MANILA — The Philippine National Police on Tuesday said it arrested a suspect in a scam that allegedly offered government positions and contracts in exchange for huge sums of money.
The suspect, Edward Diokno, was arrested on Monday after authorities responded to reports of a man who allegedly pointed a gun on a motorcycle rider in Taguig City, said the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
"One unlicensed firearm and several other contraband" were confiscated from the suspect, CIDG-Metro Manila chief Col. Hansel Marantan said in a press conference.
Authorities later found that Eje was tagged in a Jan. 27, 2023 incident where 8 individuals went to Malacañang after receiving a letter from a certain "undersecretary" and "assistant secretary" who allegedly advised them of a scheduled "oath-taking" before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The group later found that the supposed oath-taking was a sham, Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) Executive-Director Gilbert Cruz said.
”We are encouraging other complainants to come out para let's put a stop dito sa mga ganitong scheme kasi masyadong nasusunog na yung OP (Office of the President), OES (Office of the Executive Secretary )and the Malacanang people na with this kind of scheme na nagagamit yung offices, mga government personalities na wala silang kamalay-malay these people,” Cruz said during the press conference.
After learning of the arrest of Eje's arrest, complainants, including several TV models and celebrities, went to the CIDG and gave their statements against the suspect.
Actress Rosanna Roces said the suspect had enticed her to invest in manpower management which will supposedly do cleaning around Parañaque City.
She said she and her business partner shelled out around P15 million to get a supposed government contract for the cleaning that would have earned them P5 million a month.
Roces said she and her associate did not doubt the suspect's legitimacy as a businessman due to the luxury cars and celebrities they saw during their meetings.
She said they recovered around P1.850 million from the amount they allegedly gave the suspect.
Meanwhile, actress Gwen Garci claimed she and her friends Maui Taylor and Geneva Silva each gave the suspect P1 million each for an investment on racing horses.
She said her friends got their money back while she did not.
“Una, ipakita niya kasi sa amin na marami siyang pera na halos lahat ng sa government siya nagtatrabaho, usec siya, kaibigan niya... Kunwari tatawag siya sa mga governor, congressman na binabayaran siya ng million and then para makuha loob namin and then after nun, iisipin namin big-time siya,” Garci said.
(He showed us that he had a lot of money and claimed he was involved with almost every government agency, that he was supposedly an undersecretary, and that he was friends with a lot of people. He pretended to call governors, lawmakers, and said he was paid millions to get our trust.)
Silva said the suspect also convinced her to invest in supposed government projects for the construction of bridges and supply of rubbing alcohol to the Department of Health (DOH).
"Last year yun nag-start, mga March 2022 and until now wala pa kahit binabawi ko na. Hindi pa rin niya binabalik [yung pera ko]. Tapos paiba-iba na siya ng number, bina-block na kami sa social media," she said.
(It started in last year, around March 2022 and nothing has come out of it until now. I tried getting my money back, but he has yet to return it. He kept changing his numbers and blocked us on social media.)
Lawyer Kristoffer Purisima spoke on behalf of his clients who were allegedly duped into paying money in exchange for an appointment to a government position.
“Ganun talaga ang modus, nagpapakita na maimpluwensiya siya, marami siyang kakilala sa Malacañang, marami siyang kayang gawin at humihingi ng pera kapalit ng puwesto, appointment [for] sale essentially," he said.
(That really is the modus, he pretends to be influential and know a lot of people in Malacañang and that he can do a lot of things. He asks for money in exchange for a government post, it's appointment for sale essentially.)
While he did not elaborate on the circumstances of the victims, he said his the positions offered to his clients included the Port of Batangas and Clark Development Corporation.
The CIDG's ongoing investigation seeks to identify other cohorts in the alleged scam.