POLL BET DUPED OF P4 MILLION, Woman says 7 men promised to make fake money bills

Posted on March 3, 2010


By Ador Vicent Mayol, Reporter

The campaign season hasn’t started yet for her but one Cebu congressional candidate is already crying over the loss of P4 million.

Luna Sabalones, 53, said she was duped by at least seven men who promised to duplicate her money bills in Manila .

Sabalones, who is running for congress to represent Cebu’s 1st district as a candidate of Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino, went to the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) for help to recover her money and find the culprits.

But the NBI-7 decided to pause after Sabalones called up different media outlets to publicize her loss.

NBI-7 Agent Bernard dela Cruz said charges of estafa or theft may be filed before the Manila Prosecutors’ Office as soon as he finishes the paperwork.

Sabalones, meanwhile, expressed regret in trusting the men with her money.

“Nakahibaw ko nga ila lang ko nga gilingla. But I said, suwayan nako kon asa gyud ni kutob. Sakyan lang unta nako apan mora ko og nahypnotize nga di na ko maminaw sa uban. (I don’t know why I obeyed them. I knew they only wanted to deceive me but I wanted to know what they were capable of. I just wanted to ride on with them but it seemed that I was hypnotized because I would no longer listen to other people),” Sabalones said.

She said she wanted to warn fellow candidates to beware of similar swindling schemes.

She named Eddiemar “Boy” Bulanon, Annita Padilla, Jun “Professor” Tagalog, and Olong-olong Fernando as suspects along with three unidentified men.

She said Bulanon was introduced to her by Baptist church pastor Teodolfo Cañas, who is running for mayor of San Fernando town under the PMP.

Sabalones is a native of San Fernando, southern Cebu.

She said she graduated from Fine Arts in Italy and owns a store there that sells paintings and jewelry. She also owns a technical and vocational school in San Fernando, Cebu.

Sabalones she decided last year to run for mayor in San Fernando before opting to challenge tehr reelection bid of incumbent Rep. Eduardo Gullas of Cebu’s 1st district.

“I want to change the first district. I also want to help the people,” Sabalones said.

In July 2009, Sabalones said she learned that the PMP was looking for local candidates.

Interested, Sabalones said she met with the suspects who identified themselves as PMP members.

Sabalones said she was able to talk with former president Estrada through the suspects and even let them sleep in her house in San Fernando so she could get the party’s support.

The suspects approached her last February with an an offer to “multiply” her money, she said.

Friends warned her that the suspects just wanted to dupe her but she went ahead out of “curiousity”.

The suspects first demanded P1 million to be used to buy chemicals and other materials in forging money bills.

Sabalones said she gave them the amount. Another amount of P3 million was requested and released, she said.

Sabalones said she met Feb. 8 to 13 with the suspects in Manila where she was later brought to a “safe house” whose location she could no longer remember.

Her brother Jun was also around.

She said she handed over several P1,000 bills amounting P3 million to the suspects.

The bills were cleaned with a piece of cotton then bundled and wrapped with adhesive tape before being placed inside a bag.

Sabalones was instructed not to unwrap the bills until after 24 hours.

When Sabalones and her brother Jun returned to Cebu City, they they opened the bag but found only bundles of white paper cut in the size of money bills.

Her money had been “switched”.

Sabalones went to the NBI-7 on Feb. 23 to seek assistance.

The NBI-7 said they would not file charges against Sabalones for trying to counterfeit money bills since the activity was not consummated.

Was she just being curious about the activity?

“It’s greed,” said agent Dela Cruz.

“Why did she (Sabalones) believe that her money would be doubled? She might have been motivated thinking that she will have more money to fund her candidacy.”

NBI-7 Director Medardo de Lemos offered tips on how to detect fake money.

Fake money bills are thinner than real ones and can be easily crumpled.

“It’s not easy to tear an genuine money bill,” he said.

He said lines in the embedded security thread or a line at the center of a genuine money bill can easily be duplicated.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is the sole institution that can officially determine whether bills are fake or genuine. /with a report from Correspondent Carine Asutilla