CA junks Delfin Lee's petition to be released

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) Special First Division on Thursday, March 13, dismissed Delfin Lee's petition to have him released from detention.

In an 8-page resolution, the CA said the appeal for Lee's release is "academic," as the Supreme Court (SC) will already decide on whether to annul a previous CA ruling quashing an arrest warrant issued by the Pampanga regional trial court (RTC).

The Pampanga RTC issued the warrant after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a syndicated estafa case against Lee. The CA lifted the warrant on November 7, 2013.

The tug of war on Lee's status as a fugitive continued as the DOJ questioned the CA ruling before the SC.

The SC on Wednesday, March 12, temporarily restrained the November 2013 CA ruling. The warrant of arrest stands and Lee stays in the Pampanga provincial jail for now.

"Wherefore, premises considered, it appearing that the arrest and consequent detention of petitioner Delfin S. Lee is pursuant to a legal process," the  CA ruling read, citing the Wednesday "development" in the High Court.

CA Associate Justice Manuel Barrios penned the decision, which was concurred by Associate Justices Normandie Pizarro and Stephen Cruz.

Lee is accused of siphoning off P6.6 billion from the Home Development and Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG by using ghost borrowers to obtain housing loans. 

Lee was arrested on March 6 for his involvement in the housing scam. On March 10, he filed the petition for his immediate release from detention. The CA heard arguments on his petition on Wednesday.

Previous 2014 CA ruling

On February 26, the CA also denied Lee's motion to lift a hold departure order (HDO) on Lee.

The appellate court also denied Lee's motion for a clarificatory judgment. Lee wanted the express dismissal of his case in light of the November 2013 ruling. At that time, the DOJ had already filed its petition before the SC.

The CA Former Special 15th Division, in the same ruling, cited the DOJ's petition before the SC. It merely noted Lee's motion for a clarificatory judgment, out of judicial courtesy to the High Court.

Lee, in his petition for immediate release before the CA, used as evidence a document from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showing he is no longer part of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group list of people with standing arrest warrants.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said that Lee's delisting was an "honest mistake," as it may have been based on the November 2013 CA ruling that ordered the cessation of his syndicated estafa case. De Lima said the November 2013 CA decision, is "not final and executory" given their petition before the SC.

PNP chief Alan Purisima acknowledged on Thursday that their move to start the delisting process was indeed based on the November ruling because they did not know that the DOJ had filed an appeal with the SC after that. – Rappler.com