Auxiliary bishop Broderick S. Pabillo of Manila, who chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Permanent Committee on Public Affairs rebuked individuals behind rice smuggling and called them “beyond indecent”.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had accused Filipino-Chinese
businessman Davidson Bangayan of lording over a multibillion-peso rice
smuggling industry in the Philippines.
The prelate said that he resented that an activity of that magnitude
could still be possible in a country with widespread incidents of hunger
and poverty, especially in the rural areas.
Bishop Pabillo said that he was deeply troubled by the organized
smuggling of rice happening “right under our noses”. He feared that
billions of pesos in government revenues are lost because of smuggling.
This money, the bishop added, could have gone into the “funding of
important public projects like school buildings, roads, and others that
would really benefit our people, most of all the less fortunate”.
“Billions of pesos come to naught annually, because of what these unscrupulous smugglers are doing,” the prelate explained.
Pabillo also asserted that these rice smugglers compete unfairly with
our small-time rice farmers. “They are depriving our farmers of their
livelihood,” Bishop Pabillo said.
On February 3, Mayor Duterte said before the Senate agricultural
committee headed by Senator Cynthia A. Villar that Bangayan is the rice
smuggler masquerading as “David Tan”.
He described Tan as allegedly kingpin of rice smuggling in the
Philippines whose influential network beyond his own base in Davao
extends to the ports in Manila, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, and Cebu.
Davao City is one of the entry points for the illegal imports of
rice, which is the staple food of Filipinos, Customs chief John Philip
The controversial mayor drew flak after he threatened to gun down
Bangayan should he catch the latter red-handed smuggling rice into
Davao, his turf, where he allegedly tolerates extra-judicial killings.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, citing intelligence reports from the
National Bureau of Investigation, said the Davao-based Bangayan is
allegedly a “one-man cartel connected with officials at the Bureau of
Customs and other government agencies”.