MANILA - The alleged brains behind a P12-billion scam that victimized thousands of people in Visayas and Mindanao is a Filipino and not a Malaysian, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday.
Manuel Amalilio, the founder of Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc., has an authentic Philippine passport and birth certificate, she said.
"As far as our documents are concerned, he is a Filipino. They were secured from official sources so there's presumption of validity and genuineness," de Lima told media.
She said Amalilio's alleged Malaysian nationality should not affect efforts to have him face criminal trial in the Philippines.
"We would not want this issue - peripheral or otherwise - to go out of proportion and possibly jeopardize our efforts to bring him back to the country," she said.
The government's main aim is to bring him back to the Philippines, she said.
De Lima, meanwhile, declined to comment on reports that Sabah's chief minister Musa Aman, a relative of Amalilio, blocked his deportation.
She said she does not want to harm the relations between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.
"We have good relations and we don't want these issue to complicate our efforts," de Lima said.
"We assure the people that we are taking steps and efforts towards that end of making sure that he faces the bar of justice before the Philippine justice system," she added.
Malaysia's opposition head Anwar Ibrahim earlier revealed the blood ties between Amalilio and Musa.
"Yes, his mother is Musa's first cousin. Amalilio's real name is Kamal bin Said, born in Beaufort, Sabah," he was quoted as having said.
"The mother is Zubaidah Omar, cousin of Chief Minister Musa Aman," Anwar said. "Haji Aman (Musa's father) and Haji Omar (Zubaidah's father) are brothers."