Pagadian mayor ordered arrested but now in hiding


Pagadian City Mayor Samuel S. Co. Richel V.Umel/Inquirer Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines—Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co has gone into hiding after learning that an Iligan City court had ordered his arrest in connection with the P12-billion Aman Futures pyramiding scam, according to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Co quickly left a meeting with barangay leaders around 11 a.m. on Thursday, minutes after Judge Alberto Quinto released the arrest order against him and nine others, said Virgilio Mendez, the NBI deputy director for regional services.

“His informant could have informed him immediately because our arresting team carrying the order of arrest missed him by a few minutes,’’ Mendez said.

Aquino ally

Mendez said the NBI has sent out several teams to hunt down the mayor who is reported to have left Pagadian City.

Co, reportedly a political ally of President Aquino, is running for a congressional seat in Zamboanga del Sur under the ruling Liberal Party.

Citing the bureau’s informants, Mendez said Co had changed vehicles and gone into hiding.

“We will ask our men to explain how Co was able to leave quickly,” he added.

Ernesto Mondarte, a Zamboanga del Sur provincial board member, said Co “hastily left Pagadian City on Thursday afternoon.”

“He was in the middle of a meeting with his trusted barangay officials at the executive hall of Pagadian City when he received information he was to be arrested. He hastily left that meeting and Pagadian City,” Mondarte said.

The Inquirer repeatedly tried but failed to contact Co whose phone appeared to have been turned off. He did not reply to text messages either.


Direct involvement

The government has accused the Pagadian mayor of direct involvement in the scam, based on complaints filed by investors who accused him of having put up a company that operated like an authorized representative or sub-branch of Aman Futures.

Last month, the Department of Justice ordered the filing of a syndicated estafa case against Co and several others, including Aman Futures founder Manuel Amalilio, in connection with the fraudulent investment scheme that allegedly victimized some 15,000 people in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The DOJ said that Co had awarded Aman Futures with a temporary business permit even without submitting the pertinent documents required by the local government.

One of string of cases

Quinto’s arrest order against Co stemmed from a syndicated estafa case filed against him by Julius Labunog who claimed to have been defrauded of P29.63 million in the scam.

Also included in the arrest warrant, dated April 11, were Amalilio, who is now serving a two-year jail sentence in Malaysia for possession of fake travel documents, Aman executive Fernando Luna, and employees Lelian Lim Gan, Eduard Lim, Wilanie Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez, Lurix Lopez, Jerome Sanchez and Oliver Dequito.

No bail was recommended for their temporary liberty.


Placed on BI lookout list

Except for Amalilio, Sanchez and Dequito, the other accused are now under detention, for other cases filed by other victims of the scam, said Mendez.

The Bureau of Immigration on Friday issued a lookout bulletin against Co to prevent him from fleeing the country.

Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said immigration officers in all airports and seaports have been instructed to arrest Co should he attempt to leave the country.

Co’s photographs have been transmitted to the different ports for posting in all immigration departure counters, he said.

BI spokesperson Ma. Antonette Mangrobang also called on other law enforcement agencies operating in the airports to help the bureau ensure that Co is not able to leave the country.

“It is not only the duty of the BI to prevent wanted persons from fleeing the country. That is also the responsibility of other government agencies. So we appeal for teamwork,” Mangrobang said. With reports from Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao, and Jocelyn R. Uy

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • PinoyPinoyako

    Guilty, if not bakit tatago?

    Parang mga Reyes brothers and Gen Palparan na dapat lalabas ang authorities ng Shoot to kill order para lumabas ang mga linktik na ito.

    Hindi mahuli dahil me pera na pambayad sa mga huhuli, di ba?

  • tarikan

    The tribe is growing…fugitive from the DOJ. In no time perhaps the Philippines might rank numero uno again in FUGITIVES business. More fun?

  • Hey_Dudes

    Individuals like this fugitive mayor and too – Reyes brothers, do not and will not respect the country’s laws because they know with the right price, they can have the courts overturn adverse rulings in their favor. This more than anything is what’s wrong with our justice system in the country. Not only do they not rule their bailiwicks like the city or towns are their personal fiefdoms, they also treat the courts like these are taxi cabs who’s fare meter decides on what one need to pay.

  • wawa2172

    Before Koko activities made news as scam in Lanao, I just thought biglang yumaman ang mga taga Lanao, Marawi at Iligan dahil sa magagarang sasakyan running the streets of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro City. This happened after typhoon Sendong and as if nangungutya pa sa trahediya na nangyari sa twin cities. Well, Koko investment was a scam and nahuli na siya. The high end cars however are still roaming around Lanao and CDP na questionably ang LTO registrations and plates. With Aman, I was informed by some of my friends na legal daw ang invesment dahil my business permit na issued nang local government of Pagadian City. As if they are teasing me how corrupt are our leaders in Lanao reason nakakasama nang loob. Well, same with the Koko scam, Aman was also a mother of all scam. Maraming tao ang naloko at hindi na nakabawi. Mayor Co of Pagadian have the guts to even run for congressional seat under the Team PNoy banner. Well, not all candidates under the Liberal party are well screened pati hayok sa pera ay kasapi nang partido.

  • Val Sor

    He is just going to take a ferry boat to Sabah and get an asylum there LOL

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos