By Iza Iglesias/Manila Times
A consumers’ group has accused presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, his son and his cohorts of being involved in rice smuggling activities in Davao City.
Duterte is the mayor of the southern Mindanao city.
Perfecto Tagalog of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers said at a news conference that former National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Lito Banayo, Davidson Bangayan alias David Tan and Paolo “Polong” Duterte are conspiring with the Davao mayor in the smuggling of rice and other illegal activities at the Davao port.
Bangayan is the same rice smuggling “lord” the Senate is currently investigating and who is temporarily out on bail.
Tagalog said Duterte initially insisted that Bangayan or David Tan is a fictitious character who does not exist in Davao City, but when the alleged smuggler was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in 2014, the mayor changed his tune and admitted that Bangayan existed based on intelligence reports.
Tagalog, who claimed to be a former supporter of the mayor and a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said that the smuggling of other goods such as electronic products, canned goods, luxury vehicles and used clothing is rampant in Davao.
He added that the mayor failed to suppress the illegal activities because his son Polong is allegedly involved.
According to Tagalog, Polong and his wife January — who is the Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC) president in Davao — are known in the area as the “lord’’ of smugglers in Davao City. He showed to the media copies of the reports from the NBI and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group indicating the involvement of Paolo Duterte and Glen Escandor — son of a military officer and owner of the Royal Mandaya Hotel and the Dasia Security Agency — in big-time smuggling activities.
Pete Lavina, chief of Duterte’s media bureau, denied Tagalog’s claims, insisting that the accusation is another form of black propaganda against the Davao City mayor.
“They should have filed cases long ago. Why raise the issue now?” Lavina said in a text message to reporters.
Just after Tagalog spoke with the media, VACC members led by Rose Roque interrupted the news conference to denounce Tagalog for allegedly using the VACC for political purposes, a charge which Tagalog denied.
VACC members also contradicted Tagalog’s claim that he is a member saying he never belonged to the group.
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