MANILA, Philippines - Huge amounts of local government funds were allegedly used by local officials in Mindanao to invest in Coco Rasuman Investment Group, a larger pyramiding scam than Aman Futures gripping Northern Mindanao.
Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao deputy governor Norodin Lucman said he received reliable information that a number of local government units in Lanao del Sur used their internal revenue allotment (IRA) to invest in the group owned by Jachob "Coco" Rasuman for the purpose of making money out of government funds.
He said drug money was also allegedly used to invest in Rasuman Group.
Lucman said victims of the Rasuman scam came from Marawi, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato.
“Public funds in our place are treated like a private bank account. Government has to look into these public funds,” he said.
Lucman's own clan, which consists of several politicians in Northern Mindanao, was also duped by the Rasuman group with over P100 million in investments.
Rasuman's wife is Princess Tomawis whose father is Southern Philippine Development Authority chairman Jerry Tomawis. Lucman said Tomawis is the brother of Alif partylist Rep. Acmad Tomawis.
What alarms Lucman is the possibility of lawlessness within Northern Mindanao when people start to take matters in their own hands in an attempt to recover their money.
"Unlike in Pagadian where guns are controlled, here loose firearms are in the thousands,” Lucman said.
He urged the government to map out a security plan to avoid the possible security nightmare.
He also asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government to check on the financial accounts of the local government units in Northern Mindanao.
"If Secretary [Mar] Roxas wants to do something, he has to get the right persons,” he said.
Roxas previously ordered LGUs in Zamboanga Peninsula to submit financial accounts due to alleged involvement in the Aman Futures Scam. The business offices used by Rasuman in Iligan are now abandoned as well as the Rasuman mansion that was newly built early this year.
Lucman believes an estimated P2.5 billion worth of cash is still in the hands of Rasuman and have not been deposited in any commercial bank. He said the money is not enough to pay off more than P12 billion in debt to Rasuman investors.