MANILA – Is it an investment or a donation to a religious ministry?
According to Al Vitangcol, legal counsel for Kapa Community members, those who join the organization are not promised a return on investment but "blessings" for donating to a religious cause.
He said no promise was made that Kapa members would get a 30-percent return or "blessings" for their donations to the ministry.
"In the deed of donation, there is no specification that it will be given a 30 percent return. In fact, in their regular ministry work it is simply said that they will be receiving blessings which is very common among all religious organizations," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
He said members sign deeds of donation to help the ministry implement programs to help the poor. The certificate of membership, he said, states that the ministry's programs cannot be implemented without money.
Kapa, a religious group, had been accused of masterminding one of the country's biggest investment scams.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered authorities to arrest officials of the corporation over investment scam allegations. The founder of the group, Pastor Joel Apolinario, has gone into hiding.
The Securities and Exchange Commission earlier said Kapa defrauded members of as much as P50 billion. It said Kapa promised billions of pesos to its members, but the group's assets cannot back up such claims.
Kapa accepted investments, which it dubbed as "donations" of no less than P10,000 from each of its members, the SEC said.
In return, Kapa promised a monthly interest rate of 30 percent, dubbed as "blessings" by the group.
In comparison, the top performing mutual fund in the country only yielded returns of 9 percent for a whole year.
Vitangcol, who is not a Kapa member, said he came on board to represent some members of Kapa Ministry who are also members of the organization Ahon sa Kahirapan Movement.
He said Kapa members believe the Security and Exchange Commission has no jurisdiction over activities within the religious group.
"The members of the Kapa Ministry are in favor of the continued operation of Kapa and they do not believe that it is an investment scam particularly since Kapa Ministry is a religious organization so whatever activities they have within the ministry is supposedly insulated from the prying and meddling of the state," he said.
He added some members want Kapa to continue "so that they would be able to continue with their daily lives particularly for those who are depending on the help coming from the Kapa Ministry."
"I don't know the internal operation of Kapa Ministry and I'm basing it on what the members have witnessed so according to them there are several businesses that are earning big and it is from these big businesses that the blessings are coming from," he said.