MANILA, Philippines - Budget Secretary Butch Abad on Wednesday confirmed there were some politicians who invested in Aman Futures, the trading firm currently being investigated for being behind a P12-billion pyramid scam.
"Without mentioning names, merong mga naglagay. Pinag-aaralan pa nga baka merong nangapital pero wala hong kaduda-duda na merong naglagay," Abad said on DZMM's Failon Ngayon.
"Kailangan din nating alamin kung yung inilagay nila ay personal nilang pera o pera ng LGU (local government unit). Yun ang hindi pa po maliwanag," Abad clarified.
The Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Interior and Local Government are all looking into Aman Futures which has preyed on thousands of victims across the Visayas and Mindanao.
From farmers to local vendors, government officials were among those reported to have been duped by said trading firm.
Abad stressed that LGUs cannot use any portion of their internal revenue allotment (IRA) in any form of investments.
"Hindi pwedeng ilaro sa money market. Bawal na bawal po yan," he said, commenting on news reports that said some LGUs used their IRA to invest in Aman Futures.
IRA pertains to a portion of national taxes that is given to LGUs. Under the 1991 Local Government Code of the Philippines, the funds should be used for a province or municipality's development projects, general administrative costs and operating expenses.
"Ang IRA ay may pinaglalaanan yan. Hindi bababa sa 20% dapat ang para sa development projects--halimbawa pagpapagawa ng health centers o pagpapaayos ng mga kalsada o yung local roads," Abad said.
"Yung nalalabi ay dapat ilagay sa kakailanganing sweldo ng mga kawani sa munisipyo o probinsya at yung iba naman para sa operating expenses--kung kailangang bumili ng gasolina, bond paper," he added.
LGUs who tapped their IRA for reasons other than what is allowed under the law may face grave consequences, Abad said.
"Hindi ko tiyak kung anong klaseng krimen yan pero sigurado akong merong pananagutan... mabigat po ang pananagutan dyan," Abad said.
"Pwede mo lang ilagay sa bangko habang hinihintay na gamitin pero hindi mo pwedeng isugal yan maski sa stock market o money market," he continued.
Moreover, Abad said that LGUs who have known of the scam beforehand should also be liable to the public if they did not report it to authorities or do anything to stop it.
"Kailangan sa unang pagkakataon na malaman mong scam yan, bilang isang opisyal, obligasyon mong patigilin yan kaagad-agad dahil mabibiktimang mamamayan," Abad said.