Press Release
August 22, 2012


Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, along with fellow senators investigating alleged rice smuggling in the Subic Bay Freeport, were dumbfounded by contradicting statements from key witnesses in Wednesday's hearing in the Senate, prompting the Committee to ask five of these witnesses to show cause letters explaining why they should not be cited for contempt of the Senate for lying under oath.

The five witnesses are Protik Guha, CEO of Amira Foods; Stefani Saño of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; Cesar Bulaon of Metro Eastern Trading Corporation; Cesar Ramirez of a farmer's cooperative in General Santos; and Vicente Cuevas III.

"Clearly, someone is lying, or everyone is," said Pangilinan, whose Committee is the head investigating committee on rice smuggling. "We seek to know the truth. We will examine thoroughly their documents and decide how to proceed."

On its third hearing, Protik Guha, owner of the contested rice seized by the Bureau of Customs, denied that his company brought in the goods for distribution and sale in Philippine markets. This then prompted BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to say that Guha's statement contradicts Metro Eastern's submitted documents. Guha also claims a farmer's cooperative represented by Ramirez emailed him asking they would be willing to buy the rice off of him.

"These all seem like a long chain of comical series of rigmarole, one that must have been going on for a long time. Only it is not funny, and the Senate investigating committee is not laughing," Pangilinan remarked.

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