MANILA -- Malacañang maintains that the arrest of businessman Delfin Lee is legal.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte pointed out that the Court of Appeals' (CA) decision on Lee's case was on appeal, thus the warrant for his arrest was not recalled.
"I received several queries about this and the position of Pag-IBIG, DOJ (Department of Justice), and of government is this: that when the Court of Appeals handed down the decision stating that one of the five respondents should not have been included, thereby, making it seemingly impossible to prosecute for syndicated estafa which requires five. So lumalabas po apat na lang sila. Government appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. The mode of appeal as lawyers like to call it was under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Thereby, hindi po naging final and executory dahil nagsampa tayo ng apela yung naging desisyon ng Court of Appeals," Valte explained.
"And proved positive of the fact that it did not become final and executory are two things: one, the warrant of arrest was not recalled, which is normally the case in case the quashing has been made final, hindi po siya ni-recall; at pangalawa, yung hold departure order against Mr. Delfin Lee was not lifted. We all know that hindi naman po kayo magkakaroon ng hold departure order kung wala din kayong nagiging paglilitis sa ating mga korte," she added.
Valte said Malacañang welcomes the development.
"I recall it, at one event, the President did mention: 'Na kahit kayo magtago, mahahanap at mahahanap natin kayo.' So this is a good step at least for government because finally cases can move. So at least, you know, they can -- efforts that used to be concentrated on finding this particular person can now be diverted to other persons that need to be tracked down."
She said this development should be a signal to complainants in the Globe Asiatique estafa cases not to lose hope.
"Siguro po prior to the arrest of Mr. Delfin Lee, yung mga nag-reklamo din po sa Globe Asiatique baka yan din po yung nararamdaman. Ngunit tingnan po naman natin yung biglang -- the sudden turn of events na...kagabi lang po nasa government custody na siya. So it will move on. Iyon nga ho ang sinabi ng Pangulo. While iniisip po nila na makakapag -- makakatakbo po sila at makakapagtago, mahahanap at mahahanap din po sila," Valte said.
Lee was arrested Thursday night by Task Force Tugis operatives in the lobby of the Hyatt hotel in Manila.