PNP chief defends Delfin Lee 'delisting'
MANILA, Philippines – Did the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) do wrong in "delisting" controversial businessman Delfin Lee?
As far as PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima is concerned, the answer is no.
In a press conference on Thursday, March 13, Purisima said the CIDG did not violate any laws when they issued a certification that Lee had been "delisted" from the PNP's most wanted list.
Purisima explained that the CIDG, headed by acting director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong, was "made to believe that the CA decision was in effect."
On January 15, the CIDG released a document to certify the absence of arrest warrants for Lee, based on a November 2013 Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that "quashed, recalled, and lifted" a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 42 in Pampanga.
Magalong, who at that time was in the process of transitioning into his new role as head of the CIDG, did not know about a petition filed by the justice department before the Supreme Court questioning the CA decision.
Magalong was appointed acting director of CIDG on December 7, 2013.
"We were not privy to the proceedings [after the CA decision]," said Purisima, referring to the appeal filed by the justice department with the SC.
Around the same time the CIDG issued a certification, Purisima also sent a letter to Lee's lawyers saying the PNP was "now in the process of de-listing [Lee] from the list wanted persons.
In the letter, Purisima said that Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II was the "final authority in the approval of the said de-listing."
Roxas, whose department oversees the PNP, issued a statement on Tuesday, saying his office never received a request to remove Lee from the PNP's most wanted list.
He also said the DILG's role is limited to approving the inclusion of names in the most wanted list.
In his Tuesday statement, Roxas said he would investigate whoever was responsible for the "delisting."
"Sinuman ang nag-utos na tanggalin ang pangalan ni Delfin Lee sa listahan ng may arrest warrant ay kailangang sumailalim sa imbestigasyon," he said. (Whoever ordered the removal of Lee from the list of those with arrest warrants needs to be investigated.)
Purisima told reporters on Thursday that no sanctions would be imposed on the CIDG, adding that he already explained to Roxas what happened.
"Iniisip niyo kasi pag investigation, may sanction agad," said Purisima. (When you guys think investigation, you assume there's a sanction."
The controversy over the PNP CIDG's "delisting" of Lee from the most wanted list has prompted Senator Nancy Binay to file a resolution asking the Senate to launch an inquiry on the issue.
“While the arrest of Delfin Lee after two years of evading the authorities was a welcome respite to the victims of the P6.6 billion housing controversy, what is worrisome is that the camp of the accused is now questioning the validity of the arrest,” said Binay in a statement released Thursday, March 13.
The senator is the daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who alleged "influential people" were blocking Lee's arrest.
Binay said in a statement that it was important to "review the existing policies and laws governing the inclusion and removal of a person’s name from the warrant of arrest database and the most wanted persons list" to prevent it from happening again. – Rappler.com