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Rough Cuts | The platitude that Tagum City has to live with

Last week people who were believed to be victims of the Ponzi style investment scam did their first anarchic activity in Tagum City. They probably were those who invested money in varying amounts on the promise of fast and high interest rates of return. They could be those who do away with reason to give way to their anger. And it could also be possible that some of them merely rode on the situation to join an opportunity for looting the house of a man who was identified as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rigen Marketing, one of the many Tagum City-based so-called “get rich quick” investment firms.

Yes, there was anarchy as every one of those who forced themselves into the house of the Rigen executive carted away everything their hands could lay on. Television sets, sala sets, boxes with unknown contents, chairs, even frames and the outside accessories of a luxury car believed to be owned by the Rigen official were looted.

The forcible entry by the mob and the carting away of properties inside the house was even witnessed by a police officer who was so helpless, and did not make any attempt to stop the looting. We do not know if the police officer really called for support from headquarters in order to stop the ransacking because none came as chronicled in the social media post.

And as the anarchy was in progress there were no signs of the presence of even a single local government official of Tagum City. Not even a shadow of Mayor Allan Rellon who only recently started his second term, could be found. It was only later after the incident that the youthful LGU executive issued a statement through the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
What did the mayor say? Well, his City’s Peace and Order Council has come up with a resolution recommending the creation of a special task force. The body’s responsibility, according to the mayor, is to investigate the investment companies, identify their officers and owners, and determine the exact location of their offices in the city.In addition, the body is also tasked to launch an information drive to educate the people regarding the activities of the different investment schemes operating in Tagum City.

But has Mayor Rellon no knowledge really of the operation of the dubious investment companies in his city? If he did have knowledge about these firms’ money making activity what made him act like he had none?

It really would be very surprising if indeed Mayor Rellon and all other Tagum City officials would insist on not knowing of the existence of the investment firms. The city is too small that even whispers from its smallest nook and cranny can be heard by every resident. And claims of multi-million pay-in and pay-out proudly posted in social media to serve as add-on enticement to the gullible public can be accessed even by young children who have with them modern cellular phones.

How can such investment schemes escape the knowledge of the Tagum City officials when almost every household in that locality has one, two or even all members claiming to be investors? In fact there were two instances when we visited some family friends in that city shortly before the schemes’ operation was ordered stopped by the President, that our hosts showed too much passion in convincing us to put money to two of the investment firms.

And to give us assurance that the companies’ operations were legitimate they name drop at least two local government executives as among the leading investors. They even told us that one of the firms’ executive won an elective position in the city. These hosts of ours did not even have qualms in claiming the firms they have invested in were helping several candidates win during the May 13, 2019 election.

Of course we can understand if Tagum City’s officialdom led by Mayor Rellon would feign ignorance of the existence of the investment schemes until they evolved into scams.
The city’s economy was proud beneficiary of the influx of money to the investment businesses and supposedly to the investors. Suddenly the majority of residents in the city have so much disposable cash that malls have become vibrant. The city roads became display areas for brand new vehicles mostly pick-up trucks carrying a popular Japanese brand.

In other words, Tagum City’s economy bubbled. But so fast was the artificial infusion that the bubble burst into smithereens. The millions – some estimates even in billions – in cash that flowed into the city’s economy, suddenly turned into “cash flew.” This happened as the monies were horded and hauled off as the investment scams’ operators suddenly were reported in sudden flight when no less than the President of the Philippines ordered a stop to their operations.

So what now is left in the hands of the local officials of Tagum but the uncomfortable platitude of ineptness and the insipid tag of the city as the “scam capital” of the Philippines.

The last thing we heard from the City officials and the frustrated “investors,” “donors” or whatever, is that they will “get back at the President” come 2022 elections. Let’s see.

Meanwhile, the anarchy that rendered the house of the Rigen CEO empty and vandalized may not be the last. It could happen again, and perhaps sooner, if authorities, especially in Tagum City, would simply take a “for all we care” attitude on the incident.

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