SENATE DETAINS PYRAMID SCAM "QUEEN"  

Manila, March 13, 2003 -- A day after her arrest in Mangaldan, Pangasinan, Rosario Baladjay was detained by the Senate yesterday to ensure her appearance before a hearing on pyramid scams tomorrow.

Baladjay, president of Multinational Telecom Investors Corp. (Multitel) which is subject of complaints from investors allegedly duped of millions, was ordered arrested by the Senate trade committee for contempt.

The committee headed by Sen. Robert Jaworski ordered the arrest of Baladjay and 11 officials of firms suspected to be engaged in the pyramid scam after they failed to appear before two inquiries conducted by the panel.

Baladjay was escorted to the Senate by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to which she was turned over by Pangasinan police.

A number of her victims and supporters had been waiting for her for hours when she arrived at around 2 p.m. at the Senate.

Baladjay refused interviews.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said she would remain in the custody of the Office of the Sergeant at Arms until after she testifies before the panel tomorrow, and following reports her life is in danger.

Among those cited in contempt by the Senate were Baladjay's husband Saturnino; Ervin and Evelyn Mateo of Mateo Management Group of Co.; Jesus and Rosemarie Nina Tibayan of Tibayan Group of Co.; SPO3 Alex Cacananta and Orlando Santos of Ma. Teresa Santos Trading (MTST); Ma. Nina Rebecca Marquez V and Fe Reyes of Ma. Touch Trading; Ireneo C. Sison of ICS Exports and Helen Garcia.

Ma. Teresa Santos of MTST has been arrested.

Baladjay was nabbed on the strength of a warrant issued by Muntinlupa Judge Noli Diaz for violation of the bouncing check law. Bail of P30,000 bail was recommended.

One of her investors who requested not to be named said she found nothing wrong with placing investments in Multitel.

"Parati namang naii-cash ang mga post-dated checks na inisyu sa akin ... Ewan ko sa iba kung bakit nag-rereklamo," she said.

Baladjay was accused of duping thousands of investors who were attracted by her promise of 60 percent interest per annum.

Baladjay launched her Multitel business at the latter part of the year 2000. She has told investors she would place their money in "Benefon," a major player in Finland's telecommunications industry and a competitor of Nokia.

The project did not push through.

A case of syndicated estafa was filed by the justice department against Baladjay and other Multitel officers on Monday before the Makati court.

No bail was recommended.

Baladjay is also wanted for several cases of estafa in different courts in Metro Manila and some parts of Luzon. (By JP LOPEZ and RAYMOND AFRICA, Mala


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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