DOJ sets raps vs Bangayan, 5 others for rice monopoly
The Department of Justice (DOJ) might file next week a case for trade monopoly against suspected rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan, alias David Tan, and five others.
Senior deputy state prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, also the acting prosecutor general of the National Prosecution Service, said they were still preparing the information for the case as of last Friday and that this might be filed before a court on Monday.
The DOJ, in its 14-page review resolution crafted by senior deputy state prosecutor Miguel Gudio Jr., found probable cause to indict Bangayan, along with Elizabeth Faustino, David Lim, Judilyne Lim, Eleanor Rodriguez and Leah Echeveria, for rice monopoly.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation-Anti-Graft Division (NBI-AGD), which found that the six used several farmers’ organizations as dummies to bid before the National Food Authority (NFA) for rice importations.
All six reportedly violated Article 186, paragraph 3 of the Revised Penal Code (Monopolies and Combinations in Restraint of Trade) when they employed “farmers and organizations to participate in the bidding of rice importations with the intention of manipulating and increasing the market price of the rice supply.”
“In addition, there is evidence in the present case to support the indictment of respondent Bangayan for violation of Commonwealth Act 142 as amended by Republic Act 6085 for the unauthorized use of alias David Tan,” Gudio added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cynthia Villar welcomed the filing of charges, a development she described as something that would discourage illegal rice trading in the country.
“This sends signals that the government is serious in filing cases against those who violate the law,” she said in Filipino over dwIZ, recalling that smugglers in the past went scot-free as the government failed to charge those responsible.
Villar said she had continuously asked the DOJ to update her on its investigation on Bangayan.
“We always ask them what happened to their investigation after our committee report. Finally, after four years, they will now be prosecuting David Bangayan,” she added.
While she believes the DOJ has an airtight case, she is also concerned about the country’s slow justice system.
“Oftentimes, it doesn’t work. But we are still hoping. This is an opportunity for the DOJ to show that they can win this case against these people. We need to monitor the development of the case,” Villar said.
“If we are able to charge someone and we get a conviction, it will become an example. We know that those involved also have the money to spend. Why should they do it (smuggling) when they have the money? It is because the government was not prosecuting,” she added.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III also said the filing of charges was a good development in the government’s effort to address rice smuggling, adding that law enforcers should not stop there but also look into rice hoarding.
NFA officials released the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) for rice at Trabajo Market in Manila yesterday as the government warns of sanctions against traders and retailers who violate the SRP rule.