MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Tuesday, March 11, said he will investigate whoever was responsible for “delisting” controversial businessman Delfin Lee from the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s wanted list.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) oversees the PNP.
“Sinuman ang nag-utos na tanggalin ang pangalan ni Delfin Lee sa listahan ng may arrest warrant ay kailangang sumailalim sa imbestigasyon,” he said in the statement. (Whoever ordered the removal of Lee from the list of those with arrest warrants needs to be investigated.)
PNP Spokesman Chief Superintendent Theodore Sindac told Rappler in a phone interview that the investigation will start pending Roxas’ orders. Roxas can ask either the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service or the National Police Commission to investigate the issue.
Roxas’ statement comes after a weekend of suspicions and accusations.
Lee’s camp says his detention was “illegal” since he was already removed from the PNP’s list of people with standing arrest warrants. Meawhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay, who chairs the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund that initiated the case against Delfin, said “influential people” were trying to intervene in behalf of Lee.
‘Honest mistake’ no more?
Lee’s camp based its allegations on a letter and certification from the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). In a certification dated January 15, 2014, the CIDG certified that “the Warrant of Arrest against Mr. Delfin S. LEE.. was removed from the list of Warrant of Arrest database effective November 20, 2013,” based on a November 7, 2013 Court of Appeal (CA) decision.
The CA in November last year “ordered the quashal, recall, and lifting of the warrant of arrest and the cessation of further proceedings” of Lee’s syndicated estafa case.
Acting CIDG director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong affirmed Lee’s delisting through a letter. Contrary to Roxas’ warning now, Sindac earlier told Rappler no sanctions would be imposed on Magalong or the CIDG over what Justice Secretary Leila de Lima called an “honest mistake.”
Sindac did not say who would be investigated, adding that it would be up to Roxas.
An earlier letter from PNP Chief Director General Alan Purisima himself informed Lee’s lawyers that the PNP was “in the process of de-listing [Lee] from the list of wanted persons” and that “the Secretary of Interior and Local Government” would have the final say on Lee’s delisting.
Sindac explained Purisima’s letter meant the de-listing would only happen should the CA ruling be final and executory.
In the statement, Roxas said he never received a request to remove Lee from the PNP’s wanted list. Sindac told Rappler on Monday, March 10, that Purisima never forwarded the issue to Roxas because “there was no progress in the SC,” referring to the justice department’s petition questioning the CA ruling before the Supreme Court.
A source from Roxas’ camp earlier said he would not be commenting on the matter, and instead told Rappler to ask the PNP for a clarification.
PNP, DILG roles
Roxas said, based on a PNP circular and “the executive practice of the PNP,” the delisting of a person from the most wanted list is recommended by the PNP Reward Valuation Committee.” Roxas said the DILG Secretary’s role is only to approve the recommendations.
“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 Reward Valuation Committee,” he said.
The DILG in 2012 announced through a memorandum that a P2 million reward for the arrest of Lee and 4 other individuals. Roxas said in the statement that the memorandum has not been revoked, and that “the arresting officers who apprehended Mr. Lee acted consistently” with the memorandum.
Lee was apprehended Thursday, March 6, by operatives of Task Force Tugis, a group directly under Purisima. – Rappler.com