A CONSUMER’S group on Thursday tagged Davao City Mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, his son, and his cohorts of being involved in a widespread rice smuggling activities in his turf.
Perfecto Tagalog, of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers claimed that former National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Lito Banayo, Davidson Bangayan (alias “David Tan”) and Paolo Duterte (alias “Polong”) are in cahoots with the tough-talking mayor in the smuggling of rice and other illegal activities at the Davao Port.
“It’s clearer than sunlight that Davao City is a smugglers’ haven because it’s Mayor Duterte’s son himself who is the lord of the smugglers,” Tagalog said in Filipino at a forum in Quezon City on Thursday.
Pete Laviña, chief of Duterte’s media bureau, however, disputed Tagalog’s charges, insisting that the accusation is another form of black propaganda against the mayor, whose ratings in the presidential survey continue to soar as the May 9, 2016 synchronized local and national elections near.
“Another black propaganda,” Lavina said. “They should have filed cases long ago. Why raise the issue now?”
Tagalog based his accusations on a 2007 report made by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG), copies of which were given to the media.
“Intelligence information … [indicated]that a certain Glen Escandor, son of Col. [Emilio D.] Escandor and owner of Mandaya Hotel, and Paolo Duterte aka Polong, son of Mayor Duterte of Davao City, are business partners in smuggling activities and are responsible in the proliferation of smuggled Sub-Urban Vehicles and high-end cars in the area,” the PASG report, dated Dec. 7, 2007 and signed by Rosauro Bautista, PASG team leader 2, said.
The report added, “These activities are being undertaken without any arrest or apprehension by concerned government agencies due to the alleged power and influence of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the father of Paolo.”
Tagalog said Bangayan is the same rice-smuggling lord, whom the Senate is currently investigating and who is temporarily out on bail.
He added Duterte insisted that Bangayan or David Tan is a fictitious character that does not exist in Davao City. But when NBI operatives arrested the alleged smuggler in 2014, Duterte began to sing a different tune.
Tagalog, who claimed to be a former supporter of the mayor and member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said Duterte, presumably based on intelligence reports, had admitted that the name David Tan alias Bangayan existed.
VACC members led by Rose Roque, meanwhile, stormed and disrupted the news conference in Quezon City to denounce Tagalog for allegedly using the group for political purposes, a charge the consumer organization member denied.
Members of the VACC also belied Tagalog’s claim that he was a member of their group, insisting that he had never been part of the group in any capacity.
Tagalog challenged the VACC members to file charges against him for his declaration as one of their members and hurriedly left to attend another meeting, leaving his adversaries at the venue.
As the shouting match died down, the VACC members insisted that Tagalog is not their member and is only using the group to advance his personal interests.
In the forum, Tagalog said that aside from rice smuggling there is also a rampant unlawful entry of electronic devices, canned goods, luxury vehicles, used clothing and other products which the mayor has failed to curb since his son Polong is involved in the illegal trade.
Tagalog said the younger Duterte and his wife January, who is president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC) in Davao, are known in the area as the “Lords’’ of smugglers in Davao City.
He showed copies of the reports from the NBI and PASG pointing to the involvement of Paolo, Glen Escandor and the owners of Mandaya Hotel, in Davao City, and a prominent security agency in big-time smuggling activities.
“Digong has got no balls to fight the smugglers,” Tagalog declared. “Duterte has got no balls to fix our country.” NEIL A. ALCOBER