UCANEWS.com (Union of Catholic Asian News)
People told to be wary after probe launched into financial dealings of religious sect
A Catholic bishop and an Islamic law expert have warned Filipinos against falling for money-making schemes that seem too good to be true.
Philippine authorities have launched an investigation into the activities of a religious sect that allegedly promises 30 percent return on investing in donations.
“Let us be careful of making investments,” said Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu in a statement, adding that “some people have ways of using schemes that fool other people.”
“While generosity is always a virtue, if you feel you are being fooled and taken advantage of, you should be discerning,” said the prelate.
An Islamic law expert also reminded Muslims that it is forbidden for them to participate in money making usury investment schemes.
Salih Musa, a Sharia lawyer in Mindanao, said interest that investment schemes collect is considered “usurious” and prohibited in Islam.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered investigators to shut down an alleged investment scam run by Kabus Padatuon (Make the Poor Rich)-Community Ministry International, Inc (Kapa).
The president said the scheme is a form of “pyramiding” and “syndicated fraud” as the group offered and sold securities in the form of investment contracts in the guise of donations.
Archbishop Palma said people should be vigilant “because it’s not difficult to judge which [scheme] is valid.”
The prelate also appealed to the government to find ways “to determine which ones are invalid and which ones are lawful.”
Without naming name, the archbishop criticized “those who are using religion as means to take advantage of other people’s wealth.”
Musa, meanwhile, said Muslims should not be part of Kapa “because it is religion-based,” adding that it like “idolatry.”
To join Kapa’s investment scheme, one has to fill out a form and donate at least 10,000 pesos, or about US$200 up to at most two million pesos (US$39,000).
The contract states that the donation shall be used to achieve the group’s mission for the “propagation of the religious faith” and the establishment of livelihood programs.
Several investment schemes, some promising up to 500 percent return on the investment, have sprouted in the southern Philippines in recent months, prompting Duterte to order an investigation.
The Philippine Securities Exchange Commission had repeatedly ordered a stop to the schemes but they have continued.