By Bonita Ermac
ILIGAN CITY – A sub-committee of the National Food Authority (NFA) that monitors the hoarding and smuggling of rice has filed a case against five persons for the alleged hoarding of 22,215 sacks of rice in several warehouses here.
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional chief Abdul Jamal D. Dimaporo identified those charged as Sonia Chua Payan, 46, a Filipina; and Chinese nationals Yang Jianzu, 52; and Lu Zi Yong, 45; Chen Lianjian, who is also known as Jhonny Damasin Tan, and Raul Chen Foo.
The sub-committee is composed of representatives from the NBI, NFA, Philippine National Police (PNP), PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and Department of Health (DHA).
The sub-committee was created pursuant to a presidential directive issued last September 17. It was primarily tasked to monitor violations of Republic Act (RA) 7581, or the act providing protection to consumers by stabilizing the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities.
The office of the city prosecutor here has set a preliminary investigation at the Hall of Justice on December 29.
Last October 2, NBI agents led sub-committee members in raiding four warehouses in Barangay Pala-o where about 50,000 sacks of rice were discovered.
No proper document could be presented by the respondents.
A confiscation and seizure order was then served on Payan and Tan.
In the final inventory, a total of 22,215 25-kilo bags of rice were confiscated, according to Dimaporo.
“I hope they will come with their lawyers or not, iyon na ang final administrative case”, Dimaporo said.
NFA Provincial Director Sambitory O. Dimaporo said that the charges filed with the prosecutor’s office was only for the criminal aspect of the hoarding case.
“Sa amo-a sa NFA administrative, dinhi lang sa opisina” (for us, NFA on administrative will be done here at our office),” he said.
The NBI said it was also going to ask the Bureau of Immigration to look into the status of the stay of the Chinese nationals in the country.
“I’m going to forward this case to BOI kasi ang nakikita natin they are Chinese nationals talaga, doing business in the Philippines. So we’d like to check kung ano talaga ang status nila dito, bakit sila nandito sa Pilipinas”, said Abdul Jamal Dimaporo.
Initial investigation showed that Payan started her business here in 2012, while Chen Lianjian opened shop in 2011.
If found guilty of violating provisions of RA 7581, the suspects could face five to 15 years imprisonment, Abdul Jamal Dimaporo said.