The month-long crisis in Sabah triggered by the “incursion” by an armed group acting for Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, may have set back the government’s efforts to have alleged pyramid scam leader Manuel Amalilio extradited from Malaysia.
Amalilio, who is serving a two-year sentence in Kota Kinabalu after he was convicted of possessing an ostensibly fake Philippine passport, is wanted in the Philippines for allegedly victimizing 15 million Filipinos of P12 billion in his fraudulent investment scheme.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday the trip of a Department of Justice team that was scheduled to leave last Tuesday for Kuala Lumpur for talks with the Malaysian government on Amalilio’s extradition has been deferred “indefinitely” because of the crisis.
“We do not have, I think, the right environment to do such a thing. So we can say that’s one of the probably unintended consequences of the acts of the Kiram group,” De Lima said.
“If the right time comes, when the heat dies down, then we can already send our team [to] Kuala Lumpur,” she said.
The DoJ officials were to hold preliminary talks with the Malaysian Attorney General’s office on the possibility of bringing Amalilio, who had fled to Malaysia after his investment scam unraveled, back to Manila to face prosecution before the completion of his two-year jail sentence.
Malaysian police initially surrendered Amalilio to a team of Filipino law enforcers last January. The team was about to board a plane for Manila with Amalilio on Jan. 25 when they were stopped by senior Malaysian police officials. Amalilio was returned to police custody and subsequently convicted and sentenced for fraud by a Kota Kinabalu court.
Despite the setback, De Lima said the government would exhaust all means to prosecute Amalilio in the Philippines.
She said courts in Cagayan de Oro and Pagadian cities have issued warrants for the arrest of Amalilio and his associates. She said the DOJ was awaiting a similar warrant from a court in Iligan City.
“The cases are moving because there are several complaints filed, and several are still under preliminary investigation, and some are already in court, and there have been warrants of arrest. We will continue to work for the successful prosecution of Amalilio et al.,” she said.
The DOJ last Monday filed a syndicated estafa complaint in Iligan against Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co, alleging that the mayor acted as an “agent” for Amalilio’s Aman Futures Group Philippines.
Also charged were 12 others, including Amalilio and his wife, Abigail Pendulas.