Criminal charges for rice smuggling were filed on Wednesday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against trader Davidson Bangayan, also known as “David Tan.”
In the complaint before the DOJ, Bangayan was charged for bid-fixing under Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) and monopoly and restraint of trade under the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Also charged were David Lim and his wife Judilyne Lim, Elizabeth Faustino, Eleanor Rodriguez and Leah Echeveria.
The NBI found sufficient evidence to file the case before the DOJ as it was discovered that several farmer cooperatives (FCs) and farmers’ organizations (FOs) acted as dummies in the bidding for rice import allocations from the National Food Authority (NFA).
It said the respondents “engaged in transactions prejudicial to lawful commerce, restrained free competition in the market, and altered or manipulated the market of rice, which is a commodity of prime necessity, in the Philippines.”
“Upon investigation, the NBI discovered a scheme whereby certain rice traders were able to corner NFA’s rice import allocations through the use of FCs, FOs and single proprietorships as dummies in the bidding for rice import allocation under the private sector-financed importation thru the NFA tax expenditure subsidy (TES),” an NBI report stated.
“By their act of combining, conspiring and agreeing with one another in the manipulation of the bidding process for the award of rice import allocation from the NFA, they substantially and, thus, effectively cornered the supply of imported rice in the local market,” the report said.
The scheme was discovered after probers found that the FCs, FOs and single proprietors did not have financial capability required for the bidding under the TES.
The NBI also charged the respondents for use of fictitious name under the Revised Penal Code against Bangayan after probers found out that he and David Tan are one and the same person.
It also recommended the filing of raps before the Office of the Ombudsman against former NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo and four members of the Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) of the agency for graft charges under Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
The NBI alleged that Banayo, SBAC chairman Joe Cordero and members Celia Tan, Gilberto Lauengco and Carlito Go must be held liable for “giving the winning bidders in the NFA TES rice import allocation biddings unwarranted advantage in the bidding through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, when they qualified said bidders and awarded them rice import allocations despite their lack of financial capability to participate as shown in the bid documents.”