MANILA, Philippines - A Senate committee conducting an investigation on rice smuggling at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone on Wednesday ordered the arrest for contempt of some of its resource persons for lying and failing to attend hearings.
During the 8th hearing of the Senate agriculture and food committee on the issue, it cited for contempt Jan Dexter Marfil of Masagana Import Export Inc. and Magdangal Diego Bayani III of St. Andrews Fields Grains and Trading Corporation.
The agriculture committee ordered Marfil's arrest for "falsely testifying" during one hearing that he was not the owner of a shipment of 20,000 bags of rice from Vietnam worth P30 million that arrived in Subic on June 20, 2012.
The committee also took note that Marfil left the country and did not attend the hearing on September 19 without a written request.
Last month, the Bureau of Customs filed smuggling charges against Marfil and four others.
Bayani, on the other hand, was ordered arrested for failing to attend a number of hearings. His cooperative allegedly expressed interest in buying the 420,000 sacks of Indian rice that is under investigation.
The committee also denied the motion of reconsideration of Protik Guha and ordered his arrest for falsely testifying at a hearing. Guha is the chief executive officer of Amira Foods, the source of the shipment of 420,000 sacks of Indian rice worth almost P500 million.
During one of the hearings, the committee cited him in contempt for claiming that the rice shipment was not intended for the local market, and then later saying he in fact communicated via e-mail with a potential local buyer.
Guha has denied that the 420,000 sacks of rice were smuggled.
Since Guha is currently in India, Senate blue ribbon committee chair Teofisto Guingona III suggested that the committee coordinate with the Bureau of Immigration.
Senate agriculture committee chair Francis Pangilinan said the presence of the three in succeeding hearings is important as the committee tries to identify people liable for smuggling.
"I'm still optimistic na babalik sila at haharap dito para ma-lift itong arrest orders laban sa kanila," he said.