MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) will reopen its investigation into the alleged existence of a rice smuggling cartel in the Philippines, a Malacañang official said Friday.
“The Secretary of Justice will be meeting with the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) team today and will also direct them to reopen the probe,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a press briefing.
She issued the statement after Senator Ralph Recto said he was disappointed that the DOJ and NBI failed to act on his Senate panel’s recommendation months ago to prosecute a certain “David Tan” in connection with rice smuggling in the country.
But Valte said Justice Sec. Leila De Lima told her that the case was “temporarily closed” because the NBI was unable to find out the identity and whereabouts of Tan and fellow suspect, Danny Ngo, despite “diligent efforts.”
“I think you will all agree with me that the names are quite common. The NBI also said that no one among the members of the alleged cooperatives were willing to give testimony, or at least, to cooperate to unveil the identities,” she said.
The Palace official, however, said the DOJ and NBI will discuss now how to move forward with the case.
“The Secretary of Justice also mentioned to us that she is willing to either reorganize the team that is handling the investigation or to enhance the team composition,” Valte said. (MNS)