COA thumbs down P1-M bounty for the capture of Delfin LeeBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Commission on Audit (COA) has turned down the request of state-run Home Development Mutual Fund, also known as Pag-Ibig Fund, to offer a P1-million reward for the capture of Delfin Lee, owner of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp.
The COA said “Pag-Ibig Fund has no intelligence or discretionary funds where the reward can be sourced,” quoting Joey Salgado, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s media officer.
Instead, the agency “will ask Malacañang to release it (reward money) from President Benigno Aquino’s intelligence fund,” Salgado told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Binay, also the government’s housing czar, earlier proposed that Pag-Ibig Fund offer the reward money, saying that it was more than a reasonable amount considering that Lee defrauded the agency and its members of more than P7 billion.
“If this will lead to his arrest, it should be offered but subject to COA approval,” he said.
There is a warrant for Lee’s arrest for syndicated estafa in Criminal Case No. 18480, issued on May 22 by Amifaith Fider-Reyes, presiding judge of Branch 42 of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga province.
Reyes also ordered the arrest of Lee’s son Dexter and three officers of Globe Asiatique— Christina Sagun, Cristina Salagan and lawyer Alex Alvarez.
The case stemmed from the purported anomalous loans amounting to more than P7 billion granted by Pag-Ibig Fund to “ghost borrowers” who allegedly bought homes in Globe Asiatique’s Xevera housing projects in Mabalacat and Bacolor towns in Pampanga province.
The houses turned out to be not in the names of the people who were paid to take out the loans as the contracts and titles were supposed to be amended to bear the names of the real buyers.
The scheme was reportedly hidden because Globe Asiatique was collecting the amortization supposedly paid by the buyers. Many of the houses were found not to be occupied or were being used by other people and not the legitimate buyers.
Globe Asiatique also appears to have engaged in double selling housing units in other projects like Tower 2 on Edsa in Mandaluyong City.
Pag-Ibig has also received complaints against Lee’s company from residents of Sta. Barbara in San Mateo, Rizal province, and St. Monique in Valenzuela City.
The Office of the Vice President, meanwhile, has yet to receive reports about Lee’s whereabouts.
“No sightings so far,” Salgado said.
He noted that Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo “was quoted as having said Delfin Lee was already out of the country” despite the warrant for his arrest.
“But there’s no official confirmation,” Salgado added.
Binay, also Pag-Ibig Fund chairman, has written the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI), asking the agencies to confirm if Lee had indeed left the country.
He said he was no longer questioning the apparent failure of the authorities to arrest Lee, but for him to be able to leave the country was another story.
Binay expressed fears that Lee’s escape, if proven true, would cause the public to lose trust in the government.
“We’re still diligently looking for Delfin Lee,” he said.