MARIVELES, Bataan — The Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) has denied any involvement in an investment scam after six victims reported that they were lured into investing or financing almost PHP20 million in a construction business in the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) here.
Eliza Calimag, AFAB corporate affairs department head, said on Wednesday that they have received reports of individuals asking funds from persons to finance certain projects at FAB.
She said some of the victims are workers in one of the companies in the Freeport.
“Categorically, pinabubulaanan ng authority ang anomang involvement namin o ng opisina namin sa mga ganyang proyekto, ng ganyang aktibidades (Categorically, the authority denies any involvement or our office in such kind of projects or activities)” she told the media in an interview.
Calimag said funds for projects of AFAB come from the national government and some from the revenues of the authority itself.
“So no way na sisingil kami ng kahit ano sa mga ordinary mamamayan. Hindi pwedeng mangyari yon (So, there is no way that we will ask anything from the ordinary citizens. That will never happen),” she said.
She explained that projects of AFAB pass through a procurement process and laws strictly prescribe that contractors should have the capacity technically and financially to implement the undertaking, aside from being legitimate, with possessing licenses and accreditation from government.
“Hindi mangyayari na ang contractor hihingi ng suporta sa ordinary mamamayan (It will not happen that the contractor will ask support to the ordinary citizens). It is strictly between the contractor and AFAB,” Calimag said.
She reminded the public to be careful in transacting with people who introduce themselves as having connections with AFAB or even employees of the authority. She added that they are ready to attend to all complaints with regard any dubious investments.
“Pinaka-importante sa ngayon maiwasan na, hindi madagdagan ang nalilinlang nating mga kababayan (The most important thing as of now is to avoid having more people who would be deceived),” Calimag said.
Mariveles Mayor Ace Jello Concepcion said that about 20 individuals have already been duped of more than PHP20 million.
“Batay sa kuwento ng mga biktima, ang mga suspects nagsasabing may kontrata sila sa FAB, even sa local government unit at may ipinapakita umanong dokumento (Based on the story of the victims, the suspects claimed they have a contract with FAB, even with the local government unit and have shown documents),” he said.
Concepcion said he could not blame the victims for having the desire to earn.
“Kaya lang kapag ang offer is too good to be true, dapat magdalawang-isip. Kapag masiyadong malaki ang return of investments, mag-isip-isip na (However, if the offer is too good to be true, we must think twice. When the return of investments are too big, think it over),” he said.
Concepcion, who is a lawyer, advised the victims to file charges in court against the fraudsters.
One of the victims, Raechel Castro, said she and five others have filed a case of syndicated estafa against Judith Villanueva, Karen Provido and six others with the Bataan Prosecutors Office in Balanga City.
Castro said she “invested” PHP4.6 million while the others, PHP6.8 million, PHP4.4 million, PHP1 million, PHP300,000 and other amounts, totaling almost PHP20 million.
She said there are other victims who have not come out in the open.
The six complainants said they parted with their hard-earned money because the profit they were promised was as high as 20 – 30 percent of their investment in just 10 days.
“Kami ay nananawagan na sana maibalik kung ano kinuha nila sa amin. Ma-expose sana para hindi na sila makapaminsala sa iba. Anim lamang kaming naglakas-loob na magreklamo dahil ang ilan natatakot (We are appealing for the return of what they have taken from us. Hopefully, it will be exposed so that they could no longer harm others. We are only six who dared to complain because others feel afraid)” Castro said. (PNA)