Founder of ministry tagged in investment scam eyes Senate seat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 1) - A ministry founder who led an investment scam in Mindanao and other parts of the country in 2019 filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator on Saturday.

Representatives of Joel "Pastor" Apolinario - founder of Kapa Community Ministry International - filed the COC on his behalf at the Harbor Garden Tent of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City.

Wanted for syndicated estafa charges, Apolinario was arrested following a firefight with authorities in Surigao del Sur in July last year.

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One of Apolinario's representatives - who refused to give his name - said the detained Kapa founder hopes to provide "jobs for the jobless, opportunity for the landless, enhance health and educational system, and livelihood programs" if given the chance to be elected as a senator.

The Department of Justice filed criminal charges against Apolinario and the Kapa ministry for violations of the Securities Regulation Code.

State prosecutors said Kapa "willfully, unlawfully and criminally" engaged in the selling or distribution of securities to the public without securing a registration statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In June 2019, the SEC filed a complaint against KAPA for employing a Ponzi scheme, an investment plan that offers high returns and pays investors using money contributed by other investors.

The Court of Appeals has since frozen all bank accounts and properties linked to KAPA upon the request of the SEC.

President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the shutdown of KAPA and similar investment scams.

CNN Philippines correspondent Paolo Barcelon contributed to this report.