DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – Mati City fisherman Felixberto Caponahan said he filled out a form in April to become a member of a group that promised aid the moment then-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wins and assumes office.
Eight months later, Caponohan is still hoping that the JTS-JE group would fulfill its promise to deliver the livelihood aid it promised from Marcos in exchange for his P300 membership fee.
JTS-JE is all over social media, giving instructions on how to fill out its forms and what requirements to submit so they would be entitled to benefits.
On social media, it presented itself as a foundation with an office in Davao City, but there are indications its operations extended beyond the Davao Region such as in General Santos in Soccsksargen.
Caponahan pointed to a blank membership form and told Rappler: “I filled this out in April, at the height of the election campaign period. I and all of my neighbors paid P300 each as membership fees.”
Like two other groups – Maharlika and United BBM Loyalist International – JTS-JE issued no receipts and “just told us to trust them to distribute financial assistance from Bongbong Marcos as soon as he became the president,” Caponahan said.
Needless to say, the JTS-JE’s promise meant votes from its recruits.
Davao Region police director Benjamin Silo Jr. ordered on Thursday, December 15, a region-wide investigation into the recruitment and collection of fees from people by Maharlika and United BBM Loyalist International.
Silo’s order came a day after Rappler reported how the two groups allegedly spun the narrative about the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth to entice thousands of mostly impoverished people to pay fees ranging from P500 to P1,000 each supposedly in exchange for financial returns of as much as P500,000 per member.
But unlike the two groups, JTE-JE promised livelihood aid of P50,000 to P100,000 each from Marcos, to be sourced out from his family’s wealth, said several of the group’s recruits in Davao Oriental.
The recruitment activities have been going on for some time in public, at times even in covered courts, and on social media.
Videos and photos posted on Facebook showed large gatherings in covered courts, and at least on Youtube in November, gave specific instructions on how to apply.
As early as October, Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy cautioned against a group distributing JTS-JE membership forms and promising aid in his city’s villages, reported local broadcaster DXDN-Radyo Ukay.
After the May elections, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) office in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, also warned about a group that has been collecting membership fees ranging from P150 to P200 each with a promise of aid from Marcos.
Recruiters in government?
JTS-JE members in Mati who spoke to Rappler said the recruiters included government employees who made the group appear as a credible organization.
“I know some employees of the government here who are among the top recruiters of JTS-JE. One of them is an employee of the local government,” according to fish vendor Castrudez Emmanuel.
A JTS-JE recruiter, who spoke to Rappler on condition of anonymity on Friday, December 16, said the group based in Davao City promised her and other Mati-based recruiters a monthly compensation of P5,000 each since January.
“I was asked to recruit many people, but I did not ask a single centavo from them. After the orientation, I just provided my recruits with membership forms for them to fill out. Not a single centavo was collected from them. I did not ask for money from my recruits. As instructed, I just told my recruits that they would get financial assistance from the Marcos family,” she said.
Now, she said she started to doubt if JTS-JE is what it claims it is after months of working for that group.
She added: “Today, I cannot say whether JTS-JE is a legitimate charity arm of the Marcos family because they have not even refunded yet the money that I spent traveling to Davao City for a week-long seminar on how to recruit members. They promised to pay us for our work but we have yet to get any amount.”
Caponahan said he was already aware of groups like Maharlika and the United BBM Loyalist International but chose JTS-JE because it was the first to recruit members in his village.
JTS-JE required more detailed information from applicants and their family members.
“Aside from the P300 that we each paid as a membership fee, we were asked by JTS-JE to submit family portraits so we could all avail of financial assistance from the Marcos family,” said Annaliza Jalandoni of Barangay Sentral in Mati City.
Applicants were required to submit four 1×1 photos against a specified royal blue backdrop, and copies of their valid identification cards. They were also asked to write down their full names, ages, birth dates, home addresses, medical statuses, and mobile phone numbers.
A copy of a JTS-JE membership form shows a column for names and a note that reads: “This is to certify that the following names are entitled of (sic) different and more benefits.” – Rappler.com