Delfin Lee prosecution hailedBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday hailed the Court of Appeals (CA) decision allowing the filing of syndicated estafa charges against businessman Delfin Lee and other executives of housing firm Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp.
Binay, the government’s housing czar, called the decision a “welcome development.”
“Now we can finally continue our quest to seek justice for the ordinary workers defrauded by Globe Asiatique,” he said.
In a statement, Binay, also chairman of the state-run Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund), said the decision “proves that Judge Rolando Mislang erred in issuing a temporary restraining order, which effectively blocked the filing of charges against Lee.”
“I laud the Court of Appeals for not allowing one person to stand in the way of justice for the thousands victimized by Globe Asiatique and the fulfillment of President Aquino’s promise to end corruption. It is a campaign that we are pursuing vigorously in the housing sector,” Binay said.
The Court of Appeals struck down the order of the Pasig court which blocked the criminal prosecution of Lee, owner of Globe Asiatique, in connection with P6.65 billion in allegedly fraudulent housing loans obtained from Pag-Ibig.
In green-lighting Lee’s indictment, the appellate court said Judge Mislang committed a grave abuse of discretion when he issued an injunction on Sept. 5, 2011, stopping the Department of Justice (DOJ) from filing a case against Lee and others for syndicated estafa.
“To reiterate, an injunction will not lie to enjoin a criminal prosecution because public interest requires that criminal acts be immediately investigated and protected for the protection of society,” the court said in a 27-page ruling.
“It is only in extreme case that an injunction will lie to stop criminal prosecution,” it said.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Franchito Diamante and concurred in by Associate Justices Mariflor Castillo and Edwin Sorongon.
In issuing the injunction, Mislang had agreed with Lee that an existing “prejudicial question” must first be resolved before the DOJ could pursue the criminal complaint against Lee.
The prejudicial question involved the civil suit that Lee’s company had filed against Pag-Ibig on Nov. 15, 2010, in the Makati City RTC.
But the appellate court said that “a thorough and judicious study of the attendant factual and legal milieu” showed that “no prejudicial question exists that would justify the issuance” of the stay order.
It said Lee’s criminal cases in the DOJ “can proceed independently of that in the Makati RTC.”
Aside from Lee, the DOJ Task Force on Securities and Business Scams had recommended the filing of a nonbailable case of syndicated estafa against Lee’s son Dexter, Globe Asiatique officers Christina Sagun and Cristina Salagan and Pag-Ibig Fund official Alex Alvarez.
The DOJ also referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for “appropriate investigation” complaints against former Pag-Ibig Fund executive and now Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo, Jaime Fabian, Tessie Gonzales, Rafael Albano and Vilma Flores for possible violation of the antigraft law.
The case stemmed from the purported anomalous loans amounting to more than P6.65 billion granted by Pag-Ibig to “ghosts borrowers” who had allegedly bought homes in Globe Asiatique’s housing projects in Pampanga. With a report from Marlon Ramos