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4 police execs, 9 others cleared in GenSan investment scam case

October 19, 2020 - Monday 10:10 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image CLEARED. Col. Manuel Lukban (in photo), the former chief of the Police Regional Office’s (PRO)-12 directorial staff, and 12 other police officials and personnel were finally cleared by the Department of Justice-City Prosecution Office in General Santos City of any involvement in a nearly PHP2.2 billion investment scam. Lukban, now chief of the Philippine National Police- Directorate for Police Community Relations, says he was relieved that the “truth finally came out” and said he supports any further investigation that will unmask the people who benefited from the scam. (File photo courtesy of PRO-12)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Office of the City Prosecutor has dismissed the syndicated or large-scale estafa charges filed against four police officials and nine other personnel in connection with a nearly PHP2-billion investment scam here.

Lawyer Alvin Lamata, acting city prosecutor, junked the complaints against the accused in separate omnibus resolutions due to the lack of “probable cause” and “insufficient evidence”.

Cleared were Col. Manuel Lukban, former Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 directorial staff chief; retired Col. Raul Supiter, former city police director; Lt. Col. Henry Biñas, former deputy city police director for administration; Maj. Patrich Elma; and, nine other non-commissioned and non-uniformed personnel.

Lawyer Nena Santos, the counsel of Lukban, Supiter, and Biñas, confirmed over the weekend the dismissal of the case against her clients and the other accused personnel, who were relieved from their posts in March last year.

The three were accused to have conspired and backed the operations of defunct investment scheme PlanProMatrix/Pulis Paluwagan Movement (PPM), which reportedly victimized hundreds of police personnel and civilians in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

“(They were actually) the fall guys of the investment scam,” Santos said in a statement.

The prosecution initially granted last Aug. 10 the motion for reconsideration and dismissal of the charges filed by Supiter, Biñas and co-accused Master Sergeants Ernie and Cheryl Semino, Cpl. Daisy Babe Javierto, and Elizabeth Isidro.

On Sept. 30, it also issued the same resolution for the cases of Lukban, Elma, Rodelyn Bombita, Cpl. Precious Gay Pilones, Wiena Dablo, Rowena Muyga, and Liza Jane Prieto.

As cited in the motions, Lamata said there could have been no probable cause to indict the respondents for syndicated estafa considering that their participation in the crime was not specifically stated in the complaints.

He said the complaints grossly failed to establish conspiracy among respondents based on the filed cases.

To be considered as a co-conspirator, he said the respondents must have performed overt acts in furtherance of their conspiracy, which was not shown by the complainants.

“In sum, the totality of evidence adduced by complainants in grossly insufficient to establish the existence of conspiracy among the respondents in committing the crime charged,” Lamata said.

He added that the respondents were not also accused as members of the board of directors or even considered as employees and agents of PPM.

Lukban, current chief of the Philippine National Police-Directorate for Police Community Relations, said he is happy that the “truth finally came out”.

“God knows that I was not the one who led that investment scam and was just wrongfully accused,” he told PNA in a phone interview.

The official, who was placed on “floating status” until recently, said he suffered so much from the ordeal “personally and professionally”, and it also affected his family.

He expressed willingness to back any further investigation to “unmask the real ones who benefited from this scam”.

The PPM was started by its alleged founder Mark George Naval in the city in late 2018 and rapidly expanded to other areas until its collapse in February last year.

Most of its recruits were policemen, who were lured into investing their money for interests of up to 120 percent a month.

In March, a local court ordered the arrest of Naval and several other personalities based on five counts of syndicated estafa charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. Richelyn Gubalani

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