WYCOCO NOT RUSHING TO PROBE BROD’S LINK W/ PYRAMID QUEEN

Manila, March 21, 2003 -- NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco yesterday said he would order the investigation of allegations that his brother Willy offered to help pyramid scam suspect Rosario Baladjay escape if Ms. Baladjay can present "solid" proof.

In her testimony before the Senate committee on commerce and trade on Wednesday, Baladjay also said Willy Wycoco, together with Julius Fuentebella and Joey Palomar, forced her to sign away P83 million worth of real estate properties.

"Kung meron silang ebidensya siguro na ipapakitang nandoon si Willy sa Anilao, it's a different story. Di natin kinukunsinti ang ginagawa ng kahit sino, kahit kapatid o anak natin," the NBI chief said.

Wycoco said he was not inclined to believe Baladjay, president of Multinational Telecom Corp. (Multitel), since she already swindled some 950,000 investors.

Wycoco also said his brother could not have offered to help Baladjay in October 2002 because his appointment as NBI confidential agent was terminated on July 31, 2002.

In her testimony, however, Baladjay never said Willy Wycoco was an NBI agent when they talked about her case.

The NBI chief maintained that his kid brother has never been to Anilao, Batangas.

"I asked Willy about that. Sabi niya ni di pa siya nakakapunta sa Anilao, di pa niya nakikita, he doesn't know how to go to Anilao," he said.

Wycoco reiterated that Baladjay's claims against his brother stemmed from Willy's turning over of her passport to the NBI Interpol.

He said Willy got Baladjay's passport from Fuentebella, allegedly one of Multitel's disgruntled investors, though he admitted he did not know how Fuentebella got hold of the documents.

Wycoco also denied reports that his kid brother invested P20 million in Multitel as the latter "does not have that much money."

President Arroyo ordered Justice Secretary Simeon Datumanong to ask Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. to create special courts that would exclusively hear pyramid cases.

Arroyo gave the order after meeting with more than 50 representatives of pyramid victims.

She also said the NBI would call the attention of the PNP regarding allegations that pyramid suspect Ma. Teresa Santos and others were under detention at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). Arroyo said the suspects should be transferred to city jails.

Wycoco also promised to coordinate with the US embassy and use the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to check the legitimacy of Baladjay's alleged investments in the United States.

During the meeting in Malacañang, Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño asked investors not to sign affidavits of desistance because it would affect the cases filed in court.

But Arroyo said the decision of individual investors would prevail if they would rather get back their money or part of it in exchange for dropping their cases. She will be arraigned at the Makati court on April 2. (By PRIAM NEPOMUCENO and REGINA BENGCO, Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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