MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine government respects Manuel Amalilio's conviction by a Malaysian court even as this now bars him from being brought back to the Philippines to face charges of syndicated estafa for an alleged multi-billion peso Ponzi scheme.
In a statement distributed to the media this morning, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the Philippine government will not question Amalilio's 2-year sentence for possession of an alleged fake Filipino passport.
"At the outset, I wish to underscore that our government respects the laws, legal processes and legal system of our ASEAN neighbor, Malaysia. We do not question now, nor do we intend to question in the future, the wisdom and validity of such processes and system in convicting the fugitive Manuel Amalilio under Malaysian laws," she said.
Malacañang also said it respects the conviction of Amalilio by a Malaysian court but said the Philippine government will exert efforts to bring Amalilio back to the country and face charges.
“At this point, we do not wish to question their legal process. Also we have very high regard for the legal processes of any country, not just of Malaysia but all of the countries that we have relations with,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
“While this development may be construed as a delay, it will not certainly deter our efforts to bring him back,” she added.
Valte said victims of the Aman Futures scam should not lose hope.
“At this point, hindi naman po sinasabing hindi na sila mabibigyan ng hustisya. Ipagpapatuloy pa rin po natin ang ating mga ginagawa para maibalik po. At katulad ng sinabi ni Seretary de Lima, we will continue our efforts to make sure that there is a fitting end to this story.”
Amalilio, founder of the Aman Futures Group, was sentenced by the Magistrate's Court in Kota Kinabalu last Monday to two years imprisonment, the jail term was supposedly higher but he was able to plea for a lighter term. He is facing charges in the Philippines for syndicated estafa for his firm's alleged P12 billion pyramiding scam.
De Lima said that Amalilio's conviction is not the end of the road for the Philippines' quest for justice but is a mere delay.
"We shall continue to explore and exhaust all available and reasonable means to bring him before the bar of justice in our country," she said.
The justice chief said she is confident that the Malaysian government is fully cognizant and appreciative of the Philippines' own quest for justice under Philippine laws.
Communication lines between the Philippine and Malaysian government remain open, she added, and a possible solution may be arrived at counting on the goodwill between the two nations. With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News