Sabah chief minister blocked deportation, Roxas says
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Manuel Amalilio, founder and head of an investment firm at the center of an alleged P12-billion investment scam, was barred from boarding a plane back to Manila Friday night, according to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said Amalilio was all set to board a Cebu Pacific plane at the Kota Kinabalu airport when a senior Malaysian official stopped him from boarding the plane at the last minute.
"He was already in the custody of NBI operatives. He was already turned over by the Malaysian police. We were already at the airport, had passed immigration and just waiting to board when he was stopped from boarding the plane for unknown reasons at the last minute," he said in a radio dzMM interview.
Rojas said Malaysian police stopped Amalilio from boarding.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, in an interview on TV Patrol, idenified the senior Malaysian official as the chief minister of Sabah, Musa Aman.
"Ang nag-utos daw ay ang chief minister ng Sabah na siyang kinalalagyan ng Kota Kinabalu," Roxas told ABS-CBN's Noli de Castro.
"Nandoon nga po sila sa airport at hindi sila pinayagan sumakay sa Cebu Pacific flight patungo sa Manila," he reiterated.
"Sa totoo lang Kabayan, medyo malabo ang ibinigay na dahilan pero may itinuturo silang mga rekisitos o mga reglamento na parang kulang pa raw," Roxas said.
However, he stressed that Philippine authorities have all the papers proving Amalilio is a Philippine citizen.
Roxas said the government remains focused on bringing Amalilio back to the Philippines to face criminal charges.
"Tuloy po. Ginagawa po ang lahat, nakatutok po kami dito. Ang DFA, si Secretary Leila de Lima, yours truly, buong pamahalaan, nakatutok po rito," he said.
"Nakikipag-ugnayan na nga po through [Philippine] Ambassador Ed Malaya ng Pilipinas na stationed sa Malaysia na ma-thresh out, maayos ano mang gulo ito," he said. "Handa po tayo na gawin ang lahat ng dokumentasyon para mapatuloy iyung pagbalik dito ni Amalilio."
De Lima echoed Roxas' statement and described the incident at the Sabah airport as a temporary setback.
She stood by work done by the NBI team, and added that all the deportation papers of Amalilio were complete.
She said the NBI team brought documentary evidence to prove Amalilio is a Filipino. The documents include the Aman boss' birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office, his Philippine passport, and NBI clearance.
The NBI team that was sent to accompany Amalilio has already flown back to Manila, leaving Amalilio in the hands of Malaysian authorities.
He was brought back to the detention facility of Sabah police, with the Philippine embassy's police attache Senior Supt. Charlo Collado monitoring him.
De Lima said the NBI can send agents back to Sabah anytime to finally bring Amalilio back to the Philippines.
Amalilio, founder and head of Aman Futures Group, is facing several cases of syndicated estafa before the Pagadian Regional Trial Court for duping thousands of Filipinos in an investment scam.
He was arrested earlier this week in Kota Kinabalu after fleeing the Philippines at the height of the scam.
Amalilio uses the name Mohammad Suffian Saaid in Malaysia.
De Lima said Amalilio is considered a "high-risk detainee" after allegedly duping VIPs in his double-your-money scheme.
"He knows a lot; he would know exactly who these investors are. Based on the investigation of the NBI... may mga VIPs, may matataas na tao sa lugar na ‘yun, not just in Pagadian City, but nearby cities and municipalities, not just Zamboanga Del Sur, but nearby provinces," she said.
Amalilio will be served his arrest warrant for charges of syndicated estafa once he is on Philippine soil. He will be detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila under "appropriate security measures."
His co-accused and fellow Aman Futures officers Fernando R. Luna, Nimfa C. Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Eduard L. Lim, Wilanie L. Fuentes, Naezelle M. Rodriguez, Lurix Lopez, Dhurwin Wenceslao and Donna Coyme are under the custody of the NBI and have yet to be presented to the Pagadian City trial court. The trial court ordered their commitment to the local detention facility in Pagadian City while the cases are being heard.
Malacañang earlier said security will be tight for Amalilio to allow him to face the charges filed against him.
"The security will be very tight given na marami pong mga naging biktima itong Aman Futures scam na ito. Magandang balita ho na nasa kustodiya na po ng National Bureau of Investigation si Mr. Amalilio at... sana ito po ang maging paraan kung papaano mas bumilis ang gulong ng hustisya para doon sa mga naging biktima," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
Aman Futures victims saddened
Victims of the Aman Futures investment scam in Pagadian City were saddened by the failure to bring back Amalilio to the country from Malaysia.
Pagadian City Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mercedes Lourdes Quisimbing said she is disappointed with what happened.
However, she is still in high hopes that Amalilio will be imprisoned and the victims be given justice and be able to collect their investments back.
Almost everyone in Pagadian city who invested in Aman Futures felt bad about the failed return of Amalilio.
They call on authorities, particularly the National Bureau of Investigation, to go back to Malaysia and bring back Amalilio here in the Philippines so he can finally face the charges of syndicated estafa.
In Pagadian city, there are 11,000 complainants against Aman Futures officers. -- With reports from Ina Reformina and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Ronnie Enderes, ABS-CBN Iligan