Binay: Arrest warrant on Delfin Lee valid

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Friday, March 7, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Authorities should keep housing developer Delfin Lee in their custody because the arrest warrant for syndicated estafa issued by a Pampanga court remains valid, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Friday.

Binay, the government's housing czar, debunked Lee's camp claim that the businessman is already innocent of charges after the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the Pampanga RTC branch 42 to recall the arrest warrant.

The government, however, refused to back down and elevated the case to the Supreme Court (SC). In this scenario, Binay, a lawyer, said the CA ruling cannot be implemented out of judicial respect.

"Where's the Supreme Court order against the Court of Appeals decision stating that the arrest warrant no longer stands?" asked Lee's spokesperson Gilbert Repiso in a television interview.

Delfin Lee
MANILA. Mug shot taken of businessman Delfin Lee, taken following his arrest Thursday night at a hotel in Manila. (Photo courtesy of PNP-PIO)

At 10:30 a.m. of Friday, a hearing on issues concerning the return of the warrant of arrest was held at the Pampanga RTC branch 42, which was presided by Pampanga Executive Judge Edgar Chua, where the validity of the Lee's arrest was discussed.

The defense counsel argued that the warrant has already been recalled and no longer valid. However, the prosecutor opposed the argument and maintained that the warrant remains to be valid and subsisting.

The court has given the Philippine National Police (PNP) and defense camp five days to submit their written positions.

Lee was ordered to be detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional office in San Fernando as a consequence of the return of the warrant of arrest, which was duly acknowledged by the court.

The arraignment and pre trial has been scheduled by the court on March 10, at 9 a.m.

Lee, the alleged mastermind in the P6.65-billion housing scam, was nabbed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in a hotel in Manila on Thursday night, ending almost four years of manhunt.

He underwent booking process where his fingerprints and mug shots were taken, much to the disappointment of his lawyers who thought the PNP just brought Lee to its headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City for questioning.

A P2-million bounty was earlier offered by President Benigno Aquino III to those who can tip the government on Lee's location.

"Mr. Delfin Lee was just roaming around. In fact, I learned that he was in Rockwell (Makati) a week ago," said Binay, chairman of the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-Ibig Fund) Board of Trustees.

Lee, president of the Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. (GA), is accused, along with four other people, of using ghost borrowers and fake documents to obtain P6.65 billion in loans from Pag-Ibig Fund in 2009.

He is currently detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional office in San Fernando, Pampanga following a commitment order issued by Pampanga RTC Executive Judge Eduardo Chua, who acknowledged Lee's arrest due to Reyes' absence.

Syndicated estafa is a non-bailable offense. (With Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

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