PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines—Under heavy guard from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police, the president and other executives of the fraudulent investment company Aman Futures were arraigned Thursday for syndicated estafa.
Manuel Amalilio, the suspected brains behind the investment pyramiding scam, is now detained in Malaysia for possessing a fraudulent Malaysian passport and identification cards.
Hundreds of angry victims of the widespread Ponzi scheme in Mindanao and the Visayas showed up at the Pagadian City Hall of Justice in an attempt to talk to the suspects, particularly Fernando Luna, the company’s former driver and janitor who rose to become the president and manager of Aman Futures.
“I want to talk to him and ask him what happened to our hard earned money,’’ said Rudy Asis, president of a public market vendors association.
Asis said his group had invested and reinvested their money to Aman through Luna.
The accused were brought to Pagadian City for their day in court.
Luna and his wife Nimfa entered a not guilty plea before Pagadian City Regional Trial Court Branch 30 Judge Dennis Vicoy for two separate cases of syndicated estafa filed against them by their victims.
Leilan Gan Lim, Eduard Lim, Naezelle Rodriguez, Wilanie Fuentes, Lurix Lopez and Donna Coyme also pleaded not guilty.
The arraignment proceeding was stretched to close to an hour as a court staff had to translate the five-page charge earlier read in English to the Visayan dialect to ensure that the Lunas who acted as managers of the company responsible for the P12-billion investment scam understood the charges against them.
Vicoy said in an interview that he will not grant the motion for inhibition filed by the lawyers of the accused.
He also denied that he was among those who invested in Aman Futures.
“I was assigned here in September last year and by then the company had already collapsed,’’ Vicoy said.
Some of the victims who failed to talk to Luna turned to the authorities who provided security to the suspects.
“Why are their faces covered and are made to experience the hospitality of high security? We want to see them and we want them to answer us,’’ said a man who claimed to have sold his goats and carabao to invest in the company.
“Nonoy (Luna) was once like a king here and now he can’t even face us,’’ he said.
He added that Amalilio was rarely seen in Pagadian.