NBI probe Marcos ‘legacy’ scammers
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday said he would order the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the activities of a group that lured thousands of people to the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on Saturday with promises of a P1-million share each from the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late strongman, has distanced his family from the gathering organized by One Social Family Credit Cooperative, describing the daylong event as “a scam, pure and simple.”
“We should not allow them to do what they are doing because they are fooling thousands of people. It’s not good,” Aguirre told the Inquirer. “We will prosecute those behind it if the evidence warrants.”
Told that a group using a similar modus operandi was charged with syndicated estafa by the NBI in 2013, Aguirre said he would direct the agency to check if the people linked to that case were the same people who organized Saturday’s event at UPLB.
“If they continued their activities, then I will confer with the NBI to update and check what happened to [the 2013] case,” he said.
Aguirre also urged those who wanted to sue the UPLB event organizers to go to the nearest NBI office and bring a complaint. “If there is such a criminal complaint filed, we will definitely act on it,” he said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also looking into the activities of One Social and Bullion Buyer Ltd. (BBL), which reportedly produced for the cooperative the pamphlets about Marcos’ “achievements” that were sold to the victims of the scam.
In March, the SEC issued a public advisory warning against the activities of BBL, which was reportedly operating in Baguio City, enticing investors with grants of P500,000 for “livelihood” programs. It said BBL had no license to solicit investments.
BBL is not registered as a corporation or partnership and therefore had no records at the corporate watchdog, SEC Secretary Arman Pan said.
One Social falls under the jurisdiction of the Cooperative Development Authority, but SEC Chair Teresita Herbosa said she would ask the agency’s enforcement and investor protection department to look into the group’s activities.
In a statement issued on Monday, the All UP Academic Employees Union-UPLB said the university should be held “accountable” for allowing the event on the campus.
Not only was the event a “scam” but it also turned into a platform for a “pro-Marcos propaganda,” the group said.
“Deceitfully packaged as a cooperative general assembly, the event turned out to be a public platform for pro-Marcos propaganda,” it said.
It accused the organizers of exploiting the poverty of the victims by promising them a share of Marcos’ “ill-gotten wealth.”
“Even worthier of indignation is the organizers’ dissemination of historical lies about the dictatorship as part of this ruse,” the union said, referring to the BBL pamphlet.
Among the victims interviewed by the Inquirer were tricycle drivers, vegetable vendors, public school teachers or village officials.
Aside from the P30 BBL pamphlet they paid for prior to the event, they said they were also asked to pay P10 each as “registration fee” for the gathering.
Billions for distribution
The cooperative’s “pay master,” who wanted to be identified only as “PD,” or “Pink Diamond,” claimed the group had P150 billion ready for distribution to its members.
She said the group also had at least $15.2 trillion deposited in various banks overseas.
Manuel Cereno Jr., the cooperative’s regional coordinator, said each member would get P500,000, to be given in tranches of P10,000 a month over four years.
He said the other half of the P1 million promised to members would go to the cooperative, which in turn would provide them with livelihoods.
Cereno said the cooperative could start the distribution before the year ended.
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