Photo courtesy of PNP-PIO
MANILA, Philippines – Detained property developer Delfin Lee is calling on the Supreme Court to investigate the circumstances behind the decision of a Pampanga Regional Trial Court judge to revoke his permit to testify before the Senate.
In a statement, Lee, through his lawyer, Rony Garay, questioned the timing of Pampanga Regional Trial Court Branch 42 Judge Maria Amifaith Reyes' decision and raised allegations on the judge's alleged partisanship over the case.
Lee's legal counsel said the high court – as early as last year – approved his appearance before the Senate to testify on the ongoing probe into allegations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay and the alleged housing scam involving the Pag-IBIG fund.
Upon the advice of the SC, Reyes on September 8, 2014 gave Lee the permission to serve as a resource person in the Senate.
On Friday, April 10, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV announced that Lee was finally going to testify before the Senate on Monday, April 13. Lee vowed to "tell all" against Binay in an interview with ABS-CBN.
But it emerged Saturday, April 11, that Reyes revoked the earlier decision allowing Lee to attend the Senate hearing.
"It is outrageous that on a weekend that a senator of the Republic has announced that a person is willing to stand and give details of a multi-billion scam in the housing industry involving the Binays, a judge would hastily revoke an earlier permission for that person to appear." Lee said.
“I have been waiting for this opportunity since the very first day I was held in detention,” he added.
Lee, owner of Globe Asiatique real estate company, and 4 others faced 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 in 2009.
Prior to the revocation of his permit to appear before the Senate, Lee claimed he asked Reyes to inhibit from the case over allegations that she was receiving a monthly allowance from the Binays. Lee also accused Reyes of allegedly being provided with a Toyota Innova service vehicle reportedly owned by Makati City. The elected mayor of Makati, Junjun Binay, is the Vice President's son, although there is an ongoing power struggle in the city. (READ: Court stops Junjin Binay's suspension indefinitely)
Trillanes blamed Binay's alleged hand in the events, although he admitted that he has yet to read the court decision. On Saturday, he told reporters that incident "shows that the tentacles of Binay in the judiciary are already working."
The Binay camp, meanwhile, called Trillanes' accusations "irresponsible and devoid of any merit."
In a statement released Sunday, April 12, Binay's spokesperson for political affairs, Rico Quicho, slammed Trillanes for issuing a statement even if he has not yet read the court order. Quicho said it is "quite demonstrable" that the senator wants to use Lee to "discredit and further vilify the Vice President in issues that are not at all related to the on-going Senate inquisition." – Rappler.com