MANILA, Philippines - A housing official disclosed that the Philippine National Police (PNP) had planned to release businessman Delfin Lee immediately after his arrest on March 6.
In a statement released to the media Sunday, March 16, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Assistant Secretary Daniel Subido said he heard some PNP officers discuss the release of Lee just right after he was arrested.
Police arrested Lee on March 6 for 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.
“According to the PNP officers, the lawyer of Mr. Lee presented documents that show that the Warrant of Arrest against Mr. Lee has allegedly been quashed, recalled and lifted, and that the PNP was purportedly enjoined from implementing said warrant of arrest,” Subido said.
On Nov 7, 2013, the Court of Appeals nullified an order issued by the Pampanga Regional Trial Court that found probable cause to order Lee's arrest, but Justice Secretary Leila De Lima believes that the arrest warrant against Lee remained valid since the CA's decision was not yet final.
In dismissing the case against Lee last year, the CA said the businessman could not be prosecuted for syndicated estafa since this "must be committed by 5 or more persons."
Subido said he explained to the PNP officials that the warrant of arrest was valid, and that only the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga could lift the arrest warrant.
"Clearly, there must have been influential people that worked on the actual delisting of Mr. Lee from the Warrant of Arrest Information System and pressured the PNP to cause Mr. Lee’s release despite the existence of a valid Warrant of Arrest,” he added.
The Supreme Court has already issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that effectively validates the detention of Lee.
The PNP official who arrested Lee, Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, was relieved from his post as head of Task Force Tugis and was assigned to the regional office in Cebu.
During a Thursday, March 13 press conference with reporters, PNP chief Alan Purisima said the promotion was a "reward" for Capa's performance. "He has to occupy a position where he can be projected as general in the future," said Purisima.
There's a chance for promotion, but it will take time. "At the position he assigned me to, I will not be promoted there. The position does give a General rank. [Chief PNP Director General Purisima] was not very sincere, to say it nicely," Capa said.