Pagadian mayor blames politics for Aman Futures raps

By David Dizon,

Posted at Nov 27 2012 01:43 PM | Updated as of Nov 27 2012 09:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co on Tuesday said politics is behind the allegations that he is involved in the P12 billion pyramiding scam of Aman Futures Group.

Speaking to ANC, Co denied the alleged statement of Aman Futures Group finance manager Donna Coyme that he gave P30 million as start-up capital to the group, which was founded by suspect Manuel Amalilio.

"How can she say that I gave P30 million when in her affidavit, she just came in last July and the operation started last February? " he said in an ANC Dateline Philippines interview.

He also rejected alleged documentary evidence that he served as an agent of Aman Futures starting in August.

"On the documents, these are all about politics in our province because I am running for Congress. Our governor is the one who is behind all of this, Gov. Antonio Cerilles, together with [Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Victor] Yu," he said.

"How come I do not have a copy of that? Sila lang ang may kopya. They're fabricated because the signature of Manny Amalilio is very easy [to forge]," he added.

Co also rued why he is being singled out by authorities when the scam also operated in Manila, Cebu, Dipolog and Ozamiz City.

The mayor also noted that the lawyer of one of the 5 Aman Futures board members is allied with Cerilles. The 5 Aman Futures board executives - Leila Lim Gan, Edmund G. Lim, Wilanie Fuentes, Nazelle Rodriguez, and Lurix Lopez - surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation last Sunday.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said authorities are set to file a criminal complaint against Co for his alleged role in the scam.

The justice chief said that while Co is a complainant and victim in the scam, she also noted that the DOJ cannot junk available evidence "both documentary and testimonial, pointing to his participation or involvement."

Co has repeatedly denied backing the Aman Futures Group, saying that he lost at least P5 million in the scam.

A firefighter, FO1 Fabian Tapayan Jr., earlier said he delivered his P15 million investment for Aman Futures to Co's house before the entire pyramiding scam collapsed.

A victim but also an investor

In the interview, Co again reiterated that he could not shut down the business because of possible backlash from his constituents who were earning so much.

"It is not about the vote but the will of the people not to close it," he said.

He admitted that while he repeatedly warned constituents about the dangers of pyramiding, he also invested in the scheme after issuing the group a temporary business permit because he was attracted to the gains.

"I invested because I knew the people will see our opponent was also investing. Our group also kept pressuring me - 'Mayor, you have to invest also because what if Aman could hold their operation until election time? If you had P5 million, it would become P1.2 billion in 8 months' time. The difference is big so I had to gamble," he said.

The mayor said he will not go on voluntary leave during the investigation of the scam.

"This is not about governance, it has nothing to do with governance. This is a private action. It doesn't need participation of the government, Why would I file a leave? I am willing to cooperate and contradict all their lies," he said.