Mayor files complaint against AmalilioBy Richel Umel
PAGADIAN CITY—Mayor Samuel Co, in an apparent bid to project himself as among the victims and not a conspirator in the Aman scam, filed a complaint against those behind the activity in the city prosecutor’s office here.
Leading the list of people that Co had filed a complaint against, following Monday’s preliminary investigation conducted by a panel of prosecutors under the Department of Justice (DOJ), was Manuel Amalilio, the Malaysian-Filipino head of Aman Futures Group.
Aside from Co’s complaint sheet, the panel of prosecutors, headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela, also received similar documents from 15 other Aman victims.
Co said it was up to the DOJ to determine if he was a victim as he had claimed or a conspirator as some witnesses had insisted.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had said that documents seized by National Bureau of Investigation agents from Aman’s office here last month indicated that Co played a major role in the P12-billion scam, which victimized about 15,000 people, including those from poor communities.
Also, Maria Dona Coyme, an alleged financier of Aman, had claimed that Co and his wife Pricilla Ann had solicited investments in behalf of the Ponzi scheme firm.
Because of this, De Lima ordered that charges be filed against Co and his wife.
In November, the DOJ formally received complaints against the Cos, which were filed by at least three victims.
“I was wondering why I am being singled out in an investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation here. I believe it is politically motivated,” Co had said in reaction to the charges.
Co, a Liberal Party stalwart, is pitted against former Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Aurora Cerilles in next year’s mayoral race.
The Court of Appeals, acting on a supplemental petition filed on Dec. 7 by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), later issued an order freezing 108 bank accounts belonging to the Co couple.
Julia Bacay-Abad, Anti-Money Laundering Council deputy director, had told the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries that the AMLC was trying to find out the total amount involved in the bank accounts.
While denying complicity in the scam, Co has admitted that he had worked to legalize Aman’s operation in Pagadian.
In fact, Co said he had met with some Aman officials to ask them for supporting documents.
“If only to protect the investing public of their considerable investments, during the interim of the submission of the required secondary permit, the Permits and Licensing Division recommended the issuance of a temporary permit valid only for 60 days,” a statement that Co issued to the DOJ in November read.
In the same statement, Co also admitted meeting Amalilio at the mayor’s office in July. During that meeting, he said Amalilio, who had shown him incorporation papers approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, had briefed him about Aman and its operation.
Co said he later invested in Aman using the account names Bo’s Coffee (P3.26 million) and Max’s Chicken (P3.2 million).
Aman started defaulting in October.
In the aftermath of Aman’s collapse, Co admitted having distributed checks that Coyme had turned over to him.
“I allowed the issuance of checks,” he admitted. “There were people who lost their money. I had to recover something to give to my people… I took the chance to distribute all the checks at the heart of city hall,” he had said.