De Lima refuses to get dragged into Amalilio’s family connections in SabahBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Lest complications arise in the government’s bid to have Manuel Amalilio deported to the country, the Department of Justice is ignoring reports that the man behind a P12-billion investment scam is related to Sabah’s chief minister.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima insisted Amalilio, whose return from Malaysia was aborted at the last minute last month, was a Filipino and said she did “not want to be dwelling” on reports he was related to a top official of Sabah, where he had fled since last year to escape prosecution.
“I hope that you understand that my only mission, our only mission in so far as the Philippine authorities are concerned as directed by the President is to ensure the return of Mr. Amalilio here by whatever means legally possible and according to the principles of comity and reciprocity under international law because the Philippines and Malaysia are friendly nations,” she told reporters.
The justice secretary said her office would not want to be dragged into controversies that “might complicate” things.
She stressed the documents on Amalilio’s Filipino citizenship came from official sources and therefore, “there is a presumption of validity, of genuineness.”
De Lima also made it clear Amalilio’s nationality had never been an issue when authorities first coordinated for his deportation with their counterparts in Malaysia.
The justice secretary said that reports on Amalilio’s impending deportation had elicited the interest of some people. She did not elaborate.
“We assure the people that we are taking steps and efforts towards that end of making sure that he faces the bar of justice before the Philippine justice system,” she said.
Most of Amalilio’s co-accused in syndicated estafa cases filed in connection with the Aman pyramid scam are now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.
Meanwhile, the panel of special prosecutors tasked to handle the Aman cases have started preliminary investigation hearings on complaints filed against Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co. But Co and his lawyer did not show up in the first hearing on Jan. 30 held at the DOJ, according to Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela, who heads the special team of prosecutors.
Valenzuela said they have scheduled two more PI hearings on Feb. 7 and 13.