MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to submit for resolution the criminal charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan aka “David Tan”, including several other conspirators in connection with their alleged illegal activities aimed at monopolizing the supply and distribution of rice in the country.
Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva declared the case submitted for resolution after the NBI decided to no longer file a reply to the counter-affidavits of Bangayan and his co-respondents.
The DOJ conducted the preliminary investigation based on the complaint re-filed by the NBI-Anti-Graft Division dated September 5, 2017, two years after the justice department remanded to the bureau its original complaint filed in August 2014.
In the complaint affidavit, Bangayan was charged with monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade, as penalized under Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); bid fixing, as penalized under Section 65 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 (Government Procurement Act); using fictitious name or concealing true name, as penalized under Article 178 of the RPC; and violation of Commonwealth Act No. 142, as amended by RA No. 6085.
The NBI lodged the criminal charges following the request of the Senate, through its Committee Report No. 763 (Committees on Agriculture and Food, Ways and Means, Trade and Commerce, and Accountability of Public Officers).
They accused the respondents of establishing a scheme to recruit rice farmers in order to organize them “for the purpose of acquiring substantial allocations on the PSF-TES importation program with the end goal of monopolizing the supply of rice.”
Bangayan’s co-respondents in the first charge are Judilyne Lim, David Lim, and Leah Echiveria of Cebu-based DGL Commodities; Elizabeth Faustino; and Eleanor Rodriguez. For the second charge, he has four fellow respondents – Judilyne Lim, Faustino, Rodriguez and Echiveria.
The other respondents in the other charges are Eugene Pioquinto, Mary Joyce Lim, Jason Colocado, Michael Villanueva, Denis Gonzales, Willy Sy, Sandra Lim, Gil Calipayan and Inigo Espiritu.
In its complaint, the NBI alleged that respondents conspired to use rice farmers “for the purpose of acquiring substantial allocations on the PSF-TES importation program (of the National Food Authority) with the end goal of monopolizing the supply of rice.”
“The aforementioned individuals conspired or agreed to organize the farmers cooperatives and organizations as well as other juridical personalities in order to monopolize the supply and distribution of rice thru pre-arranged bidding and other false pretenses thereby preventing free competition in the market,” the bureau stressed.
“With the acts of subject Bangayan and company, the other capable individuals were denied of their share on the allocation of the rice importation,” it pointed out.
According to the bureau, the scheme cornered government rice import allocations, through the National Food Authority (NFA), in 2012 using 25 farmers’ organizations and cooperatives, and single proprietors that did not have the necessary financial and logistical capabilities as “dummies.”
The NBI further alleged that the bidders for NFA rice allocations were financed in exchange for a small percentage per sack as “share.”