Members of many farmers cooperatives in Pampanga said on Tuesday that they were fudged by the rice traders and now they have to fight against the charges of rice smuggling.

In an exclusive report on GMA 7’s “24 Oras, they said that they were offered to join a National Food Authority program  which gave them oppurtunity to import the rice  during rice crisis and hence were tempted for more benefits but neither they were paid their  benefits and  their rice was imported to big-time rice importers who connived with some NFA officials.

Noe the Court of Tax Appeal’s 3rd division to discharge a arrest warent against the farmer against a rice smuggling charge filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Legazpi, Albay.

“Sana po lumabas na po sila [mga trader na may kinalaman] at harapin nila ang mga pinagagawa nila,” appealed Samahan ng mga Magsasakang Kapampangan at Katagalugan president Maximo Hernandez. “Huwag ang mga farmer na walang kinalaman na naghihirap dito sa probinsya.”

“Parang napagsamantalahan nila… dahil nga sabi nila, sila na ang bahala sa mga kaso,” complained Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Calawitan chairman Remigio Manalastas. “Bakit ngayon nagkakaproblema ang mga coop?”

The farmers cooperatives emphasize that their signatures in the notice of Award for the rice importation were faked.According to one of their cooperative they had transacted with a certain Eleanor Ella Rodriguez, who in turn introduced them to a Leah Echeveria who signed the Deed of Assignment.

During the Senate’s Committee on Food and Agriculture’s hearing,so called rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan had mentioned that a Leah Echeveria was his employee in DGL Commodities, Inc.

Echeveria was representative of 22 farmer cooperatives in 2012.These cooperatives had oppurtunity to import rice under the NFA’s Private Sector Financed Importation program.He was also summoned by the Senate in 2012 during his investigation into rice smuggling