DoJ forms panel for KAPA estafa complaint

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has formed a five-member panel to handle the syndicated estafa complaint filed against officials of Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc. (KAPA) in connection with its alleged investment scam. In the order signed by Prosecutor-General Benedicto A. Malcontento, the prosecuting panel is composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Ma. Lourdes C. Uy, Consuelo Corazon M. Pazziuagan, Xerxes U. Garcia, and Jeanette M. Dacpano, and Associate Prosecuting Attorney Luis Miguel A. Flores. The National Bureau of Investigation and three KAPA investors filed eight counts of syndicated estafa last July 8 against 14 KAPA officials, including its founder, Joel A. Apolinario. Aside from the syndicated estafa, it was also recommended that they be charged for violating Section 8 (Requirement of Registration of Securities) and Section 26 (Fraudulent Transactions) of the Securities Regulation Code. The complainants said KAPA and its officials are involved in a pyramiding investment scam, with the characteristic of a “Ponzi scheme.” The three investors claim that they invested a total of P575,000 to KAPA, which they tried but failed to recover following news on the organization’s alleged illegal operations. Preliminary investigation is also ongoing on the complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against KAPA and eight officials. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Pag-IBIG Fund says system improvements address 8888 hotline concerns

CONCERNS DIRECTED to the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) through the nationwide 8888 Citizens’ Hotline Complaint Center dropped 74% in the first half of 2019 as system improvements have been able to address most cases, the government agency said. In a statement on Tuesday following the President’s State of the Nation Address, Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario, chairperson of the Pag-IBIG Fund Board of Trustees and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said 99% of received concerns have been resolved. “We concur with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte when he said that much has to be done in ensuring responsiveness to people’s needs. And while Pag-IBIG Fund made the list of the agencies that need to improve service delivery, it gives us the chance to shine light on our advancements. Because in the last two years, we have been monitoring 8888 calls closely and I’m happy to report that 99 percent of all calls are already resolved,” he said. The agency also noted that about 50% of the calls “are not complaints but are actually inquiries or requests for assistance regarding their records.”

Cyber-libel trial vs Ressa starts with 2 witnesses

THE TRIAL for the cyber-libel charge against Maria A. Ressa, chief executive officer and executive director of online news site Rappler, started Tuesday with the two witnesses for the complainant taking the stand. The case, which also involves a former Rappler researcher, was filed by businessman Wilfredo D. Keng. Presented as witnesses before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 were Marcelino Malonzo, a reader of the assailed article, and National Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Christopher M. Paz. “When you present evidence… it’s more on the facts, when it comes to whether or not there is a crime of libel, it’s up to the judge already to determine. So right now since we’re in trial, we’re establishing the facts to constitute the elements of the crime of libel,” Mr. Keng’s lawyer, Joseph L. Banguis, told reporters after the hearing. In a statement, Ms. Ressa said: “I have faith that there are enough men and women inside our justice system who will uphold the spirit of the law — not just in this case but in those that aim to use the law to intimidate others.” Mr. Keng is suing over a Rappler article in 2012 stating that he, the alleged owner of vehicle used by former chief justice Renato C. Corona, is linked to illegal activities. The next hearing is set July 30. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas