AN activist lawyer on Wednesday expressed doubts about the existence of a certain David Tan, who is said to be the biggest rice smuggler in the country and accused Agriculture officials of using the name to divert the attention of the public on rice smuggling.
Lawyer Argee Guevarra, who filed plunder complaints against Secretary Proceso Alcala of Department of Agriculture and Administrator Orlan Calayag of the National Food Authority (NFA), suspects that the surfacing of Tan’s name in rice smuggling activities could be part of a grand design to ensure Alcala and his cohorts absolute control of the rice import industry.
According to Guevarra, David Tan is not a person but a fictional character created to instill fear among legitimate rice traders who can be accused of being Tan, while Alcala continues to manipulate and control the rice trade in the country.
“By projecting David Tan as the bogeyman of rice smuggling and rice price manipulation and import overpricing, Secretary Alcala can pull a fast one over the Filipino people through the NFA’s monopolistic and cartel-like behavior in controlling rice trade in the country,” he pointed out.
Guevarra further said that by hiding behind the bogeyman, the DA secretary can continue with the supposed conduct and commission of mythical criminality in the country’s rice trade and supply.
Newly appointed Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla, recently admitted that the bureau has no information about Tan and doubted his existence.
Guevara insisted that instead of wasting time in going after an non-existing entity like Tan, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman should act on the complaints he filed against the DA officials to unravel the truth behind the issue of rice smuggling.
He claimed that erring public officials have earned kickbacks thru their government-to-government (G2G) rice importation schemes.
The lawyer disclosed that more than P500-million worth of commodities were smuggled into the country through the G2G scheme.
Guevarra further said that any talk about David Tan or any bogeyman for that matter is feigning ignorance of the law and the rice situation in the country considering that under the rice importation regime of Alcala, only the NFA can import rice and grant importation quota especially to his favored rice traders.