35 supervisors of Makati online lending firm charged over 'loan scam'

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

October 24, 2023, 4:26 pm

<p style="text-align: left;">PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz <em>(Photo courtesy of NCCA)</em></p>

PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz (Photo courtesy of NCCA)

MANILA – The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) on Tuesday said it has filed charges against 35 individuals from an online lending company in Makati City that was raided by the police for harassing clients who are unable to pay their debts on time.

In a phone interview, PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz said charges for violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 were filed against the individuals who were identified as supervisors of the firm.

"The 35 supervisors were charged after they were identified out of 252 individuals that we arrested. There are also three foreigners involved. This is for violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act where they use online devices to scam people," Cruz said.

Also arrested in the Oct. 20 raid of Golden Koi Lending Co. Inc. in Barangay San Lorenzo were three foreigners, allegedly the brains behind the scheme.

"We are coordinating with the BI (Bureau of Immigration) to check on their documents. These foreigners are running the loan scam and then the others serve as their foot soldiers -- Filipinos who are harassing and threatening their compatriots," he added.

The PAOCC official also said he was unaware of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group's (ACG) move to tap vlogger Rendon Labador to join the operation.

Labador drew flak for livestreaming the raid, which allegedly showed the faces of those arrested, a breach of data privacy laws.

"There were no talks about that before the actual operation. We are very careful in letting the media join the operations because we also protect the rights of those arrested, not only of the complainants. This is why before we allow the media to cover these operations, we ask them to blur their videos so that the rights of the accused are protected,” he explained.

Cruz is frustrated that the issue has been diverted to Labador, instead of the government's accomplishment of aiding the victims of the loan scam.

On Monday, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said he has directed the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) to investigate lapses arising from Labador's act of joining the operation.

DIDM director Maj. Gen. Eric Noble said the probe will focus on the permission bestowed by the ACG to Labador to broadcast the operation live through his Facebook page "Boses ng Bayan."

He said it was improper to expose the faces of some of the employees and making remarks as if they were already found guilty.

The ACG earlier confirmed Labador sought collaboration with them to help advocate for ordinary people’s rights. (PNA)