GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 June) — Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided on Monday the house of a founder of an alleged religious group and two offices of a cooperative here and nearby Sarangani province that were reportedly operating illegal investment schemes.
Armed with search warrants, NBI teams simultaneously stormed around 1:30 p.m. the house of Pastor Joel Apolinario along Lilac Street in Block 7, Barangay City Heights here and the main office of Alabel Maasim Credit Cooperative (Alamcco) in Poblacion, Alabel town in Sarangani.
Another team, which is composed of agents from NBI-National Capitol Region, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Sarangani-General Santos district office, swooped in on the office of Alamcco here past 5 p.m.
The raids came two days after President Rodrigo R. Duturte ordered a crackdown against operators of various “pyramiding” investment schemes that have been proliferating in parts of the country, especially in Mindanao.
The President specifically directed the NBI and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to shut down the operations of Kapa Community Ministry International Inc., which was founded by Apolinario.
Kapa or Kabus Padatoon (poor will become rich), is a registered religious group that was earlier flagged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly soliciting investments in the form of donations and at a monthly interest rate of 30 percent.
Alamcco was also cited by SEC for accepting investments from the public and offering a monthly payout of 35 percent.
Members of the raiding teams did not issue any statement to reporters but showed copies of the search warrants, which were issued by Judge Marivic Umali of the Regional Trial Court Branch 20 in Manila.
The warrants were for violation of Section 23, in relation to Section 73, of Republic Act 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code.
Lawyer Riolen Gillesania, Apolinario’s counsel, told reporters that the raid mainly targeted documents and other materials that were supposedly used by Kapa to solicit investments from the public.
Apolinario and his family were not at the house during the search operation.
He said the NBI agents seized from Apolinario’s home some Kapa membership forms, a list of the group’s members with their cellphone numbers and three bullets found at the guard house.
Gillesania decried the conduct of the search at the house and a Toyota Land Cruiser owned by Apolinario that lasted more than two hours.
He cited the warrant wrongly identified the address of the house as the office of Kapa and referred to the entire Block 7 as the target of the operation.
“The warrant is defective, the search is illegal,” he said in an interview with reporters.
The lawyer said the search warrant has “no basis,” noting that Kapa is a religious organization and not engaged in soliciting investments from the public.
He said the Regional Trial Court Branch 35 here issued a writ of preliminary injunction last April and “upheld that Kapa is not engaged in trading of securities and only accepting donations and love gifts as part of its religious activity.”
“So this is an attack by the state against a religious group,” he claimed.
He said Kapa is just a victim of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s supposed maneuvering after losing some of its members to them.
Quiboloy raised the question about Kapa to President Duterte in a televised interview on Friday night.
Gillesania added that Kapa’s legal team will study the circumstances of the raid for the possible filing of counter-charges against the NBI and other concerned parties.
In Alabel town, NBI agents disarmed the five security guards of Alamcco during the search operation.
The group’s founder, Pastor Jerson Cagang, was not around during the raid, which triggered confusion among employees and Alamcco members gathered outside its compound.
A source, who requested anonymity, said the NBI team mainly searched for receipts, inventory sheets and other documents pertaining to the operations at the Alamcco main office and its branch here. (MindaNews)