MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals decision dismissing the syndicated estafa case against a Globe Asiatique official in the questionable P6-billion loan of the real estate firm from Pag-IBIG Fund is not yet final, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Tuesday.
“The Court of Appeals decision is not yet final. I have read the decision and we feel there is basis to question it before the Supreme Court,” De Lima told reporters in a chance interview.
In a 34-page decision dated October 5, 2012, the appeals court’s Special 10th Division dismissed the case against Cristina Sagun, former head of Globe Asiatique documentation department, saying her her duty was simply ministerial.
A subsequent appeal by the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) was also dismissed by the appeals court in a February 11 resolution.
“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 October 5, 2012,” resolution stated.
Sagun’s duty, the appeals court said, was confined to collating and checking if documents of the borrowers were duly accomplished and verify from HDMC if the borrowers were indeed Pag-IBIG members or if they have no existing housing loans.
On allegations of negligence, the appeals court said the DoJ “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.
Under the law, to be prosecuted with syndicated estafa, there has to be at least five persons involved. With the dismissal of the syndicated estafa case against Sagun, only four accused remain, opening the possibility of downgrading the case to simple estafa, a bailable offense.
Those who remained accused are Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee, 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 Pag-IBIG Fund.
“Pinag-aaralan namin talaga ng mabuti iyan(We are reviewing the case thoroughly). We want syndicated estafa to remain, and based on the evidence it’s really syndicated estafa,” De Lima said.