Why was Banayo not invited to Senate probe? | Inquirer News
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Why was Banayo not invited to Senate probe?

/ 03:55 AM February 06, 2014

David Bangayan, who is believed to be David Tan, a suspected rice smuggler, told the Senate that rice import permits were being sold.

His statement was corroborated by Administrator Orlan Calayag of the National Food Authority (NFA) who said that he had heard about the sale of import permits before he took office early last year.

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It’s surprising why the committee on agriculture chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar, which is investigating rice smuggling, has not invited former NFA Administrator Lito Banayo.

This, despite a suggestion from this corner to invite Banayo who resigned in 2013 purportedly to run for Congress.

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But the real reason for Banayo’s resignation, according to sources at the Department of Agriculture (DA), was because Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala was breathing down his neck.

My sources at the DA and Bureau of Customs say that rice smuggling would not have flourished during Banayo’s time if he didn’t sell import permits.

Is the committee trying to protect Banayo?

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Somebody is behind the plunder complaint filed by lawyer Argee Guevarra against Alcala and National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) chief Honesto Baniqued.

I can only speak for Alcala; his concern for the country’s farmers belies all the charges leveled against him.

How can he steal from the people whose lives he is trying his best to uplift?

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Because of Alcala’s agriculture projects, many farmers are now so financially well off some of them drive around in sport utility vehicles.

I’ve seen this for myself as I am now engaged in vegetable farming on the side.

Alcala is helping me develop my piece of land in Puerto Princesa as a pilot vegetable farm so Palawan can become a vegetable-producing province.

I’ve talked with the agriculture secretary several times and he told me about his plans to make the country self-sufficient in rice and an exporter of agricultural products.

In short, Guevarra’s complaint is politically motivated.

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A certain Aying Acuzar, one of the alleged big smugglers identified by the customs bureau, is the brother of construction magnate Gerry Acuzar.

Gerry Acuzar is the brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa.

This columnist is not saying Ochoa is protecting Aying.

I am just citing Aying’s place in Ochoa’s extended family.

*   *   *

Why is it so difficult for the Philippine government to apologize to Hong Kong for the deaths of its residents who were vacationing in Manila in 2010?

Our government is at fault because it failed to protect the Hong Kong tourists who were shot dead by a dismissed Manila police officer who took them hostage.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of Hong Kong: How would we feel if a dismissed Hong Kong cop shot and killed several of our countrymen vacationing in the former British Crown Colony?

If Manila Mayor Erap apologized to the Hong Kong government, why can’t President Noy?

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TAGS: Aying Acuzar, import permits, Lito Banayo, National Food Authority, plunder complaint, Proceso Alcala, rice smuggling, Senate probe, Smuggling
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