Delfin Lee remains in jail

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Property developer Delfin Lee will not be released from prison on syndicated estafa charges after the Supreme Court (SC) stopped on Wednesday the implementation of a Court of Appeals (CA) decision recalling his arrest.

SC spokesperson Theodore Te said the SC Third Division issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the CA Former Special 15th Division's November 7, 2013 ruling, which was questioned by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

The stay order will not be lifted until further orders from the Court, he said.

As a result, Lee's arraignment at the Pampanga Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 42 will push through on Friday and his CA petition for writ of habeas corpus aimed at securing his freedom from alleged illegal detention will likely be rendered moot and academic.

At the hearing of Lee's petition, his lawyer Ronnie Garay said the businessman's detention at the Pampanga Provincial Jail is illegal since the CA had quashed the arrest warrants issued by Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the Pampanga RTC on May 22 and August 22, 2012.

That CA decision, however, could not be enforced anymore due to the SC's TRO.

For its part, the OSG said the police used the second alias warrant dated August 7, 2013, which was not covered by the appellate court ruling.

The government also said the CA ruling is not yet final and executory pending resolution of its appeal with the SC.

The CA Special First Division did not come up with a decision on his petition. Instead, the justices ordered authorities to return Lee to his cell.

Lee, along with four other individuals, is accused of defrauding Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund or HDMF) for using ghost borrowers and fake documents in relation to GA’s Xevera housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

"We have sufficient evidence to support our case. I do not know the legal basis for the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus. I would just like to reiterate that the decision of the Court of Appeals is not final and executory," said Vice President Jejomar Binay, chair of Pag-Ibig Board of Trustees.

Lee was nabbed by the police as he was about to board the Porsche Cayenne of his live-in partner outside the Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Manila on March 6. (Sunnex)

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