MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has given the Department of Justice (DOJ) the green light to proceed with the preliminary investigation of 3 more syndicated estafa complaints against embattled property developer Delfin Lee, president and founder of Globe Asiatique (GA).
The high court's Second Division, through Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) last March 3, 3 days before Lee was arrested in Manila, against Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 167 Judge Rolando Mislang, who on April 10, 2013 enjoined the DOJ from proceeding with its preliminary investigation into the 3 complaints.
The DOJ elevated the case to the Court of Appeals but lost due to a mere technicality -- for having filed the petition out of time.
As ground for the issuance of the TRO the SC said that "Mislang's order is material and substantial invasion of the right of petitioner DOJ to continue with its power and function to investigate crimes and prosecute offenders, and thus hamper the administration of justice, and in order not to render moot and academic this petition and to prevent irreparable injury upon the petitioner (DOJ) who may be prevented from performing its legally mandated duty to protect public interest in case an injunction writ will not be issued."
In short, the SC is recognizing the DOJ's authority and mandate to conduct preliminary investigations of alleged criminal offenses.
Lee and several other GA officials were slapped with several syndicated estafa charges in 2010 in connection with alleged anomalous loans amounting to P6.6 billion granted to "ghost" borrowers for GA's Xevera housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
The first complaint landed in the Pampanga trial court, which has ordered Lee's arrest for this non-bailable offense.