MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals ordered the Department of Justice to withdraw the syndicated estafa case and ordered the Pampanga court to recall the warrant of arrest against one of the accused in the questionable P6-billion loan given by Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMC/PagIbig) to buyers of Globe Asiatique.
In a 16-page resolution by the former Special 10th Division dated Feb. 11, the appeals court, through Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan, dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) against Cristina Sagun.
“We find the matter raised in the said motions to be mere rehash of the previous arguments of the movants which have been sufficiently passed upon by this court in its decision dated Oct. 5, 2012,” resolution stated.
Sagun’s duty, the appeals court said, is confined to collating and checking if documents of borrowers are duly accomplished and verify from HDMC/PagIbig if the borrowers are indeed members or if they have no existing housing loans.
On allegations of negligence, the appeals court said the Department of Justice “has not demonstrated how petitioner could have been privy to the creation of the so-called ‘special buyers’ such that she was conscious all along that she was committing a serious non-bailable crime as syndicated estafa.”
“There is no evidence that she knew of the common design to defraud HDMF except that she happened to be an employee of Globe Asiatique which was the one which entered into a contract with HDMF as a corporate entity and made the warranties thereof,” the appeals court said.
Sagun’s co-accused include Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee, their other co-accused Dexter Lee, Executive Vice-President, Cristina Salagan, head of GA Accounting/Finance Department and lawyer Alex Alvarez, manager of the Foreclosure Department of the PagIbig Fund.
The appeals court said the syndicated estafa against Sagun and the other co-accused can now be considered flawed.
Under the law, syndicated estafa exist when a group of at least five persons participated in the commission of estafa.
However, the appeals court clarified that nullifying the syndicated estafa case against Sagun is without prejudice to the filing of the appropriate case against the four other accused and recalling the warrant of arrest is for the petitioner Sagun only.
“In order to give efficacy to our Oct. 5, 2012 decision, the information for syndicated estafa against the accused is ordered quashed and the warrant of arrest issued against the petitioner (Sagun) pursuant to the said information is hereby recalled and lifted,” the appeals court said.