PUNTO DABAWENYO: The other side of the fence on investment scam issue

There are always two sides of a coin.

In the hottest issue on investment schemes, the government has already stated its side invoking the principle of parens patriae or its responsibility to protect its citizens.

True indeed, the state is merely protecting the citizens who we know are being victimized by the Ponzi scheme which is known internationally as a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors.

So this scam is not new, and the state knows the ending even before it started thus its decision to invoke the parens patriae principle. That is the side of the government. Now let’s look at the other side of the fence – the “willing victims”.

Most, if not all, of the investors in the investment scheme companies or religious group know beforehand that there is no 100% assurance that their investments would be fully returned to them. As the advertisement of most questionable investment companies say, “for risk-takers only”.

That alone, is enough for me to think twice on putting in my money to these companies. But the lure of X4, X5, and even X6 return of investment in such a short time is simply too strong to resist.

I know a friend who invested a total of P175,000 in almost all of the investment companies in the Davao Region. This friend of mine is merely an employee who earns less than P20,000 a month and yet was able to come up with such a huge amount of money to invest.

For what? For the promise of a huge return and his ardent desire to buy a car for himself. That, my friends, is why so many are becoming “willing victims” in this trade.

My friend already received a payout of P100,000 and instead of keeping it, he again invested the whole amount for it to “grow” even bigger. When the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to close all illegal investment schemes operating in the country came, all of my friend’s contact in various investment companies have told him that they are temporarily suspending their operations.

This friend of mine is a well-educated man who dabbles as a journalist and a teacher at the same time. He knows the intricacies of a Ponzi scheme and yet he became a “willing victim” all because of the lure of huge returns.

They said it is because of “greed” that many fell victim to the scam. But I chanced upon one Facebook post that says, it actually is not because of greed. It is because of “relief”, especially to the poorest of the poor.

Allow me to re-post this statement of one John Vianne Bauya Murcia:
“You may call it greed. But for the poorest of the poor, they call it relief.
They rely on it as their only way to bring delicious meal they haven’t tasted for years. They use it to bring their apos in Jollibee after a long travel from the uplands. They used it to pay for their medicines on a monthly basis. They used it to send their kids to school because their income from a small sari-sari store and labada couldn’t meet both ends.
It’s not greed. It’s a glimmer of hope. It’s light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.
Don’t be insensitive. Don’t be callous. Because you never experienced to be in their place.”

Many willing victims of these investment scams, especially those from the so-called religious group KAPA (Kabus Padatuon), are now appealing to President Duterte to allow the operation of their group considering that they have been in operation for the past 3 years now and that not a single member is complaining, allegedly.

Members credit KAPA for somehow uplifting their economic status with the 30% return of investment they continually receive since they joined the group. KAPA boasts of 5 million members all over the Philippines and abroad courtesy of the OFWs.

Now this 5 million members are threatening to pull out their support to the Dutertes come 2022. If they make good of their promise, this could be a huge swing vote. No wonder, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is very calculating in her statement when asked about the sentiments of the people affected by her father’s order.

“Dili ko magcomment about sa feeling sa tao because there is no right or wrong sa feeling sa usa ka individual, so I cannot comment on that,” Sara was quoted as saying.

This goes to show that there is more to the issue than simply protecting the welfare of its citizens. This goes deeper down to the core of the perennial problem of poverty.

As the English poet William Cowper once said, “No man can be a patriot on an empty stomach”.

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