Aquino vows justice for victims of Aman Futures

November 15, 2012 11:11 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 15 — President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday efforts are ongoing to hunt down and build a case against the Aman Futures.

"Hindi ho tayo titigil, kailangan ho may hustiya pero sa dulo po nito, kailangan rin natin ang pakikiisa ng ating mga kababayan," the President said at the sidelines of the 38th Top Level Management Conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) held at Taal Vista Lodge in Tagaytay City.

Aman Futures founder Manuel Amalilio was reportedly in hiding in Malaysia.

Since the Philippines has no extradition treaty with Malaysia, President Aquino said the Philippines may invoke the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) that exists within the ASEAN to cause the repatriation of Amalilio.

He said the National of Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now coordinating with the Malaysian Embassy to bring back Amalilio to the country.

The President stressed the government had been going after perpetrators of pyramid scam in the country and had warned investors early on but was rebuffed by investors.

There is also ongoing investigation being conducted by the NBI on Aman Futures.

The President said that as early as July, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in August, also warned investors against pyramid scam.

"Noong nag-umpisa ang NBI, pinuntahan daw sila nitong mga investors at sinabing killjoy sila," the President said.

"Gusto ko lang pagdiinan na talaga namang ginawa ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno, bago pa lumaki ang problema dito, na-warningan na ang ating mga kababayan," he noted.

"'Yung mga tumutupad ng kanilang tungkulin na ma-prevent nga 'yung ganitong scam, sana tinutulungan po imbes na pinahihirapan n'yo sa trabaho," he lamented.

Despite that, President Aquino said, those involved in pyramid scam should be brought to justice.

"Ganunpaman din ho, kailangan din nating madala sa bars of justice itong mga taong 'to. Hinahahanap natin ang lahat ng involved. Kailangan nating dumaan sa proseso," he said.

Had investors cooperated as early as July, the President said, authorities would have been able to build a case early on and might have arrested the perpetrators.

"Sayang, sana noong July nahuli na natin lahat ng mga tao. Pero 'yun nga, nahirapan mag-prosper 'yung kaso. Dahil (in the) absence nung witnesses, 'yung magbibigay ng paper trail, 'yung magbibigay ng salaysay para maging matibay ang kaso," he said.

Meanwhile, President Aquino declined to comment when asked if Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co will also be held liable for issuing the permits for Aman Futures to operate.

The President said no direct evidence has been seen so far on Co's possible liability.

"Sa ngayon, assertion po 'yan, allegation. I'm not ready to comment dahil ongoing 'yung other facets of the investigation, amongst them 'yung issue sa allegedly involving the LGUs (local government units). So wala pa tayong nakitang diretsuhang ebidensya tungkol doon. Pero maliwanag kung sino ang nagpatakbo," he said.

Aside from Amalilio, the government is also looking for Fernando "Nonoy" R. Luna, head of the Aman Futures operations in Pagadian City, and other officials of Aman Futures.

Aman Futures was able to lure investors, mostly in Pagadian City, by offering a 30-percent to 40-percent return on investment within eight days, and a 50-percent to 80-percent profit for 18 to 20 days.

Aman Futures claimed that the profit would come from a customer agreement with Malaysian brokerage firm Okachi (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. that in turn engages in futures trading of commodities such as oil, manganese, palm oil and nickel.

At first, the victims could receive cash by just showing their official receipts. But later, investors were issued post-dated checks with a 50-day maturity date in lieu of cash. Investors started to panic when the Aman office in Pagadian closed last Sept. 26.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II has relieved Zamboanga del Sur Provincial PNP Director Senior Superintendent William T. Manzan and Pagadian City Chief of Police Superintendent Kenneth H. Mission in connection with the Aman Futures investment scam that victimized thousands in the province and other parts of Mindanao.

Roxas said this is meant to avoid chances of whitewash in the ongoing police investigation into the latest "get-rich-quick" scheme that has reportedly duped some 15,000 individuals into investing about P12 billion of their hard-earned money.

The DILG chief also said Manzan and Mission were suspended for their supposed negligence in stopping Aman Futures early on in their operations.

"This scam has been perpetrated beginning as early as February this year and there have been very loud indicators that this scam was happening. People were lining up as early as 2:00 in the morning to try to get in the premises of Aman," he said.

"The fact that there was no report that filtered up from the city PNP to the province to the region all the way to headquarters indicates, at the very least, negligence or laziness," he added. (PNA)

SCS/LGI

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