MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday appealed to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to redouble their efforts to capture fugitive property developer Delfin Lee, who faces arrest for syndicated estafa.
The Vice President issued the appeal after lawyer Willie Rivera, Lee’s counsel, told ABS-CBN News Channel that his client is still in the Philippines but is in hiding.
Lee’s lawyer likened the case of his client to Senator Ping Lacson, who went into hiding during the Arroyo administration.
“Delfin Lee is no Ping Lacson. Senator Lacson was a critic of the Arroyo regime, while Lee defrauded Pag-Ibig Fund of almost P6 billion by using fake borrowers and fake documents and destroyed the dreams of thousand of working Filipinos,” Binay said in a statement.
“I am appealing to the PNP and NBI to double their efforts to locate and arrest Delfin Lee. Now that we know that he is still in the country, he must be found and put behind bars at the soonest,” he added.
The Vice President also debunked the lawyer’s claim that there is no syndicated estafa against Lee’s company Globe Asiatique, citing the January 30, 2012 resolution of the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) that ordered the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-Ibig Fund) to comply with the contract provisions on replacement buyers.
The Vice President said the Makati case ruling did not absolve Lee from criminal liability.
“GA is just muddling the issue. The Makati RTC ruling does not absolve Lee of syndicated estafa,” Binay said.
He cited the Court of Appeals (CA) decision of April 16, 2012, penned by Associate Justice Franchito Diamante, which ruled that regardless of the final ruling on the Makati civil case, it will not serve to extinguish the criminal liability of Lee and his co-accused.
Binay is the Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). He is also the Chairman of the Board of Pag-Ibig Fund.
For her part, Pag-Ibig President and CEO Darlene Berberabe said the Makati civil case was “separate and distinct” from the criminal case filed against Lee, his son Dexter, and three other GA officers for syndicated estafa.
“The Makati RTC decision expressly states that it did not delve into the issue of fraud (pertaining to Pag-Ibig ghost borrowers and double sale),” she said.
On May 22, Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the Pampanga RTC found probable cause against Lee and his co-accused and issued corresponding warrants for their arrest with no recommendation for bail.
Berberabe said the Makati court ruling is not yet final and is the subject of a motion for reconsideration filed by Pag-Ibig.
“Pag-Ibig respectfully disagrees with the decision and this we filed a motion for reconsideration. We are confident that the decision will be subsequently overturned,” she said.
Berberabe said Pag-Ibig refused to accept the replacement buyers because doing so would mean covering up the fraud committed by GA.
“GA wants Pag-Ibig to be compelled to accept replacement buyers. Pag-Ibig did not accept the replacement buyers because the original buyers (Pag-Ibig borrowers) are fake. To accept such replacements would mean covering up the fraud of GA,” she said.