Case vs suspected rice smuggler back with NBI
SUSPECTED rice smuggler David Bangayan is not yet out of the woods.
Outgoing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said the Department of Justice (DOJ) tossed back the smuggling case against Bangayan to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) not because the bureau’s case was weak.
It was returned to the NBI to allow investigators to gather more evidence against the suspect, De Lima said in a television interview.
“We just need additional documentary evidence. I wouldn’t say the evidence is weak. When a case goes through preliminary investigation, we have to make sure it meets the probable cause threshold. When we evaluated [Bangayan’s case], it was still not enough,” she said, referring to the evidence.
De Lima declined to reveal the additional evidence the NBI had to seek out.
“I think the NBI is set to refile the case. I will follow it up with NBI Director Virgilio Mendez to see if the case could be refiled within the week,” she said.
De Lima said the NBI was able to prove that Bangayan was David Tan—a key player in the P7 billion-a-year rice smuggling racket.
Bangayan was earlier charged before the DOJ with bid fixing in violation of Republic Act No. 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, and monopoly and restraint of trade in violation of Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code.
Others named in the 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 identified as David Tan in court. In last year’s Senate hearings on rice smuggling, he denied under oath that he was David Tan.
He was charged with perjury by the Senate committee on agriculture and food, which presented an affidavit that was used in a libel suit filed by Bangayan against Federation of Philippine Industries chair Jesus Arranza in 2005.
In the affidavit, Bangayan referred to himself as Davidson Bangayan, alias David Tan.
Arranza and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also testified at the Senate inquiry that Bangayan and Tan were the same person.
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