Binay: Powerful people trying to save Lee

Backers of Delfin Lee, Globe Asiatique owner, tried to stop his arrest Thursday night and are bent on influencing the Supreme Court to dismiss the P6.6-B estafa case, the VP says

'POWERFUL BACKERS.' Vice President Jejomar Binay says "influential people" tried to block Lee's arrest and will now work on securing a favorable decision in his case before the Supreme Court. Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay said “influential people” tried to stop the arrest of property developer Delfin Lee over a P6.6-billion estafa case, so much so that they even caused a scene in the presence of the police.

Binay welcomed the arrest of the Globe Asiatique (GA) president after at least two years in hiding, but warned that the powerful people behind Lee will continue to try to influence his case. He refused to name these “influential people” or give details about their background.

The Vice President is the chairman of the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, which filed the case against Lee in December 2010. In a separate statement Friday morning, March 7, Binay said this was the first case filed by the Aquino administration.

Lee, owner of Globe Asiatique, and 4 others face syndicated estafa charges filed by the Department of Justice over the alleged use of ghost borrowers to obtain P6.6 billion loans from Pag-IBIG Fund for GA’s Xevera housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga, in 2009, during the time of Vice President Noli de Castro.

Mga influential people, kagabi talagang p’wersahan …. They went to the point of going to the police last night, trying to make the release [of Lee] on the allegation that the Court of Appeals had a favorable decision,” Binay said in a press briefing on Friday.

“Nagulat ako kasi narinig ko nagsisigaw pa, balita ko. They were trying to influence.” (I was surprised because I heard they even shouted there. That’s the news I got.)

Binay said the “influential backers” argued that Lee’s arrest was invalid because the Court of Appeals cleared him of syndicated estafa charges last November 12. In its ruling, the Court said it cannot prosecute Lee for syndicated estafa, which requires at least 5 respondents, because the CA previously dismissed the case filed against one of Lee’s co-accused, former GA documentation department head Cristina Sagun.  

Pag-IBIG Fund appealed the decision before the Supreme Court.

Andoon pa si Mr Influential People, eh ‘di iimpluwensiyahan [pa niya ang kaso]. Eh ‘di doon naman sila ngayon mag-iimpluwensiya. They will attempt to,” Binay said. (Mr Influential People is still there so he will now influence the case again. They will influence it at the Supreme Court.)

Binay said he is closely watching the developments in the case to ensure Lee is brought to justice.

Lee was among the high-profile fugitives that the police have failed to catch for years. President Benigno Aquino III set a P2 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

Warrant stands

Binay maintained that the arrest warrant against Lee still stands because the Court of Appeals ruling was not yet final.

He said the Court already said it will observe “judicial courtesy” because the appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.

“When I was practicing law, I always cited the case [of] ironically Senator Benigno Aquino Jr vs Military Commission 2: that when a case is in an appellate court, out of judicial courtesy, you do not touch the case. We already filed a [petition for] certiorari. We are questioning the favorable decision of the court,” Binay said.

Binay added that the Pampanga Regional Trial Court has yet to quash the warrant.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima pointed this out too earlier: The arrest warrant against Lee was not quashed after the CA ruling because the government immediately filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The hold departure order against Lee also stands.

Binay said because of what he called the wrong interpretation of Lee’s camp, the businessman has been seen around Metro Manila and was even spotted in Rockwell, Makati last week.

“Pakalat-kalat na nung November. Kampante ito eh.” (He has been going around since November. He is confident.)

Lee was arrested at a hotel in Pasay on Thursday evening. He was brought to Camp Crame at around 7 pm.

‘He fooled poor victims’

Binay said he was determined to pursue the case against Lee, especially after talking to one of the victims, Evelyn Niebres.

“She bought a property in Xevera, paid P1.5 million but it turned out that her property was again sold. I told her to trust [Pag-IBIG] again. Finally, she agreed and turned over the documents she gathered: fictitious sales, fictitious tax numbers. It’s like a feast in San Fernando because [the modus] is they just pay people to sign documents,” he said.

Binay said Lee’s “racket” was to get ghost buyers, and to engage in “double sale.” Every time GA would report to Pag-IBIG Fund about buyers, the shelter agency will release money under its funding commitment agreement with GA. 

“Delfin Lee must be brought to the provincial jail and await whatever judicial developments might occur,” Binay said. –  

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