As the camp of jailed developer Delfin Lee plea for the dismissal of the P6.6 billion syndicated estafa case filed against him, the top executive of Pag-IBIG Fund said that it would be more in keeping with the rule of law for Mr. Lee to instead present his arguments and evidence before the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando where he is presently being tried for the said offense.
“Mr. Lee has once before tried to take a legal shortcut by asking the Court of Appeals to release him from jail claiming that another court has purportedly cleared him already of the charge. The appellate court’s Special First Division however denied his plea way back on 13 March 2014” said Pag-IBIG Fund President and CEO Atty. Darlene Marie B. Berberabe.
It can be recalled that Lee and his four cohorts are facing syndicated estafa charges after separate probes of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Pampanga regional trial court (RTC), found that he and his company endorsed fake housing loan accounts from the Xevera projects to Pag-IBIG to obtain at least P6.6 billion in loan proceeds in 2010. Before being captured by law enforcers in 2014, Lee spent years in hiding and was included in the country’s top five most wanted list. President Benigno C. Aquino III even put a P 2 million bounty on Lee’s head in 2012.
Recently, Lee’s counsel sought the dismissal of the syndicated estafa charges filed against the developer and pleaded the Supreme Court (SC) to uphold the decisions of the Makati regional trial court and the Court of Appeals which favored Lee.
“It is important to note that the SC has long issued temporary restraining orders against the decisions of the Court of Appeals and Makati RTC. The decisions they cited and relied on have, in fact, been stopped by the highest court in the land, and are unenforceable,” Atty. Berberabe said.
GA turning tables
In seeking for the dismissal of the P6.6 billion fraud case, Lee’s lawyer pointed out that even the Pag-IBIG chief admitted during the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee’s hearing that Pag-IBIG did not lose P6.6 billion and that it was the housing agency that owed P600 million to GA.
The Pag-IBIG was duped into paying P6.6 billion to GA for, what turned out to be, bogus housing accounts, Atty Berberabe explained. That is an enormous amount which the Fund could have used to lend to legitimate member-homebuyers. This is the reason why the NBI, DOJ and RTC found sufficient basis to charge Mr. Lee with syndicated estafa, she added.
Atty. Berberabe also clarified that the Fund does not owe GA any amount much less P600 million. GA had the obligation to transfer certificates of title to the buyers. The P600 million was intended for that purpose. That money therefore does not belong to GA, she explained.
Full trust in the courts
As Lee’s camp try their best to shake off the fraud cases, the Pag-IBIG chief reiterated that the agency will continue to present its case before the courts and let the justice system do its work.
“Whether GA committed fraud and whether Mr. Lee committed syndicated estafa are legal matters which should be tried in court” Atty. Berberabe said. It is to the best interest of all parties, including accused Mr. Lee, to let the trial proceed unhampered and for the trial court to finally decide on his guilt or innocence based on the evidence, she added.
For cases which have reached the Supreme Court, the high tribunal has consistently ruled in favor of the government and against GA and Mr. Lee, Atty. Berberabe noted.