Pagadian City Mayor urges DOJ to probe evidence against himBy Julie S. Alipala, Nico Alconaba
ILIGAN CITY—Mayor Samuel Co of Pagadian City called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to examine the testimonial and documentary evidence that allegedly linked him to Aman Futures’ double-your-money scam.
“It’s easy for people to say things against me. I urged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to carefully scrutinize what she called testimonial and documentary evidence,” Co told the Inquirer by phone.
Co insisted that he had nothing to do with the investment scam, saying that he, himself, was a victim.
The mayor earlier claimed that he lost at least P5 million to Aman Futures when it collapsed in late September.
He said he was being singled out because Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Antonio Cerilles wanted to discredit him. Co is the provincial chair of the Liberal Party.
“Cerilles wants to enter the Liberal Party. That’s why he wants me out,” he said.
Co will be running for a congressional seat in next year’s elections against reelectionist Rep. Victor Yu, a known ally of Cerilles of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
Co is a known ally of Romeo Jalosjos, a former congressman and convicted child rapist, whose brother, Dapitan City Mayor Dominador Jalosjos, is challenging Cerilles’s reelection bid.
Another Jalosjos family member will face the governor’s wife, reelectionist Rep. Aurora Cerilles of the province’s first district, in next year’s polls.
“This is also the reason Jalosjos is being dragged in the issue,” Co said.
“These accusations are all politically motivated. Secretary De Lima should be careful,” Co added.
But the mayor said he was willing to face the charges against him.
“These are all fabricated. I will face those who accuse me,” he said.
Co said he was in Manila with his lawyers.
He also questioned claims allegedly made by Aman Futures agent Maria Donna Coyme that he invested P30 million as “start-up capital.”
“Coyme claimed she joined Aman in May. Aman started in January or February. How can she say that I provided the start-up capital when she was not there yet?” the mayor said.
Four shot dead
Co also decried the killing of a member of his security staff, John Paul Go, who was shot dead on Tuesday in Pagadian City.
The mayor said Go was the fourth person he trusted who had been killed since the Aman Futures controversy broke out.
The first was Rene Ebol, the head of the city’s barangay affairs; then Evelyn Declaro, a former barangay chair and assigned at the Solid Waste Management Office; and Arthur Hadjirul of barangay affairs.
“Until now nothing has been done to find out who are the killers. All of them were shot to death,” Co said.
Cerilles denied he had a hand in the allegations against Co.
“How could that be? It was he who issued permits to Aman Futures and it was I who wrote the NBI asking for an in-depth investigation of Aman operations after many residents sought the government’s intervention to get back their money,” Cerilles said in a phone interview.
Co admitted issuing a permit to Aman Futures, but said this was canceled after the firm failed to submit the required documents.
In September, Co said he issued a temporary permit to the firm with the sole purpose of allowing Aman Futures to pay the investors.
Co also said he was the one who first asked the national government for an investigation, “but everything changed when Cerilles entered the picture.”
“When he (Cerilles) joined, the blame was put on me,” Co said.