MANILA -- Vice President Jejomar Binay has already informed President Benigno Aquino III of the identities of the backers of businessman Delfin Lee.
Sources said the housing czar was already able to discuss Lee’s case with Aquino and told him of the identities of the “influential persons” who tried to block the businessman’s arrest last March 6.
Lee, one of the top five fugitives in the country with a P2-million bounty to his head, was subsequently taken to the San Fernando Regional Trial Court in Pampanga, which earlier ordered his arrest for his alleged role in defrauding the Pag-ibig Fund of almost P6.6 billion by using fake borrowers and documents.
The cases involving Lee supposedly covered around 10,000 housing loans. Unit owners in Xevera Homes had paid millions before learning that the units were not registered in their names.
Binay claimed “influential people” went to Camp Crame to persuade the police to release Lee.
Later, Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso “Boy” Umali admitted to Aquino that he phoned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima to clarify the basis of Lee’s arrest.
Umali, however, denied asking for Lee’s freedom, saying he only asked for confirmation of the businessman’s arrest upon the request of lawyer Gilbert Repizo, Lee’s counsel.
Repizo sought Umali’s assistance, saying the warrant had been quashed by the Court of Appeals. He also said the PNP has removed Lee’s name from the list of those with standing warrants as a result of the appellate court’s decision.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Binay’s political rival, subsequently chimed in, denying he ordered the removal of Lee’s name in the most wanted list.
“The role of the DILG Secretary is limited to approving the names to be placed on the list, and its corresponding reward, as previously recommended by the PNP Reward Valuation Committee,” he insisted.
Binay would eventually shrug off Roxas’ challenge to disclose the identities of Lee’s backers.
In a statement on Sunday, a high-ranking official of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) came out to support Binay’s claims.
HUDCC Deputy Secretary General and Assistant Secretary Daniel Subido said: “It is incredulous for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to even consider releasing an apprehended accused based on the mere representations of the latter’s lawyer on the purported invalidity of the Warrant of Arrest. Clearly there must have been influential people that worked on the actual delisting of Mr. Lee from the Warrant of Arrest Information System and pressured the PNP to cause Mr. Lee’s release despite the existence of a valid Warrant of Arrest.”
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Lee’s warrant of arrest, effectively nullifying the appellate court’s order.