VARIOUS farmers groups urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to file criminal charges against David Tan, the man tagged as the leader of the biggest rice smuggling ring in the country.
The NBI said Tan and Davidson Bangayan, who surfaced on Tuesday to deny the allegations against him, were one and the same.
Rosendo So, chairman of Abono party-list, said that they will provide additional information about Bangayan to the NBI and to Sen. Cynthia Villar, head of the Senate committee on agriculture.
Villar has scheduled another inquiry into rice smuggling on January 22.
Tan has long been the subject of an investigation by the NBI.
Senators determined after a series of investigations that Tan and his cohorts used farmers’ cooperatives as fronts to facilitate the illegal rice importations.
Newly appointed NBI Director Virgilio Mendez confirmed that Tan and Bangayan are one and the same person.
Mendez maintained that they have witnesses who can positively identify Bangayan as the country’s rice smuggling kingpin.
Manila auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs, lamented that rice smuggling is more rampant under the Aquino administration than in the previous one.
He said government should give priority to this problem because it affects the farmers’ income.
“Napakalaki talaga ang nawawala sa atin dahil sa smuggling. Una nawawala yan sa mga farmers dahil sa halip na bibili sa mga farmers ng palay ay pumapasok na itong mga rice na ito sa mababang halaga na hindi na tuloy nabibigyan ng halaga iyun mga mga ginagawa ng mga farmers natin at malaki din ang nawawala dito sa pamahalaan na sinasabi natin na mahina ang koleksiyun ng Bureau of Customs dahil sa mga smuggling na ito,” Pabillo said.