Warrant vs Delfin Lee no longer valid - lawyer

by Cathy Rose Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 07 2014 11:54 AM | Updated as of Mar 07 2014 11:41 PM

MANILA - Businessman Delfin Lee's camp on Friday cried foul over his arrest, saying the warrant of arrest used was no longer valid.

"Kung nagtatago si Mr. Lee, hindi siya mahuhuli. In fact, dala niya palagi ang kanyang mga papel at pinakita niya sa mga autoridad... Sa CIDG [Criminal Investigation Division Group] website, di na po kasama si Mr. Lee sa Top 5 (high-profile fugitives). Nag-issue na ng certification ang kapulisan na nirerespeto nila ang desisyon ng CA quashing the warrant of arrest issued against Mr. Lee by the RTC of San Fernando," Atty Gilbert Repizo, Lee's spokesperson, told dzMM's Ted Failon.

On Thursday evening, Philippine National Police's Task Force Tugis operatives arrested Lee in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Manila. The police said they had made sure the warrant, which was issued by Branch 42 Regional Trial Court (RTC) in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga was "live" before conducting the arrest.

However, Repizo pointed out that a Court of Appeals (CA) decision earlier cleared Lee of syndicated estafa charges and ordered the police to stop his arrest, reversing the Pampanga court's earlier decision.

Lee's arrest is in connection with the over P6 billion in Pag-IBIG loans that went to "ghost borrowers" for a Globe Asiatique housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga. President Benigno Aquino has offered a P2-million reward for Lee's capture.

"Sa aking personal na pananaw, walang bisa ang warrant of arrest dahil ito ay dated August 7, 2013. Ang ruling ng Court of Appeals ay November 2013... Walang reversal order or TRO against the CA (decision). Are we saying that the RTC will be over an above the Court of Appeals?," Repizo said.

Repizo said a pending government motion questioning the CA ruling before the Supreme Court has yet to be acted upon.

"The ruling of the Court of Appeals should stand because there's no reversal order from the SC and the SC has not issued as of now a TRO directed against the CA ... So if the ruling is favorable to the accused, then under our jurisprudence any legal development favorable to the accused should be accorded to him," he told ANC.

"This is a violation of his constitutional rights."

Repizo pointed out that Lee was scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday to address the allegations made against him.

"Mag-press conference po sana siya... Pinaplano na. We were reaching out to various government agencies tungkol sa bagay na ito. Pinaplantsa na lang po," he said.