CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 August 2019

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Philippine religious leaders warn against investment scams

MANILA (UCAN): A Catholic bishop and an Islamic law expert warned Filipinos against falling for money-making schemes that seem too good to be true as Philippine authorities launched an investigation into the activities of a religious sect that allegedly promises a 30 per cent return on investing in donations.
 
“Let us be careful of making investments,” Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, said in a statement, adding that “some people have ways of using schemes that fool other people.”
 
The archbishop said, “While generosity is always a virtue, if you feel you are being fooled and taken advantage of, you should be discerning.” 
 
Salih Musa, a Sharia lawyer in Mindanao, said interest that investment schemes collect is considered “usurious” and prohibited in Islam.
 
Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, had earlier ordered investigators to shut down an alleged investment scam run by Kabus Padatuon (Make the Poor Rich)-Community Ministry International, Inc, or Kapa, founded and led by Joel Apolinario.
 
The president called 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 archbishop also appealed to the government to find ways “to determine which ones are invalid and which ones are lawful.”
 
Without naming names, the archbishop criticised “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 is like “idolatry.”
 
To join Kapa’s investment scheme, one has to fill out a form and donate at least 10,000 pesos ($1,500) up to at most two million pesos ($302,100).
 
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 programmes.
 
Several investment schemes, some promising up to 500 per cent return on the investment, have sprouted in the southern Philippines in recent months, prompting Duterte to order an investigation.
 
The Philippine Securities Exchange Commission has repeatedly ordered a stop to the schemes but they have continued.

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