Worse than the Kapa scam

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok - CDN Digital | November 03,2019 - 06:40 AM

When my article (“Bank manager in Cebu absconds with millions of pesos in depositors’ money; set to face charges”) appeared in CDN Digital last October 29, 2019, some netizens took me to task for not identifying the subject bank.  For the information of everybody, I actually named the bank in the news article but in compliance with media protocol my editor, Ms. Edralyn Benedicto withheld it pending the bank’s response to the allegations. 

I understand the bank has not issued any statement on mounting complaints by depositors at its Capitol and Jones Avenue branches but the day of reckoning maybe at hand as two clients already lodged a case before the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas.  Meanwhile, at least 10 other victims have sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation and are about ready to file criminal charges.  Once the cases are filed in courts the information becomes public.  Still, the subject bank cannot keep its profile lower than low for long.  Following my colleague in SunStar Cebu, Atty. Ellie Espinoza who shared the info of the bank’s ID via text, I shared the same through private messages with people who kept asking me.  

An aggrieved depositor told this corner the alleged perpetrator is the cluster manager of several branches in Cebu City who is said to have flown the coop last October 20.  His hasty departure to Singapore did not go unnoticed. Upon learning that he flew to the Lion City, the complainants immediately notified the Singaporean embassy through its consulate in Cebu.  Friday last week, I received unverified reports that the fugitive had been arrested while about to board a flight to Denmark.   

One of the remarks that a netizen wrote when she shared the article published by CDN Digital is the double standard at play when the public is confronted with fraud in financial transactions.  

We screamed to the high heavens and mocked the victims of Kapa International Religious Ministry, the bogus investment house red flagged by the Securities and Exchange Commission early this year.  Kapa generated billions of pesos from gullible investors who think the payouts of 30 percent monthly will go on forever.  The sad news is that authorities have yet to bring the Kapa mastermind to the bar of justice.  Sadder still are reports that many scammers have copied the Kapa template.  Many of them have come to Cebu and duped people who apparently do not read the news or they’re just the most gullible species on earth. 

The obverse side of this sad state of affairs is the plight of people who entrust their hard-earned money in banks only to lose it in the hands of the very person and the institution who pledged to keep it safe.  The reactions over this financial mess is quite subdued maybe because the victims have not gone out publicly to air their grievances. Surprisingly, many of them prefer to be below the radar.

And so the point raised by the netizen is certainly valid.  We’re rough and cruel when it comes to Kapa and its ilk but rather timid and subdued when banks are involved in financial fraud.  

From where I sit, losing one’s money in banks is worse than being scammed by Kapa.

***

Farm tourism, a game changer

There’s an event that should interest local government units, entrepreneurs and Co-operatives wanting to cash in on agri tourism.  

The 6th Philippine Farm Tourism Conference will open next week (November 6-8, 2019) at the Marco Plaza Cebu.  Organized by the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) and the Cebu Alliance of Tour Operation Specialists, Inc. (CATOS), the conference has for its theme, “Building Community Relationship for Sustainable Development through Farm Tourism.”

ISST Founding President Ms. Mina Gabor and partners in the industry have sewn together a holistic program that aims to increase awareness on the benefits of adding a tourism component to farms; share best practices and success stories from local and international experts; provide experiential learning through farm visits; and promote farm tourism destinations, travel packages, introduce fresh and processed products, arts and crafts and other innovative items that would showcase the country’s talents and resources.

The other dividend that the farm tourism conference promotes is community mobilization, that is, making people understand that small scale farms can make a difference.  Hopefully, a better understanding of farm tourism will also help young people consider farming as a career option.  The scenario is not traditional agriculture where farmers are sentenced to a life of hard work and poverty but rather, farming set in technology and technological advances. Having said that, farm tourism is a real game changer.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture, a staunch advocate of Farm Tourism will grace the affair along with Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar. For more details, email: [email protected]

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