Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Celso de Los Angeles tries to avoid jail?

Why is Celso de los Angeles still not in jail? He's supposed to be in jail after a court issued a warrant of arrest against him? His lawyer, Atty. Noel Malaya says that Celso de los Angeles suffers from stage 4 cancer. Whatta? Celso got cancer after people got wind of his syndicated or Ponzi scheme? Like Joc-Joc Bolante before him, Celso went to St. Luke’s Medical Center to avoid incarceration. St. Luke’s Medical Center is really having the reputation of being the “safe haven” of big-time schemers and scammers in this country.

Unlike Joc-Joc though, Celso will have to face the music though. Joc-Joc escaped prosecution because he knows many things and his crime was simply gift-giving—giving many syndicate members at the DA and in this administration billions of pesos worth of liquid fertilizers. Celso’s case is different. Aside from having links only as far as the Vice President’s office, Celso scammed even his closest friends. If Joc-Joc got only 700 million pesos, Celso’s scheme netted him 14 billion pesos. Wow.

What’s surprising, Celso and his lawyers just discovered that he has cancer shortly after learning a judge ruled in his behest a few days ago? Remember that previous to this, Celso even went to Sto. Domingo town in Albay to “resume his duties as mayor”. Residents of Sto Domingo did not seem to know that he has cancer.Now, after a few days, he suddenly went sick. Wow. Talk about transformations.

Is Celso and his lawyers plan to “wait it out” for Celso to reach the age of 70 years old to avoid jail time? Under the law, the courts would be constrained not to incarcerate De los Angeles due to “humanitarian reasons”. Is that the reason for the hospital arrest?

I would just believe Atty. Noel Malaya’s words that this is not the case, if he’ll allow his client to spend his time in jail while waiting for his next chemotheraphy session.

By the way, I ask citizens of this country to arrest the following people if they see them. Under the law, every citizen has the right to make citizen's arrests of those people wanted by the law.

A local Northern Mindanao court issued the first set of warrants of arrest against De los Angeles and 7 former executives of the Legacy Group of financial companies, which victimized thousands of investors nationwide.

The regional trial court of Misamis Oriental issued a warrant of arrest dated July 8 against the following:

  1. Celso de los Angeles, Jr.
  2. Roy Hilario
  3. Edgardo Cando
  4. Christine Antenor Cruz-Limpin
  5. Namnama Pacetes-Santos
  6. Casilio Ponciano Carpio
  7. Eva Villapando
  8. Carolina Hinola

The lower court did not allow bail.

The arrest warrant was from a syndicated estafa case filed by Lilian O'Connor of Xavier Estates and Cagayan de Oro Judge Epifanio Nacaya and wife Florina. O'Connor is said to have lost millions of pesos and the Nacaya couple some "hundreds of thousands" from the Legacy companies' double-your-money-in-3-years scheme.

Cagayan de Oro city prosecutor Fidel Macauyag said the warrants of arrest for the additional 9 former Legacy executives are likely to be issued next week.

String of cases

De los Angeles and Legacy officers have been facing about 50 civil and criminal cases from various Legacy investors and clients at local courts in different parts of the country. (Read timeline here)

Financial market regulators Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Securities and Exchange Commission have filed over 10 syndicated and large scale estafa cases at the Justice Department.

Preliminary investigations are still ongoing at the Justice Department, which is leading the intra-agency Task Force Legacy, would then determine if the cases filed have merit before filing these in the courts.

The justice department, which is aggregating cases built up by the various regulatory agencies, has earlier issued an order addressed to all regional state, provincial, and city prosecutors that all cases filed against De Los Angeles be centralized in its Manila headquarters.

Only those cases filed in Cagayan de Oro were exempted.

Court filing costs—which were considered steep by some Legacy depositors and investors in Cagayan de Oro—have pared down the previous 26 complaints to 2.

Local Madoff

De los Angeles is alleged to have masterminded a financial scam involving public funds deposited in his 12 rural banks and invested in his 3 pre-need companies and get-rich-quick schemes through an intricate web of interlocking corporations. Some of the siphooned funds—collectively worth over P30 billion—made its way into businesses with questionable business plans.

Previous senate hearings have revealed that some of the money culled from the public have also funded De los Angeles' political campaign expenses and his alimony for his estranged spouse. Politicians have taken on the cause of Legacy depositors and pre-need plan holders--a number of them lowly rural folks whose lifetime savings evaporated in a snap.

Taxpayers will have to shoulder some P14 billion-worth of deposit insurance for Legacy rural banks' clients. The other Legacy investors will have to wait for liquidation proceeds of the companies' and Legacy officers’ assets—if the courts eventually convict them.

Overseas Filipino workers, military and police personnel, and even the government are among those caught in the Legacy mess.

De los Angeles, currently an Albay town mayor, has been touted as the local version of American billion-dollar swindler, Bernard Madoff. The disgraced Wall Street financier, who faced 11 criminal counts, has been recently sentenced to 150 years in prison.

De los Angeles, however, remained scott-free. Until now.

In April, De los Angeles said he has stage 4 throat cancer, thus cannot attend preliminary investigations and court hearings.