On Monday, February 20, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) began the initial hearing for fraud and estafa cases filed against actor and TV host Luis Manzano and officials of Flex Fuel Petroleum Corp. The 50 individuals who have filed separate complaints against Manzano and Flex Fuel Petroleum Corp. claimed that the accused failed to fulfill the P70,000 monthly income they promised as a dividend of their P990,000 investment in Flex Fuel under a co-ownership deal.

Despite Manzano’s claim that he never took part in the management of the business, the complainants insisted that he should be liable for the alleged scam. Manzano was identified as the company’s chairman of the board, but he clarified in his affidavit dated Dec. 21, 2022, that he resigned from his post and divested himself of his interests from several corporations under Medel’s ICM group including Flex Fuel in February 2022.

The respondents in the case include not only Manzano but also Ildefonso Medel, the company’s president. Despite Flex Fuel’s insistence that all their dealings are honest, open, and legitimate, they have experienced and are still enduring tremendous financial losses due to external forces like the COVID-19 outbreak, the Russia-Ukraine dispute, volatile fuel costs, and a high rate of inflation that are beyond their power to control.

Despite the legal proceedings, Manzano claimed that the company still owes him P66 million. He further stated that he was only made chairman of the board of the company since this was one of the guarantees for his investment and that he was not directly involved in running the company.

The hearing is ongoing, and the outcome is yet to be determined. Meanwhile, the case has generated significant public interest, with many people taking to social media to express their opinions on the matter. Some have voiced their support for the complainants, calling for justice to be served, while others have defended Manzano and Flex Fuel, arguing that the accusations against them are baseless.

The case has also raised questions about the responsibility of celebrities who lend their names to businesses and other ventures. While it is not uncommon for public figures to endorse products and services, it remains unclear what level of accountability they have when things go wrong.

As the legal proceedings continue, it is likely that more information will come to light, shedding further light on the alleged scam and the involvement of the accused. Whatever the outcome, the case serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency and accountability in business dealings, particularly when it comes to the investments of ordinary people who place their trust in companies and their leaders.

Furthermore, the case also highlights the importance of due diligence on the part of investors, particularly when it comes to high-risk investments. While the promise of high returns can be tempting, it is important to carefully consider the risks involved and to thoroughly research the companies and individuals involved in the venture.

In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of investment scams in the Philippines, with many people losing their hard-earned money to unscrupulous individuals and companies. The government and other organizations have since stepped up their efforts to crack down on such scams and to educate the public on how to spot and avoid them.

As the legal proceedings against Luis Manzano and Flex Fuel Petroleum Corp. progress, it is yet to be determined what the final result will be. Regardless of the outcome, however, it serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency, accountability, and due diligence in business dealings, and of the need for greater protection for investors, particularly those who may be vulnerable to scams and fraud.