MANILA, Philippines - The government vowed it will get Manuel Amalilio back to the Philippines right after he faces similar cases of alleged fraud in Malaysia, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.
On the sidelines of the arrival of President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday, de Lima told reporters questions on Amalilio’s nationality are already “non-issues” as to why he was barred from returning back to the Philippines on Friday night.
She said even Malaysian authorities did not even dispute the citizenship of the alleged ringleader of Aman Futures, the firm that supposedly duped thousands of Filipinos of some P12 billion.
“I think the Malaysian police thought of addressing muna 'yung mga meron kasing nagsulputang na mga local complainants in Kota Kinabalu, so kailangan i-address muna nila 'yun. They needed to attend to those. They are going to process or they're going to evaluate 'yung mga complaints na yun na nagsulputan din bigla,” de Lima said.
She said the complaints could be due to a scam, allegedly headed also by Amalilio. “Nabiktima din sila,” she said.
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Nonnatus Rojas said Amalilio was all set to board a Cebu Pacific plane at the Kota Kinabalu airport on Friday night when a senior Malaysian official stopped him.
“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," Rojas had said.
On Saturday, Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas claimed it was chief minister of Sabah, Musa Aman, who stopped Amalilio from getting on the plane. “It was that vague. It’s not clear why Malaysian authorities stopped Amalilio from leaving,” Roxas said.
But there were also reports claiming that the reason Amalilio was not deported was because he is also a Malaysian national.
Asked if there are truth to rumors that Amalilio has backers in Malaysia, de Lima said: “Wala kaming validation na ganun…Of course may ganung mga usap-usapan, but we're careful in verifying that or in confirming that unless talagang ma-verify namin 'yan. At this point, I am not prepared to verify that kasi hindi namin alam yan na it is in fact upon an order of the chief minister na ini-stop.”
In a separate text message to reporters, de Lima nonetheless admitted that: “His (Amalilio’s) flight was blocked by Malaysian police commissioner on orders from ‘higher ups.’ As to exactly who are the 'higher ups' we still don't know.”
De Lima told reporters at the airport that steps are now being undertaken to bring Amalilio back to the Philippines. She said she won’t disclose what those steps are.
She said NBI agents will also go back to Malaysia once authorities finally release Amalilio.