Court orders arrest of Pagadian City mayor
(UPDATED) PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines - A Regional Trial Court (RTC) has issued a warrant of arrest on Thursday, April 11, against Pagadian City Mayor Sammy Co and several others in relation to their alleged involvement in the Aman Futures scam.
The arrest warrant was issueed by Judge Alberto Quinto of Branch 1 of the RTC of Lanao del Norte in relation to its syndicated estafa case.
But the arrest warrant was not served on Mayor Co. A few minutes before the arresting team could serve the warrant, Mayor Co left for a meeting.
National Bureau of Investgation (NBI) Deputy Director for Regional Services Virgilio Mendez hinted at the possibility that an informant may have alerted Co of the warrant giving him the chance to leave.
In a radio interview on Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte urged Mayor Co to face the charges in court. She said the Mayor still had a chance to prove his innocence.
Valte said the warrant of arrest will give Mayor Co a chance to present his defense and that hiding or running away from the charges will not help him at this time.
"When it comes to cases like these, the best avenue for someone to prove his innocence or to present his defense is by facing the charges in court," Valte said.
"Hindi naman ho nakakatulong ‘yung tumatakbo or nagtatago. Kung mayroon po kayong warrant, harapin nyo nalang po ‘yung mga kasong isinampa po laban sa inyo (It will not help if you run away or hide. If you have a warrant, face the charges filed against you)," she added.
Mayor Co's counsel Atty. Trixie Angeles, for her part, dismissed speculations that Co is in hiding. In an interview with Cebu Daily News, Angeles said that Co is still in Pagadian City.
She also said in the same interview that their camp is planning to file a motion for reconsideration contesting the arrest warrant issued.
However, as of this writing NBI still could not locate Mayor Co.
On Saturday, April 13, allies of the Mayor from the Liberal Party-Nacionalista Party Coalition of Zamboanga del Sur led by his wife and Pagadian Mayoralty candidate Priscilla Ann "Ilang-Ilang" Co and Congressional Candidate Marjorie Jalosjos rallied in support of Mayor Co.
The Aman controversy
The syndicated estafa case was filed against Mayor Co in relation to his alleged involvement as an agent in the P12 billion pyramid scam. The scam duped 15,000 people in Visayas and Mindanao.
More than 11,000 complaints have been filed against Aman Futures so far. Co has repeatedly denied his involvement insisting that he too was a victim of the scam
Co accused his political rival Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Antonio Cerilles, as the one who initiated the different cases filed against him to destroy his reputation.
Aman Futures started operating in February in 2012 in wet markets and with vendors and tricycle drivers as initial investors. - Rappler.com
James Annjo Salomon is a Rappler mover from Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.