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‘Rice smuggling king’ snubs DOJ probe

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ)  started yesterday its preliminary investigation on the criminal charges against alleged rice smuggling king David Bangayan alias David Tan.

Bangayan did not appear in the hearing despite the subpoena sent by investigating prosecutors, nor did he send a lawyer or representative.

None of 14 other respondents in the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also appeared before the DOJ.

NBI representatives said the summons were not served on most of the respondents, who were not found at their addresses on record.

The investigating panel chaired by Assistant State Prosecutor Eden Valdes then set another hearing for Oct. 30 for Bangayan and other respondents to appear and submit their answers to the charges.

In its complaint filed last month, the NBI accused the respondents of monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade under Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code; bid fixing, as penalized under Section 65 of Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Act); using fictitious name or concealing true name, as penalized under Article 178 of the RPC; and violation of Commonwealth Act 142, as amended by RA 6085.

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The NBI alleged that the respondents cornered the government’s rice import allocations in 2012 using 25 farmers’ organizations and cooperatives, and single proprietors that did not have the necessary financial and logistical capabilities as “dummies.”

The bureau refiled the complaint last Aug. 29, two years after the DOJ returned its original complaint filed in August 2014 for further gathering of evidence.   

The NBI investigated Bangayan upon the Senate’s request.

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