4 accused in P3-B investment scam get 368-year prison term
Four members of a criminal syndicate have each been sentenced to up to 368 years in prison for operating a get-rich-quick scheme that defrauded their victims of some P3 billion nearly two decades ago.
Emilia Sison, Ireneo Sison Jr., Mirasol Aguilar and Marilo Cabalo were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of 23 counts of estafa, which each carried a maximum of 16 years imprisonment.
However, five other accused — former Supt. Ricardo Sison, William Sison, Lorna Bosque, Vilma Benitez and Elizabeth Cervera — were acquitted after the Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to present enough evidence to convict them.
In a 47-page ruling, Judge Jose Pineda of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 220 said that DOJ prosecutors, led by Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong, were able to prove that Emilia Sison and her accomplices ran a pyramid scam, which victimized mostly policemen and soldiers.
“This is a story of people wanting quick wealth on one side and people robbing off that wealth on the other side,” Pineda said in his Nov. 20 decision, which was released to the media by the DOJ last week.
“There [was] nothing that the defense had shown to overturn the strong evidence presented by the prosecution that accused were in no way authorized to sell securities except for accused Emilia Sison’s denial that they were involved in selling securities or investments,” he added.
“The strategy used by the accused … is akin to the so-called Ponzi scheme,” Pineda said, using the popular name of the unlawful scheme that promises unsuspecting victims a quick return on their investments due to high interest rates.
Court records showed that Emilia Sison and her cohorts were able to entice their victims to invest in ICS Export Inc. by promising them that their minimum investment of P50,000 would earn a monthly interest of 8 to 15 percent.
At the peak of their operations in the early 2000s, the group duped some 4,000 people of at least P3 billion.
Many of their victims were uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In addition to her penal term for estafa, the court sentenced Emilia Sison to another 10 years in prison for violating Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Act.
It also directed the accused to return P7 million in cash to the victims who filed the complaint against them.
“Clearly, what [Emilia Sison] had issued and offered to the public were notes that require a certificate of authority from the Securities and Exchange Commission before a certain company or the accused in this case could engage in such activity,” the court said.
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