Court won't allow Delfin Lee to face Senate hearing

By Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 13 2014 04:44 AM | Updated as of May 13 2014 03:37 PM

PAMPANGA- A regional trial court judge here junked yesterday the request of Senate President Franklin Drilon to allow jailed Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee to attend on Thursday a Senate hearing related to his syndicated estafa case.

Lee’s counsel Willie Rivera said Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the San Fernando RTC Branch 42 denied Drilon’s request on the basis that Lee’s testimony in the Senate is sub judice.

“Why limit only Lee from the Senate hearings which have been going on anyway? If tackling his case is sub judice, she might as well order the Senate from talking about his case altogether,” Rivera said.

Over the weekend, Lee, in an interview in his cell at the Pampanga provincial jail, expressed hope he would be allowed some 15 to 20 minutes to tell all during the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement on May 15.

Already, he expressed apprehensions that some sectors would not allow him to attend the hearing, as he cited reports that his other co-accused in the syndicated estafa case that put him in jail has already received notices to attend the hearing.

Lee said he has been wrongly portrayed in the media and insisted that all the controversies hounding his Xevera housing projects actually emanated from the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-Ibig Fund.

Rivera said that Pag-Ibig officials had been allowed to air their views on Lee’s case during past Senate hearings without being warned by Reyes that their actions are sub judice.

He said Lee has a pending petition in the Supreme Court to stop Reyes from continuing with the hearings on his case.

In his petition, Lee even cited the “lack of propriety” on the part of Reyes to arraign him after his arrest last March “despite the pendency of several consolidated petitions on the decisions of the Court of Appeals declaring that no probable cause exists against him.”

Lee said the latest Supreme Court (SC) decision pertaining to his case was limited to quashing his arrest order as issued by the RTC here, and not on the merits of the CA verdict that cleared him of estafa charges.

The complaint filed before the SC said the arraignment of Lee was premature and “tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack and/ or excess of jurisdiction because this Honorable Supreme Court has yet to resolve the petitions.”

Lee expressed disappointment at the RTC’s barring him from the May 15 Senate hearing, after he vowed to tell all.

“Given the chance to talk freely during the hearing for about 15 to 20 minutes, I will later answer all the questions of the senators,” he stressed, expressing hope that Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III would be there to help him “pursue the truth.”

Lee stressed that he never borrowed funds from Pag-Ibig.

“I had a seed capital of P1.5 billion of my own money when I put up Xevera housing in Bacolor (Pampanga) out of the P2.7 billion of Globe Asiatique network, my earings from 20 years as real estate developer,” he said.

“It was a housing project I dreamed of, because I myself did not grow up in a privileged community. I envisioned a place where residents are near the municipal hall, the church and the school,” he recalled.

He noted that at both Xevera projects in Bacolor and Mabalacat, he built not only housing units, but also donated the schools, churches and municipal halls in the two sites at the cost of about P500 million.

Lee also stressed that his firm was authorized by Pag-Ibig to sell Xevera housing units and collect monthly amortizations, it was never granted the authority to validate the Pag-Ibig membership of the housing applicants.

“All the applicants got clearance from Pag-Ibig and had to present Pag-Ibig membership status verification slip or MSVS before we process their papers. The beneficiaries, not us, had to go personally to the Pag-Ibig office for this verification,” he noted.

Lee said GA was also authorized to take in “replacement buyers” for those who were already awarded housing units but failed to comply with their contracts. Another buyer is sought only after the contract with the initial buyer has been voided, he noted.

Under the new leadership of Vice Pres. Jejomar Binay as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Pag-Ibig cancelled its memorandum of agreement with GA, including the authority to sell, collect amortizations and find replacement buyers.