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HomeAdvertisementsReligious group claims they sell P20/kilo rice in Davao region

Religious group claims they sell P20/kilo rice in Davao region

By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur—Long before House Speaker Martin Romualdez vowed to bring down the price of rice to P30 per kilo by June, a leader of a humanitarian religious organization claimed they had been supplying rice to their members in Digos City and nearby areas at P20 per kilo since March 11.

Dante Tabusares, chairman of the Humanitarian and Spiritual Missionary Apostolates of Davao and Asia, Inc. (Hasmadai), revealed they had been offering rice at this price to their 5,000 members and missionaries, with a limit of 5 kilos per family per week. However, they suspended this initiative last month upon learning about concerns from local rice traders regarding potential sales losses.

The SMA Shopping Center operated by religious group Hasmadai launched the selling of P20 per kilo rice on March 11. Photo courtesy of Dante Bong Encarnacion Tabusares page.

Explaining the rationale behind the 5-kilo limit, Tabusares said that while Hasmadai could provide 20 kilos per family per month, families would still purchase the remaining 30 kilos from rice traders at the public market to support local sales.

In Manila on April 30, Romualdez told reporters of the House’s aim to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), with the expectation of reducing rice prices to approximately P30 per kilo. The proposed amendment seeks to enable the National Food Authority (NFA) to reintroduce lower-priced rice to the market.

Romualdez highlighted the House’s target to decrease prices by at least P10 to P15 by June by mandating the NFA to make affordable rice available in the market.

Meanwhile, Tabusares emphasized that Hasmadai’s sale of rice at P20 per kilo is in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s campaign promise. Hasmadai launched this initiative on March 11 during the opening of SMA Shopping Center in Digos City.

Tabusares disclosed that the cheaper rice was procured from local suppliers at P960 per 25-kilo sack, or P38.4 per kilo. The remaining P18.4 needed to achieve the desired price was subsidized by donors, including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and philanthropists, who preferred to remain anonymous for now.

Hasmadai’s social media page states its commitment to serving vulnerable and marginalized populations by addressing their basic needs and promoting long-term empowerment and resilience. Additionally, it aims to provide comprehensive social services and religious support, fostering compassion, social justice, and spiritual well-being.

However, the local town council in neighboring San Francisco has raised concerns about Hasmadai’s operations, prompting an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the use of monetary donations for a purported religious-themed investment scheme.

The joint committee report of the Sangguniang Bayan recommends the cancellation of Hasmadai’s SEC registration due to violations of corporation code and anti-aliasing laws. This recommendation follows revelations that the founding chairman, Dante Encarnacion Tabusares, used a different name, Ralph Jimmy Calaor Gayatin, in SEC documents.

Tabusares vehemently denied any involvement in an investment scam, asserting that Hasmadai’s primary objective is to provide free technical vocational training and seminars to assist those in need. He attributed the discrepancy in names to an “honest mistake” and pledged corrective action.

During a joint committee hearing presided over by Municipal Councilor Filomeno Cadiz on April 15, the regional director of SEC Caraga, lawyer Jason Tan, revealed that initial investigations indicated Hasmadai’s registration as a non-stock, non-profit religious organization. Tan warned that any misrepresentation in their SEC registration could result in revocation.

Tabusares reiterated Hasmadai’s commitment to providing civic and social services since 2022, emphasizing their dedication to aiding vulnerable populations and fostering empowerment.

Despite presenting registration papers from the SEC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), concerns were raised during the hearing about the group’s issuance of official receipts showing an address in Davao City instead of their local office in San Francisco.

Tabusares admitted during the hearing that Hasmadai accepts cash donations, including contributions from foreign sources, assuring donors of an undisclosed monthly “missionary allowance.”

The joint committee urged the SEC to investigate Hasmadai, focusing on its registration status, use of fictitious names, involvement in investment solicitation, compliance with its stated purpose, and potential penalties for violations of the Corporation Code.

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