‘David Tan’ identified as rice trader from Davao
The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), which groups some 800 business companies in the country, will help unmask “David Tan,” the alleged Goliath of rice smuggling whose illegal activities have cost the government P7 billion in lost revenues every year.
Jesus Arranza, FPI chair, told a news forum at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) headquarters in Port Area, Manila, on Monday that he would see Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to turn over information about David Tan.
Arranza said David Tan was the alias of “a certain Davidson Tan Bangayan,” a Chinese-Filipino from Davao City.
David Tan is wanted in Davao, with the city’s Mayor Rodrigo Duterte himself tracking him down and vowing to prosecute him.
Abono party-list chair Rosendo So told the Inquirer in a telephone interview Monday that rice millers had identified David Tan “as Davidson Bangayan,” who holds office in a midrise building in Pasig City.
So, who is also president of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), declined to disclose the exact address of Davidson Bangayan, but said he had given it to the Senate committee on agriculture so that the panel could summon Bangayan to a hearing.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, head of the agriculture committee that is investigating rice smuggling through the BOC, declined to identify who would be “invited” to a hearing set for Jan. 22, but said all known rice traders would be there.
Arranza described Davidson Tan Bangayan as a “former scrap metal trader from Davao City before [going into] rice smuggling.”
He later told the Inquirer that there was a “high probability” that the David Tan mentioned in a series of rice smuggling stories published in the Inquirer and the Davidson Tan Bangayan he was referring to were the same person.
“Sometime in 2005, Eric Ang, a Singaporean trader, sought the FPI’s help in going after this David Tan,” Arranza said.
“Resem Inc., where Ang was general manager, was supposed to forward 230 containers of scrap metal to India through one of David Tan’s companies. [But] it was discovered that instead of scrap metal, the shipped items were replaced with used tires, prompting Ang to file a complaint against Tan,” he said.
Arranza gave reporters copies of Ang’s affidavit in a civil case against “Davidson Bangayan a.k.a. David Tan” that the businessman filed in the Calamba City Regional Trial Court on July 13, 2005.
The FPI is following up the case, Arranza said.
Tan heads several companies, including Advanced Scrap Specialist Corp., Amphibian Metal Trading Co., Advanced Transystem Corp. and Advanced Scrap Metal Corp., among other businesses, according to Ang.
“[I]n May 2011, David Tan’s name was mentioned in a rice smuggling story in one of the major dailies (not the Inquirer), which reported that Tan’s group had tried to smuggle some 800,000 metric tons of rice from an undisclosed foreign country,” Arranza said.
Arranza said the operations of David Tan, “Big Mama” and “Ma’am T,” among other big-time traders doing business with the BOC, were “common knowledge” among FPI members.
“Apparently, some players (during the previous administrations) are still playing at Customs. It means they’re good,” he said.
Arranza urged the Senate to “continue looking into the rice smuggling activities of David Tan.”
The Inquirer earlier reported that David Tan’s operations were costing the government at least P7 billion in lost revenues every year.
His operations also cause losses to Filipino farmers, whose rice is shunned by millers who prefer to deal with Tan because his rice, although illegally brought into the country, is cheaper and already milled.
Smugglers’ point man
Tan became the point man of the rice smugglers after the illegal importation of the grain was consolidated into a single operation during the first half of the Aquino administration’s term, according to a former BOC official.
The official, who asked not to be named, also disclosed that Tan was one of the financiers of bogus farmers’ cooperatives that had cornered a huge chunk of the National Food Authority’s rice imports.
The same source added that in the past two years, Tan had given as much as P6 billion in payoffs to BOC officials and employees who facilitated the smuggling of rice through the ports.
The National Bureau of Investigation has said it opened an investigation of Tan’s activities last year, but “hit a blank wall” in its search for Tan
Late last month, De Lima said the NBI got no leads because nobody in the cooperatives allegedly financed by Tan was willing to cooperate in the investigation.
The NBI also searched its files of people named “David Tan,” but found no information that would lead to the real David Tan.
De Lima said the NBI would reopen the investigation.
Wanted in Davao
In Davao, Duterte said the name “David Tan” kept turning up in news reports about rice smuggling in the city.
“I have tried to track him down and found that the name is fictitious,” Duterte said on television on Sunday.
“Whoever is behind [rice smuggling], once I track him down, I’m going to file a case [against him] in the (Office of the) Ombudsman,” Duterte said.
Earlier, after several rice shipments without import permits had been seized by the government in Davao City, Duterte warned rice smugglers not to mess with him, as he would deal with them harshly.
He said he would also suspend the business permits of rice traders if asked to do so by the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Uncontrolled entry of cheap, imported rice threatens the livelihood of Filipino farmers, Duterte said.
Two rice importers in Davao, however, said the seizure of their rice shipments was “unlawful.”
Their lawyer, Benito Salazar, said the government could no longer impose import permits because its “quantitative restrictions” for rice under the World Trade Organization (WTO) expired in June 2012.
Salazar said the importers—Silent Royalty Marketing and Starcraft International—wanted the government to explain itself, as its action violated the WTO ruling.—With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan in Manila, and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
Originally posted: 5:41 pm | Monday, January 6th, 2014
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