Suspected smuggling kingpin denies arrest

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MANILA (Updated, 5:05 p.m.)-- The lawyer of suspected rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan, who allegedly carries the alias David Tan, denied his client was arrested on Tuesday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for a pilferage case.

Lawyer Benito Salazar said they were able to present documents including passport that Bangayan is not Tan, who was named respondent in the case pending before the Caloocan Regional Trial Court branch 126.

“He was released because the NBI is already convinced that he’s not the person charged for violating Republic Act 7832 (Materials Pilferage Act),” he told Sun.Star.

NBI Deputy Director Virgilio Mendez for Regional Operations Services also confirmed the development, saying they cannot detain Bangayan yet.

“He has not been under arrest. He was just asked to stay. We cannot detain him and there is no basis for the meantime. The arrest warrant issued by the court will undergo further verification,” he said.

But Mendez stood by witnesses’ accounts that Tan and Bangayan is one and the same person being probed for rice smuggling.

De Lima, who leaned on NBI information regarding Bangayan’s identity, told reporters earlier in the day that he was nabbed by the NBI due to the arrest order issued by the court on October 11, 2010.

The NBI secured a copy only on January 7.

Tan was a metal scrap trader before going into rice smuggling, according to the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI). His smuggling operations allegedly resulted in P7-billion loss in government revenues in the past two years.

Bangayan denied the allegation in a meeting with de Lima as he expressed willingness to cooperate with authorities on cracking down smuggling. (Sunnex)

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