[FIRST UPDATE: 5:38pm, September 23] It was an unusual start of the weekend in the University of the Philippines Los Baños this Saturday as thousands of supposed beneficiaries of a cooperative went into the campus in droves as early as 5am.
The beneficiaries – who arrived in the campus through jeepneys, vans, and buses – were told that they will be given P10,000 cash advance by the One Social Family Credit Cooperative, formerly known as Bullion Buyer Ltd. A program held at the lower Freedom Park’s grandstand was touted as a general assembly of OSFCC.
Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a statement sent to reporters that the University “approved the letter of Mr. Jeffrey S. Fortuna, National Inspectorate/Cooperative Secrateriat of [OSFCC] to hold general assembly meeting at the lower field managed by the [Department] of Human Kinetics.”
The vice chancellor added that UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. had previously approved “sectoral groups in the past such as the lumads, peasants, [boy] scouts, sports events, plus others from communities to use UPLB grounds as community sharing.
All of the supposed beneficiaries that the UPLB Perspective has encountered are holding a booklet with a photo of former President Ferdinand Marcos on the cover. The booklet, titled Life and Achievements of Ferdinand E. Marcos, supposedly contains the accomplishments of the late dictator. Bullion Buyer is the publisher of the said booklet.
“Unity could not be achieved by President Marcos during his term that’s [sic] why the peace of mind of President Marcos was only attained during Martial Law followed by all the good things he achieved during his reign as President,” the booklet’s preface reads.
The beneficiaries were told that those who have a signed copy of the Marcos booklet will be given a cash advance. Furthermore, they were told that each family will be given P1 million, which will be divided equally.
“Lahat ng beneficiaries, meron kayong cash advance. How are we going to do that? Yung inyong one million each per family, i-divide natin into two. Yung P500,000 we’ll give it to you P10,000 [sic] every month for four years and two months. The remaining P500,000, yun ang magiging capital share niyo sa cooperative,” a female speaker told the crowd in a program held at the Freedom Park grandstand.
A group of security guards from Cavite that the UPLB Perspective has talked to said that while they were aware before the event that they will receive something, it was only today during the program at the grandstand that they were informed about the cash advance.
“Narinig namin mismo [doon sa programa]. Alam namin na may matatanggap nga pero ngayon lang sinabi na [ang may] booklet, tatanggap daw,” one of the guards said.
Students condemn unexpected event
For their part, the University Student Council (USC) and other organizations condemned the UPLB administration’s move to allow inside the campus, which is known for its vigilance and militancy against Marcos’ Martial Law, an event purportedly glorifying the late dictator.
“Ang pagpapangako ng pera sa mamamayang Pilipino ay hindi mapapaltan ang mga buhay na nawala noong panahon ng diktatura ni Marcos. Kinokondena natin ang ating administrasyon na hinayaang magawa dito ang ang aktibidad na ito,” the USC said during an indignation rally at Carabao Park on Saturday afternoon.
“Nakakagalit na sa mismong pamantasan na nanindigan at lumaban sa diktadura ginanap ang ganitong pagtitipon,” Samahan ng Kabataan Para sa Bayan said in the same rally.
The political alliance also questioned the University’s decision to allow delegates of Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya this year to enter the campus but with oppressive limitations. “Sa panahon na ang mamamayan ang humingi ng permit, hindi napagbigyan,” they said.
Other organizations also slammed the supposed distribution of Marcos’ wealth, saying it contributes to historical revisionism.
“Walang kahit anong pera o kayamanan ang magbibigayt-presyo sa mga buhay na kinitil ni Marcos na nagpapatuloy hanggang ngayon,” Anakbayan-UPLB said during the rally.
Complaints against Bullion Buyer
Bullion Buyer Ltd. has been a subject of an advisory of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The advisory, dated March 8, 2017, warned citizens to not invest in the said entity.
SEC describes their modus operandi as follows: “Those recruited are asked to pay thirty pesos (PhP 30.00) in exchange for receiving ten thousand pesos (PhP10,000.00) per month through their Landbank ATM accounts for four (4) years and eleven (11) months starting February 2017.”
“The public is hereby informed that Bullion Buyer Ltd. is not registered with the Commission as a corporation or partnership. There being no primary license, it is not authorized to solicit investments which require a secondary license as provided under Sec. 8.1 of the Securities Regulation Code,” the advisory reads.
A Google search of Bullion Buyer Ltd. leads to various reports of complaints against the company. Reports published by local media indicate that Bullion Buyer has been operating in Baguio City, Pangasinan, and Bacolod. [P]