DAVAO CITY—Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the name being cited as that of alleged smuggling kingpin David Tan is fictitious, but that he would not hesitate to use the harshest possible methods to fight smuggling in the city.
He said, though, that he would not oppose the release of the shipments of rice that are being held here on suspicion that they were smuggled if duties are fully paid.
Duterte said the name Davidson Tan Bangayan, which was cited as the real identity of David Tan, was fictitious, as far as this city was concerned. He said there was no such person or businessman in the city.
According to Jess Arranza, head of the Federation of Philippine Industries, there was a “high probability” that David Tan was actually David Tan Bangayan, a businessman from Davao City who was initially in the scrap metal business but ventured into rice trading.
Duterte, however, said there was no David Tan Bangayan in his city. The David Tan he knows of, according to the mayor, is a legitimate businessman based in Cebu City.
Two shipments of imported rice are being held here by the customs bureau after these were allegedly imported without permits from the National Food Authority.
Duterte said the Office of the Solicitor General had strongly opposed the release of the rice shipments as ordered by a court in Manila and another in Batangas, ruling on petitions filed by the importers, Starcraft International Trading Corp. and Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise.
Datu Samson Pacasum, Port of Davao collector, said the rice shipments had not been released yet despite the court order.
Pacasum said he had yet to personally see a copy of the court order to release the rice shipments.
Duterte said he would not oppose the release of the imported rice as long as the companies involved in the importation complete the requirements and pay all duties for the shipments.
“As long as they have secured all the permits and have paid, that is not considered smuggling anymore,” he said.
Duterte has been criticized by Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales for saying he would not hesitate to kill smugglers if they operated in his city.
“If I say, don’t engage in smuggling here so that you will not die, is that more acceptable?” said Duterte.
“Point out to me the law, which says I could not threaten criminals,” said the mayor, addressing himself to Rosales, who called the mayor’s statements “unethical.”
“Ethics?” Duterte said. “Is that all in the gray matter between your ears? Billions and billions of pesos are lost to smuggling because some corrupt men in the government are robbing the people blind and nobody has stopped it,” he said in a news conference he called on Wednesday.
“If I take the law into my hands, I’ll answer for it, that’s not your problem. Your problem is smuggling,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he would fight smuggling, even if he had to kill smugglers in the process and went to jail because of it.
“I’m willing to go to prison,” said Duterte. “I will really kill you (smugglers),” he added. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao