MANILA, Philippines — Government officials have been taking steps to avert any outbreak of violence among thousands of angry victims of pyramid scams, Malacañang said on Sunday, even as it appealed to the victims not to take the law into their own hands.
Undersecretary Abigail Valte, President Benigno Aquino III’s deputy spokesperson, said the police have been investigating complaints to help the victims get justice for their big losses, and have been securing key personalities accused of perpetrating the scam.
As a precautionary measure, Valte said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II relieved the Zamboanga del Sur police director, Senior Superintendent William T. Manzan, and Pagadian City police chief, Supt. Kenneth H. Mission, who invested in the Aman Futures, the company behind a multi-billion-peso scam in Pagadian.
“The authorities are moving quickly on this. They’re doing everything that they can to give justice to the investors, of course according to the instruction of the President,’’ she said over government-run dzRB.
At least 15,000 individuals, including local politicians, police and military personnel, government employees, market vendors, farmers, drivers, retired employees and overseas workers, were lured into investing some P12 billion into Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc. on promises of high returns.
After the scam was uncovered, some of the victims resorted to killing, kidnapping, torching of homes and looting.
The authorities ordered a manhunt for the key officials of the Pasay City-based Aman Futures, mainly its founder Manuel Amalilio, who has reportedly fled to Malaysia.
Other Aman executives facing charges are Fernando “Nonoy’’ Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Edward Lim, William Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez.
As the mayhem has been threatening to go out of hand, Malacañang aired a call for sobriety among the ranks of losing investors.
“We reiterate our appeal to the investors not to take the law into their own hands,’’ Valte said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia has been coordinating with authorities there to ascertain the whereabouts of Amalilio so he could be brought back to the country to face charges, Valte said.
“The law enforcement agencies are coordinating even with the officials in Malaysia where the President of Aman Futures is said to have gone; there is a report that he’s now in Kota Kinabalu. So we are coordinating with the officials there, with the help of the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia to determine the whereabouts,’’ she said.
The President earlier said the government would invoke the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with other members of the Southeast Asian countries to bring Amalilio back to the country.
Aquino said that the National Bureau of Investigation has begun coordinating with Malaysian authorities for the possible arrest of Amalilio, whose Malaysian name is Mohammad Suffian Saaid.