Deflin Lee's habeas corpus plea goes to special division

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2014 03:53 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2014 01:26 AM

MANILA -The Court of Appeals (CA) Special First Division will handle the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by embattled property developer Delfin Lee on Monday.

Lee's petition, aimed at halting a Pampanga trial court from proceeding with his arraignment and the trial for the charge of syndicated estafa, was raffled off to this division, and will be handled by Associate Justice Manuel Barrios.

Associate Justice Stephen Cruz has taken the place of CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes in the First Division, thus, the division has been converted into a special division. Reyes is on wellness leave.

The third regular member of the division is Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, who will sit as acting division chairman.

Lee, president of Globe Asiatique (GA), filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus on Monday morning to urge the appellate court to order the Pampanga Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 42, which is hearing the syndicated estafa case, to immediately release him.

Lee's camp insists that the criminal information against him, and the warrant issued by the trial court for his arrest, have been quashed by the appellate court in a Nov. 7, 2013 decision. Lee also pointed out that he has been delisted from the PNP's "wanted" list, and arrest warrant database, as of Nov. 20, 2013.

Lee filed the habeas corpus petition ahead of his scheduled arraignment at 3 pm today.

Lee, and 4 others, were charged with the non-bailable offense of syndicated estafa, for alleged anomalous loans obtained by GA "ghost" borrowers for its Xevera housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga, from the Pag-IBIG Fund, amounting to P6.6 billion.

The trial court issued the arrest warrant against them on May 22, 2012. Lee had been a fugitive from justice since then, until last Thursday when he was arrested by PNP Task Force Tugis operatives in Manila.