MANILA, Philippines — Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co has asked the court to hold the proceedings on the syndicated estafa case filed against him as well as the issuance of a warrant for his arrest and arraignment.
In his motion before the Iligan City regional trial court Branch 1, Co said that it was best that his motion for judicial determination of probable cause be resolved first.
“All proceedings in the instant case must be held in abeyance unless and until final resolution of the said motion…” Co, through his lawyer Angel Gatmaitan said.
The judicial determination of probable cause is one made by the judge to determine if there is a need to issue a warrant of arrest. The judge must be convinced that based on the evidence submitted, there is necessity for placing the accused under custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice. If the judge finds no probable cause, the judge cannot be forced to issue the arrest warrant.
Co, who is running for a congressional seat in the First District of Zamboanga del Sur under the Liberal Party wing, said his opponents in the forthcoming election would use all their power to stop him from running.
The case against Co stemmed from the complaint filed by Julius Labunog who alleged that his group was defrauded of P29.63 million.
Aside from Co and Manuel Amalilio, facing a case for syndicated estafa is Amalilio”s wife Abigail Pendulas, Aman Futures executives Fernando Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Eduard Lim, Wilanie Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez.
Based on the resolution filed in court by the Department of Justice, respondents were fully aware that Aman Futures was unable to secure the proper authorization from the Securities and Exchange Commission to engage in commodity futures trading, management of funds, or investments of any other kind.
The DOJ also noted that Co awarded Aman Futures with a temporary business permit even before the firm could. submit all the documentary requirements needed by the local government.
The DoJ also determined that Aman, in fact, never completed the submission of all documents it had promised to submit, including the secondary license it never obtained from the SEC.
“The positive assertion of complainant cannot overcome mere denial by respondent Co in light of the damage caused by the Aman Futures group. Co and Aman Futures Trading entered into an agreement whereby each investment in Aman will be taxed by the City of Pagadian at 4% making it appear to the public that Aman was a legitimate business,” the panel said.
The panel also said that Co’s act of entering into an agreement with aman futures to tax each investment at 4% was merely intended to make it appear that the firm’s transactions were legitimate and that Aman futures was engaged in legitimate business.
The DOJ said that because of the acts of Mayor Co, investors relied on his representations on behalf of Aman futures and led them to believe that the firm’s business was legitimate.
But Co, in his separate motion for judicial determination of probable cause, said the evidence against him was mere heresay.
“Mr. Labunog makes a bare allegation that there were taxes paid on the deposits to Aman Futures. He did not attach a receipt or any evidence showing that such a tax was paid. He did not show any act by Mayor co that links him to a tax paid,” Gatmaitan said.
The motion further pointed out that the resolution made the mistake of using the alleged payment of tax as evidence that Co clothed Aman with legitimacy.
“Tax payments are not evidence of fraud. It is evidence only of taxes paid, since taxes can be paid on any activity,” Gatmaitan said.
“The resolution erroneously finds that Mayor Co is an alleged agent of Aman and cites as proof a letter from Ms. Gan of Aman Futures appointing the respondent as an agent. There is no act of Mayor Co that shows this agency. There is no evidence that he collected money pursuant to any agency. The complaint does not allege any act by Mayor Co as an agent of Aman. In short the letter is mere hearsay and a bare unsubstantiated allegation,” Gatmaitan said.