MANILA – Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali on Friday denied that he was the "influential person" who tried to block the arrest of Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee.
"Actually hindi ko siya kilala. Ang kilala ko yung abogado nya, si Atty. Gilbert Repiso na taga-Mindoro din," Umali told DZMM in an interview.
Repiso said he merely called up Philippine National Police Director General Allan Purisima to clarify the status of Lee's arrest, upon the request of Repiso.
"Tumawag ako kay PNP chief, na nagsabi sa akin na kailangan (ni Lee) ng release order," he said.
On Lee's alleged intention to apply for state witness, Umali said the land developer bared about his plans to Repiso about two months ago.
“Feeling nya, bakit siya ang naiipit eh hindi naman daw sya ang nag-proseso,” Umali said.
Asked if there is another "mastermind" in the P6.5-billion scam, Umali said, “Siguro… siya lang ang makakasagot nun.”
However, another lawyer of Lee denied Friday that the businessman plans to become a state witness.
Atty. Willie Rivera claimed that his client no longer faces any criminal charge and Umali might have just been misquoted about Lee wanting to become a state witness.
"He's a fraternity brother (referring to Umali). He should not be saying that," he said.
Rivera said he -- and not Repiso -- is handling Lee's case. "Ako po ang lawyer niya and his services will not be engaged."
He said they will filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus at the Court of Appeals on Monday to force the police to free Lee.
Meanwhile, the legal counsel of Pag-IBIG Fund also said on Friday that they will definitely object if Lee applies as a state witness.
"Of course we will object. We are confident na pagkatapos ng pag-aaral ng court at ng DOJ sa record ng case, mapapatunayan na hindi siya ang least guilty, hindi siya not guilty. Siya ang pinaka-guilty, hindi sya qualified," Atty. Sandra Coronel told DZMM in an interview.
Coronel said she does not know about the supposed interest of Lee to become a state witness.
"Ewan ko kung saan nakuha storya na iyun. Ang sakit naman na pagkatapos kinulimbat ang ipon ng mga myembro, ikaw pa magsasabi na dapat ka bigyan ng special treatment? Masyado naman pauso," she said.
According to Coronel, the first person who is supposed to be aware of Lee’s application as state witness is Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. But she said even de Lima does not seem to know anything about it.
"Ang una dapat makaalam kung sino man ang mag-volunteer sa witness protection program ay si Secretary Leila de Lima, pero ni walang bahid ng indication sa reaction niya na may ganun," she pointed out.
If Lee indeed plans to apply for the WPP, Coronel he and his camp would have a hard time justifying why he is qualified to be a state witness.
"Mahihirapan sila i-justify kay Secretary De Lima. Paano sya magiging state witness eh sya ang principal sa scandal na ito?" she said.
She said that the Pag-IBIG Fund is not the only complainant in this case. There are hundreds of clients of Globe Asiatique who have also filed a case against Lee.
"Maski sino ang tanungin mo sa kanila, wala silang ibang kausap kundi si Lee," she said.
She is also urging other victims of the scam to come forward and file their respective complaints.
"Let us engage the legal process... Ang panawagan ko sa mga victims, lumutang na, mag-lakas ng loob at magtulong-tulong sa kaso. Ang first step, nahuli na. Ang akala natin na hindi mangayayaring mahuhuli ang isang napakayaman at napakaimpluwensyang tao at pinoprotektahan pa tila ng mas maimpluwensya pang tao e nahuli, at pinanindigan ng pulis ang pag-aresto, pinandigian ng judge ang warrant, at inaasahan na paninidigan ng NBI ang detention, na safe and secure ang ating akusado para tuloy-tuloy ang proseso,” she said.