Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bishop Pabillo attacks rice smuggling

Bishop Pabillo attacks rice smugglingAuxiliary 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 Sevilla stated.

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”.

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