DOJ to appeal dropping of estafa charges against Delfin Lee, others

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2013 01:17 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2013 09:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) will not settle for anything less than syndicated estafa charges for Globe Asiatique's Delfin Lee and his four other co-accused in connection with allegedly questionable loans amounting to P6 billion given to GA buyers by the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-Ibig Fund). 

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima confirmed that the DOJ, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), will question the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that ordered the withdrawal of information and quashal of the arrest warrant against Lee's co-accused, Cristina Sagun. Should the order be final and executory, the case against her 4 other co-accused, including Lee, may be downgraded to simple estafa, a bailable offense, since the case would no longer meet the minimum requirement of 5 conspirators for syndicated estafa.

"Ipaglalaban namin yan na kailangan ma-sustain yung charges in its entirety, including Mrs. Sagun, pero pinapaaralan ko ano ang magiging consequence in case the Supreme Court will affirm the Court of Appeals decision... ano magiging effect sa charges against Delfin Lee and the others," De Lima said. 

The justice chief defended her department's finding of probable cause against Sagun, saying the panel that recommended her indictment did its job in investigating the case. 

"We don't understand also kung bakit i-exclude si Mrs. Sagun. I have read the resolution of the panel of prosecutors there and I think there is enough basis there to include Sagun sa charges," De Lima said. 

De Lima maintained that the CA ruling is not yet final and executory and that the syndicated estafa case against all of the accused remains.

Aside from Lee and GA documentation chief Sagun, the other accused in the case are: Christina Salagan (former GA Documentation Dept. head), Atty. Alex Alvarez (Pag-Ibig), and Lee's son, Dexter.

In ruling in favor of Sagun, the appellate court held that it was "absurd" for Pag-Ibig and the DOJ to hold her responsible for determining whether or not the GA housing loan applicants were actual members of Pag-Ibig. 

More syndicated estafa complaints pending against Lee, et al. 

Pag-Ibig counsel Atty. Sandra Coronel, in an interview over radio DZMM said that more complaints for syndicated estafa against Lee's group remain pending with the DOJ and are now awaiting resolution.

Coronel said this is the reason why the alleged victims of GA should not lose hope with the CA ruling on Sagun.

The complainants in the remaining cases are the alleged victims, themselves, she added.

"Hindi pa ito tapos and we are confident we will get them," Coronel said. 

Should these cases reach the courts, more warrants for the arrest of Lee's group will be handed down.