, particularly Mr. Angelito Banayo who approves the awarding of the bid and the import permits, chairman Jose Cordero, vice chairman Celia Tan, and members Judy Carol Dansal and Carlito Go of the NFA special bids and awards committee, were grossly negligent when they allowed the ‘unqualified farmers’ to join the bidding.
“The NFA SBAC should have known that the winning bidders have no financial and logistical ability to import the volume of rice they bidded for. This inability is clear from the bid documents submitted by the winning FOs/FCs. There is therefore sufficient cause to charge the SBAC members of giving the winning FCs/FOs unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of the SBAC’s official administrative functions,” the report said.
Under the law, section 3(e) holds officers and offices in charge with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions liable for “causing injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference in the discharge of his official or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”
While section 3(j) sanctions those who “knowingly approve or grant any license, permit, benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege, or of a mere representative or dummy of one who is not so qualified or entitled.”
Aside from the FOs and FCs, probers also questioned the financial capability of 15 single proprietors who joined the bidding process.
These were King Casey Trading, Louis London Trading, St. Andrews Field Grains and Cereals, Wish Granted Enterprises and Montevallo Enterprises.
The other 10 were St. Dominic Rice and Foodstuff Enterprises, Pure Country Trading, Chon Buri Trading, Mahindra Rice and Food Trading, Nemic Fusion Rice and Grains Enterprises, West Point Rice and Cereals Enterprises, Jaded Ranch Grains and Cereals Trading, Red Mountain Grain and Cereals Dealer, Zwings Grain and Rice Enterprises and Lexant International Trading. – With Ding Cervantes