DOJ approves raps vs. traders for rice price manipulation

MANILA- The Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the filing of criminal charges against rice trader Davidson Bangayan and five others for alleged violation of the law proscribing monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade.

In its 14-page review resolution dated November 5, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Miguel Gudio Jr. ordered the filing of criminal raps against Bangayan for the alleged anomalous transactions entered by him, along with of Elizabeth Faustino, spouses David and Judilyne Lim, Eleanor Rodriguez and Lea Echeveria.

The group reportedly used farmers' organizations as their dummies in the bidding of rice importations by the National Food Authority (NFA).

If found guilty, the six could be facing 12-year jail term and PHP10,000 fine.

The DOJ dismissed the illegal use of fictitious name charge under Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code against Bangayan, who also goes by the name David Tan but ordered criminal charges for his unauthorized use of an alias which is penalized under Commonwealth Act No. 142.

State prosecutors said the group should be held liable for "combining with and employing the concerned farmers' cooperatives and organizations to participate in the bidding of rice importations with the intention of manipulating and increasing the market price of the rice supply."

In its complaint before the DOJ, the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Graft Division alleged two sets of transactions involving major participants in rice importations.

The first set of transactions involved Bangayan and Faustino on one hand and the six cooperatives Riverview MPC, Umasaka MPC,Sitio Muzon MPC, Sta. Cecilia MPC, Formosa MPC and GPI San Miguel MPC.

A second set of transactions involved the Lim couple, Rodriguez and Echevaria, all of DGL Commodities, and four cooperatives Kapatirang Takusa MPC, Ugnayang Magbubukid ng San Isidro Inc., Samahan ng Kapampangan at Katagalugan MPC, and the Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Kalawitan MPC.

"It is well to note that two witnesses specifically pointed out the participation of respondent Bangayan as the financier of some of the cooperatives and that it was respondent Faustino who acted as his broker and the one who facilitated the documentary and financial requirements so that the concerned entities may be allowed to participate in the bidding for rice procurement," the DOJ said.

Lim, Rodriguez and Echevaria admitted supporting and financing the farmers' cooperatives but denied that such act is a prohibited act.

The DOJ ruling ordered that charges against Eugene Pioquinto, Mary Joyce Lim, Jason Colocado, Michael Villanueva, Denis Gonzales, Willy Sy, Sandra Lim, Gil Calipayan, and Inigo Espirity for violation of Art. 186 of the Revise Penal Code be dismissed along with charges for violation of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Act. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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