Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday denied reports that the case against suspected rice smuggler David Bangayan or David Tan is back to square one.
De Lima explained that the smuggling case was returned to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for further investigation.
“We need to gather additional documentary evidence. I wouldn’t say the evidence was weak [but] we only need additional documents,” she said.
“When a case goes through preliminary investigation, we have to make sure it meets the probable cause threshold. When we evaluated it, it’s still not enough,” she added.
The Justice Chief also clarified reports that the NBI failed to prove that Bangayan and David Tan were one and the same person.
“Mali ang sinasabi sa reports. We were able to prove that he (Bangayan) is one and the same (Tan) that’s why we filed perjury charges against him so it’s not back to square one,” she explained.
She said once the evidence is complete, the NBI will refile the smuggling case before the DOJ.
Before it was returned to the NBI, Bangayan was slapped with a complaint for violation of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and monopoly and restraint of trade in violation of Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code.
Aside from Bangayan, also subject of the same complaint were former National Food Authority administrator Lito Banayo, NFA bid and awards committee officials Jose Cordero, Celia Tan, Gilberto Lauengco, Carlito Co and Judy Carol Dansal, and rice traders David and Judilyn Lim, Elizabeth Faustino, Eleanor Rodriguez and Leah Echeveria.
Bangayan was earlier identified as David Tan in court and in the Senate hearings on rice smuggling last year though he denied under oath at the Senate that he was indeed David Tan when he appeared at the Senate inquiry.
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