It takes a man like Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to be characteristically calm and, in a matter-of-fact tone, able to convince all and sundry, including the senators present during the Senate hearing on rice smuggling, that Davidson Bangayan is, in fact, David Tan.
It does help project his credible image because of his outspokenness, his no-nonsense character, his incorruptibility and fearlessness.
While Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was trying to twist Bangayan’s arms to submission that he was also David Tan, but failed to get an admission, Duterte, however, facilitated the unmasking of Bangayan as David Tan when he identified the latter and insisted that he was the same person in the photo he was showing the senators, which was provided to him by the intelligence community in Davao when he demanded for a “face” of the alleged notorious rice smuggler.
Duterte was so sure that David Bangayan, a.k.a. David Tan, was one and the same person because this prompted the mayor again to say this famous warning: “If this guy (Bangayan) would go to Davao and start to unload, I will gladly kill him. I will not hesitate. I will do it for my country.”
Apparently, Duterte got serious in looking into the rice smuggling issue when Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief Kim Henares sent him a letter asking him to help address smuggling in the port of Davao City.
Note that in one of the hearings on rice smuggling, Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla identified Davao as one of the entry points for illegal imports of the staple grain.
Thus, Duterte started consulting local authorities from different agencies, as well as local rice traders, and eventually learned about David Tan.
Duterte said Tan, whose name kept cropping up in conversations about smuggling, does not even hold a business permit from the city.
“Everybody knows him. He is the central figure of rice smuggling in the country. Whoever wants to import rice does to David Tan. He is the one who has connections in the Bureau of Customs…If you want a simplified procedure you go to him,” Duterte elaborated.
Eventually, a clandestine picture of David Bangayan, a.k.a. David Tan, was given to Duterte.
Perhaps, it was only DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima who was turned off about the brutality of Duterte’s threat that he was going to “gladly kill” Bangayan if he ever attempts to unload smuggled rice in Davao City, but, surely, she has to admit that she agrees to Duterte’s observation when he said that, “the country does not need more laws but more good men.”
Duterte stood tall during the hearing when he had the opportunity to remind the lawmakers, saying, “The trouble with us in government is that we talk too much, act too slow, and do too little.”
I take my hat off to you, Mr. Mayor!